Some great teaching books worth considering

Over the last month or so I have been posting numerous lesson plans and resources to help improve students literacy skills.  These are free and will always to continue to be, so be sure to keep coming back.

Many of these ideas are inspired by some great books that are available for you right now.  So, I have put together a selection of some of the better teacher resource books I have used and had recommended to me.

Many of these are available as paperback and eBooks.  I hope you enjoy them

5 tips for teachers to start the school year


With the start of the school year almost upon us it is worth reflecting upon what we do, and how we do it.

These five tips may be of use to both new and experienced teachers to keep in mind facing the challenges of a new group of students with new needs, skills and challenges.

I am sure that you have many pearls of wisdom that may add to these so be sure to add them below.

1:  Be enthused

Enthusiasm, and a passion for what you do are infectious.  You students will feed off of your energy, and the effort they put in will come back to you in spades. 

Speak with vigour and confidence.  Have fun with your kids but also make them aware that the classroom is a ‘sacred’ space for teaching and learning, and threatening that environment will not be tolerated. 

Take no shame in letting your students know you put a lot of time an effort into your job do because you love it, and expect everyone in the room to respect that.  Your students may not love everything you teach, but as long as they put in a genuine effort they should gain your respect in return.

2:  Be organised:

You can wing the occasional lesson here and there, but be cautious that in time your students will lose respect for you if you provide them a disorganised learning space and curriculum too often.

You, and your students should know where things are when needed.  Your students should expect to be challenged and engaged throughout the day, not just filling time.

Poor organisation can be terminal in building a good teacher student relationship as you can appear incompetent.  Furthermore, you may struggle for credibility when your students replicate this poor modelled behaviour. 

3:  Lay ground rules early:

Without entering the realm of classroom rules and what they might consist of, remember the key is to have something in place.  Keep it simple.  Be firm, but fair and always make students aware of poor behaviour before acting upon it. 

The flip side of this is praising and rewarding those who are modelling positive behaviour.  Personally, I am not a fan of tangible rewards, but in certain environments you need to cast a ‘hook’ that will attract good behaviour.  It will be different nearly every year.

Rewards tend to work well when they benefit the entire class, but once again everyone’s clientele and circumstances are very different.

4:  Consistency

This is the toughest of all in my eyes as life is impossible to get everything right all the time.  Furthermore, it is this area your students will constantly remind you about if and when you fail to deliver.  

Have a small set of non-negotiable behaviours and actions in your room and try and explain your actions to the group when an incident occurs. Be transparent.  Try to never get into a position justifying your actions to a single student one on one.  This is dangerous territory. 

You may aspire to be your students ‘best friend’ and on many occasions this is a great place to be when the going is good.  Never forget your role and responsibility as the caretaker and leader of your students.  This doesn’t mean being a dictator, but understand all good teachers are required to be the ‘bad cop’ on occasion.

Balance is key.  You don’t want to be known as ‘The Fun Killer’ but students will always try and push the boundaries of teachers that can’t stand up for themselves.

5:  Don’t lock yourself away.

This one is simple.  Even if you are the greatest teacher in the world it is imperative that you share your successes and failures with others.  This can happen inside and outside your school via professional development coaching or a range of other methods depending on what you have available to you.

Get to the staffroom when you can for a cuppa to have a formal and informal discussion about what’s been happening in your classroom.

Don’t forget also sites like this, Pinterest and thousands of others  are packed with great ideas from teachers all around the world so be sure to regularly use the web to your and your students advantage.

How to connect your Apple TV to a VGA projector with Audio

The Apple TV unit is a must for any classroom using iPads.  The ability to share screens via AipPlay with others makes teaching and learning a far more communal experience, and at $99 it is just too good to pass up.

Unfortunately, most classroom are not equipped with a brand new HDMI enabled video and audio inputs that exist on the Apple TV as the majority still utilise VGA data projectors.  

Many teachers in this situation who have purchased an Apple TV are somewhat disappointed, as they sacrifice functionality or mobility in an effort to project iPads to the big screen due to the incompatibility of new and old technology.

Yes, there are multiple alternatives to get around this but if you want high quality video, and audio to your existing old school speakers and full wireless mobility then this is the easiest and cheapest solution that just simply works.

The Kanex ATV Pro adapter is the ultimate solution to this problem offering full functionality with a traditional VGA projector and also enables audio through a standard headphone jack.  This device will also allow you to work wirelessly.  

There is no power required, and at under $50 it is an essential item for any classroom in this situation.

I have installed this device in a number of schools.  It takes minutes to setup and you can forget about it from there on in and just get on with teaching. 

Great video to change perceptions of technology in education

I was at a parent information session last week in which a principal shared a video which highlighted how reactive we had been over time to adopt change in the way we teach. 

I found the video very relevant and eye opening as it pointed out some of the staples of teacher and student tools as being perceived as counter productive when they were introduced.

It was great starting point to then discuss how we are taking a similar approach to computer technology in the classroom. 

Anyhow take a look for yourself and feel free to leave a comment below. 

5 YouTube Tips for Busy Teachers and Students

YouTube is one of the most underused teaching resources on the web.  It offer millions of hours quality viewing made by some of the biggest names in the industry for free.  

As a teacher it is your job to sort the good from the bad and define a purpose for this medium; which is in most cases a pretty simple task.

Below I have put together my top five tips for teachers to help them get the most out of YouTube as a powerful teaching learning tool.

Create a YouTube Channel of your own.

Let’s get one thing straight you don’t actually need to create your own videos to create a channel you simply need to add videos to your channel.  This is really handy for teachers because it allows you to organize your favorite YouTube clips exactly how you would like them and you can invite visitors, pose questions and share comments without the rest of the world having their say. watch the video below.

Download your videos to watch offline in HD quality

You can download practically any video stream off the web with RealPlayer basic.  In HD too.  Install the program, and every time you load a YouTube clip it will have the option to download it locally to your PC.

Embed YouTube into PowerPoint Slides and web pages.

This is really easy to do.  If you have a web presence or a presentation simply follow these guides below to ensure your video is accessible via your website, blog or presentation.

YouTube: An Insider's Guide to Climbing the Charts
By Alan Lastufka, Michael W. Dean

Add Quizzes to your Videos

“Now kid’s today we are going to watch a documentary.  Please ensure that you take notes as there will be 5 questions you need to answer throughout the clip via a quiz.”   This really enhances student engagement and gives teachers a greater purpose as to why you are watching a clip.  Click here to see how to do it.

Add annotations, links and subtitles to your videos.

So you’ve just uploaded a YouTube video but forgot to add subtitles or annotations.  Don’t worry; you can do all of this directly from YouTube by following this guide.

20 Google Docs Secrets for busy teachers and students.

Google Docs for Teachers and Students

Google Docs for Teachers and Students

Google Docs has revolutionised the way we create and edit content on the web.  It is a genuine collaboration tool like nothing that has come before it.

Up to 50 people can simultaneously edit a spreadsheet, presentation or document at no expense, and it is available on all mobile and desktop platforms.

Today we are going to look at 20 great tips every teacher and student should be using to get the most of the collaborative learning opportunities Google Doc’s offers.

Allow editing without signing in: If you’re sharing a document with classmates who don’t have a Google login, just make it available to edit without signing in.

Chat away: In Google Docs, you can see anyone who is currently editing the document, and if needed, send a message to chat with them.

Embed Docs anywhere: Get a link to your document or spreadsheet, and you can embed or publish it anywhere, including Facebook or a class blog.

Insert facts: Using Google Spreadsheet, it’s easy to insert facts, like a countries’ population, which is simply pulled through the Google search engine.

Create graphs: Visuals are great tools for getting your point across. Using charts in Google Spreadsheets, you can create your very own information-sharing graphs.

Create forms: Gather research information; ask for opinions, and more by creating Forms in Google Docs.

Convert PDFs to images and text: Use Google Docs to make PDFs easily editable.

Save to different file types: You can easily save your documents and spreadsheets to commonly used file types like DOC, XLS, CSV, and HTML.

Automatically add email addresses: If you have Google Apps, the email addresses of the people who fill out the form will automatically be saved.

Hide chat: Keep everyone quiet during your presentation by clicking the left side of the chat module.

Track edits and changes: In Google Docs you can go back and forth between edits that you or collaborators made.

Remove collaborators: If you want to take someone off a project, click none next to the name of the person you want to remove.

Turn it into a webpage: Download your document in HTML, and you can share it as a webpage with a minimal amount of hassle. A great starting point for students wishing to create a website.

Change ownership: Switch ownership of Google docs as project leaders change.  You might need to transfer ownership of a document to a staff member or student.  It’s easy.

Share an entire folder: If you’ve got a collection of documents to work on together with students or staff, just open up a shared folder that everyone can access and contribute to.

Adding video: Remember Google owns YouTube, so they know video.  You can embed video in documents, slides, and more to dress up your presentation.

Track visits: Using Google Analytics, you can track how much traffic a published document is receiving.  This is really useful if you need feedback on whether your audience is actually getting involved.

affiliate banner 250x250 Affiliates

Revert back to old versions: If your group doesn’t like a certain set of changes made, it’s very simple just to revert back to automatically save previous versions in the revision history.

Get Google Drive – Google Drive is the central place to manage all of your online profile with Google and syncs with a number of devices.

Google Docs and Google Drive is an ever-evolving product that has provided heavy competition for products such as Microsoft Office.  I am sure there are many other useful tips you might be ware of and would love you to post them below.

Understanding Professional Learning Communities


In education circles, the term learning community has become commonplace. Used to mean any number of things, such as extending classroom practice into the community; bringing community personnel into the school to enhance the curriculum and learning tasks for students; or engaging students, teachers, and administrators simultaneously in learning 

AllthingsPLC site is a collaborative, objective resource for educators and administrators who are committed to enhancing student achievement.

AllthingsPLC invite you to share your knowledge, ask questions, and get expert insight into the issues teachers face each day in the classroom.

 Please be sure to take a look at this site to develop an understanding and gather resources for creating successful Professional Learning Communities