Back to Normal

Australian schools have finished our annual NAPLAN testing. As usual there were mixed reactions to the test from schools, teachers, students and the community. One of my favourite responses comes in this recent article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald.

I’m not going to share my opinions about the testing in this post. Instead I would like to share a few responses from my students…

“I’m happy we’ve finished (NAPLAN). Now we can go back to doing real school work.”

“We can do some really learning now that the tests are finished.”

“Why don’t they make these tests about real stuff?”

“Can we go back to working with groups now?”

So we did…

Hands-on, collaborative learning


I was a student during the 1980s. During that time computers were beginning to emerge into schools. I vividly remember my excitement as a student when my class went to visit the computer lab for our weekly (1 hour) timeslot. We did exciting things like type up a story or play a game. (At the time this was a new experience and single colour games such as ‘Racer’ and ‘Snake’ were the epitome of digital entertainment.) As one of the ‘naughty kids’ I often was left to observe my peers using the computers whilst I was required to write my story using traditional materials of paper and pencil.

Fast forward to 2014 and we continue to see teachers taking their classes to the computer room for a regular, hourly time slot. More often than not, students spend their time typing up a story or playing games with no apparent links to the curriculum. Furthermore, ‘naughty’ students continue to be excluded from using technology. Face the reality – your students are bored and that is probably the main reason behind the ‘behaviour issues’ that are happening in your classrooms. We are stagnating as a profession despite the best attempts by many great educators around the world. Governments talk about closing the gap with our students yet the gap is widening among the educators that are facilitating the educational process.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by jkivinen

Email and Facebook are becoming ‘old technology’ among our students whilst teachers continue to see and use technology as a reward or privilege. Get with the program ladies and gentlemen! Your students are bored by your practices. They want and expect to use various, modern technologies as a tool for learning. Students want technology to be a part of their schooling.

Stop being scared of technology. You have a responsibility toward your students to use the best tools available to support their learning. It’s ok if your students know more than you do. Celebrate that fact but don’t block the use of amazing resources because you can’t be bothered to learn something new. Give your students the opportunity to try new ways of engaging with, and sharing their learning – they just might surprise you.

I Love My New School Because…

  • Innovative ideas are encouraged and change is the norm
  • Student wellbeing is at the fore
  • Students have a voice
  • There is genuine action against bullying
  • Our leadership team support teachers’ ideas
  • There is a change agenda
  • Honesty is valued
  • Everyone has an opportunity to lead
  • People listen
  • Technology is embraced as a tool for learning not as a solution
  • Our leaders care about staff wellbeing
  • It’s ok to disagree – it encourages dialogue
  • Mistakes are ok – we learn from them
  • We are not content with the status quo


2012 Edublogs Award Nominations

Having moved from lurker to blogger this year, I have decided to share my thoughts and reflections about some of the amazing work of educators from around the world.

My nominations…

Best Individual BlogDoug Woods – Doug regularly challenges my thinking about pedagogy and technology. His thoughts and ideas are inspiring and really lead me to reflect on my practice.

Best ed tech / resource sharing blogFree Technology for Teachers – Richard Byrne provides a stream flood of free resources for education. His shared resources encompass multiple devices, platforms and webtools. I’ve lost count of the number of great resources I have discovered through following this blog.

Best teacher blog – Alice Leung Learning and Leading – Authentic stories from Alice’s classroom practice. It’s inspiring to hear the awesome stories of student engagement and a teacher who constantly reflects on her practice.

Best library / librarian blog – Lucacept – Intercepting the Web – Jenny Luca is a prolific blogger. Her ‘School’s Out Friday’ posts are a great way to end the school week. She has shared some great tips, tricks and reflections about digital portfolios.

Best Individual Tweeter – George Couros (@gcouros) – I learn so much from George through his posts and sharing. He does an amazing job, introducing educators from around the globe to Twitter and social media. He supports people on their journey whilst constantly sharing his own learning. Perhaps the most influential person in my PLN.

Best Mobile App Flipboard – This was a tough call with so many great apps appearing over the last 12 months. However, I have to stick to my absolute favourite. The slick, magazine-style interface and ability to combine all of my social media and news into one app makes Flipboard outstanding. It allows cross-posting between various social networks which greatly improves my ability to share with many people.