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My Classroom of the Future.

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On the back of my last post i’ve been thinking a lot about how I can transform my classroom to better cater for the kids of todays world. To foster and encourage creativity and innovation and have them engaged within a learning environment that breaks away from the norm and gives them a sense of belonging.

So after ‘sketch noting’ up a storm, see below ;), i’ve attempted to mockup a learning environment using my current space that reflects 21st Century teaching and learning. I love the whole notion of learning space and learning space design and love seeing how other educators have their learning spaces set up.

Having heard him countless times and even had the opportunity to work alongside him, Stephen Heppell is a person whose ideology around what learning spaces look and feel like are well noted. His website at http://www.heppell.net/ contains great information about all things learning space design and i have certainly adopted some of his thinking.

Documents such as those shared below via a dropbox folder are also great reads, albeit a little ‘departmentalised’, yet give clear insights into what perhaps an effective learning space can be and or should be. If this is the case though within these documents why are more school classrooms not like this…? The million dollar question!

DropBox Link

The TEDx Talk below via Sean Corcorran is a great 17min watch and hearing Sean’s thoughts and philosophies relating to some of the thinking that goes into learning space design is terrific.

To cap this post off and on the back of my image below, i simply thought that I would describe my ideal classroom. Some, if not all, is certainly achievable and time to implement at least some of the below will be the only obstacle!

 

sketchnote

 

Here we go…

I want a classroom space that belongs to my students. A space that they want to come to because it is safe, exciting and has purpose. Furniture is to be mixed and not all the same to cater for various learners. Bean bags, collaborative tablespaces, standing height benches, moveable seating, writable surfaces (walls and tables), and isolation, or independent, break out spaces are to be all complemented with natural lighting. I am also a big fan of ‘rooms within rooms’ for student to break away from what is happening in class and to have an environment that lessens interruptions to their learning. A great example of this is via the work Matt Ives, an educator from New Zealand is doing around Design Thinking, his blog can be located here.

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Just one of the tents Matt Ives has set up in his classroom!

I’d also love to have furniture that encourages physical activity, such as having to climb, crawl, or whatever it may be to gain access to a specific space. The examples below I think would be awesome! I think also having exercise machines such as exercise bikes in the classroom would also be fantastic and I am certain that they’d get used! 

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These students from Japan get to play in a cargo net located above where they’ll one day learn in! Imagine having to crawl across that to get to a staff meeting! Taken from Heppell.net
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The climbing frame bookshelves in Bankok’s TK Park family learning space.
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Breakout spaces in a school from Denmark!
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From a school in Scandinavia. Does not look all that inviting but I bet once you’re in it… 🙂

Here are three older images I located showing just a few of the things I mentions happening at my College.

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A ‘not so great photo’ of ‘tired seating’ at my college.
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Beanbags… Not everyones cup of tea… But kids do love ’em!
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Have an old couch at home…? Bring it in!

Students, like those who work at Google, are to also have constant access to food and snacks throughout the day. We as adults are not restricted and told when to eat, our students should not be either. Obviously a focus geared towards healthy eating and brain food will be encouraged and not 500ml Cans of Red Bull!  

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A Google Snack Bar!

Within the class there is to be a ‘makerspace‘ to foster and encourage student innovation and creativity that is NOT confined to the curriculum being taught. This also will be relevant towards teaching students to code within year levels where it is not stated within the curriculum. The use of other technologies to drive some of the above (MaKey MaKey, Arduino, iBeacon Tech, etc…) will certainly drive some very powerful learning. The greatest inventors of out time were never restricted to a syllabus! 

To make the space personal I would like students to share achievements regarding things that they have achieved outside of school. To see their interests and passions that drive who they are and then for them to bring these passions into the classroom. My classroom would also be shoeless (A Heppell philosophy), to ensure comfort levels are optimum. I would also have no college/school uniform however I think that will be my one major sticking point. 😉 This all relates to the classroom belonging to the students.

My classroom would also be technology rich. Students having access to multiple devices, especially with an emphasis on using their own. I would have charging stations (OH&S, meh…), and a range of other attachments to suit individual learning needs. I would have a mobile LED TV, preferably interactive, that students could airplay, mirror their devices to. I would want this mobile so as to not make it the main point of the room. It would be flexible enough that I could use it with 1, 5, 10, or the whole class. I could turn it so others could not see it so as to not distract. In saying this it is exactly what I have now, apart from the interactivity, and it is brilliant! Also, and another point I heard off Mr. Heppell, is that I’d love to have ‘Skype’ or ‘Google Hangout’ bars. PLaces where students could interact and connect with others wherever they may be. Why should learning be limited to only the classroom and what is on the internet. Why should students not be able to connect with other experts, no matter where they are! As the American Educator Will Richardson puts it… “There are approx. 2.5 Billion People online. This can be seen as 2.5 billion predators, or, 2.5 billion teachers… You choose.” 

Students would have the opportunity to present their work/findings/understandings in ways which play to their strengths and that also encourage a greater global audience.  

 

I think that i’ll stop here. I could perhaps go on but for now, if my classroom was everything that I have just mentioned above, I would be a pretty happy man. I think that my students would be even happier though!

“Your” School of the Future.

1962 ... The Jetsons, high school

“Wouldn’t it be just great if we all taught at the same school!”. “You know… how terrific would it be to design your own school?”. “Imagine if we all taught in the same school. It would be freakin’ awesome!”.

Have you ever been part of a discussion like those above? In having attended countless conferences and professional learning sessions in the past few years these statements have often popped up over time are are always a really fun discussion to have.

Recently, as I mentioned in my previous post, I attended an Apple Distinguished Educator Retreat in Melbourne which was held at the new Docklands Library (an amazing space!!!). Over the course of the 2 days we and shared countless things all relating to technology, pedagogy and what the future holds.

Linking on from this I personally find that the best part of any conference I have ever been to is always hearing first hand what other teachers are doing in their classrooms and in their respective settings, and this is where I derive a lot of my inspiration from. Sure, the big names in education are great and it’s always wonderful to hear them and give their thoughts and ideas on the state of education and what can be done to improve it, etc, etc… To hear however the triumphs and tribulations of those in the teaching profession and what they are doing in their own settings to drive student learning I fund is much more powerful.

Now as part of this retreat and after the sharing sessions took place we were tasked with a mini project that revolved around “designing the school of the future”. What would the ‘ultimate’ school look like? After being grouped we were given time to develop a presentation that depicted our thoughts and feelings towards this. No easy feat. This could easily be a week long task however we made do with the time we had and of course pushed on. Prior to ‘pushing on’ we did view the video below titled ‘Make The Future’. A great watch.

MAKE THE FUTURE from Alex Dobbin on Vimeo.

The great part about this task was the rich discussions that came out of it. I can say that not a whole lot of work was done ‘presentation wise’ as the conversations hijacked our time. The topics of curriculum, learning space design, teacher capabilities, and 21st Century teaching and learning all became robust areas of discussion. Below is one completed example that was developed by a few wonderful colleagues.

 

From all those topics that were derived and brought up there was ‘almost’ one common thread… That little to none of things proposed and discussed to design the ultimate school were actually happening in schools. As a consistent theme anyway.

So moving on and handing over the baton, what is it that YOU feel are the most important aspects of designing the ‘ultimate’ school. A school that has its core focus on preparing students for the future, whatever that may hold. 

Below I have embedded a Google Form that simply asks you to state what you feel an ‘ultimate’ school should focus on. When designing the ultimate school / school of the future,  what should be the non negotiables. What would your ultimate school of the future look like?

I would love to hear your feedback I’ll be very keen to share the data once it comes in. Just a few of the items I was thinking about were;

  • Learning Space Design.
  • Instructional Practice/s
  • Curriculum Delivery
  • Curriculum Content
  • Teacher Capabilities
  • Culture of Learning
  • Technology Integration
  • Work Skills of the Future
  • Computational Thinking
  • Design Thinking
  • Personalised Learning Curriculum

Thanks in anticipation for your assistance and input! 🙂

Completing an eLearning Strategy, Post #1.1

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After many meetings, months and episodes of madness, it is complete. My College’s 2015-2017 eLearning Strategy has been finalised, presented and ratified. Now comes the fun part of trying to implement such a strategy over the next three years and ensure that all that we have set out to do becomes reality.

In my first, and only other post about this, here, I took you through the process of what it was that led us to developing this strategy and some of the driving factors behind it.

It would be quite easy to unpack the strategy and explain it in a whole lot of depth, however, I will let the what has been done do the talking. I am sure, and have no doubt, that there will be fans of what we have done via the path we’re headed down and those who perhaps think we’ve taken a road that is not so great. Regardless… a lot of time, effort, discussion, and professional conversation was had throughout this process and we have arrived at a point which I am mostly happy with. In saying this I do not think that i’ll ever be ‘happy’ with it. I could quite easily alter it and chop and change its contents 20 times over, as I have already done. What I am though is confident for what has been created and where it’s contents will lead our College and its staff and students.

To get your hands on a copy of our eLearning Strategy, I have placed it up on iTunes for download, linked HERE.

I would welcome comments good, bad or otherwise. It has been this type of feedback that has led to the creation of this document and therefore encourage you all to share your thoughts with me.

If you have any specific comments regarding this that you’d like to contact me about then please email me via: barclay.corrie@gmail.com

You can lead a horse…

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http://bigseadesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/horse.jpe

We speak so often about the need to differentiate, personalise, and scaffold our teaching programs to our students to ensure that what is being taught is done so in a way that engages, enhances and gives purpose for the students at their particular point of learning need.

I am a big believer in building teacher capacity in a variety of ways which of course then has a direct flow on effect for the learners that a particular teacher is responsible for. Being in a role that oversees the effective use use of technology across 1900 students and 220 staff is, well, a large role, however one that is supported by a host of staff whose own skill sets and capabilities in using technology to support learning is outstanding. Those supportive staff have a particular drive and passion for continual self improvement that they are very willing to share with those around them and that is the difference that sets them apart.

I am a large believer that professional learning for teachers must be invested in heavily by schools if education is to progress in that particular setting. The challenge I find is that some settings do not either place a high enough focus towards this, do it in a way which is the opposite to what we should be doing, as mentioned earlier with our own students, that being said, providing a professional learning culture amongst staff that disengages, does not enhance capacity and has little to no purpose. The other issue I see is professional learning being driven based on the needs of the college or school, and not the staff, and there is a very large difference between the two.

I am pleased to say that I have attended some absolutely outstanding professional learning in my time. PL that has been engaging and had me thinking and challenging my own pedagogical practices and educational paradigms. PL that has been hands on with a focus on creativity and innovation and thinking in ways that I would perhaps normally not. I feel that these professional learning events were, and are rare. My recent trips via Apple to the ADE Institutes in Bali and San Diego, as well as attending the GTA in Sydney in 2011 certainly were (rare) examples of the above. The focus on these accounts were teachers becoming the learning and learning at points of need. Teachers knowing their own strengths and weaknesses and building their professional learning around these.

Recently I have delivered alot of professional learning to educators both within and certainly without of my college setting. This is something that I really enjoy and is a great part of my role. The fact that I can model lessons for other staff, assist them through planning processes, observe and deconstruct taught lessons as well as deliver more formal means of PL all allow me to assist in the building of teacher capacity. I think, or believe for the most part, I am very good at this. I am passionate about working with staff and it is this passion which drives me going forward. There are times that I have delivered professional learning that has not been wholly effective however and I have used these few experiences to better my own capabilities for future scenarios.

In saying all of the above I am keen to determine how I can better, or… be more effective at building teacher capacity. Does this comes down to the way in which I present and run professional learning, or am I needing to focus more upon inspiring staff before I worry about adding to their skill sets?

Regardless, I feel that I am needing to get more of a ‘buy in’ from staff to better and further improve their own practice. The image below sums it best.

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Finding the time to run professional learning in a teacher’s, or teaching team’s hectic schedule can be very difficult. What is not difficult unfortunately is finding excuses to not run the professional learning. A personal goal from here forward is to ensure I keep working hard in supporting staff to build their own pedagogy no matter the focus, or lack of time. What will go a long in supporting this is that ‘buy-in’ from staff to want to improve. A want and desire to better their practice to ensure that they are delivering the highest quality teaching and learning programs that they can offer.

You could say that I will not force the horse to water if it is not thirsty. Teaching reluctant learners does not improve when I force content upon them. What does work however is finding ways in which to engage and hook them into wanting to learn and to improve… and this is my (exciting) challenge.

Watch. This. Space.

#ADE2014

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I first caught wind of a 20th Anniversary ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) Institute towards the end, if not after, my initial induction in to the ADE world following my the Institute I attended in Bali in April 2013.

After having experienced Bali alongside 300 other educators from all over South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, I was intrigued as to how another ADE Institute could top what I had experienced thus far. I had heard other ADE’s talk of their experiences in Cork, Ireland, a year beforehand and how that Institute was an experience for the ages!

Now usually my posts rant and rave and 200 words turn into 2000. I promise this will not be the case. 😉 As much difficulty as I am having in attempting to review what certainly was an amazing week, I am wanting to do that week justice but being conscience, to the point, and not ruin it through rambling lines of text.

It was this week in which I had a fellow ADE, Glenn McMahon (@mackas_ict) visit my college with several of his colleagues who were investigating eLearning and technology integration practices among other things. Whilst discussing all things teaching, learning, technology, and other, Glenn asked me what my biggest ‘take-aways’ were from San Diego. A great question, albeit a tough one. I have been thinking about my response to Glenn and additional ‘take-aways’ I had from attending #ade2014 and, briefly, these are outlined below.

1. Teachers as Learners.

There are a few ways in which I can take this however I will look at it from this angle… Being in a role which effectively is responsible for assisting staff in using technology to enhance  teaching and promote student learning outcomes has over the years thrown up a few challenges. One of these being the reluctance at times of teachers ‘stepping back’ and allowing students to lead. The need to control a class and the way it is being run is for the most part shifting as it perhaps once was the near norm. I now often see students leading their peers and also their teachers in learning new methods to create, share, collaborate, connect and innovate within the classroom. In regards to the institute a key focus was the teacher being the learner. Using our own devices to engage and interact with the institute itself via an iTunesU course and a developed app for attendees was terrific. I look forward to seeing the day when students are personalising their own learning to the point where teachers are no longer teachers, where they facilitate learning and work alongside the students and not in front them.

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Teachers as Learners

2. Making it Mobile.

There’s no doubt the one of the greatest strengths of the iPad is it’s mobility. The simple fact that it can be taken anywhere and do just about anything to support teaching and or learning. This i have clearly seen evident when taking 100+ students to both Sovereign Hill and the Melbourne Aquarium where their iPad devices have been fully integrated to support the learning programs taking place. San Diego in a way was also exactly that. Having our own devices out and about and using the suggested app’s given to us, especially also from an iBeacon point of view was fantastic. The point being made is that learning does not need to be restricted to the classroom or even the school grounds. That also yes, connecting with their learning at home is also great however, when students are engaged with technology to assist them to develop specific understandings when in other rich learning environments so much more understanding can be developed. The map below shows several points of reference where I used my own iPad device ‘out in the field’ and for what reasons.

3. I’m not Alone.

One of the, if not the, best part of attending such an event is being situated in a location alongside 400+ like minded people, all of which have the same drive, passion, and desire that you do. People who are having similar successes and triumphs as well as hitting similar walls and barriers. The professional conversations that were mostly held informally over a beer and dinner were amazing. The connections that I was able to make was outstanding and I have every confidence that through meeting these people, and staying in contact with them I will be a better teacher and leader for it. Thanks to social media, primarily Twitter, I can converse with these wonderful people virtually anytime and anywhere.

Clearly not alone...
Clearly not alone…

4. Break the Norm.

Hearing the stories and journeys that educators had embarked on within their own settings that ‘broke the norm’ of how technology was being utilised was outstanding. Again, hearing like minded educators sharing stories about how they have transformed their teaching practices within their settings was great. This was particularly evident during the ADE showcases where ADE’s had 3 minutes to share the AWESOME things that they were doing in their settings. The common theme throughout the showcase sessions was that these were educators who were willing to trial new things and take a risk within their own practice. They were willing to step out of their comfort zone. Hopefully the  recording of these are made public soon so that other teachers the world over can be inspired as I was!

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5. Celebrate the +’s

My last big take away, is that I realised that it is extremely important to celebrate the positives within our settings and with others. Everything from the big wins that we have such as rolling out 1000 iPad devices to perhaps that small win where one particular student has created a marvellous piece of work. To be within an environment that was extremely positive it encourages you to share more of what you do and to celebrate the things you and your setting do well. From this I hope to begin working on developing this positive culture not only throughout my staff but more so my students. Have them share and celebrate the awesome things that they are capable of!

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“Now usually my posts rant and rave and 200 words turns into 2000.” – Corrie Barclay, The beginning of this post!

LASTLY… I have strung together my own 10 favourite shots from the Institute that hopefully depict the learning, collaboration, and sites that were #ADE2014.

1 iPad, 1 Task, 15 Ways

Recently my year 7 class were issued with an inquiry tasks asking them to select various pathways and answer various inquiry questions, many of which they themselves had created, relating to their current Inquiry topic of Ancient History with a focus on Ancient Rome and Ancient China.

I have embedded this task for you below.

Humanities Inquiry Task

Immediately after the task had been covered, discussed and picked apart, I set the students off to begin creating their presentations. Depending on what we are doing in class I often place a very heavy focus on ‘student voice, student choice’ (thanks @MichelleMeracis for allowing me to ‘borrow’ your phrase) as well as foster a ‘Gradual Release of Responsibility’ towards how work is presented. This essentially means that student can choose to create their work via just about any means they wish as long as they are meeting their success criteria and learning outcomes for that lesson.

After 15 mins or so I began conferencing with the students around the room what it is they had chosen to do and how they were going to go about presenting their work. The task itself involves also having students present their findings to the rest of the year seven cohort in an ‘exhibition’ style setting.

It became quickly apparent that the creativity I was hoping for was not entirely being embraced! A class conversation was quickly organised and a rushed ‘poll’ on NOT what each of the students were doing but HOW they were doing it. Their responses were mixed with a around half selecting to ditch their technology altogether. However,  those who were iPad bound were all looking to create in the same select few app’s.

So being the teacher that I am I decided to show just a few select ways that were quick, pain free and simple to take what was a very ordinary task and ‘jazz’ it up a little!

Below I have completed the same basic task; under the ‘History Pathways‘ component, and the dot point titled ‘What are your thoughts/opinions on slavery?’. To answer this I have come up with three pretty standard opinions and attempted to represent these in 15 different ways using my iPad Mini. Some are extremely basic, others a little more complicated. Some tasks took a little longer to complete while others were completed in under 3 minutes.

Here we go!

# 1.

  • App: Pages
  • Cost: $12.99 however comes free with most recent model iPad devices.
  • Time: 3 minutes

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# 2.

  • App: KeyNote
  • Cost: $12.99 however comes free with most recent model iPad devices.
  • Time: 5 minutes

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Slavery KeyNote Preso!

# 3.

  • App: iMovie
  • Cost: $5.49 however comes free with most recent model iPad devices.
  • Time: 11 minutes (including export to YouTube)

# 4.

  • App: Haiku Deck
  • Cost: Free with in app purchases.
  • Time: 7 minutes (including upload time)

HISTORY PATHWAYS – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

# 5.

  • App: Adobe Voice
  • Cost: Free (An Adobe ID is needed, which is free.)
  • Time: 5 minutes (including upload time)

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Click on the image above to view the video…

# 6.

  • App: Pic Collage
  • Cost: Free with in app purchases.
  • Time: 5 minutes

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# 7.

  • App: Popplet LITE
  • Cost: Free, although a Pro Version is available.
  • Time: 4 minutes

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# 8.

  • App: Tellagami
  • Cost: Free with in app purchases.
  • Time: 3 minutes

# 9.

  • App: Video Scribe
  • Cost: $7.49
  • Time: 6 minutes (47min to export to camera roll!!!)

# 10.

  • App: Prezi
  • Cost: Free
  • Time: 7 minutes

# 11.

  • App: Google Doc
  • Cost: Free
  • Time: 3 minutes

Link to the EDITABLE document here: Slavery – History Pathway

# 12.

  • App: Survey Monkey
  • Cost: Free
  • Time: 6 minutes

Access the link to my created survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/M9GQ2SS

# 13.

  • App: Strip Design
  • Cost: $3.79
  • Time: 8 minutes

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# 14.

  • App: iFunFace
  • Cost: Free with in app purchases
  • Time: 5 minutes

# 15.

  • App: Trading Cards
  • Cost: Free
  • Time: 5 minutes

tradingcard

 

And…. One more for good measure…

# 16.

  • App: Quick Voice Pro (embedded in to an iMovie and exported from an .MP3 to a .Mov)
  • Cost: $3.79
  • Time: 10 minutes

So there you have it… I do actually have ideas for another several however we’ll leave it at that! If you, the readers, have any ideas, I have embedded the Google Doc below so you can add your own ideas, apps, etc…

Your Ideas… 🙂

 

Developing an eLearning Strategy, Post #1

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The time is nigh…

After 3 years, or really 2 1/2, my College’s current eLearning Strategy is due to come to an end concluding this year. Due to this, we are now in the very detailed process of developing a new plan for the 2015 – 2017 period. A task that is somewhat tricky and very challenging.

To develop a plan that embodies all that you want it to be, to develop a plan that will be responsible for the way in which technology is integrated, embedded and used effectively throughout your educational setting is extremely important. This new eLearning plan will drive what we do in ways that encourage creativity, innovation and most all foster 21st Century Teaching and Learning Skills. Quite simple really… 

From our inauguration in 2009 we failed to have an ICT strategy in place that assisted us in driving the way our 1:1 programs were to support teaching and learning practice. During this time however I must add that the ways in which students were using devices and how teachers were using these to also engage and deliver content was second to none.

2012 then gave birth to our first eLearning / ICT Strategy, embedded below, that placed a major focus on device allocation and device allocation only. We did have at the time an eLearning plan however this had been developed more so to ‘tick a box’ rather than to be used as an actual ‘living document’. The main reason behind developing a strategy was due to student devices being under a leased co-contribution model and in the long term leasing for us and our setting was certainly not financially viable. The current strategy itself explains this somewhat.

MLP12C ICT Strategy 2012-14

So as mentioned, the time had/has come again to create a new strategy.

The process began by having an ‘eLearning Strategy Development Evening’ in which all major stakeholders were invited. This involved all PCT and Leading Teachers, all year level team leaders, representatives from Apple (as we are an Apple Distinguished School), school council and select parent representatives, hardware resellers of networking and audio visual gear, and last but not least several of our senior students. Now not all those who were invited were able to attend however those that did proved to be extremely valuable and assistive on the night.

Our Principal introduced the evening where he then handed over to myself who went through the keynote embedded below;

As you can see from the above presentation I had set the attendees to work asking them to answer questions which we felt would drive the development of our strategy.

From the gold old ‘think, pair, share’ we were able to ascertain a great amount of information that already has assisted me in developing a first draft of our strategy.

Once this strategy is complete, i’ll be happy to share and discuss it with you all. In saying this, this will be our strategy that we have developed for our setting that suits our learners and their needs. I can almost guarantee that it will also not be perfect, but again for us, and me being slightly OCD, it’ll be pretty close! 😉 I am also using to assist in this whole process research based information taken from documents such as;

Thus far I have decided to split our eLearning Strategy into 3 components, each with its own agenda yet when all 3 are intertwined will make a for a living, breathing, rich and relevant document that will not only guide but assist in continuing to build our profile as a leader in effective technology use and integration. Those 3 strands are;

  1. College / Teacher eLearning Integration Capabilities. This will focus on building staff skills to integrate technology effectively.
  2. P-12 Device Allocation Model. This will encompass specialist areas and dedicated needs to those areas.
  3. Teaching and Learning Support Technologies. This will focus on college A/V as well as other technologies that will aide and benefit student learning.

As this process moves forward i’ll continue to share this journey. By week 8 of term 3 we are wanting this to be completely finished, ratified, and began to be disseminated among staff, students and our wider community.

Watch this space!

Lastly, if you have any questions please contact me.

Thank you.

Positive Schools Conference 2014

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Last Thursday I had the absolute privilege of speaking and presenting at the 2014 Melbourne Positive Schools Conference.

I had not heard of this conference previously which was quite surprising as those presenting and speaking were, and of course are, of extremely high quality and experts in their respected fields. The turn out also of attendees was very large which made being there all that more worthwhile.

I arrived slightly early as I tend to do when speaking and presenting and although having been at this venue before, the Melbourne Convention Centre, I still wanted to ensure I knew where I was going and where my commitments would take place.

My specific role on the day was to present alongside Simon Shaw, an Education Development Executive from Apple, focusing on supporting diverse learners with iPad technology. Something that I would say I am somewhat knowledgeable about as I am currently teaching in a 1:1 iPad setting and know that within my own class I have a diverse range of learners with a diverse range of learning needs. Something I would be confident in saying most educators would experience no matter where they taught and with whatever year level. The presentation itself went very well with Simon giving an outstanding demonstration of the iPad devices accessibility features, several of which I was not aware of! The accessibility features within an iPad are extremely powerful and can certainly make learning to specific students a lot more accessible if used correctly. Click on the image below to find out more about Apple’s iOS Accessibility Features. I have also embedded my own presentation below this via slideshare. The presentation was originally a keynote that I have converted to a Powerpoint so it may view a little… sketchy.

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Prior to presenting the above, I was also asked to sit alongside several experts (not that I rate myself as an expert) as part of the Technology and Mental Health Panel, which was to be hosted and ran by Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg, one of Australia’s leading child and adolescent psychologists. A person you may recognise from televisions Channel Seven’s ‘SunRise’ program. I was unsure as to what to expect from this opportunity and to be honest I was a tad nervous prior, especially once I witnessed where this was to take place.

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Once I realised also who I was to be sitting alongside, listed below, made this experience all the more nerve racking. 😉

Those that I was sharing the stage with, apart from Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg were;

  • Head of Facebook policy for Australian and New Zealand, Mia Garlick
  • National eSmart manager (The Alannah and Madeline Foundation), Judi Fallon
  • Adolescent Health Physician, Professor David Bennett
  • Leading behaviour expert and clinical psychologist, Professor Tim Sharp
  • Positive Schools chair and social psychologist, Dr Helen Street
  • Head of Google Education (Asia-Pacific region), Suan Yeo
  • Lawyer and senior law lecturer at Edith Cowan University, Toby Nisbet

A fair list you would say, yes? And then there was me… 😉 Once the panel was underway I found it to be a great experience. The questions and discussions that were led by Dr. Carr-Gregg were terrific with of course a major focus on adolescent behaviour, health and technology use. This linked closely as you would imagine with social media use, especially facebook, and the issues that technology poses relating to cyberbullying. All panel members were exceptional to be sitting alongside and I personally did my best to not sound like a complete novice when fielding questions!

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Next year I would dearly love to attend again but this time sit on the other side of the fence and listen to all the other terrific presentations that were happening throughout the day. I did manage to cash in on Suan Yeo’s Google Presentation which was great to hear as well as the end of Professor Tim Sharp’s presentation which was also wonderful.

I will finish by sharing a TED Talk that I had not seen before that Professor Tim Sharp displayed. Essentially it shows how a particular person, Phil Hansen, took his disability and turned that into a mind blowing skill and talent. A key message being by that embracing his disability he was able to create absolute masterpieces and not let his limitation hold him back from what he loved! A GREAT message for our students!

And to completely ends this Post, I need to thank Positive Schools chair and social psychologist, Dr Helen Street as well as the Apple team for allowing me this opportunity. So Thank You!

A (field) Trip to the Apple Store!

http://www.apple.com/au/retail/fieldtrip/
http://www.apple.com/au/retail/fieldtrip/

Whilst waiting to have her iPhone repaired at the Highpoint Apple Store, Melbourne, the Apple ‘Genius’ staff recognised my colleague’s email address as that belonging to an educational setting. After a few more minutes of conversation and idle chit chat, she had managed to book in her Year 12 VCAL Students in for an excursion! Simple as that.

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The back of our lovely yellow t-shirts certainly were not wrong!

Apple Stores are happy to, and do quite frequently, run in store sessions for school groups based on a wide variety of topics and areas. Apple Stores are beginning to tap a lot more into the education market, now even offering professional learning sessions for teachers before and after school hours. These themselves are being ran by ADE’s (Apple Distinguished Educators) at no cost to those in attendance.

My colleague mentioned that her students were working on developing businesses and business ideas and the idea came up of having the students create Business Portfolios. So after booking in a session and date, and a 30min bus trip into the city on the day itself, we arrived and all 15 students, and two excited staff, me being one of them, arrived not knowing exactly was in store (for us that is, the store itself is full of people, iPads and other Apple gear!)

We were greeted at the front of the store where we were all given a lovely bright yellow t-shirt, as you can see below (it’s fair to say that we were hard pressed to lose any of our students). After getting all the students connected to the stores wifi, in we went.

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Now… I have never really experienced anything like it. I think staff meetings and even normal classes at work should begin this way. To walk in to the store and to have every Apple staff member, and there were quite a few, stop what they were doing, and then proceed to clap, cheer, yell, and shout causing for a very boisterous welcome, was awesome! The students and I were quite over awed and some were even embarrassed however it was a welcome that I know the students will not forget in a hurry.

The 3 Apple staff working with us decided to show the students two main Apple tools that would assist them with their projects. These being Apple’s iBook Author and Keynote software. Two great and simple, yet also quite powerful, tools for digital creation.

Most of the students had used either or both of these tools in the past, as I would have expected, however it was great to have Apple staff run them through these and show the students the shortcuts and tips that make using these tools so easy.

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All in all after 90 minutes the students were very happy with what they’d just experienced. They were also keen to get into creating their business portfolios back at school. Several working on them in the bus on the way home. It was a simple yet powerful experience and one that was very worthwhile to attend.

For those schools wishing to take a group of keen students to the Apple Store, all that needs to happen is for contact to be made and a discussion to be had! This link might help… http://www.apple.com/au/retail/fieldtrip/

Lastly, for your information, our exit from the store was just as dramatic as when we entered! 😉

Time Changes Everything… Or Does It?

Classroom in Iowa, USA, 1919. https://www.flickr.com/photos/uiowa/8407650795/
Classroom: 1919. https://www.flickr.com/photos/uiowa/8407650795/

“How has teaching as a job changed for you since you began?”…

A colleague asked me this impromptly the other week and initially I was a little stumped. A difficult question to answer off the top of your head. For me anyway! My reply…  Well, that i’ll leave until the end!

Overall, this question has had me thinking on and off since it was asked regarding  all aspects of what I have been involved in since I began my illustrious teaching career in 2003.

My initial teaching appointment was at a small rural school in Victoria located between Geelong and Melbourne. The school was small, consisting of 90 students, 5 teaching staff, a business manager and a Principal. All students at the time were from large acreage and farming properties and loved nothing more than being outside and active. My current setting, and which was/is my second teaching appointment, is now just 10 minutes away from that first school, consists of 1800 students, 210 staff, and students who are extremely varied in their interests and backgrounds.

What resonates with me is a Keynote Presentation I heard from Greg Whitby (Executive Director of Schools in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, NSW, @gregwhitby) at the 2012 VITTA Conference. One thing Greg said that day  has stuck with me, and I suppose it has become a bit of a driving force for what i do;

“We can reflect over the past 150 of education here in Australia, and even up until now teaching itself has not changed greatly in that time, but lets NOT base where we want to head to, on where we have come from!” 

I will say that’s not a ‘quote unquote’ from Greg, however it was the best I could do and interpret from him speaking and me frantically mashing my iPad keyboard! I’m confident it’s pretty close.

I would say that I now have more patience with my students, something that being a father has taught me greatly. The time to sit, respond, talk, TEACH, discuss, etc… now has a great meaning and purpose, not that I want to take anything away from teaching early on. My craft has developed and changed as have the kids I teach for all varied reasons.

The one undeniable driving difference however between now and then, is undoubtedly all other areas of the profession other than the teaching itself. The administration, the protocols, the diplomacy, or lack there of, the planning, assessment, and so on all for me personally take away from what I want to do and that is teach and teach well. I believe I do teach well and am a good teacher, however, teaching as a profession now just seems… busy. There is never any down time.

I can and will never forget teaching in my first setting. The fact that I predominantly spent every recess and lunch for the best part of 3 years kicking the football and or playing cricket, basketball, downball, or chasey made teaching a fun and great profession to be in! There is NO better way to get know your students than through interacting with them in THIER time.

RANT WARNING: The whole notion of teaching, pedagogy and the education system in general, and here come MY thoughts only, need to be radically rethought. The profession is breeding administrators, not teachers. People who are managers, not teachers. People who place teaching behind other areas of working in a school and that to me does not sit well. RANT DONE.

I believe that I have the capacity and knowledge to lead in a school, and I do, however I am very concerned that one day becoming an Assistant Principal or Principal, if that’s a path I choose to take, will remove me from making the difference I am in the profession to make.

So has it changed…  Well, baring my experience, no. Not really. In saying that, come to think about it, I am both a little concerned and a little surprised by that. The craft of what I do in the classroom? Perhaps. A little. My practice is more… refined. As I have said though it is the other, the external happenings that have changed. And not for the best I may add.

Anyway… Enough from me! One big waffle on!

Watching this will put things in perspective… I think…  😉 Enjoy!