Going App Crazy with Kathy Schrock at ACEC 2014

App Crazy with Kathy Schrock

Today I was lucky enough to spend the day at a Masterclass with Kathy Schrock as part of the ACEC 2014 conference. I have been a fan of Kathy’s websites and have used a number of her ‘how to tips’, app recommendations and websites with staff as part of my Coordinator role.
When I heard the Kathy was coming to Adelaide for the ACEC conference I was keen to attend and today she did not disappoint.

Kathy started the day by going through some of the ‘theory’ information on using apps and IPads in the classroom. She shared her knowledge of Bloom’s Taxonomy and SMARs. Bloom’s taxonomy promotes higher order thinking skills. At the top of the order is the skill of creating. I have been keen to promote teachers using IPads to create content and I was pleased to see Kathy’s idea of the Cogs of the Cognitive Process that had all of the levels of Bloom’s connecting with creating. As Kathy pointed out it is difficult not to be remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing or evaluating when you are creating something.

Screenshot 2014-10-02 09.57.34

Thank you to Kathy for allowing me permission to republish her image.  The original can be located at this site

Today’s masterclass was going to focus on the creating level of Bloom’s.

Kathy then spoke about the substitution, argumentation, modification and redefinition (SAMR) model that was designed to assist educators think about how they are integrating technology into students learning. The model works as a continuum. At the substitution level technology is really just being substitute for another task for example reading a book on an IPad rather than physically reading a book. At the augmentation level it is still a substitution but improvements have been made, for example using a built in dictionary that allows for pronunciation. The modification and redefinition levels are where technologies are most effective. At the modification level students are modifying work using technology for example adding music, podcasting, videos, etc and at the definition level they are doing tasks that would have been impossible without technologies, for example creating digital story books.

You can read more about both of these learning theories on Kathy’s Ipad4teaching website.

After morning break Kathy got us ‘playing’ with apps for creation. She had a list of activities for us to have a go at.

Task One: using the app educreations app, take photos of different angles.
After walking around and finding different things that I could take photos of this was my creation.


Task two: working with a partner make an audio recording using audioboom of an interview with a real or imaginary person. Use the popplet app to brainstorm the person and possible interview questions.  This was a fun task that involved us working collaboratively.  Our group decided to create an interview with Captain James Cook.  The use of popplet allowed us to brainstorm what we knew about Captain Cook and this led easily to developing our interview questions.  We then did a practice and used audioboom to record our interview.

You can listen to our interview here.  (Apologies for the background noise but we were recording in a large room – if doing this with a class I would recommend having headphones with mics for students).

Task Three:  Use the app shadow puppet to explain something using pictures located as part of the app and shared under creative commons.  I chose to stick with the angles theme and created this basic movie.  This app was fun and simple to use.

Other tasks that we hoped to look at included using Pic Collage to create a photo poster reflecting something that we are teaching, using audio voice to create a digital story, using haiku deck to create inspirational quotes, using custom soundboard and voice memo to create fun sound effects, using sock puppets to debate an issue and using inkflow to create visual notes.  Unfortunately we ran out of time to have a shot at all of these task but I plan to share them with my staff at school so will be able to have a play later.

Finally Kathy shared with us two google forms that she uses to evaluate apps and the importance of evaluating different apps before we use them.

What a day!  Lots of learning, playing and experimenting.  And this was only day one of the conference!

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Video Mashups

I have come across the idea of video mashups before and was reminded of them again today.  Here are two of my favourite mashups.  I need to try this with my class at some stage.

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Parents Information Evening – ICT

A fantastic report from our Indonesian Teacher on our parent information night on ICT at Port Elliot Primary. We are doing some great things and it is nice to share it with families. Thanks Sandy Warner, Bu Cathy and Brenton Hudson for your supports.

Indonesian Teacher Reflections

On Thursday evening a group of 3 teachers & our principal invited our parents to come and learn about how teachers are using ICT in the classroom. We promoted the event through our newsletter, word of mouth & on our school Facebook page. IMG_8838.PNG
The 3 teachers were Sandy, a year 3 teacher, Kathy, a year 7 teacher & ICT coordinator and myself, so we were a pretty good cross section of teachers from PEPS. We were all there early to prepare for our presentations and Kathy also set out a great display of recent purchases that have been very popular with students.IMG_8839.PNGOur first families to arrive went straight to this table where the children had heaps of fun coordinating the ‘dinosaur’ to munch on Mr Hudson (our principal)!

While the number of parents who turned up wasn’t overwhelming, it was a lovely, cozy group, representing all year levels, which…

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Students taking over the classroom!

Yes!  The students have taken over our classroom in the form of student planned and delivered lessons.  Over the past three years I have given the students in my class the opportunity to teach the class something that interests them and the resulting lessons have been engaging and enjoyable.

Aidan's Flags of the World Lesson

Before they teach the lessons I share with them some of my lesson plans and discuss the fact that as a teacher I spend a lot of time preparing what I teach the class. We discussed that I need to know the content that I am teaching, I need to be prepared with all the resources that are needed during the lesson and I need to think about the student behaviour and how I will manage any inappropriate behaviours.

Students are then given a simple lesson plan template that they need to fill in.  They usually have around three to four lessons to plan what they will be teaching. 

We then set aside at least a week for the students to present their lessons to the class.  We put up a blank timetable and students fill in when they would like to teach the class.  The lessons are varied in content – this year we have had the history of magic, flags of the world, minecraft, scratch, cooking lessons, pe lessons, stop motion and a lesson on France. 

The students enjoy taking part in each others lessons and it is always interesting to see the activities that they develop to keep the class interested.  As with anything we do in the classroom, some lessons work well and some lessons are not so good.  

The assessment for these lessons occurs in a few ways.  I assess their lesson plans, preparation, knowledge, teamwork and delivery.  After the lesson the students go onto our class blog and write a reflection of the lessons.   They write a summary and reflect on what they think they did well and what they would change if they did the lesson again.  Once the students have done that the rest of the class are encouraged to write a response on the blog about how they thought the lesson went.  (The student reflection and assessment is something that I feel I need to work on with the students).

Posted in Kathy Turley, Standard 1: Know students and how they learn, Standard 3: Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning, Standard 4: Create and Maintain Supportive and Safe Learning Environments, year 6/7 | Leave a comment

Creativity, Collaboration and Get Kids Questioning – the Keys to Edutech 2014

Once again I was fortunate to attend Edutech 2014 in Brisbane this year. After attending and being blown away last year I pushed for our school to send a team of teachers this year so that we could hopefully create a wave of enthusiasm around the topic and share our learning with all staff at our school. Our Principal agreed so myself, our Principal and two teachers made the journey to Brisbane. Little did I realise the Tsunami that I was unleashing!!
What a line up of presenters to inspire, question and challenge – Sugata Mitra, Ewan Mcinstosh, Ian Jukes, Suan Yeo, Gary Stager, Tom Barrett, Jenny Luca and the legendary Sir Ken Robinson! It was an educators’ rock concert!
Over the course of the two days I decided to tweet as much as possible and also to use a new app I was playing with ‘Flipboard’ to collect tweets, websites and links that I liked. Here is the link for my flipboard  http://flip.it/EVgAJ
So, what did I take away?

1. Creativity is the key of the Future
The two key note speakers that really challenged me and made me question what I do and want to change what I am currently doing were Sir Ken Robinson and Ian Jukes. Both of these speakers were passionate and enthusiastic speakers who fired up the crowd. Sir Ken entertained us with jokes about George Bush Snr, Miley Sirus and his renewal of his marriage vows in Las Vegas. But he also spoke about the organic food industry and how the key to this is the soil and the foundations. He related this to students and how we need to get it right from the bottom up. We need to allow kids to be creative, to ask challenging questions, to experience getting things wrong and not limit their answers by portraying a ‘right’ answer. We need to give them more ‘them’ time and less ‘teacher’ time. He also discussed the need for these things to happen now!  He continued to talk about the need in the future for people to be able to think creatively in order to get the jobs that the ‘computers’ can’t do.

Ian Jukes also stressed the urgency of getting change into our schools. He spoke about “innovation disruption” and how companies and factory workers are being replaced by computers. He spoke about how traditional jobs in Industry and Agriculture are declining around the world and how jobs in services and creativity have increased. He called it “A Hunger Games Economy” – everyone for themselves. He questioned if education would be the next company to face the big companies of Amazon and Itunes.
He asked the audience

“are we preparing students for their futures or are we preparing them for our pasts.”

He was asked a question about how we can make change and his reply was

“take baby steps. Change one thing at a time. Do not try to go back and change it all in one day. Do one thing differently.”

This is what we are hoping to do at my school. Small steps to create students that are more resilient, creative and questioning.

2. Content is not the key!
I now realise that this is something that I have been struggling with for a number of years. I have been to numerous PD sessions that have discussed the need to not focus on the content of the Australian Curriculum but that we should be focussing more on the skills and understandings. I have struggled with this because the content tells me what I need to teach and so that is what the students in my class should cover. During Professor Sugata Mitra’s presentation I finally had a light bulb moment when he asked the question

“Is knowing obsolete?”

Have I been teaching y students too much content and not enough about how to find the answers and more importantly – how to ask the right questions.  I like the idea of just telling kids that I don’t know the answer and letting them find out.

If you have not heard any of Professor Sugata Mirta’s talks I would recommend watching this TED talk.


3. Twitter allows for learning and collaboration
Twitter is a social media tool that allows us to connect with other educators, reinforce our thoughts, collect ideas and ask questions
This was an added bonus of the conference. I really only started to use twitter two years ago and I find that it functions at its best when I am at a conference. By tweeting I was able to:

  • keep a record of the key things that speakers were saying during their talks and go back to them later.
  •  Share in other peoples’ learning and reviews.
  • Follow other peoples’ tweets and reflect on what speakers had said and look at how other people had interpreted presentations.
  • Engage in discussions with colleagues attending the conference and colleagues still at our work site.
  • And I was able to read this great blog post from a person who didn’t even attend Edutech but was able to learn from their own home via twitter feeds!

So what now…

Well, this year was different to last year because we took at team over from our school; myself, our school Principal and two other teachers.  This will allow us to work together on some of the key pieces from the conference.  Already we are in the process of planning to share our enthusiasm with our staff on our student free day.

I am keen to start implementing more activities that require my students to think creatively, develop collaborative skills and questioning skills.

As a team we are all keen to look at our learning spaces and see how we can redesign them to encourage collaboration, learning and creativity.  My colleagues attended a session with the Principal of Margaret River Primary School.  During this presentation they talked about the transformation that their school has had over the past few years towards this goal.  We are hoping to talk to this school more about how they have achieved this and what they have learnt along the way.  As a group we are keen to create a similar culture of creativity at Port Elliot.

Exciting times ahead! I will keep you posted!


Posted in Coordinator, Port Elliot Primary, professional development, Standard 1: Know students and how they learn, Standard 2: Know the content and how to teach it, Standard 3: Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning, Standard 6: Engage in Professional Learning, Standard 7: Engage Professionally with colleagues | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Baby Steps to Minecraft

Over the past 12 months I have become more and more intrigued by the fascination that my students (and my son) have in the game Minecraft.  In June 2013 I went to an Edutech Conference in Brisbane and listened to a couple of speakers share their experiences using Minecraft with a class.  I had also read a number of articles and websites about teachers using this program to teach topics such as Federation and Sustainability.

In my role as ICT Pedagogy Coordinator I am always trying to find ways that teachers can use technology to engage and enhance students’ learning.  Here was a program that the students were already using and excited about so how could I build on this and integrate it into the curriculum?

Over a number of months my ICT technician (who is amazing!) and I began researching the best way to set up Minecraft at school.  We ended up purchasing a license through Minecraft Edu to set up Minecraft on 25 computers in our computer room.  Minecraft Edu allows us to set up a multi-player server that we can monitor and have control over as teachers/administrators.

Finally, we had Minecraft installed on the computers and the buzz around the school was exciting.  However, I was still apprehensive about how this program worked, how I could use it to assist students’ learning, and how we would manage and monitor it.  I realised that I needed help and who better to help me than the students; after all they really are the experts!

I decided that we would set up a Minecraft Club.  The club would become my experts and advisors.  Our first meeting was last Friday and we had 19 excited year 5 – 7 boys turn up.  I explained that we would be setting up a club and that in order for this to work we would need to set up some ground rules, expectations and guidelines for people to be in our club.  The boys were great.  They discussed and debated a number of things – do we allow the world to be creative or survival mode (they agreed on survival but we would turn off PVP and cheats), definitely no greifing (I think this is wrecking and stealing other people’s things), and is Herobrine real or not (this was way over my head!!)

The boys decided that if people did the wrong thing during the club we would freeze the game and discuss the problem and decide on a consequence for that person as a group.

They educated me on mods (animals, monsters basically anything that moves), monsters – spiders, zombies, skeletons and slime, the nether (an Armageddon type world) and a lot more.   My head was spinning by the end of the lunch session.

We have agreed that we will meet next week and I will show them the teacher administrator controls and we will set up our world.  They will help me decide what we need to turn on and off in our world. 

Before then I am going to attempt to create my own Minecraft world and hopefully survive my first night – I have learnt I need to make sure I have wood and coal to make fire and then try to find a shelter to hide through the night.

Wish me luck!!

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Real or Hoax Weebly Unit

My goal today was to create a unit of work that I can use with my year 6/7 class on using the internet smartly.  I particularly wanted them to realise that not everything that looks real on the internet is.  I wanted them to become critical uses of websites and to be willing to question what they read and see on the internet.  I also wanted to create something that I could use each year.  I started to create a notebook lesson but then thought that I would use a web based program called weebly.  Weebly is an easy to use web program that allows you to create high quality websites.

Last year I had a couple of students in my class create a cyber safety website using weebly but it was not a website that I had used myself (expect for when the boys were stuck and we tried to trouble shoot together.

I was surprised with how easy this site was to navigate and how quickly I was able to build up an interesting website that met my needs.

I am hoping to use this website with students this year as another way for them to present information in a global manner.

I would love you to look at my weebly lesson and give me any feedback that might help me to improve the lessons.  Have you used weebly with a class?  I would love to hear what you have done.

Posted in Blogging, Coordinator, ICT, School, Standard 1: Know students and how they learn, Standard 2: Know the content and how to teach it, Standard 3: Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning, Standard 4: Create and Maintain Supportive and Safe Learning Environments, Standard 7: Engage Professionally with colleagues | Leave a comment