Tuesday, 7 August 2018

I Used Design Thinking to Transform my Learning Space - Part 2 - Synthesising

I previously wrote about my new understandings of Empathy in the Design Thinking process and in this post I am going to discuss the importance of synthesising information gathered in the Empathy phase, what this means and a practical approach to synthesising that anyone can try.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Coding Our Own Computer Games

Nothing makes me feel more proud than when I see my students happily showing off their hard work to an audience. What makes it better is when these kids have never done anything like it before and have developed a love for it. This is how coding went down with my Year 4 students this year when they presented their first ever GameCon.

I Used Design Thinking to Transform my Learning Space - Part 1 - Empathy

Embarking upon my understanding of the Design Thinking process, I have come to learn more about the importance of Empathy. I had always considered myself an empathetic person but had I ever really taken this approach to solving problems? Maybe, subconsciously.

empathy is

Empathy can be best described as “feeling with people” (The RSA, 2013) and in the realm of Design Thinking, it plays an important role because it allows us to try and truly understand the people for whom we are trying to solve a problem. It is no good to try and make something better without truly understanding the end user.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

10 Reasons to Try Coding in Your Classroom

Coding has been the centrepiece of my classroom this year. Everything we have done revolves around it in some way, shape or form. We have introduced it to our Prep students all the way up to our Year 4's. When I talk about coding to other teachers, I always sense a fear that they too would have to one day do this in their classroom. The reason I have created this list is to help those teachers that are new to coding to relax a little and to just give it a go. These are the ten reasons I think everyone should give coding a go in their classroom (in no particular order):

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Getting Started with One Note

I feel like I have been quite slow to jump on board the OneNote bandwagon. I had previously exclusively used Evernote for most things but found that there were other, equally great options out there that cost far less that I should try.

I started out by using OneNote for taking notes when attending Professional Development. I liked that I could quickly type them up if needed or hand write them on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet with the dedicated S Pen (which I LOVE!). I soon learned that

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.