Literature Tour 2016


I have finally finished the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle that is the Literature Tour and I am feeling incredibly excited about the itinerary I’ve created. I have the classics: a big show (this year it’s Matilda), screen worlds at ACMI, bookstore browsing (this year’s top shops are The Paperback Bookshop, Embiggens Books, and Readings in Carlton), State Library of Victoria exhibitions, the book market, and the Melbourne Aquarium just for fun. This year’s special moments will include the Melbourne Street Art tour. This is new for us, and I found a tour that uses practising street artists as tour guides and includes a tour through their studio. We also will get to meet Meg Rosoff, John Marsden, and William McInnes. We have a Scorsese exhibition, The Nightingale and the Rose exhibition, four Roald Dahl events (how much Roald Dahl is too much Roald Dahl?), and the state poetry slam finals. Of course I have booked the usual one event that the students will come out of staring at each other in amazement saying, “Well, that was weird!” I think it’s fun to have that shared experience – usually ends up being the most talked about event. This year it’s The Ribcage Collective. I was sold on “magical realism” and “intimate theatre experience”. What else? An ekphrastic writing tour at the National Gallery of Victoria, a ghost tour at the Old Melbourne Goal, and a walk along South Bank. It’s going to be a literature packed four days!

AATE National Conference 2016

The National AATE Conference is over for another year, and of course it was amazing! It began with a flash mob, wine, and poetry readers from Amelia Walker and concluded with blue wine, cheese, and these inspiring words from plenary speaker Misty Adoniou, “Don’t forget the teacher you wanted to be.” One of my favourite moments was the contrast between a snippet of John Green and the focus of Phil Cummings’ workshop. In response to the eternal student question, ‘Did the author really mean that?’ Green was of the opinion no, but it’s there anwyay, while Cummings focused in illustrating how deliberately he chooses every word, every symbol, and every image in his texts to create meaning. For example in Ride, Ricardo Ride! he uses, “In a once warm kitchen” instead of in a cold kitchen to indicate what has been lost, give an indictment on the situation, and emphasise the coldness and harshness of war.

Some of the common themes that emerged in the conference were:

  • The need for for a whole school literacy approach.
  • The political, ideological, historical, and cultural nature of literacy and literacy education.
  • The need for the work that students engage in to be authentic (getting students to engage with ‘stuff’ that matters, working collaboratively, and presenting work/findings to an authentic audience).
  • The word dialogic. Over and over again!
  • Multi literacies (there was a fantastic workshop about printed t-shirts that addressed this well).
  • The reductive nature of the current focus on ‘box ticking’ and using technology for surveillance.
  • Project based learning.

There was also a workshop that complemented the diversity in literature evening I went to. The focus was on the value of Border Crossing pedagogy for challenging ‘norms’, encouraging a willingness to learn, and for learning to live in difference. It included the screening of a great video, High School Girl, that helps students question what they think they know.

I left with a lot to consider, a lot to implement, and a few books to read of course. : )

Upcoming National AATE Conference


I admit it, I am a conference geek. I absolutely love the inspiration, the fresh ideas, and the collaboration that takes place at conferences. Of course there’s the lovely book stalls to browse through, all the fantastic resources I wish I could afford, and the amazing keynote speakers. So I’m excited to spending the first week of the holidays at the National AATE Conference. I have just signed up for the literary breakfast with Phil Cummings just to make the experience even more fun. He was my nanna’s neighbour growing up, so I always get a warm feeling of positive energy when I hear about how he’s going (like his book Ride, Ricardo, Ride! has just been shortlisted for the 2016 Children Book of the Year Awards) and love to hear him give talks.


Phil Cummings

The conference program looks amazing and I’m going to be spoilt for choice. There appears to be a lovely mix of the practical (eg Kelli McGraw’s Project Based Learning – Making it Work for the English Classroom) and the conceptual (eg Andy Goodwyn’s Is it ‘Critical Literacy’ or ‘Personal Growth’ or a bit of both? What do English teachers believe in about the purpose of English?) Time to get my English geek on, see you there!


Diversity In Literature


Thursday June 9th I attended the School Library Association of South Australia’s Diversity in Literature event. The event was designed to assist librarians select and share resources that promote diversity. It was wonderful to share a room with school librarians passionate about diversity in their library’s resources for staff and students.

The first guest speaker was Fran Knight, a regular at SAETA conferences, who did her usual spin through an amazing list of books for young readers, this time with a focus on gender diverse and multiculturally diverse books. When listening to Fran I always feel the weight of all the wonderful books yet to be read!

Next was Emma Phillips, librarian at Wilderness School. She provided a genre guide for, and suggestions for sourcing, LGBTQ young adult fiction. There was certainly a wealth of resources, links, ideas, text suggestions etc. All incredibly thorough because they were her university assignments.

The final speaker was Samuel Williams, who will soon be coming to Cambridge to study sexual and gender diversity in YA literature at Queens’ College. He spoke about the history of YA fiction novels that covered gender diversity, and about why DSG (Diverse Sexuality and Gender) is a more appropriate term than LGBTQ and all of its forms. He also spoke about what librarians should look for in DSG inclusive YA novels:

  • do not end in tragedy or pathologise sexual/gender diversity.
  • have a gay or trans main character.
  • are not (only) about coming out, being accepted and negotiating homophobia/transphobia.
  • do not perpetuate myths about homosexuality and gender diversity.
  • do not prescribe or generalise about the gay/trans experience.
  • do not condescend to young readers.
  • are well-written, original and a pleasure to read.

My favourite part of the night was this impassioned quote from David Levithan on the importance of students seeing themselves positively represented in the literature they read:

I have met so many amazing librarians in the past few years, staunch and strong defenders of expression and representation. I can say without a single doubt that many young readers’ lives have been helped and saved by their librarians’ open-mindedness and courage. (I have the e-mails to prove it.) (2004, p. 45).

Levithan, D. (2004). Supporting gay teen literature. School Library Journal, 50(10), 44-45. Retrieved from

Flipping 2.0

Long time no blog! Since September 2014 I went on long service leave (had an amazing trip in Tasmania and volunteered in Sunrise Children’s Association in Nepal). I’ve also had a baby boy (Alex), been on a six week family road trip of Australia, reorganised my diet to be essentially sugar free, and taken up running. Consequently I have not done much in regards to flipping the classroom, but am continuing the experiment this year. I am working with a small professional learning team to conduct a second flipping the classroom experiment, taking a more evidence based approach, to solidify my understanding and confidence. I am also developing a wikispace to collate some of what we learn.

We are focusing on the question, ‘Does flipping the classroom improve Year 10 English students’ ability to construct deeper knowledge independently and socially?’ We focused on deep knowledge because that is our primary aim in using flipping the classroom. We included independent and social learning to follow our school’s pedagogical foci and narrowed the context to Year 10 English as that is a subject shared by all group members. What we’re most interested in with flipped the classroom is its potential to reshape instruction by maximising interactive teaching and activities in class learning time for higher order learning. Once established, flipping the classroom has the potential to provide extension and extra support to students who need it, and to allow self paced learning. Flipping allows us to ask what students really need a physically present teacher for and what is the best use of face to face time with students. To create learner centred spaces of active learning and student engagement where the teacher is a facilitator rather than a presenter of content.

While we are all working with our Year 10 English classes, we will be doing different units. I will be preparing a unit for William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice unit.


  • Rethink the teacher’s role. Facilitator, guide – ensuring the student has the requisite knowledge, skills and support to negotiate a new learning and prompting the student through questioning or modeling.
  • Classroom content needs to be (re)organised to make effective use of flipping the classroom. Classroom time needs to be structured around activities that develop deeper and more thorough understanding.
  • (Re)Design the courses to ensure all activities are focused on students’ learning.
  • The teacher needs to be familiar a range of with e-learning tools and learning management systems.
  • Teachers need to be educated in flipping the classroom to develop their pedagogical knowledge, confidence, and skills in this teaching methodology.
  • Teachers need to work with students and parents, keeping them informed so that they receive the new methodology positively.
  • Potentially the learning space needs to be reconfigured for collaboration, individual work, etc.
  • Homework needs to be cognitively interactive and the length of homework needs to be developmentally appropriate for the students (in length, complexity, etc).


  • (Re)Designing a course is difficult, time consuming, and takes strategic planning
  • Files need to be mobile and multi system friendly.
  • All students need to be able to easily access the set homework.
  • Students’ completion of homework becomes essential; teachers need to work out techniques for effectively and consistently following up on homework completion to make students individually accountable. It is essential teachers don’t rescue students who don’t do their homework by going over that material in class (tells the students who did the homework that it was a waste of their time).
  • Students – need to understand the logical of the flipping the classroom approach and how they will benefit to avoid resistance. A flipped classroom in which students are unprepared for this method of teaching will not be successful. Any break in a traditional routine can be stressful. Students will also need to be taught how to watch and learn from videos, and how to move from passive to active learner as it requires a different skill set that the student may not necessarily have.
  • Teachers – need to be given time for implementation of flipping the classroom, support from administrators, support from IT. They will also need professional development on learning technology infrastructure and the pedagogy of the flipped classroom, taught to rethink their role, to focus on effective organisation of course content, and to look at new e-learning tools that best complement this methodology.


We are attempting to collect some data on the efficacy of our flipped units. While evaluative and subjective as we don’t have the time to construct full assessment procedures, we wish to collect some information on the effect of the pedagogical strategy.

We will do a pre and post unit student survey to look at students’ perceptions of flipping the classroom.

To look at independent learning we will teach students a concept prior to the flipped unit in a lecture style with the students writing an example for homework. Then will will teach students an extremely similar concept in the flipped style with the example being done in class the next lesson with the teacher there to facilitate the process. The teacher will compare the quality of the examples of a sample group of students.

To look at social learning the teacher will gets students doing group work prior to the flipped unit, preparing them for this lecture style in class. The teacher will observe a sample group during group work. Then the teacher will get students doing group work, preparing them for this in the flipped style and observing a sample group during group work. Teachers will compare how students work collaboratively prior to the unit with how they work when they are allowed significant time for thinking about the activity prior to engaging in it.

We are still developing how we will look at depth of knowledge, but we are thinking of getting students to do a practise piece of writing in Term 2 at the start of a traditionally taught unit and compare this practise piece with the work they produce at the end of the unit. Then we will do the same for a Term 3 flipping the classroom unit. We will be looking at whether the improvements between practise 2 and final 2 more significant than between practise 1 and final 1.


Bergmann, J. S. (2015). Flipped Learning for English Instruction. Oregon: International Society for Technology in Education.

Bergmann, J. & Sams, A. (2014). Flipped Learning: Gateway to students’ engagement. Oregon: International Society for Technology in Education.

Covill, D., Patel, B., & Gill, D. (2013). Flipping the classroom to support learning: an overview of flipped classes from science, engineering and product design. School Science Review. 95(350), 73-80.

Fulton, K. (2012). Upside down and inside out: Flip Your Classroom to Improve Student Learning. Learning & Leading With Technology. 39(8), 12-17.

Garver, M., & Roberts, B. (2013). Flipping & Clicking Your Way to Higher-Order Learning. Marketing Education Review, 23(1), 17-22.

Gross, B, Marinari, M, Hoffman, M, DeSimone, K, & Burke, P 2015, ‘Flipped @ SBU: Student Satisfaction and the College Classroom’, Educational Research Quarterly, 39, 2, pp. 36-52, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 11 May 2016.

Johnson, J. (2014). Stages of the Flipped Classroom. [Google Presentation] Retrieved from

Kordyban, R. & Kinash, S. (2013). No more flying on autopilot: The flipped classroom. Education Technology Solutions. 56, 54-56.

Sankey, M. & Hunt, L. (2013). Using technology to enable flipped classrooms whilst sustaining sound pedagogy. In: 30th Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education Conference (ASCILITE 2013): Electric Dreams, 1-4 Dec 2013, Sydney, Australia.

Flipping The Classroom: Sixth And Final Week Complete


Specific homework to be set that could be tangibly checked became less frequent as the unit progressed (ie how do you easily and quickly tangibly check students’ rehearsals). The one checkable homework last week had a 50% completion rate. It’s such a pity as those who tried out the power stances in the video said they were great. (It was a long video, so I got them to watch specific parts, practise the power stances, and complete a quiz via google form.)

Student Feedback

Given that the unit is complete, I asked students for their feedback:

The Negative
  • One student said he was banned from the internet during the unit (playing games when he should have been working), which affected his ability to complete homework.
The Positive
  • The students liked being able to work on assignments in class with teacher available for help.
  • They also liked learning tips for homework and then applying them during the next lesson while the teacher was available for help.
  • One student commented that he liked having a substantial length of time to work on assignments in class instead of being ‘interrupted’ with tips and activities.
  • Another student commented that he is not good at self drafting, so the frequent one on one advice about the wording of his performance poem was great.
  • An interesting comment from one student was that having a specific, tangible activity made the mental shift from working on an assignment for another subject to English easier. She said she finds switching between working on assignments for a range of subject in one evening difficult. Many other students in the class were nodding in agreement.
  • Another student stated that watching quality video examples was a great way to ease in to this style of homework and she found them inspiring.
The Wikispace
The students liked:
  • The colour scheme to help with navigation.
  • That everything was externally linked (even the same Google doc being linked every time it was mentioned).
  • The Google Doc – found it a great way to collate everything in one place instead of having lots of files / handouts / retrieval points. They especially liked how I constantly shifted tables around so that the one they needed most was always at the top.


The ultimate question was is, considering the time and effort in preparation required, flipping the classroom worth the effort. In my opinion, the answer is a resounding yes.

Flipping The Classroom: Fifth Week Complete


Not much to report for week 5. I was away on an interstate school trip for part of the week, and I’ve found that now students are in to rehearsals homework has become ‘run through your speech’ which is difficult to follow up in a tangible way. There was one homework set that could be checked, which was done by 55% of the students.

Time With Students

Students had one on one time with each other rather than me, rehearsing in front of each other and giving each other constructive criticism.

Overall week 5 was more like a normal week than a flipped classroom due to the current nature of the work. Not  a negative (should always adapt methodologies to suit) but just means I have little new to offer this week.

Flipping The Classroom: Fourth Week Complete


Following the 87% completion rate last week, there was a 33% completion rate one night this week. It seems that the Friday lunch detention is not much of a deterrent. I used a quiz on Google Form this week to check completion, which was a quick and easy way of doing it.

Creating A Video

I now have my new version of Camtasia so I made a video last week (below). Here’s a collation of the feedback from the students and myself:

  • Need to break the video up into smaller segments. The length (10:47) overall was fine, but 5 minutes, quiz, 5 minutes, quiz would be better.
  • No need to use the function where they can see me talk.
  • The pop ups were great for highlighting key points and making it a little more interesting, feel free to use more.
  • All the stumbles and pauses were edited out (much appreciated by the students!).

I’m in the process of collating some more tips on a wiki.

Time With Students

I’ve had some fantastic one on one time with students because of flipping. Eg instead of delivering a lecture to students about how to improve their writing which, unedited, would be more like 20 minutes, they watched that video for homework and I spent those 20 minutes giving one on one help. In these sessions I was able to open students’ eyes to the amazing transformation their work can undergo with deliberate use of techniques. It has been incredibly valuable.

Flipping The Classroom: Third Week Complete

A few notes after week 3 of my flipping the classroom trial:


The next lesson follow up after set homework has continued to be a focus for me – finding ways to tangibly and fairly check the homework and provide reflection or consolidation where necessary. I did just have the best percentage of completion yet for a Friday homework (87%), which is great. They are well into creating their performance poetry piece now, so checking was simply a matter of looking at how much work they’d done (they had to have enough of a rough draft that it would take them at least three minutes to say).

Catch Up

Having strict homework records has also meant having better records of absentees. Because I have structured the flipped unit to be easily followed on a wiki page, I have found they are easily able to catch up on lessons and I can easily provide direction on what they have missed.

Time With Students

I am now noticing a marked difference in the amount of one on one time I am spending with students. Eg in today’s lesson after checking homework (which I’d made tangible and quick & easy to do), I went from student to student role modeling how to make a couple of their sentences more powerful (talking through what I was doing and why, and why the audience would find that more effective). I want to give a lesson about turning sentences into visual images, so in the spirit of the flipped classroom I will have to create a video so that that can be homework and I can continue to give one on one help during lessons. I have my updated version of Camtasia now, so no excuses.

Camtasia Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License

Camtasia Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License

Flipping The Classroom: Second Week Complete

Just a few notes about the past week’s flipping the classroom trial:


After an improvement in homework there was a dip back to 50% for Friday’s homework. It is interesting to note that there is a definite Friday dip, as though that homework tends to be forgotten. I’ve now recorded enough nights to start to see a pattern in who does/doesn’t do their homework; handy information to have. I’ve used three methods of checking homework so far: checking their reflection is done on the google doc, running a quiz with Nearpod, and posting on the wikispace discussion board. The reflections and posts were quick and easy to check, and tangible – students had done it or they hadn’t. The quiz was time consuming and intangible, but lots of fun. To make such a quiz more tangible in terms of recording homework completion I’d have to use something that records answers for me like survey monkey or a google form.

Ease Of Access

I did have one student whose home internet went down for a few days, so had to help him come up with alernate strategies for homework completion. Other than that access has been smooth.

Quality of Reflections

With the increase in homework completion I have seen a definite increase in the quality of input from students in class discussions and one on one discussions. The breadth of videos they have been made to watch also seems to have fired enthusiasm for performance poetry as an art form and an understanding of the range of topics and styles there are.

Time With Students

Now that students are writing their own performance poem scripts, I’m noticing a big increase in the amount of one on one time I’m giving students – going around individually and helping them with their concepts and scripts. Because I can give them any further examples or tips as homework, eg the tips from the Snap Judgment page, I’m engaging in more one on one support. It’s great!