learning. creating. sharing.

March 20, 2016
by Kylie Gardner

Creative Thinking for Intellectual Stretch

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This week our partnership (six primary schools and a high school) had a professional development day together, learning about stretching children’s thinking and promoting creative problem solving skills. My brain was s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d after the day! I spent the afternoon in an early years session focussed on supporting children’s executive function skills, which I’ll share more about in another post. Today I’m focussing on creative thinking for intellectual stretch.

So What? 

My brain needs the ‘so what?’ answered to connect with and retain learning. Guess what? So do the students in my class! They need purpose to make learning meaningful. I’m starting to make my learning meaningful by writing this blog post. Here are my take aways from the session with Dr Martin Westwell:

Who’s doing the thinking? 

If you as an educator are doing all the thinking, while the students follow the bouncing ball, that ain’t gonna deliver the goods when it comes to student learning.

Collaboration is key

Student collaboration during learning enables sharing of ideas, building of collaboration skills and deeper learning and understanding. We experienced this in our session when we were handed a perimeter worksheet vs a piece of string and challenged to find the perimeter of our hand in small groups. Which was more interesting? Which required more thinking? Which required more collaboration? Which one resulted in more transferrable knowledge? Yep, the active, collaborative task.

Create multiple entry points 

If a learning task enables all students to jump in with both feet, then you’re on the right track. If the same task also enables all students to take their thinking as far as they can, then you’ve got a winner. Could all students jump in and have a go at finding the perimeter of their hand with a piece of string? For sure. Could some students experiment with ‘what if’ and ‘it depends’ during their investigation? Definitely. Winner, winner!

Help students own their knowledge

If students create their own knowledge, then they own the knowledge and it becomes much more transferable to other learning situations. Or even (gasp!) real life!

Make it un-google-able

If the learning opportunities you offer your students can easily be completed using Google, then it’s not going to give them the problem solving, knowledge building, collaborative, knowledge owning experience they need to develop deeper understandings. It’s also probs gonna be pretty boring.

Make the thinking visible

Making Thinking Visible

What have students learned? How can you see their learning? Think about how to make their thinking visible. Our school has been using thinking routines for a year or so. It’s something that I’ll always be learning more about!

Find the ‘what if’ and the ‘it depends’

Prison for the human spirit - Bertrand Russell

Move learning from ‘knowing’ to ‘suggesting’ and you enable students to switch between convergent (what if) and divergent (it depends) thinking: thinking about our thinking. Meta cognition FTW! Do this again, and again, and again and you’ve got some seriously deep learning opportunities. Learning opportunities like this will develop students who know what to do when they don’t know what to do. How powerful is that?!

Stop and Think

Slow it down – encourage students to Stop and Think. Does this make sense? Check for meaning. Teach children to be noticers. Ask them, what do you notice? what do you think about what you notice? what do you wonder about what you notice? Watch the stop and think in action here and it will all make sense (zoom forward to 3:15 if you’re in a hurry, but I recommend slowing down to support deeper understanding, of course).


Get good at productive failure. The growth mindset research is your go-to for this. I’m currently listening to the audio book of Dr Carol Dweck’s ‘Mindset’ and highly recommend it for EVERYONE. It’s for parents, educators, sports people, business people. Everyone can learn from this awesome research. As Dr Westwell said, when students expect to fail, again and again, they move closer and closer to understanding. It’s not just about the failing it’s about what you do next.

So, now what?

Are you sold? On message? Me too. I get it. I’m ready to do it. I think, in a lot of ways, I already do it. I’m not a worksheet teacher. BUT there are learning opportunities that I am ready to transform with this new knowledge. I look forward to sharing my classroom experiences with you in future posts. I’m no expert. I’m a learner. Watch me learn.

More intellectual stretch goodies:

March 19, 2016
by Kylie Gardner

Oh, hi.


So, it’s been a while. Is this awkward? I think we’re all ok with this, right? Ok, let’s move on…

Apparently teaching four days a week while parenting two kids of my own plus {allegedly} running a household and sometimes, occasionally spending time with my husband… not to mention friends and family… well, it’s A LOT. It doesn’t leave much time for hobbies. Hobbies like writing a blog.

TBH for a while I just kinda didn’t feel like doing it so much. The blogging. Then I felt like doing it but got distracted. Then I REALLY felt like doing it but I wasn’t sure how to jump back in. I’ve been toying with ideas for months.

One of the main reasons, aside from time, that I haven’t written any blog posts is because I want to take the blog in a new direction. A direction that I’m scared of and worry about being judged on. Then the other day I had a conversation with a colleague and we were talking about … stuff. Like the meaning of life and giving too many of these. Ultimately, do I want to look back on this time and say “I could have… “, “I should have … “, “I was gonna…”. Nope.

So here it is. Over the next {insert random time frame here} I will use this space to reflect, write and share. If you stick around you’ll see more education/school/teacher/student stuff, less Pinterest-pretty stuff, more keepin’ it real/life ain’t perfect stuff. My goals are to:

  • learn
  • create
  • share

If you like the sound of that, then come along for the ride!

July 26, 2015
by Kylie Gardner
1 Comment

Weekly Meal Plan

Simple Meal Planning including Free Printable Planner

I’ve been meaning to make this meal planner for sometime now. Every Sunday I tell myself “I’ll do that this week” then another week flies by and another meal planning session slaps me in the face. UGH. Things have moved on a little (only a little) since I made this last meal planner. We’ve added new foods to the regular hit list and have a bit of a theme to each day.

Pebble LOVES the daily theme and it’s really helped her to accept that some days she gets her favourite and some days she doesn’t. I like it too, it kind of makes meal planning easier, it reduces the overwhelming “what to cook” feeling a little bit. As for Rocky – he hates anything that isn’t sausages or yoghurt. We just keep trying *sigh*

I plan for Mondays and Tuesday to be most labour intensive, as that’s when I have my days off. Then Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are meals that are super quick and easy or cooked ahead. Saturday and Sunday are a breeze, as you’ll see!

Below is a screenshot showing a planner filled in with all our family favourites. Following that is a screenshot of the empty planner.

Simple Meal Planning including Free Printable Planner
Octavia and Vicky Meal Plan Printable

If you want this meal planner just click on the images above to download.

What are the favourite family meals in your home?

Want some food inspiration? This doco on Netflix is pretty mind blowing.

Netflix Chef's Table

*Disclaimer: I’m a part of the Netflix Stream Team. Netflix provided me with a 12 month subscription. I am not obliged to nor do I get paid to write about Netflix. If and when I do write about Netflix, all opinions are my own. 


July 9, 2015
by Kylie Gardner

Winter School Holiday Fun

Here’s a few snaps from our day in the winter sunshine today. I was planning a stay at home and chill out day but I just couldn’t resist this Mud Play invitation! Thank goodness we had these guys to keep the kids dry! Then we stopped by a nearby playground afterwards. I can highly recommend Princess Elizabeth playground on South Terrace, it was awesome and our first visit. I’ve driven past it many times and always meant to stop by for a play. Today was the day.

p.s. Rocky didn’t want to know about the mud! He just kept saying “no! dardy! {dirty}”.

 Winter School Holiday Fun  Winter School Holiday Fun  Winter School Holiday Fun  Winter School Holiday Fun  Winter School Holiday Fun  Winter School Holiday Fun  Winter School Holiday Fun  Winter School Holiday Fun  Winter School Holiday Fun

What have you been up to this school holidays?

If you’re looking for fun stuff to do in Adelaide check out these links:

June 21, 2015
by Kylie Gardner

How to Cope with the Flu

What Channel is the Netflix?(image source)

Disclaimer: Let me say, straight up, that Netflix have been extremely kind to me. They’ve invited me to be a part of their Stream Team (yeah, baby!), which includes a 12 month Netflix subscription, a mini iPad with a cute squishy cover and my very own Netflix mug. I am not obliged to nor do I get paid to write about Netflix. If and when I do write about Netflix, all opinions are my own. 

The reason I said ‘yes’ when Netflix called (aside from it being completely awesome) is because I was already a Netflix convert. I already knew that I loved them and it wouldn’t be hard for me to share this love with you guys. This all came in very handy recently when I had the worst sickness I’ve had in years. The flu, it hit me hard! The proper flu. It really, really sucks. However! I got to binge on all my favourite shows, old a new. Here’s a few that you might enjoy too (warning, some trailers are not appropriate for kids).

Edge of Your Seat Thrills and Drama

Orange Is the New Black – Seasons 1 – 3

Ruby Rose makes an awesome addition to the Season 3 cast.

House of Cards – Seasons 1 – 3

Kevin Spacey is truly disturbing in this political thriller.

The Fall – Seasons 1 and 2

Gillian Anderson is stunning as Superintendent Stella Gibson in this can’t-look-away murder mystery.

Just for Laughs

Jim Jeffries “Alcoholocaust” comedy special

An Aussie comedian in America, he gives good LOLs.

Shameless Seasons 1 – 4

Let the Gallagher’s make you feel good about your own life!

Brooklyn Nine Nine

The cops of the 99 Precinct will get you laughing. Total ‘junk food’ TV.

For the Kids

While I was laid out flat on the couch it sure did help that we could watch Netflix on our TV, iPad and mobile phone. It helped keep the kids occupied while I recovered. Rocky loves Zack and Quack, Phineas and Ferb and Curious George. Pebble loves it all but this week she is enjoying Johnny Test, Dennis the Menace and Space Chimps.

Not to mention Dragons: Race to the Edge launches this week. We’re all looking forward to watching this one. Is anyone else glad to have kids just so they have an excuse to watch cool kids movies and shows? No? Just me? Ok, then.

Did you get hit by the flu this winter? Do you have Netflix? Why not!!!??