On Becoming an @HaikuDeck Guru


HaikuDeck Guru Application – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires


As I recently told my students, I vividly recall the time I sat at the back of a classroom, struggling to stay awake through one of the most mind numbing PowerPoint presentations I’ve ever experienced.

I could barely keep my eyes open. One small problem … I was the teacher. :(

In early 2013, I was thrilled to discover an iPad app which opened my eyes to the power of an effective presentation, combining beautiful imagery with minimal text to share a story. That app was @HaikuDeck, and I’ve been using it ever since, sharing my story, and the stories of my colleagues, on the local, national, and international stage.

A few days ago, my application to become a HaikuDeck Guru was accepted: and I am thrilled to join a small, but growing international community of storytellers helping to support the ongoing development of one of the world’s best presentation tools.

HaikuDeck set my story free, and I’m thrilled to be part of their journey in the years to come.

Grade 1 Kidpix "Imaginary Creature"

A Little Adventure in Teaching ICT

Grade 1 Kidpix "Imaginary Creature"

Well, some of those visiting the blog over the past few weeks may have noticed a subtle change to the title of this blog. It is hard to believe, but I’m four weeks into a temporary ICT Teaching & Integration role at a wonderful girls’ school in Perth, Western Australia. 

It has been a busy time, in which I’ve been exploring digital citizenship with my students, helping prepare our new iPads for rollout (next week I hope!), and working with colleagues to set up collaborative iPad project plans.

I am extremely grateful for the warm welcome I have received at my new school, and now, as I start to settle into my role, I feel like I’m on an exciting little adventure into the wonderful world of teaching and learning with ICT for the remainder of 2014.

Here’s to an interesting journey, wherever it may lead.

 Netiquette Activity



(Distracting) view from SHORE School

Flat Connections, Sydney 2014

Heading to Sydney for Flat Connections marked an important milestone, namely the first time I have ever visited the East Coast of Australia! Held at the SHORE School, Flat Connections proved to be an amazing conference, where I met many friends, new and old, and discovered leadership and multimedia skills I didn’t know I had :) 

(Distracting) view from SHORE School

(Distracting) view from SHORE School

Flat Connections was a conference involving teachers and students, with some flying from Canada, the United States, and Iran; and saw teachers pitching and presenting to students, and vice versa. I was working with Leadership Team 9, a diverse bunch of Australian high school teachers, and my friend from Iran. Given two days to come up with a multimedia product showcasing a global project or idea, we decided to focus on creating a pitch for secondary teachers to start exploring the power of global connections in their curriculum and learning experiences. While we had our stressful moments, I was extremely impressed with how we bonded as a team, and capitalising on our various strengths, we produced a result we were happy with.

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Leadership Team 9


Some Takeaways

  • I really appreciated the hands-on focus of this conference. It truly wasn’t a conference where you could turn up and vegetate. You had to make a real, collaborative contribution, and you certainly were never bored – just mentally and physically exhausted! Someone once said that this conference was “hard fun”. They weren’t joking. It was the most challenging, yet most rewarding professional development I have ever participated in; and I would love nothing more than to do it all again in future years!

Team members working on voice over

  • I was also extremely impressed with the students, aged 10-16, who simply blew me away with their creativity, presentation skills, and ideas. I think the greatest lesson of this conference was never underestimating what students can do when given the time, resources, and opportunity to “think big”, and explore the other story. A case in point is  ”The Passion Project” student video, which conveys the argument for 20% time so eloquently. Please sign their petition! 


A Teacher’s Life on the Road

Copyright Free image via unsplash.com

Copyright Free image via unsplash.com

I once promised a friend that I’d write this post, and it is written for those who have never experienced what it is like to teach ‘on the road’.

I have been relief (substitute) teaching for four and half years, far longer than most, and to be fair it certainly has had its ups and downs. Waking up every morning waiting for the phone to ring (or not, as the case has been this year), being subject to the whims of often tired, stressed relief coordinators who just need to fill the day’s vacancies, turning up to a school not sure if you have a day’s schedule or not … it is not an easy road.

In the past, I have been criticised, and sometimes openly attacked, because I’m a relief teacher.

The idea, once quite openly expressed on Twitter, was that there must be something wrong with me, or that I couldn’t possibly be interested in working full-time – “The jobs are there if you wanted one” … The truth is that they are wrong, on both counts.

While those people are thankfully few and far between, I have some news for them …  I was a relief teacher by choice. Despite the stress and the complexity, I was free to teach, learn, and grow. Unlike some new teachers I know, I came through the hell of my first few years with my teaching spirit intact, and I know I am a better teacher for it.

Tomorrow, I will be visiting a new school. 

This time; however, I will be there for a different reason.  I have finally found a school which shares and values my vision for teaching and learning with the world through ICT. I knew it existed, but I’m still a little shocked as to where I found it.  I don’t mind that its a temporary part-time position, the very fact that I’ve won it is a personal vindication. It is the next step in my teaching journey, and as I hope to start my Masters degree next year, I’m quite happy with how I’m travelling. Everything happens for a reason, even if I don’t know what that reason is just yet!

Most teachers appreciate the work that relief teachers do.

Indeed, the best relief coordinators and Deputy Principals are those who have done relief teaching themselves in the past. But for those who dare to judge us without walking a mile in our shoes, assuming that we are lesser teachers, please re-consider. Our job is far from easy, and every relief teacher has a story. Just remember, … a welcoming smile, a friendly word of advice or teaching tips, a detailed daily work pad, directions to the staffroom … are appreciated far more than you will ever know.

Relief teachers talk to each-other. Schools where the teachers and admin are friendly and supportive are more likely to keep their experienced relief contacts. Those that show they don’t care, through their words and actions, are avoided – and others are warned to stay away.

We repay your kindness and care through our words and actions, and your students, and your school, stand to benefit. After all, we are all in this together.

Join us Virtually @ the Flat Connections Conference 2014

It’s just two weeks until I fly out for the Flat Connections Conference in Sydney! As much as I’d love to see everyone there in person, this is one of the few conferences which you can attend virtually, and I hope you can join us online – for FREE!

You can find out more details, and sign up for the Virtual Conference (even as a team member!) at http://tinyurl.com/flatsydney, and the virtual kickoff meeting is happening early next week, on June 8/9, depending on your timezone.

For more details about the conference, I highly recommend the official website - http://www.flatconnections.com/sydney-2014.html.

If you’re in Sydney, and would like to meet up, tweet me. Looking forward to meeting a few long-time friends there!

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The Global Classroom Project: An Australian Teacher’s Story

It has been somewhat remiss of me, but having so much to do over the past few months, I am only now sharing the slides and recording from my presentation at the #OZeLive Conference, which was held some months ago. It’s good to be back to blogging, and there are a few more posts in the pipeline.

My thanks to the OZeLive coordinators for an amazing conference, and the opportunity to share my story. The YouTube recording of the presentation is embedded in the slides; however, if you wish to watch the Blackboard Collaborate version, please click here.


World Water Day International LinoIt Project 2014


This coming weekend marks  World Water Day 2014, held on March 22 each year, and it promises to be a rather ‘wet’ weekend.

World Water Day International LinoIt Project 2014

For the past three years, the WWD LinoIt Project has given students around the world the opportunity to share their thoughts, photos, and experiences of water conservation with the wider world.

This year’s project will run from March 19-25, and will be jointly hosted by Class 5, from School 1302 in Moscow, Russia and Robyn Thiessen’s Grade 4/5 class in Canada. We are also looking forward to working with Project Purus, who are fundraising to provide clean water for school children in Nepal.

Please bookmark the 2014 LinoIt and share with your class using this link - http://bit.ly/worldwaterday2014.

I’m hoping to smash the country participation and audience count this year, so please feel free to share this with your networks!

Get Involved with Ed Tech Down Under! (#OZeLive 2014)

I am delighted to be involved with the brand new OzELive online conference, presented by the Australia e-Series and The Learning Revolution Project.

#OZeLive is a new virtual conference will run on February 22-23, 2014 at Australia friendly time-zones. It will feature Australian and New Zealand educators sharing their stories, perspectives, and expertise in the fields of:

  • Web 3.0 / social media
  • Educator 3.0* eLearning/ Blended learning/ LMS* Networking
  • Collaborative learning / learning theory / pedagogy
  • Use of technology in the classroom/learning environment
  • PLEs / PLNs/PLCs

Call for Presenters

If you are an Australian or New Zealand educator, with a story to share, you are warmly invited to submit a presentation proposal here. I’d suggest doing it soon, as the schedule will be finalized in early February :)


The conference will run on February 22-23, with presentations held in Blackboard Collaborate virtual classrooms. The 45 minute sessions will be recorded and converted to MP4 format, then made available in our OZeLive You Tube channel. More details, and schedule, to follow.


Follow @ozelivecon and the #ozelive hashtag on Twitter, and join the Facebook group here. The official website is here - http://australianeducators.ning.com/.

Things Come in Elevens … Part 2

Please feel free to thank (blame!) Theresa Allen for dropping me into the “11 Questions” meme that’s been doing the rounds of late.

Part 2

  1. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.

  2. List 11 bloggers.

  3. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.


11 Answers to 11 Questions

photo credit: opensourceway via photopin cc


1) If you could choose just one thing to change about the world, what would it be?

Hmm. I’d like to see more humanity and compassion, particularly amongst our political leaders.

2) Should people care more about doing the right thing, or doing things right? Why?

It’s important for people to do what’s right for them, to the best of their ability. If this means bending the rules, not conforming to the norms, then so be it … providing this is done for the good of others.

3) What things hold you back from doing the things that you really want to?

Lack of understanding and acceptance of creative thinking in schools where the students need it the most. Given the space and degree of freedom I need, I believe I could make a difference for students who are disengaged, alienated, or disadvantaged by the school system.

4) What makes you, you?

Good question. A commitment to living life one step at a time, to the best of my ability,  with the aim of making a small, but positive change in the world.

5) What makes a good friend?

A friend is someone you can share a laugh with, someone who is there when you need them. It doesn’t matter if they are ‘real world’ or online friends … both have made a difference in my life.

6) What was/is your favorite class in college/university?  Why?

The (contested) history of “The Pacific War” and the “Convict History of Australia”. Both these classes were taught by brilliant lecturers who loved their subject, and if I wasn’t a teacher, I’d be a historian. I loved every minute of my History studies.

7) What is an important thing people should know about educators?

Teaching is a difficult, stressful profession. Treat new teachers with respect and courtesy, and give them the space to learn their craft. We’re doing our best.

8) What is your favorite grade to teach?  Why?

Roughly Grades 4-5, as the students are generally keen to learn. I prefer teaching older students, as you can go into topics in more depth than you can with little people.

9) Who/what inspired you to be who you want to be or are today?

Besides my parents, there are a few people who’ve shaped who I’ve become today. One in particular was not so much an inspiration, but someone who believed in me, and fought to ensure I had a fair go. There are also a number of people in my online PLN who I see as role models for the educator I hope to become.

10) What is the best age to be?  Why?

Umm, no idea.

11) Where do you want to travel?

How long is the list? New Zealand, Singapore, USA, Canada, Argentina, and Peru would be relatively high on the list.

Your Turn

After some careful thought, I’d like to invite these people to take up the challenge.

As people who have variously inspired, guided, and informed my global journey,  I’d love to learn more about who they are, and what they stand for.  I know some are very busy with other projects, but I’m happy to give them as much time as they need :) No pressure!

Deb Frazier

Edna Sackson

Clive Elsmore

Andrew Woodman

Michael-Ann Cerniglia

Julie Lindsay

Vijay Krishnan

Vicki Davis

Maria Colussa

Lisa Parisi

Kerry Muste


Your Questions

1) Who are you?

2) Can you share a defining moment in your journey as an educator?

3) If you were given the opportunity to take a year off your regular job, where would you go, and what would you do?

4) What advice would you give to pre-service and early years teachers, who are starting to find their way in the profession?

5) Who was your favourite teacher as a young person? What made them so memorable?

6) If you could share a dinner with two online friends, who would you invite? Why?

7) What is your favourite food / dessert? (Please share the recipe if you can)

8) Can you share a photograph, artwork, or video, and briefly explain what makes it special to you?

9) Do you have a particular song / anthem which is special to you? Why?

10) Do you, or your family, have a special place you enjoy exploring or spending time in?

11) If you could meet a historical figure from any time period, who would you want to meet, and why?

Things Come in Elevens … Part 1


Please feel free to thank (blame!) Theresa Allen for dropping me into the “11 Questions” meme that’s been doing the rounds of late.

I’m going to publish my response in two parts, and I hope you enjoy learning a little bit more about who I am, and what I stand for. Be warned, I have a list of 11 people who I’m going to challenge to do the same :) Stay tuned!

Part 1

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.

  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.

Part 2 (Coming)

  1. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.

  2. List 11 bloggers.

  3. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.


11 Random Facts about Me

1) I like listening to music that was popular before I was born … I do like some modern music, including some local Western Australian bands like Birds of Tokyo and Eskimo Joe,  but I can sing along to most of the major hits of the 1980s.

2) Curiously, I also love classical music (anything but opera), and regularly attend classical concerts. Some past highlights include Mozart’s Requiem, Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and Mozart’s Piano Concertos.

3) I’m a keen photographer, and am currently the proud owner of a Nikon D7000 SLR. I enjoy taking photos of architecture, landscapes, and large scale panoramas, although I am sometimes 6 months behind in editing my images.

4) For some years I’ve documented the workings of Fremantle Ports. Recently, I was leafing through a maritime history book, and realised I was present for some of the significant cruise ship arrivals depicted (e.g. the Queen Mary II). In one case I believe I was standing next to the photographer whose work appeared in the book :)

5) My trip to Doha, Qatar in June 2013 was my first international trip, and first plane flight, in over 20 years. I travelled the world when I was three years old, and can’t remember any of it :(

6) I have never travelled to the Eastern States of Australia. I will make my first trip ‘East’ in June 2014, when I will attend the Flat Connections Conference in Sydney.

7) I am lucky enough to live with my family; Mum, Dad, and two sisters. We don’t have any pets, although for the past few weeks we’ve had a stray chicken roaming our backyard. Nicknamed “Free Range”, the little sod recently decided to sit at our back door ‘screeching’ in the early hours of the morning – wearing out her welcome.

Miss "Free Range" aka "Miss Squawkalot" aka "THAT BIRD"

Miss “Free Range” aka “Miss Squawkalot” aka “THAT BIRD”

8) I like playing computer and IPad games. I’m currently playing the strategic online multiplayer “Galaxy on Fire Alliances”,, and have earned a degree of notoriety amongst my students for being the teacher who (occasionally) plays Minecraft. I haven’t played for a while, as GoFA takes up most of my spare time.

9) As a stamp collector, I love tracing the history of countries through the changes to their postage stamps. While I started collecting at age 8, I haven’t delved into the collection for a while. It’s probably time to go back to it.

10) I have diverse reading interests, but my bookcase is full of science fiction and fantasy novels. I have 26 Terry Pratchett ‘Discworld’ novels, and an almost complete collection of L.E Modesitt’s ‘Saga of Recluce’. I’ve read them all about 2-3 times on average.

11) Not having a television, I spend a lot of time listening to the radio and surfing the web. I’m writing this post while listening to the cricket, the final Ashes Test (Australia vs English). Suffice to say the English are not particularly performing well :P


Anyway, stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll answer Theresa’s questions, and come up with a few of my own. It will be published in a few days.