This time last year I was in Atlanta, Georgia for ISTE 2014. I certainly found it an astonishing experience in so many ways; not least at all because I had the opportunity to meet “face to face” with members of my Twitter PLN. The opening of ISTE 2015 has been all over my Twitter feed this morning and I’m prepared to admit to a good deal of envy. By now, some attendees will already be weighted down with ‘swag’ whilst others will be preparing for karaoke and buzz word bingo.
If only … I hate missing out!
What I’m missing the most however, is the opportunity to attend practical learning sessions with awesome educators. Last year, I chose well, attending sessions with Bill Selak (@billselak), Kyle Pace (@kylepace) and Steven Anderson (@web20classroom). If they are there this year and you have the chance … sign up to learn. I’m also disappointed to have missed seeing in person the keynote from Soledad O’Brien (@soledadobrien), the CEO of Starfish Media Group. By all accounts, she wowed the audience with Google Cardboard (if you don’t know, find out and buy them for your classroom!) More importantly one of her key messages focused upon the need to bridge not the poverty gap, but the “information gap.” Technology as an outcome in itself is a complete waste; it needs to be about arming young people with the skills to bridge the gap. In my view, education is about building capacity.
What else am I missing about Philadelphia? Well, of course, as a History tragic there would have been so much for me to explore; bring on that Liberty Bell! But I’ve also received two emailed invitations; I could have been bowling with Graphite or enjoying Philadelphia’s best Irish pub with Showbie App. Never mind; there’s always Denver, Colarado in 2016.
To Australian readers … I hope you are enjoying our national holiday; even though, in most parts of the nation, tomorrow will see students returning to school for the first day of the new school year. I thought this might be an opportune time to share five of my favourite iPad apps; apps that will have a big role to play in my year. One is new (at least to me) while the rest are returning for another year of great service.
1. ThingLink continues to introduce new features at regular intervals. The ability to take an image or video and add a variety of links (such as further images, information, video or questions) has countless possibilities in the classroom. I have found ThingLink particularly useful for teaching visual literacy and interpretation in Senior History. If you’ve never seen a ThingLink, this link will take you to one of mine
2. Socrative provides teachers with the opportunity to quickly create quizzes or polls. Students can easily respond either from the companion app or from any Web browser. Socrative will even email you the results with valuable analysis. Great too for exit tickets and for younger students there’s the Space Race game … which I’ve been known to play with very enthusiastic Year 12s!
3. Trading Cards quickly became one of my favourites. As the name would imply, teachers and students can make trading cards for a range of uses. The cards are especially useful for student revision but are also a novel way to deliver otherwise “dry” content. A great app from ReadWriteThink; the partially completed example below shows you the possibilities …
Trading Cards; great for History but suitable for all subjects and ages.
4. Weebly will undoubtedly be familiar to many of you and it continues to be my “go to” app for building websites. You will also find that students quickly adapt to the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) design method. Once published, the site can be accessed from any device. The available features in Weebly are too numerous to list here but the link below will take you to one of my sites as an example. (*You should consider, as I have done, buying a PRO subscription for even more features.)
5. Workflow is the new kid on my block. I’m certainly not an experienced user of this app but I’m excited about the possibilities for time impoverished teachers. Workflow allows you to “connect apps and actions together to automate things you do on your device. To build a workflow, just drag and drop.” You can add any workflow to your home screen as an “app” and then launch it with a tap. Check it out; I’m sure you’ll be as impressed and excited (or is that relieved?) as I am.
Well, that’s it for #Bloggermore2015 2/26 … I’ll be back within two weeks for another exciting instalment.
Four years ago this month, my wife and I purchased a house in Australia’s iconic Barossa Valley. For the overseas, uninitiated reader, the Barossa is unquestionably the nation’s best known wine producing region. We were attracted to the idyllic scenery, the wine (well, of course) and most especially the small historic town of Angaston; population 1909. (Or maybe it’s now 1911.)
Angaston, SA … our new hometown. Image sourced from www.flickr.com
As much as we were keen to take up immediate residence, we had to wait for our two children to …
Finish their schooling or
Leave home or
Be kidnapped (think Liam Neeson in Taken, but without the rescue) or
Thankfully, our daughter is now pursuing a career in theatre (she was always a Drama Queen) whilst our son has a girlfriend (he doesn’t know how!) and has completed an engineering degree (we don’t know how!)
Not long after we purchased our house, the very first iPad appeared and my career as an educator underwent an unexpected transformation. At 55 years of age with 33 years in the classroom behind me, I am an unlikely iPad Ed Evangelist. (Thanks Branchfire for labelling me as such, I do like a title.) Earlier this year when I announced on Twitter that we would be moving to the Barossa I was pleased though not surprised by the assistance I received. My South Australian tweeps were quick to offer advice, links to job websites and even the offer of a “Welcome Reception.”
The process to register as a teacher in South Australia was reasonably straight forward and indeed my biggest concern … “Who’s going to employ someone who is 55?” A colleague in the Barossa advised me, via Twitter, that a position would be available at his state high school in 2015. I firmly believe that I was given an interview because I was a “known figure” on Twitter. I’ve invested many, many (my wife would say too many) hours in Twitter. Over the past two and a half years I’ve amassed in excess of 2500 followers; all of them a part of the educational sphere. This has led to me being offered the opportunity to present at conferences and to write for more than one magazine. I was honestly “blown away” to be offered the job; especially after more than 25 years in Catholic education. Yet, astonishingly, within the next half an hour, I was offered interviews at two further schools. (Way to confuse a man and simultaneously boost his already hugely over-inflated ego!)
I declined one of these offers on the simple basis of distance; I didn’t want a 100 kilometre round trip each day. The other I gladly accepted. When I arrived at that interview, I recognised the Acting Principal and the panel chair as another member of my PLN. The interview was certainly exhaustive at nearly one and a half hours but it was a great experience to talk with like-minded individuals who share my EdTech enthusiasm. Later that same day I was offered and accepted the position for 2015 and 2016. I was flattered to be told, “we were so excited when your application came in. We recognised you.” Within hours, several members of the staff had followed me on Twitter after hearing of the appointment.
YEAH … Thanks Twitter! Image Sourced from www.telegraph.co.uk
So, thank you Twitter. Thanks to being a self-professed “big deal” on a social media network, I will be assuming the newly created position of eLearning Manager at Faith Lutheran College in Tanunda. My only genuine concern now is if I will be able to live up to the Twype (it’s my new word for Twitter Hype!) in the real world of a new school.
PS: Damn and blast … Twype is already in the Urban Dictionary to describe the “excessive hype built up around the Twilight saga.” Well, that’s done now, Edward creeped me out and Bella was so “wet!” They don’t need the word anymore, so it’s mine.
This will be the very quickest of updates; I’m busily working on two upcoming conference presentations … and tomorrow I’m delivering a guest lecture at the McAuley Campus of the Australian Catholic University. That particular assault on the sensitivities of Pre-Service teachers is called “Smashing Your Classroom.” (Check back later in the week to see what that is all about!)
July, much like June, was a BIG month! I’m a huge fan of the iAnnotate app created by Branchfire; a great option for annotating PDF files and especially assessing student drafts. Their interview questions gave me an opportunity to write about a number of aspects; not just my use of the app. But, I do like being labelled as a “power user” and an “iPadEd Evangelist.” Let’s not talk about how shallow I am … that could take days.
If you haven’t discovered the delights of iAnnotate then now is most certainly a good time to do so. In the meantime, the following link will take you to my profile on the iAnnotate Blog:
Distressingly, this could actually be me as a 7 year old
Tuesday, August 5 … well my guest gig at the Brisbane of campus of ACU is “done and dusted.” As in the past, I found the large audience of pre-service teachers to be thoroughly engaged, enthusiastic and receptive to my cabaret. But then, I did read somewhere recently that “Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths pure theatre.” (Gail Godwin)
As much as I revel in presenting to any audience (and the high rates of university pay) I would do it for nothing (don’t try to hold me to this!) simply in return for the feedback from those who attended. It’s great to feel genuinely appreciated.
Thanks for the great review Anna!
For the students themselves, or indeed anyone who may be interested, here (via Scribd) is my lecture on “Smashing Your Classroom.” Please, as always, feel free to make use of this presentation in anyway … and I’d welcome your feedback and questions.
Some of you may just get the obscure, tortured reference in my title. (Yes, to the Rodgers and Hammerstein song from Carousel. Sorry, there is no prize.) The recently completed month of June was certainly hectic and also marked my 55th birthday; I know I don’t look a day over 70! I want, in this post, to give an account of how June unfolded; of its challenges, its diversity and ultimately its rewards. It was a month that was, in most respects, amongst the most exhausting, yet productive and gratifying, of my career. Here’s why …
In the first week of the month I attended EduTech 2014 in Brisbane. I hadn’t intended to until I was invited by CEO Craig Macfarlane as a response to criticism of EdTech conferences in my Fractus Learning article “You Can’t Handle The Truth.” I was duly impressed that Craig had read my article, agreed with some of my concerns and made an effort to meet with me. There was much to like about EduTech this year; Adam Spencer was an awesome host and Sir Ken Robinson delivered the Day One keynote. But as my History teaching colleague Matthew Esterman (@mesterman on Twitter … follow him now!) rightly tweeted…
“Have loved having gr8 keynotes to listen to but #EduTECH has also affirmed my belief that the rock stars of ed are in our classrooms.”
And, I had the chance to meet some of those “stars” including Dan Haesler, Jarrod Lamshed, Steve Box, Corinne Campbell, Cathy Hunt, Zeina Chalich, Jacques du Toit and Matthew himself (… apologies, I know I’ve overlooked many others!) The opportunity to meet and talk with such great thinkers (and doers) will always be amongst the very best moments of any conference. I did get the opportunity to deliver a Show Floor Presentation entitled “Death to PowerPoint” although, ironically, I had to have my slides in PowerPoint! My greatest enjoyment came from attending and presenting at the #TeachMeet sessions instigated by Matthew (… told you he was a star!) These sessions saw “ordinary” teachers sharing ideas and successes with a small audience of their peers. If you’ve never attended a #TeachMeet why not organise your own!
The Connected Teacher connects … Great bald spot!
Whilst at EduTech I also had the opportunity to be interviewed by Corinne Campbell for the TER Podcast. Absolutely loathe, like most people, the sound of my own voice but you might want to check it out anyway. You’ll find me at the one hour 17 minute mark. (You can listen and subscribe to TERPodcast on iTunes, Android Smartphones and on Stitcher Online Radio.) As EduTech reached its final day I also had my latest article appear on Fractus Learning; “Declaring the Digital Rights of Students.” Of all that I’ve written over the past 2 or 3 years, this was the piece that I agonised over and revised several times. I would greatly appreciate feedback if you haven’t had the chance to read it as yet.
In the ten days after EduTech I wrote a guest post for the iAnnotate Blog and a Help Desk article for the Australian Teacher Magazine. Both will appear in the near future and we all know I’ll relentlessly promote them via Twitter. At the same time Noelene Callaghan (on Twitter @ncallaghan1) asked me to appear in the Australian Education Times as Teacher of the Month. (http://www.educationtimes.com.au/issue/july-2014) I welcomed this as another great opportunity to “put myself out there.” During this same period I also moderated a #histedchat on Social Media as a Learning Tool (You’ll find the Storify at sfy.co/ejkU) I also dealt with one other small matter; I assessed 120 essays and research tasks before writing the same number of reports.
The reports were due on June 26; I finished them on the 25th which was fortunate because at 9:00 am on June 27 I left for Atlanta and ISTE2014. That will be the subject of my next post! So, June was indeed awesome but I still can’t believe I survived unscathed; well, except for my birthday.
For many of you … you may want to stop reading NOW! This blog post is almost exclusively for the preservice teachers enrolled in my tutorial group at the Brisbane Campus of ACU. But, by all means read on, if you’ve found your way here you undoubtedly have time to spare anyway. The focus of our August 13 tutorial was “Questioning” which to my thinking is one of the most problematic facets of teaching. The embedded PowerPoint does, however, offer some great tips and reminders for all of us; even those, like me, who have over 30 years teaching experience.
Most significantly, the suggestions come from a wide range of Australian teachers. These ideas were crowdsourced from Twitter on the evening prior to the tutorial. I offer my sincere thanks to all the members of @edutweetoz who provided a response. Pleasingly, a number of members of the tutorial group have now joined this Twitter community. I’m certain they will learn a great deal from the “shared wisdom” of the crowd.
PS: I will be posting again very soon in order to share my experiences from the 10th National Conference for Interactive Teaching and Learning. This two day IWB Net conference took place on the Gold Coast on August 9 and 10.
It has been a crazy week; an even crazier past 48 hours. Yesterday I visited three schools in my “district” looking at various approaches to BYOD with a view to 2015. In the afternoon I was fortunate enough to attend the Gold Coast’s first ever (much anticipated and long overdue) Teach Meet. I’m pleased to say that the event was everything I had expected and more. Close to 100 teachers were present at the Guardian Angels Primary School in Ashmore and I was amongst the ten presenters. I took the opportunity to outline the “Innova8” program that I have been conducting for one hour per week with my Year 8 class. This project is based upon the well known Google 20% Time, although you may also have heard it referred to as Genius Hour or The Passion Project. I had promised to upload my presentation for the benefit of those who attended but I hope others will also find it beneficial. If you are interested in starting a similar project I would certainly welcome and respond to your questions. You will also find a link within the presentation to take you to the students “Innova8.1 Showcase” … this site will continue to grow. Do use the presentation if you wish and by all means “show off” our showcase.
During the afternoon I was referred to as an “EdTech Rockstar.” Now, I have to admit that I do revel in fancy titles and the odd dose of adulation. But, more importantly, it gave me a great opening for the guest lecture that I delivered this morning at the Banyo Campus of the Australian Catholic University. Introducing myself as a rockstar I was able to follow up with
“But just one look at this pasty old white guy, tells you that I’m far more Mick Jagger than Flo Rida.”
No need for you to agree with me, I do own mirrors! I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to speak to an auditorium full of our next generation of teachers. My chosen topic was “Create, Collaborate, Curate … and Become a Connected Teacher.” Although some aspects of my presentation are directly linked to the requirements of the unit, I hope other readers will also find my “musings” worthwhile. Once again, I am more than happy for you to use individual slides or the whole presentation if it is of value. I welcome also your questions and feedback.
It’s good to be blogging again after the insanity that was end of term examinations and student reports. This post will be somewhat of a compilation although I’m certainly not ready as yet to release a “Best Of” or “Greatest Hits” collection. (Can you guess who attended a Blues Festival last week? Oh, and by the way Jimmy Cliff is still kicking it at 68. Only hope I’m as impressive fifteen years from now!)
In an online community which has started to utilise, whilst still debating, the term teacherpreneur, I have come to understand the need for “building a brand.” Whilst entrepreneurship and brand immediately summon up the idea of monetary gain, I can assure you I haven’t made a cent! Dave Orphal gives the following definition of a teacherpreneur as distinct from a teacher leader or an educational entrepreneur. (You might also want to use the link below to access Dave’s excellent Prezi on this idea.)
“These are part-time classroom teachers. This is the big idea — job sharing so that the traditionally non-teaching jobs associated with a school; the traditionally non-teaching role of ed-policy maker; the traditionally non-teacher role of researcher, staff developer, etc… can all be done by people still have a foot in the classroom.”
Having taught for over 30 years whilst holding a range of positions of added responsibility, this is the job I want now! Of course, I can’t see this happening in the real world; my school is highly unlikely to make me their resident teacherpreneur. So, I figure that the way to succeed is by building an online brand which is “legitimised” by the fact that I am still active in the classroom. The problem of course, is exactly how to construct my brand. I believe I have made the correct choices … so here are my “Four Cornerstones For Teacherpreneurs.”
1. Build A PLN: This Friday I will celebrate my first “Twirthday.” In that first year on Twitter I have accumulated 700 followers and have sent around 3300 tweets. Not a bad effort considering that I spent the first three or four months as a lurker. All of my followers are either teachers or companies involved in the field of education. Whilst I do occasionally tweet about films or books or music … I believe it is essential to be perceived by my PLN as someone who is excited about and heavily involved in education. I visit Twitter several times a day and ensure that I respond to all direct messages and mentions. I also consider it imperative to thank new followers for connecting and to promise to build a relationship of sharing with them.
2. Create Content: We certainly live in an age where creation has overtaken consumption. I emphasise this fact with my students and accept that I too must be a genuine creator of content. Obviously, this blog is one forum in which I can share what I am doing in class, what I believe and what I have “made.” It is also important to make your content available to the wider global market, to “put it out there.” Earlier this year, I created a Haiku Deck presentation entitled “The New Mindset” for colleagues at my school. (Yeah, I know I mention this at every opportunity!) I decided to put it online through the Haiku Deck gallery from where it has been picked up, tweeted about, pinned, embedded and shared. I am astonished that this presentation has now been downloaded over 6000 times and has garnered responses like this one. (Thanks, Matt.)
3. Seek and Accept Opportunities: I was pleasantly surprised when a random Twitter mention of owning a home in South Australia led to me being offered a guest post spot on Fractus Learning. (Nick Grantham, one of their principals, is an Australian!) Writing my contribution took a great deal of time but was well worth the effort, both personally and professionally. My post “You Can’t Adjust the Sails from an Armchair” was very well received and Fractus Learning offered me a “regular gig.” If you haven’t read my musings as yet, I would certainly welcome your feedback.
I am also delighted, as I’ve no doubt mentioned more than once before, to have built an association with Haiku Deck. Becoming one of their International Gurus has secured the opportunity for me to present about the application at conferences later this year. For me, the best part of this will be having the opportunity to meet some of my tweeps in person for the first time.
4. Connect With Preservice Teachers: I am flattered (… and that’s definitely the right word) that I have connected with many preservice teachers as part of my PLN. I think that all educators, especially those with lots of classroom experience, have an obligation to give back to the profession. I have begun to share resources and ideas via Twitter with young (and not so young) student teachers at Flinders, USQ and ACU. I sincerely hope that they remember that you can be 53 and open to the “Winds of Change” in education. This post has almost devolved into self-love but I want to offer one final artefact before signing off. I relish the downloads and the positive feedback but this video from preservice teacher Jenni Brown (follow her on Twitter @jenbrown01) is most definitely the kind of reinforcement I enjoy the most. It lets me know I’m well on my way to attaining my desired teacherpreneurship. (Is that even a word?)
Jenni’s video on “How ICTs Can Promote Professional Development” is well worth viewing, even if her drawing of “The Connected Teacher” looks nothing like me. We would both welcome your feedback.
PS: For the period from April 5-April 20 inclusive, I will be travelling overseas with my Year 12 Ancient History students. We will be visiting Istanbul, Troy, Ephesus, Athens, Mycenae, Delphi and Olympia. I will be live blogging during the trip. These posts (which prove to parents that I haven’t lost their children!) may be of interest to my fellow History teachers and can be found at