New Bloggers to the Blogging World + more

Today I ran my second e-portfolio training session, so now have a large interconnected network of staff at this school. The challenge now will be to maintain momentum and provide incentives for them to keep going with it. I’ve been so impressed with the quality of the blogs and the amazing resources everyone has to share, super exciting! Thanks to George Couros for coming to Adelaide and getting this started. Here are St John’s’ brand new bloggers:

Ian     Fliss     Carolyn     Deb     Carlee     Brendan     Amy     Dawn

Thanks again to Col for his help, Ian and Billsy for helping it happen, and Julie and the canteen for feeding us! 🙂

Keep on blogging!

Keep on blogging!

One tool I’m loving even though it’s superficial, is memes. I’ve mentioned them before, but have found this great site documenting the history of the ‘grumpy cat’ phenomenon, which is great for teaching Media students about viral media.

A fantastic resource I’ve been directed to is English For The Australian Curriculum. It provides units of work aligned to the Australian Curriculum for particular year levels. I need to take the time to explore this properly, eg found some great material to add to my ethos unit.

Four Great Resources To Share With You

Long time no blog! Between p/t interviews, camp, uni work, job application, and normal work and life it’s been a challenging few weeks. It does mean I have a huge amount to share though, so settle back and enjoy. I hope you find something hugely useful in this post.

Creative Commons

You may notice I’ve now embedded a creative commons license at the bottom of my blog, and will now try to be a lot more ethical in my use of images (for a horror story of the consequences of not being careful read this blog post!). I have learned about the importance of using Creative Commons to get images that already have permissions attached (you still have to reference the source!) through Selena Woodward. To learn all about it read Selena’s blog post. She’ll show you how to use Google Advanced search to find them, how to use the creative commons search engine, and directs you to put a creative commons license on your own work. The goal is that I get confident at using this so I can teach my students to as well, which meets the Australian Curriculum’s ICT General Capability ‘Applying Social and Ethical Protocols and Pracitices when using ICT‘. Also, of course, it’s the right thing to do! If you find any additional information on ethical use of online resources let me know.

Google Docs

I am now also a huge fan of Google Docs. I use it for questions during quiet work time in Year 12 classes, a way for my debating team to collaborate, a way to share information (eg this Google doc for the presentation on Web 2.0 tools I have at the 2013 SAETA conference), and so on. What’s your favourite way to use Google Docs? To see a quick overview if you’re new to Google Docs I’ve embedded a short video below:

Year 10 Ethos Unit

I went to a presentation at the National English Teacher’s Conference a few years ago on the art of persuasion by Peter Pidduck. He advocated focusing on the ethos (character, credibility) part of the rhetorical triangle when doing persuasive writing with students. He said that students have trouble being specific about, and identifying, ethos. I have found that he is right, and have found it highly beneficial to focus on ethos (students seem to be already competent at logos and pathos). I have developed a unit of work, based on what I learned from Pidduck and the resources he gave me, that I have built up over two years. I now put it out there for sharing (feel free to use it) and feedback (let me know what you think) You can see the unit of work (sorry, I haven’t put the assignments on yet – they’re coming) on this Year 10 Ethos Unit wiki page.


My current subject at uni is focused on leadership, and I have found it incredibly interesting. I have found two resources have had a direct impact on my practices. One is an infographic (below) and another is a Ted Video (embedded below).

5 factors to real change

Mr G’s 5 Factors To Real Change

The above infographic by Mr G has taught me not to jump straight to the skills in anything new, but to spend time creating a shared vision, which is essential to transformational leadership. With the e-portfolio group I created a video to promote the vision that I shared with staff and ran a  presentation at a staff meeting about the vision before inviting people to come and learn the skills. After the skills session I will spend time creating incentives for its use, eg getting staff to follow each other to create a connected professional network and commenting immediately on their posts so that they get responses for their efforts.

The Ted video below by Simon Sinek is fantastic for its simplicity. He says that when people want behavioural change they usually say what they want to happen, how it will happen, and then why. His claim is that effective leadership is about establishing why, then focusing on how, then dealing with the what. I warn you, after watching this video I have not been able to watch advertisements in the same way! One way I have implemented this is in the skills session I reiterated our vision first (our why), reiterated what people wanted to get out of the session (how what we were doing was of use), and then I will get into the technical details of what to do so create an e-portfolio. So simple, but incredibly powerful. I also ordered those reiterations in order of popularity based on the surveys of the participating staff to further connect with ‘why’ and create a sense of shared vision.

That’s enough for now! I’ve found a lot more stuff that it useful, and will share more with you soon.

Beck xx

Mind Maps, Ethos, & Memes

I have to make a concept map about what I’ve gained about studying leadership for my uni course, so last night I decided to check out Karen Bonanno’s list of web tools that support inquiry based learning and try out some of the free mind mapping tools. I found the most user friendly, and was able to produce the concept map below quickly and easily. Next time I have to teach students a relational concept I’ll try and do it visually with a concept map like this (I find the SmartArt objects in Word too fiddly and uncooperative).

Concept map I created with

Concept map I created with

I have always tried to avoid teaching the same thing over and over because a) I get bored, b) that boredom shows through in reduced energy and passion, and c) it’s a great way to ensure I’m continually adapting courses to suit students and pedagogical skills I’ve learned. As I have become increasingly time pressured, I’ve realised this has become a ‘lofty’ ideal. I need to develop strong units of work that I continually cycle, improve, adapt, modify, etc. This is where wikispaces has been fantastic. It’s incredibly easy (although time consuming) to set up units of work and then change them as necessary to suit student cohorts and changes I’m making to my teaching practice. Time to get more serious about them! I’ve just started a wiki for my year 10 English class, and have put on work from the Ethos unit we just did. I found it a great way to reflect on the unit: what worked, what didn’t, what to keep, what to cut, what to add, etc. And, if I want to teach it again, it’s ready to go.

Had a small victory with a student who was incredibly stressed because she put ridiculous pressure on herself to succeed. I knew there was no point convincing her As aren’t everything, so sat her down and showed her the work of a student who got an A- (asked that student’s permission first!) for the task the class just got back to show her the minimum standard required to achieve an A. I noticed a sharp difference in her behaviour in class straight away. More relaxed, more willing to ask questions, able to have a laugh. I thought of it because I always keep past A standard Year 12 work in example folders to make it clear to them what standard is required – they find it incredibly helpful.

End Note
I want to get in to memes to add a bit of fun into dry material. There’s plenty of meme creation sites such as quickmeme. Eg this one I just put on the Ethos unit page:

Using memes to spice up work.

Using memes to spice up work.