Noelene Callaghan           

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My Blog

In Australia, Minecraft, Kangaroos, and E-Portfolios

Posted on December 8, 2015 at 5:55 PM

6:00 a.m.

 

It’s 6 am and the alarm on my mobile phone is playing the most horrific sound. I reluctantly pick up my phone, let my  Fitbit  app know that I am awake and check how disruptive my sleep was. I check my emails to see if anything “urgent” was sent to me (nothing was...it's all online shopping opportunities). I check Facebook to see if anything remotely exciting has happened to my friends, check the notifications on my Twitter account, and check Instagram to see what my daughter has uploaded after I told her “lights out” the night before. Then I check the news and finally the weather—warm and sunny.

 

It's now time to leave home and drop off my children at their school.

 

7:30 a.m.

 

I arrive at my own school to hear that there is a kangaroo on the playground.

I arrive at my own school to hear that there is a kangaroo on the playground. This is NOT normal, hence I, like the other 1,200 bodies in my school, flock to the playground to take photos. Like any good digital citizen, I immediately upload them to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Then I sign in (attendance) digitally via my phone. 

 

 

 

8:45 a.m.

 

It’s Period 1, and I have Year 7 TAS Multimedia. TAS stands for Technology and Applied Sciences, and in addition to multimedia, includes trades such as IT, woodwork, metalwork and engineering. I mark the roll online (parents receive an immediate SMS if their child is absent) and begin my lesson by connecting my laptop to the projector.

 

I love this class. It’s a support class and the students try so hard. Today, we begin the lesson by completing a “Do Now Activity” that is designed to hook students and help them make connections between what they already know and what they are going to learn. We play Kahoot.it—a fantastic online game that can be customized to suit your learning space. I create my own Kahoot games and use them to pre-test what my students already know about a topic, and to reflect on what they’ve learned. My students beg me to play another game. I make a promise that I will create a game for another day and we begin the lesson. 

 

In this class, I use Project Based Learning to complete the course work. Today, we are using Google Sketchup to design our “dream houses.” Students can select any location in the world to build their houses, researching local environments and ascertaining what resources are available there. California, Hawaii and Sydney are popular selections. They create three designs that they are going to embed onto their e-portfolios. These portfolios align with Australia's new curriculum capabilities. Whilst we are designing, Justin Beiber is playing from my computer.  

 

Before the lesson ends, we screenshot our designs, crop them and save them using Adobe Photoshop. They are then uploaded onto the e-Portfolios and students write a short blog reflecting on today’s work. 

 

 

 

10:20 a.m.

 

We have an assembly immediately after Period 1 to inform all students that the kangaroo has been captured and is OK. He has been taken somewhere safe and we can go on about our day as normal. 

 

10:55 a.m.

 

It is Period 2 and I am teaching Year 8 ICT, which stands for Information, Communication and Technology. Today I am assessing the skills of all of my students against some of the Australian ICT capabilities, looking at how students use Microsoft word processing tools independently and collaboratively and if their skill in using these programs has improved. I use Google Forms to collect the data. All students pass with ease and they are equally proud of themselves and each other.

 

11:55 a.m.

 

I am not teaching this lesson, but have a meeting with a deputy principal about the direction of the school’s ICT platforms and curriculum. Australian schools are moving from having a standard computer room and a school server that is backed up periodically to using a cloud based operation. Students are encouraged to bring in their own devices. All work—created by both teachers and students—is now saved in the cloud and can be accessed at any time. This is a massive change for everyone at our school; it gives our teachers much more flexibility in completing their administrative tasks and gives students more responsibility, allowing them to complete their work outside of school hours.

 

We have an assembly immediately after Period 1 to inform all students that the kangaroo has been captured and is OK.

We are moving in the right direction, though a lot of teacher training and support is still needed so that all students fully benefit from the program. My own role is to assist teachers with digitizing their teaching programs and help them develop tasks that require students to use their laptops as they would use their exercise books.

 

The meeting is very motivating and productive; all of our notes are documented on a PDF document—a template that we use to record school meeting minutes. We share the document and work on this collaboratively.   

 

1:10 p.m.

 

It is time for lunch and my Animé Club. I realize that I have not eaten or had any water yet, so I grab my Thai laksa soup and a bottle of water and head down to my classroom. As I enter, there is a group of students who are quietly drawing Manga, reading Manga texts and watching Animé made by members of their group. I have a real soft spot for these students; in my opinion, they are the quiet achievers. They barely speak to anyone and never ask for help. They can have a tough time making friends or trusting anyone that they haven’t known since kindergarten. And they are just gorgeous!

 

1:55 p.m.

 

It is now Period 4. I have Year 10 Commerce, a high school business class in which 14- and 15-year olds get an overview of basic business topics. Two groups of students present their Business Simulation tasks, which are just incredible. They have been asked to create a fake company and write a business plan using set parameters, identifying a target market, creating a SWOT analysis, writing a promotion plan, creating a market research project, etc. This is an extension/gifted and talented group of students, which means that they continuously amaze me. Before teaching in high school, I lectured at university and I often tell my students that the quality of work that they produce is of a higher standard than that of my undergraduate students.  

 

The most fantastic thing about using a blog is that I am able to give students immediate feedback.

After both groups finish their presentations, we begin using our class blog to revise literacy and writing techniques. Students are given a set of questions with scaffolds that they are to answer. The most fantastic thing about using a blog is that I am able to give students immediate feedback; they can also be peer assessed. I believe that students learn more from each other than from teachers, so using this technique is much more powerful than me writing a few comments. 

 

3:05 p.m.

 

It is time for Minecraft Club. These are THE most eager students I have ever known. They line up outside of my classroom in record time (if only they lined up like this for their normal timetabled classes) and wait patiently until I arrive. As I open the door, they push one another to get into the classroom and begin their weekly challenge. Today we are adding redstone to the community that we have built. 

 

I soon realize that it is already 4:30 pm; it is time to save today’s progress. I have quick final chats with my students about more ideas that they want to add to our world and then run out the school gate. 

 

 

 

4:30 p.m.

 

I try to beat peak hour traffic, using the Bluetooth capability on my in-car navigation system to call my mother and let her know that I am on my way (and have a nice chat before I get to her house as we are often interrupted by my children). I arrive at her house, collect my kids, go home, cook spaghetti for dinner, negotiate unpacking school bags, homework and showers, and put the laundry machine on with a load of school uniforms (compulsory in Australia) before we sit down to eat and discuss our day as a family.  I look forward to the extra hours of sunlight that Daylight Saving Time will bring, when we’ll be able to eat dinner in the backyard.

 

6:00 p.m.

 

As we begin to unwind, I download iMovie onto the family iPad for my daughter in order for her to complete a school assessment task and then help another daughter with her high school assessment task on Ancient Rome.

 

7:00 p.m.

 

It's time for one of my favorite activities of the day. I sit down with my boys and they each take a turn reading with me.

 

Very few schools here use gamification in the classroom. I love Minecraft; the students are engaged and they come to class eager to use it.

My children and I then use Skype on our Surface Pro 3 to video call my husband and wish him goodnight. (He is doing the night shift.)

 

7:30 p.m.

 

It is now time to get some school work done. 

 

I start by marking the remainder of my Year 10 Commerce assessment tasks and enter those marks online. I record some comments on each of the students’ tasks that I will use at the upcoming Parent Teacher Night and in their Yearly Reports.

 

I have been asked to present on how I use Minecraft in the classroom and in our school club to a group of principals in a nearby region (district). Very few schools here use gamification in the classroom. I love Minecraft; the students are engaged and they come to class eager to use it. I don’t recommend it as a stand alone tool, but only alongside other ICT tools.

 

I have presented on this topic quite a lot lately, so constructing this presentation on Sway will be rather simple. I love that I have the opportunity to share my knowledge in this area and know that if I weren’t an MIE, I would not have such opportunities. 

 

 

 

8:30 p.m.

 

I check my emails; there are over 150. 

 

I go onto Twitter. I use Twitter purely for professional purposes, for my own learning and to assist other teachers. I have many alerts sent to my emails and begin reading these articles to determine what I will tweet to my followers. If there are articles that I can use in my classroom, I add them to my class websites so students are able to use them as part of their learning. I also see what is trending and read up on the latest #MSFTEDU and #MIEExpert15 tweets. I love seeing what my peers are doing in the classroom and often use their ideas in my own teaching and learning environments. 

 

10:00 p.m.

 

It's time for bed. Naturally, this is when I remember that I had put a load of laundry on; I run out of my comfy bed to hang the wet uniforms. Electricity costs here are ridiculous, so if I have the central heating on I’ll hang the uniforms out and they'll be dry before we wake. I return to bed and let my Fitbit App know that I'm going to sleep. I promise myself that I will wake up early and go for a run. (Yep, I'm laughing too.) I shut my eyes feeling accomplished and looking forward to what tomorrow brings. 

Building a Minecraft Church

Posted on December 1, 2015 at 10:10 PM

As our school year comes to an end, we are delving more into Minecraft. To complete our Minecraft community, we built a church. Please watch this time lapsed documentary of students collaboratively building their church;

https://youtu.be/CyqbU0mAodU

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


The work of 7E TAS

Posted on November 23, 2015 at 5:50 PM

My 7E TAS class have been working tirelessly this semester in designing their dream homes using a Project Based Learning (PBL) pedagogy. Students learned how to incorporate the Design process to design their house. Students needed to consider the location of where to build their house, what resources are available there to build the house, considerations of natural disasters and climate.

 

Students then designed their house using CAD software - Google Sketchup. Once this was complete, students would build their house in Minecraft Edu to determine if their designs are feasible. Students can go back to to Google Sketchup and make the necessary modifications to ensure that their build is representative of their designs.

 

Here is a video of the final work created by students:

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"The room that was"

Posted on November 22, 2015 at 9:00 PM

The journey of converting of a traditional classroom that has been set up as a computer laboratory a mere 20 years ago into an innovative 21st century learning space is nothing but epic. I have been reading quite a lot of material in regards to how redesigning classrooms can lead to a boost of student retention, engagement and learning (as per the article below), so I set out (with the executive staff at my school) to begin my own journey.

I was determined to set myself on a journey of converting this standard classroom with 20 desktop computers (and 10 very old laptops) into a place where students can move around, create, collaborate and showcase their work. As you can see below, students are confined to a space and there is very limited room between them making it very difficult for students to work together on a task. The room design also prevented me as their teacher to have continuous eye contact as everyone was facing the walls (their PCs) - a dated design concept considered as 'educational' so that teachers could see if students were actually doing the right thing when on their computers.....a task that teachers clearly needed to do in the past!

This room design also made it very difficult to have 30 grown teenagers in the room as space was extremely limited due to the 3 oversized tables in the middle of the room.

I have attended many workshops on the importance of the design a learning space and have used all of this information in my own design process.  In addition to all requiring new furniture to make these learning opportunities eventuate, it is also critical that the room itself is updated. The classroom desperately needs a paint and new carpet. Over the years, I have attempted to cover the walls with CDs, posters and the like, but as any teacher knows, these slowly fall of the walls and their original secrets are once again on display.


Once a commitment was made to refurbish the room, the room was emptied and every was stripped off the walls.

The room would be painted and recarpeted

The first step is to empty the classroom. All of the posters were removed from the walls and all of the computers and desks also moved out.




Now that the room is stripped bare, it can be painted and re-carpeted. A new work bench is also built and secured to a wall as are two whiteboards which are placed either side of the Touchscreen TV


This room is predominately used for ICT based subjects. This played a pivotal role in the design of the classroom. Then first major decision  was to decide which of the room would be the 'front' of the room. It was decided due to the layout of the room, the glare from the windows and the positioning of the door, that the front of the room would be away from the door. 

A work bench was custom built to provide students with the opportunity of working autonomously. This space is necessary particularly for older and GAT students.

Then it was time for the furniture to arrive and be installed into the classroom. The first pieces to arrive were the ottomans and lounges. As the main pieces of furniture have not yet arrived, nor have the new laptops, some of the original furniture and desktop computers were placed back in the room for the interim.


Then the stools arrived. The room is really coming together and finally becoming functional and practical. Students are more excited that they no longer need to stand to do their work


Our new student table which is perfect for collaboration


And of course, it wouldn’t be functional without my very own teaching pod

Student view


Teacher view


Before and After




________


Article

STUDY FINDS THAT WELL-DESIGNED CLASSROOMS BOOST STUDENT SUCCESS

From VoicED

New research published by Salford University has suggested that the layout, construction and design of classrooms has a significant impact on achievements in reading, writing and maths.

The researchers stated that among the most important elements within the design of a classroom were natural light, air quality, temperature and having individualized classroom designs.

According to the study, whole-school factors, such as the size of the school itself, or the facilities provided, had less impact on attainment than the design of individual classrooms.

The findings, carried out by researchers from Salford University with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, carried out detailed assessments of more than 150 classrooms across 27 ‘very diverse’ schools in a three year period.

The study’s findings suggest that differences in the physical design and characteristics of the classrooms assessed could explain 16% of the variation in learning progress over the course of a year, found between the 3,766 pupils who were involved in the research.

To put this in to perspective, the researchers claimed that the impact of moving an ‘average’ pupil from the least to the most effective classroom space would be an increase of around 1.3 sub-levels within the national curriculum. Students typically progress at a rate of around two sub-levels per year, and so this represents an additional gain of more than 50%.

In terms of what makes a classroom ‘well-designed’ in relation to learning performance, the three key areas were:

  1. Individualization
  2. Stimulation
  3. Naturalness

Of the above, around half of the total impact came from the final element – naturalness. The key aspects of naturalness were air quality, temperature and natural light.

Positively for the teaching community, the report’s authors felt that many of the elements they have identified can be controlled and altered by teachers in the classroom. Small changes, which would cost little or nothing to implement, could have a large impact – for instance, changing wall colors, the layout of tables within the room and the posters etc. displayed on walls.

The full report has been published by Salford University and is available here: Clever Classrooms Report


The full presentation of this blog can be found at https://sway.com/TdHhLRzGnrl9rL6H

A Minecraft Year in Review

Posted on November 18, 2015 at 8:15 PM
Students have been meeting as part of Minecraft Club twice a week. This club is student-run and my only role as the educator is to ensure that all students are positively contributing to the build of the game.

To celebrate the work that we did this year in our Minecraft Club "Minecraft 4 Me", students made a video highlighting their best achievements;


You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


How to introduce Blended Learning into your classroom?

Posted on November 8, 2015 at 4:40 PM

There has been much debate lately of how much technology in the classroom is too much technology and at what point does it become unproductive. Unless students are only using technology and devices to play games, they will always learn something skillfully and/or cognitively.


As many schools move towards using Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) and putting an emphasis on using digital resources in the classroom, it is pivotal that Blended Learning pedagogies are used to maximise the learning of all students, and not those that are advantaged (technologically) outside of the classroom.

 

Blended learning is about effectively integrating ICTs into course design to enhance the teaching and learning experiences for students and teachers by enabling them to engage in ways that would not normally be available or effective in their usual environment. Using Blended Learning simply means that a range of resources are used to complete one task. The resources can range from laminated handouts, to using digital cameras to take photos of tasks to using the Internet to search for and create information.

 

Blended learning offers many advantages to schools. It can provide more flexible access to programs, increase the amount of in-class participation, enhance students’ sense of connectedness, and potentially be more financially efficient. However in order for blended learning to be successful, schools need to provide appropriate technical support, teaching assistance, professional development, and pre-equipped learning and teaching spaces. Additionally, adequate workload allowance needs to be provided to teachers teaching in blended synchronous mode to account for the extra time commitment it requires during preparation.

 

Who is Blended Learning suitable for?

Blended Learning pedagogies are suitable for all students in all year groups regardless of KLA. By using a Blended Learning approach, all students are advantaged of developing their cognitive and behavioural skills. In many cases the act of “blending” achieves better student experiences and outcomes, and more efficient teaching and course management practices. It can involve a mix of delivery modes, teaching approaches and learning styles. This is due its flexibility of attaining goals of any level of Bloom’s Taxonomy meaning that all students benefit.

 

An example of a task that used Blended Learning pedagogies required year 9 students to use traditional resources that support digitalised learning. Once students read newspaper articles, they completed their analysis on their e-portfolio. All images that were taken of their work (their pen and paper sketches) were also uploaded on to their e-portfolio. Students completed short quizzes to reinforce key terms and also used multiple online tools to maximise their learning. In this instance, students worked in many groups (that changed for each task). More information about this task can be accessed at https://sites.google.com/site/minecraftrhhs/minecraft-incursion

 

How do I design Blended Learning?

Designing for blended learning requires a systematic approach, starting with:

 

1. Planning for integrating blended learning into your course,

 

  • What so students do when they are learning well in this subject?
  • What do they need to support this learning?
  • What learning and teaching activities would best support the students’ learning?
  • How might the students demonstrate their learning and achievements?

2. Designing and developing the blended learning elements;

 

 

  • Why do I want to develop it
  • What do I want students to do? Is it compulsory?
  • How will it help students’ learning?
  • Why would a student be bothered to engage in the blended learning elements?
  • How will I know/measure if students have achieved the desired outcomes?

3. Implementing the blended learning design;

 

 

  • Do you feel competent in using these tools and in guiding your students in how to use them?
  • Have you noted what some of the common problems or difficulties may be for students in using the tools you have chosen
  • Have you prepared (or have sourced) student help guides or training activities in the use of the blended learning tools/technologies you have chosen?
  • How can you manage student expectations about learning in the blended environment you have designed?

4. Reviewing (evaluating) the effectiveness of your blended learning design, and finally;

 

 

  • When should I evaluate?
  • What should I evaluate? (pedagogies, resources, delivery strategies)
  • How should I evaluate?

 

Planning for the next delivery of your course then involves improving the blended learning experience for both staff and students.

 

What are the challenges of Blended Learning?
Although there are a plethora of advantages of using Blended Learning, it is worth noting that some students feel that blended learning has a negative impact on their experience and learning. This is due to the on the teacher’s role in successfully creating these environments. Teachers who are unable to manage students completing different tasks simultaneously could please more effort in one particular component than another which will reduce the effect of the blended learning activity.

 

Students’ technical skills and familiarity with the communication platform are also issues that warrant consideration before attempting to teach using blended synchronous learning approaches. This requires teachers to spend significant time to explain and model how to use such tools.

 

 

However, as for any use of technology in education, it is important to not attribute the success of the learning experience to the technology itself. The teacher and the quality of their pedagogical practice is the main determinant of the student experience. To that extent, teacher practice, development and support should be the primary focus of any blended learning initiatives.


 

 

 

Cheat Sheet: How to maximise using Google Apps For Education (GAFE) in the classroom?

Posted on November 8, 2015 at 4:10 PM

Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is one of the more popular platforms that schools are integrating as part of their digital curriculum. Ensuring teachers are aware of all of the tool available and have sufficient professional development to be able to use them with their students to enhance their teaching and learning opportunities. GAFE is a cloud based computing option that is inexpensive for schools to implement. More importantly, it can be used on any type of device that has Google Chrome installed on it thus supporting the technological hardware platform of the school.

 

In order to maximise use by these apps by both the educators and students in your school, it is recommended that an Intranet page is created and used on all school and student devices as their designated home page. This will not only encourage all stakeholders to use the apps, but to make it much easier to access them regularly in class.

 

It is recommended that for complete success, the implementation of Google Apps For Education is a whole school initiative and is used by all teachers in every KLA. The school technology support officer will be required to work with the Head of Technology for streamlined integration.

 

What are the main apps that are used?

 

Google Classroom
Google Classroom is the online space for students to access and submit their classwork. Google Classroom now allows multiple teachers to team teach and add announcements and assignments (with due dates) for their students to view and download. More importantly, teachers can upload worksheets for their students to complete and Google Classrooms has the ability to create a file for each student. Each student receives their own worksheet that is automatically saved to their Google Drive. Google Classroom also allows students to post comments and communicate with their teacher about any work that is posted. Additionally, students can submit their work by using the ‘turn in’ function which allows their teacher to mark and grade the work and provide the student with immediate feedback.

 

Google Drive
Google Drive is online storage. All teachers and students save their work here and are able to share their work with one another (pending they use a school based email account). This is an alternative to using Google Classroom to share work. However, encouraging students to use Google Drive to create new files (docs, sheets and forms) will streamline how students create and complete their work in every lesson.

 

Google Sites
Google Sites is a great tool that can be used as an alternative or as a compliment to Google Classroom. This online website creation tool gives teachers the flexibility to generate their own digital resources for a particular lesson or for an entire course. With the correct teacher management software, Google Sites can also be used as an eFolio as it permits students to embed Google Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms. It must be noted that in NSW DET, only students in years 9-12 are able to create a Google Site from scratch (all other students can only add to a website once a template is created by their teacher).

 

 

Google Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms
Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets and Google Forms are available to all school stakeholders. Google Docs, Slides and Sheets are the Office alternatives for Word, Powerpoint and Excel. These online documents contain almost all of the functionality as their alternatives. Add-ons for each of these tools can be downloaded via the Chrome Store. The best part of these tools is that they connect to one another allowing the student to link and embed their work together forming a larger scale piece of work.

 

Increased Productivity
GAFE is renowned for increasing productivity as teachers and their students can collaborate in real time and are able take the initiative to self-direct their own work and by taking ownership of their work. Educators who use GAFE report that their students now enter class and without any prompting from the teacher automatically turn their devices on and access their work via Google Classroom. Others are using GAFE to support their Flipped Classrooms and project Based Learning activities. Ultimately, teachers are encouraging their own students to create more of their own work as opposed to simply complete worksheets and the tasks that are set by teachers.

 

If you are interested in using GAFE at your school, there are many sources that you can contact for assistance, case studies and training. GAFE also offer an online community that helps you stay connected with the latest developments of their tools and the latest resources created by teachers that you can use. There is also a Peer Community connecting educators with one another.

 


 

 

 

 

 

The Latest Updates to Google Classroom

Posted on October 11, 2015 at 6:15 PM

There have been several exciting updates to Google Classroom over the last few weeks.


Google classroom Updates:

Google Calendar: Each class has a calendar, and work with a due date is automatically added to the calendar. Teachers and students can view the calendar in Classroom, or in Google Calendar on their computers and mobile devices.


Share to Classroom with Chrome: Students and teachers can use the Share to Classroom Chrome extension to share web content to to their classes. Teachers can use the extension to instantly push web pages to all students in a class, or create an assignment or announcement in Classroom.


Ask and answer a question: Teachers can post a short answer question to students in the class stream at any time, with options to allow students to edit their own answer, and to see and reply to classmates’ answers. Students answer the question in the class stream, and teachers have the option to grade answers.


Reuse a post: Teachers can reuse existing posts (announcements, assignments, questions) from a current or previous class.


Move a post to the top of the class stream: Teachers can change the order of posts in the class stream by moving any item to the top of the stream to give it priority.


Visual refresh: Classroom has a new simplified design for creating and posting assignments, announcements, and questions and for viewing assignment details. The design updates enable quick and easy access for teachers and students.


Mobile notifications: Students can see immediately when a teacher creates a new assignment or announcement, comments on a student’s post, or grades or returns an assignment. Teachers can see immediately when a student comments on a post or sends the teacher a private note and when the teacher is invited to teach a class.


How to maximise using Google Apps For Education (GAFE) in the classroom?

Posted on October 7, 2015 at 8:05 PM

Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is one of the more popular platforms that schools are integrating as part of their digital curriculum. Ensuring teachers are aware of all of the tool available and have sufficient professional development to be able to use them with their students to enhance their teaching and learning opportunities. GAFE is a cloud based computing option that is inexpensive for schools to implement. More importantly, it can be used on any type of device that has Google Chrome installed on it thus supporting the technological hardware platform of the school.

 

In order to maximise use by these apps by both the educators and students in your school, it is recommended that an Intranet page is created and used on all school and student devices as their designated home page. This will not only encourage all stakeholders to use the apps, but to make it much easier to access them regularly in class.

 

It is recommended that for complete success, the implementation of Google Apps For Education is a whole school initiative and is used by all teachers in every KLA. The school technology support officer will be required to work with the Head of Technology for streamlined integration.

 

What are the main apps that are used?

 

Google Classroom
Google Classroom is the online space for students to access and submit their classwork. Google Classroom now allows multiple teachers to team teach and add announcements and assignments (with due dates) for their students to view and download. More importantly, teachers can upload worksheets for their students to complete and Google Classrooms has the ability to create a file for each student. Each student receives their own worksheet that is automatically saved to their Google Drive. Google Classroom also allows students to post comments and communicate with their teacher about any work that is posted. Additionally, students can submit their work by using the ‘turn in’ function which allows their teacher to mark and grade the work and provide the student with immediate feedback.

 

Google Drive
Google Drive is online storage. All teachers and students save their work here and are able to share their work with one another (pending they use a school based email account). This is an alternative to using Google Classroom to share work. However, encouraging students to use Google Drive to create new files (docs, sheets and forms) will streamline how students create and complete their work in every lesson.

 

Google Sites
Google Sites is a great tool that can be used as an alternative or as a compliment to Google Classroom. This online website creation tool gives teachers the flexibility to generate their own digital resources for a particular lesson or for an entire course. With the correct teacher management software, Google Sites can also be used as an eFolio as it permits students to embed Google Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms. It must be noted that in NSW DET, only students in years 9-12 are able to create a Google Site from scratch (all other students can only add to a website once a template is created by their teacher).

 

 

Google Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms
Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets and Google Forms are available to all school stakeholders. Google Docs, Slides and Sheets are the Office alternatives for Word, Powerpoint and Excel. These online documents contain almost all of the functionality as their alternatives. Add-ons for each of these tools can be downloaded via the Chrome Store. The best part of these tools is that they connect to one another allowing the student to link and embed their work together forming a larger scale piece of work.

 

Increased Productivity
GAFE is renowned for increasing productivity as teachers and their students can collaborate in real time and are able take the initiative to self-direct their own work and by taking ownership of their work. Educators who use GAFE report that their students now enter class and without any prompting from the teacher automatically turn their devices on and access their work via Google Classroom. Others are using GAFE to support their Flipped Classrooms and project Based Learning activities. Ultimately, teachers are encouraging their own students to create more of their own work as opposed to simply complete worksheets and the tasks that are set by teachers.

 

If you are interested in using GAFE at your school, there are many sources that you can contact for assistance, case studies and training. GAFE also offer an online community that helps you stay connected with the latest developments of their tools and the latest resources created by teachers that you can use. There is also a Peer Community connecting educators with one another.


Ngurrara - Australian Aboriginal Interactive Storybook

Posted on October 7, 2015 at 8:05 PM

This truly amazing app details a Dreamtime story about the Ngarluma people in both English and in the Ngarluma language. This free iOS app is suitable for students of any ages and is an excellent way to engage students in learning about Aboriginal education in a digital format. This app not only supports the learning of Aboriginal culture and history, but gives all users the ability to learn indigenous linguistics with the capability of creating a unique piece of work using the information in this Dreamtime Story. The app also allows students to complete interactive activity and will have your students asking for more.

 

 

How can I use Skype in my classroom?

Posted on October 7, 2015 at 8:05 PM

Skype is renowned for connecting people globally to communicate via video conferencing mainly for personal reasons. However, Skype has launched ‘Skype in the Classroom’ which is aimed at all schools (regardless of Stage) that connects classrooms from all over the world.

 

Skype in the Classroom enables students and teachers to communicate with others using various functions and tools which are all offered by Skype.

 

Collaboration Tool
Skype in the Classroom is not solely aimed at students. It also provides teachers with the opportunities to connect with other teachers to participate in professional learning activities. There are regular sessions scheduled that you can sign up for as well as nominate to provide a professional learning session to other educators.

 

A key resource here is “Mystery Skype”. Here teachers from different schools can connect and allow their students to communicate to each other and slowly build relationships over time. Great for playing initial games as to where they are located around the world to solving real world problems, this tool is recently renowned for a school in USA assisting a school in Africa on how to purify their water using the resources that they have.

 

Guest Speakers
Skype in the Classroom has many arrangements with partners that allow guest speakers to participate in calls with your students. They range from TOMS entrepreneurs to Children’s Authors to Expert Speakers from TED. These guests each have a biography on Skype in the Classroom so you can determine which guest speaker is most relevant to your teaching and learning needs. There is also contact information allowing teachers to contact them and negotiate times to meet online and what content you would like them to focus on.

 

The Children’s authors are able to read the story to your class or for older students, provide them with an insight as to how to write.

 

Virtual Excursion (Virtual Field Trips)
A key feature of Skype in the Classroom is the connection that they have with vast places of interest all around the world. By using this feature, you are able to take your class to a Museum in Germany providing them the opportunity to learn about its artefacts as though they are actually there. In some instances, a real tour guide will use their device and take it around the place of interest whilst communicating with your students. This is a great way for your students to leave Australia!

 

How to create digital resources for Aboriginal Education?

Posted on October 7, 2015 at 8:00 PM

The inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures is now a recognised part of the Australian Curriculum. As stated by ACARA;

 

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures priority provides the opportunity for all young Australians to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, deep knowledge traditions and holistic world views. This knowledge and understanding will enrich all learners’ ability to participate positively in the ongoing development of Australia through a deepening knowledge and connection with the world’s oldest continuous living cultures.

 

Although there is focus on this particular area during NAIDOC Week, the learning of indigenous cultures and histories can be learned at any time of the year. Introducing dreamtime stories and artwork are usually the most common types of lesson activities that are practiced in the classroom and they are no doubt informative and practical. However, they are typically teacher centred and don’t always give the student an ability to develop their knowledge past the objective of the lesson. So, with this in mind, how do we create student centered digital resources?

 

Create a Sway
A Sway is a new free web-based presentation tool that allows students to create outstanding presentations that are easily accessible and can be embedded into digital portfolios and other presentation tools (such as Microsoft Powerpoint). This tool uses guided technology that helps students create interactive pieces of work and is suitable for any age to use individually or collaboratively. Moreover, the teacher can create an account and have access to the sways.

 

Create an Animated Storybook
There are numerous apps that can be downloaded via iOS and Android that allow students to create storybooks. Using these apps to create an animated storybook about a dreamtime story, how indigenous cultures use numbers xxx and how this can be used in a maths unit is easy to execute. Many students have been using these apps personally which allows them to extend themselves in their overall design. Further, these animated storybooks can be used in peer mentoring projects or as part of future indigenous assemblies.

 

Create an App
Schools are creating their own App to showcase the efforts of their students in relation to aboriginal education. These apps are designed for teachers and students outside their actual school to learn about the issues at hand and encourage others to develop their own resources.

 

Create a Video
Creating a music video or short firm is a great way to encourage collaborative learning. Using apps or specific movie making software, students can create their own storyboard, record and use post production techniques to master their video. Again, this being a showcase piece, videos enable students to develop an excellent understanding of the content, a high ICT skillset as well as the ability to work with others.

Magnificent Microsoft Education Exchange

Posted on August 11, 2015 at 2:10 AM

How to best use Google Apps in the Classroom

Posted on August 11, 2015 at 2:05 AM

Celebrating NAIDOC Week 2015

Posted on July 15, 2015 at 10:30 PM

In 2015, the theme for NAIDOC Week is "We stand on Sacred Ground; Learn, Respect and Celebrate". NAIDOC Week is celebrated at Rooty Hill High School by all students attending a whole school assembly that includes a special guest as well as having the opportunities to work together in a specially designed NAIDOC Week Do Now Activity. Each faculty within the school also design and facilitate their own KLA based NAIDOC Week lesson.


This year in ICT, students were asked to re-create Dreamtime stories using technology. Students used Google Images, Google Slides, Google Docs and Snagit to search for a sacred Australian Indigenous site, write a script and then record a dreamtime story explaining the formation or history about that site.


The lesson began with students discussing what NAIDOC is and its symbolic meaning to Australian Indigenous people. We then watched an animated dreamtime story called Tiddalik the Frog. After watching the clip, we identified and discussed the symbolic meaning of the dreamtime story and discussed why this story is used instead of others.


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We then used Google Images to find an Australian Indigenous Sacred Site that could be used as our background for our Dreamtime Story. This was inserted into Google Slides (my example below)




Students then wrote their script in Google Docs and Recorded their story using Snagit..


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All work was turned in via Google Classroom. This work will be showcased via the School Website page (Indigenous Education).


This lesson not only engaged students but gave them deep understanding of the perspectives of Indigenous cultures. A lesson that I am very happy to share and re-do with many classes

Why encourage students to code?

Posted on July 2, 2015 at 8:25 AM

1. What do you think empowering kids to create the apps that they themselves or others of their age use will bring to the quality and usefulness of the app created? E.g. could it increase the adoption rate, capture workflows that only kids could think of etc?

Children and Teenagers are creating apps that adults can not. This is due to a number of factors but mainly due to the limitations that adults possess in living in a technological world. Children are increasingly finding it difficult to access the information that they need or want the overall process to be simpler. And using app-based applications is ideal for children whom rely on devices such as smart phones and ipads/tablets. As these are their primary technological resource, accessibility to ‘anything’ must be readily available.

 

Children are also much more competitive than adults. Children who continue to develop multiple apps simply do it to better their previous attempt of creating an app. As children enter high school, they realise the potential of creating apps and take it to a next level. These teenagers typically create extensions or apps that will form part of their overall portfolio of work.

 

 


2. What coding languages do you recommend kids start off with? Why?

There are a number of languages that children can begin coding with. Ultimately, children should select a software that they have unlimited access to. In most instances, this software will determine the language that children will learn and master.

 

The most common coding languages that are accessed by children are those that are associated with games. For example, children who use Minecraft typically use Java. Java is one of the most accessed coding languages available and certainly allows children to develop their coding skills throughout and after their school career.

 

 


3. What sorts of skills could coding bring in terms of abilities children of today need? E.g. creative thinking etc.

Coding provides students with many of the dimensions of 21st Century Learning. In addition to critical thinking skills of computational thinking and problem solving, coding require kids to use numeracy skills such as probability, patterns and statistics to determine the next lines of code and how that code will influence the final product. Probability of prediction is a huge consideration when coding as one needs to ascertain, for example, what the steps are for a character when walking around a field.

 

Contrary to belief, coding provides students with social skills. It provides them the ability to converse using sophisticated language (using formal words) and also gives those individuals deemed as shy or introverted with a voice that they may not necessarily have (at home or in the classroom).

 

 


4. What advice would you give a young primary school student taking up coding in terms of career advice?

My advice would be to find a software program that you can use either at school or at home and begin coding. It is best to have an adult who knows what you are doing and they don’t necessary need to know anything about coding. This is purely to help you technologically and to ensure that you will always have connectivity and accessibility.

 

As many children code whilst they are playing games, joining a group on your favourite game may link you to other players of the same age and you can begin sharing your experiences or troubleshoot any problems that you are encountering. This will help you develop your skills whilst having a lot of fun.

 

Another great thing to do is get a teacher involved. Your teacher may be able to set up a coding club that could continue throughout your years at school and perhaps lead to work experience opportunities, meeting experts and more.

 

 

 

 

App Review - OneNote

Posted on July 2, 2015 at 8:20 AM

If you are an avid OneNote user and also enjoy using multiple devices to do your work when you are on the go, an app that will allow you to maintain consistency and efficiency in your work is the OneNote app. This app allows its users to add Notebooks, pages and more to their OneNote account which can then be accessed in its full synced version on your own computer. Depending on the type of phone that you own, you may also include images, videos, links and hand drawn text onto the OneNote app which makes it one of the most universal note taking applications available at this time. Available on both iOS and Android at no cost, this is certainly a tool that all teachers should consider downloading and using with their students.

 

App Review: Manga-Camera

Posted on July 2, 2015 at 8:15 AM

There is a significant number of students becoming increasingly interested in Anime and Manga. Anime is a cartoon originated in Japan has developed considerably in the space of comics, magazine and animations, A great way to include these cartoons and images in the classroom is by using an App that photographs you and converts it into a Manga. Manga_Camera is free App that is available on both iOS and Android and has numerous settings that can even allow students to create a Manga Magazine by using photographs. Suitable for any age, Manga_Camera is an app that can be used to illustrate any topic for any KLA.

 

 


 

 

 

Daily Edventures | Noelene Callaghan, MIE Expert from Australia

Posted on June 10, 2015 at 9:00 PM

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Courtesy of Daily Adventures

A week of Educational Minecraft

Posted on June 5, 2015 at 12:50 AM

This week, I have used Minecraft quite a lot in my TAS class. The experience has been incredible and has further taught me the arts of flexibility, creativity and patience. 

Feel free to view the blogs by myself and by myself students at our blog page: callaghan-minecraft.blogspot.com.au