Category Archives: Uncategorized

PERSONAL: Grit. Do Our Children Have It?

Failure. It’s an ugly word. No-one wants to fail and no-one enjoys failure. As parents we do not want to see our children fail either. It is not something you would wish on your worst enemy and so parents are tempted to bail their children out before failure occurs or to cushion their landings so that the pain associated with failure is not as excruciating as it could be, or to remove them from situations so that repeat occurrences cannot take place. It is in our nature as parents to want to defend and protect our children – it’s our duty to do so. At what cost though? Are there lessons in failure that we rob our children of when we don’t allow them to experience it and when we don’t teach them to get back up and face their challenges head on so that they develop perseverance skills and determination? Do we allow our children to develop true grit?

At this past weekend’s SA JKA Karate Championships in Johannesburg, it became clear to me that karate builds grit. It’s a tough sport that requires fitness, agility and perseverance. There are many teaching moments. From the time of team selection when the child commits to Saturday SA training sessions, to dealing with tough (but caring) Senseis and Sempais, to the moment that child steps onto the floor in the competition, true grit is being instilled in that child. But it doesn’t end there. The competition itself requires a child to dig deep. It’s a brave step, especially for the very little ones, to leave the safety of mom in the stands, to walk down onto a floor that is far way from mom’s caring arms, to sit there and wait their  turn and then to perform to the best of their ability as they fall back on the teachings of their Senseis and do their intricate katas. That is a skill on its own. And those that lose, that fail in their own eyes, they have to dig deepest of all. They have to accept that they haven’t achieved what they were hoping for, have worked for. They have to dig deep not to lay blame at anyone else’s door – the opponents or the referees. That’s the easy way out. They have to face their own shortcomings and dig deep to stand tall and say to themselves – “I WILL come back next year!” That is true grit.



Then in the kumite, especially for the older students, those who participate in the free fighting, where contact is possible and most likely inevitable, they have to dig deep again when receiving a punch to head or nose. It takes true grit to face the pain and work through it. It takes even more grit to turn and face your opponent again, when all you want to do is run and hide and deal with your pain. It takes true grit to go through round after round, knowing that the chances of another knock are high and it takes even more grit to realise and accept  that you have done your best when you win a Bronze medal, not the Gold one you had been hoping for. It takes grit to to accept that your loss is actually a win, when you have been competing amongst an elite group of youngsters and you have taken your knocks, when you have fallen but risen again. It takes grit to realise that you have achieved what many others haven’t. And that grit means that you WILL be back next year to try again.

So, what can we as parents learn from this? What is grit? The dictionary definition of grit is this: “courage and resolve; strength of character”. By bailing our children out (and believe me, I am just as guilty, I often am tempted to bail my children out) we teach them that it is okay not to see things through to the end, or that if the going is too tough, then it’s okay not to try again. We teach them that failure is bad and we rob them of these teaching moments.

I wonder sometimes whether in today’s social media-connected world a parent’s need to protect their children from failure at all costs isn’t more about what other people will think? As hard as it is for a parent to witness their child experiencing failure, it is one of the best lessons that you can afford your child. By allowing your child to fall and then rise up again you instil true grit, determination and perseverance. You build character. That doesn’t mean that you leave your children to fail, but that you are next to them to help them to deal with failure, to give them coping mechanisms to help them stand tall again, to stand by them through thick and thin as they navigate through childhood, and by giving them opportunities to develop true grit, such as with karate.

This is the best gift you can give your child.


Join us – Global Classroom 2012-13 Launch LIVE @ #GlobalEd12

Cross-posted from: 

The formal launch of the Global Classroom Project 2012-13 is set to take place at the Global Education Conference  on FRIDAY, November 16.

It will take place as part of our Global Classroom Stories and Launch Presentation with speakers from Australia, Nepal, Greece, Taiwan, India, and South Africa. The session will be recorded, and shared after the event.


It takes place at 6AM EST (New York), 11AM GMT, 10PM AEDT – OR find out when this is in YOUR time-zone, by clicking here.

How do I participate? 

To join the session, please click on this link 10 minutes prior to the start time.

I will be taking part in this launch presentation. I will give my thoughts on global classroom collaboration and reflect on my Crazy Crazes project.  Four of my students will be joining me. Why don’t you join us?


Grade 6 Story Book Project

Our Grade 6s are once again hard at work writing their story books for our Grade 3s.

Here they are working collaboratively in Google Docs and using Google to search for appropriate images. They have been taught to cite the sources of their pictures, in order to give credit to the owners of the pictures.

The next step will be to import the stories into PowerPoint and then to save the stories as PDFs for uploading to

When they are done, we will share them with our Grade 3s and the world!

A Fresh, New Year – Well it was, a month ago!


It’s the first day of February and I haven’t written a word on my blog yet!! Sad, but true – as usual, the year has started off with great gusto on the work and home front, and unfortunately some things have just got to slide… for a while! Anyway, belated Happy New Year to everyone – here’s to making 2012 a year to remember!

I am not big on New Year’s resolutions, but there are some goals I have set for myself for 2012:

  • Blog more often – make it short, but sweet and do it often!
  • Breathe fresh, new life into the lessons in our IT Centre (with the help of my colleagues of course!)
  • Encourage my colleagues to make global connections! There are so many exciting projects out there!
  • Finally get those long-awaited grade blogs off the ground.
  • Build on the iPad sandpit experience we had in 2011 and hopefully launch our set of floating iPads.
  • Encourage my colleagues to participate at one of our TeachMeets or iPadMeets which will be held regularly at our school.

I think this is a “doable” list! Let’s see how it goes!

My World Right Now

It’s so strange, and a little mind-blowing, to realise how the world has changed and truly become a smaller place due to social media platforms and the wonder that is the internet.

On Thursday I participated in my first LIVE webinar. It was not my intention to participate, I was happily planning to lurk and take in as much as possible, but it happened that a question was directed my way and I ended up actively participating. I am so pleased that I had this opportunity!

The webinar was hosted by Fiona Beal and the topic was learning how to blog. I was very honoured that this blog featured in the webinar, as an example of what blogs can look like. Fiona asked me to give a little bit of input about my Posterous blog and why or how I use it. I was happy to be involved and excited to be an active participant in the webinar – only problem is, Fiona now wants me to present my own webinar sometime in the future! I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it…

While I was waiting for the webinar to begin, I popped in to my Twitter account to see what was happening. I saw a private message from a Canadian teacher I have recently followed and we got into a discussion about the stresses on teachers (same all around the world, it seems). She has a class Twitter account too, and her children are sending out daily Tweets, with ideas for making the world a better place. I think this is a great initiative and I reply to them each day! Follow @OneSingleAct and give them some feedback – they’d love to hear from you!

Then, on Saturday we held our second TeachMeet at Elkanah as well as the first iPadMeet (more on these later). While I was waiting for the proceedings to begin, I got into a conversation (on Twitter of course) with a teacher from America, one from Australia and a Maths tutor from Romania. We had a light-hearted discussion about non-educational things, but it was amazing – FOUR continents (Africa, America, Europe and Australia) represented in one conversation! We are now planning a pre-Christmas Skype session to “meet” each other properly! That is the power of Twitter.

What a conference!

The build-up was tremendous, the hours of preparation numerous and the feelings of expectation and anticipation were huge. Could we pull it off, the six of us that make up the Elkanah IT Department? We were confident that we could and, oh boy, we DID!! I am so proud to be part of such an awesome team.

The EdTechConf eXtended event at Elkanah has come and gone but I don’t have that feeling of deflation and emptiness one often experiences after a particularly exciting event. To the contrary, I feel elated, not only because we did a great job, but because we were able to excite and inspire a group of teachers, give them ideas and possibly some tools for including the use of technology in their classrooms, making it an add-in, not an add-on! That’s what this event was all about and even if each teacher took away only one idea to make a start, take that first step, then we were 100% successful in our mission!

Key points that came out of this conference were:
* Buy-in from school management is vital (sadly very few principals attended our conference).
* Technology needs to be an integral part of teaching today as our students are born tech savvy (digital natives)
* It must be an add-in not an add-on
* Teachers should start small, choose one aspect/topic and use technology to enhance it
* Baby steps… Take that first step!

We had a variety of wonderful presenters who provided much inspiration and to them we are very grateful for their input an willingness to share their experiences and projects. All their bios and presentations are available here:

The EdTechConf team consisting of Tim Keller, Arthur Preston, Rick Greener and Helen Temple have started an amazing initiative which is gaining momentum beyond their wildest imagination, with a number of future eXtended events planned already. The first one will take place at Cornwall Hill College in Gauteng in October. See .

Elkanah will continue to be closely involved with EdTechConf, especially since Arthur Preston has recently been appointed as the new head of our Senior Primary, where I am based!

Time to Get “Social Smarts”

I have just received a link to an excellent post on a topic especially close to my heart, and which links very nicely to my earlier post Moral Dilemma or Just Old Fashioned?  Written by Joey Sargent, it is an Open Letter to Teens, Tweens and the People Who Love Them, highlighting the hidden dangers of using social media and the fact that we need to be CAREFUL online!

Please read this post for yourself.  I take no credit for it but I think it is excellent and just reinforces the fact that we need to guide our children in their online behaviour, teach them the facts and show them how to be responsible Cyber Citizens – parents and teachers alike!

Projects, iPads, Presentations and possibly Prezi…

So I’m up to my ears in projects at the moment – three to be exact!

Firstly, small but still a project, I have managed to get our campus onto Twitter!  I am hoping that by using social media as a communication tool, we will enhance our current methods of parent communication so that they become even more effective than they are at present.  We go live on Thursday!

Secondly, we are well into putting together the first ever EdTechConf eXtended @ Elkanah conference. We are coming along nicely and registration will open shortly.  I will post more details about that closer to the time. However, conference planning and co-ordinating is time consuming and since we want to make it a conference to remember, we’re putting quite a bit of energy into it!  I’m loving it and so enjoying working with @artpreston and @timkeller.  These guys have a winning recipe that I believe is going to grow into something they didn’t, in their wildest dreams, imagine they could ever create. And the fact that we are working with them to grow this dream is amazing, to say the least!

Lastly, our iPad project is going full steam ahead, and it is this project that is keeping me the busiest – in fact it consumes my life at present – not that I am complaining!  The more I work with this wonderful device, the more convinced I become that this is a powerful tool for education and that it can change the way teaching and learning takes place.  Yes, there are many little obstacles, but those are mostly in our minds.  We have to change our way of thinking, shift our viewpoints and enable the children to take more responsibility for their learning.  At the SchoolNet ICT in the Classroom conference that I attended recently, I heard the speaker, John Davitt, refer to “struggleware”, in terms of giving children difficult tasks or projects to do and telling them to get on with it.  A little struggling never did anyone any harm and it encourages out-of-the-box thinking and innovation.  Well, I think of the iPads as “struggleware” for teachers!  These devices are pushing our boundaries and encouraging us to step out of our comfort zones, and I believe this is a good thing.  However, having said this, I don’t think the iPad is a difficult device to use and will by no means be “struggleware” for the children. It is an intuitive device and simple to use but since we (at our school) work in an exclusively Windows environment, there are a few issues we need to get our heads around – and getting the teachers to grips with the idea of cloud computing… well, that’s a different story altogether!  My challenge is to get the curriculum mapping underway and we have our first workshop with the Grade 6 teachers on Friday. I look forward to that.

In the lab all is well. Coincidentally all three grades are busy with Natural Science presentations using PowerPoint.  The Grade 4s are looking at different forms of Energy, the Grade 5s are preparing oral presentations on Useful Plants and the Grade 6s are showing their understanding of the workings of the Digestive System – three similar, yet very different tasks with different expectations and outcomes.   Think I should give Prezi a try with the Grade 6s next time… PowerPoint seems so “old fashioned”.  Mmm… food for thought!

We’re Skyping with Madison Middle School in Michigan!

Exciting things are happening in our lab this week! As the title explains, we will be Skyping with 6th Graders from Madison Middle School on Wednesday and Thursday this coming week.  We are excited about this because it will be the first time we have Skyped with anyone!  This wonderful event is a direct spin-off of our Grade 6 Stories project, as the 6th Grade Social Studies teacher from Madison Middle School, Jill Brandeberry, found our stories Wiki and contacted me with the idea of doing a small project together.  Due to the timing – end of the school year in the US and assessment time on our end, we have just done a very small project together, in the hope that we can build on our new-found friendships in the future!

What we are busy with is a comparison of our schools and Grade 6 in our respective countries.  We have a wiki going in which we are placing all our information as well as questions which we will try to address during our Skype sessions.  Please take a look at our Wiki – Let Us Compare!

Keep watching this space for more updates!

Fun Word Cloud generator

Created with Wordlings: – a word cloud of my recent tweets on Twitter. Cool!