Monday, July 27, 2009

Teacher PD Days

Yesterday I ran a session on Social Media and English teaching. It was largely a intro for many of the people present, but it appeared to be worthwhile.

We covered Twitter, Blogs, Wikis, Facebook and Nings. We finished the session by creating a private Ning for our group of teachers - and overnight I was comforted by the quick use of the site. As the creator, I received emails at different stages over the hours since the session detailing the addition of questions, photos, videos and responses.

In short - Nings are great!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Inspiring Change over Depression

Perhaps it is that last week of a long term talking - but how is one to inspire change in a school where you are battling a large group of 'status quo' adherents. I do not doubt that I am alone in my depression regarding this but it does seem to be an uphill task to change the system to actually encourage real learning as opposed to doing the same old thing.

Okay - depression over, the task ahead includes the following goals:

1. Demonstrate and get teachers involved in social media (explaining Twitter, blogging, Facebook and their uses).
2. Completing and sharing my computer games unit for Year 9 English students.
3. Work with other staff to create a great and rich cross-curricula project for 2010.
4. Ensure our tech heavy English classes are ready to go for all teachers (podcasting, video, animation and game creation all are happening in different years next term!).

Anyone want to give me some advice on these simple tasks?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


My partner and I (also an English teacher - but at another school) decided a couple years ago to try and encourage good creative writing from our classes. One way we have tackled this challenge is to create a short story competition for our system of school's students.

It was fair easier to do than I thought.
1. Create the rules and entry forms.
2. Create a website with a domain.
3. Arrange a good judge and sponsor of CASH!
4. Tell everyone!

This is the third year we are running it, and last year we had over 40 excellent entries from high school students from our schools.

Thanks to James Roy for judging, Avondale College for paying (but staying out of the running of the comp) and please check out our site:

Oh yes - the hardest part in all this was thinking of a memorable name for the competition. I think we did. And no - it means nothing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Creating Powerpoints

My Year 9 English class are a great group of boys who do find English as their best subject. Our current topic is "Prejudice". After looking at a couple of texts, I have set them on a task of creating a Powerpoint explaining their understanding of the concept.

This will be a kind of experiment. This class (as well as all of the Year 9s) will receive laptops next term. I have been a supporter of students being able to multitask - often against the opinion of many others on staff. If this class can create a Powerpoint of some quality here in the computer labs over two periods - with me not stopping their 'going off task' I think it will be a success. I am ready to be found wrong - but after one period - so far, so good.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wiki Update

One class learning to create wikis today. Huge success. The students were into straight away, with only a couple minor issues with Safari not connecting for a couple kids when logging into the wiki. A couple of refreshes did the trick and they were all onto working out how they would create their class set of notes on King Lear.

I had set up a front page, and one other with the complete text of the play. I demonstrated how to create a new page, how to link to a previous page, how to edit and save, and away they went.

In the remaining 30 minutes of class several pages of useful information were added - and the students agreed that a shared resource of notes rather than working on them alone.

Next class I need them to work on design and structure of the information. Class dynamics, textual analysis and varying work ethic all play very interesting roles in this experience.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


So it is time to try out creating a wiki. I know, I know, I am way behind on this - but trust me - it is new for our school. I have set one up at wikispaces - so much easier than I expected. It will be kept private for now - at least until my students have created a few pages.

The first class to use this will by my Year 11 Advanced class. My thought is that shared thoughts on King Lear makes more sense than individual notes.

Tomorrow they start.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Turns out chess is good for students.

Teaching King Lear

I have just started King Lear again with a class. This time it is Year 11 - the difference is that this is the first class to have laptops. It is a new challenge to engage the students as they learn, using the powerful tool they have at their disposal.

Today was our third class. After two periods of intro, mini dramas and raising the importance of the introduction - I had them do some laptop work.

Students were each required to choose a minimum of two lines from the first four scenes of the play - learn them, recite and video them (along with an explanation) and upload them to the school's intranet.

They were able to do all this in 20 minutes from start to finish.

Below is one example:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gaming Module for Year 9

Today I start planning a new module of work for Year 9 English class. Students spend more time gaming than reading by choice, and therefore it makes sense to me for us as Teachers to examine and educate about gaming.

No doubt students will teach us more about games than we know, but walking through the development process will be a great learning experience for both teacher and student in the classroom.

I am looking at using Game Salad as my creation tool - so I am off to learn how to use it!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Start

So it begins...