One model does not fit all


One model does not fit all

This session by Tamara Sullivan focused on professional development, and used to gather delegate feedback. One thing I’ve been focusing on is feedback tools and this was a new one to me.

Sullivan used the AITSL learning design model to frame professional learning at her school. They ask ‘what is the purpose of this PD, and is that clear to participants?’ She took us through the process her school had gone through in trying to instil 21C skills across the curriculum.

This bit became a bit specific to her school and her problem, but she was able to unpack it and think about the bigger principles, though those threads could have been made more explicit.

Some of the core principles and practice she talked about were:

  • Clear purpose, clear purpose to participants
  • Collaborative
  • The tools, features, design, accessibility
  • Taking a ‘flipped classroom’ approach to PD in lieu of physical attendance after school (highly collaborative, self-directed, respecting teachers as learners, aligned to priorities, sustainable, modelled 21C pedagogies and technologies.
  • Shared ownership of the change (6 leaders took a course and became mentors/coaches)
  • These coaches then made the ‘flipped’ modules, using Office Mix.
  • Teachers were then asked to do something practical with the learning – Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 responses.
  • One purpose was to MODEL their tools. As an Office 365 school they used Office Mix, Yammer, Mosaic and SharePoint. Yammer was important, she argued, in encouraging participation.
  • This learning was followed up with a survey (using Excel?) and a three hour whole staff workshop to look at practice: looking at action plans and auditing existing tasks and assessment.
  • Other factors: a Learning Innovations Committee (about 30 staff)

I liked this session. I had some things to take back to school. I was impressed with the strategic thinking involved and the respect for teachers as learners.

Session details

One model does not fit all – Professional development for the 21st century teacher

Educators around the world are undertaking school wide reforms to ensure that they are preparing students to live and work successfully in the 21st century and beyond. However, teacher professional development is not always designed or delivered to meet the needs of the 21st century teacher. So how can we restructure professional learning to ensure that all teachers are well equipped to cater for the needs of students in today’s environment? This presentation will explore practical strategies to transform professional development at a school level to develop the competencies of lifelong learning for both students and educators.

Tamara Sullivan, Dean of E-Learning, Ormiston College



Flipped Learning Possibilities

Flipped Learning Session (Rupert Denton)


Flipped Learning Possibilities

Rupert Denton from ClickView talked about the possibilities of the ‘flipped classroom’, particularly in a context of an education system that is ‘failing’. (cue lots of graphs featuring PISA in full dive mode, alarm bells ringing, crew jettisoning ballast)

He cleverly used the work of Geoff Masters (what should we do to arrest the decline?), particularly ‘ensure every student has access to excellent teaching’, which aligned nicely to flipped classroom approaches.

It got a bit edgy when he compared the explosion in educational technology as a bit like the evolutionary explosion of life known as the Cambrian explosion.(see Wikipedia) He argued that, as in evolutionary terms, not all trees of life (or technology) will survive. One strand that he argued would survive is the ‘flipped classroom’.

Denton showed some of the emerging research around flipped learning (99% of teachers would use it again), one calling it ‘differentiation on steroids (Flipped Learning Network, 2012) and made several explicit links between ACER research and Flipped classroom approaches (flipped classrooms are shareable, so good teaching can be shared, and teachers can learn from other teachers about their own pedagogy.)

The Flipped Classroom


He then talked about the approach of ClickView in curating and gathering good content for Australian Curriculum approaches. He also shared some of the ‘value-add’ ClickView brings to video, like questions, annotations etc. as well as the teacher collaboration features that the platform has.

It was good to see this platform again and to see how some of the once competing threads of technology are coming together.

Rupert Denton is ‘a sceptical optimist’ who works for ClickView.



Celebrating our Learning

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Today teachers at our school spent the first student-free day presenting to each other on their College Project. That’s all teachers, in teams, presenting to their peers. Very exciting.

The College Project this year asked teachers to work in teams to answer questions about their own teaching, based on general themes of ‘taking notice’ or ‘inter-cultural understanding’. It’s the key staff learning event of the year, beyond the individual goals teachers set with their Head of Department.
The day was organised like a conference: with a great opening keynote by Barbara Watterston on some of the key principles of staff learning, most of which were clearly evident in the underpinnings of this day.

There were five sessions in the day, with five strands operating all day, and three presentation in each session. So, about twenty minutes for each group, followed by a plenary session at the end of the day and drinks and nibbles. A fully fledged in-house conference.

I saw some really interesting things like:

A group of maths teachers using mini whiteboards to check for understanding and get students to understand mistakes don’t matter in the process. This included quite a lot of student voice in the presentation, including some nice use of video.

[On a side-note, video is still hard. I saw four groups that tried to include video in their presentations, and this was the only one where it worked flawlessly.]

I then saw an inspiring presentation on differentiation and personal stories from the primary classroom where they showcased some individual case-studies where they’d personalised learning. For me, it highlighted the importance of choice for students, knowing your student and taking notice of them.

Then a group of English teachers talked about purposeful play and Elearning and the English classroom. They talked about FLOW and showed a video that argued people are happiest in ‘flow’ and that we lose flow as we get older (and our neurones get cemented) They quoted from Ken Robinson and Emerson and argued for changing practice, not the technology and showed iPads apps: poetry magnets, as well as google docs and the wiki as tools that work.

In the next session after morning tea I heard history teachers talking about ‘taking notice’ of feedback in their subjects and trying to figure out why, that despite the extensive use of rubrics, students seemed to be making the same mistakes again and again. They then tried some ‘error clusters’ to see if that made a difference and some use of checklists.

Then, a session on ‘raising the tail’ ┬áto raise the achievement level of the weaker students in senior classes. They took a technology approach, doing an initial Google survey on the ‘March mindset’ and embedded that survey on our wikis. They also used Testmoz as a quick quiz tool, and tracked the student quiz results along the way. Another teacher used SAC feedback as the starting point for some learning goals for each student, which was a great example of using summative data as a formative learning tool.

Another group looked at formative assessment techniques, not ‘gimmicks’. It was interesting to hear the language that teachers used all day to talk about practice they liked, and didn’t. They talked about ‘exit cards’, a ‘flipped quiz’, sticky note peer-assessment, using ‘traffic lights’ in Year 11 Psychology, giving personalised feedback with Excel mail merge in Year 11 Chemistry and inviting students to make contact for more feedback. Interestingly, the level of student requests for feedback increased a lot in this process. They also talked about ‘star charts’ (which they called ‘Token Economies’) This could be done in Class Dojo I thought. Maybe I should try that for homework.

In this session a young first year teacher showed complete mastery of the presentation tools and engaged everyone with his energy.

After lunch, my team co-presented on developing our Literature students as literature writers; giving us and them the language we needed. I’ll blog abut that separately later but I was pleased with how it went.

There was another session at that time too, about using Socratic Circles to facilitate engagement in RE classes.

This was followed by a session on using a variety of new (and old) tools including: using Google Forms, Flubaroo and Excel to test students, analyse the results and share the feedback with students, using eduKate (one of our online tools) for much the same purpose, using TestMoz (yes, second time this has been mentioned today, and yes, it was new to me) and a site called Socrative, which didn’t work disappointingly.

I’m serious that I got more learning out of this day than I have had at many major conferences. I really enjoyed the celebration of learning. Some teachers found it quite daunting to present to their peers but there was a great spirit of professional collaboration and sense of shared purpose. It was evidence of a great learning culture, and as Barbara Watterston said at the start of the day, ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ But if you’ve got both, you can really celebrate. It was a great way to finish the year.

The Flipped Classroom

I’ve been a bit interested in the Flipped Classroom lately; the idea of turning things on their head so that the predicatable, the ordinary and the mundane gets tackled with technology and the real learning takes place in the classroom.

I became interested in this a while ago, even bought a microphone to do more podcasting and audio with my own class and collected a list of resources and made a Diigo list of them, as you do. []

But there’s another side to this too. A nagging concern that what might come out of this movement is not the freeing up of the classroom, but the intrusion of the bureaucracy, the big business backed educational resource sites such as the Khan Academy.

How many teachers, in reality, will have the energy, motivation or expertise to develop their own material? Our educational institutions really going to free up teacher time to develop new resources in new technologies?

And, if they don’t, aren’t we going to end up with mass-market resources that don’t fit my classroom and my students or my course?

I can imagine that a closely knit, organised and cohesive team of teachers working together on a course could collaborate closely enough and effectively enough to generate resources together. I can imagine that such a team, with perhaps two or three staff with expertise in new technologies feeding into the main team, could in fact create a course that was flipped. But I can’t see it happening often in the daily, stretched lives of the teachers.

Perhaps flipping the classroom makes more sense the universities with a lecture model still predominates. And where perhaps hundreds or thousands of students undertaking the same course. But I want personalised resources of my students doing my course at the right time, appropriate to the level of ability and the timing of the course. Which means I may have to create them myself.

And, if flipping the classroom means we all go home to watch YouTube, then I’m against it.