SpongeBob Squarepants – Uncut

Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.
– Attributed to Louis E. Boone

For Government schools in NSW, this week is the final week of Term Two, a time when many fun things occur. For my school, it is also the week of the Year Six Canberra excursion. As my regular readers would be aware, I am teaching a combined Year Five and Six class this year, however, I am unable to attend the Canberra excursion. During the July school holidays, I am in Canberra for a week to attend Kanga Cup, an international youth football tournament, where I live in at the Kanga Cup Youth Referee Academy as one of the Referee Coaches and Mentors to the thirty-eight referees chosen for intense development and training.

Unfortunately, If I was to attend the Year Six Canberra excursion I would be away from Monday to Thursday of this week, and then be leaving to go back to Canberra on Saturday morning, not returning til the following the Saturday, which is not really fair on my thirty-week pregnant wife. So I was one of two teachers staying behind to teach the seventy Year Five students for the week. Our Assistant Principal asked what we had planned and I pitched an idea that sounded great in my head, but that I was unsure about its practicality.

Regular readers will likely have noticed that I am something of a geek and a nerd, and some years ago I stumbled across an incredible project called Star Wars Uncut. The core idea is that the team behind the project cut Star Wars into fifteen-second clips and crowd-sourced the remake of each clip. Individuals could recreate the clip they had chosen in any way they wanted. StarWarsUncut.com won a 2010 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media – Fiction and has since gone on to recreate The Empire Strikes Back in the same format, though there is no word on when they will open work on The Return of the Jedi. If you enjoy Star Wars, it is fun to watch and demonstrates a variety of creative approaches to various scenes and special effects.

This was the basic premise of the idea. Clearly, we would never be able to achieve a full-length film, and so after chatting with the Year Five students last week, I sourced an episode of SpongeBob Squarepants to use, which was just over eleven minutes long and, after slicing off the opening introduction and closing credits (I wanted to keep those intact), on Monday morning we introduced the concept to Year Five. I explained the concept to them, using a selected portion from Star Wars Uncut (the opening sequence showing the chase between the Devastator and the Tantive IV and the subsequent boarding and routing of the rebel troops on the Tantive IV by the Stormtroopers) to demonstrate what it could look like. I showed them the same sequence from the Star Wars Uncut film. We discussed techniques that had been used, the fact that the uncut version was not exactly the same for a variety of reasons (different non-Star Wars figurines had been used to help recreate the various scenes, the imperfection of the various individual clips, costumes of varying detail and complexity etc).

Students were then put into groups, with the regular classroom groupings being deliberately split up in order to provide students an opportunity to work and learn with different members of their cohort.This worked fantastically well for us, with most groups working very well together, and many new friends being made. We introduced the concept of storyboarding and provided some flipped learning content for how to construct and use a storyboard as well as some different techniques for filming (such as stop-motion and re-dubbing dialogue) and things to consider when using iPads to film (such as the quality of audio recording, particularly dialogue).

The result was fantastic. The students were incredibly engaged, focused, and were able to express their thinking as to how they solved the various challenges they came across in recreating various scenes, particularly those which would require special effects if filmed as a live-action clip. I am in the process of writing a formal unit of work for it and making the links to the curriculum explicit, but I will make it freely available once I have done so. The students loved seeing the final product come together and showed a great sense of camaraderie and appreciation for how others had contributed to the final product.

FTPL | How to use Twitter

In this episode of Flipped Teacher Professional Learning, I give an overview of how to get started with Twitter as an educator. If you missed the previous episode, about why you would want to use Twitter as an educator, you can find it here.

List of FutureSchools 2016 Articles

Hello everyone, here is a bonus article for the weekend, a consolidated list of all of my review articles from FutureScchools 2016.

Day One: Masterclass with Jennie Magiera

  1. Day One Session One – Questioning and CBL
  2. Day One Session Two – Badges, Gamification and a Problem Based Activity
  3. Day One Session Three – Teacher IEPs
  4. Day One Session Three Part Two – App Speed Dating

Days Two and Three: The ClassTech Conference Stream.

  1. Day Two Session One Part One – Think U Know and Edventures
  2. Day Two Session One Part Two – Storytelling and Data
  3. Day Two Session Two – Drones and Augmented Reality
  4. Day Two Session Three Part One – PBL and STEM
  5. Day Two Session Three Part Two – Perception, Imagination and Creativity
  6. Day Two Session Four – Film Making and Makerspace.
  7. Day Three Session One Part One – Gamification.
  8. Day Three Session One Part Two – STEM and the Roundtable Sessions.
  9. Day Three Session Three – 3D Design and Printing, Robotics.
  10. Day Three Session Four – Virtual Reality, Creativity.

FutureSchools Review – Day 2 Session 3 Part 2

In this article, I will be closing out the third session of day two from FutureSchools 2016, a presentation by Jill Margerison (@DrJMargerison), who is a teacher and the Associate Dean of E-Learning at The Southport School in Queensland. If you missed the previous article, you can find it here. Jill was speaking under the heading Perception, Imagination and Creativity – Bringing new thinking to patterned thinking and began by reminding us that society has, and is, changing rapidly and that this has lead to a change in the locus of power and control in education, that progressive education strategies are shifting the locus of control more in the favour of students.

tech-native-support-comic
Retrieved from tinyurl.com/j8m5o2t on 12 March 2016

This, Jill told us, has increased the importance of data and the ability to understand, analyse and utilise data and that despite Marc Prensky’s notion of digital natives still being alive and well, it does not necessarily hold up as true in practice. From my own experience thus far, very few of my students knew the difference between the address bar and the search box on Google, and when I would ask them to type in a web address, they would often type it into the search bar on Google’s search page (which was the default homepage) and then be confused about why the website was not loading. Jill’s point was that a student being a digital native does not necessarily translate into their being able to utilise the technology to its full capacity and solve problems better or more efficiently than teachers.

Jill made the point that students can get lost in the technology and be happy being lost, with terms such as YouTube diving and  wiki-diving and that leveraging that interest for creative purposes is important as creativity has been linked to positivity and wellbeing, as well as to mindfulness, which is, increasingly, an issue vis-a-vis student anxiety. Jill spoke about the fact that children have an innate creativity, but that somewhere between childhood and adulthood, the creativity is lost, or as Sir Ken Robinson has said, it has been “…educated out of us.”

The now famous Alvin Toffler quote about the illiterate of the future being those unable to learn, unlearn and relearn was brought up and used as a segue into a brief discussion about the East-Asia Leadership Summit and the conversations at that event vis-a-vis the need for students’ thinking to be able to be divergent, convergent and perceptual. Jill pointed out that divergent thinking as a brainstorming process is not about generating the correct answer or solution, nor will it inherently increase academic results to be able to brainstorm well (however you might define that), but that it is a skill which is integral to problem-solving processes. Layered on top of the need for divergent thinking is the need to also be able to think convergently, and reach a single well-established result. Perceptual thinking was defined within this context as having an awareness of the mood around an idea, situation or context and being able to adjust thinking patterns within that frame of reference.

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Changing our thinking. #futureschools

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Jill closed by speaking about a teacher exchange between The Southport School and a school in Malaysia, which then led to collaborative learning utilising Google Hangouts to communicate and learn about each others’ cultures, expanding global awareness and forging strong international links.

I found Jill’s talk to be very interesting and there were thematic links between Jill’s talk and some other presentations, particularly Jim Sill, who closed out the conference on Day day three. I hope that you have found some benefit from this article, and as always, thank you for reading.

Jump to day two session four.

Consolidated list of #FlipConAus 2015 Articles

In conversations with various people today, the subject of flipped learning came up on numerous occasions. To make it easier for those people to read about the topic here is a consolidated list of articles from FlipConAus 2015.

  1. Day One Part One – Masterclass with Joel Speranza
  2. Day One Part Two – Masterclass with Joel Speranza
  3. Day Two Part One – Keynote from Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams
  4. Day Two Part Two– Flipping Primary Education Panel discussion
  5. Day Two Part Three – Warren McMahon – Flipping: Can I really Do It? Katie Jackson – How to Run a Maths Flipped Classroom
  6. Day Three Part One – Crystal Caton – How We Flipped and You Can Too and Jeremy LeCornu – My Flipped Classroom
  7. Day Three Part Two – Keynote from Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams
  8. Day Three Part Three – Matt Burns – Flipping the K-6 Classroom and K-12 Leadership

I would also recommend those people seek out and connect with, amongst others, Joel Speranza, Jeremy LeCornu, Alfina Jackson and Matt Burns, who are all doing great work, in different contexts, within the flipped learning space.

Delivering Professional Development – Google Docs

“The best part of learning is sharing what you know.”
– Attrbuted to Vaughn K. Lauer

My regular readers would be aware that I am delivering profession development sessions to colleagues around the use of technology in the classroom. This afternoon will be the second session in this series, and will be focusing on developing a greater knowledge in using the Google Apps for Education (GAfE).

Last week, I introduced them to Google Apps for Education, and delivered the session via Google Classroom. This afternoon, I will be spending further time with them looking at ways that Google Drive can be used in conjunction with Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides in the classroom, and as tools for collaboration.

On that note, here are some ways that you can deploy Google Docs in the classroom.

  1. Collaborative story writing: Google Docs can be used by multiple authors at the same time. This creates a scenario where group tasks can be undertaken, with each member actively contributing, making it harder for some students to hide in the mass.
  2. Live Feedback: Google Docs allows you to insert comments on the document, as in MS Word, and this allows you to provide live feedback to students on their writing, whether or not you are in the classroom.
  3. Collaborative Planning: Google Docs can be utilised to to collaboratively plan and develop units of work and programs for Stages, Themed Units and Terms.

Those are a few simple ways that Google Docs can be used.

As always, thank you for reading, and I would like to hear from anyone with ideas on how you use Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Class or Drive in the classroom or for staff Professional Development.

The Primary Teachers Journal Club

It may sound like some sort of advanced Breakfast Club, but it is actually a new online professional learning network, aimed at pre-service teachers, and those teachers wishing to keep stay involved in academic discussions.

I first saw hashtag some time ago, and was curious about the concept, so I followed the hyperlink to Charlotte Pezarro’s blog, where I read this”

In this section, I hope to present interesting journal articles for discussion by pre-service, newly-qualified and established primary teachers. I will be limited to articles that are accessible without subscription; but there are plenty that are worth reading and pondering. Along with the reference, title and abstract, I will post some questions to scaffold the discussion. These questions will help us to reflect on the article, but by no means are you restricted to responding to these questions; feel free to ask your own or discuss any other thoughts you had while reading the article.

The first article put up for discussion was a recent one written by Gert Biesta and published in the European Journal of Education earlier this year. The title, “What is Education For? On Good Education, Teacher Judgement, and Educational Professionalism” was one I was intrigued by, and the questions that were prepared for it were sure to generate some robust discussion.

Unfortunately, I ended up not being home to take part in the discussion (for reasons outlined here) and have had read the Storify of the discussion (available for reading here), and I wish I had been involved. I’ll be keeping my eyes out for the next one. I recommend that you have a look and get involved. It will be professional development of a slightly different nature.

FutureSchools ClassTech conference review. Day 1 Session 3

“Whomever sets up the blog, owns the blog.”
Sue Waters and Richard Byrne

As promised in the previous article, I will be covering three presentations in this review of session three from day one of the FutureSchools expo ClassTech conference stream. Initially, I will be reflecting on the ‘ask the expert’ mini-presentation that occurred during the lunchbreak, led by Sue Waters and Richard Byrne which was about blogging, after that, I will cover the two presentations that occurred session three proper, covering 3D printing and the Connected Classroom.

At the end of session two, there was of course a bit of a mad rush out to the expo hall where lunch was being served, in order to get that, and then get to the ask the expert session with Sue and Richard. This was a topic I was keen to hear about, as I had started this blog with the aim of using it as a place of reflection on my teaching practice (which is yet to occurred), to share insights from my teaching practice (also yet to occur) and to reflect on events and professional development sessions, such as FutureSchools, which is, obviously, happening right now.

The discussion was targeted, primarily, at classroom and student blogs, but much of what they said also applies to personal or professional blogs, such as mine. Richard and Sue believe that as teachers, we don’t self-promote enough about our achievements. They pointed out that there is a different between self-aggrandisement and self-promotion, with one being excessive and over the top, and the other being celebrations about successes, acknowledgements of struggles and the little things that make us smile (my interpretation of their words).

There were some pitfalls around blogs that need to be avoided in order to have a successful blog. We need to be persistent with our writing. A lack of comments, shares, or likes, or views does not negate the value of the writing we are doing. Blogs need to have a clear purpose. For those using them as a learning tool in the classroom, blogs need to be fully integrated into the classroom infrastructure, rather than considered an add-on, and we need to provide our students with the tools to understand how and why to use it, and make it a tool that they will want to use.

Pitfalls facing classroom blogs in particular are the optional nature of blogging. If we are going to have our students blog, make it something for which they are held accountable, as much as you would any other piece of learning. The posting schedule needs to be consistent, whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly should be negotiable, but it should be consistent so readers know when a new post will be up. The purpose of the blog should be clear, both to the students and to the audience. Sue indicated that classrooms in which blogs are used successfully have set routines and strategies that are used consistently around the blogging requirements, including some schools where the blog forms part of an e-portfolio which stays with the students as an artifact of their learning across their entire school career.

As teachers, we should have a goal for the blog – whether it be a presentation of facts, a discussion starter, or a demonstration of has been learned or achieved. In achieving this, we should not constrain our students creativity by limiting them to literacy skills. They should have the opportunity to use other forms of expression, including vlogs, though there should of course be dialogue around when this appropriate in regards to the age of your students.

Statistically, it appears that for younger students, up to around years five to seven, that the majority of students will be on the one class blog, and that the older students are more likely to have individual blogs. That said, there is some intermingling or crossover of when this shift occurs and would depend on your specific context and your students and community.

Additionally, both Richard and Sue agreed that whomever sets up the blog, owns the blog, so in order to allow students ownership of the blog and the likely engagement that comes from that, it is important to allow students to change things such as the theme of the blog, allowing some appropriate non-school postings as both of these encourage not only ownership, but creativity.

The debate over the public vs private nature of student blogs continues on in various settings (including here, here, here and here) and that decision may be made by the school or education department as a matter of policy, or you may have some scope to make a professional judgement on a case by case basis. As with BYO programs though, opening up a dialogue with the parents and students, about the how and why of the blog, whether public or private, is important to its success and the engagement and discussion that it can foster in the school community. Additionally to this, it is vital to have the conversation about privacy and not identifying anyone personally by name or other descriptors that people are able to know exactly who is being talked about, and there are special considerations to take when uploading media such as images or videos such as not showing faces of minors.

To get the blog noticed within the public sphere, it is important to write, and to write often, but not too often. Richard Byrne is a successful blogger and posts up to four or five blog articles a day, however they are only a few hundred words longs. Alternatively, posting once or twice a week, with longer posts may be more effective for you – it is going to vary according to the individual context. If you are curious to see some examples of how classroom blogs have been sued successfully, Richard has provided a list of examples of blogs from the readers of his website.

In closing, Richard and Sue pointed out that Youtube is a form of blog, or rather a vlog, and that links or youtube videos can often be embedded directly into a blog post.

Once the lunchtime break finished, it was time for session three. The first presentation in this session was titled 3D printing – start small, think tall and was delivered by Teresa  Deshon, Deputy Principal and Kirsty Watts, Academic Dead of Technology and e-Learning, both from Kilvington Grammar School. I have to admit that this session didn’t engage me as much as those before had for the simple reason that I had had no exposure to 3D printing beyond what I had seen on the news.

I can see some applications for 3D printing, however it is not something that I can get excited about at this point. Teresa and Kirsty spoke about some of the challenges of working out how to use the 3D printing technology from storage, to the time frame required to print objects, the safety requirements, getting used to the CAD software and the need for calibration after moving the devices. They also spoke about their successes, which they said included increased engagement in learning by students, by staff interest in the technology once it had been applied to some school projects that were displayed around the school and the different thinking skills that were required, such as working out the best way to print objects that required physical support, such as printing cylinders vertically instead of horizontally to reduce the stress load on their frame during manufacture.

They felt that the 3D printers were being successfully and authentically used, and from the intial seven students they had utilising them, now have a dedicated room to store the printers and their products in, and have now purchased a total of six printers. They were able to implement the 3D printing in cross-curricular ways, and were investigating ways of further increasing their use, including investigating the use of the 3Doodler, a 3D pen.

The second presentation within session three was titled The Connected Classroom and was delivered by Anne Mirtschin. This topic interested me more, as I can see application for connecting with other classes, domestically and internationally for a wide range of  learning opportunities in a variety of curricula areas. Anne started out by saying that a connected classroom is one that is not just connected internationally. A connected classroom is connected with its students, its teachers, its parents and its local community – that it is about relationships, a theme that has started to emerge from the conference thus far, with it featuring in Richard’s, Matt’s and Simon’s presentations. Anne also pointed out that teaching netiquette is very important to foster those relationships, especially when forming them with online communities.

Anne talked about tools that she has used, including Blackboard Collaborate, which allows for virtual classrooms, and the use of ‘back channels’ to allow sub-discussions to go on at the same time, such as additional questions, or insights from students, and that videoconferencing encourages engagement by students when a back-channel is provided for students not engaged directly in the conversation to be engaged.

Anne pointed out the logical nature of using global days to connect with other schools, such as World Peace Day, World Wildlife Day, World Poetry Day etc ( a list of World Days observed by the United Nations is available here). She also indicated that video conferencing needed to be regular and genuine, and that doing so would help break down the barriers of geography and language, as students would engage more with others when they were used to engaging with others through the medium of a webcam, and that it allowed students to ask questions of other peoples that would not ordinarily be able to ask.

Some tools that were mentioned as being useful by Anne included Skype, Flat Connections, Backchannel chat, Padlet, WeChat, WhatsApp, QQ International and Viber. This is another area of learning that I can see potential for, but at this point in my career, as a casual teacher, I don’t feel that I can implement in a genuine way. It is certainly something that I hope to be able to implement in the future, but as a casual teacher, I don’t see it being a viable tool.

The next post will be the final presentation from day one of the ClassTech conference stream at FutureSchools, and possibly a run down on the expo, and the networking drinks and then dinner.

As always, thank you for reading and leave a comment. I’d especially like to hear from any educators who do use a blog in their classroom, and how you utilise it as far as strategies, routines expectations etc.