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: https://moniquedalli.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/how-integrated-learning-works-at-gilroy-with-ipads/

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!






Gilroy goes GOOGLE!!

Today I ran the FIRST lot of Google Apps training for Gilroy staff, the training was run in period sessions in small faculty groups. The Google apps are run through our new landing page CLASSM8 – it was a busy day exploring the apps we have available to us and an exciting start to our Google journey.

The key focus of today was to: demonstrate the TOOLS and APPS that GOOGLE host that could enrich our resources, add to our teacher tool kits and to find ways to make us more efficient!


Each faculty had a session that was tailored to them based on their curriculum and existing levels of technology implementation. Some highlights from todays sessions were:

  • Using Google Drive INSTEAD of Edmodo library!

Edmodo is a common LMS for us at Gilroy, however, its file storage system does not suit all staff. SO – I demonstrated how ALL of the files required for a unit could be stored in ONE resource folder in a Google drive. Then the LINK for that folder could be shared on Edmodo with students! This means that ALL file types can be supported regardless of file size (PDF, docs and videos) AND if the file link is shared with teachers they can ALL add in cool resources that students either use in class or as extra material to study/revise.

  • Using Google Calendar to manage faculty events

Faculties such as PDHPE and CAPA run many activities over and above their class load – I demonstrated how Google calendar could be used to manage faculty events such as rehearsals, try-outs, training, games and performances. They key idea behind using Google Calendar in a faculty is that MANY staff could edit/admin the calendar and MANY students could subscribe on their devices and be reminded of events they are involved in!

  • Using Blogger with class groups

Blogging is an excellent way of getting students to write and digitally author their work, blogs can have a public audience or they can be used as a means to check and practice responses. We found lots of purposes for blogging today – responding to articles with an argument, analysing artworks, journaling a process, documenting a PIP, collating a digital portfolio and general online “showing off” !  – we used theYear 7 Blog as an example of how students LIKE to write online and compared the features of both KidBlog and Blogger.

  • Using Google Groups to communicate across campuses!

I demonstrated how Google Groups would be a perfect tool to start a cross-campus dialogue between students. For example Groups could be used in a Visual Arts classroom to discuss artworks by students across different schools- WHY? to encourage a dialogue that expresses a written opinion and to also listen to others (outside their class-group), and to independently talk about something that could be topical or subjective (ie: tackling something difficult WITHOUT teacher prompting). It would also practice safe digital communication (still easily moderated by a teacher administrator) and encourage collaboration.


Other google tools beyond apps that were shared today: 



What do YOU use Google for in your classroom?? 

Reinvigorating the old? Nah, change is WAY better!!

We all have those topics/units that run year to year and dont change. We feel comfortable in teaching them- we are experts in their content. But seriously, after teaching year 8 “satin boxer-shorts” for the hundredth time, the thought of another elastic casing almost made me wanna vomit. AS a staff we discussed ways to adapt and modify the unit . . . but, in the end the WHOLE LOT got a re-write! 

So, the NEW design situation and brief reads:

Design Situation-

You are a designer working for an accessory company and have been asked to design a new range of tech-bags that hold and protect a range of technological devices and hardware.

Design Brief-

Design and produce a laptop bag that employs natural textile materials including plant

and animal fibres in its construction and decoration that could be included in this range.  


Programming this unit has been an enjoyable collaborative process with staff in the English faculty teaching TAS staff hand felting processes and experienced textiles teachers showing me BETTER ways of finishing the project and sharing resources.

The unit runs under the ANIMAL PRODUCTION context area, and uses TEXTILES TECHNOLOGIES to produce a laptop sleeve. The unit has a digital “TEXT” that will eventually run through itunesU when ipads flow through next year.

I have attached the PROGRAM, BOOKLET, TEXT and ASSESSMENT . . . would love your feedback or any other resources that you think could be added!!







Students should fail.

Students should fail, they should be allowed to make mistakes, comfortable to even.

Why? Because learning by self exploration and trial and error not only builds resilience but enquiry based learning also encourages independent problem solving skills.

I have been thinking about this post for a while, not only because it is a common theme in my classes (mainly due to my KLA area) but also because for some students, the fear of failure is frightening. During the last parent teacher night, I had an extended conversation with a student and parent, our discussion considered “what is the worst thing that could happen if you make a mistake?”

Well? What is is it? . . . . we decided the WORST case scenario is re-doing something, but then pondered, “if it’s a do-over, would the second time be BETTER?” . . . what if in the act of failing and making mistakes they are becoming more discerning and critical of their work, able to distinguish right and wrong on their own!?

First of all, I believe it is essential to have ground work in place so that students feel comfortable enough to make those initial mistakes and secondly but MOST important is the TIME and FRAMEWORK for them to evaluate, share and IMPROVE based on those mistakes. And THEN, if a mistake is made, it is a GOOD ONE!

My year 12 students are at such a crucial time in their Major Design Projects, all through the process it has been a goal of mine to program/cater for time for SELF experimentation. Common questions such as “which plastic is suitable? what glue do I use” ALL get the same answer. . . . EXPERIMENT? TRY? RESEARCH? and decide YOURSELF!! I revel in thinking about HOW MUCH MORE they are learning by just working it out themselves! . . . . but why do I feel more comfortable in doing this with older students??

My year 7 and 8 technology classes run based on projects, in order to complete the projects students follow steps and a series of demonstrations. Reflecting and comparing this to how I run my senior classes, I couldn’t think as to WHY I don’t do the same thing??!! Why do I TELL students all the answers? – – sadly, its due to lack of time, urgh.

So, on friday and today, I gave it a go with my juniors. I let go, and let them make mistakes. . .

And, of course like in my senior classes, they felt comfortable enough to. And even though I normally get excited about the learning that takes place, today what excited me the most is that they were comfortable enough in my classroom to make those mistakes, they shared them with friends (so they didn’t make the same mistake) AND they shared them with me.

Did this impact greatly on time as I originally thought? In “lesson time” it put me behind 1 lesson. BIG WHOOP!! ??

What WAS beneficial is seeing the independent learning, exploration and problem solving in my juniors that I LOVE seeing in my senior classes. We spent time reflecting on each others mistakes in a discussion (and later a blog post), but mainly focused on WHAT WAS LEARNT FROM THEM.


. . . . I have loved reading about their “mistakes” in their reflective blog posts – I highly recommend this for a reflective blog exercise in your class!

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Day #1 of NOT teaching the class. . .

WOW !!! What an awesome morning that was!!


Started out with this activity:

So then, I flipped the board over and we discussed different ways they could revise to implement the above:

The lesson followed with students using a mix of theory notes, text books and dictionaries (YAY for books!!) to complete a set of notes that matched up with allocated dot-points.


Was REALLY good to see students engaged and thinking about HOW they learn !! Lots of discussion on what keeps them engaged, what techniques used can help them remember definitions and key words and HOW they would implement this in their lesson.




Interesting that the point was made by more than one student that they dont like classes that go from start to end WITHOUT any interaction between them and the teacher AND they dont mind if there is no technology involved, as long as they are STILL engaged!!


They now have days allocated for their revision lessons, I CANT WAIT !!! 🙂




Next week I’m NOT teaching my class.

YUP! thats right, next week my year 11 Design and Technology class are teaching EACH OTHER! After an aweseome to and fro of ideas across twitter Jess Melkman suggested the idea of giving students an “envelope” of content that they had to teach. . . . PERFECT!!

This week I divided up the syllabus dot points so that they were covered and fairly distributed across classmates, an EDMODO assignment post was created so that students could access information at home.

During fridays double lesson in the LIBRARY (again my fascination about the use of books!) studetns are going to follow the following steps to plan their 15 minute revision lessons:

  1. Underline SST in the dot points
  2. Find relating theory content in exercise books/class notes
  3. Refer to OTHER textbooks/resources to see if there is any additional notes (we use the cambridge text for the course, but there are 4 other texts that are available in the library, as well as the net)
  4. Create a SUMMARY of information thats needed for the dot point
  5. Select a revision strategy 🙂
Students will also be brainstorming HOW there best revise, this will help them work out a revision strategy to implement with the class. . . I thought this would be great to work out how they best learn/revise.
AND! how timely that this is being promoted in the media! KIDS TEACHING KIDS WEEK

Teaching Research Methodologies


A while ago I posted my thoughts about the lack of BREADTH students apply to a research task. I had set a task- which required research into both historical design practices, designers and design products.

As it was a re-do of a task I ran with the last Design and Technology cohort- from past experience I KNEW students will copy and paste if/when they can. I thought by being CLEVER and designing the assessment to have a POSTER submission, this would deter students from doing this. Ok- it did! Not one student copied and pasted- HOWEVER, only 4 students used a BOOK for research!!??


Todays opinion in the SMH dealt with the idea that students should be TAUGHT how to use internet searches- stating that by doing this students are accessing better quality information because they are discerning and objective readers.

This is a GREAT idea!  

However, still feeling slightly bruised after the year 11 task- AND reflecting back on the time spent in the LIBRARY teaching students how to access resources OTHER than the internet made me think- maybe the time spent in the library was a waste of time? 


So, my initial question still stands- Is the internet THAT good that when researching assessment tasks students need not open a book?

Literacy hypothesis #2

Ok- so last time I blogged about the literacy hypothesis students were participating in a food tech lesson where:
  1. I demonstrated a recipe
  2. Introduced a scaffold for a work flow plan which maps time to each recipe step
  3. Students completed the prac themselves using the workflow as a guide
Our group literacy hypothesis states that “We believe our students are challenged to make connections and need to question new words/concepts which then impacts on their comprehension.”

Now, in the first lesson they were taught how to apply a workflow plan to a recipe that they had viewed. In the follow-up lesson, they had to create a workflow plan of their own- using their final prac recipes, ie: one they had not completed or seen yet.
The hypothesis in this case is now related to see if students can make connections to BOTH the application of the workflow structure AND if they recognise key “food tech” terminology, and THEN map out specific features. For example, if the recipe directs them to “chop spinach” will they also put on their workflow they need a GREEN chopping board, knife and a non-slip mat??
I initially thought that the BEST way to implement this without the temptation of asking me for help, was to do it for homework- BUT LUCKILY!! EdmodoCon was on, and that required me to have a lesson off!!
Students were given the instruction “apply the workflow plan template to your chosen final prac recipe”
. . . .HOW DID IT GO???!!!
  1. Recognised the need for specialist equipment for each step
  2. Gave themselves adequate time for each step
  3. In some cases, they broke steps down into smaller “chunks”
  4. Allocated work tasks in a balanced way, so they each had a similar amount of work on the day
  5. Implemented their workflow plans on the day of the final prac, and then further reflected/evaluated them
I predicted that students would be capable of predicting some words- which was the case. Some recipes used words like “BLANCHED” they did not know what this meant, in particular, one student googled the word- and saw it meant “softening” – they assimilated that to when I “wilted” spinach in class. That student shared the meaning with another group in that lesson time, and the affected students changed the word BLANCHED to WILTED. (NOTE: it was not until the student explained this scenario to me today that I knew about this!)

hmmmm, interesting! no idea whats next? Now that I have tested the hypothesis, then what?? find out on thursday during our literacy time!

Social Inequity in education. . .

I was doing my weekly readings for uni (sociology subject) which is focused on social inequity.
I felt the need to blog about it, because the CONCEPT of inequity really bothers me, the more I read the more I understand that it is SOCIETY forming this construct, my mind wandered and I started to apply the concept of inequity to education.
One example of how discrimination can be constructed is Jane Elliot’s blue eye/green eye experiment
IF you havent heard of Jane Elliot’s experiment- it’s pretty profound. In a week she constructs a class divide according to their eye colours- making blue eyed students more privileged within the classroom, also convincing them that they are smarter. Inversely- green eyes are a “middle class”, and poor brown eyed people have little to no privileges and are told they are “dumb”.
This kind of labeling had a direct affect on the students performance during this period- this divide is obviously based on physical predjudice, BUT!! the other inequity that has surface recently has been through general dialogue with colleges regarding streamed classes.

I personally am REALLY OPOSED to schools streaming classes, I do know there is data and research to say that higher bands of students excel in these environments, but what I’m REALLY concerned about is the social implications of labeling a student- is it not dissimilar to Jane Elliot’s labeling? Sure, it isn’t just based on physical attributes, but to a teenager it can be just as cruel and socially damaging.
While listening to various presenters at EdmodoCon present information about what they were and had been doing in their classrooms- I was hearing similar themes over and over. Their stories about how student learning was extended with a variety of activities that pushed conventional text book and examination boundaries I felt really once again passionate that students were pushing their limitations of what they thought their successes were BECAUSE their teachers were too.

Literacy hypothesis

We have an ongoing focus on literacy- each staff member is placed into groups where we formulated hypothesis that we would like to test. The hypotheses were created as a group- ours has recently been adapted to read:
“We believe our students are challenged to make connections and need to question new words/concepts which then impacts on their comprehension.”

It is my task to TEST knowledge transfer between literacy tasks that are faculty specific, tomorrow is when I am teaching and implementing a written WORK FLOW PLAN scaffold for year 8 food-tech students to use when following a recipe.
The idea behind the work flow is that students are transferring the recipe method into a work flow pro-forma that allows them to map their time-management- this will be done with my assistance and direction tomorrow.
The work flow ALSO forces students to dissect the recipe method- making connections between the practical demonstration (ie: me cooking the recipe) but also re-writing the recipe steps to again connect terminology with practical methods in cookery (the key focus of the hypothesis).
My plan of action (ie: quick lesson plan) looks like this:
  1. Intro- what are we cooking? (macaroni and cheese!! yummo!! LOVE my job!!)
  2. Activate prior knowledge- talk about recipe context- wheat based foods, ingredients on tray and how they come together to forma particular taste.
  3. Infer word meanings- look at keywords in the recipe, prompt class for meaning
  4. Skim text- Read through steps, make an equipment list on board in BLACK (add ones they have not mentioned prior to the dem in RED)
  5. Testing! Test our collaborative equipment list and progress through demonstration- draw on prior learning (knife skills using stove) as I cook.
  6. WORK FLOW- Introduce format of the workflow, discuss use. Students use demonstration to write steps/times into their own workflow plan!! (ie- each students should be the similar)
  7. Testing! Students follow THEIR work flow during period 4 as they cook on their own macaroni and cheese.
  8. Evaluation: students evaluate performance of both the cooking prac AND the importance of the work flow plan.
Tomorrow I am going to video record the lesson so that the hypothesis can be tested in the FOLLOWING lesson, when students write the work-flow without a practical demonstration or assistance for their own final prac recipes- they have to interpret the recipe themselves and transfer it into the work flow WITHOUT assistance!!
For the record- here is what I THINK will happen; students will comfortably adapt workflow plan in lesson #1. Students will be able to to infer and predict SOME of the terms they havent seen before (remembering they are at year 8 level, and aren’t experienced chefs!).
As for doing the work flow on their own during lesson #2?? I’m not too sure, I don’t believe the majority of the class are independent learners (some are and are capable)- also the temptation to ask me for help and approval is great. I think it will be best tested as homework- I can get students to SELF help on Edmodo- would this be rule breaking??
Wish me luck!!