The notion of reflective practice in our education profession is invaluable, but sometimes, we only explore our own little 'bubble' or 'circle of trust' that can lead to a false sense of security. It reminded me of a recent tweet (forgot who it was from, sorry!) which warn us about the danger of professional learning communities on social media becoming 'echo chambers'.
So I decided to challenge myself and invited Melissa Bray (@Melsybray) from St Peters Girls School in Adelaide to unpack what Learning Management System mean to us, the similarities, the differences in our uses and implementations, and anything in between. The result was a presentation titled 'A Tale of Two Cities - Building Communities of Practice that support Innovation' (presentation slides below). It also meant participants at the presentation only had to listen to me ramble for half the time! :)
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness ….” (It was time for something different.) Come hear a tale of universal priorities, shared practice, similarities, and yet important differences in the way Newington College (Sydney inner-West) and St Peters Girls School (Adelaide) leverage Canvas to improve student success. Separated by geography, both are Canvas power-user schools and attendees will benefit from the intersection of the two narratives. Michael Ha and Melissa Bray will identify the differences in implementation and usage, as well as the similarities of student empowerment and ownership of their own learning through Canvas engagement. Through their years of experience, having walked through the many "springs of hope" and the occasional "winters of despair", this presentation will help any K–12 school writing their own narrative to understand how to deliver student success in their city.
I throughly enjoyed the process and highly encourage each and every one of you to 'go outside of your box' and challenge your thinking with someone from a different tribe. Good Luck.
At the start of this year, I was a little taken back by a question from a new staff member, "What do you actually do? What is your role?"
It is a question often asked at many schools of their ICT / eLearning / Digital Learning / Digital Technologies 'person', whether it be at an integrator, leader, head, or director level. Before we start, one thing for certain: for me, it wasn't about the shiny new gadgets or the latest version of so and so app. So I decided to map out the what, where, how, and when of my work, and where I like to see us heading in fostering a culture of learning.
With the guiding principals on top, and our reference questions to the right in green, what transpired was a four-year plan that depicts sustainable transformational change. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither should this be. As suggested by John Kotter, successful change management involves creating a climate for change, as well as engaging and empowering each and every individual in the organisation to ensure its ultimate success.
Sounds fancy so far, doesn't it? But will it work? I mean, we have over 150 teaching staff, and 1200 students that I work with, that's a rather big classroom to differentiate and cater to each individual. How might the professional development of staff and students scale, built around best pedagogical practice, and is consistent across the school? Two ideas I'm hoping to introduce are:
Without giving everything away, how do YOU plan and foster a culture of learning in your school? I would love to hear from you and connect. Below is an updated version of my Project Kaizen graphic as well as the slide deck of my presentation I gave on this topic at the National FutureSchools conference.
PDHPE staff took the deep dive and became students again to emphasise with challenges our boys face when completing an assessment task. Tinkering with the implications of their Year 7 Young Consumers unit on teaching, learning and assessment, staff walked away with a set of strategies and teaching activities that could be used in the classroom the following day.
These activities included:
More details about the workshop, as well as all the resources used, can be found in this website.
Other workshops in this series include:
“How might we leverage technologies to make learning visible?” That’s the big question our Languages Department tried to unpack during their half-day curriculum workshop with me. Not only did teachers discover the difference between ‘doing a project’ and Project Based Learning by designing cupcakes and being Masterchefs, they also trialled a variety of Digital Learning tools which will allow students to showcase their knowledge & understanding during Poetry Night in Term 3.
More details about the workshop, as well as protocols used can be found in this website.
Other workshops in this series include:
Brenda (Science teacher) had a dilemma: “is there sufficient scaffolding in our current project design to ensure all students are successful at some level? What are we missing that would make this a stronger experience for all students? What do we need to strengthen or add onto the Science of Separation unit?" The Science department investigated and unpacked these dilemmas in a half day workshop recently led by me. And together with the Library team, supported her through using structured protocols to introduce a researched focused ICT task that is authentic, challenging, and engaging.
Activities used during the workshop included:
This website was our home-base and contains all the protocols and activities from the day.
Other workshops in this series include:
Updated - 13/9/17
Below is a presentation I gave recently, titled 'Apollo 13', reflecting on the subject so far this year.
What is The Lab?
It is a new elective for Year 9 & 10 students at my school, being introduced next year, that I've been fortunate to be a part of. The idea of moving away from traditional schooling and having a subject that foster creative and critical thinking that's based on real life context is extremely exciting.
The Lab: Creativity in Practice
We often talk about the box (by the way why is there a box? Why is it not a tube? Why isn’t it a hat?)
We talk about thinking outside the box, thinking creatively, in finding new ways of doing things, in lots of areas of life, technology, sport and business.
The Lab is the course where we look at creativity in all of its forms and puts you at the centre of that. It cuts across and incorporates traditional subjects and looks at what it means to be outside the square. It will teach you and ask you to think about the ways we can approach problems and will ask you to create, solve, build, manufacture and experiment, to be creative in new and different ways.
It will teach and ask students to apply creative problem solving skills to a range of problems, and teach students how to identify the problems around us that need to be solved.
Areas of Study
Last year, I was task with investigating how ICT is impacting our school and explore ways to move forward and improve. I'm hoping over the next few posts, I can reflect on the overall process and what I've learnt from this experiences. I would love to hear your feedback also :)
As we move towards 2020, we will continue to be challenged by the fast pace of technology adoption in an increasingly interconnected and complex world. The rapidly changing technological world in which our children are growing up in is a vastly more complex one than previous generations. Information on any given topic is now freely available. Our ability to visually communicate with people, anywhere and anytime, is available at our finger tips.
The new Australian Curriculum has developed a specific emphasis on ICT in education. The curriculum places an emphasis upon building innovative capabilities of students within and across discipline boundaries by providing opportunities for all students to become competent, productive, creative and ethical users of ICT. As a ‘general capability’ within the Australian Curriculum, ICT skills are expected to be embedded seamlessly across the disciplines of the entire curriculum (ACARA, 2015).
This review aims to investigate how ICT is impacting teaching and learning at Newington College, and in particular, how it is facilitating the College’s Learning Framework. Through a range of surveys and interviews, it is found that although technology use is well embedded across the curriculum with learning and teaching at the heart of integration, more facilitation is required to improve the pedagogical use of devices in improving workflow and outcomes.
Newington College Learning & Teaching Framework
The five areas the review will focus on are teaching and learning, leadership, evidence of success, professional learning, and learning environment. A range of data will be collected including surveys, one-on-one interviews, small group discussions, and classroom observations. It is hoped that all stakeholders will be involved in the process: students, teachers, general staff, and parents. It is anticipated the review will be completed mid-Term 4 this year. Some of the essential questions around this review include:
At a recent #PubPD organised by Craig Kemp, I again explore the notion of giving teachers more autonomy and explain simple ways to redefine teachers' professional learning, these can include:
I'm keen to hear ways you've seen schools changing the ways professional development are ran.
What does it mean to be an educator in the 21st century? What part does technology play in the orchestra that is education? As learning, mathematics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) theorist, Seymour Papert notes, "nothing could be more absurd than an experiment in which computers are placed in a classroom where nothing else is changed". This is a presentation I gave recently which discuss the pitfalls of being innovative in education as well as exploring the journey of discovery through passion, fear, and failure.
Aim: For a group of students to identify an issue about sustainability within the school/local environment and respond by developing a plan for action. (Newington Learning Framework)
Challenge Based Learning:
Is an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages learners to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems. Challenge Based Learning is collaborative and hands-on, asking students to work with peers, teachers, and experts in their communities and around the world to ask good questions, develop deeper subject area knowledge, accept and solve challenges, take action and share their experience
You can find out more about the project via:
What does it mean to teach in a way that achieves strong academics while fostering dispositions (like persistence or curiosity) that students need for long-term success?
"We must let go of having learners acquire our meanings and have faith in the processes of individuals' construction of their own and shared meanings through individual activity and social interactions." (Costa & Kallick, 2014)
"When students are sufficiently challenged, they give meaning to the work, produce new knowledge, and draw on the thinking dispositions" (Costa & Kallick, 2014)
Below is a hands-on workshop I ran at the TeachTechPlay Conference exploring the idea around:
"How might we facilitate meaningful and engaging professional learning"
You can learn more about the SQUID activity here:
You can learn more about empathy maps here:
Whilst it's still a relatively niche technology to integrate in an educational context, I have been exploring the role of drones in teaching and learning for the past 3 years. Below is a presentation I gave at the National FutureSchools Conference to discuss my successes, failures, and anything in between...
Over the September holidays, I was lucky enough to be a featured speaker at the PEAK Phys Ed ACTivate Conference. It was held at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra with educators from around Australia attending.
A special thanks to Andy Hair (@MrHairPhysEd) & Aaron Gardiner (@azzalanche), who dropped into my 3rd Session for the day via Google Hangout to share with participants what it means to be a connected life-long learner. Below are the slides to my presentations, I've added a few extra videos to hopefully explain some of the slides:
At the recent DigiCon 2015 conference, I gave a Spark talk titled 'Eating meat pies with chopsticks'. Spark talks are:
DigiCon Spark is a series of mini keynote presentations by aspiring thought leaders set to inspire, enlighten and provoke. Each presentation takes on a similar style to a keynote with one take home message about a topic which the presenter is passionate about. Presenters will generate awareness, share big ideas and call people to action through short bursts of dynamic, powerful and motivating thinking. This is an opportunity for presenters to enlighten delegates with a rich storytelling experience and to build confidence in presenting in a lecture style format. Delegates will be inspired by a number of thought provoking presentations, with a diverse range of stories.
It was a great chance for me to reflect upon some of the topics of conversation in teaching and learning and relate that to my own personal experiences.
Please find attached my slides: