My classroom the past few weeks. . .

It’s been a busy time settling into a new school and teaching new classes, courses and curriculum! It’s been a happy adventure so far. I’ve been having a lot of fun with my classes, getting to know students has been the challenge. But just like them, I learn by doing – doing and having practical experiences with them.

ABOVE: Using conductive playdough  to make circuits and learning about levers – making catapults.

If you want the link to the conductive circuits practical: and recipe:


Reflections of a different classroom

In February I began attending a weekly craft gathering at The Happenstore in Annandale, which then transformed 2017 into the year of CRAFT! I spent the year knitting, crocheting, making, tinkering and sewing, there was no project unfinished and my hands never busy enough! I was continually inspired by the Tuesday “Craft night in” group, I loved our weekly chats, we shared skills, laughs, ideas. . . Even though I have been knitting for years I always thought of myself as untrained as I learnt from my Nanna to knit with instinct, eye and whim. At The Happenstore I worked my way through formal patterns, learning abbreviations, stitch names and techniques from those around me (and Youtube), getting assistance from the brains trust as I needed every Tuesday. . .

I was an inspired student in someone else’s space, I grew in confidence to try projects that were harder, learnt new skills and I challenged myself.

With my newfound confidence in December I put my hat in the ring for something I felt was quite brave, I applied to be a TEST KNITTER! *for those non-knitters, test knitters trial a pattern to work out necessary corrections prior to publication by making the pattern themselves* My test-knit application was successful and I worked with French knitwear and pattern designer Julie Dubreux aka “Julie Knits In Paris” – – Julie’s patterns and style aren’t the typical knit which is why I was attracted to her as a test knitter, she creates non-traditional patterns I would love to make and wear. Julie set up an email thread with the other 18 or so test knitters (who came from ALLLL over the world), Julie was intending to release the pattern at VOGUE KNIT LIVE in New York – I had a MONTH to make a sweater.

This was an opportunity to test myself and those growing formalised and refined skills. I was signing up to knit a jumper during the heat of summer!

I started small by swatching the yarn, testing needle sizes and practicing the techniques –  the design is called “Lolly Sticks” named after the alternating colourwork section that creates the shape. . .


Then I began the pattern starting at the neck, calling out for help as I needed with the test knit email group as my support. . .

I continued to knit this merino jumper through the heat wave of summer, taking the project on trains, to picnics – sneaking in knitting time while dinner was cooking. . .

The jumper is almost finished with the last section on the second cuff to go, you can check out Julie’s pattern here:


I always think of myself as a reflective teacher, continually reflecting on my practice, improving and developing. A highlight of 2017 (the year of craft) is that I became an appreciative reflective learner. Becoming a part of unconventional classrooms outside my PLN and industry to focus on self development has left me feeling fulfilled by the challenge and personal growth.

If 2017 was the year of craft I am not yet sure what 2018 will bring.

Marking makes me happy! *said not enough teachers ever*


This familiar feeling . . . .




All too often we complain about marking, I do it!  Especially in junior years or at times of reporting when BULK work is collected and turned around at a stupid rate.

But really, when I actually sit down and open a student’s book, or read a final reflection, or see photos of a finished project my heart gets happy! 

As we come into our final term, that point where exams are being sat, student numbers used incorrectly, books collected, work samples scanned, projects finished, reports are being written – instead of sharing those memes, let’s share an item that makes our hearts happy!


Some photos from Year 8 Technology – Plant Production:


Differentiated PD – Innovation Focus


IMG_2037Today we started term 3 with a Staff development day, the focus was INNOVATION – and each workshop was to align with our school goals of: CREATIVITY, ENGAGEMENT and QUALITY ASSESSMENT.

This is the first time we have had a real go at differentiated PD for staff – with a variety of options and using our teaching staff as presenters/experts – T3 PD Workshops.

With all the planning and preparation that went into today before the term ended and over the holidays from myself and presenters, I felt excited this morning and a sense of pride in how well the day ran!

What was your first day of term like?


Edmodo-Con V3.0


Flashback to 28th July, 2011 – a copy of my very first blog post. . . .


hmmmm, so, what am

I thinking???

Well, I do have my own private blog for journaling, but since being whisked away on this amazing EdmodoCon journey I feel like the only teacher that isn’t expressing their thoughts, pedagogical practices and lesson plans via a blog!
I did sign up for for a twitter account about an hour ago, but THEN the first suggested person I followed was Justin Timberlake???? it really just irked me out! hahahaha!
So I’m having a go at journalling my journey. As both a teacher and a student.
*insert twitter name here later
On the 20th July, 2011 – Betsy Whalen from Edmodo emailed me to let me know that I had been successful in my application to be a part of the FIRST EDMODO-CON, at this point in time I had been using Edmodo since late 2008 – the news sent me into a complete fan-girl state. There were a few requirements, like start a blog, get a Twitter account, install Cisco WebEx and there are three other Aussies that I was to present alongside. 
Betsy connected me with Henrietta Miller, primary teacher local to the Northern Beaches, Bianca Hewes, Secondary English teacher who lived around the corner from my place on the Northern Beaches and Jess Melkman, Secondary art teacher ALSO local to the Northern Beaches?  We met up at the local McDonalds to plan our Edmodo-Con presentation and laughed at the fact that Edmodo had selected four women who were alike in passion, ideas and lived in the SAME AREA?
Look at these four Edu-dorks . . .
Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 8.42.46 PM
The FIRST Edmodo-Con was a whirlwind – we presented at about 4am Australian time from our respective workplaces, homes (I was in my PJ’s eating vegemite toast and drinking tea). Bianca Hewes Mc’d the hour session – it was surreal. There were 11,000 people listening to us online, and they loved Edmodo as much as we did.
*** For flashblack – here is the Edmodo Blog update for the FIRST Edmodo-Con: 
*** AND – I dug up my powerpoint presentation! edmodo_dalli2011
POST EDMODO-CON 2011 – I fell in love with the online collaboration of Twitter and began networking with teachers outside of my school, diocese and subject area. The possibilities for my PD were now limitless.
In 2013 I was lucky enough to present at ISTE in San-Antonio, during this time I did a short workshop at the Edmodo booth with Jess and Bianca. I got to meet Lucia Giacomantonio in person and thank the Edmodo team IRL for powering technologies in my classroom. The second photo below is really pretty special to me as it has Bianca’s husband Lee, her boys and Andy McKeil – a Canadian edu-geek I met and connected with via twitter.
At the same time as this Edu-Adventure, Jess and her husband Mark got married. Bianca, Lee and their boys and I got to attend. . . special Edu-family.
Who have thought that 3  years later, I would have the opportunity to present at Edmodo-Con for the SECOND TIME, THIS TIME LIVE IN SAN FRAN??!!
Jess and I talk shop alllllllll the time, tech tools, project ideas, Edmodo uses. . . all this teacher banter eventually turned into an application for Edmodo-Con 2014. . .
We had 7 days off work – with 2.5 days of travel there/back we were in San Fran for 5 days? – It was a jam packed schedule. Highlights were visiting the Edmodo office and shaking the hands of those that respond to our help queries and honour our development ideas!
*** Our presentation was about how our Edmodo use had evolved and like an onion it had many layers!

This year, I am not presenting formally – I am not travelling abroad, I am a “Chat facilitator” – I will be working the backchannel in between speakers and connecting like minded educators together over their common love, Edmodo.

In thinking of my up-coming role in Edmodo-Con 2016, I have been really sentimental for the opportunity and the spring board that the Edmodo team gave me back in 2011.
Today, I bought a book that Bianca and Lee wrote together and spent the day playing with Jess’ daughter Lottie who is ONE on Friday. The opportunities, learning journey and friends that emerged from my 2011 experience is what I hope to give back to others.
Oh Edmodo, since 2008 you have been making my classroom a connected online learning space, you started my first blog post, my Twitter account, connected me with edu-nerdy friends . . . . you will always have a place in my heart.
If you haven’t registered for Edmodo-Con 2016, you really should!

What our students need. . . .



  • At the end of last year I surveyed our teaching staff in reference to students digital skills.

  • Emmaus is in a phase of transition with technologies – in 2016 we will have two year groups with 1:1 iPads.


In my time at Gilroy I lead and programmed a subject that the Principal and Assistant Principal started that was called Integrated Learning, IL started as a course designed to teach skills for learning but as our students needs changed it became a cross-curricular subject that taught DIGITAL SKILLS.

For more info on IL you can read about it here:

The time has come for Emmaus students to have the same opportunity, with a timetabling success our past Principal Brad Campbell is leaving me a legacy of TIME. The hour a week class is called iLearn.


Because no school is the same (students certainly aren’t!) I sought to better understand from both a teachers and students perspective of what digital skills were needed. . . . (*note I did NOT edit responses, but have not included all)


Our 2015 year 7 students were asked:

What was your most MEMORABLE LEARNING experience this year when using technologies?
  • Playing kahoot – popular response!!
  • The iMovie we did for religion, that was really enjoyable.
  • My memorable experience this year using technology was when I was designing a room for my tech assessment in the 1st & 2nd term.
  • I think the most memorable learning experience this year when using technology is making different group projects
  • Science- We had an assignment where we had to build an Island and the class used MineCraft to build it.
What is your FAVE app:
  • Notability
  • Pic Collage
  • Popplet
Subject I use my iPad in the MOST:
  • Science
  • Tech
  • Religion

My take homes are: they LOVE creating, interactive tasks, they like apps that keep them organised and present their work beautifully. 


Our staff were asked:

What deficits do you see in students digital skills:
  • I think that there is a lack of core skills. We assume that as digital natives that they are aware and know how to use apps etc; however, they do need to have framing done for them and have the foundation skills placed down in front of them. There needs to be a distinction made between tool and toy; by that I mean that their various devices can add to learning rather than being a distraction. And that they can see the social networking and media devices can be used an meaningful learning devices.
  • Knowing how to find reliable sources online! Very surprised when I have worked with students and they didn’t know what a “blog” was!
  • Using the Internet to research Using Word/PPT – or Google docs effectively
  • – researching difficulties / discernment of reliable sources – accurate referencing of sources – difficulties achieving a quality product…

What digital skills would you like student to develop further?

  • Research skills that help them identify more than just the obvious webpage.
  • Ability to translate research into their own words and determine the validity of the website they use for the research
  • Smoother integration of electronic work and written book work

My take homes are: research and information seeking is an apparent concern, organisation skills are mentioned but not as prominent as authoring.



So, these holidays i have been busy working on the iLearn program, there are SIX UNITS:

Digital Native: Technologies are a big part of our lives, at the age they are at they have always known technology and are considered digital natives. This unit will set the standard of digital expectations for the course and year group in: netiquette, behaviour, rules and quality of work. Technologies DO make their lives easier and CAN enhance their learning IF used to their potential and safely. Students will connect to the network and download their school apps as part of the iPad roll out.

Copy Write: You cannot just simply GOOGLE? Research skills are important foundation skills for secondary students, they need to be able to SEARCH, DISCRIMINATE, FILTER and REFINE their research. This unit of work will look at tricks and tips to use when researching online, how to be a discriminate seeker of information AND how to implement researched content WITHOUT plagiarism.

Monster Maintenance Manual:  The aim of this unit is to demonstrate the variety of apps they have on their device and HOW they can LINK and work together to create a project outcome much like a school assessment. They will digitally submit their work, collating their final chapters as one class book using tools like BookCreator and Drive. They will write a chapter of their own that includes: image, text, audio based on the work of an existing text/author (“The Monster Maintenance Manual – A Spotters Guide”)

Moral of the Story: Each student has a story to tell, this unit looks at different ways of expressing their stories – focusing on a stop animation movie. Students will have created a movie that is produced to demonstrate a chosen MORAL or MESSAGE that is important to them, their family or community.

My Best Selfie: Students have a digital footprint. My best selfie is about promoting their LEARNING as something to be proud of. In Technology Mandatory they have started a personal blog/website, this unit will continue the work of that subject by getting students to share and promote their learning success. We will look further into Cyber Bullying and Digital Footprint, the focus is to produce a positve one!

Game On: Students are gaming consumers! This unit will demonstrate how they can create an app, a game and share it with their classmates. We might see the next upcomming developers and coders in this unit!



I have attached the programs and scope so far for you to read, evaluate, use and maybe even give me some feedback?! I need to attribute the 21st Century Fluency project for their resources and training I did in 2012 as well as the Author of the Monster Maintenance Manual book – Peter McMannis as he graciously allows us to use his book as a learning resource for students!





BOSTES and UNSW – how ICT impacts on curriculum and assessment . . .

How does ICT impact on curriculum and assessment? What a coincidence that I  presented the SAME topic TWICE in one week to TWO completely different audiences?

This week has been a busy one, TWO firsts – presenting to the BOSTES Inspector team AND to a uni class of Masters of Ed students at UNSW. The OTHER common factor between both of these events (besides being a first for me) was the topic ” Impacts of ICT on curriculum and assessment” . . .

The BOSTES presentation was with two other teachers – Gavin Hays, Assistant Principal  from Parramatta Marist and Andrew Burgess, E-Learning Co-ordinator from Lismore Diocese who operates the Online Education Centre. We each spoke about technology implementation, tools, challenges and successes in our school, the questions from the Inspector Team and Howard Kennedy (Director of Curriculum and Assessment Standards) were focused on curriculum support, access to classroom technologies, staff PD as well as supporting ICT’s with BOSTES tools such as program builder.

My own learning notes from the day were related to using PBL to heighten engagement, Google Classroom developments, challenges in selecting a good LMS and how we can teach stage related skills in ICTs throughout projects, tasks, classroom interactions and in online learning environments.

It was awesome to hear both Andrew and Gavin talk, I loved hearing about what they were doing in schools and how they were making positive changes for learning.

MY BOSTES presentation:

At UNSW I was lucky enough to be paired with Pip Cleaves in a class with 24 Masters of Ed students, John Bennett has been running similar talks with his class for the past three years – I could see the purpose and value in tonight solely by the classes questions and sharing.

Questions were related to: fitting in content amongst project work, being comfortable with trying something different, logistics, examples of KLA tasks, challenges in terms of internet connects and finance, classroom design, finding time, selecting tech tools for the right application, being a leader amongst staff, engaging students, differentiating content AND collaboration.

Pip’s experience is invaluable – her knowledge of platforms, tools, devices, classroom applications is so broad! I loved how she moved around the room and spoke with her hands! – this was novel to me as Pip and I have spoken MORE online than in real life 😉

Pip took a photo of me during the talk, being photographed while doing something like this is a little weird right? – I saved the image because one of the questions I asked of the class was “what would your students say of your teaching? & classes?” – in this photo I am looking through their eyes. Pip moved around in her zippy form, while I was more still? Being at the front of the room heavily instructing or information cramming it not something I am used to doing. So while I appreciate Pip’s gorgeous words, the image itself is JUST STRANGE!? and how I was still was strange?? – AND I did it TWICE in ONE WEEK?!


My UNSW presentation:

It was a personal highlight to talk about the staff and students at Emmaus for the first time. Even though this is a new role and school community for me I felt so proud to share their great work with others. We are on an exciting learning journey!

My take aways from both of these presentations is that I am lucky to be in such great company professionally, likewise our students are in good hands. There are many challenges in the implementation of ICT in schools, these challenges do add another dimension to the work teachers have to do. However, each lot of presenters and audiences were focused on students learning and solving problems, the technologies that were discussed were referenced as tools to propel this.

LINKS and stuff I may have forgotten. . . . 

Example of a flipped youtube for TAS –

Teachers are using Weebly, this is what STUDENTS can do with WEEBLY –

MORE about the Student Techie Team –

Information about LEARNING INTENTIONS:

PINTEREST as a bookmarking TOOL-

HUGE thanks to my arty mate Jess McCarthy, she made my UNSW presso pretty amaze.

Emmaus Bytes – sharing byte sized updates

With teachers in a constant state of time poor – I wanted a way of sharing ideas, tools and articles in a regular format.

I came up with the idea of “Emmaus Bytes” late last term – Michael Pate helped me out by talking through requirements of an innovation newsletter. We discussed what Emmaus staff needed in terms of the PD they have already received and how the format was best presented.

The cheeky title is derived from the unit measurement – a byte. The concept of the update is to share smaller bits of information, sourced from articles and peers with links to further reading and ideas for classroom application.


Too often PD is over prescriptive – it leads to specific implementation and rigid ideas of do this then that. Teachers at Emmaus (and other schools I am sure) are apt in reading information and ideas, to then make a decision about its validity in their classrooms. It is not a take it or leave it approach – this approach starts discussions. Discussions that are driven by staff & students needs – not just me.


Examples of this working is in the first edition of Emmaus Bytes I included info about Weebly. With ideas of implementation, examples of Emmaus Weeblys and staff that were currently using the tool – our experts to talk to. This was a great success!  We now have multiple faculties and many individuals now using Weebly. Building on that, Emmaus Bytes edition TWO discussed ways of integrating critical thinking into Weebly, success criteria for students and extension activities – not just the technology – the pedagogy.


We are now up to our THIRD edition of Emmaus Bytes (found here)  – it has been a positive experience to share the good practice of staff in these editions and share ideas so that together we develop as a school staff – not in a linear one PD plan for all, but with byte sized ideas.

Goodbye Gilroy, The College of Knowledge. . .

In 2 weeks I finish up at Gilroy Catholic College after 6 and a bit years to move on and forward into a new position at Emmaus Catholic College as Director of Innovation. I have moved through all the emotions of excitement, sadness and anticipation since applying, interviewing and accepting the position. I thought the best way to reflect on my Gilroy memories was to blog. . . .


Educational blogs are always full of “top lists” – so in no particular order here is my top 7 of G-Roy ! 


1. Construction training and uniform

I am proud to say I was the FIRST female in our CEO to be trained in VET Construction in 2009. Over the years VET students have always been proud to work on school projects that better their facilities. My favourite competencies are in the concreting units, this is because of the applied mathematic skills the contrast between this type of outdoors/team work and “regular” classwork. Students pictured are all wearing a Gilroy branded high-vis shirt, this replaced a plain clothes and apron uniform. I started this uniform in 2011, students and VET staff wear it with pride.

2. Charity and community work

I have a personal drive to support charities in a means that takes “participation” so that there is a connectedness to the giving, over the years I have organised crazy hair days, shaved a students hair, dyed my own fluro pink, knitted for months on end and my homeroom since 2009 have sponsored a child in Honduras.

3. 1:1 iPad program and E-Learning role

At the end of 2012 I formally took on the role as Leader of E-Learning. Prior to this role I had always been an informal tech support for staff and a driver for innovative PD which I organised and presented. In the role I have been so humbled by the support and trust from fellow teachers and students, they have been so supportive of change – even when it has been challenging and frustrating. I have seen the iPad and 1:1 device program grow stronger, this is all relational to the positive development staff and student skills.


 4. TAS spaces

The TAS workshops and classrooms have gone through many renovations and remodeling since I started. I have taken personal ownership of the spaces I use to make them comfortable and inspiring for staff and students.  Applying Dr Suess vinyl quotes, a secondhand couch, comfy chairs, posters, visuals, accessible resources and even sewing machine covers!


5. Friendship and community

Sigh, this is the hardest part of starting a new adventure. . .

6. Love of learning

Inspiring a love of learning in my classes and KLA has been most rewarding, to see students talents grow over the years and their skills improve. I have so many amazing photos of all the proud moments of mess, challenge, completion, smiles, fun, these are just some. . .

7. Edmodo

I first started using Edmodo in 2009, by the end of 2010 it became our preferred LMS. I drove its implementation by sharing its success in my classroom and developing good practice with staff. In education many technologies and tools date quickly like fashion. I have seen fads come and go, Edmodo has been a constant. This frequent or fleeting change can a negative impact on technologies perception in schools. I consider the positive impact Edmodo has had on Gilroy an exceptional mark to leave, I had the sense in 2009 to spot a good thing and the tenacity stick with it – with the team at Edmodo supporting all the way!