Today we celebrated our last day of the academic year. In order to look back on my year as an educator, I created a Flipagram of the things that happened both in my class and my life as an educator at conferences and other PD! Enjoy :)
As we come to the end of another academic year, I thought I'd look back over the last 12 months and the things I have been able to achieve. Each of these achievements have involved hard work, determination and lots of hours behind the scenes outside of school.
Firstly, this year I completed my Level 1 and 2 Google Educator Certificates. Both of these required me to spend quite a few hours working through modules based on the Google Apps for Education Suite and then pass a series of exam like questions and complete a number of skills-based scenario activities.
My passion for the Google Apps for Education suite stems from my work at my previous school where I was selected as a 'Google Guide' in 2012. During this time I attended a Google Boot Camp facilitated by Sydney Catholic Schools where a group of us learnt the basics of how to use each tool so we could help to help staff to implement them when the tools were rolled out to all staff. After this, I spent a lot of time doing my own investigation into how the tools can be used in my classroom by completing the Sydney Catholic Schools Web 2.0 course and attending (and also presenting at) the 2014 and 2015 Sydney GAFE Summits.
Although my current school does not explicitly use the Google Apps for Education suite, I have continued to use the tools in my classroom, sharing my knowledge with staff and students. In a recent lesson with my Year 12 students, one girl said 'I didn't even know about Google Drive at the beginning of the year, now it's my life!'.
In September of this year I received an email to say that I have been included on the 'Flipped Learning Global Initiatives Top 100' educators leading flipped learning worldwide. This inclusion has stemmed from the traction that my YouTube channel is gaining with biology teachers and students across New South Wales and the sharing of my experiences on social media, at conferences and also in print.
Along with this, I have been approached by ClickView to host my Biology videos on their server so that they are easily accessible by schools around NSW and Australia. I am still in the process of uploading my videos ready to launch, but I am getting there!
Last month I also found out I was included on 'The Educator' magazine's 2016 Hot List. Again, this is something that shocked me and also made me extremely proud of the things that I am doing both in and out of the classroom. My inclusion on this list was put down to my goal of changing the face of Science education to one that allows students to develop STEM skills by exploring and inquiry-based learning as well as my work in flipped learning and my contribution to #aussieED.
When the hard copy of the magazine arrived last week it was very exciting to see my photo on the front cover as well as being only one of few practicing teachers amongst a list of executive members and principals.
Now that 2016 is coming to a close, it is time for me to look forward to 2017 and start to plan on a new set of goals - the first of which is to complete my Masters (only 2 subjects left after I finish the 2 I am currently enrolled in - YAY!).
I'm currently sitting in the airport in Paris waiting to board the first of two flights home to Sydney. I have decided that there will be a series of blog posts about what I took away from Practical Pedagogies because there is simply too much to put into one blog post!
My first take away, however, isn't from any of the sessions or keynotes that I attended at the conference, but simply just the venue. The conference was held at the International School of Toulouse (IST). Toulouse is about 680km from Paris and is the home to 'Air Bus', the company that makes the A380 that I'm about to board!
The IST is an international school that caters for students from kindergarten all the way through to senior secondary. They offer the (I)GSCE as well as IB to their high school students and there is also a German school on site.
My #1 take-away from the school was the vast amount of student work on display. Every corridor and wall was adorned with amazing examples of what goes on in the classrooms at IST. There were displays of posters, artwork, books, models - you name it, it was there. It really made me realise how ineffective our corridors are being used at my current school. We have walls and walls of space that could be being used to showcase students achievements in the classroom, but they have nothing - just blank!
The second part of my first take away is that each teacher had their own room. This is something that I dream of in Australia. Each classroom had it's own style, with amazing displays that were created for each particular subject area that was being taught in there. Some of the displays looked like they belonged in museums they were so engaging and detailed.
When teachers have ownership of their rooms they are able to make them an extension of the lessons that they are teaching. Students are able to look around and be inspired by what they see and use these extra pieces of information to help them to delve deeper into what they are learning. Word walls, shelves with copious amounts of books for extra research and posters are just a few of the things I saw while visiting IST.
Today I ran a 25 minute workshop on flipping the classroom with half of my colleagues. I have only been at the school since the beginning of this year and still really only know a number of people by name and from conversations around the staff room. So, to start off my presentation I gave them a bit of a background as to why I was there, presenting to them. When I started talking about myself I automatically began to feel awkward. I love doing what I do and who it has helped me become, but sometimes I worry that people will think I'm trying to be an overachiever or even that I inflate the things I've done to try to make myself sound better.
Because I started feeling uncomfortable 'going on' about myself, I actually gave a watered down version of the achievements I have made and the things I am still doing. I don't do any of this for recognition from others... I simply do it because I love it and hope that it all helps to improve outcomes for my students.
I love sharing what I do on social media - through Twitter, Instagram and of course, this blog and it is this sharing that has helped me to build my PLN and my confidence. Both of these things have made me branch out and present at as many TeachMeets and conferences that I can.
It's this sharing that has also helped me achieve the awesome status of being included in the Flipped Learning Global Initiative's Top 100 educators leading flipped learning worldwide. I haven't specifically mentioned this on my blog, however, I have included the digital badge for people to see. I am still a little in shock about my inclusion on the list and now want to do everything I can in order to make sure I live up to the expectations of being included on the list amongst some amazing educators from around the world.
Another conversation along these lines I've had with colleagues around the same age as me recently is the number of younger teachers who are moving into leadership roles. Please, do not take this as a negative, it's more a reflection on myself that when I was their age (man I sound old!) I didn't have the guts to be applying for leadership positions because I didn't think I had the skills/expertise/age to take on such roles. Sometimes I still find myself talking myself out of particular things for the same reasons... but obviously this isn't the case anymore. I give props to these younger educators taking leaps in their careers... I just hope I haven't missed the boat!!!
Writing this blog post has been quite therapeutic to get a few of these things off my chest. But now, time for a new mantra... let this be it...
Although I am not so great at art, I have always been a visual learner. During my Higher School Certificate each of my subjects had a particular colour that I created my notes on. During my exams, this helped me recall information as I could associate the subject with the colour. I also created lots of post-it notes that had key facts, usually in some kind of visual representation, that were located around my bedroom where I would always be able to see them.
Over the last few years, sketchnoting has become much more popular in educational circles. I have been to conferences where people create sketchnotes instead of making bullet points of the key things that they are hearing. I have tried to do it this way, but find that I need to hear everything first before I can turn it into a visual representation.
So, what is a sketchnote?
A sketcnote is a visual representation of any kind of information that you want to convey. Think of it like a mind-map but much more colourful with icons and little drawings to represent key concepts rather than just words. Also with sketchnotes, the use of different styles and sizes of fonts helps to emphasise certain things that need emphasising!
If you aren't sure where to start with sketchnoting, check out Sylvia Duckworth. She has created many amazing sketchnotes for a variety of topics. Sylvia creates a lot of sketchnotes for various educational authors to showcase the ideas that are represented in their books.
Sylvia creates her sketchnotes digitally, but there is no set rule for how you should create yours. I have tried both, but at the moment I am finding the old school pen & paper to be my weapon of choice. Perhaps as my skills improve I may move to create more digital sketchnotes! This great sketchnote shows that you can do it however you like!
To help my students revise the topics we have done in Science, I created a sketchnote for them of the key concepts that they needed to know. I had only done this at the beginning of the year because time got away from me after we finished our other topics and I never got around to it. My Year 8 students have their final exam on Friday and they asked me whether I could make them one for their 2nd and 3rd topics to help them revise as they liked the first one so much... so I got back into it this week - hence the inspiration for this blog!
Here are the sketchnotes I have made for my students this year:
My goal for next year though is to get my students to create their own sketchnotes. They are a great way to put your ideas and thoughts into another format to really help to consolidate ideas.
Remember that you don't need to follow any rules when sketchnoting, but if you'd like some tips on how to start... this is a great sketchnote (again by Sylvia Duckworth) with lots of ideas...
Today I had the opportunity to work with Jake Plaskett and Celinda Corsini (two great friends & colleagues) on a PBL Masterclass at the Australian Curriculum Studies Association Symposium.
Throughout this session, Jake demonstrated to the educators present a range of protocols that they can use with their own colleagues and students in order to create significant learning experiences through PBL. One of the protocols was the 'Project Tuning Protocol' where teachers share ideas for their projects and then, in critical friend groups, delve deeper into the project to allow the project designer to ensure that they are on the right track.
The project that I shared with my group was the project I designed with a Maths teacher from Rosebank that was implemented during the 'Festival of Creative Spirit' that was held at the College in term 3. The project was titled 'Your Brain on Sport'.
The 'Festival of Creative Spirit' was a week long project event where all students from Years 7-10 were involved in one of 28 projects that were designed and run by groups of 2-4 teachers. The students were given a catalogue of projects and asked to choose the project that they would like to take part in using a scale of 'I would love to', 'I would like to', 'I would be ok with'. This avoided any negative connotations towards the projects and that when the students were not given their first choice, they were given something that they were still relatively happy to be a part of!!
The driving question for the project was: Are sporting associations doing enough to reduce the long-term impacts of concussion for their athletes?
The inspiration for my project came from the fact that I am a huge rugby league supporter. Anyone who follows me on Twitter or has read my blog on how being a football supporter makes me a better teacher will know that my heart lies with the Wests Tigers and my tweets during games can sometimes get a little carried away! Another inspiration for my project was the fact I worked in girls schools for 10 years and had just started at a co-ed school, so was hoping for a project that would help me to connect with the boys a bit more!
The real world connections that the project involved was developing empathy for those athletes who had put their heart and souls into their chosen sport and have had their careers ended due to concussion along with the fact that they were able to relate this to their own lives as most of the students who were involved in the project play sport of some kind.
In order to hook the students and introduce the project we watched the film 'Concussion' starring Will Smith. This was a great starting point for our project as it showed the students the impacts of concussion for NFL players. The students were affected from the watching of the movie and it really helped to start the students thinking about whether sporting associations in Australia are doing enough for their athletes.
Through my connections in the NRL, I was able to have one of the Australian Kangaroos trainers come and speak to the students. By contacting the GWS Giants AFL team, we were also lucky enough to have one of their trainers and two of their interns also come and speak to the students. During this session, the students were told about how athletes in both are assessed during games if they have a suspected concussion and the protocols that must be followed before the player is able to return to the game. Both sporting codes also discussed with the students the different research that they are conducting to help minimise the impact of concussion on their athletes.
After these input sessions, the students were given the rest of the week to research concussion in their chosen sport and then work on the possibility of designing and building a new form of head gear that could help to reduce the impact of concussion in that sport. Some students also chose to research the impacts of concussion and develop concussion tests that could be carried out on the sideline of a game or a rehabilitation plan for athletes to undertake to return to the sport after suffering from a concussion.
Because the project was only a week long and resources were fairly limited, students created fairly basic prototypes of their helmet designs, however, a lot of research was conducted into different materials that help to absorb shock and reduce the amount of movement of the brain inside the skull during impact.
Upon reflecting on FOCS week and our project, I came to a few realisations:
If I was to conduct this project again in the future there are a number of things that I would do differently including:
The question of ‘how would you establish a knowledge network and what would the purpose be?’ was one that myself and five other educators asked in early 2014 over dinner after a TeachMeet held at Google. We were all active users of Twitter who had connected individually yet we could see the need for an Australian community that would help to connect teachers from all sectors in a way that was relaxed and collegial. From this conversation, the #aussieED hashtag was born on Twitter along with the weekly Sunday night chat and the website – aussieed.com
Over the last two years, #aussieED has slowly become the largest educational chat on Twitter and has provided teachers across the country with many opportunities to connect both online and face-to-face.
Whilst surveying teachers to create my digital artefact, one of the questions was whether those completing the survey would be interested in developing a flipped learning PLN through social media such as Twitter or Facebook. There was an overwhelming response from respondents that they were keen on joining a PLN in order to develop their skills in flipping the classroom.
Using the four elements of networks mentioned in ‘Not everything that connects is a network’ (Hearn & Mendizabal, 2011) that this flipped learning network would involve include:
The motivation from writing this post has led me to create the ‘Australian Flipped Classroom Network’ Facebook page that can be found at the following link – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1666197380360423/
Hearn, S., & Mendizabal, E. (2011). Not everything that connects is a network. ODI Background note
I happened to be looking around the Twitterverse when I stumbled upon a tweet stating that you can now the Kahoot as an app for iOS devices!
Of course, anything that comes from Kahoot I am interested in as I have loved this product since I was first introduced to it over 2 years ago. I automatically signed in to my iTunes account and downloaded the app to see what it was like.
It is great to note that the app interface is exactly the same as the interface that the students see when logging in to the site on their phone. Everything is laid out exactly the same way with the easy to follow instructions and the bright graphics to engage the users.
I logged in to my Kahoot account on my laptop and had a go at playing one of my quizzes in order to test out the whole user experience and it was flawless. It travelled through the questions and feedback pages smoothly and easily. Students who used the app to complete their quizzes would have exactly the same experience as a student who was logged on via any other device.
I will be getting my students to download this app onto their iOS devices when they are at home and have access to their personal wi-fi networks. One question I do have though is how much data will the app use to play a standard game as opposed to going via a web browser on a laptop as I'm sure this will be a question my students ask me!!
I am currently completing my 4th subject of my M.Ed (Knowledge Networking & Digital Innovations) titled 'Knowledge Networking for Educators' and we recently completed our first assessment task. As part of the task we needed to create a digital artefact for other educators to use to help them to become more connected educators and confident in using technology. I decided to create my artefact on the flipped classroom as this is an area of education that I am extremely passionate about and a strategy I am working with my Biology class with. I figured, the reading that I would need to do for the second part of the assessment would help me with my own understanding of the concept enough to be able to teach others about it.
I used PowToon to create my artefact which ended up being a short animated video that runs for just over 5 minutes. I usually shy away from PowToon as it can be quite fiddly to use, but I persisted and about 9 hours (argh!) later, I had my final product. It has been uploaded to YouTube and it has been viewed over 150 times with great feedback being provided by the educators who have watched it.
I really enjoyed this assessment task (well, the creation of my digital artefact not necessarily the 1800 word exegesis that went with it!) and am really excited that educators are asking whether they can use it with their staff as a form of professional development!
As we all know, Pokemon Go has taken over our phones in recent times. Introduced to the world about 8 weeks ago, the buzz around the game is still palpable on social media and in locations that are known to be gold mines on the 'Pokeradar'.
Earlier this term, I jumped in on a 'Teach Like a Pirate' (#tlap) chat hosted by Shelley Burgess that looked at how we can use Pokemon Go in our classrooms. I was lucky enough to have a free period while the chat was in full swing, so I was able to contribute and gather ideas from the many, many other educators who were involved.
After the chat, we decided to try an #aussieED meet-up where Sydney educators could get together and share how they are using Pokemon Go in the classroom. Only a few of us met at Cathy Freeman Park in Sydney Olympic Park, but the ideas I got from those few teachers I met were awesome.
Teaching high school, it can sometimes be difficult to incorporate these ideas into your class as easily as you are quick stuck with the curriculum content you are teaching at the time. Luckily, I was about to do classification with Year 11 Biology so enter my idea to incorporate Pokemon Go into my lessons.
I took a screenshot of a number of the Pokemon I had caught whilst playing the game - only the ones with the half decent CP so I didn't look like a complete n00b and turned them into cards. The students were then given a sheet of A3 paper and asked to create a dichotomous key to help classify the Pokemon that they were given.
It was interesting to see who had played and who hadn't as they were able to decipher the information on the cards in completely different ways. Some were classifying based on evolution levels, some on CP, others were looking at simple things like weight and height. It didn't really matter, all I wanted them to do was to use the skill that they had just acquired and used it in a different way!
Here are some photos of our activity:
I have quite a few other ideas about using Pokemon Go in the classroom, some of these include (which I hope to expand on in the near future!):
A high school science and Biology teacher in Sydney, Australia. #aussieED co-founder. Interested in the integration of ICT into the Science curriculum.