2013 – The Year Ahead

Happy New Year to everyone and I hope you are all still enjoying a hard earned and relaxing break.

As you may have been able to tell by the frequency of my posts, I have been enjoying a break away from work too. The good news is that I’m not quite ready to slip back in to work mode just yet. In fact, I’m writing this post from one of Ballarat’s (in my opinion) best coffee houses – The Unicorn. If you’re ever here for a visit, it’s a must try!

Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday morning during the holidays!

Having said all of this, I know for a fact that teachers are beginning to think about the year ahead and the endless adventures, laughs and challenges that will be your new grades. Graduate teachers are nervous about the ‘great unknown’ that will be their first year of teaching (no amount of university will ever prepare you!) and experienced teachers are excited to get back into the classroom and share their knowledge with their students and colleagues alike.

Me? Well, here’s the thing. On the 4th February I’m flying to Santiago, Chile, to begin a year long (maybe more) adventure around the South American continent. In the last few months I have left my position at Canadian Lead Primary School as a Grade 3/4 classroom teacher, sold my beloved road bike and numerous other possessions on eBay, bought a hefty amount of overseas currency and done hours of planning, reading and research for my eagerly anticipated trip.

So what’s in store this year for OpenEdToolbox?

I guess one of the best things about traveling in the 21st Century is the ease with which we can communicate. I’m looking forward to staying in touch with my brilliant PLN on Twitter, my friends on Facebook – and what they’re eating via Instagram! I’m hoping that among the great travel experiences that I encounter it will be as if I never lose touch with current education debate, passionate teachers and their wonderful ideas. All of this will enable me to return to my profession enriched, culturally and academically, and more committed than ever.

With all of the extra time on my hands (fingers crossed!) I plan to continue my work with OpenEdToolbox. This is largely due to the amazing responses I have had via email and Twitter to some of my posts, and the opportunities I have had to collaborate with others. I have been discussing some exciting opportunities to work with Education Services Australia  and their amazing maths300 resource, and I am also planning some collaboration with Fractus Learning. In addition to this, I plan on writing a live travel photoblog to document and communicate my experiences overseas, the details of which will follow shortly.

Thank you to all of my followers and readers for their encouragement and support, and I look forward to learning with you in 2013.

Nos vemos!


What are your grand plans for 2013? What are you most excited about sharing with your students this year? Please share your comments below.


What I’m Reading – October.

I managed to keep the balance between school and personal reading over the holidays. Here are a few that I am enjoying at the moment.

Making Thinking Visible, How to Promote Engagement, Understanding and Independence for All Learners (Ritchhart, Church & Morrison, Jossey-Bass 2011)

After seeing a huge amount of discussion about this book between educators on Twitter, and having discussed it with a few members of my PLN, I was keen to see what all the fuss was about. I have already found the content to be relevant to current practice, and the arguments to be concise and well explained. I love the analysis of the revised taxonomy early in the book. It is a must read for any teacher who wishes to expand their understanding of how our students apply their thinking and knowledge in everyday context.

What’s the Point of School? Rediscovering the Heart of Education (Guy Claxton, Oneworld Oxford 2008)

This was also recommended to me by a member of my PLN. Claxton is touted as one of the UK’s leading academics and thinkers on creativity, thinking and the brain. I’m not finding that this is necessarily a text that I can pick up/put down (as I like to do), and that is making it quite heavy going. This has lead to me being slightly out of touch with Claxton’s argument. Having said that, there are some interesting points raised that have made me reflect elsewhere in my studies and discussions with my PLN. Hopefully I get a chance to follow this up in more detail in a future post.

Inca-Kola, A Traveller’s Tale of Peru (Matthew Parris, Phoenix 1990)

I have been reading as many accounts of South American travel as I can in the lead up to my big trip next year, and this 90’s gem from journalist Matthew Parris was no exception. It is an extremely well-written, gripping, often humorous tale of his experiences in and around Peru in the late 80s. If you are planning on any travel yourself, a great idea is to read as much as you can before you go. It is exciting and incredibly informative, I have added so many travel plans since reading this book!

The Snowman (Jo Nesbo, Vintage Books 2010)

I’ve been a little bit sneaky here, because I’ve actually been too busy to start this one. However, I have read The Leopard (another of Nesbo’s thrillers) and I am convinced this book will be worth the wait. As the cover indicates, if you’re a fan of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy you will enjoy this series too. The dark, twisted plots aren’t for those with a weak stomach though!

Twitter has been a great tool for me so far in terms of receiving recommendations from other educators. However, it is difficult to keep a record of great texts to read that everyone can access. For this reason, please use the comment space to share what you are reading, and any other recommendations so that we can all comment and enjoy!



What I’m Reading – Procrastination


Okay so I’m writing this post to avoid doing my master’s assignment, but I thought it would be interesting.

I always tend to be reading a few books at once, I like to try and keep a work/life balance and I’m always appreciative of the books that I can pick-up, put-down (such as Hattie’s brilliant Visible Learning adaptation below).

Ballarat has a top-notch selection of commercial book retailers and various second-hand book stores, my favourite being The Known World in Sturt St – I can spend hours in there! Anyway, listed below are some of my current reads.

Engagement Matters, Personalised Learning for Grades 3 to 6 (Kathy Walker & Shona Bass, Acer Press 2011)

This inspiring resource is a follow-up from Play Matters, and offers educators an overview and step-by-step instructions and resources for implementing the Personalised Learning approach in your school. I read this book at the beginning of the year and find something reaffirming and new every time I come back to it. A practical guide for all teachers which I highly recommend.

Visible Learning for Teachers, (John Hattie, Routledge 2012)

Speaking for itself as ground-breaking research, me and my colleagues aptly refer to this book as ‘The Bible’ (Which leads us to ask, ‘is John Hattie God?’). Dispelling myths about some strategies, and providing concrete evidence to support others, this is a book that I constantly refer back to throughout the year to affirm and inform my practice.

The Gringo Trail, a darkly comic road-trip through South America (Mark Mann, Summerdale 1999)

Pulled off a dusty shelf in the ‘Travel – South America’ section of The Known World, this account of three friends’ journey across the turbulent continent has been a stepping stone in my future travel plans for 2013. This book lends itself to the rich history, culture and drama of a range of South American countries and inhabitants.

The Consolations of Philosophy (Alain De Botton, Penguin Books 2000)

De Botton has recently become one of my favourite authors. He has an extraordinary capability to work philosophy and its thinking into layman’s terms. He does this by exploring some of history’s great (and sometimes not so great) characters and exploring their lives in incredibly succinct, relevant detail. In The Consolations of Philosopy, De Botton offers consolation for: Unpopularity, not having enough money, frustration, inadequacy, a broken heart and difficulties. He is also author of a number of other subject-specific books.

Until recently I used Fishpond for my online orders. A colleague has recently recommended Book Depository for their quick postage and excellent prices, but I cannot speak for them myself.

Please use the comments section to add any feedback. I have posed some questions below to help with discussion.

Back to my essay!



What is on your teacher bookshelf at the moment?

Have you got any particular educational researchers/writers to recommend?

What do you read in your spare time?

Have you found this post useful? 

Please share your feedback in the comments, I am always on the lookout for a good read!