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Monday, April 16, 2018

Gibbs Reflective Cycle

“Reflection is part of learning and thinking. We reflect in order to learn something, or we learn as a result of reflecting, and the term ‘reflective learning’ emphasises the intention to learn from current or prior experience” (Moon 2004).

In the classroom, we often do reflection exercises with students at the end of a project. But is our curriculum approach effective? Students need to feel intellectual reward from completing a reflective task, rather than a feeling that the task is an afterthought.

I came across this presentation about the Gibbs reflective cycle.

It looks like a teacher has created this for their class, as the end of the process asks them to reflect on a piece of work. The presentation is a short one but it scaffolds the students thinking towards welcoming reflection as a part of the learning process.

How do you scaffold your reflective tasks in the classroom?

Moon, J. A. (2004). Reflection and employability (Vol. 4). York: LTSN Generic Centre.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

High Possibility STEM Classrooms

Over the last few months I have been settling back into teaching again. For the first time in a few years I have a class of my own again, a gorgeous group of Year 9 students. The curriculum is fabulous; programming, 3D Printing, rapid prototyping, robotics.

Part of what I am also doing at my school is leading the way with STEM or STEAM integration.

I came across this video of Dr Jane Hunter from University of Technology Sydney, talking about High Possibility STEM Classrooms and I wanted to explore it further.

The integration of STEM in schools isn't about a well decked out "Lab", but a pedagogical change that needs to occur at the grassroots level.

The thing that struck me about her presentation was that she spoke about the importance of focusing on problem based learning as a mechanism for delivering quality STEM programs in schools.

Further information:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

#growthmindset and Independent Reading

One of the cornerstones of a school library is actively supporting the independent reading or wider reading programs. Every school has their blend of strategies in this area, ranging from structured lessons, assessment tasks, challenges to wider reading afternoons.

Recently, I was listening to the TER Podcast and interview with Carol Dweck about Growth Mindset and the role of schools. Having a growth mindset means that it is "ok" to give up on something.

I wondered at how this related to our wider reading strategies in our schools.

Over the years I have heard many school librarians pressure students to finish a book. "You can't give up", they say and then students just "pretend read" or slowly read rather than get engaged with the book. Strategies of three chapters or 100 pages might work for some students, but most will give up if the topic of the book isn't speaking to them.

They don't define themselves as readers ... yet.

Carol Dweck "The Power of Yet"

The growth comes from the realisation that it is ok to say "this book isn't really working for me" and students should be able to change course.  The student should be encouraged to confidently articulate why the book isn't working for them. It is then that a Teacher Librarian with an in depth knowledge of both the collection and the curriculum can assist them in finding a book that will work for them.

Students come into the school library or Learning Commons with distinct views about reading. They either define themselves as "a reader" or not. Those students that sit on the fence normally justify their answer with a "it depends on the book" and the reality is that this is true for most of us.

The strength of a teacher librarian is being able to guide the student to a book that they might be interested in reading. Using careful questioning to ensure that reading is a positive experience even though they don't see themselves as a reader  ... yet.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Downloadable Spring Bookmarks for your Library

Here are some spring bookmarks for your School Library or Learning Commons!

Download, print onto card voila!

Let me know if you use them, upload a picture to instagram and tag it with @konstantkaos

Monday, August 28, 2017

Makerspace @ Mater Christi College

It has been a while in between posts. 

Today in the mail I got my copy of FYI with an article that co-wrote with my colleague. FYI is the journal of the School Library Association of Victoria.

Our article is about the formation of our Makerspace at Mater Christi College and what works for us.

I have added the article to my "publications" page with a link to a PDF version on my google drive.



Friday, April 28, 2017

3 things to encourage Structured thinking in the Learning Commons

This article on Structured Thinking popped up in my feed and although it was published last year I wanted to reflect a bit on what we are doing in our Learning Commons to structure the thinking of our students.
  1. Maintaining an up-to-date curated Libguide collection which supports both content and skill-based learning.
    For example, when we create a libguide for Tim Winton's Cloudstreet, we also include Skills based pages to encourage students to Annotating their text or draft a comparatie analysis essay.
  2. Creating Research Scaffolds to support the curriculum and structure the research process and encourage deep inquiry learning.
    These research scaffolds are used from Year 7 to Year 12, both in a generic format but also a customised form. As an A3 sheet, they can be used to show evidence of the research process and development of thinking on a topic.
  3. Being available for students as a sounding board. We can proof read essays, listen to oral presentations or help students get their head arond a topic. Our Learning Commons is a "yes" environment, we will do anything (within reason) to assist students to further their learning.
I am sure that there us much more that we can do to help students structure their thinking, but this is where we are at the moment!


Schwartz, K. (2017). When Kids Have Structure for Thinking, Better Learning Emerges. MindShift. Retrieved 26 February 2017, from

Sunday, February 26, 2017

For the love of words

Due to the volume of students wanting to borrow dictionaries from the Learning Commons, during every exam period, we have been discussing the validity of why we include a paper dictionary on the booklist for all our Year 7 students. There is an assumption that if something is put on the booklist then it is used and valued by both teachers and students to enhance learning. But the students wanting to borrow these dictionaries have gone months, if not years without using them. How useful are dictionaries in a 21st Century classroom?

Most of our secondary students use computing devices all the way through their high school years with access to online dictionaries, grammar checkers and thesaurus, and yet we force them to purchase a dictionary in Year 7 that often ends up in the bin or lost. What is the educational value in a physical copy of this resource? Is the paper dictionary dying? Do students still use dictionaries or has Grammarly replaced the role of the dictionary?

The argument for keeping the dictionary on the booklist was made by one teacher, justifying that "we teach students how to read paper maps, therefore we should teach them how to use paper dictionaries". But further investigation with the Geography teachers reveals that paper map reading skills are slowly slipping away and being replaced by GPS coordinates and Google Maps. Online dictionaries are instantaneous, we can hear the words and there are many avenues for exploration once we have finished reading the word that we have looked up. But is this multi-focus environment beneficial when we are trying to increase our vocabulary or understanding? Barbara Ann Kipfer gives us 9 reasons why print dictionaries are better than the electronic ones in the classroom.

Using dictionaries as a regular tool in the classroom as part of a structured learning activity has the capacity to increase vocabulary range, build word acquisition skills by providing guidelines on pronunciation and use, engage students in linguistic understanding by showing the origin of the word and synonyms. But are these skills valued by teachers and what skills do we implicitly teach vocabulary and grammar into our classes to increase the range and understanding of our student's understanding?

Here are five ideas on how to build a love of vocabulary and understanding of words into your classes, regardless of whether it is a paper or electronic dictionary.
  1. Test your vocabulary
    Merriam-Webster has some great online games to increase your knowledge of words and expose you to new words. Of course, students can be exposed to new vocabulary by regularly engaging in recreational reading.
  2. Word of the day
    Lots of "word of the day" websites on the internet, this one shows you citations using the word of the day so that you can build contextual understanding.
  3. Grammar Girl
    Podcasts and other tools to improve your grammar.
  4. Lexipedia
    Shows synonyms in a visual brainstorm to increase your vocabulary.
  5. Doing it differently: Tips for teaching Vocabulary.
    A discussion about new ways to teach vocabulary. Look for online tools such as Vocabgrabber.

Further Reading:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Taming the 3D Printer in your #learningcommons

In an ideal world, students would be able to get access to whatever resources they needed within the Learning Commons or School Library and they would leave the equipment as they would found it ready for the next student to use.

But even with staplers and guillotines, students will generally not tidy up after themselves. So processes are put in place to ensure that the equipment is ready for the next student.

Things are a bit different when you incorporate a 3D printer into the mix. It isn't as easy to get the equipment ready for the next student and often when someone us using it, it might be hours before the next student can use it.

So here are some thoughts on managing a 3D printer in our Learning Commons from the operations point-of-view.

Monday, October 17, 2016

5 Literary Halloween Bookmarks

What do you think of my Halloween bookmarks?

I love to promote literature and when I talk to students about the Horror Genre, they are surprised to hear that there is more than Twilight that they can read.

So I knocked up some literary bookmarks using my favourite program, Canva

If you don't have time to read the books, why not listen to the audiobooks? They are in the public domain, along with the books which are out of copyright.

If you love audiobooks, here is a list of a few hundred that you might like. Or you might like to subscribe to a podcast that pushes out classic books in audiobook format to your device.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

4 ways you can build your school reading culture

Every year Scholastic Books release a report on the state of reading; Australian Kids and Family Reading Report. Pairing this up with the Professional Learning event that I went to earlier this term, I am currently reflecting on how to build a strong school reading culture.

We know that our kids do more reading than children 50 year ago, but most of that reading is fragmented and tends not to directly benefit them from a cognitive point of view. Reading a novel introduces students to concepts, expressions, words and challenges that they might not get in real life. The idea of a plot and story works their brain when they are not reading, playing through scenarios.

Students who are regular recreational readers are much stronger when it comes to comprehension and writing tasks.

If you are a teacher, consider the following changes through your practice:
  • Encouraging students to pick up a book if they finish their academic work.
    As a classroom teacher we are all guilty of rewarding students with more work or finishing homework if they finish early. But what if we encouraged students to pick up a book? Perhaps continuing to read their English Novel or perhaps something that interests them. Imagine a class test where all students had something to read if they finished early.
  • Teachers actively talking about what they are reading.
    Students need to see that all teachers read, not just English teachers. Opportunities to share what you are reading might present itself during pastoral care sessions. Recommending books to students (I think you would like this book because …). One of the most powerful things that a teacher or parent can do is recommend a book to a student. “I recommend this because I think you could identify with the main character”. Make your recommendation genuine. It could be a fiction or non-fiction book. Making links between the curriculum that you teach and fiction that might inspire students. We don’t often think of Science or Maths when we think of recreational reading. But there are lots of genre’s that stretch across the curriculum.
  • Adding a fiction reading list to your subject synopsis can add an extra level of engagement in the classroom.
    Teacher Librarian’s are happy to assist with resource gathering and can even create small “chapter samples” to be used as part of your tool kit. They are experts in engaging with students about what they read. Every teacher in your school can get their hands on the Year level booklists, and should be encouraged to read some of the novels that their students are studying. Asking students about the novels that they are studying in English places an emphasis on the importance of studying texts and encourages students to vocalise their opinion about these books to someone other than their English Teacher. If you don’t have time to read these novels your Teacher Librarians will gladly point you in the direction of the spark notes for them!
  • Making reading visible throughout the school.
    When was the last time a student saw you reading? If you are too busy to read, perhaps that is the reason why they often see themselves as “too busy to read”. Share with students the books that excite you, “hey, have your read this book?” or relate it back to a movie that you have seen. Have you read the book version of the movie? 
What do you think of these ideas?

Would you be prepared to do one of them to build your school reading culture?