Winter sunset

Windy sunset

No, I don’t intend wandering off into the sunset, but I am on leave from now through term 3 in my first break like this in over twenty years. So, I won’t be blogging much about education in that time. Instead, I’ll be doing some of my own poetry and textbook writing, taking some photos like the one above, last night at Mornington Pier, riding the bike and getting stuck into some of those jobs around the house that have teased me for ages. And, I’ll be travelling to Europe at the end of July: to Holland, France, England and Scotland.

I hope to be blogging back here in Term 4. I  hope you all have a great term.

My school has been looking closely again at various models for 21C learning, both in terms of student learning but also what it means for 21C teaching practice. I’ve been revising my old blog post about this stuff and looking at new things.

And I liked the simplicity of this model. I like that it specifically mentions global citizenship. I’m not that keen that it assumes that this stuff ‘beyond’ the 3Rs. I think that maybe those basic skills still need to be referenced specifically. I found this HERE




Some of the slides from my presentation at the Oxford Conference last week.  They may not all make sense without the narrative, but you can get a sense of my outrageous propositions!


Professor Jeffrey Brand – Gamifying the Australian Curriculum (Oxford Conference 2014)
Jeffrey Brand presented a keynote on ‘Gamifying the National Curriculum’ at the Oxford Conference and tried to turn it into the first gamified keynote ever.
Gamifying is not a dirty word, he argued. Games have clear goals, immediate feedback and a social layer.
Other elements he saw as important were ‘badges’, levels, which signify ‘progress’. These have been in the ‘Horizon Reports’ since 2007 but which are not referred to more than sporadically in the AC.
Gamification is using aspects of games (game mechanics) in other activities, like learning. Games are problem solving activities approached with a playful attitude. Isn’t that what learning should be like? It’s different from GBL (games based learning) which is using existing games for classroom activities.
Game mechanics include: points, levels, increasing difficulty, low risk points, progress, narratives, quests, social engagement, mastery, virtual goods, leaderboards, use accumulation not averages …
Some final lessons:
  • Design for narrative-play and flow. I liked that.
  • Don’t add a thin layer, like badges, on content. Oops.
  • Don’t force people to play.
I tried Class Dojo a couple of years ago and I’ve tried things which *might* be construed as game elements (badges etc) but this presentation didn’t really grab me, or convince me. I’m not a game player. I don’t know if my students need an extra artificial construct to be interested in the learning. The more the ‘game’ of the keynote progressed the more I disengaged. The woman next to me was the opposite, getting very animated, racking up points, enjoying answering the questions, ‘how many points was that worth?’, she called out. She interrupted him mid-sentence to point out the deliberate spelling mistake. She was more interested in the game than the learning. The game had supplanted the learning. I didn’t want to play the game.

These are some notes from the keynote by Dr Phil Lambert from ACARA at the OUP Conference today.

Dr Lambert gave an update to the Australian Curriculum, including a reiteration that AC funding was continuing despite recent Federal Budget announcements. He talked about the big achievements so far particularly around the comparison of achievement standards.

ACARA has developed curriculum in eight learning areas, ‘incorporating both the traditional subjects that have stood the test of time while incorporating new content, skills, dispositions’, which he called 21C skills.  Languages was nearly completed and would be on the website soon, as well as new languages being developed.

He claimed that AC was world class, and countries like Brazil, Korea and Saudi Arabia were looking to the AC for inspiration, particularly in the skills and dispositions area. Interestingly, he argued that personalised learning and smaller class sizes were also on the agenda for China as they looked to move from content-only curriculum.

He was more coy about the cross-curriculum priorities, and their future, describing them as ‘choices’ that teachers could make depending on context.

One of the achievements he was proud of was the resource development in Scootle, with links to the AC content tags, being available to all Australian students. 

Some world trends: GELP. and a focus on new metrics. He linked this to Gates Foundation funding. Are we measuring the things we really value? Even when they’re hard to measure. 

He talked a little about the myths and misconceptions about AC that often appeared in the media. He did seem concerned about this in a guarded way but it’s obviously something they are concerned about. He said that ‘some areas of the media’ don’t want to tell the ACARA version of the story. One of their learnings here was not to rely on traditional media, but use social media much more to get their message across.

What next? Secondary curriculum still under discussion. ‘We are in dialogue’ and looking for suggestions from teachers. Implementation will vary, and implementation might be influence, rather than direct use of the curriculum. Illustrations of personalised learning to come, F-10 Arts; Humanities and Social Sciences (Economics and Business, Civics and Citizenship) Health and PE, Technologies. Lots of this on the web with varying status in terms of implementation.  Chinese, French, Italian, Indonesian done and 7 more languages to come, as well as work on indigenous languages. Work samples coming online and continuing to be developed. A completely new website was also coming soon. NAPLAN is now aligned to AC, they’re looking at online NAPLAN, and extending NAP sample. I was surprised that, the day after NAPLAN testing had finished, he didn’t feel the need to apologise for what it has become.


The future is blended


I’ve been putting the finishing touches on a presentation I’m giving at two Oxford Conferences soon. The title of the presentation is The Future is Blended, and the descriptor for my session is:

In this workshop the focus will be on blended learning and approaches that extend and enhance the classroom experience. The latest research tells us what we have always felt: that good teaching is critical to student learning and that feedback to students is also critical. New technologies provide teachers with powerful tools to organise, collaborate and give feedback and to re-envision the classroom for the twenty-first-century learner. In this workshop participants will get a snapshot of the latest learning theory and get to play with some digital tools in a range of platforms that that can have immediate application in any classroom. The future is not digital, but it is blended.

The Education Changes Lives Conference is focused on Australian Curriculum but my session is more about technology and blending traditional approaches with new ideas. Last year I presented in the English teachers stream; this year it’s for general teaching audience.

The Melbourne conference is on May 16th

The Sydney Conference is on May 30th

Hope to see you there.

Learning is tiring!

Just finished a busy second last week of term, and some good learning in various sessions outside the College.

It began with an ISV breakfast network meeting, with presentations from David Perkins et. al from Project Zero. I’m pretty well acquainted with the Visible Thinking work that Professor Ron Ritchhart has been developing here, and he’s worked with teams of teachers in Victorian schools for some time. The announcement this week was a new network opportunity for ISV member schools to connect up with Project Zero for some (mainly) online learning opportunities, interestingly intending to use Twitter and Google Hangouts in that mix. David Perkins talked about the big picture ‘through-lines’ that connected up learning in our schools and gave us 2 new thinking routines to work on that addressed a direction they’re really interested in: global competence. As our school is working pretty hard at Council of International Schools (CIS) certification this year, it was interesting to hear Project Zero’s take on internationalism. I liked his definition of global competence for its simplicity: ‘the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance’.

Later in the week I attended a new network of Curriculum leaders that we established last year. It’s always good to have a conversation with the person in another school who is doing the role you are; it’s great to bounce ideas off each other and share experiences. In this case we talked a lot about assessment and reporting and how we were responding to the demands of government as well as the learning imperatives in our own places. One take-away is that we all want to be able to measure and report on growth, not just achievement, and that’s hard. Our network is called LearningNet and we’ve been using MightyBell as the connecting online tool there, rather than FB etc. It’s worked well for our purposes.

Finally, I was lucky enough to be able to take a team of some of our best tech-teachers to hear Professor Stephen Heppell talk at the Lauriston Institute.  I’ve heard him present before, and his strength is a real connection with the students and what they can bring to the conception of learning spaces. I was interested in  his thinking about libraries and his answers to questions about students using mobile phones: ‘all screen time is not equal’. I liked the CloudLearn site he’s developed, subtitled ‘an end to blocking and locking’, which aggregates good practice in digital policy in schools and I intend to share his final report with the School Management Team later on. Heppell is witty, interesting, makes sense and comes from a rich experience in creating learning spaces driven by student passions. I also like the way he presents; moving (apparently) loosely around the Mac finder, bringing up web pages, videos, images and now a PowerPoint slide in sight.

It makes me remember how tiring learning is; gotta keep that in mind more as the term come to a close and try to build in a variety of energy levels appropriate to where the students are in that term’s journey. I also spent the week trying to re-acquaint myself with note-taking apps on the iPad, moving between Paper, Noteshelf, Notability and Penultimate. But that’s another post!

2014-03-27 16.03.06s

Above: Stephen Heppell writing on walls



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers