Monday, January 5, 2015


After reading some #nurture1415 blog posts I decided to write my own. I have neglected my blog terribly in 2014. It was started with gusto but then was left behind while other priorities took first place.

2014 was my most challenging year. Two new principals, a priority review and loss of passion at times. Never did I think I would be writing this a year ago.

Changes don't worry me and in fact I thrive on change. However I like change to be managed and to lead somewhere with goals in mind. At times I felt out of the loop and not knowing why things were happening.

On a good note I attended a wonderful sprinkling of conferences and teachmeets. Presenting to teachers to inspire them to try new ways and to take risks.

The 24hour skype went ahead although was close to being cancelled a few times but persistence paid off. Connecting with the Cheery School in Nairobi was the icing on the cake. A real life changer for some students.  I'm hoping we can revisit next near as our work was not finished.

Joining the New a Pedagogies project was a great start to the next three years where we will be moving to deeper learning above and beyond. This also lead to makers and  minecraft clubs running at school. Funtronics became a Friday lunchtime activity and challenged us. A two day work shop with Gary Stager motivated me to have a go with students so I bought supplies and launched funtronics.

MINECRAFT an after school club and a weekend camp was loved by the students. Each fortnight we would turn on MINECRAFT via the MINECRAFT user I had setup on the Laptops. The user only came on at 4pm to pacify worried teachers about minecraft distracting students during class time. After the wonderful weekend camp with Tim Wicks minecraft became a weekly event and culminated with a two hour session in school time. The students have created a plots world and one student our leader created plots for all to share. Back in class many of these students continued to shine with the power of MINECRAFT success fueling them. One student wrote more than he ever has before without being pushed and another was found reading a novel in reading time. YES! We have connection!

Our MINECRAFT club also created a community for many of these students to belong to and with only two rules. - be kind and help others we made progress on socialising some students also.

My school had new directions after the priority review. A school wide behaviour policy was revised for parents, students and teachers. A new vision statement along with a 3 year strategic plan was also created.

At Epsom Primary School our moral purpose is to-
Provide quality education that establishes the foundation for life long learning.

A foundation for life long learning and hopefully inspiration for future learning for all students.

I travelled widely both in Australia and overseas in my quest to share globally. In the Northern Territory I had the pleasure to work with students at Katherine -MacFarlane PS using iPads to create self portraits and leave some skills with the students so they could create and share their learning further. I also had the pleasure of travelling with two colleagues and enjoyed the banter on educational and life issues as well as seeing the wonderful country. I  went to Sydney and shared with teachers at a Teachmeet. Travelled to Melbourne to the DLTV conf where I shared the 24hr skype. In Sydney I also attended Slide2learn after collaborating with 6 other teachers to organise the conference over skype. I shared my coding and use of beebots and attended a great session using Lego. I brought back the duck duck Lego activity and gave this to fellow teachers to complete. Create, shoot and share a Lego duck using just 6 set pieces of Lego. No duck was the same, then came the writing about the duck. Thanks to @grahamBM for the inspiration for this activity and the Lego sets.

My travels also took me to the USA again this time to Miami Device. I enjoyed sharing my knowledge about coding and iPads with teachers and educators there.  Collaborating to help the conference Organisers was wonderful as was catching  up with my educators on Twitter but this time f2f. @techyturner @felixjacomino @tonyvincent @iapplelearner Just to name a few as there were many others. My tour guide @iApplelearner took me to the grand Canyon and new Mexico where we caught up with another educator @jackiegergenstein

I managed to continue to produce two podcasts in 2014 RUConnected with @loisath and AU2Az with @techyturner. It was a challenge to find times that suited both myself and podcasting partners but we persisted.


A new year and new beginnings. I'll be taking off my ICT hat and wearing a WIM hat. Wondering imagining and making. I have relocated the library and after culling the collection will be adding maker stations, wondering stations, funtronics, breaking centres and Siri question walls.

I hope to give many students connections to school so they come knowing they can visit the WIM centre everyday even if only to imagine.

Although not mentioned in 2014 I will be continuing to provide writing and reading catch ups for students via Reading Recovery daily sessions. For these students who find literacy difficult I hope to to give them hope and enjoyment. Never give up!

In 2015 I hope to continue to inspire and encourage others to use Technology to enhance learning and to add value to learning so the learning is deeper.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

New Pedagogies Deep Learning

Its been very exciting to learn that we have been accepted into the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning global project. Can we change the system? The education system that has become test driven and lost the love for learning.  I hope so and I will put in all I can to help. Will you help?

Lea, Jake and myself attended the opening presentation on Friday afternoon.  It was a rainy Friday afternoon, not the time when you would think you would be receptive to lots of information.  However it was powerful and expertly ran by Wayne Craig, Lyn Davie and Marc Blancs. The presentation covered the who, why and what about New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL). Our project involves the development of the how.

Who, is very interesting as there are 80 schools in Victoria and 20 from Tasmania representing Australia and then it goes global. 10 countries each with 100 schools participating.  These are the countries involved, Canada, USA, Columbia, Uruquay, Senegal, EU cluster, UK, The Netherlands, Latvia,Australia. So many countries all working towards the same goals of developing the skills for Global Citizenship, Collaboration, Character, Communication, Creativity & Imagination, Real world Problem Solving and Critical Thinking Knowledge Construction. Assessment of these skills, which has been previously found to be difficult, will be a feature of the New Pedagogies.  Ways of working and relationships between students and teachers will be remastered to a partnership where both stake holders work together to plan, engage and assess learning.

Michael Fullen has written a whitepaper

Towards a New End: New Pedagogies for Deep Learning

that explains the why in detail but in short students are finding school boring, drop out rates are increasing, unemployment rising and students have disenagement with their whole life.  Teachers are finding it harder and harder to teach. Governments are using appraisal to improve teaching rather than development of teachers and lastly the world has fully embraced digital technology into all spheres of life.
The NPDL will be an action research project that calls for design, action, evaluation and redesign along with learning relationships development. Changes in relationships, practices and measurement.

At the presentation we were set three tasks to complete back at school. The first task was to select the 3 skills from the list of seven that we think are the most important.  So I have made a form so you can have your say also.(see below) It would be great if you could fill in the form and there are only two questions.
The second task is to decide which three skills are most important for our school at Epsom. While the third task was to write a narrative for our school.

Many thanks for your thoughts and I'm looking forward to the New Pedagogies Project and hope this project will make our kids' lives richer. It's kids that matter and every child can learn and should be their best. 

We left the afternoon with our heads buzzing full of ideas, thoughts and overflow.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Most of you would know that during the holidays I went up to Darwin and then down to Katherine to visit Deborah Wasley, a past teacher at Epsom PS.  Deborah teaches at MacFarlane Primary School in Katherine which is a  government school of 190 students with 9 classes.  Our school has 198 students and 9 classes also so we have much in common. MacFarlane PS has a cultural mix of students that is significantly indigenous whereas Epsom has a low indigenous composition of students.

I was invited to MacFarlane to help get the teachers and students using the iPads in different ways to how they might have been used in the past.  On arrival I was taken to the computer room where the iPads were housed in a lock up charging unit.  My mind flashed back to our dish racks and power boards. Next I visited classrooms and the staff room and saw some great learning spaces. 

The iPads were not rostered to any room and so sat in the charging unit and could be borrowed by a class if needed. One class had been using them this first term and had made movies about Ned Kelly with the students.

My job was to engage the teachers and children in a day of activity where they could create on the iPads and develop skills that could then be used for other learning and across the curriculum.

I took 5 classes throughout the day. The activity took place in Bookcreator a very versatile app that could be used in many ways and with all levels. We took photos (selfies) and then produced line drawings using the photo as template.  We also added sound to the page and the smiles on the students' faces when they heard their voices was magic. I took some of the telephone microphones and they loved them.  It's surprising how many children haven't seen old phones like them.

While working with the children it was interesting to see some children emerge as leaders and eagerly share their know how of using the apps and iPads.  This was great as some of these students were not always thought of in positive terms for their off task behaviour. Now they were on task and helping others.

 The teachers at MacFarlane have now decided to move the iPads into the classrooms with teachers working in pairs and sharing 6 iPads.  Deborah sent her students into her partner's room the next day to peer coach and it went very well.  The skills were transferred to maths and other areas of the curriculum.  I wonder if they will down size their app collections as they had 350 apps and even had a folder called "free time." Imagine the look on my face when I saw that. Well I guess it's where we began and once you experience using the apps you soon realise there are those that baby sit and those that extend the students learning. I recommended the use of empty apps where you have to put in the content yourself and create.

The Beebots were a hit at lunchtime and hopefully they can download the Beebot app and continue learning to give directions and early days coding.

While in the Northern Territory I also met up with two people I follow on twitter, Jasmine @jasmineshannon0 who teaches at Tipperary Station (6 students) and Tim @wickstim who is now a consultant and was running Minecraft camps in Katherine. Both very passionate teachers with lots to share.

Of course I also went touring around the top end of NT swimming in rock pools at the base of water falls and crocodile watching on river cruises. I toured with Deb and my podcasting buddy Lois. We visited some great indigenous artwork thousands of years old and learned so much about indigenous culture. Sometimes it's hard to keep your teacher hat off.

Our indigenous people have so much culture that needs to be preserved and passed down the generations. In some communities they are using ICT to record their stories so that their culture can be passed down.  It was interesting that the students seemed embarrassed to talk about or share their culture. Something that needs encouragement and inclusion in the curriculum.  It would be great for the children to create dual language resources in their home language and school language.

I have come back with a desire to find out more about our indigenous people and will investigate what we can do during reconciliation week and across the curriculum generally to add indigenous culture to our learning.

Was there a time in your holiday where you wore your teacher hat and thought about learning?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Owning Up

Over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to teach music.  I never thought I would enjoy it so much as I have at the Recorder and iPad music clubs.  I actually have a music background and I submajored in music and taught guitar at one stage while at college.  My own music playing began with the recorder so I realise the value it had for me in the later years of music learning.

Playing music was always a way to tune out of the world and relax.  To give my brain a rest from all the maths I would be doing as I majored in maths.  Such a mix of subjects but I believe they are very intertwined.  Music is full of maths and patterns.

We don't all have to end up on "You've got talent" or such TV shows or even become a professional musician.  The joy from playing and creating music is enough for many without even performing for others.  The next step for our musicians is to experience the feeling of playing with others.  Then the fun begins and music comes alive.

Do you play an instrument that you have never owned up to?

Sunday, March 2, 2014


I'm pleased to let you all know that yesterday I was officially accepted to present at Miami Device a mobile tech conference in Nov.  It was exciting also because the acceptance was sent as a video message to the presenters that were accepted.  So I'll show you sometime this week. My sessions are - Get Real Maths and Coding as Easy as 123.

For those who don't know I do have a global personal learning network of over 3000 teachers who I talk to mainly with twitter but also now using voxer.  I am also a founding member of slide2learn a group of teachers around Australia who were the first in organising an Australia wide conference for mobile tech in learning back in 2010.  That was in the iPod days.  This year our conference is in Sydney at a posh college in the heart of the CBD.  We have international speakers coming whom I've met a couple of time in the US and UK.

My other passion is for publishing a podcast and actually I am involved in two podcasts.  One is called RUConnected that I put together with Lois Smethurst at Berwick Lodge in VIC.  The second is called AU2AZ and I co-present with Rodney Turner a teacher and IT Guru in Phoenix Arizona. Both podcasts are available in the iTunes store.  I think our RUC has been downloaded over 8000 times and we are up to our 70th episode. AU2AZ is fairly new and we are up to episode 11.  It's a little bit more complicated to get a time that suits here and Arizona as we use skype.

What are you passionate about?  Do you share your passion with your students?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Welcome to my mind mirror blog. In this blog I'll be reflecting on my practise as a learner and as a teacher. I find I teach the best when I am learning and so I like to have students teaching and learning with others also. Students peer coaching is very powerful and can also keep some students engaged when they could be disengaged.

This week I gave the grade one students in the Prep/1 classes the job of showing the preps all the things they knew about the iPads. The children were far more engaged than if I told them all about the iPads. I asked if they had shown this and that, as they worked and the students would then show it if they hadn't.

Peer coaching is a great way to give students confidence and to building relationships between students. It can be done in a single class and across grades. The buddies are involved in cross age peeer coaching when they visit Prep/1's. With our grades end to end with other grade levels it also makes it easy to have the students leading each other in their learning.

How have you had students peer coaching in your classroom?