May 31

Trialling a new idea… Study Boxes!

I bought these cardboard folded ‘Study Boxes’ (as I call them) from Kangaroo supplies. They have been great at minimising distractions, especially during times of high stress – tests, maths assessment tasks and writing.

There are two options for use, you can nominate to need a Study Box, or I can nominate you to need one. A few boxes scattered around the room can reduce noise and keep a lot of the boys on task.

You could easily make these too, in the past I’ve used two manila folders open on the desk, but these commercially made ones are quite sturdy and hopefully will last me years.

May 25

Building Confidence versus Saving Trees…

A lot of older students can become harsh critics of themselves when it comes to visual arts. I used to be a ‘one piece of paper only’ teacher, believing that if you let one start again, they all will start again, and that ends up wasting paper. Expensive art paper no doubt. But as a part time artist, how ridiculous! I can recall artworks where I have wasted at least 10 bits of paper before I’m happy with my drawings, sketches, paintings.

I have had several students over the years become so upset at themselves, not being able to produce outstanding, perfect artworks. So I’ve relinquished the position of ‘paper police’, and I let students start again if they want.

So what to do with all those off sheets? Mistake attempts?  If it’s only lead pencil, save them up for balloon painting or sponge painting for book covers. Cut them up and use the reverse for bingo sheets or scrap paper. At least put them in the recycle bin. Then I don’t feel so bad about the wastage. I found a great solution – let students practice the sketch on a small personal whiteboard (PWB) before drawing on the art paper. Art paper saved!

May 4


I don’t know about you, but when I am creating presentations in Smart Notebook I can never remember all the interactive objects in the Lesson Activity Toolkit, and can never remember what they are called to search for them.

Which is why I created this guide!

Lesson activity toolkit reference guide

Keep a copy by your computer and browse through when you need a new learning object.

lesson activity toolkit

May 4

The Perpetual Puzzle

Something I have always wanted to try with older students is a large 1000 piece puzzle set up somewhere in the room that students could work on throughout the term.

Logistically, it has never worked, space, tidiness, time. But this year I am giving it a go.

How can I use a puzzle with my class?

* Early finishers. TOP TIP – 3 at the puzzle at once MAX!

* Reward time. A quick 5-10 min session at the puzzle to reward specific students throughout the day.

* Chill out time. Someone unsettled, fidgety or moody can have some ‘time out’ at the puzzle.

* Distraction.  If I need to conference a student I may work together with them on the puzzle while we chat. Great way for students to avoid eye contact if they have trouble with face to face conferencing.

Anyone else tried a class puzzle? Any other ideas for implementation?