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I picked up this gem of an image the other day I thought I would use it as my latest blog post. It is taken from Whatedsaid and it is how I would like to see myself in the classroom (thats the image on the right by the way). Ed talks about the ability to inspire to lead as far as a manager of a group goes and this is what I believe should be our inspiration for developing the learning of our students. It is very easy to get bogged down with content when delivering a course but lately I have been reflecting on ways to get around this. One of the most successful ways I have found is by asking my students.

Recently I have worked closely with my classes to develop their skills in designing the learning for themselves and we are at a stage where they are telling me how they want the course content delivered to them individually. Once the intitial barrier of being afraid to speak up gets broken down the information flows and flows from them. This has allowed me to design courses with them in mind because they have provided me with the scaffold. Sometimes I will ask them to email me suggestions or comment on a request others walk straight up to me and tell me. It allows my classes to be a connected classroom on many levels.

For example… I ask all of my students after they have submitted an assessment task to tell me ten points about “how the assessment task went”, how the content and learning was delivered” and “what could be improved”. I get a variety of constructive critiscm and I often have to be prepared to be offended by what they say but most of the time if they didnt like something they tell me and suggest ways I can improve in that area. This has helped me, I believe, to become a better teacher and puts me on their level where I am assessing them and they are assessing me. Just recently I didnt ask for feedback from a year 11 class after they had finished an assessment and they really wanted to have that opportunity to give it. I just simply forgot and when I told them that they wrote feedback in a blog post of their own accord. I can honestly say that feedback is allowing me to improve my teaching in all aspects of pedagogy and when I am stuck for inspiration I know where I can get it realiably. Here is an example of the feedback I get:


  • I really liked the freedom to choose what emotion we could choose to portray, and finding the clips and music to match
  • I also liked the freedom to decide what we were going to do each lesson, it was a lot easier to find motivation that way, and easier to learn, because I wasn’t being forced into paying attention when I wasn’t focused.
  • I liked the ’24hr classroom’, although I felt at times that it was hard to keep track of, and remembering to constantly check the blog was sometimes beyond me.
  • I much preferred blogging to writing a portfolio, but I felt sometimes that I didn’t know what to write, and also, I didn’t feel as much need to get it done, even though it was worth so many marks
  • I thought that the time limit was a bit long, so I didn’t feel a lot of pressure to finish, so my time management could have been better
  • Youtube being unblocked made it easier to find our own videos, but it also made it harder to focus on the task at hand, and I often got distracted watching videos somewhat irrelevant to the topic
  • It was hard coming up with ideas for a movie, and at times it seemed to broad a topic to narrow down to one good idea
  • Conveying the emotion I chose accurately was a lot harder than I thought, and having to put in text and transitions I thought was rather unnecessary. It was also very frustrating trying to make the transitions work with the timing of the video.
  • Using iMovie was fairly simple, and I was happy with the result that I got, however, sometimes I had problems using the controls, or there were things that, as far as I knew, iMovie couldn’t do, such as superimposing clips or photos.
  • Overall I really enjoyed this project, but I felt like I would have preferred doing something that related a bit more to the practical aspect of computing, as I’m not really sure how much I’ll use iMovie in the long run.

And another on the same assessment but from a different student


  • I really enjoyed this unit of creating a movie portraying an emotion as it allowed myself and the class to display their creative side and ability to create a quality and evoking movie, rather than a purely design, technical and analytical task.
  • This assessment was also more enjoyable as the marking criteria were less focused on including certain elements and completing criteria in the movie, rather focused on the effectiveness of the portrayal of the emotion, and therefore provided more freedom in creating the movie.
  • I was initially sceptical of the blog and its outcomes, however it was actually a really effective medium to convey our peronalities, computing skills and thoughts / ideas on the assessment.
  • The blog was a really effective method of updating and maintaining a record of my thoughts, feelings and ideas about the assessment and video, and was more realistic, apprporiate and useful than a design portfolio.
  • The blog also allowed me to work from home on this assessment in a productive way, allowing a medium to encapsulate my thoughts and ideas at any given moment. It also allowed me to access the IST Digital Media PowerPoint for notes, and read up on what was expected for the week ahead. This woking from home aspect was much more appealing and productive than a design portfolio, and allowed me to work with more freedom.
  • This assessment allowed and forced myslef to use iMovie and its features in greater detail and depth than ever before. I also was forced to use the software myself rather than sit back and let others (usually more capable and confident) do it for me.
  • I thought obtaining the assessment task early was much better (like last time) as we could start working and thinking about our assessment earlier in the term, and allowed me to start my blog.
  • The ability to chose the emotion and context for portraying that emotion in our assessment task made it extremely enjoyable, fun and interesting as we were creating a video about something we were interested and passionate in.
  • I disliked having to copy down the notes by ourselves from the powerpoint as I didn’t really understand the notes. I much preferred copying down the notes in class and having a discussion about the meaning of the notes, as I felt I learnt more that way.
  • iMovie was frustrating to use at some stages, and didn’t allow me to create some effects that I had originally planned to use, and I hence had to change some ideas to suit iMovie’s capabilities. Eg. I orginally planned to have 4 pictures move 1 by 1 from right to left, finishing in a pile of photos and fading out, however I could not create this and therfore in my movie I just have the photos fade in and out individually. This may have hindered my depiction of the emotion of happiness.
  • It was hard to decide upon a song which effectively portrayed the same emotion as te clip and fitted the timing and content of the footage. I had to play around with a few songs, their timing and the footage itself to get the right balance of audio and visual stimulation.
  • There were many options in handing up this assessment, which was good as it allowed those who wished to upload their video to YouTube to do so, those who finished with enough time to burn their movie to a DVD to hand it in with privacy, and allowed the option of handing in the movie on a USB.
  • Although I changed my ideas and emotions that I wanted to portray through this assessment, I am quite proud and hapy with my final outcome.

These are unedited evaluations written this morning and posted on my wikispaces site by my students. If you could I would like you to have a look at what my students have created and leave comments on this blog and I will pass them onto the students. They would really appreciate it and so would I.

With the use of the technology we have available to us it is becomming increasingly easier to deliver course content in a variety of methods rather than the “chalk and talk” method. However, I certainly haven’t bannished this method of teaching, there is definetly a need for this type of pedagogy. When I ask my students which method they prefer 21st century learning wins hands down. Its because we live in a technological world and our students are exposed to it everyday.

With the use of technology I hope to reach the upper right of this diagram so that my students learn at their best:


And a poster that I have up in my classroom:


Thanks for reading. Leave interesting or creative responses in the comment section below! (RWJ)



The Ripple Effect

Gday all,

I have big plans. Huge Plans. Such big plans that I want to stop every teacher in the world and yell “WE ARE GOING ABOUT THIS THE WRONG WAY”! We need to take a look at our teaching pedagogy and rethink how we approach it now that we are in the 21st Century. I want to tell the worlds teachers that in their classrooms students aren’t learning the way they should be and that they need to focus on whats happening in the world rather than the four walls they call a learning environment!

But what is this going to achieve? If you are like me you would be offended that someone was saying that about your pedagogy!

So what am I going to do about it……..”The Ripple Effect!”

I am going to start doing a few things in my classes that I have researched that work and if teachers want to know about it they can read my journey through this blog. I have already updated my signature in my email to state my blog address and my Twitter username so that some may click on these to see what I have to say!

This idea of the ripple effect is not new in fact Jenny Luca posted a blog about it a while back and we have spoken together in email about trying to change the world one teacher at a time. She and I both know that you can lead a teacher to water but you cant make them drink unless they are thirsty! Its a shame though that some teachers out there are doing the same mundane tasks year after year getting pretty reasonable results but if they stepped away from these mundane tasks just on one occasion then maybe those results would be through the roof. The inevitable comment always rings out “looks great but only if I had the time”. MAKE THE TIME. You will reap the benefit of your efforts.

This blog post has been inspired by a few things that I have read or seen this week. One of them is on how much data we are generating through the use of social media and what we as teachers should do about it. Its called Infowhelm . The other is what we should do about it andits called 21st Century Pedagogy. It is an insight for teachers into the “Did you know 2.0“. We as teachers need to focus on the “How we learn” part of our subjects rather than “What we learn” so that students can adapt to the ever changing global community through the use of technology. Why? Because our students are adapting to the technology that surrounds them and we as teachers aren’t.  Those that can do this will “keep up” those that don’t I worry about.

I had a very interesting discussion with a group of my Year 10 digital media class after they have finished a project for me. I was talking to them about matrix learning and how they can self manage their time to complete set tasks. They said they were doing this in another subject and “noone” was doing the set tasks. WHY? They said it because there isnt any incentives. What sort of incentives do we need to learn? Or is the subject matter not suited to this type of pedagogy? I wonder. With this in mind I am asking them to help me develop a solution to this problem. They are the best advisors to help me. I wonder if other teachers have asked their students for feedback on how to deliver a subject better. I do it for every topic I facilitate. Some are very honest and constructive in their critisicm and it has helped me a lot.

I was also inspired to write this blog post this week because of this little gem which for me as a visual learner helped me to put into perspective how to justify Blooms Taxonomy using digital technology. My aim now is to try and use as many as I can in my teaching and assist others (that want assistance) to use them as well. It comes from iLearn Technology blog and it is well worth taking a good look at.

Big week this week! House nearly ready for sale and a father and son surf trip this weekend which is why I have blogged early. Hope it doesnt rain.

Thanks for reading


“Whats your PLN?”

This is a question that was sent to me via email from a colleague on Friday…….

She had just been to a conference where they talked about making sure that you have your own Personal Learning Network. In life we always want to learn something and where we get our learning from is important to us. Why? For me its because I dont want to miss out on something that may be really important that will help me to teach my students…….also the information that I learn can be passed on……to students, colleagues, staff, parents and others willing to listen (like you!).

My response to the question was simple “My PLN is global and it grows everyday!” It has taken me a long time to develop it…..My PLN is mine and I am happy to pass it on but each persons pathway of learning is different. Also the way that I develop it is different to most because my MacBook travels with me.

How do I make it work for me?

Firstly I dont spen 24/7 building it. If I did it would be MASSIVE and I wouldn’t be able to cypher through all the data that I gather. Secondly I dont get worried about missing information….. I just have to let it go. Noone is going to be dissappointed if I miss out on something. Besides someone is bound to retweet the important bits. Also I can always bookmark or flag something that I need to look at later.

I believe in RSS feeds. As soon as I see the rss icon light up I instantly hit subscribe. Where do I get these rss feeds? Most of the time they are from Twitter. A person I am following posts a link and when I am reading it I find that it is worth subscribing. This goes straight to my rss folders in Outlook and I able to keep an eye on this at work or at home. I know that some people use but for me, because of my notebook, it is mobile and with me.

The key to who I subscribe to is what I am into. Its important to establish a theme of interest prior to tweeting, retweeting or subscribing. I am into 21st Century Learning not content driven learning but learning how to learn with the tools of the 21st Century Learning. Hence, most of the people I am follwoing on Twitter or rss feeds are interested in the same thing (Except Julia Gillard yep she’s following me?????). So anyone in the world who says something in a blog or post something online or tweets someting about 21st Century Learning to me is worth following. Plus if they are prepared to post something online about it then they must know what they are talking about…… if they dont I will stop following them!

Who do I follow……on Twitter that easy. So here and you will see them all. You may find someone worth following yourself.

Who do I subscribe to……this is going to take a while (but for you all you have to do is click on the links! I though about giving you a description but I think they are pretty much self explanatory.See below:

PHEW! As I said it keeps getting bigger everyday.

It is not too late to start building your own PLN. You are more than welcome to use mine as a foundation for your own. That depends on if you are into 21st Century Learning using ICT!

Thanks for reading


ELH2010 Am I missing it?

In 2007 I had three life changing occurances that has lead me to this point in my life. Each of them very different but all have affected me to reach the goals that I still am yet to achieve. Sit down I hope you are ready for a long read!

In 2007 I was working in an DETNSW IT Selective High School acting as the Head of Computing. I thought with sheer arrogance that no one else was as good as me and that everyone would want to know my knowledge of how to implement technology across all KLA’s. I never visited other schools outside of the local area and often schools would visit my domain and we would show their staff how good we had it as far as all of our technology and our students ability.

Then the first life changing moment happened:

The Pasha Bulker ran aground off Nobbys

Thats right the Pasha Bulker ran aground at Nobbys Beach not far from my house. Not only did this happened but on one side of my property my Retaining Wall failed. It didnt collapse but it pushed the poles that were holding it up to tilt 60 degrees. Consequently my next door neighbour sued myself and my wife for whats known in legal terms as a “private nuisance”. That was three years ago and we are comming to the end of the mess and it looks more than likely we will move shortly. Why a life changing event….well it has taught me who my true circle of friends are. Friends come and go I know that but friends who stick by you when life is tough….really tough… when you just want to scream tough….and those friends stick by you and let you scream….they are the keepers so hold onto them. Also it has taught me a lot about human spirit and the need to survive and protect my children. I have three wonderful boys and they have been great through all this and it was important for us to be open and honest about what our neighbour has done to us. My eldest has his first GF this weekend and is a State champion for rugby league. I couldn’t be prouder!

Back at my previous school I had a wonderful principal whom was very supportive and one day in 2007 she sent me to this conference that changed the way I looked at a classroom and life in general. Hence life changing moment number 2. She sent me to the QLA conference where I met David Langford. He is such an inspiring educator and he helped me to change the way I was teaching and to try things in the classroom that traditionally were deemed radical by me. I started to implement some of his teaching methods into the classroom and I got amazing results from learners whom some teachers would deem unteachable! I became a facilitator rather than a prison warden. If ever you get a chance to see him speak or Youtube him you will see what I mean.

The third change lead me to where I am now… my current school. I felt I wasnt getting anywhere with the DET and an advertisement came up at a very exclusive private school in the Newcastle area. I managed to secure an interview and the first question that the Headmaster asked me was “Why did you apply for this position?”. I passed him my Langford resources and said this is why. It took me half an hour to go through all of my reasons of why and what inspiriation QLA had on me and the reason for wanting to teach. I knew that it could sway their desicion either way about me. The interview went for 2hours where the panel fired questions at me. When I got home my wife was crying thinking that something bad had happened to me because I was gone so long. I didn’t hear from the school for about two weeks and by that time I didn’t think I had got the job. Even sitting my family down at the dinner table one night an telling them I didn’t get it. Then one day my deputy told me that he had been asked to provide information about me to the Headmaster at the new school and the thing that he said about me that stuck in my mind was “sometimes you just have to let the good ones teach”. He said this because he wanted me to become an executive and I didnt want to after meeting David Langford. I got the job by the way. That all happened in 2007

Last year I applied to present at ELH2009 and they accepted my application. I was to talk about self paced learning using Moodle. I had built at my current school an entire curriculum online for students to complete at their own pace using some methods that I had learnt from QLA. I was heading down to ELH thinking that once again I would be king of the realm. Well wasnt I up for a humbling experience. I met so many wonderful educators who shared the same ambitions as I did in the classroom. I came back with a computer full of resources that I doubt that I will ever implement all of them. What was more important than that was the bonds I have formed with people I met down their. These people have inspired me to be the best I can be with the use of technology in the classroom and also to assist other educators to be the best they can be. Evento the point where I went and visited one just recently to see what he was implementing in his school. His name is Steve Collis and you can see what he does here or do what I do which is follow him on Twitter @Steve_Collis. He is an amazing gentleman and what he does in the classroom is incredibly humbling.

Another person I met down at ELH is Jenny Luca. She is the one that got me into Twitter: @Jennyluca and her blog post are truly inspiring as well She I believe is world known and I look forward to her blog posts which she keeps up to date everyweek! She helps me to wook at the world of education in a different light and if every school had a librarian like her I think students would want to enter their library often.

The other person I met last year was Andrew Douch @andrewdouch and . This guy is amazing! He was the Microsoft Innovative Teacher International award recipient last year and spoke so wonderfully about what he does. This year I was amazed to see that he is teaching Biology VCE without a face to face timetabled class! You can read how it is going on his blog.

From these three educators I have been able to form a network of people that I follow on Twitter @ablackwellngs and use their resources for the benefit of my students. I have seen the rewards from the effort I have put in. Not just from the students but from the teachers around me. I am now moving into the 3d virtual world environment and using OpenSim and Sloodle to develop resources and it is a long way from my first attempt at sharing resources!

So back to the title….Am I missing EHL2010. Yes and No. Yes because it would be great to catch up with educators from last year and meet new ones. No because I have been watching it streamed live by Steve Collis from his laptop. If I miss a session I can go back and watch what educators are saying about the latest trends or resources. I couldnt make it this year, not with all the things happening with my house. Plus my wife wouldn’t let me go. She thought I had too much fun last year with the belly dancer! BUT I WILL BE GOING NEXT YEAR!

Thanks for reading

Talk soon Andrew Blackwell

Follow me on Twitter. I thought I would never say that!

My subject runs 24/7

Whats happenin forum (RWJ)

I am sitting here feeling pretty chuffed today as what I set out to achieve at the beginning of this term has come to fruition. Inspired by the likes of Andrew Douch, Jenny Luca and Steve Collis I have used primitive resources compared to some technology to produce a subject that runs 24/7!

It all started last term when I discussed with my Year 10’s last term about how best to deliver the subject matter they were learning. You see, in the past I would develop PPT’s full of notes and visual media to go through the knowledge I would later examine them on in the form of topic tests, half yearlys and yearlys. They appeared to be really bored and not engaged with the content so I asked them how could I deliver this knowledge. One answer was “just give us the ppt notes and we will copy this down and study it”. This was okay but the notes still required clarification! This was solved by me recording my voice talking about each slide individually whilst the learner takes down the notes in an exercise book and completes set tasks based on relevance. I have had some interesting comments from the students……”I am not used to all this nefangled learning thingy.  I prefer the old chalk and talk”. I still spend one lesson clarifying anything that a student needs to have cleared but it now frees up our class time for practical learning. Rather than the students rushing at the end of term getting their projects completed they now have the whole term to work on the assessments (see previous post). But why do I say it runs 24/7?

The prescribed tasks are read by the students on our Wikispaces page and this is constantly updated so that a student can access this anytime they wish. Also the students are requested to update their blogs regularly, not just in class time. This morning I checked the recent changes and two of my students were working on their blogs at 11pm last night! It wasn’t prescribed homework they were doing it themselves!  It will be interesting to see how they go with the exams because when and what they will be examined on will be posted online.

I am not saying that this is the best way for a class to run. I merely am saying that I am able to enrich students practical outcomes of the course by freeing up time to produce quality work rather than rush it. By the way their projects are being inspired by this video which demonstrates envoking emotion.

Soon I will be building this concept into a 3D environment!

Thank you for your time Andrew!

How do we learn. Part 1

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