Tag Archives: Pinterest

Building Cup Towers

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Last Friday I was responsible for organising some team building activities to promote clear communication and negotiation skills. I had around 15 students to work with, so I decided to do the “Cup Tower Challenge”, as many of you saw on Twitter.

In all of the links on Pinterest about this activity, you provide each group of students with a supply of plastic cups and a rubber band with pieces of string tied to it (one piece of string per group member). As luck (or poor time management) would have it, I didn’t have time to cut and tie the pieces of string to the rubber band, so I just sat the three resources separately, as a bit of an extra challenge.

Students arrived at their table to:

  • 6 plastic cups spread out
  • one rubber band
  • 4 pieces of string.

My instructions were simple:

Build a tower out of plastic cups without any part of your body touching the cups.

I was interested to see that every single group ignored the rubber band, instead looping the string around the cup and tightening the grip to pick the cups up that way. I will admit, for most groups it was successful, but as the outcome was communication and negotiation, I knew I needed to up the ante.

I watched for a further 5 minutes, taking photos and videos, giggling at those teams who were absolutely lost for ideas and had no collaboration skills to fall back on.

My next instructions were just as simple:

Tie each piece of string to the rubber band. Now, build the tallest tower out of plastic cups without any part of your body touching the cups.

Each team still only had 6 cups on their table. However, I had bought a pack of 100 cups…so I spread the remaining 76 cups out on a table around 4 metres away from the groups.

This time there was more urgency – there was more at stake as groups wanted to be creating the tallest tower. Most of the groups quickly worked out how to use their rubber band-string contraption and were ready to start.

Group 1 decided to collect as many of the 76 cups as they could first – and they did so by stacking one cup on top of another, flipping the cup stack upside down to ensure they were secure, before putting it on top of another cup…all using their rubber band and string.

Groups 2 & 3 chose to stack their original 6 cups first before beginning to collect extra cups.

Group 4 took quite a while to establish how to tie the string to the rubber band. Then the pieces of string were too close together. Someone kept pulling too hard and letting go too early, which meant that cups were dropped and knocked over. Needless to say, a lot of this group’s cups ended up on the floor, which meant they needed to pick them up…using only their rubber band and string.

It was an absolutely fabulous social experiment team building activity…and a great reflection task, especially for Group 4.

Friends of Ten!

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Tonight with my Year 1 tutoring student, we worked on our Tens Facts. Again. It feels like we are ALWAYS working on our Tens Facts…because they don’t seem to sink in!

We’ve played:

Ten Pairs – deal out a 4×5 array of playing cards, keep dealing until all cards are gone. Players take turns to pick up 2 cards that add to ten.

Concentration – similar to Ten Pairs, but cards are turned over to remember where cards are.

Roll to Ten (colour) – roll a die, colour in that many squares on a tens frame using one colour…then count on to get to ten. Colour the squares that you ‘counted on’ using a different colour, then write the equation.

10s frame

Roll to Ten (build) – roll a die, build a tower using blocks that many blocks high of one colour…then count on to get to ten using a different colour block. Write the equation.

10 Frame Fill (app: free) – helpful for creating an interactive visual for ‘How many more to make 10’ and focusing on 10s facts.

While all of these ideas were good, there was no urgency to build on the accuracy and fluency of these skills, so she was dawdling her way through our activities.

So, today we drew a Tens Rainbow, to use in conjunction with a fabulous app I found, called ‘Make Ten‘. It asks students to choose the number you need to add to the number given to get to 10. My student propped this rainbow up in front of her to use with the app and by the 4th or 5th round, she was actually recalling the facts herself to try and beat her high score and going faster.

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Technology isn’t always the answer, or the be-all-and-end-all, but if you’re aiming for speed/fluency – this really helped today!

I also found this Pinterest board for some more ideas – always looking for more!

I would love to hear your ideas for Friends of Ten!

Offline inspiration – can it be done?

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This post may seem contrary to the title of this blog,but it’s ok. Life goes on.

When Christmas shopping in November, I bought a copy of this book for my friend.


Then I added another copy to my basket…for me. (Thanks kikki.k)

It’s as simple as the title suggests – go offline and be inspired. It features 135 ideas to inspire you to go offline and experience the world around you. It also has a book cover which doubled as a 30-day challenge poster. The idea is that you do it to completing a set activity each day for a month.

While I could probably do each daily challenge,I’ve decided to select 8 in particular that I’d like to achieve by the end of the school holidays:

#3 – instead of reading the news online,read a newspaper (goodbye,ninemsn.com)

#5 – rediscover an old cookbook and put a recipe to the test (goodbye taste.com)

#8 – leave your phone at home & go for a walk outside (not recording it using Runkeeper)

#9 – decluttering your wardrobe and embrace the feeling of freedom it brings

#14 – meditate for 5 minutes (I’m guessing without a guided voice from an app telling me how to do it and what to think of…)

#17 – book in a time to catch up with an old friend (can I book in the time without using Facebook?…)

#25 – make something with your hands (without referring to the step by step instructions on Pinterest)

#27 – start the day with a walk around your neighbourhood,yoga or some simple stretching

So,wish me luck. 5 days of holidays done, 12 to go…

Back in the classroom, where I belong.

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I am utterly thrilled to be going back to work this week and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited.

Two weeks sick leave has really taken it’s toll on me, but it’s given me a new appreciation for my students. I’ve had two weeks to watch countless hours of TV, write days and days of CRT notes and scour Pinterest for the latest and greatest in education. I found myself getting down in the dumps as I heard along the grapevine that one of my students thought I must have died because I’d been away for so long and then to disappoint my students with the news that we would have to postpone our Year 2 Camp as I was too unwell to attend and run it.

So why am I excited? Because I’ve found my balance. Yes, learning literacy strategies and numeracy skills is important, but there are other things to learn that are equally important. Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve learnt a lot about asthma, mindfulness and inquiry-based learning.  Some of that learning was by necessity, some of it by choice.

It wouldn’t be fair for me to keep all of this great learning to myself. So I plan to share each and every part of my learning with my students. I need to show them that teachers, and other adults, are lifelong learners.

So, coming up this week in 2A: a lesson in asthma prevention and control (thanks to @AsthmaAUS), Braingym and mindfulness meditation & mandalas (thanks to @kaz_phi) and a new focus on inquiring about water – to be presented any way the students choose.

Look out kids, I’m baaaaaack!

Switch off!

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The week leading up to the Victorian school holidays, @KatSchrav, as the moderator of @Edutweetoz tweeted this:

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As you can see, #digitaldowntime wasn’t a major priority for me – I hadn’t really thought about it, but appreciated its value.

However, it got me thinking… I need to schedule it in.

My first thought was to have Technology Free days – you know, no phone, no tv, no iPad, no laptop… but to be honest, that would be fairly difficult for me. I use all of those things (apart from the tv) during my work day at school.

My second thought was to limit my iPad and laptop use to just at work. But, it would be unfair to limit my technology use to only while at school – all teachers know that there is SOME level of preparation that happens at home, and there is only so much laminating you can do without using the computer to print something else off!

I have opted for this, the third option: switching off from technology outside of school hours for two days per week – Monday and Friday. I asked myself – what will this mean?

It means my iPad and laptop will stay in my bag when I get home until I unpack them at work the following morning. I’ll have to be more organised – no more posting on the class blog when I get home, no more researching a new lesson idea for the following day.

It means I will only use my phone for phone calls, messages and photos – no Facebook, no Twitter, no internet searching, no Pinterest, no frantic recipe searching for dinner (I have enough recipe books in paper format!)

It means that I’ll be able to relax and enjoy some new interests in my life – going to classes at the gym, learning more at aerial yoga, baking and cooking new treats as part of my ‘I Quit Sugar journey’, and playing with my new puppy. I might even have time to have real conversations with the people around me. I can still watch tv…without ‘multi-tasking’ with 6 different browser windows and apps open.

It means that I’ll have to let go of my F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out) that I experience when I leave the worlds of Facebook and Twitter – what if I miss an important event in my friends’ lives? What if I miss a revolutionary idea that is going to change the education world? What if I don’t read that email from an angry parent and respond immediately? I will have to catch up on Twitter chats that happen on Mondays and Fridays…that’s just how it will be.

I’m only starting on Monday the 14th of July – it’s my Term 3 Resolution. 

It’s a wellbeing thing. Switch off. Join me. I dare you.