Ipads in the classroom

One of my favourite blogs to read on ipads in the classroom is Mr P’s ICT Blog – ipads in the classroom.  I am always inspired as to how he makes learning fun with the use of ipads and I follow the apps he is using rather than trailing through the thousands of apps that are now available.  In his recent post, he gives these 12  ipad lessons for Christmas – all of which can be used across the curriculum, adapting them to suit learner needs and ages.

One suggestion is to use the emoji keyboard on the ipad  to write a story or song, a fun engaging activity for all ages.  How to set your keyboard to use emoji and ideas for use in the classroom.


Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning Revolution

An inspiring presentation by  Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning Revolution.  He talks about moving from an industrial, a manufacturing  model of education which is based on linearity,  conformity and batching people and moving to a model which is based more on the princples of agriculutre. Where there   recognition that human flourishing is not a mechanical process it is an organic process. He goes on to say that  the outcome of human development cannot be predicted, but the conditons under which they will flourish can be created  so when we talk about at reforming education and transforming it, it is customising and personalising   education for students.  It is about creating a movement in education in which people develop their own solutions but with external support based on a personalized curriculum.  Watch it and be inspired.

Filling the Global Achievement Gap

I listened today to Tony Wagner’s presentation (based on his book: The Global Achievement Gap) about the essential skills required for young people to enter the workforce today.  The seven surivival skills he identified are:

  1. critical thinking and problem solving including asking good questions and engaging in good
  2. ability to collaborate across networks and the ability to lead by influence
  3. adaptability and agility
  4. initiative and sense of entrepreneurship
  5. communication skills: oral and written skills
  6. access and analysing information (information literacy skills)
  7. curiousity and imagination

In his presentation, Tony identifies the disparity that exists between what schools are teaching and what is required by employers. After interviewing a considerable number of employers and observing classes including those in high-performing schools, his observations include passive learning environments preparing students for memorisation tests to meet assessment criteria and little evidence of critical and creative thinking opportunities and effective communications.

For many educators who try to induce change, this is not new information.  Schools are overburdened with assessment criteria to show successful outcomes.  As Tony says, this is at the expense of  kids being prepared for the 21st century of work.  The more we hear about change and what is needed the better!  Only today I was wondering why some schools have a policy that no ipods are allowed – what about the potential of these tools for learning?  Kids are using them out of school, why not utilise their use in school?

Tony has written the Global Achievement Gap: Why Our Kids Don’t Have the Skills They Need for College, Careers, and Citizenship–and What We Can Do About It, to motivate all those interested in education to help young people succeed in the 21st century.  The book includes chapters on The New World of Work, The Old World of School,  Testing, Reinventing Educatioon, Motivating Students: Closing The Gap,

Teachers are discussing the book’s contents at  Classroom 2.0 social network for anyone interested.

Digital Natives Have Their Say

Do kids ever get invited to conferences on the future of education? This is quite strange when you think about it, as Mark Prensky points out, all stakeholders are involved in corporate decisions, yet kids are rarely asked their viewpoints. In his article, Young Minds, Fast Times: The Twenty-First Digital Learner Mark points out:

Today’s kids hate being talked at. Students universally tell us they prefer dealing with questions rather than answers, sharing their opinions, participating in group projects, working with real-world issues and people, and having teachers who talk to them as equals rather than as inferiors.

Nearly two-thirds of secondary school students want to use laptops, cell phones, or other mobile devices at school.

A student in Albany, New York, pleaded the case for using technology in the classroom: “If it’s the way we want to learn, and the way we can learn, you should let us do it.”

One teacher queried, “Do computers cut you off from the world?” Not at all, said an excited student: “We share with others and get help. Technology helps — it strengthens interactions so we can always stay in touch and play with other people. I’ve never gone a day without talking to my friends online.”

One California high school served up a dose of common sense: “Kids grew up around computers. They love them. Their computers are their second teachers at home.” A student in West Virginia offered this nugget: “If I were using simulation in school, that would be the sweetest thing ever!”

Mark states that the best part of the student panels is always hearing the kids’ answers to his final question. “How do you like being able to talk to your teachers and supervisors about your learning?” Great responses:

I ask about their experience that day and whether their soapbox proved useful. “How do you like being able to talk to your teachers and supervisors about your learning?” I ask. I truly love their answers:
“I like the fact that we become equals. Students do not get the opportunity that often to share their ideas. If students and teachers could collaborate, a lot more would get done.” (Anaheim, California)

“A lot of students care — you just don’t realize it.” (Poway, California)

“Most of the time, the teachers are talking and I want to go to sleep. But now my brain is exploding.” (Poway, California)

“Don’t let this be a onetime thing.” (Poway, California)

“I think it’s important that you take time to see what we feel.” (West Virginia)

“Now you know what we think and how we feel. Hopefully, that will go to the heart.” (Texas)

“I waited twelve years for this.” (Texas)

“I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it!” (Texas)

“As a general rule, you don’t hear from kids unless they’ve gotten into trouble.” (Anaheim, California)

“Both groups [teachers and students] can learn from each other.” (Anaheim, California)

“If you don’t talk to us, you have no idea what we’re thinking.” (Hawaii)

Clearly, the kids find it valuable to share with their educators their opinions on how they want to learn. Although skeptical, they hope those teachers and administrators who are trying to improve their education think so, too, and listen carefully to what the students have to say.

Getting started with Web 2.0 tools

It can seem a little overwhelming knowing where to start with facilitating Web 2.0 tools in the classroom for teachers who are trying to embrace 21st century learning. I was so captured by this wiki: Webtools4u2se that I thought it would be a great tool to introduce teachers to cool tools and what is great about the wiki is that it gives lots of ideas for using the tools. Designed for school library media specialists, it is an ideal starting place for all educators.  It is very informative with a bright inviting home page (this is created using Glogster). It also has a page dedicated to Why Web 2.0 tools? Tools include:

  • audio and podcasting
  • blogs
  • calendars, task management and to do lists
  • drawing, charting and mapping tools
  • portal and web page starting tools
  • photo and photo sharing tools
  • presentation tools
  • quiz and polling tools
  • news feeds and aggregators
  • social networks
  • video tools and video sharing
  • wikis
  • productivity tools


Another great starting place for teachers wanting to know how to start or where, is Anne Mirtschin and Jess McCulloch’s project and wiki for laying the foundations for using Web 2.0 technologies for teaching and learning. Visit their wiki at: Laying the e-planks for a Web 2.0 school. Anne and Jess are embracing 21st century literacies at their Hawkesdale P-12 College (a small rural p12 school, educating 5 – 18 year old students om Victoria, Australia) and are documenting what they have achieved as well as their goals on the wiki.

In the Planks page, they have resources to important issues related to Web 2.0 use, such as cybersafety, digital media and copyright, joining networks and creating an online space. To follow their journey you can subscribe to their eplanks podcasts.

Here is a great  wiki, 23 Things introducing Web 2.0 tools to teachers. It is a 10 week course for teachers. Although it cannot be joined it gives a list of resources that are to be covered in the course. If you are interested in learning more about the course, participating in a future course session, facilitating the course at your own school or adapting the content under Creative Commons, please email Shelley Paul @ k12learning20@gmail.com

Net dependence sapping our life skills?

Whilst researching on the net I came across an article that caught my eye, Net dependence sapping our life skills in which the author states that the current generation are losing some of the skills relied upon by previous generations. His article stated:

  • His (digital native) son was unable to read a map when his satellite navigation system was down.
  • Today’s generation expect to access answers to questions immediately via Google.
  • ‘Mobile phones and the internet have ruined an entire generation’s self-reliance’.
  • ‘Today’s generation have lost the joy of studying books, maps, papers and other non-electronic devices’ and so on.

I found myself disagreeing with his comment that ‘mobile phones and the internet have ruined an entire generation’s self-reliance’ as well as the other comments he makes about how students may be lacking/missing out on experiences. The internet has greatly enriched opportunities for enhanced learning experiences via podcasts, wikis, blogs, multi-media, RSS and other resources. Students are becoming self-reliant on how to access information and discern between reliable and non-reliable information. They learn many more skills than previous generations in information retrieval and are exposed to a wider variety of knowledge They are involved in a world of connectedness, collaboration and sharing, all of which enrich and expand their knowledge bank.

By no longer being confined to the walls of their classrooms they can connect with other students outside their school and outside their country. Their learning becomes real-life exchange experiences. These different experiences lead to different brain experiences (Prensky 2001). Learners think and process information differently than their predecessors and their thinking patterns have changed.

Personally I would rather be educated in today’s climate than in the generation I grew up in. Living in the information age means that people need to develop the skills that will enable them to effectively function in society. Technology is moving at such a pace that even the simplest of jobs requires people to use technology. What it means for the future of Australia is that education needs to keep pace with change and not be stuck in traditional pedagogical methods of teaching to enable learners to fulfil their potential in the knowledge society. Unless teachers (and parents) make the effort to connect, they are unable to meet today’s learners’ needs. They need to connect to speak the same language and co-exist with the digital natives!

Does anyone agree that net dependence has sapped our life skills?

References: Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, On the Horizon, Vol. 9, No. 5, NCB University Press.

Web 2.0 and the power of sharing

I needed to prepare a presentation on Web 2.0 and rather than start something from scratch I knew that other educators had probably done the same thing. Within a few days of my request, I received some incredible powerpoint presentations, webslides and teachertube resources.  Many thanks to Ken Price, Jim Mullaney, Phil Pound and others who helped me out.  Here is a webslide presentation Web 2.0 in the classroom, by Mark Woolley that was sent to me. 

Edu 2.0

Edu. 2.0  is an incredible free resource centre for teaching, learning and has a 10,000 plus bank of educational resources.   It provides networking and collaboration in a secure online community.    Teachers can contribute lessons, keep track of assignments, grades, participate in groups and forums.  Plus:

  • Students can create porfolio’s of their best work
  • Conduct surveys with your students
  • Create blogs
  • Games and quizzes
  • Create and share lesson plans
  • Create custom feeds for classes


Employers check out Facebook

Employers are not just accepting prospective applicants’ resumes, they are checking out their social networking forums.   In too much information, the authors discuss how people will post just about anything on social networking sites.  They warn that it is becoming routine for prospective employers to scour applicants profiles via  Facebook or MySpace to find out more about the person than what is stated in their resume.   Prospective applicants have lost job opportunities when their Facebook profile exposes them in a non-favourable light.

There is also the question of safety.  Many people will accept Facebook’s request to be a friend without even knowing who they are linking with.  They reveal personal details which could be used for identity theft.

Educating young people to build profiles which identify their talents and strengths via blogs and e-portfolios will enable them to present a positive image for their future job prospects.  Awareness of stranger-danger online will safeguard their identity.  Web 2.0 tools are great, but they need to be used with awareness.

Meme: Passion Quilt – Guiding Hands


I felt honoured to be tagged by Anne Mirtschin  for inclusion in the Passion Quilt initiated by Miguel Gulhin  where teachers are invited to share their passion for teaching symbolised by a picture and a synopsis of their passion. I have always had a passion for instilling a love of learning in students and since my induction into Web 2.0 tools I have been hooked on the potential that they offer for learning.   The enthusiasm that I experience via my online network is infectious and motivating.   It inspires my passion to share this knowledge with today’s learners.

The picture (by Rayparnava) shows the guiding hands of the teacher along with the student.  When the student becomes confident and  has mastered the steps, she will no longer need those guiding hands.  This encapsulates my passion for guiding and nurturing learners, to become their own masters of new skills and knowledge.  To give them the tools to be confident in this information age.  Confident that whatever they turn their hand to, there will always be a guiding hand to support them on their way (and how to access that support!).  It also depicts my experience with my professional network – there is always a guiding hand.

The rules for the Passion Quilt are:

  1. Think about what you are passionate about teaching your students.
  2. Post a picture from a source like Flickr or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about and give your picture a short title.
  3. Title your blog post Meme: Passion Quilt and link back to this blog entry.
  4. Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.

I look forward to seeing the images of Melanie, Richard, Kate and Kelly.