Sunday, June 18, 2017

20170618 Let's no-longer have holidays - everyday is a workday!

Maybe the real problem isn't penalty rates. Maybe the real problem is our concept of weekends and public holidays. Let's no-longer have holidays - everyday is a workday! Schedule the sporting events for Monday morning at 09:00, remove all the restrictions on retail opening hours, and hold parliament question time on Sunday. We still have until 2020 to raise a talented cohort of engineers to run our power stations and transport systems during the weekend for the same $/hr as their weekday colleagues. If you want to play in a sporting team, simply take the day off - all the players on both teams will have no problem because an employer will simply hire another person to take your place! No bank holidays - everyday is a workday. No ANZAC day - everyday is a workday. Same $/hr = same attitude. Our great nation's new Orwellian motto "Everyday is a work day! "

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

20130925 How English Teachers Mark Your Work

How English Teachers Mark Your Work.
English compositions are marked by qualitative and empirical measurements.

  • Learning Objective:
To enable students to meet the objectives of secondary school standards in writing.

  • Aim
To inform students about the teaching practices that affect their overall marks.

  • Focus
Students will focus on the methods to improve their ability to comply with the assessment criteria and rules.

  • Process

English teachers use subjective methods to assess a student's abilities and competency based on performance standards versus content standards. During this lesson the student will be given the opportunity to become familiar with the teaching methods expected by their school. The reason a student must know this is;
The student will be expected to deliver English essays of a specific standard.

Assessment for this lesson:
The student is required to summarise the passage in 600 words, in 30 minutes.
Assessment criteria:
  • Word count
  • Spelling accuracy
  • Grammar and tense
  • Accuracy of information

Review the main points of the article:
English teachers rely on empirical and subjective assessments.
Definition of assessment.

Marsh, Colin. “Becoming a Teacher. 4th Edition”, Pearson Education, 2008.

How English Teachers Mark Your Work.
English compositions are marked by qualitative and empirical measurements.

The passage below is taken from the book Becoming a Teacher by Colin Marsh.
‘Assessment’ is the term typically used to describe the activities undertaken by a teacher to obtain information about the knowledge, skills and attitudes of students. Activities can involve the collection of formal assessment data by the use of objective tests or the use of informal data by the use of observation checklists. Teachers typically assign a grade or mark: a numerical score, a letter grade or a descriptive ranking for work undertaken.

Assessment Principles:
  • Assessment can only be based on samples of behaviour and therefore inaccuracies will always occur.
  • Assessment must communicate to teachers how to make instruction more effective.
  • Assessment is not done mainly to grade students, but to promote instruction.
  • Assessment must be fair to all students and groups.
  • Assessment must measure a broad range of abilities.
  • Assessment results must be meaningful to all participants, students, teachers and parents.

The reasons for assessment:
Assessment is usually undertaken for the following reasons:
  • diagnosis of learning and monitoring progress
  • grading students
  • predicting future achievements
  • motivating students
  • diagnosis of teaching

Who benefits from the assessment?:
Students should be the main reason for assessment but they are typically not given a high priority.
Teachers need feedback about the effectiveness of their teaching and student assessments are used increasingly for appraising teachers.
Parents want regular feedback on the progress of their children and schools are subject to a parental review based on the assessment results.
Tertiary institutions require specific information from applicants intending to enrol.
Employers are demanding more specific information in terms of literacy and numeracy and key competences.

Write the answer to the questions in the space provided using a short sentence.
Your answers will be assessed on spelling, grammar and correct tense. Your opinion will not be assessed.

Can you see any conflicts of interest in the assessment process? Explain your answer.

What questions should you ask your teacher about your assessment?

If there are 15 students in a class, and only one student passes an assessment, has the teacher failed to deliver the lesson? Explain the reason for your answer.

If there are 15 students in a class, and only one student fails an assessment, has the teacher failed to deliver the lesson? Explain the reason for your answer.

Write a summary of the passage in 600 words in 30 minutes.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

20130904 Teachers of Today.

“Teachers of Today – who they are and what they need to do and know”.

Teachers of Today need to know that they are expected to fulfill a special role in the community that is challenging, relentless and, at times, blatantly unfair.  Teachers should find it flattering that the good people of their community assume that a common garden-variety primary teacher is capable of being a competent professional in areas of expertise so wide and divergent that it is not unusual to find a teacher who can teach science in the morning, art in the afternoon, coach a cricket team after school, play the cello in a concert in the evening, compassionately consult with concerned couples afterwards and still have the patience of a saint while consoling a lost and distraught eleven year-old with bipolar disorder with an obvious fear of abandonment.  Regardless of all this, there are people who genuinely want to be teachers (Teacher supply and demand and student placements in Western Australia – Strategic Issues 2006).  The purpose of this essay is to offer some educated opinions in answering the question of who these people are, what they need to know, what they need to do, and if they can get help from a reputable 12-step program.

A teacher is regarded as a professional.  Questions have been raised about whether teaching is a legitimate profession.  Teaching is undoubtedly a profession (Langford, 1978).  In every rule there is always an exception; if the letter Y can be vowel ‘sometimes’; if an egg-laying amphibious furry creature with venomous hind legs can be called a mammal then surely that courtesy can be extended to teachers.
The teaching profession asks its members to commit to life-long dedication to serve others regardless of personal gain.  Teachers have a full-time life-commitment to the role, they are always at work and everything a teacher does influences their lesson planning including: listening to students, remembering, visualizing, writing things down, flicking through magazines, rehearsing, or drinking tea while staring into space (Woodword, 2001).  Marsh (2008) on the subject of lesson planning, mentions receiving “sudden flashes of intuition while taking a shower or working out at the local gymnasium”.  The community expects a teacher to set an example to his or her students in all aspects of life, which is not expected of other professions.  While many people in the community may expect a teacher to convey certain and specific values as a subtext in every lesson, the same community may react with feelings ranging from mild concern through to conniptions if the same values were taught by a professional hydraulic engineer from the local sewage treatment plant.  A teacher is trusted with confidential information about sensitive social problems within their community.  This trust is based on an expectation that a teacher will act, and always act, even out of school hours and out of school grounds, in an ethical manner that exemplifies the profession (Whitton et al. 2009).  This expectation of trust has become so embedded in the community’s expectation of the teaching profession that it was deemed in a court of law that there exists a legal teacher-student relationship that extends the ethical boundaries of duty-of-care into a legal obligation to exercise greater responsibility to protect students from foreseeable harm (Crouch 1996).

As a profession, as a trade, as a craft or even as an art, teachers are the front edge of the curriculum so the teacher’s primary role is to deliver the learning objectives described in the curriculum to the letter.  Marsh (2009) explains that lesson planning is so diverse, variable and personal that there is no definitive set of instructions on how to make a ‘standard lesson plan’ (Marsh 2009).  This being the case, a teacher must know the elements of a good lesson plan and practice the art of lesson planning.  Like the definition of genius, lesson planning is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.  Good lesson planning comes by inspiration, then a concept that must be moulded into shape by applying the rules and using the tools of the profession.
A lesson plan must satisfy these conditions:
The plan must be derived from the stated learning outcomes, which in turn, are derived from the approved program via the learning objectives in the state or national curriculum.
The learning objectives must be achieved.
The lesson must differentiate to accommodate the preferred learning style of the students.
The learning experience must be delivered in a safe, welcoming and positive classroom environment.
The learning process must be continually reviewed and refined, and changed according to the future needs of the student.
The learning outcomes must be assessed.
The lesson plan must be economical, achievable, legal and ethical.

A teacher has a responsibility to keep control of the events occurring in the classroom and ensure students regard it as an inviting, comfortable, nurturing, relaxing and challenging workplace where they discover that work, interest, challenge and reward can peacefully coexist.  It is a place of work for the teacher and a place of work for the students and in this context, a teacher is in the business of teaching and the student is in the business of learning (Cangelosi 1992).  Studies have shown that proper classroom management can raise student performance by as much as 20 percentile points (Marzano, Marzano & Pickering 2003).
A school classroom is instantly recognisable as such and this is true throughout the known universe.  There is a certain look, feel and smell about a primary school classroom, desks and chairs set out in rows, the new smart board, the smell of paint, paper and old lunches.  Minds are moulded in this place.  It has been described by experts as “a feel” to the classroom in regards to how the physical arrangement of desks, chairs and other furniture are arranged.  There is only one thing that ruins a good classroom: the classroom misbehaviour.  Marsh (2008) cites a study by Infantino and Little where research has indicated that, in at least one Australian secondary school, up to 76% of the teacher’s time was used for the purpose of correcting negative student behaviour.  This inefficiency should not be tolerated. The teacher must know how to use appropriate and effective classroom management skills as a normal and expected part of being a competent professional.  School administrators often make judgements about the efficacy of a teacher based on his or her ability to manage the classroom, also, there is a community expectation and a professional obligation that the teacher can and will work towards maintaining a positive learning environment (Marsh 2009).  The arrangement of classroom furniture affects the student’s ability to learn due to distractions caused by proximity to other students and the level of comfort offered by climatic controls (Gunter et al. 1995).
A teacher needs a working knowledge of child psychology to the extent where he or she is able to recognise a student’s character and be able to correctly apply appropriate and efficient teaching strategies matching the student’s learning strategies.  The importance of this ability and expectation is emphasised by the fact that psychologists can, and often do, refer to a teacher’s observations to make a diagnosis for conditions such as ADD and ADHD.  In an article in the Early Childhood Education Journal, Kimberli Andrews said “Often it is a child's teachers who may notice many of the behaviours associated with ADHD" and; "Therefore, all teachers, including early childhood professionals, should be aware of the behaviours associated with ADHD"(Andrews 1989).

A teacher must know about different teaching and learning strategies.
One such strategy is called Constructivism and according to the Western Australian Curriculum Council it is regarded as the most popular learning philosophy used by Australian teachers (Hurst 2009).  It is a teaching philosophy that has a basic belief that knowledge is built upon previous knowledge, and just to make it more interesting, the new knowledge affects the perception of the previous knowledge.  There is a Chinese question that may help to illustrate how constructivism works.  The question is: “When is the best time to plant a fruit tree?”  Students often answer with “Spring”, ‘Summer’, or ‘When the moon is full”; or offer practical answers such as “After the summer rains when the ground is moist.”  The answer given by the teacher is simply “20 years ago”.  Then, after a pause for reflection, the teacher asks the student the same question.  Many students will confidently give the answer that the teacher has just taught them.  They may feel that the lesson is about well-known agricultural practices so the students allocate the knowledge a place in their mind merely as an addition to the list of things that require simple recall using only the first two stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy, namely, knowledge and comprehension.  The teacher then gives the answer to the same question, but this time the answer changes to “now”.  The second answer changes the previous knowledge and carries the student to the next level of learning towards the Application and Synthesis stages. The lesson is no longer a piece of minutia merely to be recalled, it is now a lesson on planning for the future. It becomes a lesson on life.  Constructivism uses a logical progression of new and challenging concepts to build on previous knowledge and is one of many teaching strategies that a teacher must know how to use in teaching these approaches to problem solving.
Project based learning is a teaching approach where the students are given time and resources and instructed in the method of delivery and presentation.  It uses a theme to create a series of situations with a given problem.  The theme can cover a wide area of the curriculum, that is, the problem can include more than one learning area, and it is reported to be well received by students because the varied learning styles can be accommodated due to the open nature of the questions (Whitton et al 2009).  This gives students an opportunity to express their personal opinions when they present values-based answers.  The goal of problem-based learning is not so much to find an answer, but more to teach students how to find an answer.  Smith (1995) in Whitton (2009) refers to a study where problem based learning is attributed to the improvement in thinking skills and the acquisition of life-long study skills needed for independent learning (Whitton et. al. 2009).

Authentic learning is a learning strategy which teaches students what they can expect in a real situation.  This is also referred to as practice or training.  A real life situation is replicated or modelled and the functions and procedures needed for successful completion of the learning area objectives are carried out in a controlled and supervised environment.  An example of this could be when a teacher of economics gives students a task to follow the share market for a set time and allocates each student an experimental sum of money which is really no more than a simple integer on a spreadsheet.  The students practice buying and selling shares according to the real-world market reports.  During the project, which may last all semester, the teacher uses any or all of the six teaching strategies that are often associated with authentic learning.  The strategies are:
Modelling.  This is when a teacher demonstrates the learning outcome.
Coaching. This is when a teacher guides the student during the learning experience and offers advice and applies corrections as needed.
Scaffolding.  This has a few meanings in the context of learning strategies: one meaning given by Fetherston (2009) describes scaffolding as any help given by a teacher, while Marsh (2009) describes it as assistance by a teacher in a specific stage of development called the “zone of proximal development” which is a particular area of uncertainty created in the mind of a student when previous knowledge has been challenged by new information.  There is an interesting process where the student must de-construct their old belief and re-order his or her thinking to accommodate the new concept.  This is where scaffolding is used as a teaching strategy and the teacher offers guidance until the new information can be assimilated.  Where Marsh and Fetherston do agree is that the guidance from the teacher is withdrawn as the student demonstrates an understanding and acceptance of the new concept (Marsh 2009) & (Fetherston 2009).

Articulation is a teaching strategy where the teacher asks students to explain their reasoning and the process they used to derive an answer.  It is an important part of math assessment as it asks the student to show all working as part of the process of obtaining the results, and the opposite of this is used in English where planning is not submitted as part of the finished work.  Taylor Mali says it this way “I make them show all their work in math and hide it on their final drafts in English.”  (Mali, T. 2009).  Exploration as a teaching strategy takes the student to higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy to where he or she starts to find more questions.  Using our example of share trading, as the student actually works as a share trader he or she will find many questions pertaining to the task.

Reflection is the process of comparing results with their peers.  In the example of simulating share trading, reflection shows the student what can be achieved and creates an expected standard of work.  
Concept Learning uses emotions as the carrier signal to give the learning experience a strong association with a known concept.  This can be effective in teaching a particular concept such as a moral value rather than a mathematical algorithm, or when a definition or a principle is applied in new circumstances.  Concepts are groups of ideas that have a common association and so students can apply a known concept about a particular object or idea and apply that concept to other objects using Bloom’s Taxonomy’s stages of assessment and synthesis.

For example: this method could be used in a lesson about computer hardware where the concept that the functions of a computer’s central processor can be compared to the functions of a human brain.  The student takes the concepts that he or she associates with the functions and abilities of a human brain and associates those concepts to the computer processor.  The learning strategy of associating similar concepts is called Zygotsky’s second phase; named after the psychologist who, after painstaking research, discovered that a person has three phases of understanding.  The second stage occurs when a student associates concepts that are similar.  The third stage occurs when the student can compare dissimilar objects and concepts (Whitton et al. 2009).

Teaching compared to some other professions: A pilot must fly an aircraft according to a flight-plan and air-traffic regulations, but is free to make decisions according to local weather and aircraft conditions which can result in additional cost and time delays; or ensure the safety of the passengers and crew.  A pilot is expected to make the right decisions.  A soldier must follow the mission objectives, but is free to choose a course of action according to local intelligence and the tactical situation which can result in unplanned changes in political boundaries, loss of life; or the successful completion of the mission and the reclamation of sovereign ground.  In a like manner, a teacher must follow the curriculum to produce a lesson plan but is free to create a lesson plan according to the needs of the students.  Teachers must apply all their training, experience and professional judgement to produce a lesson plan that is of the most benefit their students, that it will land them safely at their destination without flying through a storm and that it will enable them to capture and secure areas of ignorance and to establish a nation of understanding.

Cangelosi, J.S. Systematic Teaching Strategies. Longman Melbourne. 1992.
Crouch, School Sport and the Law. The Practicing Administrator. 1996.
Hagstrom, E. (1962). The Teacher's Day. The University of Chicago Press.
Langford, G. (1978) Teaching as a Profession.  Manchester University Press.
Mali, T. What does a teacher make? retrieved from (2009)
Marsh, C. (2008). Becoming a teacher (4th Ed.) French’s Forest: Pearson. P. 291.
Marzano, Marzano & Pickering. Classroom Management that Works. ASCD
Alexandria, Virginia USA. 2003.
Woodword, T. (2001) Planning Lessons and Courses. Cambridge University Press.
Teacher supply and demand and student placements in Western Australia – Strategic Issues December 2006 Western Australian Department of Educational Services.  2006.

There is no legislation cited in this work.  This line is intentionally blank.

There is no 12-step program to help them.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

20130410 B-doubles Are Dangerous and Should Be Banned.

B-doubles Are Dangerous and Should Be Banned.

According to the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Transport, there have been, on average, 35 deaths per year in Queensland involving heavy vehicles. 35 people are killed every year by trucks. When there is as little as one death involving our soldiers, police or teachers there is a public outcry. The Easter holidays saw another fatal accident where two more innocent people were killed by a B-double truck. According the news report, the driver claimed he made some kind of conscious decision on where to crash. This is obviously nonsense. The claim raises some questions about the job (it is not a profession) of driving a truck. Clearly, it is improbable that a skilled and experienced driver can decide where to crash an out-of-control truck - if the truck was under any control, then there would be no accident. The driver clearly failed to judge the situation correctly. The driver is either incompetent, sadly mistaken, a liar or a murderer.

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads currently have a campaign aimed to reduce the number of needless bloody deaths on Queensland roads; Distracted Driving. Such is the problem of being distracted while driving that the Queensland TMR has managed to create a new genre of its own among the top four reasons that trucks kill people. As at the time writing, Queensland heavy vehicles are the only Australian state to have killed a baby.

In a recent conversation with a B-double driver, I was told that truck drivers often refer to the police as pigs and that the CB radio is alive with chatter about the perceived persecution of truck drivers. This same B-double driver understands why all Australian Federal Police are referred to in this manner and strenuously defended his right to do so. In what lower levels of Bloom's Taxonomy do these people live?

In a job that is directly involved in the accidental deaths of 35 people every year, B-double drivers are either criminally incompetent or B-double drivers are not adequately trained to safely operate the machine; or, the standard needed to attain an HC licence is dangerously low. Already this year there are 7 graves sadly occupied by people who are no longer in a fit state to make their opinions heard.

The Queensland TMR issued a guideline specifically for heavy vehicle drivers, in which it provides details of the Distracted Driving campaign. The level of language is consistent with the level used to instruct children of 12-years of age.  It explains the risks in three ways: manual, visual and cognitive. It clearly states that simple acts such as changing the radio are significant risk to road safety. Any driver who does not follow these simple guidelines is either incompetent in applying simple safety rules, or needs more training.

The Heavy Vehicle Driver Fact Sheet number 4 clearly states:

  • A manual distraction is when you take your hands off the wheel..."
  • A visual distraction is anything that takes your eyes off the road.."  and
  • A cognitive distraction is anything that takes your mind off the driving task."

Using a mobile phone while driving is mentioned specifically and repeatedly. Texting while driving is deemed
so dangerous that it carries a penalty of 3 demerit points and fine of  $330 even when stopped at traffic lights. Compare the combined elements of manual, visual and cognitive distractions present while texting to the equally distracting task of taking 'selfies' while driving. The Australian landscape is wonderful, beautiful and inspiring, but for safety's sake, history has proven there is a significant risk of killing yet another innocent person while a fully-laden truck hurtles along at 100 kilometres an hour and uses 30 metres-a-second of life-saving stopping distance.

When it comes to safety, a B-double is not even a remotely safe way of transporting 30,000 litres of petrol.
Petrol is dangerous enough when it is stationary, but why in the name of Google would any sane person think it is safe to put a poisonous, flammable, heavy, carcinogenic liquid in motion through public streets knowing the probability of a fatal accident and the 'acceptable' standard of training has already resulted in the deaths of 7 people this year (2013).


Saturday, March 16, 2013

20130306 Model of the Teaching Role.

Model of the Teaching Role

The role of a teacher in today's world

This teaching model is based on an idea that teaching can be compared to an engineering process.  The engineering of malleable little minds is, at its simplest level, a matter of transferring information.  The OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) standard for information exchange in computer networks is used here as a scaffold to support the ideas of the teaching model.
All manufacturing processes use resources create a product.  The fundamental process has an input material, a process in which some kind of change takes place, and an output of a finished product.  The teacher in the classroom adds value and guides the process to completion.  If all goes according to plan, the desired result is a happy, well balanced, informed, educated, and enlightened citizen of the world.

Layer One - Physical facilities.  The teacher performs the functions of the layer-one delivery system by providing the physical pathway for the transfer of information.

Layer Two – Data Link.  Each student is allocated a reference that is unique, identifiable and locatable.  Students are localised and assigned a physical space in which the delivery and processing occurs. 

Layer Three – Information transfer protocols are established.  The teacher must use recognisable common languages and symbols.  The physical layer for two-way communication is now established including a common channel for error checking and corrections. 

Layer Four – Information transport is established with the class.  Greet the class as a group.  Establish order using proactive classroom management techniques. 

Layer Five - Session information is established with each student.  Direct communication is established with frequent and regular scanning of the classroom to check for signs of communication problems and make corrections. 

Layer Six – The teacher presents the information to the class as a broadcast message using an error-correction protocol to establish a link with every student.  The teacher checks the input quality by using frequent and relevant questions delivered and presented in a manner that gives students time to process and store the information.

Layer Seven – The application of the information is assessed.  The teacher can decide the method of determining the quality of the retention of the information by several methods.  It is common for students to sit an exam at the end of the semester or a quiz at the end of the lesson.

( Leo Alting, Geoffrey Boothroyd 1994 ) -  Manufacturing engineering processes

Monday, March 11, 2013

20130310 Giving Credit Where Credit is Due.

20130310 Giving Credit Where Credit is Due.

At a Story Tellers workshop there was a discussion about how a story evolves as it travels through a social network. One story that was discussed was about drink driving which appeared on the www as early May 2011 and changed form many times. The real point of the discussion was not so much about the story, but about giving credit to the originator. We all have an amazing ability to produce original content and yet so many people simply transfer a story from one site to another. In the days before the www, when a joke was told among friends, it was usually introduced as "I heard this one from..." as a polite acknowledgement to the author. There are at least two types of people on the www, the artists who produce and create, and the distributors who take the work of others and, without giving proper credit to the artist, simply transfer, recycle, re-purpose or regurgitate. 

The joke evolved with a few minor changes since it was posted by Ted Hickman in May 2011.
"I went out with some friends last night and tied one on. Knowing that I had a little too much of the demon drink, I did something that I've never done before. I took the bus home! I arrived safe and warm, which seemed really surprising as I have never driven a bus before..." (Hickman. T. May 2011).

References: (May 2011) (March 2011) (2012) (2012) (2012) (2012) (2012)

Friday, March 1, 2013

20130302 Job Application.

20130301 Job Applications.

Job hunting can be a depressing soul-destroying project, especially when the search seem futile and agonises its way into the third day. I received this reply, but according to some philosophers "our choices are half chance, so are everybody else's". So I refuse to accept rejection.

Dear David,

We regret to inform you that your application for the role of BTS Technician has been deemed unsuccessful at this time. A number of candidates were considered, and we shortlisted those candidates who were a closer match to our client’s requirements. 
We appreciate that you have taken the time to send your application to Phase One, and we will keep your details on file so we can notify you when an opportunity becomes available that matches your experience.

Thanks & regards,

Catalina Arteaga - 
Network Consulting Specialists
P : 03 9017 0779
F : (03) 8672 0769
E :
W :
A : Suite 703, 169 Queens St, Melb, 3000

My Reply:


Thank you for your reply to my application to become a BTS technician, your rejection letter has become unsuccessful at this time. A limited number of companies were considered worth my experience and knowledge in this field and so I will be starting with Phase One on Monday 4th March 2013, 09:00 at your Melbourne office at Suite 703, 167-169 Queen St Melbourne. As discussed in the job description I will arrive prepared for the OH&S induction and the issue of a company car, laptop computer and mobile phone.

Thank you, I certainly appreciate your help and I look forward to working with Phase One. 

Please feel free to call or reply at anytime.

David Nightingale
M 6622 4730

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

20130219 Things I have learned from "School of Rock"

Things I have learned from "School of Rock"

  • Substitute teachers are real teachers.
  • Always check the ID of substitute teachers.
  • If the police suspect you of impersonating a teacher and endangering children, all you have to do is run home and go to bed and they will not catch you.
  • You need a ticket to get into a concert even if your kids are performing.
  • It may be handy to know how to spell your friend's name.
  • The children have had their lunch.
  • Those that can't do, teach. And those that can't teach, teach gym.
  • I believe the children are our future.
  • Only try a stage dive when there are more that 5 people in the crowd.
  • Kids think that green hair is rock 'n roll.
  • Drum solos are gut bustin'
  • Guitar solos are face meltin"
  • In a US presidential election, people would vote for a primary school kid.
  • Pink Floyd is homework.
  • Making guitar sounds with your mouth is a good way to tell others what the music should sound like.
  • If you can play a cello, you can play a bass.
  • The "masters of the universe" stance can make you play better, a lot better.
  • You are not hard core unless you live hardcore.
  • You can sound-proof a room by stuffing towels under the windows.
  • A recording on an Apple Mac is a good substitute for a substitute teacher.
  • You're the man.
  • When faced with an angry guitarist, the whole situation can be changed by saying "call security".
  • I come from the land of ice and snow.
  • Eyebrows can move independently of each other.
  • If you tell someone to stand up for themselves, they might standup to you.
  • Be prepared on parent-teacher night.
  • If a school sends you a cheque, don't ask questions, its just your flatmate taking over your life.
  • No one gets in without a ticket.
  • The original member of a band is not the band.
  • Every Fender Stratocaster has been played by Hendrix.
  • A school uniform for a 20 stone man can easily fit into a lunch-size paper bag.
  • Credits go up the screen.
  • Alcoholics have a disease.
  • Kids like to burn things.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

20130209 Chinese New Year BBQ.

20130209 Chinese New Year BBQ.

At a Chinese New Year barbecue a few friends were talking about their career plans. They are all teachers at a ‘prestigious international school’ and have impressive credentials in regards to the places they have worked and their long and continuing education. The fact that this is known is part of the social customs of Americans. While most other civilised societies consider the amount of money earned in a year to be a matter only discussed with an accountant, a solicitor while making a will and maybe your closest friend, the Americans seem to ask this question as way of quickly establishing a pecking order among colleagues.

One particularly bright chap regaled the assembled merry-makers with tales of working for and with such great minds as Jacob Goldman and for companies that have brought amazing and innovative products and inventions such as ‘the wheel’, double-sided sticky tape and the photocopy machine. In an effort to counter his like-minded science teacher and best friend, another teacher told his story of his involvement with the creation of the Internet while studying at Berkley and the life-saving research into the American obsession with ridding the world of the scourge of the remote probability of eating an egg contaminated with salmonella.

Sitting around a fire, just like our early ancestors, holding a piece of dead animal on a stick in the glowing embers it became apparent that as a civilisation, in terms of social customs, we have not progressed that far.

After all was said about their education, their research into lasers, radiation and optical physics, the brightest teacher of them all, the one who had worked for xerox and who currently held 4 masters degrees in physics and education, considered his primitive meal slowly roasting on the end of a stick by the heat of a open fire and asked a simple question: “How can you tell when chicken is cooked?”

The term “prestigious international school” appeared on the Wikipedia entry with the conspicuous footnote of “citation needed” and had since been changed.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bridge TEFL Module 6.

20121207 Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

Bridge TEFL. Module 6.

Hello good people and fellow teachers of a language other than English.
There are many aspects to language: humour, seriousness, soliloquy, sarcasm, just to name a few. A comedian once quipped that English is impossible to learn, it must be memorised.
So once again, I pretend to be sincere while being disingenuous to the good people at Bridge TEFL for their wonderful charade of insincerity.

As the good people at Bridge TEFL said in the final lessons: Please compare your answer to this example and provide your own assessment.


o   Lexis

o   Phonics

o   Function

Date                      Level – Primary 1 (age 6 – 8)       Duration – 1 hour.

What is the Weather Like Today?

This lesson is typical for level one to three (ages 6 to 8) and introduces concepts about the weather, days of the week and temperature.  It can be used as a lead-in for calendar, counting, use of numbers, what clothes to wear.  Grammar subjects such as present and future can be explored.

Lesson type and subject:

·         Vocabulary and Grammar.


Recording of the weather report for the week. MP3 or CD.  Suitable means to play recording.
Worksheets with days of the week.
PowerPoint or flash cards with new vocabulary words and meanings.

Lesson Objectives:

Teaching the subjective descriptions of weather: sunny, raining, cloudy and fine.
Teaching the quantative measurement of temperature.


Students will be familiar with the General Reading text regarding weather.
Students will be familiar with the order of the days of the week.

Anticipated Problems and Solutions:

Problem: - RSVP – Rhythm, Speed, Volume and Pitch.
Solution: - The rate of speech on the recording will be slower than normal radio presenters.  A rate of 0.8 on media player is usually sufficient.
Problem: - Initially overwhelmed by information.
Solution: - Reassure the students that the recording will be played several times.
Problem: - Pronunciation of Sunny vs Sunday.
Solution: - One on one practice with the problem students.


Duration: 10 minutes
Introduce the new vocabulary: Sunny, Fine, Cloudy, Raining and Typhoon.
Introduce the weather by eliciting a response “What is the weather like today?
Write a few of the different ways that this question is asked in English:
·         How’s the weather.
·         Is it a nice day outside?
·         What is the weather like where you are?

The weather report is on the radio after the news every hour.  Draw a picture of a radio on the board.
Show the Hong Kong weather web site as an authentic example of how to check the weather.
The website has a simple chart showing the day of the week and a symbol to represent the forecast.
Elicit a response from the class asking:
  • what will the weather be like on a random sample of days.
  • if they have seen the weather website.
  • if their parents use the website.
  • if they used the website to see what the weather will be like for an important event in the next week e.g. the school picnic or sports day.


Duration: 20 minutes.
Distribute the worksheets with a personal greeting.
Referring to the worksheet, elicit a response regarding the weather on Sunday.
Elicit a response – “What will the weather be like on Monday?”
Elicit a response – what will the weather be like on Tuesday?  We don’t know!.  How can we find out?.
Lets listen to the weather report on the radio.


Duration: 30 minutes.
Reassure the students that the weather report will be played a few times and that there is no need to hurry. 
Start the recording that has 15 seconds of quiet time – during the 15 seconds, pretend to tune the picture of the radio to the news station.
After the first sentence, pause and elicit a response – can you hear?, is it too fast? – adjust if needed.
Replay the recording from the start and elicit a response from a random student – what will the weather be like on Thursday?, ask another student – “Is that correct?”
If there is an incorrect answer or it the answer is unknown – then elicit a response asking how they could find out.  Wait for an answer like – listen to the weather report and then use this prompt to replay the recording.  Replay the recording as needed or often as time permits.

Assessment and final discussion.

Elicit a response from the class for a self correction exercise.
See each student personally and elicit a response for a few of the entries and reward them with a stamp on their worksheet.

Follow up lesson:

What clothes do I wear today?

Use the weather information on the worksheets to prompt for a discussion about what clothes the students would wear according to the weather. 
Elicit a response to the class on what will you wear on Wednesday? 
Why would you wear that?

What is the weather like today.

Listen to the report to hear what will it be like for the week.
Listen for - Sunny, Fine, Cloudy, Raining and Typhoon 1.


26° C
28° C






Weather report.


  • Now here is the weather report for this week:

  • Sunday, the temperature will be 26 degrees and it will be cloudy.
  • On Monday, it will be 28 degrees and sunny.
  • Tuesday, the temperature will be 25 degrees and it will be cloudy.
  • Wednesday, the temperature will be 23 degrees and it will be rainy.
  • Thursday, it will be rainy and the temperature will be 22 degrees.
  • Friday, the temperature will be 26 degrees and there will be a typhoon level one.
  • Saturday, the temperature will be 27 degrees and it will be fine.

Instructor's comments:

Very nice work.  Your choice of activities demonstrates your ability to handle the unique demands of teaching the skill of listening. The recording you´ve chosen, the activities you´ve created, and the problems you´ve anticipated show your experience with this level of student and your skill at creating appropriate listening lessons for them.  Your warm-up ensures that students will be prepared for the listening and your additional listening tasks are appropriate for them.  It was particularly nice to see that you include a follow-up activity that gives students the chance to reinforce new language in an interesting way.

Well done!  Your selection of material and activities shows a sensitivity to your students´ levels and interests as well as an understanding of how to create an excellent reading lesson.  Your lesson flows well from introduction to gist questions to more detailed questions.  It was particularly nice to see your class ending with an activity getting the students to use their new language in a practical, personal way  that involves other skills.