Boosting self-management and learning skills

Over the last month or so, I have been making an increased focus on developing skills within the students that allow them to take more control of, and be more aware of, their brain and learning. This is in response to the professional development day with John Josephs that we had at our school a while back as well as from reading the book ‘Why Do I Need A Teacher When I’ve Got Google?’ by Ian Gilbert (a book that I think every teacher and parent should read). I’d like to share some of the simple strategies that we’ve been focusing on:

  • Information Processing – In an attempt to have kids understand how their brain collects and stores information, we’ve taken a look at the Information Processing Model introduced by John Josephs. Basically, from the world of information, our brain chooses (or is forced to, or not to, by external influences) to move information through the following stages: sensory memory, immediate memory, working memory, long term memory. You can learn more by contacting
  • Learning spaces in the classroom – I recently rearranged the classroom to allow for a number of different learning spaces. We have spaces that include independent, quiet areas, group tables, reading areas, whole class areas, etc. I share with the students the idea of making a choice of seating based on the requirements of the task at hand. If you need to focus by yourself, find a spot to do that. If you need to work with a partner, find a spot to do that. The kids are choosing well – for the most part. Unfortunately old habits die hard and some kids try to claim a stake on ‘their’ seating position 🙂 We’re working to remove this habit.
  • Behavioural Self Management – we recently set up a STAR corner. This stands for Stop, Think, Act, Reflect. Similar to a time-out corner in that it allows for removal from a situation that’s getting out of hand. BUT, completely different in that the students mostly take themselves to the corner (rather than me ‘telling them off’ and sending them there), it emphasises a focus on thinking about what wasn’t working and how to change it, and it promotes meta-cognitive thought which allows students to improve themselves meaning that hopefully the incidents become less frequent over time. In times when the whole class is a little ‘distracted’ I simply ask them to close their eyes and, without speaking or touching anyone else, count to 10 in their heads, or spell their name, or say the alphabet. Then I ask them to open their eyes when calm, focused and ready to move forward. I’m now seeing kids using this at their desks too – it’s great!

I hope some of these simple techniques can help you in your classroom or home too.


To Facebook or not to Facebook…

It seems that signing up to Facebook has become a new stage of puberty these days. Once kids reach a certain age, they have a Facebook account – simple as that!

My dilemma as a grade 5 teacher is whether I should be finding a platform to be teaching kids responsible and effective usage of social networking sites such as Facebook. There are many who argue that kids of 10 and 11 shouldn’t be exposed to social networking (among other Internet tools) yet because of the potential dangers that linger in cyberspace. Then there are those who argue that we as educators should be pre-emptive in our educating by teaching kids the correct behaviours and how to keep themselves safe online before they start experimenting by themselves.

In writing this post, I am essentially after feedback. Who of you out there use social networking within your class? What age group are your students? What are the benefits of social networking in school? What are the disadvantages? What problems have you come across? What platform (Facebook, Ning, etc) do you use?

For those of you who have made a conscious decision not to use social networking in your class, please tell me about your reasons and thinking for this decision.

Any and all feedback is welcomed and I ask you to please forward this post on to anyone who you think may be able to contribute to the discussion.

Epic 2015 – history of the internet


It took me some time to realise when the video began forecasting the future because it all seems so real. I got lost in the trance causing music and voice. It is scary and exciting at the same time to think about what the future holds in terms of technology. I must admit that I feel a little on edge about the thought of Googlezon where personal information is stored about every user to present personalised information and ads. I know it happens already in terms of IP address etc, but the way it’s presented with the image of the user, their address, personal info etc – scary!

Food for thought…

A very thought provoking few sentences are included in the video above by Kristin Hokonson.

“We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”