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?