Laura Brown

Professional Learning Portfolio

Category: Professional Learning

R & D Grant Proposal

So all this talk about creative teaching and learning combined with a super successful TTT recently (see previous post), I have decided to apply for a Research and Development Grant for the 2018-2019 school year.

iPad technology can be utilised to immerse students in learning that engages them in exploration, creativity, collaboration and more. When our teachers are aware of, and familiar with, the power of such a tool, they are more likely to priorities such learning activities in their curriculum. Currently our teachers do not have their own iPads, even those teachers in Elementary school, are required to use a classroom iPad and so are restricted to experimenting with free apps since the iPad is locked to the School iTunes account. Without an iPad, it is virtually impossible to expect our teachers to become familiar with the tool and the opportunities that it presents for their classroom. However, simply handing them an iPad is not necessarily the answer here, since without providing meaningful training, there is a risk on the iPad becoming the tool used solely for Words with Friends or Sudoku. (Nothing wrong with these apps by the way!)

I propose an in-depth, meaningful iPad training program for interested teachers across the school, that runs over the duration of Semester 1. Teachers would be presented with a new iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and iTunes Voucher, and would be expected to commit fully to the program. The program would run again with a second group of teachers in Semester 2. The aim of the program is to provide teachers with the hardware required and  support them to develop a better understanding of the opportunities for learning with iPad while empowering them to integrate such technology in their classrooms.

To document our journey and share our experiences with the ISB community and the world beyond, I would like to create an iBook, ISB One Best Thing,  in which each participating teachers would be required to reflect on one iPad tool that was significant to them and how their student’s learning changed as a result. The iBook would publish student samples and share lesson ideas. Let’s show the world what ISB can do!

iPad Tools for Creative Teaching & Learning

Yesterday (Jan 17th, 2018) I lead a TTT (Teachers Teaching Teachers) for staff, from PreK-12, on iPad Tools for Creative Teaching and Learning. The purpose of the TTT was to introduce teachers to three apps that are now available on our (brand new!) iPad Pro 2 class set in the library. The apps will soon be available for Elementary classes which is why teachers from across the school were invited to attend (and are encouraged to continue reading if you happen to be an Elementary teacher!).

The apps covered in yesterday’s TTT were Explain Everything, Stick Around and Apple Clips.

Explain Everything is an awesome tool for creating instructional and explanatory videos using visuals, annotations and narration. I’ve used this app in the past for blended or flipped learning, providing feedback to students and most often, for students to showcase their understanding and share with their peers. I’m currently working with Monique Cover and her EAL class for a digital storytelling unit. Then first project, in a series of three, has students developing an instructional, informative style tutorial using, you guessed it, Explain Everything. Students are required to develop a tutorial on a topic covered in either Science or Social Studies from last semester. Students will seek feedback from their teachers and make improvements before the final export. The idea is, students will “present” their completed tutorial to their teacher for use in future years. I’m also hoping that they will see what these students have been able to create and ask the question: “How do I do this with all of my students?”

Here is an example of an Explain Everything video created by on of my Grade 7 Science students from Caulfield Grammar School: Scout Squire.

The second app we looked at was Stick Around. Stick Around allows users to create puzzles using drawing tools and/or photos and add stickers with text, images, sound, arrows and/or drawing. Teachers could create puzzles for students (great for formative and timely feedback) or alternatively, students can create puzzles to communicate their understanding and share with their peers. Ideally, if students were creating the puzzle, you’d have a range of topics, so that on completion, all students can benefit from the creations. I’ve managed to set up a folder on the server which will store all Stick Arounds created. This allows them to be downloaded, once published and shared by the creator, by anyone with the Stick Around app. The only downside that I’ve picked up on, is that the puzzles can only be viewed (and played) through the Stick Around app. The files can be shared without a problem, but opening the puzzle is limited. The following video is an example of what a puzzle looks like to play.

The creation of the puzzle itself is surprisingly easy. I was pleased that two Kindergarten teachers that attended my TTT, Sally and Elizabeth, both expressed possible applications for their classrooms. They were also confident that their students, with minimal assistance, would be able to manage the intricacies of the app. This app is not only a great tool for labelling diagrams like in the planet example above, it’s also great for having students complete Venn diagrams, quadrants, tables etc. There are a number of templates that are built into the app which make creation of puzzles even more straightforward forward and accessible. The general steps involved in the creation are:

  • Design a background or select a template to use
  • Create the stickers – these can consists of images, video, weblink and even audio which is great for the littlies.
  • Set the answer scheme.
  • Publish and share the puzzle!

There are some fantastic resources out there to support this product. This is a thorough user guide and see this URL for a range of really great tutorial videos. I love this app!

The third app we looked at was the new Apple Clips . This is a quick and easy way to create and share fun videos with text, effects, images, stickers and more. There are so many ways that a tool like this could be used in the classroom: explaining a topic, givingformative feedback, examination and explanation of photos or diagrams, explaining the steps in a process, public service announcement or commercial, to name a few. Check out this awesome site that showcases 5 ways to use this app in the classroom and is well worth a look. Essentially, a video comprises of clips and each clip can be edited differently. For example, on clip might include a voice to text option. Another, might use a photo or video from the photo library. To work Clips you must press and hold the red record button. You can also hold the record button and swipe left to lock the record.  A lock symbol will appear.  This is useful for complicated or longer shots. From there you can add:

  •  Live titles – to create these, a voice to text option is available of which I’m impressed with it’s accuracy.
  • Add filters like comic book or ink, stickers and emoji
  • Add overlays – this could be useful for labelling or drawing attention to a particular element
  • Export your video and save to your photo stream

Here is an example of a short movie I made using Apple Clips.

As you can see, Explain Everything, Stick Around and Apple Clips are some pretty awesome ways to create and share authentic learning.  Although you may not feel completely comfortable in using an iPad in your classroom,  Ed Tech is here to provide you the necessary support to take up learning opportunities, like these, for your students. Please send me an email if you’d like to chat further, or even better, if you’re keen to start using one of these apps.

Creating is Learning

“Preparing students to create digital content is more important than ever, as technology becomes more prevalent in schools and the need to prepare students for the 21st century workplace is more pressing.” Sanfilippo, 2015

The quote above comes from the article Preparing Students To Produce Digital Content by Joseph Sanfilippo. Although it was written in 2015, I find the 6 points to consider when preparing your students to create digital content still very much relevant. When students create content they become owners of the learning, yet in a world where they are surrounded by digital content and rich media, it may be more engaging and motivating for them to create projects that are digital where the possibilities are endless.   The digital make up of the content means that it can be shared to a global and more authentic audience. Content becomes meaningful and purposeful. Students can seek and receive feedback from a significantly wider audience, peers, teachers, parents and even experts in the field.

 When students are creating content, they are forced to higher order thinking. Dr. Ruben Puentedura, defines the levels of technology integration as Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition or as many of you know it, the SAMR ladder. Content creation using technology will rarely fall under Substitution. An analysis of multiple credible studies looking the use of technology by students and the associated impact on learning when referenced against the SAMR ladder can be seen below.

It is fascinating to see the magnitude of the effect, in favour of learning, when tasks assigned to students involved modification and redefinition. Even when tasks are at the augmentation level, there is no negative impact on student learning. Only when the task is at the substitution level is there an opportunity for that task to have an overall negative effect on student learning. Essentially, this is suggesting that when we are concerned about the use of technology and the associated distractions, we need to ask ourselves – where does this task sit on the SAMR ladder? It is a known fact that when students are engaged, they learn better and develop a deeper and more meaningful understanding. If we consider the SAMR model, I would imagine we would also see a direct correlation between engagement and the associated position on the SAMR ladder the particular task holds. Substitution, less engaged, more distracted. Modification and redefinition, more engaged, less distracted.

Dr. Puentedura provides a table listing the practices associated with the fundamental domains of human activity; social, mobility, visualisation, story telling, and gaming. The ideal is to incorporate between 2 and 4 of these practices into any one learning task.

Social: To encourage collaboration, communication and sharing, think blogging, online discussions, microblogging with apps like Twitter, wikis and RSS feeds.

Mobility: Anytime, anywhere learning and creation is facilitated by so many facets of technology integration. Consider the use of mobile tools such as sensors, cameras, cloud resources not to mention the numerous apps referred to in this post!

Visualisation: Make abstract concepts tangible using apps like Comic Life for graphic story telling, Inspiration and Popplet for graphic organisers, Google Earth, VR Expeditions, Word Collage and 3D Timeline are excellent for this purpose.

Storytelling: There are so many options here. Comic Life and Book Creator for sequential art and narrative transitions, iMovie, Apple Clips, Explain Everything Video Scribe and Adobe Spark for moving images and Prezi and ThinkLink for interactive media.

Gaming: Feedback loops and formative assessment can be facilitated through the use of apps like Stick Around, Kahoot, Socrative, and Mind Craft.

The use of blogs in the classroom enables a variety of tasks to reach both modification and redefinition on the SAMR ladder. It also supports associated practices: Social, Mobility and Storytelling.

Let’s get creating!



Virtual & Augmented Reality

The immersive nature of virtual reality brings depth to educational content by engaging the senses and allowing exploration to a degree that would be difficult to duplicate within the confines of a classroom, making it an ideal catalyst for curiosity and true learning. So what is VR and how does it work?

On Thursday 16th of November, I ran a TTT on virtual and augmented reality. We started by engaging teachers in a Google Expedition of the Great Barrier Reef. Google Expeditions is a virtual reality teaching tool that lets you lead or join immersive virtual trips all over the world — get up close with historical landmarks, dive underwater with sharks, even visit outer space! There are currently over 700 expeditions available free for use. I have since found this incredible resource which documents details of all currently available expeditions. It is updated regularly and includes links to lesson plans created by teachers around the world. For those of you interested in running an Expedition in your class, browse this resource and then touch base with me about the expedition you are looking to run. Alternatively, provide me with a brief outline of your unit and I’ll do the research for you. We have 20 VR headsets for use – students will need to use their own phone with Google Expeditions app installed.

Last week I assisted Brian Germain in running two expeditions in his High School Psychology class. The theme was the nervous system so we began with a VR tour of the brain stem, limbic system, cerebrum and cerebellum, a neutron and synaptic transmission. What I enjoyed most, was the second expedition, to Everest, where Brian asked students a series of thought provoking questions, which has them thinking about the science they’d just explored. e.g. standing in the cold at base camp, what part of the brain is responsible for…? What a great way to make content meaningful.

There are so many great VR apps out there – Discovery VR, Sites in VR, New York Times VR and YouTube 360 just to name a few. There are also some excellent iOS apps for VR purposes.

During the TTT we also spent some time looking at augmented reality (AR). AR is the layering of virtual information over the physical world, or reality, using software and devices. Take a look at this Ikea Concept Kitchen to see AR in action!

One of the most impressive educational apps I came across when looking for AR content was Quiver Education. Essentially, students are provided with one of the colouring in sheets and then, using the app, bring their work to life. The Quiver app is free, however, the Quiver Education app (which is now available on the MS/HS Library iPads) does cost. Quiver Education provides the same magical augmented reality coloring experience, but with a greater focus on educational content than the awesome Quiver App. During the TTT, teachers attempted an AR quiz using a plant cell, explored the habitat of the Kiwi bird though sound and watched as a volcano erupted in front of their eyes!

If you are interested in introducing some AR or VR material into your classroom, don’t hesitate to contact me or any member of the Ed Tech team!



Goal Setting – Is It SMART?

In consultation with the Ed Tech team we have developed a series of team goals for the 2017-18 school year. These goals, although broad, allow for individuals to develop their own specific focus and contribute in their own way. The goals decided on are:

  1. Model and support a culture of openness and sharing through collaborative practices, public reflection, and celebration.
  2. Articulate, communicate, and facilitate the implementation – with ongoing reflection? –  of a PK-12 Digital Citizenship program/curriculum to all ISB stakeholders (students, teachers & counselors, admin, parents).
  3. Work with teachers and admin to develop criteria and frameworks that foster continual and sustainable optimization and refinement of our student learning systems, resources, and tools.

Given the emphasis on SMART goals, in developing my own specific focus, I have attempted to be specific, while setting goals that are measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. Though I must admit this is difficult given this is my first year at ISB and I’m not an overly patient person!

In light of this, the first goal I will be working towards is to model reflective practice through blogging professional learning (process and showcase) with the aim of encouraging an active blogging culture at ISB. This relates directly to our first team goal. It is imperative that we, as an Ed Tech team, model an open and supportive blogging culture if we are to expect our students and teachers to think differently about reflection and the learning journey. I will definitely need the support of the team to hold me accountable in this space and through their active engagement and participation throughout my learning journey – sorry all, I need you to read and respond! 

The plan of attack here is to establish a time in my calendar, perhaps fortnightly, and block it off for this purpose. Nothing gets in the way! Is this time commitment a reasonable expectation to place upon myself? I’m aiming to make this a space, to not only document my goals and reflect on progress, but a place to reflect and share professional readings, celebrate student learning and engage in a professional dialogue with my colleagues – Exactly what we are encouraging our students to do.

As an indicator of success, I’m hoping that by the end of the year this blog will be packed with meaningful and considered content that showcases my  journey while demonstrating an openness to reflective practice. I hope to be proud of this space, see it as an opportunity to share and showcase best practice, and, have it considered a collaborative online environment in which our Ed Tech team, and beyond, are active participants.

My second goal for the year is to model the use of DX through the establishment of a sustainable Digital Citizenship program for both Middle and High School. This is a big one and really needs commitment well beyond the school year. The need for support with this is goal is more significant given the reliance on principals, mentoring coordinators and councillors for their recognition of the importance of the program and their support in offering time within an already busy student schedule.

There are really two purposes with this goal and thus it relates to both our second team goal, to articulate, communicate and facilitate the implementation of a Digital Citizenship program yet also connecting with the previous  since the use of DX as the platform is an attempt to encourage a culture of collaborative online communities and the sharing of learning. This is where I wonder, is this goal really SMART given the sheer magnitude of what I am attempting to achieve in the short space of a year?!

First steps involve establishing times in the mentoring schedules for these Digital Citizenship lessons. Middle School, although time is light on, this has now been completed. High School, however, has already proven to be a battle for time. Looking ahead, this has motivated me to get in early for next year and ensure we have a fair time allocation for such a significant program. DX classes are now set up with students, relevant teachers/mentors and we have already started building resources. In fact, last Tuesday Grade 6 were the first to run the workshop on Digital Footprints/Tattoos which was successful in generating an online conversation, using DX, and the sharing of content. I’m keen to get feedback from teachers, once all Middle School grade levels have completed the first lesson and adapt/build further resources based on this feedback. Establishing a cohesive relationship and ongoing dialogue with grade level teams is the key to success of a program such as this.

I’ll be realistic with this one – Ideally, by the end of the year, the beginnings of a structured, relevant and engaging Digital Citizenship program, for Grades 6-12, is articulated, communicated and facilitated through the use of DX. This will give us something to reflect on and improve the following year.

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