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.


Twitter Chats

I’ve always been a big fan of twitter chats. Since discovering the benefits of twitter in education during my second year of teaching, I have found the scheduled chat to be the most rewarding aspect of the medium. It’s a chance to share ideas, get ideas and have your ideas affirmed. Most importantly, for me, is that they expose you to an extended learning network. You are able to engage with other professionals that are outside your own staff room. You get the benefit of collected experiences and contexts.

There are a plethora of scheduled chats on all sorts of topics. See here for a collection made by Jeannette James (@7mrsjames).  One that I keep going back to is #ozprimschchat. It is for Australian Primary School teachers – check, thats me.

I have been using this blog to not only document my professional learning journey as a teacher, but more recently to also map these against the AITSL Standards. Since twitter chats are considered professional development, I thought I would start documenting the chats I participate in here. These will also serve as a resource for the specific topics that are discussed. Tonight’s chat was on the Australian Curriculum – What needs to change?




Movember Shave

As I have mentioned before I will be participating in Movember this year to raise funds and awareness for Men’s Health issues. I usually don’t go in for this kind of thing, because I tend to sport a handsome beard, and I leave it at that. However, I am now the father to a son and I want to take part this year as a nod to him and his future bros. Below is documented evidence of my sincerity in this pursuit. Please support my efforts at





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.



Parodies everywhere

This term in Maths, I identified a weakness across the year level in times tables facts. We had just emerged from the joy of algebra and were in the midst of geometry, but some gaping holes were emerging, and I decided that a turbo unit on times tables facts was needed.

Being a lover of creative outlets to enhance motivation for dry subject matter, and of parodies in general, I designed a task that would address the techniques needed for some of the trickier times tables facts, complimented by the power of a good tune.

Keeping it real in class

Keeping it real in class

The task required the students to form groups and to choose a popular song that they would change the lyrics to. These altered lyrics would be related to the learning of times tables as opposed to the recital of the facts themselves. Engagement is high, and despite my concerns that the Maths would get left behind in favour of putting on a good show, the students all engaged with the specifics of the task.

Certainly one to pack away for next year!


Genius Hour Teaching

This post is not about me using Genius Hour in my classroom for my students. I do use it, and in reflecting on using it, I have adopted some of the principles or habits that it promotes into my practice. These are notions of following instincts, experimenting with new ideas, using new paradigms and mixing up traditional classroom practices.

Planning the steps

Planning the steps

After reading this post by @paulbogush I decided to have a go at creating RSA style videos as part of my Technology teaching. The process described in the above post lends itself to the design cycle and it satisfies my need to use technology only when it enhances outcomes. The making of these videos requires analysis and understanding of concepts and content and as such does not exist as technology thrown on to a unit for the sake of it. Above all though, those videos are cool! I wanted to experiment with them. I was drawn to the process and felt passionate about incorporating them into my teaching.

So in planning how I would deliver this new concept to the Year 6s, I had absolute freedom. I teach the subject and thus these lessons to the entire grade, so I really could do it anyway I wanted. This was good, because I was finding it difficult to sequence. I initially wanted to integrate the unit with Science, and use the videos to explain the steps in a volcanic eruption or an earthquake, but that content seemed a little dry and uninspiring. If anything was need to jazz up the video process, it was the presence of creative thinking and so I decided that scientific content would not be the best option.

Deconstructing a Fairy Tale

Deconstructing a Fairy Tale

I went back to my Junior Primary roots and decided to use a Fairy Tale. My friendly Cybrarian pointed me towards a volume of tales and in true selective rigour I picked the first one – Little Red Riding Hood. I should also mention that I made this ‘content change’ five minutes before the lesson. So with my plan it tatters, I now  bring this ramble back to Genius Hour. I felt in that hurried morning an exhilaration (maybe a bit too strong a word, but it was very exciting) about my teaching. I literally bounded towards my classroom, thrilled about teaching this lesson, which I really did not have a plan for. Beginning teacher Mr Huebl, five years ago, would have shuddered at this thought and cowered at the notion of going into the introduction of a new unit with little more than a vague notion of where it was going. After all, if I didn’t reel the kids into this first lesson, I would be fighting uphill for the rest of the unit to keep them engaged.

What I found though, is that I was liberated. I knew the process that needed to be gone through to make the videos, and even though I had deviated from my plan, I was able to ‘make it up’ to an extent as I went along. I’m happy to say that it was a success and after lesson one, I have an engaged bunch of 11 year olds, even if just because it was a fascinating novelty to deconstruct a fairy tale. If only, I chose to integrate with English instead of Science!

Developing a plan

Developing a plan

So I refer to the process I went through as Genius Hour teaching. I went with my gut feel that the content needed to change, I was teaching a unit about a process that I had never seen before, I was out on a limb regarding my comfort level, but it all went well. I feel that the experiences my students have been going through in their Genius Hour learning have washed off on me – I was teaching what I wanted, the way I wanted to, and we all lived happily ever after.


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.

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