now I am Ajarn Melissa – Teacher Melissa in Thailand

It’s been busy. My school year started with twelve hour days and barely a real weekend. I am not here to grumble, no no. I’m in a pedagogical wonderland this year.  I work in an MYP school that walks the talk with growth mindset and SELM (social emotional learning and mindfulness). My busy days came from within and the chance to make something entirely new. A chance born from starting from scratch, a year away from the classroom (a little rusty) and being inspired by the How to Learn Math course with Jo Boaler. Project and inquiry based, messy, student directed lessons take a lot of planning and a lot of patience. You don’t simply crunch through the procedural mathematics of old school classes. It’s much more rewarding. I’ve neglected this blog, twitter and personal reflection and I’m hoping for some change. Reflection has happened but while I am doing other things with deadlines approaching almost daily. I want more time to read great blogs of mathematical teaching legends that inspire me. You see, the good stuff is out there.  All I did was search for @ddmeyer tweets and now I have so many exciting educators to follow and learn from. I have been maintaining a class blog for the kids and hopefully their parents too. Perhaps some of my colleagues read it from time to time. It’s a dream, it’s a goal. My teaching load is nice, my classes are small. I think I started with too many ideas for all of my classes – grades 7, 8, 9 and 10. Hopefully I will have a few posts about what’s been happening in my classes over the next month or so. For now I have many units and classes to plan. Excited to join in with Estimation 180 from next week, with all of my classes. Now I must figure out how to get zombies and exponentials into three lessons. I’m thinking red pens, dots for zombies in graphic novel/comic like sequences. Then I will get the kids to count the zombie dots and graph them. Kids come up with the parameters before their deadly pens get dotting.

How many zombies can one zombie infect?

they move quite slowly and look kind of easy to avoid to me, if the numbers are small. Perhaps running in zig zags would be a working avoidance plan, like the advice for not getting chomped by a saltwater crocodile.

How many zombies do we start with?

How many people are nearby? Is this a school problem or Phuket or Thailand or…

Kids can come up with the questions, I’m just trying to get ready.

tweetless in cyberspace (#4284208 Twitter Support reference number)

@lissgriffin I tweet, therefore I am (a better teacher).  That’s my twitter bio. Evil? Non.

Now I don’t tweet. I am not allowed. I am tweetless in Cyberspace as @lissgriffin.


It’s been a bit more than a year since I became a tweep, @lissgriffin was what they called me. Now I float suspended in Cyberspace wondering when I’ll be allowed back in.

Why I was suspended? I think it was about the mathematics.

A tale of sharing, perhaps too much, but spammer quantities? I think not. Was it the five shortened links in two tweets?

My friend over in the UK has a yound child, who digs maths. She refers to such joy as #alien, but wants to support his quest for more. I sent five links. Five links in two shortened tweets. I read the rules and regulations of the #twitterverse, and I just don’t see what else it could have been. My last tweet referenced #KevinSmith. Not uncommon in the #twitterverse.

Mangahigh, PBS Kids Cyberchase, BBC Bitesize and their Maths Channel and Ri (an independent charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science) with this terrific site.

The above? I think it is what got Twitter‘s knickers in a knot and then they suspended my account.

Issues with mathematics? I’m your gal, your tweep, your pal and I’m only a couple of clicks away. Suspending me doesn’t stop the maths being everywhere. It’s a glitch, a mistake but I am getting no love, no response, not a peep, not a tweet from twitter themselves.

Online feedback, to quicken the process of appeal, have all been taken advantage of. “A few days” is now four. Numbers I am good at, it won’t be a few days tomorrow.

#freelissgriffin campaign – love my tweeps

While I may not be a #megatweep or get sponsorship for tweeting out that I like stuff, it is a large part of my professional working life and fun stuff too. It’s become a part of my day.

Start a new account? It took over a year to build my network of about 400. I don’t have my tweeps listed anywhere (as in backed up). And and and… if you follow too many people too quickly, you get suspended. And and and… if you get followed by too many people quickly, you get suspended.

My tweeps have rallied and I have my very own hashtag #freelissgriffin. Join in and tweet right at the tippy top of twitter @jack

Check him out here, Jack Dorsey. He cofounded the twitter universe, he left and is back again. Fascinating reading.

My friend and tweep Jabiz @intrepidteacher, who was one of my original tweeps, has dedicated a blogpost to #freelissgriffin to try and help me. Jabiz is known world wide, so a glimmer of hope has reignited.

If you can spare a moment and a tweet, help a tweep out #freelissgriffin @jack @twitter @support… @lissgriffin uses her tweets and not evil.


Screen shot of the UNIS Portal for #techwoo

Every now and then UNIS asks teachers to run workshops to show how they are using technology to enhance learning in the classroom. I was approached, said yes. Finding the time to put together something worthwhile was going to be difficult with all of the current demands so I teamed up with Emma Collins from the English department. Emma’s Grade 12 students have indvidual blogs. A nice contrast in what was going to be a blogging workshop from my class blog that is teacher managed (for now).

Due to time constraints but also excitement about what we could share our blurb to entice people into our workshop went like this:

Literacy and Numeracy join forces with Bite Size chunks of tech woo. We will  explore how to make independent learning through online woo more effective (or not?).  Numeracy chomps on reflection – a new class blog and Wallwisher with Youtube. If you are interested in improving student writing or want to explore ways to go about digital publishing, then chew on WordPress, and Youblisher (or not?). Want to see folks willing to take risks and make mistakes right in front of your faces (or not?) – we’re the workshop for you.

The (or not?) meant we’d try our best to get through it. To support our colleagues who attend I put together our resources on the school portal. This is a lockdown type of place, so I’ll post some of it here. We didn’t get through everything, but that was due to some excellent questions from our participants.

Some people believe the art of conversation is dying as we dive further into our tech gadgets. I am still talking ’til the cows come home and I dig my tech, but I can see some truth in this. In my middle school classes we play NBF, New Best Friend. Seating is random every lesson and students have to begin by making small talk or discussing their current investigation. My lovely classroom assistant has been sticking questions to the table. Funnily enough I was about to shoosh my class the other day and then I heard many of the students using the conversation starters. I wanted to start #techwoo with NBF, but this didn’t happen as we lost about ten minutes, but the idea was shared and everyone could see the conversation starters on the tables.

Then Learning to Learn, or using resources independently.

Teachers  experienced a Readers Digest version of what I do with the kids in my class. Here is a previous blog post about multiplication tricks and origami foxes.


Class Blog

Screen shots of the #techwoo wiki at UNIS

The class blog has been loads of fun as well as a great way to share information and work, kick off collaborative projects and for kids to reflect in one place. Click Click Click and I can sort the comments and see who has been participating. They know it will count towards their final score for Reflection.  There is a communal understanding that this is a new thing and we’ll get better at it together. Some are ready to be guest bloggers.

Individual Blogs and Digital Publishing

Emma (@collins_emma) showed what her kids have been up to in DP English Literature. Here is one of her student’s blogs. It was cool for me to read some of them as I teach the same students mathematics. She also showed them the world of ISSUU and youblisher. These are groovy, but I am wondering about how to kindle something…all I need is time…

Some examples: ispliterarymagazine (wonderful), fonts (from when we used to print more things at school), the leech (a quickly made example for a grade 7 class)

The last bitesize chunk of #techwoo was wallwisher with youtube videos. 

We shared some wallwishers, like my Grade 8 percentage poems and we had one ready for our session. Due to time lost our participants didn’t have time to post, but I think they really enjoyed that part.  I learnt about wallwisher with youtube through David Miller’s Making the Most of Online Tools through the Scottish Book Trust

I’d like to give big thanks to:

Emma Collins, my #techwoo partner (tweet at her if you’d like to participate in Literary blogs – Hamlet is currently being discussed). If you are here because you are more mathematically inclined, then perhaps you would know someone in your school teaching literature and even, coincidently, Hamlet.  @collins_emma

Clint Hamada, my #techwoo guru and UNIS’ technology facilitator for teaching me many of my tech tricks and his patience  @chamada

David Miller, for our new favourite #techwoo the wallwisher David Miller’s Making the Most of Online Tools @DavidMiller_UK

…and all my tweeps, whether they follow me or not, I get a lot out of them.

There is no way that #techwoo could have run without them

The Bigger Picture

Using Elluminate for Online Collaboration and Professional Development

There is so much happening this week and it started with John Pilger, in the flesh at a Q&A session. I am still buzzing, but wish I had gone on Saturday AND Sunday instead of only one session. This was very exciting for me, as I have enjoyed his work for many years. As well as this the Global Education Conference is happening right NOW, as I type – 24-7.

This is such a huge event and last night was a lot of fun as well as informative. The image above is from the first keynote session Creating a Culture of Peace Through Global Education: Some Lessons Learned by Ed Gragert from iEARN. Check out the link for the recording of the session and see some inspirational ideas to connect students around the globe involving them in the world they live in, while opening their eyes at the same time.

The world lights up at the Online Conference, Nov 15, 2010

Both of these events that I attended,  person and online, in touched upon, or more like embraced, what is so important about being a teacher. We aren’t just here to teach mathematics, the arts, science, languages and other disciplines, but also to open children’s minds to the world. We are truly successful if we teach them ‘learning to learn’ and give them a hunger to go further.

In this digital age, we have so much more access to truths as John Pilger put it. Our media is often a delivery vehicle for those in power in any kind of government, so social networks and social media is key for accessing such truths.

You can watch any of John Pilger’s videos on his website and while there isn’t John Pilger tweeting persay, the release of his next film is something people can choose to follow. If you don’t know who John Pilger is and you care about the world’s injustices, then click here and check out some of his films.

Twitter and John Pilger films

People like John Pilger and organisations such as iEARN give me hope. Our world is a crazy mixed up place with far too much suffering. The films I saw on Sunday night, with the Q&A, brought tears to my eyes more than once. Someone in the crowd felt hopeless about it all and expressed this a number of times. In particular the media coverage of a limited pool of events bothered him. The old what’s the point scenario, when the media doesn’t help and in fact can hinder access to truths at times. To say all media is like this, is not a truth either.

But almost simultaneously as the man lamented about our world the wheels were turning to release Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now free. I truly believe this wouldn’t have happened without outside pressure, and a lot of this pressure comes from us, your everyday folk. I didn’t hear about it first from the ‘media’ as in newspapers and the like. It was from one of my tweeps on twitter. There is no doubting that  governments are able to apply more pressure, but who pressured them? One of my good friends, who enjoys Pilger’s work, said Pilger was preaching to the converted. While that is true a lot of the time and a valid point, some of the converted get out there and try to do things. Every bit counts, isn’t that what we teach our kids. Funnily enough when I was excitedly telling my students that I saw one of my heroes the night before they said he had been on Oprah. I am not a fan, but if that is true (I haven’t checked), he really did reach out to new demographic, and perhaps hit a nerve here and there.

Aveces uno tiene el mundo a cuestas... / The World Behind you..

Aveces uno tiene el mundo a cuestas... / The World Behind you.. by foxspain licensed under CC by A

When my students master a skill or show insight or curiosity or blow me away with a completely different approach or thought process I often say “Maybe one day, with your mind and skills you can help to save our world”. I hope that the students I teach stop to think about the big decisions being made and how it impacts our environment and people around them when they are out in the grown-up world. I want them to enjoy learning and to be independent and critical thinkers.

How is AoD? Two classes, two completely different paces, but more on that next post. I just wanted to blog about the great things happening out there and people who inspire me. The group who got this Global Conference going are amazing. It was so exciting to watch the world light up last night. And John Pilger, the world needs more John Pilgers.

The two films I saw on Sunday at the Hanoi Cinematheque

Breaking The Silence: Truth And Lies In The War On Terror  An inquiry into the “war on terror” and its affects on “liberated” countries.

Palestine Is Still the Issue  An assessment of the problems endemic to the West Bank and Gaza.