Food For Thought

I am in the process of digesting a rich piece of work “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. It is good to find research and thought brought together in this cohesive narrative. The Australian perspective makes the work particularly relevant for Australian schools. As the author points out there is a lack of research in the field and the work provides practical examples which apply theory to classroom practice. Schools require academic leadership and they want to understand better the possibilities opened through technology. Educators are seeking a theoretical foundation to support change in their learning environments.

In addition to Dr. Hunters work I recently read a valuable work which looked at the use of ubiquitous computing in the systemic transformation of a high school to embrace 21st century teaching and learning, Leah M. Christman. I liked this paper as it drew on TPACK and SAMR and provided evidence to support a series of recommendations. Among these were the following:

“• clearly articulated vision, goals, and expectations;

• leaders who understand the mission and create supporting policies and procedures;

• teacher and stakeholder support and engagement;

• reliable supports for technology infrastructure, hardware, software, and training;

• connections between technology, pedagogy, and 21st century skills; and

an ongoing measurement plan to analyze results.”



 Both works brought me back to consider the excellent framework developed by Apple to help define their Apple Distinguished Schools Program. In this framework the following criteria is provided to guide schools:

Visionary Leadership

  • Shared Leadership

School leaders take collective ownership of the initiative.

  • Individual Leadership

A credible and inspirational thought leader sets and articulates the vision.

  • Community Engagement

Broad community sponsorship supports the institution’s initiatives.

Innovative Learning and Teaching

  • Student Learning

Learning is a personal experience for every student.

  • Instructional Practices

Faculty are master learners who expertly guide their students through difficult and complex tasks.

  • Curriculum Design

Innovation and rigorous curriculum is redesigned to leverage technology.

Ongoing Professional Learning

  • Relevant and Timely Professional Development

Faculty engage in a cycle of inquiry that promotes reflection, experimentation, and sharing.

Compelling Evidence of Success

  • Quantitative

Data is routinely collected and analyzed to inform progress and measure success.

  • Qualitative

Narrative, reflective, or anecdotal evidence is collected and shared.

Flexible Learning Environment

  • School Design and Facilities

Facilities and schedules are designed to maximize learning opportunities that technology provides.

  • Information Technology (IT)

Information Technology (IT) infrastructure supports innovation in teaching and learning.”


The Apple framework has been useful in evaluating and benchmarking our own process. Continuous evaluation of our effectiveness and being open to ideas which are informed by research is crucial. The work of Dr. Hunter and Christman will add useful input to this process. I am also keen to look at the work of Dr. Damian Bebell who is a leader in the design and implementation of empirical research studies in technology rich educational environments.

Reinventing Spaces

In a previous entry Journeying in a Sandbox I had discussed our intention to innovate our learning spaces and how initially we wanted to trial furniture in our Year 6 and Year K spaces. 

Our motivation for innovating spaces was based on changing pedagogical needs. Ubiquitous access to technology spurred by our 1:1 iPad Program was enabling our teachers and students. Effective, meaningful integration of technology into teaching programs was expanding opportunities and changing the way that we worked. Our classrooms needed to accommodate the more diverse needs of both the students and the teachers. Project based learning, blended learning, authentic learning tasks, differentiation, personalisation, collaboration, workflows, potential for real time feedback and formative assessment and the possibilities to redefine (SAMR) were surfacing across our school and we were starting to feel the constraints of our boxed traditional classrooms. Change was necessary. 

To a certain extent we were blind and uncertain about making furniture choices. It is easy to recognise the need, but much harder to translate that into real furniture. Remembering here that we weren’t changing the architecture (yet). The classroom spaces that we were seeking to reinvent did at least have the capability to open walls which meant that one large space for each year group was possible. We had visited other innovative schools and had explored literature extensively and so this combined with the knowledge of our furniture partner ‘Furnware‘ enabled our initial reinvention.  


Above – Year 6 (Featuring Furnware furniture)

Below – Year K (Featuring Furnware furniture)


The Year 6 classroom space has certainly been applauded by the students and the teachers. They really love their space and are taking enormous pride in an area which is really unique. The thing I notice most, about their use of the space, is that it is constantly changing throughout the week and often throughout the day. The space is really fluid and can adapt to the needs of the users really well. Here I must add that the program of learning in Year 6 is very dynamic leveraging PBL with authentic learning tasks and collaborative learning. The teachers team really well injecting direct instruction as required. Their management of the space is artful and purposeful. 

Similarly the Kindergaten space too is open plan and fluid. It is exciting to walk through the space when the dividing wall is open and the children are working in stations or interacting in group activities. The open nature of the space is a shift for the teachers as they move away from a more traditional model. It will be interesting to observe how the use of this space evolves as the children mature and the teachers innovate further.

I am hopeful that during Term 2 the teachers in both these areas have the opportunity to visit other schools to see how other teachers are working in innovated spaces. Being able to learn from others and improve our own innovation is vital as we move to innovate spaces more widely across the school. 

Collaboration, Technology, Science and Fun

Don’t you love those moments when you see great learning in action. This short video was produced by Year 3 students recording their experimentation.

Where To Next?


At this time we are solidly committed to our 1:1 iPad Program. We have opted for a school owned iPad program. In June /July we will renew a batch of about 100 iPads.

We have been using iPad 2s which have been very robust and slick. Certainly the students have found this form factor very portable and easy to use. The iPad 2 is now discontinued. We are confronted with three replacement options – the iPad Mini, the iPad 4 (Retina Display) and the iPad Air. I have a clear favourite. The iPad Air (which I have been using for about a month) is exquisite.

The Air has the Retina Display, a great fast processor, a good camera and a slim light weight form. This combined with the Apple DNA make the Air ideal as a mobile device. The Mini seems too small for continuous work and the 4 feels too big. So the Air seems “just right”….except for one thing….the price. As an individual device for myself the price is reasonable, but when we are looking to buy 100 now, and probably another 200 at the end of the year suddenly the cost balloons.

Our second choice is the 4 which is also a great device with Retina Display, a fast processor (not quite as good as the Air) and a good camera. The form of the 4 is bigger and heavier than the Air (it is very similar to the iPad 2, which has served us well). The cost difference between the 4 and the Air (in Australia) is about $140. This means that if we end up buying 300 iPad 4s, during the course of the year, we would spend much less than if we bought the iPad Air. At the end of the day I can’t justify the cost for a slightly slimmer, lighter iPad Air. The iPad 4 is the logical choice for us.

Device Hubs
At the start of our school year we purchased some MacBook Airs and a few Dell laptops running Windows. Using these we created a couple of hubs where the children can access devices anytime. We did this because we recognised that variety is the norm in the real world. While all children are equipped with a personal device (an iPad) sometimes they might prefer to use something different. Sometimes the iPad, while very versatile, isn’t the perfect tool for the job. Also we need to enable our students to be capable irrespective of the device available in their real world experience. These hubs are being used extensively. All the devices are instantly ready to go and are reliable. This is what iPad users expect because that’s what the iPad offers. Maintaining these device hubs to deliver reliably is essential. We will continue to update and provide new devices regularly. I must add here that we haven’t jumped aboard the Windows 8 band wagon yet. This I admit is my own bias. Windows 8 simply feels weird to me. It’s a bit like android in contrast with iOS. Anyway I suppose in our quest towards variety we should add these also.
Importantly our economy in selecting the iPad 4 should enable the provision and maintenance of devices for our hubs.

The Cloud
The iPad has certainly impacted the way we work and a local network is limiting. We are currently using a variety of different cloud services. The recent arrival of Office apps from Microsoft opens possibilities further as they interact with Office 365 which is in The Cloud. I am not sure that the Microsoft offering is the way to go. It is quite expensive even when priced for education and seems limited to the Microsoft Office platform only. We already have comparable capabilities via Apple’s suite of apps which can also interact in The Cloud and Google Apps for Education which is also free and Cloud based.

For us I suppose being able to deliver and access content, to store, communicate and collaborate anywhere anytime, in a streamlined way, is what we are seeking. We are using Edmodo, Evernote, iTunes U, Dropbox, Apple Cloud, YouTube, Socrative, Google etc. All this seems a bit clumsy. You will notice that all of these are free services. I am not sure that any of the paid options offer the streamlined service that I would like. About a year ago I attended a session about a Cloud service called “Stile” which seems to work brilliantly on any device as it is browser based. It also interacts well with any content and with apps on an iPad. This seemed to offer a good solution at a price. We are investigating this further. Another idea, suggested by one of our teachers, is in beta at the moment, Which is a different sort of concept, but might be worth a look.
We are also looking at storage options such as and
Remote Desktop access is another initiative being pursued at a local level.

We are looking closely at learning spaces. Over the last 12 months we have visited a number of schools that have innovated their learning spaces. We have found that our needs are changing rapidly and that rigid learning spaces aren’t able to deliver adequately. We are feeling boxed in. What is needed are spaces which are versatile and adaptable. We need spaces where students and teachers are excited to be in. Spaces which can be traditional, open plan, collaborative. Spaces which are rich with opportunity.

Learning from others who have innovated their spaces has been our first step after recognising the need. Our own process is in advanced infancy. We are in discussion with designers and architects and trying to articulate our vision and needs. This will provide a Master plan for our development over the next few years. We are also keen to start to experiment with alternative furniture to see what works and what doesn’t. We are keen to see some of our existing spaces change and be used differently. Essentially embarking on a Lean process

Teacher Capability
There are many facets to our professional development initiatives underway at this time. We are running mentoring programs, upskilling teachers technical skills, enabling teachers with the new National Curriculum, developing pedagogy through Visible Thinking and by opening our classroom practice for discussion.
In many cases teachers are boxed in schools a bit like they are boxed in classrooms. This is limiting especially when we are seeing the need for change. There is a clear need to keep evolving teachers. Here it is partly about the technology, but really it is mainly about pedagogy. We should send teachers to conferences such as Edutech regularly. These sorts of experiences are really rich both in terms of content and as a way of engaging in discussion with educators from diverse backgrounds. Conferences can be transformative. There is a clear need for teachers to see the bigger picture, recognise opportunities and leverage these experiences for their own professional development and classroom practice. More than this it opens possibilities to grow and transform schools.

Parents / Community – Awareness
It is important to bring the larger school community with us on our journey regarding the employment of technology in classrooms, sometimes we get push back from parents. Clearly change is occurring rapidly and for many this can be hard to keep up with. I suppose I am so immersed in a learning culture which is infused with technology it seems natural. Clearly using technology in the school situation as a “babysitter” is inappropriate and undermines the use of technology as an educational tool. Clearly too the implementation of a responsible usage agreement with students is important. Along side these there needs for a Cyber Awareness initiative which educates students about safety and responsible social behaviour. We are also targeting parents because clearly much online behaviour occurs at home. We are running ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) cyber safety sessions for parents, teachers and students later in the year.

It is important for parents to understand how technology is improving student outcomes. They need to see how substitution, augmentation, modification or redefinition are employed using technology to benefit their children. How workflows can enrich the learning experiences of their children. We are planning to run a number of parent workshops and events to showcase some of what we are doing during the year.

We now have a fibre link into our school. At this stage it is limited to 10 Mbps up and 10 down. This is currently teamed with a couple of ADSL lines. Ultimately streamlining this into a purely fibre connection would make sense as capacity gets cheaper. When we go this route in the future it will be important to consider redundancy. Some sort of alternative should be considered. Keeping an ADSL line could be one option, but this is still reliant on wire to a local exchange. If we relied solely on this we could still be vulnerable. A microwave link is a possibility, but expensive. We could consider a 4G capability which would at least provide some small capacity in the event of failure – once again expensive too. I expect that as we move forward other options will emerge or these alternatives will become cheaper.

Reflecting On The Journey

Our school is a Primary school (K – 6). We embraced a 1:1 iPad roll out in 2013.

Powerful Transformative Learning: Ideas around Workflow, SAMR ( and TPCK ( can become a reality in a 1:1 iPad program.

A host of different applications are in play across classrooms. Our school hasn’t attempted to be prescriptive. Allowing a degree of freedom amongst teachers has opened possibilities and teachers are also offering students options which expand the learning opportunities to individualize and to differentiate. We have tried to tailor applications to class needs, however certain apps are staple across most grades including all the Apple Applications iMovie, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, GarageBand, also Book Creator, Creative Book Builder, Edmodo, Explain Everything, Puppet Pals and Visualize. The more “open ended” applications are the most useful providing greater scope to both teachers and students. Student-centred, authentic, project-based learning experiences are being enhanced and inspired by the application of iPads.​

The capability of delivering content quickly through iTunes U, Edmodo, Showbie and Evernote has made opportunities for blended learning and of flipping Classrooms a reality. Teachers are developing class blogs or arranging Skype links with classes in other countries and bringing experts virtually into the classrooms and into children’s homes to support learning

Teachers are also actively using iPads to augment their assessment of student progress. The capability of the iPad to record learning moments, collect, collate and report is impressive.​
Our library has developed an eBook collection and borrowing system which means that students can access digital books virtually on a range of devices. This has opened access for students and learning opportunities in our classrooms.

In Australia there has been substantial change with regard to the Curriculum. The new Australian National Curriculum is seeking to integrate technology across all strands of the Curriculum. Our provision of iPads to all students in years K to 6 has provided the capability to achieve this. Teachers are redesigning their teaching programs to reflect the integration of technology, and in particular the integration of iPads, as the New Curriculum is released. Our school has a Curriculum Coordinator helping to coordinate change. The process is very much a collaborative team effort.
The Australian Curriculum includes seven General Capabilities as can be seen in the diagram below ICT Capability is identified as one of the seven General Capabilities to be addressed across the Curriculum.

© Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority

Teacher Development
Our mission as educators, at our school, is to transform the potential technology offers to improve teaching and learning practices and ultimately, student outcomes.
The school has committed to developing a strong culture of learning aimed at developing learners for the 21st Century.
Our teachers have been actively involved in a comprehensive learning program. A Whole School approach was undertaken which targeted several key areas.
Differentiate teaching to meet specific needs of students across the full range of abilities.
Teachers undertook to complete a number of learning opportunities presented in an iTunes U Course and demonstrate differentiated strategies in programming of Curriculum including the use of technology to individualize and differentiate
Technology – Effective integration of iPads and other technology resources within the Curriculum.
Provision of an Apple Certified Educators (via external providers) to provide a structured mentoring program and workshops.
Crucially the school has continued to develop a Culture of Thinking (both amongst teachers and the students) where learning is more purposeful, deeper and more meaningful to students. ‘Thinking’ is an integral part of the learning process. Visible Thinking is tied strongly to our use of technology, Project Based Learning and broader Curriculum Outcomes.

Changing Spaces
The arrival of real mobile technology via the iPad has opened possibilities to change pedagogical practices. The way that classrooms are working is changing too. Escaping from traditional classrooms to more versatile spaces is another great by product of the iPad Program. Entering classrooms it is common to see children on floors, sitting in pairs, in clusters or just moving and doing, as well as working in traditional formations. What is clear is that spaces need to be able to accommodate many ways of learning and collaborating.
We are starting to think about how we can achieve this using existing structures, by adapting furniture, creating movable walls, using glass to open the environment, as well as reviewing timetables and student groupings. The school is engaging in a process to identify and plan, so that our existing and future buildings and spaces can be designed to accommodate for the changing needs of students, teachers, curriculum and the community.

Creative Book Builder – A Year 5 student talks about his work.

A short video explaining the creation of an iBook about Microorganisms using Creative Book Builder (app) on an iPad.

Sharing the Journey – a Japanese visit

We recently hosted a visit, of several educators, from Japan. The Japanese visitors were visiting a number of schools across Australia to see technology implementation in education. This was a great opportunity for our teachers and students to showcase some of the excellent work that is occurring across the school. The visitors were particularly interested to learn about our K to Year 6 iPad Program.

The schedule below provides a snapshot of the experience provided to the visitors.
*10:00 – 10:30 Meeting with the Principal and Technology Coordinator – Regarding our iPad Journey
Meet the teachers – show and tell with Classroom Teachers
*10:30 Curriculum Coordinator – using Itunes U for Professional Development and to deliver content to students in classrooms
*10:35 Year 3 classroom teachers using Edmodo to connect home and school
*10: 40 Year 4 classroom teachers – hands on using Nearpod to structure a lesson
*10:50 Year 6 classroom teachers – Creating a project on Notable Australians using Creative Book Builder, using Explain Everything to provide feedback
Classroom walk around
*11:00 Year 3 – Presenting a Mathematics project using Book Creator
*11:15 Year 5 – using Creative Book Builder to record observations in Science (Micro Organisms)
*11:30 Year 1 and 2 – Popplet (on living things), Explain Everything (to record an explanation), Comic Book (using punctuation)
*11:50 Library – how eBooks are managed and delivered to students, using QR Codes as a library tool
*12:00 Concluding

The visit really provided an opportunity for teachers and students to demonstrate the great success of the 1:1 iPad program. It also reflected how much we have grown the learning and teaching model, regarding the integration of technology, since the implementation of our iPad program.


Apps for the Journey


I have been using an iPad for about two years and it is interesting to reflect on the apps that I use most actively myself.
One of the immediate realisations is that it really isn’t that many. I do have a load of apps on board, but often these are apps that I am trying out or are apps which are used very occasionally. Many apps end up lying dormant.

The Top 30 (my) most commonly used apps (in no particular order).

Camera Roll
The Weather Channel
Qrafter Pro
Google Drive
App Store
iTunes U

The posts below identify some apps that I think are useful in the classroom.
A Few Favourite Apps | Learning Journey

An App Journey | Learning Journey

iPossibilities in Year K


Recently I have had the pleasure of working with Year K. We have been using iPads to enhance learning in various ways. Some aspects of what we have been doing has been traditional and other experiences have been more open ended and creative.

Apps that we have used have included interactive books such as The Monster at the End of the Book and PopOut! Peter. Wonderful apps which add some new elements and perhaps breathe life into traditional books. We have had the opportunity to look at narrative structures in fun and interesting ways. We have used these sorts of book experiences in both a shared class experience, in individual and share with a friend approaches. Great opportunities for the children to immerse and engage themselves in literature.

We have also learnt to use apps which have more open ended possibilities. Apps such as Viz (Visualize) and ShowMe. These apps offer possibilities for children to create in different ways. ShowMe has the capacity to record sound, drawing and writing. In the classroom it could be used to respond to literature, tell a story, recount, explain, communicate ideas etc. Viz enables the children to create amazing posters which can include pictures, words, objects and symbols. Once again a way for children to respond, explain, show, communicate.

We have also used Scribble Press which is an exciting way to get children writing and drawing as they produce their own book. This sort of experience is exciting and dynamic and provides great open ended learning opportunities.

Our latest exploration has been into using PuppetPals to explore narrative. We started by modeling the process with the large groups and this week we plan to produce some more independent small group work. Our first productions were fabulous experiences and involved the children in planning, making decisions, acting and producing a group story about “The Princess and the Witch”. You can view our amazing productions by clicking the links below.

Link 1

Link 2