For many years, I had a dream … a dream that I would one day find a school where I would have the freedom to learn, grow, and innovate with ICT.
At the beginning of the 2014 school year, overwhelmed by the demands of (an overly ambitious) postgraduate study workload, and the terrible impact of WA Government funding cuts on my casual teaching income, I was once again starting to question my future in the teaching profession. I felt like I was standing at the crossroads – again.
While I was bitterly disappointed with the outcome of the ADE application process, I was delighted when the The Global Classroom Project came Runner Up in the ISTE Innovation in Global Collaboration PLN Award, and then shocked and humbled to hear that I would be officially named an ISTE Emerging Leader, Class of 2015. This award is presented to educators 35 years or younger who transform education through the visionary use of technology.
A testament to the power of the PLN
As an Emerging Leader, I am the only the fifth Australian teacher, and first Western Australian, to be formally recognised by ISTE. This is an incredible gift; a personal and professional vindication in more ways than I could ever share publicly.
It is a true testament to the transformative power of my global PLN, without whom I would have left teaching a long time ago. Thank you to those who have believed in me, and provided support, guidance, and encouragement both publicly, and behind the scenes. I’d also like to sincerely thank the ISTE Young Educators PLN and the judging panel – I am very much looking forward to working with you in the years to come!
After a journey of some 30 hours and over 18000km (11,603 miles), I arrived in the United States for my first ever ISTE conference. It proved to be an incredibly emotional, sometimes overwhelming week. Despite the very best advice I received in the lead up to the event, I soon discovered nothing can quite prepare you for a conference with 20 000 plus attendees, over 1000 vendors, and nearly a 1000 workshops and presentations.
In trying to tell the story of my ISTE2015 journey, I’m going to focus on some key themes and experiences which stood out for me.
The power of the Unconference
Arriving in Philadelphia on Saturday morning with my good friend @lparisi, the weather turned nasty – and very wet. Forced to scrap my planned photo walk and city orientation, I immersed myself in the Hack Ed Unconference. Joining halfway though the day, I started meeting people I knew online, some of whom I’d been following for years; and joined group conversations about topics which interested me. I was less thrilled with the after party (I am not your typical party person), but meeting @lynnrathburn and her colleagues there made it all worthwhile.
Global Connections and Collaboration
Judging by the responses to our poster sessions, and the Twitter feed for several big Ignite presentations, connecting and collaborating globally was of interest to many attendees. I thoroughly enjoyed the Global Educators Brunch, hosted by @globaledcon and @VIFLearn; and the Global Education Day event. The brunch was made all the more special as it was the first time nearly all the #globalclassroom project leaders and organisers, from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and all around the United States, were in the same room. Most of us were meeting for the first time after over four years of working online.
The Global Education Day was interesting, but its most important aspect was the people in the room. To sit alongside and converse with global educators who have inspired, guided, and helped make me the person I am today was an amazing, and very emotional experience.
Coding and Makerspaces
I must admit this is a particularly big interest of mine at the moment, as I am trying to advise my school on the future direction of our ICT program. I am quite keen to delve into robotics and Makerspaces, and I loved the chance to explore the Maker and Coding playground events at ISTE. I played with Cubelets, shared my experiences with the MakeyMakey, searched for information on LittleBits, Squishy Circuits, and collected as much information as possible about 3D printing. I have plenty of pics, and some big ideas which I’ll be taking back to school.
The opportunity to share my story & expertise in global education and iPad integration
When I applied to present at ISTE last year, I was well aware that the organisers accept less than half of all applications. I submitted proposals for the Global Classroom Project Poster session, an iPad Creative Challenge Workshop, and joined another poster session focussed on global blogging and the Student Blogging Challenge. To my surprise, I was accepted for all three – which was unusual to say the least!
The two poster sessions were incredible learning experiences, and I thoroughly enjoyed the informal, conversation based format – even though two hours proved utterly exhausting (and a little overwhelming). My workshop was a challenging experience. With just five registrations, four people turned up on the night. One left shortly after it started (I have no idea why), and one gentleman was deaf! Among the challenges was trying to run a group collaborative session with just four people, and working with American Sign Language interpreters to ensure my deaf colleague found the session valuable. I received positive informal feedback in the session, but I’ll admit it was probably the most challenging presentation I’ve ever given.
Thank you for the memories!
Perhaps the greatest, and most emotional element of this conference was meeting Twitter friends, new and old, from all over the world. I lost count of how many hugs I received, and I won’t get started on the selfies :P. I had my first, second, and … who knows how many selfies at ISTE!
While sadly not all of my #globalclassroom PLN could attend ISTE, I was deeply indebted to those who made the trek, especially those two dear friends who drove 25 hours (each way) to come and see me. I hope I was able to make that incredible roadtrip worthwhile for you.
Dear @LParisi, thank you for picking me up at the airport in NYC, and the lift to Philadelphia. Your kindness, hospitality, and relative calm in the NYC traffic were deeply appreciated. I still maintain you have a very beautiful home – all protestations to the contrary :). (Please pass on my regards to your husband – it was a pleasant surprise to find a fellow photographer after a 30 hour trip to the USA. )
To @MrsSchmidtB4 and family, thank you for your warm hospitality. I still can’t quite believe that I was helping a “local” navigate Philadelphia, but I couldn’t have managed to see the city without your help :).
To everyone I met, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You made this conference one I will remember for many, many years to come.
As a result of attending this workshop, participants will:
Understand how to use the Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model to support their professional growth in relation to the implementation of iPad learning projects in their classrooms.
Gain confidence and integration skills through a hands-on collaborative learning challenge, exploring and creating an iPad literacy project which relates to their current teaching and professional learning needs
Contribute tips and teaching ideas to a collaborative online document showcasing successful iPad literacy and Language Arts project ideas, which can be adapted to suit their curriculum and grade levels.
Commit to taking on one iPad literacy challenge in their own classrooms following the conference.
To my utter astonishment and delight, I was accepted for all three! As an Australian teacher, and global educator, the opportunity to present at #ISTE15 is a rare opportunity to meet many of my international colleagues in person for the very first time, and a chance so share my story and students’ learning with a global audience.
As the conference draws nearer, the reality of this trip is starting to sink in … for the first time in my life, I will be travelling halfway around the world … visiting Philadelphia, Washington DC, and New York City. A trip of nearly 30 hours and 18 600 km (11 600 miles) …
If you’re coming to ISTE, I’d love to see you at our #globalclassroom and blogging poster sessions. If you need an added incentive, we managed to convince @TheHeadsOffice (Julia Skinner), creator of the 100 Word Challenge, to fly in from the United Kingdom to join us for ISTE
If you’re interested in learning how to integrate iPads into your teaching, I will be running my iPad Creative Challenge Workshop (Literacy) on the Tuesday evening of the conference – which gives teachers a chance to explore some of the best iPad activities I’ve discovered in my #ionapsict adventures. This won’t be a talkfest – it’s most definitely a hands-on session! All welcome!
After the conference, I will be heading to Washington DC (July 3-10), and New York City (July 10-16). If you live there, I’d greatly appreciate any advice you could give to someone visiting these cities for the first time. If you’re up for a coffee and a chat, feel free to get in touch And for the keen photographers out there, any local knowledge you might be able to provide would be appreciated! I can’t help myself – I’m already planning my trip around the photographs I want to try and take!
Last year, I had the opportunity to (finally) use Book Creator with Iona PS students, working with the Year 2 teachers to help their students plan and publish their first eBooks.
Students were learning about Australian Indigenous Dreamtime stories, and had the opportunity to create and illustrate their own – e.g. “How the Goanna got its’ tail”. Students started out by drafting and editing their story on paper, before typing out and illustrating their story in Book Creator. We asked students to hand draw their illustrations, which they photographed and imported into their books; however, some soon discovered that it was easier to use the pen tools to create their pictures.
Staying Safe Online – Book Creator in Year 1 (2015)
Moving into an integration role in 2015, I had the opportunity to experiment with the use of Book Creator with Grade 1 students, who were just learning how to write. Working with their classroom teachers, the Year 1 students learnt how to record their voices / short movies of themselves using the app, as they shared their learning from our ‘online safety’ activity.
Book Creator proved to be the perfect choice, as students found the tools easy to learn and use, and took great delight in creating their books. We taught them how to add their name and class to the title of their completed books, and showed them how to export their completed creations to their class Dropbox folder. We will need to keep practising this workflow; however, it should help save us an extraordinary amount of time later on!
What did we learn?
Book Creator is a powerful, yet intuitive eBook creation app which can be easily integrated into Early Childhood learning activities.
Photographing and importing students’ work could potentially make Book Creator useful for digital portfolios or for keeping a record of a learning experience.
The option to export books as a .mpeg movie is fantastic when students have recorded their voices in the book, but not so useful if the book is primarily text and images.
We will need to keep refining and practising our eBook workflow, especially for saving to Dropbox. As with many iPad activities, saving and sharing students’ work can be time-consuming, although very worthwhile.
I am hoping to create an Apple iBooks publisher account – I would dearly love for our students’ work to be published for a global audience, but this is something I will look at later in the year.
Last year, my Year 2 colleagues and I embarked on what turned out to be one of the most (over) ambitious #ionapsict projects to date, creating Information Report videos about Australian animals using a mashup of HaikuDeck and Explain Everything. Now we’ve discovered Adobe Voice, I now know that there is a far simpler way to do this, but at the time this appeared to be a good idea!
Firstly, our students researched their animals, using a teacher-created scaffold to answer questions about where their animal lived, what it ate, what it looked like, and so on. Students then created a HaikuDeck presentation, choosing Public Domain/ Creative Commons images to match their questions. This part was relatively simple, although time consuming.
Using a shared class HaikuDeck account, students’ presentations synced across the iPads, so we made sure that students’ put their first name and class in the titles. We did try to ensure that students were allocated a numbered iPad for each lesson; however, the constant syncing of all the presentations was a nuisance. Until HaikuDeck brings out management tools for educators, this is something we are likely to have to put up with when using a class account.
After completing their HaikuDeck presentations, we taught our students to screenshot their slides, and import them into Explain Everything. Here, we worked out how to add and edit our voice narrations, and how to export our completed products to Dropbox. The beauty of Explain Everything is its ability to export screencasts / videos to cloud services for sharing beyond the app and the company’s website. That said, we barely scratched the surface of what EE can do in this activity, and I hope to experiment further later in the year – with a MUCH simpler activity!
What did we learn?
We won’t run this style of mashup in Early Childhood again. It was far too complicated and time-consuming for our young students to complete within a reasonable amount of time. For this style of “information report” activity, Adobe Voice is a much more suitable app.
That said, I believe HaikuDeck has enormous potential for use in education, perhaps from Year 3 up. Our Iona PS ICT Scope and Sequence requires us to start introducing students to slideshows in Year 3, and I think HaikuDeck has great potential in class.
We barely scratched the surface of what Explain Everything can do. There are so many tools and options – you need to know (and teach) which options and tools students need to use to complete your activity, rather than do what we did, and try to work it out as we went along!
Ultimately, your choice of iPad tools / apps comes down to your teaching and learning purpose, and what is best suited to the age and level of expertise of your students – an important lesson I learned the hard way.
One of my personal highlights of 2014 was the collaborative introduction of Mystery Skype with Mrs R. in Year 3. Integrating our Skype sessions into Geography, we made some memorable connections with Hello Little World Skypers and Global Classroom teachers from Argentina, India, Nepal, and the United States. We also were able to connect with ‘Flat Addy’, a little girl in Iowa, USA, who had sent us a Flat Stanley earlier in the year.
Mystery Skype proved to be a fantastic introduction for our students, who learnt how to communicate and share with authentic global audiences. As the 2015 school year progresses, I am hoping to introduce videoconferencing and Mystery Skype into more classes, as we work to build our students’ awareness of the world beyond their classroom walls.
Students will use map skills to find the location of the mystery classroom
Students will use communication and critical thinking skills to ask questions to help them find the mystery location.
Classes communicate with other classrooms via Skype or Google+ Hangouts.
Students will learn to respect and appreciate the cultures and customs of others.
Students will be able to see the differences and similarities between themselves and others around the world.
Jenny Ashby @jjash may not know it, but her Sydney #slide2learn session on Beebots and coding gave me the push I needed to take a risk, and experiment with Scratch programming in Years 4 and 5 in late 2014.
Openly acknowledging in class that I had next to no idea of how Scratch worked, and what it could do, I set my students a challenge to create a game, or tell a story. With the help of YouTube tutorials, older siblings, and coding enthusiasts amongst their classmates, the girls merrily set to work planning, problem solving, and coding their projects; and they were only too happy to teach me in the process!
Use Scratch to tell a simple story which includes at least one talking character (sprite), and at least two settings or backgrounds.
Create a simple game where the user or player has to choose a key on their keyboard to make the sprite move or perform an action. This game could be a maze, a guessing game, or your own idea. It needs to include at least one Sprite (object/character), and a background.
Self Assessment Criteria
Storyboarded what my story / game will look like, and what will happen.
Created a simple story or game using Scratch
Included at least one Sprite and background
Used code blocks to require user/player action – e.g. IF the player clicks their mouse or presses the A key, THEN ….
Press ‘s’ to start, then use arrow keys as per in-game instructions.
Press the following keys to progress the dialogue: a, c, e, r, q.
Ask Katy Perry
Start by clicking on the green flag.
Fun Maze (Year 4)
Click on the green flag to start, then use your arrow keys to navigate.
What did we learn?
Introducing Scratch programming to my students was a huge professional risk, as to the best of my knowledge, it had not been formally taught at the school before. It was also the first time I had ever attempted to run a coding/programming project, something which I wouldn’t have dreamed of trying before #slide2learn.
Through this project, I learnt a great deal about the power of play – allowing students to explore, experiment, tinker, and collaboratively solve problems as they pursued their coding projects. I was surprised by the level of student engagement – both in, and outside of class. Many went home to ask their older brothers and sisters for help and advice in coding their projects! I was also really impressed with the power of peer teaching and support in class, as we even brought some Year 4 students into a Year 5 class to explain how they used a particular Scratch tool !
Next time I run this, I intend to more formally stress the need the storyboard and planning aspect of the project, and include some higher level coding skills in the assessment criteria (drawing upon the Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum). I’d also like to try and provide better summative feedback to students, beyond the whole class discussion and reflection sessions we ran last year. The peer teaching and problem solving approach worked very well for most students, encouraging them to think and learn from eachother.
Later in 2015, I am hoping to introduce Beebots and coding apps into Early Childhood maths / procedural writing, and explore how to integrate Scratch programming into other learning areas in upper primary. We are at the very early stages of teaching coding / programming at our school, but I am very curious to see where this little experiment takes us over the next few years.
“The 21st century presents the greatest challenges and opportunities ever faced by humankind. It will span massive transitions in technology, society, human well-being, values and our world ecosystem.
Neville Bruce discusses how he must prepare our youth to meet these challenges with awareness, understanding, engagement, empowerment and above all action. That is what Education for World Futures (EWF) is all about: but it needs enacting now! So what is the EWF idea, where is it now and how can we make it grow?”