Author Archive

2019 – New Year, New Name

I am so excited to relaunch my blog after a little break.  As you may have noticed, I have been absent from the blogger-sphere since 2016.  This has been primarily due to the birth of my first child in 2017.  I have been completely absorbed into the world of nappies, tummy time and The Wiggles, and I have loved every minute of it!  As my little man becomes more independent, I find that I can now dedicate some time back into this passion project.

Allow me to reintroduce myself…  My name is Jill Palermo and I am a teacher.  I love what I do and I am not ashamed to say that I am extremely particular about what I do and create.  2019 will be my 13th year of teaching and my second year in Prep.  I have previously taught Grade 1/2 for 3 years and Grade 3/4 for 8 years.  I have also held the role of Religious Education Leader for 8 years.

In 2013, I originally started this blog as a prerequisite for a Web 2.0 Course I completed, but found that this was a great outlet to share my reflections and resources.  Since then, I have ventured onto other platforms too.  You can also find me on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.  Whilst I have been far more active on these other platforms and I’ve noticed the general decline of interest in blogs, I am determined to persist with maintaining my blog in 2019.  I’m not sure who’s out there following me, but at the very least, what a great place to collect and record my own professional development over the years.

I originally called myself the OCD Teacher and whilst I still embody this name – it drives me nuts when displays aren’t straight and symmetrical… However, I am starting 2019 with a new name – The Pedantic Teacher.

In my research, I found that the meaning of pedantic was to be “excessively concerned with details or rules; overscrupulous.”   And upon reflection, I think that is me to the tee!  I am obsessively concerned with details and rules – because I believe that these are extremely important.  When students, colleagues and parents feel that there is organisation and attention to detail in the classroom, in their relationship with the teacher, in what is expected of themselves – then good learning happens…

In 2019, I look forward to sharing learning, resources, experiences and laughs with you all.

What are your hopes and goals for 2019?  Feel free to leave a comment below.


Running Records Reflection – June 2016

Exactly one year ago, our school began exploring a new (to us) tool for assessing reading behaviours and comprehension.  We had just purchased Fountas and Pinnell’s Benchmark Assessment System.  We used this as an opportunity to revisit the way we administer running records and how they are used and analysed in order to drive our teaching.

A year on, I can say that we have come a long way! There has been inspiring and enriching professional development and collegial discussion that have occurred as a result of our move to F & P.

Personally, it has been great to consolidate my understandings of the Running Records process. Having taught grade 3/4 for the last 7 years, I haven’t had to administer these on a frequent basis compared to when teaching the juniors.

Here are some aspects of the assessment that have been of particular focus:


MEANING – Does the error have an impact on the meaning or message in the story?

STRUCTURE – Does the error make sense grammatically?

VISUAL – Does the printed text have visual similarity to the word the reader used?


F & P assesses comprehension on three levels:
• WITHIN the text – a LITERAL level of understanding (right there information)
• BEYOND the text – an INFERENTIAL level of understanding (using clues from the text, the implied meaning)
• ABOUT the text – an EVALUATIVE level of understanding (making judgements about the text, author’s intentions)

Do you use Fountas & Pinnell?
If so, what have been your reflections?
If not, what assessments do you use?

Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Into the Book: Teaching Resources

This is a great website with teaching resources and strategies for reading comprehension:

I hope to use this as an inspiration for a Google Site of Comprehension Strategies.  I envision this site will include templates, strategies and resources for teaching reading comprehension.

More details to come.

New Year… New Opportunities

Happy New Year!!!

I can’t believe how quickly 2014 disappeared before our eyes!

2014 was a BIG year!  There were many highlights, both professionally and personally.  I am particularly proud of the introduction of Maths Workshops in my classroom, which I believe to be successful, however hope to further develop and refine in 2015.  I was inspired by many Professional Learning opportunities, particularly my attendance at the GAFE Summit in September 2014.  Unfortunately, I never got a chance to post anything about it on this blog but in 2015, I hope to share some of the great things I have learnt and am trying to implement in my classroom, such as Google Classroom, the use of Google Forms for assessment and Genius Hour.

Of course, there are challenges and goals from 2014 that I hope to continue to improve and refine.  In 2015, I hope to focus on the following:

  • Introduction of Writing Workshops – following the model of Maths Workshops
  • Feedback – getting better at giving students feedback about their learning but also having students give each other feedback and using self-assessment tools such as Capacity Matrices
  • Development of Genius Hour – continuing to allow students an opportunity to explore and research their own interests
  • Sharing – improving my use of ICT and social media platforms to share my teaching practices, such as Pinterest and Twitter


With each new year, we are faced with new opportunities, new goals and new challenges.

Here’s hoping your year is filled with lots of love, laughter and learning!!!


What are your goals for 2015?

Student Engagement

From a recent PD experience, I stumbled across a multi-dimensional definition of engagement:

  1. Cognitive Engagement – Reflectively involved in deep understanding of concepts and applications, and expertise
  2. Operative Engagement – Actively participating – group discussions, practical, relevant activities and homework tasks
  3. Affective Engagement – Genuinely valuing – this learning will be useful to me in my life outside the classroom


I think this goes well when combined with Dan Pink’s thoughts on motivation in the following video:

What are your thoughts about student engagement?

Leading Quality Change – Michael Fullan

In October 2014, I was privileged to have the opportunity to attend a PD presented by Michael Fullan.  Michael was an absolutely fantastic speaker and had many great thoughts on leading quality change.  Here are some notes I jotted down:


Change needs to happen at the school level and the system level (micro and macro)
We need to DO change, not just talk about it.

Michael’s work in change is:
• Grounding in the doing
• Focuses on pedagogy linked with student achievement
• System focus

Types of change:

  • Top Down
  • Top Down AND Bottom Up
  • Preferred Strategy: Leadership from the Middle – Districts/Clusters

“Talk the walk” as opposed to “Walk the talk” – Your practice needs to flow off your tongue.

“We have a digital society but not digital schools.”


Module 1 – Effective Change Process

“Stuck with policy, but not mindset.”

You can take policy but implement it within your mindset.

“Get a “C” in compliance and an “A” in learning.”

Effective change process has to motivate the unmotivated
Your sophistication in being a leader is that you motivate the unmotivated

Effective change processes are voluntary but inevitable.

You go slow to go fast.
Build relationships – listen, where are people at.
Spend 6 months – 1 year, investing into people.


Module 2 – Success within Schools and Communities

Systemness: Intraschool systemness – moving away from “students in my class” to “students at our school”

Gives focus and coherence
Small group autonomy and larger group identity

The degree to which the principal participates in learning
Doesn’t mean that he/she is running the learning, or chair the learning,
When they participate as a learner, they are indirectly influencing the culture of the school. Explicitly nonetheless

The three keys of maximising impact:
– Leading Learning
– Change Agent
– System Player

What has a greater impact on teaching and learning?
• Teacher appraisal (individual but not intense enough)
• Professional Development (“PD: a great way to avoid change” – people go to PD but nothing happens afterwards)
• Collaborative Cultures

School Cultures
• Talented schools improve weak teachers
• Talented teachers leave weak schools
• Good collaboration reduces bad variation
• The sustainability of an organisation is a function of the quality of its lateral relationships
• The more you build lateral relationships, the more dispensable you are
• If you build a collaborative culture, it can sustain your departure

Shift from individualism and move to collaborative cultures.

If you want people to embrace the change:

• Reduce the Fear
• Participate in the Learning
• Use the group to change group (Each teacher hosted a class – they showed 2 things that they had been using in ICT and they moved around each class)
• Make the learner explicit/openly transparent
• “This is us – this is what we’re doing and why we’re doing.” When you talk the walk – you are becoming more explicit.
• Trust – “It’s ok to try things”
• Name it, model it, monitor it (E.g. “he says and he does it”)
• Timeline (“Schools that were boring become exciting.” – Year 1 build relationships, Year 2 should start to see momentum)

All effective leaders have a judicious nature of pushing and pulling.
Too pushy, back off
Too pully, be more assertive

7 Critical Competencies for Leadership
1. Challenges the status quo (e.g. “We’re not doing this right. We can do better.”)
2. Builds trust through clear communications and expectations
3. Creates a commonly owned plan for success (e.g. The size and prettiness of the plan has an inverse result of the effectiveness of the plan. The implementation plan is not for the planners, it is for the implementers.)
4. Focuses on team over self
5. Has a high sense of urgency for change and sustainable results in improving student achievement
6. Commitment to continuous improvement for self and organisation
7. Builds external networks/partnerships (Principals who spent time building external networks and linking ideas)


Module 3 – Leadership in a Digital Age
“If it’s going to get you anyway, move towards the danger.”

The better leader you are, the more assertive you can be.
Involve people in the unfolding of the idea.

To change relationships, particularly those who are resistant or negative:
1. Give the other party before they’ve earned it
2. Practise impressive empathy (Instead of pushing being right, you will be trying to get inside their head)
3. Love your employees
4. Use the group to change the group (Peer pressure is stronger than hierarchical pressure)
5. Deal firmly with what’s leftover


App Dependent or App Enabled

App Dependent: When we allow apps to restrict or determine our procedures, choices and goals
App Enabler: Apps that allow or encourage us to pursue new possibilities

The vast majority of apps promote superficial learning.


School Conditions for Digital Learning
1. Vision and Goals
2. Leading Deep Change
3. Creating a Learning Culture
4. Capacity Building
5. New Measures and Evaluation
6. Leveraging Digital


Module 4 – Networks and System Coherence
Schools and/or districts networking with focus Better partners upward and downward.

Systemness – commitment and action that grows from and contributes to the benefit of the network

Connect to other schools who want to be a part of this change
Don’t make it a club – How can others be welcomed and included?
Feel free to cross sector – it doesn’t have to be within your sector.

Lots of initiatives and changes occurring in the areas of Curriculum, Pedagogy, Assessment, Technology.
We are fairly ordinary with the sharing/collaboration of ideas – How can we improve this as an industry?
How can we shift our professional practice?

Understanding the Role of Technology

How do you use technology in your classroom?

This question requires a great deal of reflection and unpacking.  I assumed that I was fairly tech-savvy and embraced the use of technology in my classroom.  But, to what extent is technology used and how?  Do students have access to technology?  And in what way?  Do students have control of the technology in the classroom?  Does this differ to the level of control and skills exercised at home compared to school?

In November 2014, I attended a PD by Dr Catherine Attard, about the use of technology in Mathematics.  I was particularly interested in the research she presented by Goos, Galbraith, Renshaw & Geiger (2000) regarding the role of technology in classrooms. This research was combined with the SAMR model by Ruben R. Puentedura (2009).

The table below depicts the essence of the combined research.  As educators, how would you rate yourself and your use of technology?

Technology as master Teacher subservient to the technology,Use of technology limited by individual knowledge and skills or force of circumstance


Technology as servant Teacher uses technology in limited ways to support preferred teaching methods


Technology as partner Teacher has an affinity with technologyPower/Control is shared with students


Technology as extension as self Powerful and creative use of technology that forms a natural part of pedagogical repertoire



I believe that technology is an area where there is such a divide – a “digital divide” as named by others.  Not only do individual students have different abilities and skills, often dependent on their level of access to technology.  But there is a divide amongst educators.  

Knowing the different dispositions and needs of individual staff members would assist School Leadership Teams in planning Professional Learning that is personalised and targeted.  

The following websites have various resources, online professional learning opportunities and lesson ideas for technology integration:



Goos, M., Galbraith, P., Renshaw, P., & Geiger, V. (2000). Reshaping teacher and student roles in technology
rich classrooms. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 12 (3), 303-3208.

Ruben R. Puentedura, As We May Teach: Educational Technology, From Theory Into Practice. (2009) Online at:


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