To flip, or not to flip. THAT is the question. . .

Last year was a year of trying new things, amongst the new “things” I tried – – flipping my classroom was one. This post is a little reflection of my flipped experiences and the reasons WHY I dabbled in film making last year.


. . . We had an AMAZING teachmeet at Gilroy in August, Simon Harper AND Polly Dunning presented their experiences flipping their classroom, even though I was reading a lot about flipping and its benefits at the time they really inspired me to start.

NOTE: I am not an expert at flipping, in my limited experience of flipping and from my esteemed colleagues/online reading this is what I knew:

  • Flipping means students do traditional CLASSWORK at home 
  • Cleverly, teachers make this fun, presented in an engaging way (video)
  • AND the content that is covered is usually content that is traditionally covered in class
  • ALLOWING for MORE class time to be spent on the analysis and application of content.

Sounds like a GREAT idea right?! . . . yeah- it is BUT my reasons for flipping were TOTALLY DIFFERENT!! I teach across all areas of technology in junior years, this includes timber, textiles and food technology project areas. We have 5 lessons a fortnight (5 hours) and only a 13 week rotation to complete a program, booklet, design folio and practical project.  . . .HECTIC!!!

I loved the idea of flipping, because:

  • I typically demonstrated practical skills ONCE – then students had to mimick, copy or do
  • Students watched my practical demonstrations that may have shown ONE particular method for doing something, there could be many applications (of a timber joint or decorative technique for example) time usually constraint this OR the busy nature of classroom numbers did
  • My classes in 2012 had a diverse range of students- levels of language, literacy, numeracy as well as physical capabilities
  • Some students were getting frustrated- at not being able to achieve a level of practical quality they expected
  • Many students were visual learners, current resources were not tailored to their learning style
  • Students WANTED to be more independent, they wanted to succeed on their own.

So, what REALLY propelled my to start to flip was- MY STUDENTS WANTED to become an expert in practical skills, they needed to have a DEEPER understanding of “something” before they were confident to try and apply it (I just want to be clear on something, I am not talking about their willingness to fail/make mistakes) – I am saying they WANTED TO DO BETTER, THEY WANTED TO WORK HARDER, THEY WANTED TO KNOW MORE and OUR CLASSTIME and MY CURRENT TEACHING METHODS didn’t allow it!!??

So, flipping essentially added extra hours to my classes. I used vimeo to upload my own video/links to edmodo, I also used existing youtube videos and tube chop to edit them.

I sourced videos on garnish techniques, handling pastry, sewing a closed seam, creating your own applique from felt, setting up jigs for a trimmer/router, using a router to create inlays, making your own bees wax polish and making the perfect white sauce.

I also made my own videos! With the help of another staff member we pre-recorded food demonstrations- students watched these on average 3 times EACH (this was 30-40mins of video time??!!) Students were also creating/sharing their own videos?? “Miss – can I film you doing this and practice at home?”  – –  umm OF COURSE YOU CAN!!!  (by this stage, I had totally gotten over the fact that once recorded, by voice sounds like a kid’s!! lol)

I dont really know if this truly is “flipping” ?? as I still felt the need in most cases to demonstrate and conduct the SAME practical demonstrations in lessons – BUT the videos really supplemented this and addressed all the concerns I was having. . . .

THE RESULT: I had VERY HAPPY STUDENTS. Their quality of practical work improved because they were conducting more research at home – I know, this really is a “DERR” moment right? And this is not too dissimilar to the benefits that Polly and Simon had explained at the TeachMeet, but you have to understand, the motivation that DROVE me to spend the time preparing all the videos/links WAS. 

Again, I repeat – I AM NOT AN EXPERT OF FLIPPING, making videos or screencasting (check out Simons blog for inspiring examples of this). Is this even flipping?? dont think so??– BUT, my students were pretty happy.

Polly and Simon certainly showed me a way of adding another dimension to my teaching that I will continue to use in 2013 – I seriously advise you to start whatever hybrid of flipping suits you !!


BYOD workshop materials – apps, online tools and how you ACTUALLY DO BYOD in the classroom.

Excitably this year at the IIATE conference I ran a workshop on BYOD (bring your own device).

How can portable devices such as tablets, smart phones, laptops, iPads and iPods be integrated effectively into technology classes to enhance learning?
Online tools, apps, games and websites that are relevant to a wide variety of TAS subjects will be demonstrated. Bring your own device on the day (ALL platforms and device types are welcome).”

Here is my prezi introducing the concept/idea of BYOD- – – – > PREZI 

In the weeks prior to the workshop I employed the help of my PLN to gather additional resources, because other teachers in my PLN teach in differing subject areas AND different device types AND they are pretty clever!

Some of the responses looked like this:

I went through each app that was suggested compiling a list that worked with my workshop sections/audience (keeping in mind my workshop was for TAS teachers in a high school setting):

  1. APPS

THIS info I then put into these handouts to be used on the day.

I chose to use QR codes as they are a GREAT way of getting A LOT of info into a small space – each QR code on the handout contained WHAT the tools DOES and HOW it could be integrated into the classroom. I can also attribute the groovy layout to comic life, SO EASY!!


Apps for BYOD

Websites for students BYOD

Stuff for teachers



Learning? – – – > TeachMeet Sydney 2min Presentation

This video was made with the help of high-school teachers and students from years 7-12.

Teachers answered the question “Students best learn . . .”

Students responded by describing “I best learn when. . . ”

The responses were not censored, or adapted, it is each persons individual reply that makes this video genuine.
There is no right or wrong answer.

If you are teacher watching this, I hope it highlights the diverse needs of the students in your classrooms.

No ONE teaching strategy works for all.

VIMEO LINK- – – – ->   Learning?



I also presented with Henrietta Miller on Edmodo – the content of the presentation and other proffessional development resources can be found – – – > HERE!



More info on up-coming Teachmeets?



I am a boring teacher.

YEAH! I am Boring – – -> with a CAPITAL “B”

I am consistent, my classes are based on routines and forward planning. I have homework routines and set repercussions if it is not done on time (ie: do it). I have high expectations of behaviour and again have a known system of discipline that is positive (community service and restorative justice).

Community service diary stamp

My subject area allows for some fun, like; group work, project tasks, open-ended research. . . my students engage in a variety of work activities and have a chance to choose their learning paths. Students get opportunities to explore and play with different materials, experiment, make mistakes and draw their own conclusions.

. . .making products of of non-tradition/recycled materials

Optional extended task: Tech Deck Skate Ramp

Students know what is expected of them. High school and adolescence is a tough time for most students- tougher for some! We should be making classtime as EASY AS POSSIBLE, especially in early transition years like year 7. They come from a primary learning environment where they are in their own space, with the security of a only a few teachers. High school is much harder! 8-9 classes, more than one glass group, 8-9 teachers- all possibly with different expectations, systems and routines, books, homework/assessment. THEN throw in the differing technological tools that each faculty, subject area and teacher uses. . . TOO HARD!

Projects based on traditional skills, tools and techniques.

Organised workspaces. . .

The other reason as to why I call myself a boring teacher is that I keep technology use SOOOOOO simple. I work in a school where 7-11 are 1:1 with macbooks, but I have chosen to limit the breadth of tools and applications that I use. I want students to EMERSE THEMSELVES IN CONTENT, NOT GET LOST IN THE TOOL!


CNC Router


Right now, make a mental  list of all the differing technology tools, subscription sites, programs, apps etc that you have once used in your classroom . . . . heres mine from 2011: (NOTE: I am NOT talking about sites used for information gathering or research)


THAT’S IT!! . . . . BORING!!

Now zip back through your list and select ones that were multifunctional, intuitive or maybe cross-curricular. THEY ARE THE ONLY FEW YOU SHOULD BE USING?!

I make a conscious decision to ONLY introduce tools and technology into my classroom that are RELEVANT, FLEXIBLE and manageable within my class time frame and curriculum, again, Students should be EXPERTS IN CONTENT, NOT GET LOST IN THE TECHNOLOGY!  

The list that I have PLAYED AROUND WITH to get to the refined one above is endless!! . . . all the usernames, accounts and such I have signed up for to trial new online tools and programs is RIDICULOUS. Do you feel the same??

At the moment I feel like I am wading through countless options of resources, websites, online tools and products that may be very effective or not very worthwhile. I JUST WANT TO KEEP IT SIMPLE and use technologies/tools that students can use in the REAL world, or teach them real world skills. Do you feel the same??

Dont get me wrong, I love that teachers are exploring ways to modernise content and engage students, we cant be stagnant when technology is moving so rapidly. But LETS NOT USE TECHNOLOGY FOR THE SAKE OF IT. BE CHOOSY. I am not an entertainer, I still have content to teach!! Do you agree?

My pick for the lastest educational trend for 2012 . . . .BORING IS THE NEW BLACK . .

Looking ahead, aiming high, continuing my path of learning with my learners. . .

WHOAH!! what a year 2011 was!! Well, really since starting teaching there hasn’t been a “quiet” year, but during 2011 there really was a chain reaction of growth and development within my teaching practice. 

Looking back it ALL started with presenting at EdmodoCon !!!

It spawned my twitter account, blogging, teachmeets, WSiiate and a expansion of my PLN outside my school, faculty and COUNTRY!!

As a teacher of technology I am the staff member at school who is always saying “have you used/tried this in your classroom??” I thought I was overly GEEKY! but no, this year I have really found my place amongst like minded educators that are progressive thinkers!! and JUST AS GEEKY AS I AM!! 

So . . . after being asked on a twitter chat (#ntchat) what my goals for 2012 were I have TWO. . .

1. Dont stop learning: This one is HUGE for me. Since graduating from teaching in 2007 I have NOT ceased learning in a formal manner. I have been studying psychology part-time, aspiring to be a school counsellor “when I grow up”. I just successfully transferred to a Masters in Counselling!! YAY ME!!! BUT!! this is not the only type of learning I am talking about, I want to LEARN FROM MY LEARNERS, I want THEM to guide my teaching strategies with their learning needs. I want to look and listen for trends in education/technology and explore ways to make content applicable and contextual to students. I want to be an ADAPTIVE and FLUID TEACHER! 

2. Be inspired and be inpirational: We all know students work harder when they like what they are doing- it’s a teenager thing really, and no matter what, it’s true that the person in front of the room has an impact on their learning and love of learning. I dont necessarily want to be liked by my students, I WANT TO INSPIRE A CULTURE OF HARD WORK AND LEARNING IN MY CLASSROOM! I want to students to enjoy working hard knowing the reward may not be always in grades, it’s in knowledge and the feeling of accomplishment. I am a passionate teacher, I work hard, I love my subject area and content and I believe that this attitude is contagious.

These goals aren’t too big! I’m sure I will have my PLN to help along the way 🙂


YES!! I would LOVE to know 🙂

Student evaluations. . .

CONTEXT: My year 7 food tech class yesterday cooked chicken burritos! Students watched the demonstration of the recipe a WHOLE WEEK PRIOR to actually doing their parc.

When the prac lesson commenced, I felt like I may as well have not done the prac?! The amount of silly questions and lack of reference to the demonstration was REALLY FRUSTRATING!
Overall the prac took longer than needed/required, was disorganised, silly obvious questions were asked! AHHHHHH!!!!

At the end of the lesson when all was cleaned up, I asked the students to do 1 piece of homework for me as a reflection- to answer the question “What can I do to improve the efficiency of my food-tech prac work”

Students either hand wrote reflection or submitted via a direct message on Edmodo. Students wrote really honest responses overall- EVERY STUDENT COMPLETED IT!!! overall they pointed out the importance of listening, organisation and also asking their classmates for help- one honest response:

So, I didn’t see the point of doing this without also discussing HOW they can improve on these points they raised. So we worked through some strategies ranging from listening better/remember back to the dem (take notes on the recipe) and be better organised in the bay (demonstrated how they can keep their benches cleaner). There was also much emphasis on the purpose of the self reflection- I was really aware that this exercise could be dwelling on the negative if students didn’t see the value in it- or where it was leading to.
NEXT lesson! students will use their own reflection as a personal measure of how well they did in the final practical- fair enough our reporting system works on marks and grades- but they should be able to self evaluate against their OWN criteria too right? Student could see the benefit in self evaluating- I will report back on thursday with how it all wet 🙂

EdmodoCon 2011 !!!

For those of you outside the world of Edmodo, on thursday it was the FIRST EdmodoCon– an international “think-tank” of educators and ideas brought together by their passion for learning and use of Edmodo.
I re-woke at 1am (Australian time) to co-incide with Nic Borg’s session and was first astounded by how Edmodo has been reading my mind I regards to all the updates and improvements. Most exciting was the news that Edmodo “wont be going NING”, ie: its staying FREE!!
The early morning was blurred by lack of sleep, excitement, too many cups of tea and nervousness for my looming presentation!!! I presented alongside 3 other Australians in the session “Wake up Australia”, this was a massive deal to me- I felt so overwhelmed being the LAST presenter- I followed some unbelievably AMAZING teachers, no pressure!! hahahaha
The presenters were unreal- but what really amazed me overall was the ingenious nature behind the application of technologies. How seamlessly teachers integrated Edmodo, glogster, garageband, skype, apps, ipads and other tools into their lessons NOT for just the sake of using technology- BUT to enhance learning, experience across cross curriculums/stage levels and international boundaries!
I was AMAZED at how engaged everyones students were! How CHALLENGED their thinking was, but also how RESPONSIBLE for their learning they seemed- this was DEFINITELY proportionate to their enjoyment level as some of the tasks and units of work that were presented were JUST AMAZING!!!)
My key motivator from the whole 10 hour conference was how technology has extended our classroom. I LOVE that students are posting on the class Edmodo pages at all hours, it means they are thinking about learning after the school bell!
My personal post-Edmodo-Con challenge is to ENGAGE students outside our school hours- my initial thoughts came from the idea of homework- but it doesn’t necessarily need to be “work” but tasks that broaden thinking and knowledge to create more independent learners- who can apply skills outside the classroom into other aspects of their lives.
I feel like as a TAS teacher- skills in my subject area allow them to do this- I really think Edmodo and technology will me the medium to propel it.

The power of positive feedback

I think I’m onto something!!

So I have been using Edmodo with year 7 as a bit of trial experiment- no “WORK” is posted on there. It is purely for “FLEARNING” (a word my year 8 class use to describe the FUN LEARNING we do).
Basically, the Edmodo is an EXTENSION of the classroom that students access out of class time- primarily used for communication, extension G&T tasks for them to do in spare time, extra recipes (we are doing a food rotation at the moment) and as a collaborative learning space.
In the past they have been posting images of both the food the cook at home and at school, the fun bit is they have been posting feedback/praise for each others work.
We all know as teachers that praise is motivating. But I really think the Edmodo exercise was embedded with respect and crated some serious warm fuzzies beween peers that I couldn’t create 🙂
The initial thinking behind the exercise was to get students to post their 3 ideas on Edmodo so that their classmates could help them decide which was best.
Students have to complete a writing section which asks them to EXPLAIN WHY they chose their final idea. In the past when marking I have noted students don’t give valid reasons behind their choice, nor do they explain it well.
This exercise allowed them to use their peers comments to validate and explain their choice.
The outcome was UNREAL!!
Positive reinforcement from their peers!
Better than marks 🙂

Relevance of technology application. . .

SO! whilst taking shop to a couple of my “teacher friends” last night, we started discussing the new HSIE curriculum, and whether or not the content in our curriculums teaches kids knowledge, or skills?
To set the scene, we all work at different schools and teach different subjects- however, we were SPECIFICALLY talking about being a digital citizen, leaving a digital footprint, and integrating technology into the classroom. . .
So, of course, Edmodo and Moodle are hot topic.
Brand favourabilty aside, the conversation was entirely about whether either of the two websites actually teach students SKILLS that are transferrable post school?
Both teachers are “techno-phobes” (sorry guys!!) and are ANTI-time wasting, ie; teaching kids how to use the interface takes up class time on something they will NEVER use post school. SO, why not just deliver it pen and paper- KEEP IT SIMPLE!?
My argument- whether your using a powerpoint, over head projector OR Edmodo, it isn’t HOW you deliver the lesson and content. Its what they are LEARNING. Communication, and computer use is a skill in itself, but Edmodo is just the medium like the pen and paper?
Obviously a teacher who implements this well, and is confident using technology will do it seamlessly. But thats US as teachers learning too right?
REALLY, the point of this blog post is that this gave me some food for thought for my EdmodoCon presentation, and made me think back to one of my fave design quotes “Technology should be so intuitive, so clever, you dont realise its there”