Paul's Place of Musings and Insights

the reflections of a techno-meddling teacher


Remembrance Day

I’ve woken up to a lot of activity today on my social media along the lines of ‘Lest we forget’. November 11 is Armistice Day and a time we remember those who fell in World War 1, as well as all armed conflicts in recent history. I am a fan of this, but I want to take things further than just not forgetting these sacrifices.

All war is based in conflict. Today, I’ll be talking to my students not about people who died in wars, but about how we can all, in our own little way, make less conflict in our world. The principle of letting a new friend, someone who is a little lonely, into your play group is the same concept as accepting a country or its people who need a little help. I’m in no way trivialising the nature of international diplomacy, but simply wanting to spread the message that we should all try to get along a little better in our lives, especially with those we may not see eye to eye with.

On a day we commemorate mostly young people who have been slaughtered because of disagreements, this seems not inappropriate.



Joestache by paulrhuebl
Joestache, a photo by paulrhuebl on Flickr.

This post doubles as both an opportunity to share the new addition to our family as well as my latest undertaking. Young Joseph Paul Babidge Huebl is helping me in framing my Movember profile. I am not usually one to publicly raise money, and thus solicit donations for any particular cause, because I like to keep my benevolence to myself. However, with the birth of my son and the enthusuasm of some of my colleagues, I have decided to get involved in Movember this year.

This will require me to grow my moustache for the month of November, to raise funds and awareness for Men’s Health issues. Being a gentleman who chooses not to shave at all, this undertaking is not so much an exercise in growing facial hair, but to not grow it! The undertaking of applying a razor to my face will certainly be an ordeal for me, so I feel that any support to my cause would be well earned and received.

But its also nice to share a pic of me and my new little bro.

If anyone in the wide blogosphere is interested in supporting my efforts, please click here with my thanks.



Mid Year Wisdom

As part of teaching my students how to record and mix an audio file as a substitute for writing a blog post, I created this. Making it up as I was going along, I thought it would be a good idea to have each of my students come up with ‘words of wisdom’ that they want to share with next year’s Year 6’s. I thought it would be interesting for my current students to reflect on something that they see as important for ‘surviving’ Mr Huebl as a teacher. All the kids participated with good humour and this is our result.

Click here to listen —–> Mid Year Wisdom <——- Click there to listen

Reflecting on this lesson today, I see that giving relevant content to an otherwise dry ‘chalk and talk’ demonstration has led to a valuable resource not only for my current students, but my class of Year 5’s that I will meet officially at the end of the year. It has hit home the notion for not only myself but my students as well that with the plethora of web tools available, it is ridiculously easy to engage in meaningful reflection. I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to have 1:1 devices, where students could make these reflections ‘on the fly’ and then publish in a meaningful way at a later date.

The ability to do things as the inspiration comes is not always a luxury however, but I see after this exercise that these opportunities should be grasped at all costs.


Marking Blues and Assessment Musings

Marking gives me the blues. It gets me down. Assigning a number to a student is not an instinctive action for me. I realise the need and all the buzzwords – monitoring, feedback, reporting, stakeholders, progress etc. It is something I find hard to do though. I see the bright kids cruise through and get a good mark. I see others struggle to even ‘pass.’ For me, its an unfortunate side of the teaching profession.

I need to make a disclaimer here. My current school has a great attitude towards assessment. It’s all about the process as well as the product. Assessment needs to inform our teaching as well as provide feedback to students and parents. I’ve previously needed to give exams to Year 5’s so all is well on the attitude to assessment front, but it remains something that in a perfect world I would avoid.

This ranting is not for naught – my point here is that when it comes to assessment design, it is important to ensure there is a fair balance between formal curriculum outcomes that you need to report on as well as the more specific objectives that frame a task and give it context. For example, we have recently conducted an investigation into measurement, using the iconic Vitruvian Man illustration as a model. Being an IB school, we have defined rubrics that apply to all assessments. These relate to skills, processes as well as knowledge and reflection: What are the fractions? How can you convert these to ratios? What is the relationship between body parts? Do your answers make sense in the context of the problem? and so on.

On top of these, we apply ACARA outcomes. After all these formal requirements, its hard to fit in things like curiosity, attitude, perseverance, commitment etc into an already packed assessment. It is these things that I value in my students, but I find it difficult at times to measure their success in these terms when there is such a focus on the formal outcomes.

This is where anecdotal records come in. Constant observations, feedback and adjustments are all part of the regular teaching cycle. I’m certainly not on a soapbox here – formal assessment is necessary, but I find it important to keep sight of personal development over the formal meeting of prescribed benchmarks.


Back to school

Going back to school is exciting. As a student, it was all about seeing friends, catching up on the news and its a fresh start. It’s also about opening new stationery. As a teacher, it is the opportunity to refresh those stale habits that grew on us last term and to try new things. It’s also about new stationery for us.

This term, I have tried to give my students the benefits of the CEGSA ICT & Pedagogy Partnership Conference that I attended in the student free (holiday) break. I specifically took a lot from the idea of students making personal connections as an integral part of their learning. I see four separate ways in which I want to foster connections in my students.

With the information. Relating their personal experiences to what they are learning about.
With the ideas. Considering how the themes being looked at affect their own lives.
With Classmates. Identifying how the interactions they have with their classmates aids in their learning.
With Others. Reaching out to the wider school community and beyond to give context to their new ideas.

My goal is for my students to be constantly mindful of how they are connecting during their learning. I know that learning requires connections and I suspect that if you make connections, you can’t help but learn.



Aussie Cadel Evans winning the tour de France |

At one of my first PD’s as a teacher I was told (along with the others in the room) that for a novice, the enthusiasm one has for new things is in direct disproportion to the time that goes by. On the other hand, experts maintain their enthusiasm and in fact it builds as time goes by. What I took away from this is that we can be gung-ho to begin with, but there is a challenge in maintaining new practices once the novelty wears off (recent blog activity included…)

I address this now because my school is on the eve of rolling out an iPad trial. Time and brain effort has gone into perusing our various PLN’s, talking with similar schools and generally figuring out what will work for us. While I have no doubt that the great team we have will not fall into the novelty trap with this project, which is taking place at a school-wide level, it makes me ponder the practices in individual classrooms, where already time-stretched teachers face the challenge of carrying on with a class blogging project, or maintaining Edmodo discussion boards, or even preparing interactive white board lessons in advance.

I guess the point of this pondering is to inspire myself and others to continue persisting with new ideas – thats how we build good habits.


Oh, and well done Cadel!


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