Visible thinking: Non-verbal comprehension

The Visible Thinking website is the brain-child of Project Zero, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Project Zero’s mission is to enhance learning, thinking, and creativity in the arts and their website offers some amazing ideas to use in the classroom to do just that. The ‘Colour, Symbol, Image Routine’ can be used to enhance comprehension as it is a ‘…routine for distilling the essence of ideas non-verbally’. Students are asked to identify and convey their comprehension of material they are reading, listening to, or watching, in non-verbal ways, by using colour, symbol, and image to represent their ideas. If you needed something to work those higher-level thinking skills, then this is it. Also, a fantastic activity for those with strengths in the non-verbal intelligences. This activity can facilitate discussion of a text or film, as students compare their colour, symbol, or image. A great way to build and expand comprehension.

Visible Thinking

Pecha-Kucha in the classroom

Pecha-Kucha is a presentation format. In a nutshell, it is 20 slides x 20 seconds per slide = 6 minutes 40 seconds of concise presenting. RopyDavits does a brilliant job of describing how the time restrictions can be liberating as the presenter needs to harness their language to be precise and concise. In the classroom, the student will need to consider many different factors to make a worthy presentation, and they are going to have to practice! Have a look at RopyDavits’s YouTube video for some great ideas to having Pecha-Kucha in the classroom

Pecha-Kucha in the classroom

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to BBC’s musical street?

For the music teachers out there, the BBC has a fantastic online resource for introducing students to world music (specifically from India, Ireland, Brazil, Turkey, and Nigeria). The Street will give students a glimpse at another countries instruments and key musicians. You will be able to listen to their music, and find out about the religion and food.  It is an appealing site to engage upper primary and lower secondary students in this study.

BBC's The Street

Tech Tools for Teachers

Tech Tools for Teachers is a free, fortnightly e-newsletter about ICT tools or websites that can be used in the classroom. The e-newsletters can be found on the website Teach Generation Now, run by Geelong (Victoria) teachers Simon Collier, Kathleen Morris (McGeady), and Matthew Limb. Each e-newsletter provides an example of an ICT tool or website suitable for primary and/or secondary educators, with step-by-step instructions on how to use it. This is a great resource for the busy educator to find practical examples of online tools that can be used to enhance teaching and learning. The newsletters are archived and are well-worth looking through.

Teach Generation Now

Guest post: Junior M’s blogging and global collaboration, by Michelle Scott

Michelle Scott is a teacher at St. Luke the Evangelist School, Blackburn South, Victoria. Michelle has developed a bright, engaging blog with her junior class called Junior M’s Learning Journey that showcases their learning using web 2.0 technology. The class is also involved in a wonderful exchange activity that is connecting them globally. Michelle explains below:

In 2010 I completed the SLAV Web 2.0 course along with several other teachers at St Luke’s. At this time a blog was started for our two grade 1/2 classes – Junior’s Jig. My level partner Verona maintained the blog with my class chipping in posts every now and then. This year my class Junior M have the very own blog (we signed with blogger after much unsuccessful wrangling with wordpress), Junior M’s Learning Journey. My aim for the blog is to provide the St Luke’s community (parents, families and friends) and a gradually developing group of global friends (through twitter), an insight into the learning Junior M is engaged with most weeks.

Junior M's Learning Journey

Recently, my students made a significant connection with a school in Ontario, Canada with whom we are twitter-friends. After we posted questions on twitter to the Gill_Villeans they asked us if we’d like to host their class mascot, Gill the goldfish, and to add photos etc., of his adventures at St Lukes on their wiki. Their teacher is using this as a platform to further engage her students in writing.

Gill the goldfish goes global

Over the term holidays we will send our class mascot, Ella the echidna, to Canada. Students in Junior are fascinated with the process of receiving a package from overseas and have many ideas for how to host our visitor, which they actively implement.

I feel this process of blogging and commenting on blog posts extends the children, from enriching their thinking both laterally and critically, to exposing them to a world beyond their classroom. This in turn shows them how much in common we have with people around the world.

The understanding of differences and similarities that comes from global collaboration is priceless. Thankyou, Michelle, for sharing your teaching and learning with us. All the best to Ella on her big trip.

READ Dr. Helen Boelens

Dr. Helen Boelens is the founder and board member of ENSIL (European Network for School Libraries and Information Literacies) and in December 2010 was awarded her degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the Middlesex University, School of Arts and Education. During her doctoral research Dr. Boelens was helped by ‘many Australian colleagues’, as well as others from around the world. Dr. Boelens has contacted Bright Ideas to pass on her appreciation to all those who helped her with her research. The design of the latest READ poster was arranged by Dr. Boelens as a sign of her appreciation.

READThe READ poster comes in size A3 and size A4, and can be used digitally or printed off from the ENSIL website.

Worth readingDr Boelens’s thesis The evolving role of the school library and information centre in education in digital Europe is available from the ENSIL website also.

Guest post: Kleinspiration – technology treasures for today’s teachers, by Erin Klein

Erin KleinErin Klein is a middle school teacher in southern Michigan with her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. Erin has created a fantastic resource for educators in her blog Kleinspiration, showcasing web 2.0 resources that can be used as tools to enhance teaching and learning. Below is more information about Erin and Kleinspiration:

Kleinspiration, a newly created educational blog, brings readers technology treasures for today’s teachers. Classroom teacher, Erin Klein, showcases a rich display of web 2.0 sites for grade levels K-12 and all content areas. Klein states that her focus for selecting sites is based on three main factors: free sites that encourage student collaboration and project based learning, parent-friendly sites that support the student’s studies, and websites that spark higher-level thinking in a manner that is engaging for both teacher and student.


Klein has extensive training in reading intervention programs and roots her style in Dr. Spencer Kagan’s Cooperative Learning Structures to infuse natural collaboration within her classroom and increase active engagement so that all students’ learning potential is maximized. Klein decided to pursue her passion for technology integration when she realized how much her own children were becoming acclimated to technology, and learning so much from it, all at such a young developmental and cognitive learning age. She knew this was their world, and she should embrace it. Times have changed; sadly, classrooms haven’t. Thus, Klein began networking with other teachers and developed ways to comfortably embrace technology.

Klein has worked with teachers across the state of Michigan to help develop creative ways for technology integration into the classroom. Though Klein firmly believes in preparing students for a global society, she continuously reinforces that technology is simply a tool to support and enhance instruction – the teacher and the students drive the learning. Those who have worked with Klein state that the most surprising aspect they walk away with is seeing how truly motivated the students become. Not only are her resources beneficial, but her enthusiastic approach is contagious as she works with fellow educators and students.

Oftentimes, the Internet can become cumbersome for those who only have a brief moment to utilize its full potential. Though most of us would love to include more technology into our lesson planning, we find that we simply run out of time. We run out of time when planning (as there are so many sites to choose from), and we run out of time covering content within the classroom (as there are so many weekly disruptions). Kleinspiration provides a spot where teachers can browse the newest technology finds, while still being reminded of quality sites that have been around, read comments/reviews other professionals/parents have made about a particular site, and peek directly into Klein’s middle school classroom as she shares her own lessons and student product examples. Furthermore, Klein has a contact page where she welcomes questions and opportunities to work together through conferences and workshops. 

Kleinspiration - project learning

Kleinspiration provides inspiration to students looking for the ‘just right way’ to present an upcoming project, the parent at home wishing for support to assist with homework, and the teacher who is searching for the perfect gem to jazz up his or her lesson.

Thankyou, Erin, for sharing your wonderful blog with the readers of Bright Ideas. If any readers would like more information, or would like to work with Erin, visit Kleinspiration.

Guest Post: Integrating Australian Curriculum into units of work, by Lisa Hill

Lisa Hill, teacher librarian at Mossgiel Park Primary School, is integrating the new Australian Curriculum into her existing literature units of work. Lisa outlines this work on her fantastic blog LisaHillSchoolStuff’s Weblog, and is willing to share the four units of work when she has completed them. On behalf of many primary school educators out there, thankyou Lisa!

LisaHillSchoolStuff's Weblog

Awesome stories

Awesome stories is a gathering place of primary source material that is free to join, so history teachers get excited (it even includes lesson plans!). If you decide not to join, you are still able to access plenty of amazing resources that are sourced from the USA national archives, universities, museums, historical societies, and government created websites. The ‘stories’/topics, such as impact of shooting, the King’s speech, and Chernobyl disaster, are told/explained by the relevant images, videos, audio, documents, and other primary sources linked to that story. It is an amazing place to find interesting sources to show your students, or for your students to search for primary sources to support their assignments.

Awesome stories