Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Scaffolded learning is new to me. I mean the name is new, the concept is as old as the hills. Every teacher worth their salt will know that you need a good foundation to build upon. And you build upon prior learning. This is what scaffolded learning does. It uses a variety of instructional techniques to help students build upon their learning and eventually become independent learners. Teachers can tailor the amount of support they give to the students so that they can reach their goals as independent learners. 

I recently looked at a Cross Curricular Scaffolded Science Activities on BIOMES made by my friend Nikki from Creative Inclusion. The product is geared to Grades 1 through 5 and is very visual which I love.

As the name implies this resource builds up a student’s understanding in discreet steps.  As an example Nikki has words banks which develop into fluency strips which then lead onto fluency and matching strips. These culminate in writing prompts. It’s a really clever way of building upon a student’s knowledge and prior learning. Naturally it can also quickly identify learning gaps. It accommodates the beginning writer through to the more advanced writer. Students can also make their own journals. 

Nikki has included a wide variety of biomes to choose from, you’ll never be stuck for choice. This is important for the students. One student might get very excited about the rainforest, for another it might be the desert. Variety is the spice of life! There’s a fact card for each biome with, wait for it, QR codes! I love QR codes and so does every student I know. The fact cards are great for use in sorting activities. 

The QR codes link to interactive videos which the students watch to reinforce their understanding. This is a great alternative way for students to form an opinion and is especially useful for students who struggle with print.

I can imagine that it took Nikki a long time to create this resource. It’s a fantastic resource that makes learning fun. You can connect with Nikki at her store on Teachers Pay Teachers, her blog or on Facebook

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Why Gondolas aren't straight

I didn't know until recently that gondolas weren't straight shaped boats. I mean gondola shapes aren't something I give a great deal of thought about. Occasionally I do think about being pushed gently though the Venetian canals as I eat an ice cream with an Italian gondolier (or me) singing as we glide gently along.

I visited the Deutsches Museum in Munich recently. This is the biggest Science and Technology museum in the world. I spent a glorious day there with my family but such is the size of the exhibition I doubt if we saw even 30% of the museum. Technology from World War 2 such as a V2 rocket (the precursor to modern rockets), U-boats and the highlight of the exhibition for me, the enigma machine, broken by Alan Turing and the crew in Bletchley Park (the story was recently made into the film The Imitation Game).

We enjoyed a fantastic electric display. One of the museum staff sat inside a Faraday Cage (a metal sphere) and was hoisted high in the air.

Electricity sparked across the room and hit the cage. When the cage was lowered my kids were amazed to see the man walk out unhurt (I'll admit I was disappointed that I couldn't have a go myself). This was a van der Graaf on steroids. The noise was incredible. I thought about how lucky the kids are who can get to visit a place like this (or any science museum for that matter). Speaking of which there is a dedicated Kid's Kingdom with a working Archimedes screw (yep, I played with this for ages), water paddles, sound rooms and a remarkable thing called a Tanagra Theatre.

You can walk inside an animal cell and look around. Also on view are human plasticised lungs. It's incredible to see the multitude of networks running thorough each lung.

So to answer the question at the top of the page. Gondoliers steer and row from only one side. The asymmetry of the boat allows the gondolier to do this. And like the Model T it can be any colour as long as it's black.