A Snapshot of Technology Integration

  

  

  We started using iPads in our classrooms in 2011. Since our adoption of our 1:1 iPad Program K – 6 ,  in January 2013, we have focussed on using the SAMR Model  as an underlying scaffold. We have also tried to look at ourselves through the Apple lens of The Five Best Practices.

The journey is very much an ongoing one and while we have been delighted to see an amazing evolution take place there remains a sense of untapped possibilities. We are starting to imagine an environment which brings STEM / STEAM into play more inventively, more authentically, more naturally. 

Our iPad devices are amazing in their versatility and their power to enable almost anything. 

The iPad environment has pushed us in many new directions and has grown our capacity and capability. When I think back to the difficult environment pre iPad and the narrow possibilities on offer via the standard laptop environment I cringe remembering the difficulties and limitations. Our classrooms then were places where technology was much less an enabler and much more a challenge to implement effectively across a large group of children. 

I am often surprised when educators and those running technology programs in schools insist that they need more powerful laptop devices. For our Primary School classrooms iPads provide more than enough capability. There are those odd remnants of Flash which elude us e.g. Scratch and some fully blown environments such as Minecraft, but these can be catered for with a few additional ancillary devices or via a rich range of iPad app options. I shy away from returning to the clunky laptop form factor when such great, powerful portability is available in the iPad form. Certainly in our Primary classrooms portability is key for so much which is occurring. I am also surprised at fixations that some have for keyboards. With the way technology is evolving I wonder whether hardware like keyboards will become as odd to us in the future as floppy disks have become.

Our iPads are actively used as tools for capturing learning, communication, creation, collaboration, curation and research. All our learning programs are benefitting from the infusion of easy technological capability and certainly iPads have delivered this brilliantly.

Recently we had a visit from a couple of schools interested to see how we are integrating technology. As an early adopter of iPads, in a 1:1 context, our school attracts a few visits each year. From my point of view these are great opportunities for us to benchmark ourselves and also to interact with other educators. When the schedule for visits is devised our intent is to show real activity as it is occurring naturally in classrooms. There is never a change to our timetable or to the activities on display. 

Here is the schedule for this particular visit. A snapshot of activity across the school.

Visit Thursday 17 March

  

9:30 Meet and greet – (Primary/ ICT) – overview of the iPad Program

9:35 Year 1 Maths – Patterns and Algebra, Seesaw

9:40 Year 6 – G&T group – flipping learning within the classroom

9:45 Year K – Literacy groups – QR Codes, Maths – Explain Everything

9:55 Year 6 Science (PBL) – Chemistry – student designed experiments – recording and reflecting on learning – various apps e.g. Greenscreen, iMovie, slow motion, time lapse etc

10:05 Year 4 PDHPE – Stile interaction – Anti Bullying

10:15 Meet The Principal – morning tea – The Vision

10:35 Meet Librarian – Aurasma, QR Codes, eBooks, and our Apple Distinguished Educator – flipping learning, PE (physical education teacher) – looking at biomechanics / visual feedback apps on an iPad 

10:55 Year 5 – (Year 5 Teachers) sharing experience – Book Creator recording learning in Science, Comic Book narrative of learning HSIE

11:10 Year 3 Maths – Multiplication / Division – various apps Stile, Book Creator, Explain Everything

11:20 Year 2 Maths – Patterns and Algebra, Matific and other apps

11:40 Year 5 – using iPads to learn another language – oral learning – Quizlet and Stile

11:50 End

Snapshots from some previous visits:

A visit in 2015

A visit in 2013

A visit in 2013

It is interesting to compare and contrast the experiences and consider whether the learning program has evolved. What is not clearly apparent, in this brief snapshot, is the  increased sophistication via applications such as stopmotion, green screen and the integration of many other applications – along with the power that Stile has brought to enable the exchange between teacher and student (iTunes U offers some similar capability). Nor apparent is the increased sophistication and engagement of the users both students and teachers. 

Change is our constant and as I have already suggested a shift towards the real integration of STEM / STEAM is already underway and I hope that this shift will become apparent in the sorts of experiences in play across the school in future visits. Here I am alluding to a maker culture which leverages technologies, thinking and skills – incorporating robotics, coding, Minecraft, 3D printing etc. All of these capabilities can be accommodated and enhanced in a dynamic iPad environment.  

Authentic learning opportunities are also a major focus. PBL is already a natural part of what we do in our classrooms and we are pushing ourselves towards Challenge Based Learning across K-6 and towards publishing and interacting with broader audiences.  

Tomorrow The World! – Future Schools 2016 

  
Recently we had a group of our Year 6 students participate at The Future Schools Expo at the Sydney Technology Park in Redfern. This great experience to participate in a Makers Playground was provided by Future Schools organisers in conjunction with Datacom and various supporting sponsors.
Our involvement wasn’t haphazard. Student activity commenced last year months before the actual event. Our students, then in Year 5, participated, identifying a number of authentic problems to solve (educators provided by Datacom lead this process). Four of the problems were selected by the students as authentic challenges for the Future Schools event. A series of videos were then created by the children outlining the problems to be addressed.in the Makers Playground, at the Expo. These videos can be viewed at http://www.futureschools.com.au/makers_playground.html

Much of the equipment provided by sponsors in the Makers Playground, at Future Schools, would be new to our students so a little time on lead up was provided to develop familiarity with various maker space technologies. This proved to be valuable and it was interesting to see how intuitive the children were in working with the different technologies. We are starting to build resources ourselves and this was a great opportunity to see possibilities that these new technologies might bring. 

Types of resources provided in the Makers Playground included: Little Bits, Spheros, Arduino, Edison robotics, tablets, Laptops, Scratch, Craft resources, Activity mats etc.

The conference delegates experienced authentic learning in a “Makers” environment. Delegates were able to interact with student teams working on the solutions for the four challenges. During the sessions, Datacom’s Professional Learning consultants (Maker Mentors) played the role of ‘teacher’ in supporting student Makers in using the range of technologies / resources to design, build, record and report on solutions in this dynamic, just-in-time learning environment. For both the delegates and the children the experience was really a rich one. Our students certainly worked effectively, productively and collaboratively. It was great to see the students interacting with delegates sharing their experience. Our teachers accompanying the children were also actively involved recording, supervising and more importantly in experiencing / learning. 

While this was not a competition, evaluation and feedback plays a big role in any Makers project. FutureSchools provided a great opportunity to model this with each team presenting their solution to a panel of experts (Maker Magistrates).

1. How well did the solution address/solve the problem? 

2. How innovative is the solution? 

3. How well were the ideas presented? 

4. How well was the technology used? 

The resulting solutions were a great testament to the making process. I will post more about the process and the solutions produced in response to the challenges in a seperate post.

  
I often attend conferences and as adults we browse around asking questions and looking, but rarely do I see adults really doing “hands on” experiences. The Maker Playground provided that sort of experience for the delegates. 

Interestingly I took a small group group of students around the various exhibits. The children were all about “hands on”. They touched and played with everything (thanks to the generosity of the exhibitors). It was such a different experience looking at the vendors displays with the children. They gave everything a work out and judged quickly the value and productivity of resources. For the children it was like the ultimate “play” arcade. For me it was a great way to really see the possibilities of otherwise relatively static displays.

What did the students engage with the most? 

Virtual reality goggles 

The NAO robot

The Romo Robot

The live reptile exhibit

The Promethean multitouch interactive panel 

  
Another component of the Makers Playground experience was the parent / student activity. This was conducted late on the first day and was open for parent and student participation. About twenty families from our school joined in to do an “Edison” maze challenge. Again this provided a great collaborative and powerful learning opportunity for all involved.  

For any school interested in developing STEM capabilities the Future Schools Expo is a must. Looking forward to 2017. This year too we are sending several teachers to EduTech which is being held in Brisbane – very worthwhile when the opportunity for real immersive professional development is so great. 

Learn more about The Future Schools Expo here:

http://www.futureschools.com.au/pdf/NationalFutureSchoolsExpo_2016_Brochure.pdf
Learn more about EduTech here:

http://www.edutech.net.au

  

   
 

To Do

  
 To Do
I am preparing mentally for an onslaught of work in January. Many assume that schools close down in holiday periods (This is our long Summer break  in Australia). For our school and for most others this is a fallacy. Of course it isn’t just me at work. Our Administration department is active, teachers are often industriously preparing for their students and a whole host of maintenance and cleaning occurs. In my case as the year slid to a halt I was purposefully anticipating and preparing for the 2016 school year. Much has already been done – ordering equipment / software etc and arranging support as required to help enable the process (my tech department consists mainly of myself and a couple of solid, external resources). Flowing on from this preparation is my new “to do” list for the January period. Running a technology infused 1:1 environment,  so that it all runs smoothly, does take considerable effort. 

.
To Do – January

  • Update IOS and apps on iPad class sets via Configurator – add / remove apps 
  • Add additional iPads to cater for additional students – cases, screen protectors, configuration etc
  • Year 6 replace covers and label as required 
  • Redistribution and labelling of class iPad sets to accommodate differing allocations K – 6 
  • Conduct maintenance / repair / replacement for existing iPad stock – via Apple
  • Provision of technology resources etc for new teachers 
  • Set up additional ancillary student MacBooks – ordered and received
  • Update existing MacBook supply – OS, apps etc
  • Set up Office 365 and migrate Exchange to The Cloud

https://products.office.com/en-au/academic/office-365-education-plan

  • Deploy Office 365 software across various school devices as required
  • Set up new replacement laptops for Smartboards in all classrooms – we will deploy Windows 10 on some of these (trialling functionality and software compatibility)
  • Set up a new Windows 10 PC in the Admin – testing compatibility etc 
  • Set up iPad Pros for use with Special Ed program (experimental in consultation with Special Ed and Apple specialist). 
  • Minecraft set up – looking at potential to integrate Minecraft Edu in learning programs

https://minecraftedu.com/about

  • Maker Space – robotics, drones etc – add EV3 software to all devices
  • Coding – creating a strategy to enable integration – teacher PD / student development
  • Revisit and resolve Clickview integration via Clickview support 
  • iBook Authoring – Strategic overview of our technology integration program (ADS Program)
  • Planning for teacher PD in 2016 – MyPD for new teachers re integration of technology Term 1
  • Update of email accounts and setup of new accounts 
  • Update information for “Stile” accounts (teachers and students) 
  • Servers and network maintenance – software updates etc

Apple – planner

  • Day 1: Year 5 iPads, Year 2 iPads, MacBook update and setup new  
  • Day 2: Year 4 iPads, Year K iPads, MacBook update and Setup new
  • Day 3 Year 3 iPads, Year 1 iPads
  • Year 6 iPads are provisioned under individual school owned accounts

Windows software / hardware planner

  • Prepare new laptops, develop new laptop profiles to be applied including Office update – consideration re Windows 10 
  • Pull in existing Smartboard laptops (Windows), prep for clean and restore as required
  • Warranty repairs as required – Dell
  • Arrangements re Office 365
  • Preschool and ELC laptop (Windows) evaluation and replacement plan

As a teacher who has transitioned from the classroom to enabling technology integration I realise that bringing all of this together cohesively for the start of the school year is crucial. Teachers and students expect “it” all to be working and it must because our learning programs are now so intimately tied to technology. No Pressure!

Lego EV3 & iPads 

  
There are always challenges with new “stuff” and from my perspective that’s part of the fun. Today we ran a session with two Year 5 classes using Lego EV3 robots that we had recently purchased. This was experimental. We have used Lego Mindstorms before, but this was our first venture using the EV3s and in teaming them with our iPads via Bluetooth. 

The sessions went really well. Preparation for this activity was crucial. We were dealing with a newly acquired app and a new robot. We also needed to put together a series of activities which would entice and challenge the children. It was also important to anticipate different capabilities and provide enough progressively for the children to complete in just under two hours.

Lesson overview:

Introduction:

  • The EV3 Brick – input, output, navigation, display
  • The Robot – physical attributes 
  • The App – lobby, robot educator, programs
  • Geometry and measurement
  • Programming – motors, forward, back, turning, rotations, angles, wait, loop (note: introduced sensors briefly, but not required for this lesson)
  • Bluetooth 

 
  

   

The greatest challenge, it turned out, wasn’t actually to do with programming or in completing tasks, but was actually about enabling the Bluetooth connection. This is where playing before introducing technology is vital. As soon as we started experimenting with Bluetooth on the EV3s we realised that all the robots had the same name and that with multiple robots and multiple children robots needed to be easily identifiable. We named each EV3 brick to avoid confusion. Additionally we noticed that sometimes the EV3 Programming App didn’t pickup the Bluetooth connection even though in settings the Ev3 and the iPad were paired. This was resolved by restarting the app (double click the home button on the iPad and then push away the programming app). Even the pairing process wasn’t simple when adjusting settings on the brick via the buttons. Here I must say that once paired the Bluetooth interaction between the iPad and the EV3 was brilliant – getting rid of clumsy plugging of wires made it easy. 

The short video below shows the students in action. The children worked, cooperatively, collaboratively and purposefully. There was full engagement across the two Year 5 class sessions. The other thing which was great to see was the perseverance of groups to complete tasks even following repeated failure. It was a rich learning experience for us all. 

A Visit From Northern New South Wales

   
We recently hosted the visit of a leadership team from a school in Coffs Harbour. The visitors had travelled to Sydney to learn specifically about technology integration occurring at a couple of schools in Sydney.

The visitors were treated to a smorgasbord of technology integration. They enjoyed opportunities to interact with the children and they were provided with opportunities to connect with teachers. 
As I journeyed around the school, facilitating the visit, I was privileged to witness  some great learning in action. This is possibly the best part of my job – seeing the engagement of our students and the innovative ways in which technology has permeated our learning programs. We are happy to open our doors and to share what has worked for us and make valuable connections with other educators too. 

Below is the plan for the visit which provides a snapshot of the experience.

Visit Plan:

1:00pm – Principal, ICT Coordinator  – Meet / Greet – looking at the Vision, challenges and imperitives

1:30pm –  Year 3 class teacher (ADE) sharing his experiences blending, flipping and helping to drive STEM initiatives

1:50 –  Librarian – eBooks, QR Codes and Aurasma 

2:00 – Year 4 Maths in action creating interactive games using Futaba

2:10 – Year 3 Maths in action, differentiated leaning in a blended classroom using Stile

2:20 –  Music Year 5, GarageBand in action – creating music inspired by Star Wars

2:30 – Year 1 HSIE, Wet and Dry Environments using Pic Collage

Year 1 HSIE, Wet and Dry Environments using Popplet

2:40 – Year 4 Student Share Time – looking at student work samples and teacher experience – including CBL and 3D Printing

2:55 – Year 5 Student Share Time – looking at student work samples and teacher experience – including Book Creator Science Journals, Stop Motion, Keynote, iMovie, Minecraft

  

Stepping Out With Robotics and Coding

  

We have used our regular community fundraiser to enable the further integration of technology in classrooms. As I have indicated we are committed to bringing 3D printing, Minecraft, robotics, coding etc. into our learning programs purposefully. We are keen to move away from these being extra curricular and more a natural part of what children can chose to do. 

And isn’t that a great thing! I wish I’d had such possibilities in my own education. I can still remember Sunday nights and having a sinking feeling in anticipation of the week of school ahead. I hope our children wake on Monday morning delighted and leave on Friday sorry that the weekend is getting in the way. We have certainly.observed heightened engagement and focus courtesy of our 1:1 iPad program. This is more than wishful thinking. We often have visiting educators who comment on the engagement of our students. Certainly our surveys of students, teachers and parents have also reflected this. From my perspective I see it on a daily basis and student engagement is truly tangible and importantly there is a sense of purpose in the activity. This of course hasn’t occurred without the considerable commitment of our teaching staff. Here too we have focussed on real integration and it has delivered a natural feeling where the technology just fits comfortably. This is what we hope to achieve with the additional technological integration. 

We have just invested in a very comprehensive bundle of EV3 Lego Robotics. The bundle includes software, sensors, a huge range of blocks / resources enough to build a dozen robots. These will be added to our existing Mindstrorms resources which have existed in the background for several years. We have also bring into play a set of Blue Bots (just a note of warning  iPad 2s are unable to connect via Bluetooth to the Blue Bots) for use with the younger children and ten small drones. All of these will provide great tangible, interactive devices for our coding initiative. We will use apps like Tickle to assist with block coding of drones. We are also looking at a range of coding applications. One stand out amongst these is Scratch https://scratch.mit.edu. Scratch is a powerful block coding application which was developed by MIT and is recognised as a powerful coding tool for children. This isn’t a new application and it has been used from time to time in co curricular activities. There are also a great series of coding resources available via https://code.org/. Additionally apps such as Scratch Junior, Hopscotch and  Pyonkee etc. may all be employed. 

A number of teachers have had opportunities to attend training and development days in support of our program to integrate coding / robotics. Initially we will focus on block coding as a standard capability across the school. Here I must add that some teachers are already actively employing applications such as Minecraft and 3D printing as possibilities in their learning programs. Coding and robotics are also appearing and are being actively planned for. As planned we will run some open ended experiences using robotics and coding for the children. Here we hope to start to upskill both teachers and students in the more relaxed atmosphere of our end of year alternative education week. 

We have three essential ingredients which will drive change 

  • students who are inquisitive, intuitive and motivated
  • teachers who are innovative and prepared to take risks
  • leadership which is visionary, supportive and enabling

 
Above: Groups at work sorting EV3 kits and building base model robots.

Below: experimenting with drone programming using Tickle – fly a square.  

It’s All About Reading

  
I spend a considerable amount of time reading. I tend to be a trifle obsessive about this. For many years I read exclusively in certain genres. As a young teen I read historical novels exclusively for a couple of years and then moved to Science Fiction and Fantasy and then Mystery and so on over the years. The consistency is that it has always been about reading something. 

In recent years my reading has become obsessively centred around education, technology and innovation. I suppose this shift really took hold with the advent of mobile technology and the maturing of social networks such as Twitter. Applications such as Flipboard and Zite (which create digital magazines from various feeds) made consumption easy. I was excited to learn from others and to be able to translate the ideas, thoughts and research into our own reality. Here I have been really fortunate because in my school other leaders, policy makers, the teachers, the staff and community in general have encouraged and enabled this. Reading and connectedness has contributed substantially towards breaking us out of our “box”. 

So here I have posted a few links to articles which I have found of particular interest n my recent adventures in reading. As I look through the links it is certainly a different list to the one I would have posted three years ago when I was obsessively exploring the possibilities that mobile devices might bring. 

  • This excellent paper looks at transformation of a US school, discusses challenges and solutions – considers SAMR Model and its context re changing pedagogy. 

https://idea.library.drexel.edu/islandora/object/idea:4534/datastream/OBJ/download/UBIQUITOUS_COMPUTNG___SYSTEMIC_TRANSFORMATION_TO_21ST_CENTURY_TEACHING_AND_LEARNING.pdf

  • This article looks at the Finnish system where a school System based on equality has been created. Interesting to note that while successful there isn’t a strong sense of connectedness to schools in Finland. I have included a second article which considers the importance of connectedness (towards the end of this article there are some ideas re engaging students). 

Re Finnish system
http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/finnish-education-chief-we-created-a-school-system-based-on-equality/284427/

Re Connectedness
http://www.asla.org.au/publications/access/access-commentaries/engaged-students.aspx

  • This article discusses a report by the OECD on the effectiveness of technology in classrooms. I think what this really shows is the importance of pedagogy as the driver rather than the technology.

http://www.educationnews.org/technology/oecd-technology-in-schools-not-boosting-achievement/

OECD Report 

http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/education/students-computers-and-learning_9789264239555-en#page1

  • Yong Zhao – Elements of a World Class Education

http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.sais.org/resource/resmgr/imported/ZhaoIndicators.pdf

http://unescochair.blogs.uoc.edu/blog/2012/11/27/yong-zhao-world-class-education-educating-creative-and-entrepreneurial-students/

Catching up: learning from the best school systems in East Asia via The Grattan Institute.

http://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/129_report_learning_from_the_best_main.pdf

  • The Horizon Report – essential reading

http://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2015-k-12-edition/

  • The Case for Challenge Based Learning

http://www.nmc.org/pdf/Challenge-Based-Learning.pdf

  • Clever Classrooms – evidence around learning spaces and effects on learning. Summary report of the HEAD Project (Holistic Evidence and Design), Professor Peter Barrett , DrYufan Zhang, Dr Fay Davies, Dr Lucinda Barrett, (University of Salford 2015)

http://www.salford.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/518122/1503-Salford-Uni-Report-A5-DIGITAL.pdf

  • Personalisation vs. Differentiation vs. Individualisation

http://www.personalizelearning.com/2013/03/new-personalization-vs-differentiation.html

  • This useful piece, provided by Guido from Stile Education, on formative assessment

http://blog.stileeducation.com/stileeducation-blog/2015/4/15/is-stile-the-best-tool-for-formative-assessment

  • Technology Integration and High Possibility Classrooms“, Dr Jane Hunter. This work provides a comprehensive look at the context for the integration of technology and considers how TPACK comes into play in classrooms.

https://www.routledge.com/products/9781138781337

Challenge Based Learning: Sustainability

We have committed to implementing Challenge Based Learning across the school. You can read more about CBL in an earlier post Towards Authentic Learning – CBL

Year 6 students explore energy.

Students apply their knowledge and understanding of energy to solve sustainability challenges in the community. Students publish their ideas via blogs – sharing with the broader community.

Our local Federal Member learns about the work students are doing to develop a sustainable community.

Year 6 Sustainability Fair – sharing ideas and artefacts regarding sustainability with the community. 

Bringing Computational Thinking Into Classrooms

  
One of the challenges for us has been how we can make what we are doing with technology and innovation a simple and natural part of what occurs in classrooms. We have certainly achieved this, in some considerable measure, via our 1:1 iPad program. In our learning environment iPads are, for the most part, a bit like a pencil case. They travel everywhere with students and they are pulled out for purposeful use as required.

Like many schools we have tended to hang things like robotics, coding, Minecraft, 3D printing on as side bits – extracurricular or co curricular. What we are really striving to see is classrooms filled with options naturally incorporating coding, robotics, Minecraft, 3D printing, circuits, recyclables, crafts etc – maker spaces which entice, inspire and enable.

So how do we hope to achieve our vision?

Firstly the vision is dependent on developing pedagogy to enable the learning environment. We are committing ourselves to fairly major shifts in thinking as we recognise that we need to be providing more authentic challenges, cross curricular project based learning, physical environments which change learning dynamics, making thinking visible and gaining insight through effective formative assessment, along with differentiation and more personalising learning opportunities. This is not to say that these are not in play already because they are occurring in varying degrees across our classrooms. The shift just needs to more universally enabled and embedded. The circumstances are right for us to pursue further change and our more innovative teachers are seeking opportunities to enhance their classroom and challenge their students. 

The plan below is dependent on two funding streams. The first allocation is towards professional development and the provision of release time so that teachers can explore and learn. The second funding stream is directed towards hardware and software acquisition.

The program would aim to:

  • Map learning activities associated with coding / robotics to Curriculum Outcomes
  • Provide students authentic learning opportunities using code / robotics 
  • Identify first order barriers to implementation in the classroom
  • Identify effective enablers for teachers and students
  • Consider ways to differentiate and personalise learning for students
  • Provide a roadmap for future development and improvement 
  • Engage and excite the school community about a STEM infused learning environment.
  • Measure the learning outcomes and engagement of students through empirical and anecdotal measures

Phase 1: Acquisition

Aim: To provide a broad understanding and provide teachers time to focus on an area of particular interest based on potential integration into learning programs.

A pilot group of teachers is identified (4 teachers – one teacher per year group). Provision of training and development e.g. Scratch, Tickle, Orbotix, Sphero, Lego Robotics, Xcode etc (we are actively exploring options).

Pilot/lead teacher(s) will be released to examine makers kits and rate them for suitability for different age groups – vendors to demonstrate their products. Teachers will choose from amongst the coding/robotics options the applications that they believe will have most application with the Stage 2 and Stage 3 class groups. 

We recognise that teachers may have a stronger connection or see greater potential with certain applications and this can be accommodated providing the teachers have a broad functional understanding of others. We are keen to see provision of diverse options for students in the longer term. It is expected that the pilot teachers would consider ways in which coding / robotics might be incorporated within existing learning programs.

Provision of 2 full days release per teacher.Provision of professional development resource personnel as required – providing specific training re coding and robotics. 

Phase 2: Implementation

Aim: To provide project based activities to engage and facilitate learning in a “Code Camp” – for students and teachers.

Pilot teachers develop a “Code Camp” series of lessons which target basic code and robotics skills and knowledge based on their experience in Phase 1. These will provide immersion opportunities for students and other teachers. Code Camp sessions would aim to provide for differentiated learning and would be run by the pilot group collaboratively with different class groups during our alternative activities week, which runs each year at the end of Term 4. Activities e.g. creation of a robotic dance, developing a solution to an authentic problem, or a solution to an authentic challenge. 
Provision of 4 days (one day per teacher) release time for pilot teachers to enable development of Code Camp activities etc. 

Evaluation of Code Camp Series. This will provide guidance to teachers for the development of programs that will leverage code / robotics in Term 1, 2016.

Phase 3: Application

Aim: To integrate Code / Robotics into learning programs and activities.

Participation of our students and teachers in external events / maker spaces e.g. Future Schools. Partnering with other schools etc.

Teachers work to integrate coding / robotics into one or more of their learning programs during the next three school terms. This may apply to Science and Maths specifically or may be a part of integrated Project Based Learning e.g. Challenge Based Learning, Problem Based Learning, Inquiry Based Learning etc. 

Enter groups in ICT Young Explorers 2016 and other learning challenges (Measure of success – if coding / robotics feature strongly as part of student work).

  

Update progress  to date: Stepping Out With Robotics and Coding | Learning Journey

The Five Best Practices

     
During the holiday period I was fortunate enough to attend an Education Summit in Adelaide. I always find conferences inspirational and this one certainly was. This was a different sort of conference as it brought together the leadership of schools from across Australia and New Zealand that have been recognised as Apple Distinguished Schools. The conference was not at all about products, which we were all using in various configurations. The focus was clearly and coherently on our common interest of education / pedagogy.

One of the things I realise when I mix with other educators, leading change and innovation, is that there are some truly extraordinary people doing some truly exceptional things. These meetings and collaborative opportunities help to feed our vision. I often walk away realising that there is much, much more to do. This conference was no exception. Here assembled were many schools with mature dynamic 1:1 learning programs. Educators with clear vision and deep understanding of teaching and learning. They were representing schools whose teachers have been empowered through powerful professional learning commitments and where students are using technology as a natural part of their school life. The schools gathered were eclectic from across a wide spectrum of systems. This I think always enriches a conference because the models, challenges and solutions expressed are so diverse. There is always something new and unexpected and brilliant. There are perceptions and perspectives which always challenge our own narrow point of view. 

Through a series of workshops, we explored Five Best Practices relating to visionary leadership, innovative learning & teaching, ongoing professional learning, compelling evidence of success and flexible learning environments. Each of the workshops encouraged us to look at ourselves objectively and to interact with the other educators. While we might consider that we are making great strides in integrating technology, taking this time to reflect and learn from the experience of others was really beneficial. It fed directly to vision and brings clarity to future planning. It was all about connection and self appraisal.

The Five Best Practices concept is really worth a close look. It extends on criteria going beyond the Distinguished classification, looking at how schools can aspire to achieve Exemplary and Transformative descriptions.

Clearly we are on a continuum and being able to better articulate where we are on that continuum is essential to future planning e.g. while we are integrating and creating impressive workflows are we creating truly authentic learning experiences? How can we become more focussed on providing personalised opportunities for our students? How can we do better in providing formative feedback to teachers? How can we reinvent our learning spaces to really match the needs of students?
Materials and resources were all provided efficiently via iTunes U and we were pointed towards many of the great resources being produced by educators and available in the iTunes U Library. Of course the evolution of iTunes U with 3.0 has revolutionised the possibilities as it is now possible to provide direct feedback to students. https://www.apple.com/au/education/ipad/itunes-u/

  
A great highlight, for me, was speaker Tim Jarvis who provided compelling insights into leadership in extreme circumstances. He spoke about Shackleton’s Expedition to the Antarctic and about his own expedition to retrace the impossible Shackleton journey. It certainly put our own struggles into perspective. Here I have to add that intertwined with this extraordinary tale was a deeper message about global warming and the subsequent environmental issues. Here is Challenge Based Learning in the extreme. You can learn more about Tim Jarvis’s journey here: http://www.timjarvis.org/speaking/video/

 Another highlight speaker, educator Craig Smith, impressed with his passion and commitment to improving learning experiences of Autistic students. His creative use of technology to improve outcomes was inspired e.g. Using Minecraft to create digital representations.