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Philosophy of Teaching and Learning – Revisited 2016

January 26, 2016


Why do I teach what I teach within my role of ICT Literacy Teacher, in regard to both colleague and student learners?  This expression of my pedagogy is influenced by my own experiences and my personal values.  It is also influenced by social and cultural values, awareness of the changing world, my knowledge of child development and of best practice in education.


I believe that each learner has the right to self-development and realisation of their own potential.  Therefore I will design my programme for differentiation, as well as for extension for all learners. Through the provision of open-ended tasks, I aim to help each learner to ‘level up’. Where possible I will help the learner turn their ideas into reality by helping to set up self-initiated learning projects. For the wide range of learners at our College, all will be given opportunities to gain skills for life-long learning and creating through Digital Tools.

I believe this role is one aspect of my life that allows me to reach my own intellectual and spiritual potential.  Therefore I will continue to reflect upon and celebrate my own achievements.

I believe in the saying ‘it takes a whole village’.  Therefore it is my responsibility to take part in caring for all learners that are a part of my life; in my own family, in my community, and in other learning environments.

I value physical health and well-being and believe they are essential for a happy life.  Therefore I will promote healthy practices within the use of digital literacies, such as monitoring screen time, cybersafety, and using digital tools to enhance wellbeing.

I value my own learning as a lifelong process.  Therefore I see myself as a learner and will continue to take up opportunities for professional development, and engage with colleagues in discussion on curriculum matters. I will learn from the teachers and students I work with, and acknowledge their contribution to my growth.

I value friendship.  Therefore I will act with friendliness towards all team members, to enhance wellbeing and provide a firm foundation for teamwork.

I value independence.  Therefore I will provide appropriate ICT tools and learning spaces and support to lead each learner towards independent thought, action and feeling.

I value imagination and creativity and believe that these are at the core of ICT Literacies.  Therefore I will provide opportunities for learners to exercise imagination and creativity in as many varied ways as possible.  I will teach the tools of creativity to all learners.

I value responsibility.  I see this as each human’s duty to honour the rest of creation:  other people, other living creatures and the environment.   Therefore I will incorporate components of this within the teaching of ICT Literacies.

I value honesty and integrity.  Therefore I will model these to the learners.  I will apply these to communicate truthfully and fairly to them about their progress.


I am aware that societies have may have different images of learners.  I am aware that others may still have an image of a learner as helpless, ignorant, unskilled and lacking intelligence.  These images may be influenced by factors such as age, gender, background and origin. Every person is a capable learner. Therefore I will continually re-examine my own personal image of a learner, which is a clever individual deserving of respect.

I acknowledge that the family is my teaching and learning partner.  Therefore I will support families by providing information about ICT Literacies; by conducting information sessions, through my online information spaces. I will also provide opportunities for parents to learn more about ICT Literacy by providing practical hands-on sessions.

I acknowledge that our world is in a continual state of change.  Therefore I will design my programme to accommodate the changing needs of learners in negotiating their world. I will look to the look to the changing world of ICT Literacies to reflect on trends and consider the real needs of the learners, rather than rely upon my old programmes and assumptions about what they need.

I acknowledge that school is a part of the global community. Therefore I will enable learners to participate in online learning communities, with integrity and safety.  I will also involve them in digital spaces where they can make a real contribution to their own school and community.

I believe in the value of our College Values statement, centred on Respect, Integrity and Courage.  Therefore I will reinforce these through my programme at every opportunity.

I believe that learners need specific skills to participate in their community.  Therefore my programme will incorporate the teaching of skills that enable community participation, particularly in literacy, numeracy, digital and social skills.

I acknowledge that education is one of society’s basic rights of all its people.  Therefore the my programme will be centred around the inclusivity of all students regardless of physical, emotional, intellectual, racial, and cultural differences.

I acknowledge that digital media is part of our society. Therefore I will provide guidance to learners to interpret messages; how they are intended to manipulate, how they contain stereotypes and negative images.

I acknowledge the existence of the ‘hidden curriculum’, the ways that schools inconspicuously support existing power structures that determine who is to benefit most from education systems and staff structures.   This is about how schools control what students learn through routines, class arrangements, teaching methods and curriculum choices. It is also about how colleagues learn through access to opportunities to access, trial, critique and solve problems together.  Therefore I will question each routine, lesson genre, staff presentation, collegial meeting and message that I deliver to learners to aim towards empowerment of all rather than control to maintain established paradigms.

I acknowledge that people contribute collaboratively to society. Together is better.  Therefore I will utilise the skills of collaboration and organise partner and group work.


I acknowledge the value of problem-solving and problem-finding.  Therefore I will provide every possible opportunity for learners to identify real-world problems and to solve their own problems in all learning contexts.  I will foster attitudes amongst learners that lead them away from helplessness to resourcefulness.

I acknowledge that children use the cultural tool of language to explain their thinking and develop higher thought processes.  Therefore I will use digital tools to enable children to explain their thinking through language at every opportunity.  I will encourage children to work in groups to increase opportunities for language.  I will arrange for buddy class activities and adult visitors to the class to maximise talk. I will use thinking routines to shape and record the thinking.

For young learners, I acknowledge the importance of play was as a means of them developing their thinking to higher levels, particularly sociodramatic play.  Therefore I will involve the use of Digital Literacies in young learners’ sociodramatic play, both indoors and outdoors.

I acknowledge the importance of the learning environment at ‘The Third Teacher’. Therefore I will arrange the learning environment to maximise learning, rather than just as a means of organising teacher-space or behavioural control over the learner.  Therefore I will provide a safe but challenging learning environment with adult supervision at all times. Learning spaces will enable interaction, not just information reception.

I believe that the technology must come to the learner, not vice versa. Therefore I will aim to help learners with Digital Technologies where the learning happens – in their space, not mine. Digital Technologies have redefined our learning spaces, and assisting students with digital learning spaces will enable a connected learning experience.

I believe that children find reward in meaningful learning experiences.  Therefore I do not have to provide extrinsic motivation such as stickers and treats to motivate children to learn.  I will provide engaging learning experiences and targeted and timely personal feedback to learners to foster intrinsic motivation. I will involve the learners in their own assessment processes, utilising their input in assessment systems such as rubrics and online badges.

I believe that the curriculum is all about the learner; their interests, lives, needs, beliefs, wishes, questions and ideas.  Therefore this is what determines what is in my programme.

I believe that communication is one of the most invaluable human skills.  Therefore I will make time to talk to the learners, parents and co-workers.  This will mean that I maintain daily communication systems for co-workers, schedule appointment times and dedicate times in the day for talking and listening.

I believe that I believe that the learner’s voice needs to be reflected in the learning spaces. Therefore I will utilise literacy artefacts produced by the learners themselves, showing their thinking, rather than commercially-produced posters.  I will involve use of the young learners’ digital artefacts in play situations, both indoors and outdoors.

I believe that learners’ needs can change during the day.  Therefore I will be aware of providing a balance of activities to suit their energies and emotions.  I will also be flexible and make changes to routines, activities and times when necessary.

I believe that the principles of Design Thinking can be utilised in all learning areas, and enhanced with Digital Literacies. Therefore I will teach the skills and involve the learners in examining their everyday problems through Design Thinking cycle, applying Digital Literacies to the process.

I believe that play is the young learner’s work and that this is how they learn best.  Therefore I will provide maximum opportunity and variety for play, using Digital Literacies where appropriate  I will provide opportunity for using Digital tools to enhance and record learners’ conversations about their play’.  Digital tools may enable the learner to explain their thinking about play, and demonstrates to the child that I value their play and consider it as serious work.

I believe in the power of games for learning. Therefore I will use games in the process of improving Digital Literacy. However I believe it is the power of interaction and conversation which give a game a place in the learning environment.

I believe that learners do not always need to be ‘herded’ altogether to receive instruction.  Therefore I will consider variations of instruction to match the learning situations: asynchronous, flipped, small-group.

I believe in utilising scaffolding to maximise learning.  Therefore I will provide support for new learning by modelling and by target- teaching individuals and small groups.  I will gradually withdraw the scaffolding to lead the learner towards independence.

I believe that one of the unique thought processes of learners take time.  Therefore I will allow learners the time to explore ideas, formulate questions, and hypothesise.  Their own theories and explanations are far more valuable than established facts.

I realise that provision of materials can be affected by my image of the learner.  My image of the learner is of them being clever and capable, rather than naïve and helpless.  Therefore I will choose creative rather than drill-and-kill apps; current topical websites rather than comprehension worksheets.

I acknowledge that researchers do not collect information just for the sake of it.  Therefore I will use information from observations to evaluate progress and plan further learning activities.  I will use information to report accurately to my College, aiming to make valid assessments on the learning that has actually occurred, rather than set up inauthentic testing tasks.

I believe that each adult who enters our classroom is a colleague in caring for children.  As the professional teacher, I am ultimately responsible for the welfare of the children but realise that others have worthwhile contributions to make to the craft of teaching.  Therefore I will encourage the children to consider co-workers and parents and guest speakers as helpful teachers.

I believe that ‘netiquette’ behaviours are learned.  Therefore I will explicitly teach learners the strategies of managing conflict and self-assertiveness in online spaces.  I will teach children strategies to deal with issues such as verbal put-downs, being excluded by friends, and being injured by another in online spaces. I will enable learners to consider that everyone needs to be responsible for digital content they create.

It is my deepest belief that each learner has the ability to become the best they can.  It is my desire to see each individual learner develop into a powerful self-confident global citizen who can reach out towards their own intellectual, physical and spiritual potential. Through Digital Literacies, they will become effective users and creators of information and ideas.

‘APPY AS – Notes For My School Presentation

February 1, 2015

The Abstract: You don’t always need to download an app from the iTunes Store. The following web-based apps are free and iPad-friendly. When selecting these apps, I focused on opportunities for creativity and thinking in the Early Years Classroom.


A great tool for practising basic number facts, or vocabulary terms. No need to print off: the boards load and are marked off online. This screenshot is of a BingoBaker board I made up when teaching the ‘aw’ sound in a spelling lesson. However, when students themselves create items and write the clues, then the learning gets even better.

I usually have this running when the students first arrive in the morning. They can can contribute to the whole-class thinking on an issue, or just let us all know what they have been up to on the weekend. I have also found it great for small-group writing, where we take turns at creating the sentences.

Deviant Art is a large online community for the sharing of art. Although the sharing aspect is not suitable for young students, their MURO drawing space is great. Images are saved easily to the iPad photo album.

This screenshot will give you an idea of the drawing space, and my ‘train’ sketch.

There’s so many good things to do with the simplest of drawing apps, even those which use only two colours. This one saves easily to the iPad photo roll.

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In the first example,the young student can write a number sentence to match. In the second example, the question may be asked, “These are half of the shapes. How many might there be altogether?” However, this is not really much more than an digital worksheet – unless the students create the pictures and word puzzles themselves, for their peers.

A nice collaborative tool which shares easily, I can see this being used with brainstorms, tallying, venn diagrams. Below is the screenshot of the Venn diagram I aim to use in the workshop, getting us to share our collective thinking to compare Julie (Bishop) to Julia (Gillard).

If you want your students to do more than play drill-and-kill apps, but you are not able to choose alternatives in the iTunes Store, these web-based apps might get you rethinking. It’s not about what happens ON the iPad, but what happens BECAUSE of the iPad. The learner, not the app, produces the thinking. Have you tried out any of the above web-based apps in your classroom? Tell me your stories here in the comments. And let me know of any other web-based apps that you have used successfully.

Dear @aimee_gale

May 18, 2013


Hi there Aimee

In response to your tweet asking for maths investigations around addition and subtraction in Year 3/4, here are a few ideas of mine:


No, I haven’t tried this one out yet, but I came up with the idea for you in the gym this morning. Now, every AFL-loving student knows instinctively how long 50 metres is. So, the challenge is: Find objects in your classroom which can be lined up to make a length of 50 metres. Sounds a bit daunting? Then make it collaborative. After a while the students might tire of measuring items such as pencils and chairs by themselves, so maybe they can ‘trade’ the measurement of items with classmates. This is a pretty big running total to record, so the use of a spreadsheet to create a running total could be good. Sure, the spreadsheet is doing the hard yakka of the addition and subtraction maths – until the final total. To get this exactly at 50 metres, students must estimate, round-off, guess-and-check, to get their precise total.


I used to do this with mini tins of spaghetti in tomato sauce, and used plastic drop-sheets for the operation. Now I stick to plain boiled spaghetti for less mess and more maths. A good group activity, each group receives a big spoonful of cooked spaghetti, measures it all and totals it up to find out who has the most, measured in centimetres.


Create a table which shows the distance between different locations in the school.

Investigate Olympic long-jump records to work out the difference between the lengths jumped each year.

As tall as a giraffe: which students in the class would need to stand on top of each other’s head to be exactly the same height as a giraffe?

Last of all, there is an excellent activity in First Steps Mathematics called ‘Broken Ruler’. Students measure the length of objects with a section of a ruler to really think through their addition and subtraction. In the photo you can see one copied from the First Steps in Mathematics Measurement book.

Photo on 2013-05-18 at 13






Cheers, and thanks for giving me a reason to blog!


Oral Language, Mathematics and iPads in the Grade Two Classroom

October 4, 2012

This slideshow was created from the panels of my poster prepared for the Australian Computers in Education Conference, ACEC2012 in Perth, Western Australia, October 2012.  My poster was in the form of a giant comic strip comprising these images. It was the culmination of my teacher-inquiry into how oral language and mathematics could be utilised together to enhance learning – with the help of mobile technology.

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Postie Letters: enhancing Reading and Writing in the Daily Five Classroom

August 16, 2012

You often find out about a great book to read through a friend.  In our Grade Two class, we have a daily routine called ‘Postie’.  Letters are written and read recommending a good-fit book to a classmate. The Student of the Day becomes the Postie and gets to deliver the letters to others.

‘Postie’ started as my letter to a reader. I would write to a student who I thought needed a bit of help choosing a ‘good fit’ book for reading.  Choosing books that I enjoyed myself, I wrote to tell the reader what it was about and why I thought they should read it.

Things changed when the students themselves started to write the letters. I had not asked them to do this, and it has never become a required task.In the photo, Chanel is carefully reading my letter to her, and following the structure as well as choosing the vocabulary for the letter.  It’s something we do because we love writing, we love reading, and we want others to also.

To write a successful Postie letter, the writer has to explain why this book will suit the reader. To this end, children have been referring to the CAFE menu used in our Daily Five literacy system. Now we talk more about the strategies on the CAFE board, thinking about them and matching them to reader friends.

There are regular writers’ workshops with ‘Postie’ letter writers, where three or four students work with me to improve their letters.  Together we have created a ‘Bump It Up’ chart. This chart displays the work of three writers, and annotates the desired features shown in their Postie letters.

Monique shows our ‘Bump It Up’ chart to her mum.

The three samples chosen are from a range of writers, demonstrating ‘doing well’, ‘getting there’ and ‘starting off’. This enables students to aim at ‘bumping up’ their writing to the next level by referring to the visible examples.

The magic?  It’s all about connecting the reading and writing. It’s about purpose and audience in writing, and enabling choice. It’s about becoming more knowledgeable about the reading process and using this knowledge to help a reader. And it’s a pretty nifty way to create a book review.

“You are not just bumping up the person who reads the book.  You are bumping up your own writing.” Zoe

“The letter improves if you add more detail to your sentences.” Isabella

“When you do Postie, you are actually bumping up both your reading and their reading because you have to know what a good fit book is for them.” Madison

“You have to make your letter interesting.” Jema

Postie from brette lockyer on Vimeo.


July 21, 2012

Thanks to the suggestion from my online colleague Jasmine Dwyer, – @jasminedwyer – I revisited my Philosophy of Teaching and Learning to see if it needed an update. The world has changed. Does my Philosophy reflect that? Jasmine suggested I use a “I used to think…but now I think…” framework for the comparison.  I have summarised my changes here.

I used to think that reflecting was a personal process. Now I think it is more powerful when done with others, both face-to-face and online.

I used to think that the path to professional development was via further formal study. Now I think that I have many more opportunities, especially from my online connections. However I have come to realise that I need to engage with others outside the teaching profession to discover other viewpoints about matters I don’t know about – yet.

I used to think that friendships were only face-to-face. Now I think online friendships are also rich and sustaining.

I used to think that research papers and official curriculum documents were sacrosanct. Now I think I need to question, interrogate and compare different sources of wisdom to ensure my own is continually evolving and challenged.

I used to think that assessment documents such as reports were for the parents. Now I think they are also for sharing with the child.

I used to think that my students could learn from their own community. Now I think they can learn from their global community. And learn with them. And teach them.

I used to think that collaborative skills were taught to enable children to contribute to society. Now I think it’s more about developing thinking through working together.

I used to think that gender equity was an important issue. Now I think that I need to add to this: there are also other forms of equity – or inequity – that I need to consider.

I used to think that the sharing of food was an important part of the day in the Early Childhood Classroom. Now I think it’s too hard.

I used to think that fine motor skills development was about cutting and drawing. Now I also think it includes keyboarding practice.

I used to think that environmental print was only in the classroom. Now I think it is also in the shared online spaces we create together.

I used to think that there were 25 teachers in our classroom. Now I think that there are far more, due to our online connections where other children and adults have also become our teachers. We have also become their teachers.

I used to think that duty of care was about watching children work and play safely at school. Now I think it’s also about working and playing safely online, at home and at school. I also now think that I cannot ensure their safety by myself and I need to form a positive partnership with families to do this.

I used to think that their was no place for competition in my classroom. I am still thinking this one through, as I realise how much my students have to gain through online game-based experiences.

There is much in my Philosophy of Teaching and Learning that has not changed, most of this framed around my respect for the child as an independent, inquisitive and capable learner.  Has your philosophy of Teaching and Learning changed lately?


January 22, 2012

In blogposts and via Twitter some teachers report that the Daily Five routine is often ‘tweaked’ to suit their classroom constraints. Less apparent is the ‘tweaking’ that is done to match a teacher’s pedagogy, their beliefs about how learners learn and how teaching works. If you believe that the eye and ear work best together in the reading process, then you may set up the ‘Listen to Reading’ activity to ensure that the students are looking at the words as they are hearing the words. If you believe that the teacher only must conduct all small groups focusing on fluency, you may like to reflect on why you believe this and how it affects your students’ learning. The smooth running of the Daily Five machine in my classroom, such a beautifully organised literacy system, might just lull me into omitting my questions: WHY do I use it, why do I modify or ‘tweak’ it, and do these ‘tweaks’ improve the literacy learning?


This question was an important part of the discussion at AISV with Rosalyn Muir and her colleagues. I say yes for three reasons: the Daily Five and CAFE books centre around real reading and real writing, with no worksheets or iPad drill apps mentioned. The Daily CAFE book guides the teacher to actively teach literacy – this certainly helped me to lift my teaching game. The Daily Five book is very prescriptive about setting up the literacy classroom, describing routines, book selection, systematic assessment – all helpful to the graduate teacher.

My words of advice to the graduate teacher: follow the recommended five-week setup period closely, as detailed in the Daily Five book. Subscribe to The Sisters’ members-only materials for the first 3 months, as it’s helpful to access their videos to get a better idea of what they are talking about. Connect with other teachers using the Daily Five, via blogs or Twitter, and request an online colleague to mentor you throughout your Daily Five journey. Don’t be in a rush to be the perfect Daily Five teacher: improve your literacy teaching craft by focusing on one aspect per term, for example conducting writing strategy groups. If you encounter opposition to the Daily Five within your school, go quietly about your business of teaching the Daily Five without using the title. In this day and age of shared teacher learning and collaboration, it’s hard to imagine but in-school colleagues may talk negatively about your efforts to try something new as if it’s some sort of cult!


Have you ever noticed that some of more capable students love doing lower-order tasks and enjoy drill-based games? Are they avoiding the hard work of thinking? The Daily Five routine can easily accommodate this – if the teacher permits or prefers. I question the use of set reading comprehension tasks, writing prompts, spelling tests in the Daily Five session, as I believe these limit choice and therefore student independence. The greatest literacy potential of the Daily Five lies in the students themselves employing oral language in higher-order thinking opportunities: making a book promotion video for peers, a group reflection on the best way to learn your spelling, giving feedback to a friend as to why you love their rich sentences. Student involvement and initiative in the mini-lessons and strategy groups can make all the difference. The Daily Five session can be rich student-centred literacy rather than ‘schooly’ routines that control students nicely.


It is a difficult job managing classroom time so that the Daily Five is a relaxed student-choice-based routine. Many Daily Five teachers conduct separate literacy sessions for class blogging, word study and Writers’ Workshops. The explicit teaching in these separate sessions is the ideal moment to model problem-solving in literacy, impart expert literacy knowledge and to raise the bar on what is expected from students. I have decreased the length of time of my explicit teaching, to maximise the time students themselves spend on actual reading and writing during the busy day. One effective way of decreasing time while maximising effectiveness is to prepare explicit lessons beforehand, screencasting using screen recording tools and iPad apps. The Daily Five system has been a great way for me to examine and increase students’ daily reading time.

It is also a tough job allocating time to student Inquiry. A prescriptive -and effective – literacy system such as the Daily Five takes time, and it’s very easy to proritise these lessons that ‘work’. I have struggled with the smooth integration of our class Inquiry learning into the Daily Five. It hasn’t been enough to supply the Daily Five readers with books about cultural celebrations when conducting an Inquiry on this. The only way I have managed is to put Daily Five sessions ‘on hold’ for a few weeks whilst the Inquiry takes centre stage. Isn’t literacy a useful toolbox that is essential to Inquiry?


Any literacy system I use must be interrogated, to keep my eye on the ball of my students’ literacy learning. How do I interpret and then ‘tweak’ a literacy system, and is this based on how I learnt and succeeded at literacy when I was a young learner? Am I aiming for a quiet, controlled classroom and somehow then omitting the foundation stone of good literacy – oral language, and also the power of collaboration? Am I meeting the needs of all my students? Please post your questions in a response to this post so that I may continue my interrogation of any literacy system that I use.