Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Using Seesaw Activities for Assessment

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to present this week on Episode 40 of TeachTech Play with the incredible Eleni Kyritsis (follow her on Twitter - @elenikyritsis).  I was given 4 minutes to discuss how I have been using Seesaw for student assessment in my specialist classroom. 

It's no secret that Seesaw has become the most important digital tool that I use. I'm like a giddy school kid; I can't stop talking about it whenever I get the chance. Lately, I have discovered the benefits to using the Activities part of Seesaw along with Skills View for assessment in my STEAM classes. It has become a huge time saver for me and my students but it has also allowed me to explore new ways to modify and redefine the way we use learn using technology in the classroom.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Getting to know Seesaw

When I began using Seesaw last year, I didn't really understand much about it except that it was 'like Facebook but for kids and parents'. It was such a misguided response of which would not be my answer today. I liked how we could use it and the platform it gave the students for sharing their work. I never really delved too deep though and I'm kind of kicking myself for not trying more whilst I still had my own class.

It's now my second year of using Seesaw and my first as a specialist teacher (STEAM) and I am understanding the capabilities even more and starting to see a greater benefit. My team teaching partner and I have recently discovered

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

The Education System According to a 14 Year Old

I picked my 14 year old son up from school today and I was not expecting the enlightened discussion that we would have whilst waiting to pick up my daughter. He mentioned that the day prior, he had watched a YouTube video about education (see below) and how 'the education system is outdated and designed to train factory workers'. I was very intrigued to find out more of what he thought, especially considering his age and current school experiences. His perspective (and that of all students) is vitally important. Being a secondary school student, it's easy for him to form opinions about what he does or doesn't like about school and I'm used to him saying "it's boring". Today was the first time I think that even he had cause to really question the system he is part of.

The video in question was this one:

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Spontaneous Inquiry

I recently attended an Inquiry PD hosted by the amazing Kath Murdoch. It left me feeling so much positivity and excitement about what is possible in teaching and learning. One thing I grappled with was that feeling that, as a specialist teacher this year, I no longer have my own class. Don't get me wrong, I do love my new role (it's amazing and I have so many opportunities to grow from it) but I had let myself feel as though I can't use an Inquiry approach as effectively in my classroom. That changed this afternoon and I wanted to share it.

This device is meant to "Whoosh" the rain away
when you spin it fast. 
I teach Prep every Friday afternoon in the final hour of the school day. Yes, SESSION 5, FRIDAY…PREP! Those poor kids are so tired from a busy week and the last thing they want is something structured. They are a really great bunch of kids but

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Coding in the Classroom - Using BlueBots

Computer programming is relatively new at my school. This is the first year that it has had a significant focus and it was my job to create a curriculum that begins developing these new skills with our Prep to Year 4 students. I struggled at first because I really wanted to create something engaging that the students would rave about to their teacher and parents. Our Preps don't have their own iPads, so I had to rule that out but we had just purchased a good number of Blue Bots that would be perfect.

The idea would be to start Prep and Year 1 with Blue Bots to give them a basic understanding of algorithms. I wanted to get their brains around the idea that computers need very explicit instructions to operate. It was a good chance to start off with some 'unplugged' activities and games that they could have fun with before I introduced the robots to them.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Using Technology in the Classroom - Engaging Teachers

Last week I wrote about Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) and why I think they are important. When thinking about what I wanted to write about for this week, the theme of teacher's and learning kept popping up. Something that I've been thinking about for some time is how I can help teachers to better engage with technology in the classroom and how I can overcome some of the blocks that get in the way. It's something that I can be found discussing often with some of my colleagues as it is a big part of my role.

Why is this important you ask?

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Professional Learning Networks - What's the Value?

I was introduced to the term Professional Learning Network (PLN) in my final year of studies back in 2014 by a friend. I was intrigued by this and began my Twitter journey in the hopes of talking with people in the field of education and ultimately become a better teacher as a result. Five years later I am still connecting with educators from around the world and finding ways to improve my teaching. This has been the goal, the reason I continue to engage my PLN - to be better.

When you have a specific interest, in can be difficult to learn more about it from people in your immediate circle of influence. Teaching is broad and we all have that one area we love just a little more than the others. For me, this is technology. Not just gadgets and computers (although I do love them), it's more the pedagogy that drives the use of tech in the classroom that interests me. I am interested in why teachers see value in one platform over others and I'm interested in how teachers make that decision to use one form of

Sunday, 15 April 2018


I have had an incredible year so far with a lot of opportunities for me to grow as a teacher and a leader. I've met new challenges head on, collaborated successfully with different people and pushed myself outside my comfort zone in order to better myself both personally and professionally. To say that 2018 has been a cracker of a year would be an understatement.

This leads me to think about the motivations for my blog. When I initially set it up, I wanted it to be a place for me to reflect on myself as a teacher. For the most part, I believe I was relatively successful in doing that, however, I was never very consistent. I have recently been pondering what my next steps are and why I would possibly want to keep a blog. Can I be more consistent? Why am I doing it now? Have my reasons to blog changed?

I can't really answer those questions yet but what I do know is that I am feeling invigorated, motivated and engaged in my profession more than I have before. I am connecting with a wider Professional Learning Network (PLN) more frequently and engaging in conversations that either challenge my own thinking, or lead others to challenge theirs.

I want to use this platform to explore my thinking 'out loud'. To better challenge myself to think deeper about the way I do things or the choices that I make as a teacher. I want to think deeper about effective ways to teach students AND teachers. I want to think deeper about how technology can truly help in the classroom. I want to think deeper about what truly matters when it comes to educating the youth at this period in time. This is my space to be curious and share that with others.

This is my commitment to putting myself out there more frequently and discussing things that are relevant to me or my current professional situation. This is my commitment to being open, honest, curious and critical. My commitment to ask, Why? This is my commitment to keep PONDERING!

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Always Learning; Baby Steps; Is it Enough?

The brain ticks over, exhausted; another meeting, another PD, another something. I see it all the time; people so desperately want to learn new things yet at the same time, are so tired that they just don't have the energy to fully engage in new learning opportunities.

Teachers have a huge workload with so many expectations placed on them. I understand that pushing yourself to make the time to learn new things can be hard. I also know how rewarding it can be.

I have been pushing myself lately to get out more and learn new things. I have goals and know that if I don't extend myself, I won't reach them. I have been coerced into presenting new learning to others as well and I am so grateful for these opportunities.

It's so fulfilling to be surrounded by other educators that share similar interests and pedagogical beliefs. It's equally rewarding to share my knowledge with others and see that they can take something from me and be genuinely thankful. So many positive things come from these meetings and I always leave feeling uplifted, enthused and motivated.

As teachers, sharing our learning is important as it helps us to learn from best practise and avoid similar mistakes others' have made. Ultimately, we all want to do the best for our student's so, learning new ways to support them makes us better at our job.

I guess the ultimate challenge now is how to get my colleagues to engage with these new learning opportunities. Things such as local NETS meetings, TeachMeets and school based I.T sharing sessions. Is my own motivation advertising enough? I guess sometimes it can be (I can be very convincing when I'm excited about something new).

This is something that I have been mulling over recently and I run through different scenarios in my head and try to predict the outcome. When talking about it with others', I am always told "baby steps, Danny. You need to take baby steps". So far this year, baby steps have worked to a certain degree but what can I do to drive a bigger change? What should my baby steps be? There truly is a lot to consider but at the heart of why I want to trigger change is the fact that we really need to prepare our students for a digital world. Prepare them for a digital workforce; a new world that is vastly different to what we grew up with. I worry that we aren't doing enough and we are too worried about 'the ways things have always been done'. Is it wrong to think like this?