January 27

Ssh….it’s gone Quiet

This will be the last post on my Blog. I will keep it active, as the reason I started was to share my collaborative learning methodology. So if someone finds anything useful that they can steal, change and adapt or be inspired to do something different, it will be a useful bit of cyber flotsam.

After teaching for twenty five years at Grange Primary School I have decided it was time to hang up my chalk and pursue other interests, while also spending more time with my family. Although I dearly loved building trusting relationships with students and supporting them to be the best learners they can be, I knew it was also time for me look after my own wellbeing and spend more time with Peter my understanding husband. He retired too!


So my teaching career, which I excitedly began in 1978, ends in 2018, as I will take long service leave before officially retiring later in the year.

So on the 15th of Dec 2017 I said goodbye to my last class ever… with a few tears I have to admit. They were happy to be off for their annual summer holidays, but like me we were sad to say a final farewell.


One of the hardest things was to dismantle the room and disperse my resources. How bare this looks on our final day. I will miss this bunch!

There were more tears as I had to farewell the students who, of course, mean everything to me. It is these small folk that I will truly miss the most and it was a difficult thing to say good bye. I was very touched by the beautiful book presented to me at the final assembly. I absolutely loved the Star Trek Theme…now how did they Know?

A clip from the presentation


I want to thank my dear colleagues and students, past and present at Grange Primary School for their heartfelt well wishes and an absolutely hilarious and gracious retirement send off, I will miss the intellectual discussions and friendships. Maybe not the homework or yard duties!

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Good byes are never easy. I have never perfected that.

But as I shut my classroom door for the last time, with yet another tear in my eye, the love and respect that was showered over me during those last weeks will always remain with me. It gave me the strength to close that chapter of my life and to say. “Well, I reckon I did a pretty good job.”

Thank you friends, colleagues, parents and children, I wouldn’t change the the past forty years for anything. Now let’s see what these new doors lead to!


” Good Afternoon Everyone.”



January 27

Post Script to Remembering our Armed Forces and Giving Back

I was delighted to receive some mail in the holidays from some of the armed personnel who were given our care packages. That they took the time to write back to us was very thoughtful. All were impressed to hear we were learning about the conflicts and reasons for them being away from their families. We are glad that we made their day a little brighter and spread some Christmas cheer.

One from Jade from The RAAF who is currently deployed to the Middle East and missing her 4 year old daughter and Fiancee very much. Read her story.

We also received this lovely Christmas card from RAAF Officer Linda also serving in the Middle East who wishes you all the best of luck for year 4. read on.

The final card was from Lieutenant Fiona an Army Officer experiencing her first visit to the Middle East. She really loved your letter Matthew! She writes….

In 2016 I visited Vanuatu and saw first hand the tremendous support the Army gave to the Islanders after they were devastated by a severe Tropical Cyclone. We are indeed fortunate that these folk are working hard to support communities and protect Australia and her Allies. Once again we say a big Thank You.



December 12

Let’s do Lunch, the Collaborative Way

We don’t do class parties in our room, we have shared lunches! So at this time of year, we plan a collaborative shared team lunch.

Each team had to decide on their menu for Christmas lunch. Our school has a healthy eating policy and once a year we can have a red food day. However in this case they could only have one red food in their lunch. The menu needed to be healthy choices with one sweet.

In their learning teams they needed to organise the food as well as the accessories such as plates napkins and utensils. Most wanted some kind of Christmas theme so decorations were up to them. It took real team work.

The biggest challenge was to cater only for four people. A few teams over catered!

They had plenty of time to set up, indulge in pleasant dinner conversation and clean up.

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I loved the way the worked together thought together and acted together. A real collaborative effort.


Well done everyone I was impressed. We had some very festive tables indeed.


November 26

Remembering our Brave Armed Forces and Giving Back

During our preparation for Remembrance Day, many discussions were had about the life and conditions of the armed forces during wars and conflicts. I shared my experiences of visiting Anzac Cove in 2006 and we talked about the battle that had taken place. I also shared with them the poem written by Ataturk and showed them a statue of soldiers helping each other out.

A deeply moving poem.

Headstone line the foreshore, young men who paid the supreme sacrifice.

Courage, Mateship, Bravery on both sides.

While discussing the past, the children were stunned to discover that in the present our service men and women  are still working to defend our country and help out our allies. They had also just watched the Christmas pageant and their thoughts are turning to fun times with their families.

I had heard from my husband Peter about a wonderful idea to spread some Christmas cheer to our scattered defence force. With the help of Australia Post, we could say thank you and acknowledge their hard work.

I put out a request for some donated items to place in care packages. The response was overwhelming.

Thank you all so much, I was touched by your generosity.


Each box could only be 2 kg. After weighing everything individually, the students had a task.

What was the total weight of our items and how many boxes do I need to get?

Each team was given a list of weights and as a team they needed a sub total. Once that was completed they could find the total weight. They could use any procedure to get their answer and could check it later with a calculator.

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They eventually worked out we that had 22.5 kg. of donated goods and that we would need 11 boxes. Given we had 7 teams, if we shared the donations we could make 2 boxes per team. They agreed and set to work!

Making and assembling the boxes was tricky. Then they needed to decide on what to give the soldiers they had selected.

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It was a great collaborative effort, thanks everyone young and old. We included a photo of ourselves so they knew we were thinking of them.

The words say  We wish you a Merry Christmas  Thank You 

Something to think about.

What did you enjoy about making the care packages?

What did you put in your box?

What do you think the soldier will say when they open their box?

Have you ever had to be away from your family?

How would you feel to be away from your family for a long time?

What are you hoping will be in a box for you at Christmas time?


July 25

Spinning in Space

Last term we learnt about how the Moon,


the Sun

and Earth

spin and rotated in space. We also learnt that from all this spinning and rotating, the positions of the Sun and Earth played a big part in how we experienced day and night.

Relative sizes

It was important that we understand exactly how big these objects are. Now that is kind of tricky because we really can’t see Earth as we are standing on it, as for the Sun and Moon, well at a distance they can play tricks on your eyes.

We are fortunate in our Solar System to have the Moon and Sun exactly where they are because they actually look the same size. We know the Sun is huge, but it is 400 times further away than the Moon. The further something is away from us the smaller it looks. That is why when he Moon moves in front of the Sun we get a perfect eclipse.

Actually things in space are big, really, really big in fact somethings are so big our heads can’t get it at all. This is what we mean.

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Checking this idea out

We had a go at using a basketball to represent the Sun and a tennis ball to represent the Moon. In teams we worked together to move the Sun away until it appeared to our eyes to be the same same size as our Moon.

I had my eclipse glasses handy so we all had a couple of safe looks at the Sun. Although this mighty sphere was shining brightly, it looked indeed no bigger than a full Moon. Some children even saw the Sunspots.

Understanding shadows

How much fun is shadow tag! But there is a lot of science in shadows.

Why don’t shadows stay put?

On a sunny morning, we went outside and traced around each other’s shadow.

Then we played some shadow tag. That was challenge, they never stayed put!

Back in the classroom we discussed and recorded what we thought we knew about shadows.

Time to return outside to checkout our shadows….oh no!  They had moved. We needed to trace them again.

We noticed that all the shadows that we could see had moved from the base. To start with, they were facing west, later on, they were moving Easterly. That was odd. Why did this happen? Ah, the Sun moved. Of course, that was it!  Or was it?

Time to get serious with a scientific investigation.

I gave each team member an investigation planner, together they discussed and recorded their plan. This is a summary of our discussion, once planning had ceased.

Luckily for us the day was one of the last sunny days before the cloudy days of winter settled in.

We went out every hour on the hour, as best we could, throughout the day, sharing jobs to complete the investigation. To make it a fair test, we needed to place the cardboard in exactly the same place, have the same equipment and record the shadow line carefully. Teams worked collaboratively to complete their observations.

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The following day, in our teams, we analysed the information together.

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We had some interesting data that we were able to place in a table and record graphically such as this example. We know that tables are useful to sort out information and graphs show us data that we can see clearly.

We discussed our observations and concluded that as the Sun moved across the sky from East to West, the shadows moved in the opposite direction. Our proof was the marks we recorded on our cardboard posters. We found out that the shadows were longest when the Sun was lower in the sky and shorter when it was high in the sky. Our proof was the measurements we took each hour. Our claim based on our data was that the Sun’s movements caused all this. So the Sun did move!


We knew better though. Earth is really the object that moved, not the Sun, that object stays in the centre of our Solar System  and rotates. It is the rotation of the Earth that caused the Sun to appear to move in the sky, which then caused the shadows to lengthen and shorten.

You see we’d also been learning about the spinning and revolution of Earth. There was a lot to remember. Everything spins in space. You can get dizzy trying to remember everything.

We found this clip to be a great reminder.

We learnt a great deal about our neighbours in space and how they affected our life. At the end of the unit, I asked the students to design a scientific poster that explained how we get day and night. Here are a few.


Here are some things to think about.

What did you enjoy most about the science unit? Can you remember an impressive fact?

What didn’t you like?

Are there things you still are curious about and have more questions?

How did you feel about giving your oral presentation?

What do you think of space and the things beyond Earth?

What impressed you?