2017 in Review: Teaching Amazing Girls

As 2017 draws to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to look back on what learned this year.

Designing and testing STEM Projects

Learning about the water journey through Junior FLL

I spent the 2017 school year trying to develop a meaningful personal understanding of effective STEM teaching practice and projects, testing out some ideas and approaches in both collaborative and specialist teaching contexts. We ran some promising experiments with the use of robots to teach basic maths concepts (angles, measurement of distance) in the early years. I particularly enjoyed collaboratively teaching our first Junior FLL AQUA ADVENTURE season in Year 2. I also experimented with teaching marble runs (Year 4), cardboard automata (Year 5), and Scratch storytelling and game design (Years 5 and 6).

Overall, I learned some positive lessons this year.

  • Effective STEM projects are hands-on, collaborative, and underpinned by the design process. Students need time to tinker with ideas and materials, before applying their learning and conceptual understandings to design, build, and refine a solution to a problem.
  • Specialist STEM rotations are a fantastic way to teach foundational Design/Digital Technologies concepts and skills, but for this to make a real difference, students need more opportunities to apply their learning in other curriculum areas – for example, providing students with the opportunities to explain Science concepts using a Scratch animation.
  • Next year, I’d like to try and explore opportunities to better integrate my STEM and robotics projects with other curriculum areas. I am also keen to improve my teaching of design thinking and the design process.

The Tinkering Studio @ The Exploratorium

One of the highlights of my year was spending six weeks touring the USA, where I attended ISTE in San Antonio TX, ran a Scratch game design workshop in Chicago, and visited The Exploratorium in San Francisco. This trip was a priceless opportunity to visit friends old and new, and my visits to one of the world’s greatest science discovery museums in San Francisco were particularly valuable. I had the pleasure of meeting Karen Wilkinson, the Director of the Tinkering Studio, and touring their work and tinkering space.

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The Tinkering Studio felt like the spiritual home of the maker movement, and their book – The Art of Tinkering inspired our experimentation with Cardboard Automata (mechanical toys), marble runs, fused plastic fabrics, and marble runs when I returned home. The Automata project was one of the hardest yet most rewarding STEM projects I have facilitated to date, resulting in a significant growth in students’ understanding of mechanical principles and the design process.

I was also fascinated by the major Cardboard sculpture exhibition in The Exploratorium, and I hope to explore the possibilities of guided, large-scale cardboard construction in 2018.


Coaching RoboCup Junior

From March to August 2017, I helped coach two former students through their first RoboCup Junior Dance competition. One of the best aspects of RoboCup Junior is its emphasis on the learning process, especially its recommendation that participants maintain a robot design journal or engineering log. This journal, while not compulsory, proved to be one of the best things we ever did, and the girls went on to win Second Place Secondary Dance at the WA State Tournament.

I took a few big takeaways from RoboCup Junior, which I hope to better implement into our robotics program next year

  1. Explicitly teach the engineering design process & how to keep an engineering journal
  2. Build your own robots – not something you’ve found in a book. You learn so much more this way.
  3. Remember to have FUN! (Even when your team drops and destroys the robot an hour before the practice tournament).
  4. Tournaments are fantastic networking and learning opportunities for the children (as well as the coaches). The more time they spend talking to and sharing ideas with other teams, the better.


An epic FIRST LEGO League season

In the latter half of the year, my life felt like it revolved around preparations for the FIRST LEGO League “Hydrodynamics” season. In our second season, we once again fielded two teams – “No Signal” and the “Robotic Rebels”. Our goals for this season were to improve our robot design, engineering documentation, and raise the standard of our project research and solution. We invested more hours (mostly on weekends) than I’d care to admit, and while our robot games were a demoralizing disaster, the girls performed remarkably well overall. One team won the Project Presentation Award, and the other, against all expectations, won the Regional Championship Award. We flew to Sydney in early December for the National Tournament – which was an eye-opening learning experience.

The Hydrodynamics FLL season is one that I will remember for many years to come, and not just because we brought home some really nice LEGO trophies. I’ll remember it for the girls I coached, and the lessons we learned during the course of the season. Perhaps the most significant of these is that the FLL Core Values matter. 

In my estimation, we fielded two of the top 5 teams in our regional tournament, but the one which qualified for the national competition was the team which fully embraced, and communicated their experience with the FLL core values. During the year, and especially in the first few weeks of the season, these girls seriously struggled to work together, let alone be kind to each other. We did a few core values activities, had a few rather blunt conversations about teamwork … and gradually, I saw signs of real change. It was extraordinary to watch their transformation over the course of the season. It was an insight into the true spirit of FLL, and one which I will treasure.

Some of our other takeaways

  • While we made significant strides in our engineering documentation and robot design, consistent robot performance was a major issue. At nationals, we learned to use a minimum of two sensors at all times, with the wall being a sensor. While we were making extensive use of wall squaring and line align techniques, differences in the competition table contributed to inconsistent robot performance. Using a touch sensor to confirm we had hit the wall would have been helpful.
  • At nationals, we were lucky enough to receive a masterclass in advanced robot and attachment design from Project Bucephalus, one of the best teams in Australia. We were really intrigued by the possibilities of having a small base robot and large-scale attachments which could complete multiple missions in one run. This is something we will endeavour to explore further next year.
  • We made fantastic improvements in the project research component, but designing innovative solutions to the problems is something we will work on next year. We have started teaching design thinking skills this year – and hopefully, the girls will be better prepared for this component by the time we start our 2018 season.

Teaching Amazing Girls

So, in closing, I’d like to dedicate this post to the amazing children I taught this year, especially my Scratch addicts and my FLL robotics girls. Your passion, and willingness to share your learning with your peers and myself gave me a reason to push through and try out new ideas. I’d also like to thank for my (now former) Principal, who inspired me through her words and actions to become a better teacher. In a year of massive change within our school community, your example and leadership were greatly appreciated.

While there are more significant changes on the horizon, I hope 2018 will be a better year.

2015: A Long and Winding Road

2015 was a memorable year, of highs and lows. It was a year of experimentation, exploring possibilities, and learning how to be a coach and change leader. I learned a lot, made plenty of mistakes, and am starting to feel more positive about my future.

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ISTE – Building connections and relationships to last a lifetime

 2015 was the year:

  • I travelled to the United States of America for the ISTE 2015 conference, where I gave three presentations, and met so many wonderful friends and educators from all over the globe.Among renegades, boundary pushers, innovators … I felt at home. ISTE has to be one of the greatest highlights of my professional career so far.
  • I was recognised as an ISTE Emerging Leader, an award I am forever grateful for. Ironically, being only the fifth or sixth Australian to be recognised by ISTE has a significant disadvantage – in that most Australian teachers and school leaders I meet (who aren’t on social media) have absolutely no idea what ISTE is, and what this award stands for.
  • I graduated from Notre Dame University with my Postgraduate Certificate in Religious Education, bringing to an end 1.5 years of part-time postgraduate study.
  • Later in the year, I completed the requirements for my “Accreditation to Teach Religious Education”, which will enable me to continue teaching in the Catholic Education system.
  • In October, after nearly seven years, I became a fully registered teacher in Western Australia. Those currently going through the registration process in line with the Australian Teacher Standards will know just how much work goes into this!
  • I started to explore new learning opportunities in maker education, robotics, and STEM.
  • I learned a great deal about leading change within a school community. Perhaps the most important lesson being that teachers learn in a variety of different ways.


What’s been happening with #ipsict?

My new role this year was to work as an ICT integrator / coach, to support teachers’ professional learning with ICT and digital technologies. It was at times exhilarating, surprising, tumultuous, and challenging. Looking back, I see a lot to celebrate, and an opportunity to learn from my mistakes.

Introducing Digital Technologies & the Makerspace

We began exploring new avenues for engaging girls in ICT and digital technologies, with a particular emphasis on coding and robotics. The more I throw at my girls, the more they come back and surprise me.

  • This year, we introduced (i.e. took a deep breath and played with) BeeBots and introductory coding apps in Early Childhood; and started to explore the deeper possibilities of Scratch in upper primary. I was blown away by my students’ enthusiasm, problem solving, collaboration, and learning. One of my more memorable moments was sitting down with a Year 5 girl and basically asking “how on Earth did you do that in Scratch?”
  • The librarian and I started building our makerspace in our library, catching the attention of local university education researchers and the Catholic Education Office of WA. We have big plans for next year – watch this space!
  • I established our Digital Captains leadership positions, working with two Year 6 ‘digital leaders’ to test new robots, lesson ideas, and share our makerspace concept with the community at our Open Night – where they performed a robot fashion show! These two amazing students grew so much over the course of the year, and I look forward to following their progress as they enter high school next year. I have big plans for our next group of Digital Captains – next year will be interesting!

Establishing a new LEGO Robotics Program

In the Term 3 school holidays, I met the Engineering Outreach Coordinator at Curtin University, who roped me into judging the WA FIRST LEGO League Tournament, and generously loaned us two LEGO NXT robots.

In Term 4, we established a lunchtime robotics club with a group of Year 5 students, and applied for – and WON a FIRST Australia / Google robotics grant to set up our own robotics program. Next year, we will be taking at least one team of Year 6 students to compete in the FIRST Lego League competition! This has meant that my role will be evolving next year, as I will be leading the development of our new LEGO robotics extension program.

Looking Forward to 2016

2015 was, in many respects, a challenging year. Yet, I believe we have set a strong foundation for what is to come. As a school community, we’re moving forward … even if it is along a long and winding road.


The USA: A First Time Visitor’s Perspective

A few observations from my first trip to the USA for ISTE 2015. 

Please click on the links to view my photographic journey through Philadelphia, Washington DC, and New York City. There are many great shots that I couldn’t fit into this post.

Brooklyn Bridge, NYC


1) As a rule, Americans are a friendly people. 

Whether it be on the train, or on the sidewalk … I was genuinely impressed with the warm welcome I received from complete strangers, especially in Washington DC. In a strange sense, I felt at home there. Sadly, my experience wandering New York City was a little different (see below).


2) America is an amazingly culturally and religiously diverse country.

To put it mildly, the sheer cultural and linguistic diversity I experienced through my travels in the USA were breathtaking. Wandering the streets, you could find food outlets from around the world, and hear more languages than I’d care to name. I loved wandering the Chinatowns in DC and NYC, and the meal I had in Little Italy (NYC) was one of the highlights of my trip.


3) Americans like building monuments to their past presidents.

As an Australian, visiting the national monuments in Washington DC was somewhat surreal. The thought of erecting massive Greco-Roman inspired temples for our past leaders is just unheard of here. That said, the Lincoln and FDR Memorials were simply stunning. As a child, I grew up reading stories about these leaders, and to visit the sites I’d only seen in books was an incredible experience.

The war memorials were a much more familiar sight; however, I could have done without the crowds of tourists waving their selfie sticks around. I hate selfie sticks … 

Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson Memorial


4) There’s nothing wrong with Amtrack on the East Coast (unless you ask an American!)

I found my friends’ looks of shock and horror upon my mentioning that I was catching Amtrack between Philadelphia – Washington DC – NYC) quite amusing. While there had been a tragic accident on the route several weeks before I travelled it, I loved my experience on Amtrack. It proved to be a fast, and relatively stress-free way to travel between the major cities on the East Coast. It also helped me avoid unnecessary encounters with the TSA.

The train stations were attractions in their own right – true palaces celebrating the glory days of train travel. There is nothing quite like the iconic Grand Central Terminal in NYC, or Union Station (DC) here in Australia.


30th St Station, Philadelphia
30th St Station, Philadelphia

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5) Most Americans only dream of experiencing Independence Day in the national capital. 

When we celebrate our national day here in Australia, in my not too humble opinion, the best fireworks in the country are held right here in Perth, my home city. That said, I specifically arranged my US travel itinerary to ensure I could fulfil a dream of experiencing the Fourth of July in Washington DC. I was so glad I did.

After standing for hours in the pouring rain on Independence Avenue, the sun came out to shine on the 2015 Independence Day Parade, a richly colourful and musical celebration of the American people and nation. Later in the day, I joined thousands of people on the South Lawn of Capitol Hill to listen to the A Capitol Fourth Concert, before watching the fireworks burst over the Washington Monument. It was worth coming halfway around the world for!

 6) Americans have a love affair with loose change.

When I went to Qatar a few years ago, the locals’ dislike of their equivalent to the 50c coin meant that the one or two coins I collected during my trip became instant souvenirs. Fast forward to my travels in the USA, when I collected a bewildering variety of loose change of all shapes and sizes, so much that I wasn’t sure how to get rid of it! I ended up bringing home a pile to give to my Grade One students as souvenirs.


7) To survive in New York City, tourist mecca (hell), you need to behave like a New Yorker.

I enjoyed exploring the sights and the amazing museums of New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Top of the Rock were worth every penny; and I loved the opportunity to see Penn and Teller live on Broadway. I took a Circle Line cruise (buy the Premier ticket), took a Photo Safari with NYC Photo Safari (recommended), and enjoyed the wonderfully informative Walking Tour of The Chelsea Markets & The High Line.

That said, I quickly learned that to survive in New York, you need to pretend you belong there. You ignore the traffic signals, walk very quickly everywhere, and try to avoid tourist hellholes i.e. Times Square & the Staten Island / Liberty Island Cruise terminal. You don’t make eye contact, you ignore the people shoving “bus tour” pamphlets in your face (even at 11PM), and just keep moving. This was not a particularly pleasant experience.

I dressed like an office worker, and tried to get off the beaten track.  I was glad I did, because I was able to discover a little of the true New York by escaping Manhattan, where I explored the beautiful, leafy streets of Brooklyn, and soaked up the night-time skyline views from Hoboken, New Jersey.

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Pizza dinner (by the slice!) in Hoboken, NJ


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8) America is the home of the local train station / street entrepreneur. 

In Washington DC, it was not uncommon to come across local street sellers flogging bottled water for “one dollar, one dollar”. Their sales cry will remain with me for the rest of my life. 🙂

I was advised to keep an eye out for the “stupid tourist tax”, but I was lucky enough to have brought my own water bottle with me (best conference souvenir I’ve ever purchased). When it rained, which it seemed to do often, umbrella sellers would miraculously appear out of the woodwork, taking up positions outside subway exits to catch the commuters caught in the rain. I normally carried my own umbrella, a gift from a friend in Philadelphia, but I wish they’d been at the Capitol South Station on the day I got caught without it – when I squelched my way home in a torrential downpour.

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Eastern DC, after a thunderstorm.


9) Everything is bigger in the USA

I was warned prior to my trip that American food serving sizes were big. I honestly didn’t realise how big until my first night, when a dear friend and her husband took me out for pizza. They were planning to pay by the slice … and when I saw the size of the said ‘slice’, I understood why!

While I couldn’t afford to eat out often, I loved the food choices I encountered on my travels. The spaghetti meatballs and cheesecake in Little Italy, the roast beef “sandwich” I had at DiNic’s in the Reading Terminal Market (Philadelphia), and the meals I shared with @cpatsero in DC and @bwileyone in NYC were highlights of the trip. And yes, serving sizes were significantly larger than I’m used to in Australia!

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10) Where ever I went, I met fellow Australians.

It would appear that Australians are a well travelled people. I ran into my fellow countrymen everywhere. I had a fellow Perth local, who I’d never met, join me for the ISTE Philadelphia PhotoWalk, and I joined a group of Aussies for the Independence Day Parade in Washington DC. I even met a few Aussies on a rail replacement bus in NYC as I was making my way to the Staten Island Ferry.

Be warned America, we seem to be everywhere!



11) Baseball is interesting … for about the first hour and a half.

Baseball is OK. It’s a sight better than American football, which as a passionate Australian Rules Football supporter, I can’t quite bring myself to call football. Attending a Phillies match with friends was just priceless. With terribly sore feet, I was grateful we didn’t stay until the end of the match.

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12) Keep to the right! 

Not only do Americans drive on the “wrong” side of the road, the whole keep to the right is embedded in all aspects of daily life. You keep to the right side of the train station escalator if you’re standing. Oh, and those escalators travel in the opposite direction to what I’m used to here in Australia. Some of them were rather impressively long …

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13) American houses are big, often two storey, and use a LOT of wood in their construction.

This may be normal for Americans, but as an Australian living in a bushfire prone climate, it was really different. I loved staying with friends in Long Island and Philadelphia, and their houses were really beautiful (all protestations from a certain New Yorker to the contrary).


14) Parking is at a premium in NYC. In fact, driving in NYC is a nightmare …

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15) Farmers markets & urban regeneration – bringing life to the streets of Washington and NYC

Wandering Brooklyn and Washington, I loved coming across farmers markets and street markets. Much of the varieties & produce I saw are not available in Australia.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the pedestrian spaces and urban regeneration projects in NYC, including the Flatiron Plaza & the High Line. They helped make the city that little bit more liveable.





15) For my amusement, a collection of street signs …

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I’ll be back.

Apparently San Antonio is nice.

If I can afford it …

2014: “As one door closes, another opens” …

CC-BY-NC Michael Graffin
CC-BY-NC Michael Graffin


The 2014 school year did not start particularly well.

As a result of State Government funding cuts to education, and other unrelated factors, I experienced my worst start to the relief teaching year since I graduated six years ago. In addition, I’d returned to postgraduate study, and was struggling to cope with my overly ambitious academic workload. Suffice to say the first half of 2014 was not a pleasant time.

It is ironic then, that I am now glad that my relief phone stopped ringing … as it led to my applying for, and winning an ICT teaching position at a top private girls school in June. I had no idea that I would find myself working for an administration who share my philosophy and vision for the use of ICT to support students’ learning, and who genuinely model pastoral care for their staff. After many years working in an often uncaring, indifferent Government education system (there was a lot I couldn’t share in this post), I have no desire to go back.

2014 was the year:

  • I keynoted the inaugural #OZeLive online conference, which will return in February 2015
  • I returned to postgraduate study at Notre Dame University, with excellent academic results (despite an overwhelming start).
  • I travelled to Sydney, Australia for two amazing conferences – Flat Connections and #Slide2Learn 2014, meeting many wonderful Twitter friends for the first time.
  • My global education work was featured in Neville Bruce’s TEDx Perth presentation on ‘Education for World Futures’.
  • I started working at my new school, one which I am proud to call home for another year.
  • I received the incredible news that I will be presenting two group poster sessions, and an iPad workshop at the #ISTE15 conference in Philadelphia, USA.


As one door closes, another opens …

In 2014, I’ve finally started my transition out of relief teaching, after five and half years on the road. It has been a mostly positive journey, but the time has come to leave it behind. While I probably stayed in that role for too long (it took a high emotional toll), I am grateful for the opportunity which now presents itself. I’m about to start my first ‘long term’ part-time contract in a Catholic school; a school where I finally feel free to learn, grow, innovate, and push the boundaries of what is possible with ICT.  

2013: “Spreading My Wings”

CC BY-NC-ND by Michael Graffin
Summer’s Night on the Corniche. CC BY-NC-ND by Michael Graffin

It is hard to believe that a wonderful year has come to an end. My thinking, pedagogy, and attitude towards teaching has continued to evolve, and I suspect the full implications of the events and connections of 2013 will only become apparent in the years to come.

Looking Back

Its time to reflect on the defining moments of 2013, a year of exploration, learning, and new opportunities … a year where I “spread my wings”.

Five Years “On the Road” 

Much to the horror and disbelief of some, I’m a relief / casual teacher by choice … It has taken me nearly 5 years to feel like I’m starting to master this very challenging role, yet I’ve already outlasted many of my graduate teacher colleagues. I’ve learnt my lessons through the “school of hard knocks” (literally and physically), and I’m a better teacher, and a better person for it.

I’m so much more than “just a relief teacher” … I’m a presenter, writer, learner, and emerging global education leader … with the true privilege of growing together with an amazing group of online educators around the world.

Proving a Point (#WLPSict)

While I only worked in the #WLPSict role for a few weeks, the experience enabled me to prove to myself (my harshest critic) that I had what it took to be a competent, innovative ICT Integration teacher.

It was only a taste of a role I’d like to explore further, but it gave me the freedom to experiment and learn in a supportive collegial environment. Despite never returning (a painful story), this was a fantastic learning opportunity, one which I look forward to repeating elsewhere in future.

Becoming a Presenter & Keynote Speaker

Mrs Warner, my high school English teacher, once remarked that teaching was an unusual choice of profession for someone with terrible public speaking skills, but I suspect she’d be very proud of me now.

In 2013, I gave over 9 presentations, including my first keynotes (for the CONSTAWA Dinner & iEARN Social Media Panel), first international workshop, and first presentation at a local school development day. It was also the year where I returned to where it all began, at the Reform Symposium eConference, and the year I had the opportunity to co-present a workshop with Kerry Muste, one of our Global Classroom Lead Teachers.

Building on my work with The Global Classroom Project, I contributed my thoughts, stories, and expertise to a wide range of magazine articles and research publications this year, and with another article due for submission in early February, 2014 looks set to be a busy year.

Taking Flight … Literally

This was the year of my first international trip (and plane flight) in over 20 years. Landing in the dusty, hot Doha airport at 5AM local time was the culmination of much planning, and deeply appreciated encouragement from iEARN Australia, an organisation I am proud to be a part of.

As those who followed my #RoadtoDoha posts and photos at the time already know, Qatar was an ideal destination for a first time solo traveler, and a photographer’s dream. I still get slightly emotional thinking about my time in Doha, for it was a truly life changing experience – both for me as a person, and as an educator sharing my story on the world stage.

So, where to from here?

2014 promises to be an interesting year. The experiences, learning, and new friendships of 2013 have helped me glimpse a potential future beyond relief teaching, and I am starting to consider how to implement some exciting new ideas. I’m in no particular hurry, because 2014 marks my return to postgraduate study, as I begin my Post Graduate Certificate in Religious Education at a local university, with a view to starting my Masters in 2015.

In other news, I’m planning to travel to Sydney for the Flat Connections Conference in June 2014, and am looking forward to spending 2 weeks in what I have heard is an amazing city. I am also hoping to attend the ACEC Conference in Adelaide, but am still weighing up the details and costs of that one.

I don’t know what 2014 holds for me, but I’m looking forward to finding out … One step at a time.


Finishing up the #WLPSict Journey – For Now

On Wednesday (March 27), I completed my four week stint as the #WLPSict integrator.

I left with mixed emotions … sadness at leaving a position which I loved, but also with a great sense of personal vindication. I left knowing that I’d done my best, and that I’d done it well.

The last week gave me the time to finish what I’d started, wrapping up some projects that I’d been preparing students’ for, as well as laying the seeds for ongoing ICT projects which will continue when I’m gone.

Here’s my final #WLPSict wrap for Week 4 …

World Water Day 2013 (Year 2, and some Year 7s)

I’ve already blogged about this here, so I won’t go into too much more detail – except to say that with comments from 10 countries, and 1000+ hits in a week, I’m proud to say that the third anniversary of my ‘first’ global project was a wonderful success. Well done kids! 🙂

Completing the Asia Google Docs Inquiry (Year 5/6)

I spent my last lesson with the Yr 5/6’s helping students finish their Asia presentations, incorporating the information so kindly shared by students and staff at a variety of international schools throughout Asia. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I was unable to obtain copies of the presentations to share online, as I couldn’t work out where the students had saved them! 🙁

If I’d had more time, I’d have used Google Presentations … which would have allowed students to actually collaborate on their presentations AND easily share them online! (I’ll get off my Google Soapbox now …)

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the staff and students at the following schools for the wonderful support for this experimental project:

PuppetPals with Year 3N

I was really pleased with the progress Year 3N (Year 2F, and Year 3C) made with their use of the PuppetPalsHD iPad app.

We used our last lesson in Year 3N to create group PuppetPalsHD presentations on Jungle creatures, tying in with the class theme. With the help of their wonderful classroom teacher, students had planned these presentations, and the final results weren’t too bad. I was able to put a few on the school YouTube channel, and I’ve shared them below.

This little project bore witness to one of the most infuriating moments of my #WLPSict tenure … stay tuned for my upcoming reflections (rant) on (trying to) teach about Creative Commons images.

WordFoto with Year 3C

The Year 3C teacher has exciting plans for using the WordFoto app with her class, and to my great surprise (and pleasure) actually borrowed an iPad, and showed her class how to use it (outside of our ICT time) – a significant leap forward!

So I spent my last lesson with Year 3C roaming the school grounds with a box of iPads and iPods, letting students have a play with the app, and Dropboxing the results. The brief was to create WordFoto partner portraits & school landscapes, so the only one I’m really comfortable sharing is the one they did of me 🙂


Year 4 – Getting Excited about Animoto

In my last week, I introduced the Year 4 students to Animoto. While with hindsight I wouldn’t use a ‘whole-school’ account again, I was really pleased to see how popular (and useful) this tool actually is. The Animoto for Education account wasn’t as fully featured as I’d expected; however, it does allow for the creation of student accounts – In fact, I’ll be recommending WLPS teachers to create their own class accounts in future.

Here’s a student created example – using images they took on a recent class excursion to “Sculptures by the Sea”, at Cottlesloe Beach, WA.

And thus ends my stint at #WLPS … for now at least. This is one of remarkably few schools where I have truly felt ‘at home’, and the first where I’ve been able to really share my passion for all things ICT and global education. I hope that this #WLPSict journey marks the beginning of a fruitful long-term relationship over the years to come. Time will tell.

2012: A Year of Exploring Possibilities

“Bather’s Beach” – By Michael Graffin (2012)

My blog is very much a reflection of my teaching journey over the past few years …

2010 was very much a year of experimentation, of learning, and finding my feet – as a relief teacher & a connected on-line educator.

2011 was a “Year of Change“, but with the benefit of hindsight, the lessons & outcomes of that painful, tumultuous year have more than compensated for the agony I went through.

So, what were my experiences of 2012?


2012 was “A Year of Exploring Possibilities” 

Mr Davo Devil checking out the #globalclassroom scrapbook

This has been an interesting year. I’ve had my ups and downs, but overall it was a positive, meaningful year.

Some significant moments include:

This was a year where my skills and expertise were recognised and appreciated locally, as well as internationally. Working with Jenny on the TIPS2012 project was a rich learning experience, and my involvement with iEARN Australia has thrown up some wonderful opportunities for 2013.

A huge thank you also goes to Nigel Mitchell (my ACEC 2012 co-presenter), Kathryn Edwards of Peach MediaKesha Busing of RIC Publicationsand Mal Lee. You’ve helped shape an amazing year, and I hope we have the opportunity to work with each other in the years to come.


My favourite posts of 2012

This year, I haven’t blogged as often as I’d have liked; however, there are a few posts of which I’m particularly proud.

Thank You Mr P.

Perhaps my most heart-felt, emotional post of the year, which came as a bit of a shock for Mr P. 

Life, Language, Laughter, Skype

The Hello Little World Skypers and Global Classroom Skype groups have had a profound impact on my personal and professional life. I treasure the relationships and friendships I’ve formed through these groups, and hope to start meeting some of the members f2f over the years to come.  

Teacherpreneurs – Connect, Create & Collaborate

Part of my series of posts from the Flat Classroom Book Club earlier this year, this post was an ‘ah-ha’ moment. My engagement in the book club marked the start of an emerging, and extremely important relationship with Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay of The Flat Classroom Project.


Publications / Articles / Podcasts

2012 has been a busy year, marking the first time I’ve had my name in print.


Collaboration in learning: transcending the classroom walls by Mal Lee and Lorraine Ward

I was lucky enough to contribute to the research underpinning this book, and I look forward to its’ release in early 2013. For some detail on the research, and the findings, please have a read of Mal and Lorraine’s research paper.

The Global Classroom Project –  Classroom 2.0 Book Submission

Things have gone quiet about this project; however, the more reads we receive, the more likely we are to be published in the print edition of the Classroom 2.0 Book. Your assistance has been greatly appreciated!


Teacher Feature 

Education Matters – Primary & Secondary Magazine 2012/13

Education Matters Magazine      Teacher Feature (2012) (PDF)


Learning, sharing and collaborating globally in the early years: Stories from the Global Classroom Project

Class Ideas K-3 Magazine (Early 2013 Release)

With contributions from #globalclassroom teachers in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, United Kingdom, and Lebanon, this was the first magazine article I’ve ever written, and I can’t wait to see it in print next year. I’ll post a link to the online version when it becomes available.



A World of Difference -The Virtual Staffroom Podcast

This interview with Chris Betcher, Theresa Allen, and Lisa Parisi was a huge confidence booster, and a great way to start the year. I forgot to link to it from my blog at the time; however, I’d highly recommend having a listen. You can find it via the link above, or find it on iTunes. Thanks Chris 🙂


Looking Forward to 2013

2013 is going to be an exciting year!

Flickr CC-NC-SA by Lυвαιв

I’ll be presenting at the Science Teachers of Western Australia Conference in May, and travelling to Doha, Qatar for iEARN 2013.

I’m hoping the Qatar trip will be the first of many, as I’d like to do a little travelling & meet a few international friends over the next few years. If that means I relief teach for a few more years, then so be it. It will be worth it.

Let’s see how we go.

Happy New Year.


Celebrating Global Collaboration (#flatclass Book Club Reflections: Part 7)

Over the past year, an extraordinary bunch of international educators transformed a vision of global collaboration community, dreamt up right here in Western Australia, into a real world reality. The Global Classroom Project has been an extraordinary experience, and we thought this was something worth celebrating.

Chapter 9: Celebration, in Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, filled in the missing piece of the #globalclassroom puzzle; bringing home the need for an official closure and celebration of our 2011-12 project.

We needed to provide a space and opportunity for our teachers and students to celebrate and share their experiences with the world. So on July 1, 2012, we held our Looking Forwards, Looking Back webinars, inviting our teachers to contribute to an international showcase of our projects, learning experiences, and achievements through Global Classroom 2011-12.

Due to terrible technical problems, the morning (Americas) webinar turned into an impromptu Google+ Hangout; however, the evening Australia / Europe webinar was an incredible success, with speakers from India, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, Romania, and the USA.

The closing webinars also provided an opportunity to share the first pictures of the #globalclassroom memento scrapbooks, which are traveling to classrooms around the world. These scrapbooks provide our students with the opportunity to share their voices, cultures, and learning with the wider world, and will continue on their journeys for at least another year to come.

Book Club Reflections …

I found Chapter 9 of the #flatclass book a very relevant, informative chapter; one which had a significant impact on the #globalclassroom community. While the way we acknowledge and celebrate learning is somewhat different to the #flatclass model, that’s the way I like it.

We’re building on the work of those that come before us, and are exploring new ways to learn, connect, and collaborate globally. As they say, life is always more interesting when you’re a pioneer …

Pedagogy & Creative Collaboration (#flatclass Book Club – Part 6)

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by jakerome

Thankfully, the #flatclass book club took a break last week due to Mothers’ Day, which gave me a welcome reprieve as I tried to catch up with my blog reflections. This week, I’m going to share my reflections on Chapters 7 & 8 of Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds.

It’s about “Choice” (Chapter 7)

While I struggled to make a contribution to the discussions surrounding Chapter 7, I was able to glean a few useful lessons: 

Teachers make instructional choices about technology, curriculum, pedagogy, and classroom learning environments on a daily basis. 


Teachers who are willing to learn, experiment, and explore new teaching strategies are more likely to become life-long learners, and successfully engage their students in their learning. 

I also liked the ideas for supporting student engagement – enabling students to question, build, invent, connect, find meaning, understand, and excel through the effective application of technology & engagement in global collaborative projects. We are beginning to work towards these goals in the #globalclassroom project, and I look forward to applying these ideas in my own classroom one day. 

Creation & Collaboration (Chapter 8 )

I enjoyed chatting about Chapter 8, which explores the topic of “co-creation”. While I prefer to think of this as “creative collaboration”; I was able to draw many parallels to my own professional practice.

As those who have come to know me online over the past year and a half will attest, the development of my online presence (digital footprint) has been a wild ride.

I started out blogging about classroom management, joined Twitter, met my dear friend @clivesir, and presented at my first online conference… A few months later, as I was going through a massive professional transition, I met Deb Frazier, co-founded the Global Classroom, and the rest, as they say, is history … 

I now find myself, as a third year relief (substitute) teacher, becoming a voice of change in the global education sphere. By collaborating with experienced teachers online, I’ve led the creation of a new global education community, and learnt a great deal about myself in the process.

So yes, I can only smile as a I read this chapter, and recommend its key lessons to my fellow readers –

  1. Establish your online presence – Its time to share your story
  2. Connect & contribute to your network – your voice IS important
  3. Don’t be afraid to create & collaborate – with your school colleagues, local community, and members of your global Personal Learning Network
  4. When you are ready, start exploring ways to bring this creative collaboration into your classroom – for our students need to learn these skills too …

As the old saying goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

It is time to take it.


Digital Citizenship (#flatclass Book Club, Part 4)


Chapter 5: Citizenship, focussed on the complex educational issue of digital citizenship.

I was particularly interested in the idea that we could examine digital citizenship through 5 lenses, the areas of technical, individual, social, cultural, and global awareness.

As I am not a classroom teacher, I really struggled to relate this chapter to my own teaching practice. Personally, the guiding discussion questions for each area enabled me to critically examine my relatively limited understanding of this topic,  and I am sure that this chapter will be a useful resource in the years to come.

I’m going to close with a thought-provoking video on this topic, the keynote for the next Flat Classroom Project (2012). It is well worth watching, as it explores the various facets of our digital lives.