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!






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!


Your PERSONAL invite to join the TechED Forum

About a year and a half ago I got REALLY frustrated, I am a member of the IIATE, subscriber of ESNET and TEANSW email groups, I use twitter, I blog/read others, I connect with teachers at TeachMeet, I share and always find obliging people who help in return.

BUT I selfishly wanted just ONE place where I could go to and ask subject specific information, I found I would trawl the interweb for hours?? . . . looking for THAT Stage 5 Industrial Tech Timber resource?? As a sweeping generalisation I have found that subject specific TAS resources such as: suppliers? materials? and process tutorials are harder to come by online, so with the help of some friends I created the “TechEd Forum”:

TechED Forum

I am not a computing teacher, and although I am competent in using technology I really stretched my technical expertise in getting this to work, and could NOT have done it without the help of my friend’s Husband Jeremy. The graphics and “logo” was designed by an ex-student now studying graphics, he decided the forum logo should “visually promote communication”, the forum now that it is set up is easy to manage, and doesn’t cost me a cent!

But, what this forum REALLY needs to prosper and run are MORE PARTICIPATING MEMBERS!! 

There are questions in many of the forum topics ASKING for assistance and advice, others OFFERING to share assessments and resources. I know that many of us use Edmodo, Twitter and TeachMeets to resource and crowd share, but the aim for this space was a very different one – to create subject specific discussion areas that can house documents, links, contact details, that could be referred back to categorically and easily. Does this sound useful?

You're invited!

You’re invited!


It doesn’t matter if you work in Tasmania, a primary school or TAFE, which sector of education you come from or if you are still studying – you still have something to contribute. The forum is free, it doesn’t cost me a cent to run- and therefore won’t cost you either. I hope that by joining you benefit from the space how it was intended. If you have any ideas for how forum could improve- let me know!


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!!







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 !!

What can YOU do with a piece of fabric? . . .or a length of timber?

What can YOU do with a piece of fabric?

My fave part of teaching in a practical course is watching students transform their fabric/timber into items of soft furnishings, clothing, toys or timber products, decorating them to their individual tastes and styles and employing skills and processes learnt in technology units.


This is only a quick post, but I wanted to collate some of the extraordinary and creative work Gilroy students have done in my classes- and as you can see from the images, even though they work to a design brief and with constraints their final outcomes are unique and demonstrate some clever use of recycled materials and processes.


Projects pictured include:

  • Year 7 textiles technology – interior design/cushion
  • Year 7 mixed materials technology – product/light design
  • Year 9 Industrial Technology -timber: treasure chest
  •  . . . and a whole heap of random pics 🙂


What an awesome year it has been !!!

IMG_3786 IMG_3733 IMG_3726 IMG_3724 IMG_3699 IMG_3648 IMG_3647 IMG_9570 IMG_9552 IMG_9541 IMG_9540 IMG_9536 IMG_3523 IMG_3275 IMG_3274 IMG_3273 IMG_3082 IMG_3059 IMG_2658 IMG_2657 IMG_2470 IMG_2413 IMG_2350 IMG_2349 IMG_2065 IMG_2064






Engagement, graffiti and being an entertainer. . . . .

Over the last three weeks I have been acting TAS co-ordinator as my boss has been on sick leave. . . . he not only left big shoes to fill (funny, because he not only has bigger feet than me, but is also wearing a bootie to protect a broken heel) but at a busy and tiring time of term it was even more challenging. ANYWAY, the point of this reflective post is that we had a TAS meeting on thursday morning, and on my little agenda post-it was the following equation: (ENGAGING ACTIVITIES + RELEVANT ACTIVITIES = HAPPY STUDENTS) HAPPY TEACHER . . . .

After a sad week where one sewing machine was broken (seemingly on purpose) and others were found with scratch marks and graffiti, I started to ponder the CAUSE. We all know that engaged students are “easier to manage”, we have less classroom management issues when students can access work and are interested, however, we have an ongoing issue with this and YEAR 8 TEXTILES. The more I started to think about how the sewing machines were damaged a little scenario started to play in my head. . . . Year 8 student, slouched in their chair, frustrated with the sewing machine because it wont work, it cant be fixed without the teachers help, teacher is busy helping someone else and they are taking AGES, it’s old anyway, and broken too? *FRUSTRATION!!!! *cue pushing/turning all dials until something breaks. . . . 

I don’t think it matters what classroom or subject matter we are talking about, frustrated teenagers are not ideal. Respect for their teacher and environment diminishes when THEY CAN’T DO. . . SIMPLY, IT IS OUR JOB TO TEACH THEM, make work accessible to all and ALLOW THEM TO LEARN AND HAVE A SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT.

I did loads of reading this week on engagement, and I found an old but interesting article that reiterated EXACTLY what I was thinking “Good teachers are firmly in control, allow discussion and its attendant noise only in so far as it is educational, and direct and shape student learning. The best teachers know how much to talk, when to listen, how to motivate student interest and engagement and at what point to unleash the students, under supervision, as active learners, engaging richly and deeply with the learning material”

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/why-teachers-need-to-be-entertainers-20110717-1hked.html#ixzz279KX8OpB

In a practical subject, the point at which we UNLEASH THE STUDENTS to use machines, tools and equipment is vital. They need to be confident enough to problem solve and self correct- there is NO WAY a teacher can possibly attend to all the raised hands at once that are calling out “MISSSSSS!!!! SIRRRRRRRR!!!! MY SEWING MACHINE ISNT WORKING?! CAN YOU FIX IT!!??”.

At Thursdays meeting as a faculty we had an excellent discussion based on this article, my thoughts in regards to the cause for the damage to the sewing machines and some practical ways to avoid this in the future. We looked at ways of BALANCING PRAC- so that students were confident in the machine use BEFORE actually using it, buddy systems and also techniques and strategies in managing challenging behaviour that is stemmed from frustration. We mainly see this challenging behaviour from boys- in their gender bias of textiles and battle with the complexity of the sewing machine. BUT, we came to an agreement, which isn’t new –that the TEACHER makes a difference, their enthusiasm, helpfulness and encouragement is what KEEPS STUDENTS motivated AND engaged. And DESPITE the unit of work and a students perception/interest level, a GOOD TEACHER WILL MAKE LEARNING HAPPEN!

I am not avoiding the fact that the broken sewing machine is WRONG, however, we should delve deeper into the cause of student behaviours, be proactive and employ practices that prevent them from happening.

YOUR TURN: Where does student engagement COME FROM? . . .from the content? from you? from your activities? . . . . What does an ENGAGED student look like? how does is affect your class management? how do you plan ENGAGING lessons??

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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Lasers, rotary cutters, 3D printers!! TERM 1 2012 – – -> WS-iiate Branch meeting

TERM 1 2012 – – -> WS-iiate Branch meeting

ON thursday arvo 15 keen TAS teachers gathered at Cherrybrook Technology High School to discuss ALL THINGS TAS!


  • Demonstration of rotary cutter on mill
  • WHS – updated information for TAS teachers
  • YICTE- Video conference for IT competition- http://www.youngictexplorers.net.au/cms/
  • Laser cutter demonstration
  • Roland 3D printer demonstration

Minutes can be found here – – -> WS-iiate term 1 2012 meet

LASER CUTTER VIDEO- – -> on vimeo here!!

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What WAS REALLY GREAT was the turn out of teachers from different sectors- we all have same thing in common, a love of our content area and a commitment to our students learning!

IF you wish to attend the NEXT WESTERN SYDNEY meeting, I can be contact via email: moniquedalli@gmail.com OR Alesha.Bleakley1@det.nsw.edu.au

FOR information regarding IIATE membership- contact via: http://www.iiate.asn.au/

IF you live in the SOUTH COAST AREA, then there is a meeting down there! contact: STEVE DELANEY @ Warrawong High School-  steven.delaney1@det.nsw.edu.au

ORRR!!! if you are from the CENTRAL WEST- contact MATTHEW SCOTT @ The Canobalas Rural Technology High School, Orange- matthew.scott7@det.nsw.edu.au

Sharing is caring. . .

As teachers we share horror stories of lessons, funny moments in class, strategies that worked and ideas for making teaching and learning BETTER.

I had the bright idea a few months ago to create a forum for TAS teachers. I am truly lucky to have a great network of teachers that I rely on for help (and encouragement) but others may/not have that, and really, what wrong with extending it?

Something that was really poignant at the teachmeet last week was the sharing , it wasn’t evident if attendees were from the public, independent or private sector. They were there because they want to share and learn.

For the record, I love technology, but I have had NO formal computing training. I set up 4 different forums (because I had no idea where to start!!) with various hosting capabilities and function before it was suggested I use phpBB . Even with the help from a friends husband (I am forever in debt for his help- he persisted through all my stupid questions!!) I felt overwhelmed.

After hours of flash tutorials, playing around with security settings and emails to Jeremy. . . . VOILA! The forum is now set up, it lives at: www.techedforum.com.au  

If you are a TAS teacher, I encourage you to sign up, we will only get out of this what we each put in. Share SOMETHING! Start a discussion! If you are not, the content wont be very exciting to you, but maybe you could start one for your own KLA?

It is our professional environment to collaborate and SHARE WHAT WE KNOW WITH EACH OTHER!