Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Quest for the Ultimate Paper Plane

Here's yet another one of those great activities that has all sorts of learning outcomes. It is research, following procedural texts, defining and manipulation of scientific variables, it has kids notice that they can choose to move out of their comfort zone. ie If you ask a child to fold a paper plane they will usually fold it the same way they have always folded it.

This paper plane activity encourages students to actively investigate flight. They also have a heap of fun testing the models :)



She Has a Black Belt in Origami

My Origami task is a fantastic way of teaching research skills, group work, resilience, how to follow complex procedural texts, problem solving and community building just to name a few.

Check out the page for some ideas on how to get it happening in your classroom painlessly.



Monday, January 29, 2007

Blogging With Class - Initial Steps Into Blogging With Students

Tonight I have taken the first steps in setting up a classroom blog for a teacher in a school that I work with. After a bit of looking around we have decided that our initial steps into the Blogosphere will be done with David Warlick's Class Blogmeister.

The main reason for choosing this hosting site is that it is maintained by an educator who really knows his stuff (check out David's Blog & Podcast if you don't believe me) and a great interface for screening student posts and any comments before they 'go live'

Mrs S and I are looking forward to a very steep learning curve over the next Aussie term so do pop by from time to time to see what the students have been up to.

If you are asking yourself 'What's a Blog?' then follow the link and let the Ace Kids show you.

If you are wondering about the rather 'out there' Australian names, I've run the students names through an anagram generator to generate interesting pseudonyms.


Adrian Bruce
(Cured in a Bar) hehehehe

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Puzzles-Problem Solving-Thinking Skills-The Chessboard Problem is All of These

Over on my puzzle site I've just uploaded a printable chessboard puzzle that I've been using in my classes for quite a few years. It is a tried and true puzzle and is an excellent introduction to problem solving.

Check it out


Happy Feet - Flushed Away - What Do the Kids Really Think?

Have you ever asked a child what they thought of a film like 'Madagascar' or 'Flushed Away' only to get... a shrug of the shoulders and 'errr it was alright' or the sheer eloquence of 'It sucked'. :)

Here is a movie review activity designed to get your students beginning to use the language of criticism in relation to movies and DVDs.

See what you think.


Book Reports With a Difference

Here is a book report exercise that utilises drama and play building big time as a learning strategy. Essentially two pretentious people review a book that the class might like to read. The book review has many challenges that expand the children's awareness of vocabulary so make sure you have some dictionaries and thesauruses on hand :)

Discuss 'rising to a challenge' and enjoy the task.


Oh... and just for the blog readers... :) as an added challenge you might like to add the line, ' must include something clever in the use of language that will cause an adult to laugh'.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Learn Magic Tricks! Become a Magician! Put on a Magic Show!

As my second homework task of the year I love to set the students to produce a segment in their own magic show.

Over the years I have seen some great efforts as well as some dismal ones. Both of which have led to many teachable moments. I've listed some tips and tricks for running an activity like this over on my webpage so feel free to check it out and let me know how it goes.



Juggling Exercises the Left and Right Sides of the Brain

As school heads back next week here in Australia it reminded me of one of my favourite homework tasks. The kids and the teacher all Learn to Juggle three balls.

This juggling activity is fantastic on so many levels as it will show you so much about the students in your care.

I encourage you all to set this task and see what happens.



Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Life as an 'ICT Guru' :)

I believe that the beauty if ICT is that it allows teachers to participate in activities that have never been possible in the classroom before now. As a result of my ability to engage children in this type of learning I have had a fantastic 2005 and 2006 both in the classroom and outside.

In 2006 did 8 keynote presentations to around 2000 Kiwi teachers which was a fantastic experience. I also had the opportunity to head off to Seoul South Korea to chat with educational ICT gurus of from all over the world.

A couple of months ago I flew to Melbourne (circa 2000 kms from home) and had dinner with Gary Stager and the NECC keynote speaker Michael Furdyk. Just sitting at the same table as these guys was an honour as I've been following there work for a number of years.

Needless to say a good year was had on the professional front. Tomorrow I'm doing a presentation to the staff of 5 'local' schools (Ok it is Australia so local means c. 2hours drive to a central town) where I will do a motivational presentation that will outline just some of the possibilities that ICT offers the classroom teacher.

I will then set them the task of leaving a comment on this blog about what they thought of the presentation. Should be an interesting exercise as most teachers tend to hate filling in evaluations at the end of workshops :)


PS There are no ICT Gurus in Education... just Us ;)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Building a Culture of Thinking In a Classroom

Today I was asked where the solutions were to the puzzles & problem solving activities on my website. My response in a nutshell is that I think the teacher should work out the solution with the students :)

Here is my full response.

Dear ...

I have a saying in my class, 'This is Problem Solving, NOT Solution Showing' lol

I believe that we teachers need to demonstrate being lifelong learners. We need to discuss the metacognition behind solving problems. We need to discuss process, frustration thresholds and the eventual 'A-ha' feeling we get by persevering and experiencing success. It is not the answer here that is the learning, it is the process one goes through to achieve a solution.

I've put hints on the webpage to guide teachers and students as the week unfolds towards a solution, but I have chosen not to post solutions so that problems will be solved rather having people do a quick web search to find the solution.

We need to build thinking cultures in our classrooms and solving a problem alongside our students is a great start. Plus, I believe it is important that teachers show that they are not the fountain of all wisdom and that we do get it wrong sometimes. I feel that it is especially good for boys to see male teachers not professing to know everything. (Sorry guys hehehe)



Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Drinking Game that's Become a Classroom Activity :)

It's a puzzle, it's a mind bender, it's a puzzle to solve but best of all it is a fantastic thinking task that uses heaps of skills and encourages motivation towards succeeding at difficult tasks.

In this problem solving activity the students have to blow a coin over the top of the glass but this puzzle is not as easy as you might imagine.

Read more about the task on my webpage and have fun with it.
Maybe get the teachers trying it in the Staffroom :)


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Morning Tea for the Staff

In my first month of teaching I was asked to provide a morning tea for the staff. You can imagine the look of abject terror that must have came over my face since I'd been living on beer and 2 minute noodles throughout my Uni life. I had no idea what to supply so I had to a bit of quick research.

So... for all those first year out teachers who are about to start here in Oz this is a great recipe that is simple, cheap and really tasty.


Adrian :)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Medical Research Task

The names of diseases are all through our language and all over the media. I find with children they often use these terms in their 'playground language' and carry many misconceptions about the illness or condition with them to adulthood.

I've done this medical research activity many times over the years and I find it great for getting the students researching but also talking over the issues with those around them.

My hope with this activity is that we can move people from the cold statistics of hospital waiting lists to empathy with the sufferers.



Saturday, January 13, 2007

What's New Under the Sun? Inspire Science Learning

Our world is filled with an amazing amount of new fields of Science. There is interesting research being done all over the world and breakthroughs seem almost commonplace.

Over my years of teaching I've noticed that Science and Technology is a rapidly changing,dynamic field yet most of our Science syllabuses are unable to inspire a sense of awe & wonder let alone have our students desire to pursue a career in Science.

Go get your kids exploring nanotechnology, biotechnology, cosmology or any other field that intrigues them with this science research task.



Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Free Educational Software

Over the last few day days I've been updating my educational software site.

I've included a lot of the software I use in my professional development workshops and software I use with children.

Have fun exploring these applications.