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Noelene Callaghan

My Blog

My Blog

When collaboration in the classroom is very different to collaboration in a teaching program

Posted on 24 May, 2015 at 20:05

Informing educators about the importance of embedding student collaboration into classroom practice has been a top priority for many Australian educators and experts for some time. unfortunately, the message of what 'collaboration' actually means has been lost amongst messages of 21st Century Learning, flipped learning techniques, and other terms that many simply associate with jargon as opposed to the latest teaching pedagogies. Collaboration is universally defined as a coordinated, synchronous activity that is the result of a continued attempt to construct and maintain a shared conception of a problem.

Microsoft and Google have both introduced classrooms that promote collaboration regardless of the device that students use via Office 365 and Google Docs respectively. Moreover, these product suites include not only Microsoft's Office products, but additional Apps that encourage critical thinking, enhance numeracy and literacy whilst providing teachers with overall administrative permissions that allows them to view their students work in real time. . Moreover, these product suites include not only Microsoft's Office products, but additional Apps that encourage critical thinking, enhance numeracy and literacy whilst providing teachers with overall administrative permissions that allows them to view their students work in real time.

Microsoft Australia and New Zealand have joined Microsoft world wide in establishing an educators network 'Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators' which has targeted the top technological teachers in Australia and New Zealand. The overall focus of this program is for its Expert Educators to share their expertise with their peers, schools and other educators in an attempt to work towards attaining a common goal of creating pure collaborative learning environments within schools. True collaborative environments are seeing students create work simultaneously on the same document using different accounts. This is significantly different to a group of students sharing a device (typically a PC) and completing a group assignment. This is also different to students working on the same document and then emailing it to each other for others to work on it. True collaboration permits any number of students share their ideas in real-time. By learning this skill in the classroom, students will develop long-life skills that they can use outside of class time and apply to even non school based projects. Whether it is formal or informal education, learning typically requires participation in a social process of knowledge construction. Knowledge emerges through a network of interactions, and it is distributed and mediated by the people and the tools that they use for interacting. Perhaps this is what prompted Microsoft to purchase Minecraft. Minecraft is a great collaborative tool that educators students about numerous syllabus based topics through play. Web 2.0 tools such as these provide students to share their ideas via text as well as verbally which provides them with additional opportunities of communicating with a clear student voice.

Thus, in order to enhance the collaborative practices that exist in your classroom, it is highly recommended that you consider introducing at least one activity by the end of the school year to provide you with a succinct understanding of how it can be embedded long term in future years.



How to start a Makerspace in your school

Posted on 21 May, 2015 at 21:30

Minecraft & Good Start

Posted on 21 May, 2015 at 21:20

Documenting our progress in Minecraft

Posted on 14 May, 2015 at 19:05

The work that we are doing with Minecraft is now becoming widely followed by educators globally. My students and I are documenting what we do to inspire other schools to take up this initiative. All of our blogs can be found at

The Option to Expand - using Minecraft in the School

Posted on 6 May, 2015 at 3:15

It has been six months since the implementation of Minecraft and after showcasing the efforts of my students in terms of Mineclass and Minecraft Edu as well as those efforts by other Australian and New Zealand Mineclass participants, it is time to open both Minecraft based programs to all students within my school.


However, this is not as simple as making a general announcement during assembly asking students to come and see me if they are interested in participating. Opening up this program to the students at my school could actually create hysteria which must be planned for. The main issues that I face include 'space'. Where do I hold meetings for this group. I am anticipating that over 500 students will initially want to participate in the Minecraft club and trying to accommodate them in one area will be rather difficult. I know that this is not necessary, however, the overall goal for this is to have a student led group and in order to learn as much as I possibly can, I must immerse myself in the virtual space with them physically near me so I can develop my own thinking and understanding of what game play is taking place.

The other main issue that I have to overcome at my school is determining accessibility. Many students do not have internet access at home nor do they possess a windows based device. Students rely on free wifi access from the local library or businesses and many use Chromebooks which prevent students from downloading and installing applications. Creating an equitable environment is pivotal to the success of this at Rooty Hill High School.

Thus, with this in mind, I will move forward by communicating with teachers and students and together we will determine the most appropriate steps to proceed.

What it is like to be an Educator on a Global Stage

Posted on 6 May, 2015 at 3:05

1,000 Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators Globally

300 selected to attend Microsoft's Education Exchange

87 countries represented at Microsoft's HQ

I am still coming to grips with being 1 of the 1,000 MIE's selected to attend the 2015 Education Exchange held by Microsoft in Seattle, WA, USA. Being a part of this truly prestigious group of educators gave me the responsibility to share the amazing works of all Australian educators as well as learn and explore the pedagogies taught at those schools globally.

'Bravery, Courage and Leadership'. This was the theme of the conference. The purpose of the theme is to not only remind us of our educational journey thus far, it is to remind us that we must continue to be on this journey and to extend ourselves in the same way that we would extend our students.


Yes, this conference was as grand as Microsoft's very own reputation. We were constantly engaged with an amazing introductory performance by the Drum Café as well as by listening to keynote speakers such as Anthony Sacito (Microsoft VP of Worldwide Education), Mr Ziauddin Yousafzai (Peace Prize Winner; Malala's father), and even gave us the opportunity to have an open chat with Mr Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft). These presentations were inspirational and heartfelt, and they certainly set the official tone of the Exchange.

A global Teachmeet was the first formal opportunity that we had to communicate and share our teaching experiences. Learning activities and more were presented and discussed. After speaking to many educators regarding their learning activities that were based on multimedia, OneNote, programming and more, it was clearly apparent that all of the teachers who were here, were deserving of this opportunity to attend the Exchange. The passion that every single teacher demonstrated when presenting their work was in itself inspiring. Learning activities that I was fortunate to learn about include:

Brazil - The fundamentals of using Minecraft and how it can be applied to any subject
Thailand - Collaboration through Sway and Powerpoint to create infographics in Food Technology
Egypt - Using Office Mix to explore how teachers can help mentally handicapped children become better learners with technology and other tools
USA - How to use Powerpoint to complete tasks in Genius Hour
Kazakhstan - Creating learning activities to develop critical thinking skills in developing the nations energy matters

I, myself presented on how to create Personalised Learning Activities by creating matrices that encompassed Blooms Taxonomy and Gardner's Multiple Intelligences. This electronic tool enables teachers to create Project Based Learning activities for their students to complete in a self paced learning environment. The learning matrix presents numerous types of tasks (which students select based on points/value and are required to complete 100 points of work) that students can complete to achieve overall learning outcomes. This is an ideal way to support students of all learning abilities and gives the teacher the flexibility to purely facilitate and assist students one-on-one within the classroom. My presentation can be accessed via:

Throughout the Exchange, workshops by teachers were delivered on how they use Office and other technology tools in their classrooms. Every session delivered pragmatic solutions and resources that could be used in EVERY classroom regardless of language or culture. I was fortunate to learn about Skype Classroom and was quite impressed by the simplicity and usability of this tool. More so, the function of participating in a Mystery Skype was certainly of interest as it provides students from around the globe to meet and greet each other and learn about one another in a safe virtual world. This is certainly something I would like to try at least once in my classroom.

I was very fortunate to be invited to participate on a Panel (for 2 sessions) that would discuss how we use Minecraft in the classroom and how teachers could proceed with implementing it in their own schools. The Panel include myself and 3 other educators from Canada, Ireland and Brazil. I was very quick to discover that all of the concerns and questions that I possessed when setting up Minecraft in my own school was the same of all of these teachers from all parts of the world. Understanding that each school operates differently, I was able to provide them with my experiences and reassured them that embedding Minecraft and gamification into teaching and learning is possible to implement and effective in enhancing 21 Century Learning Dimensions. What I found most interesting, is that I was amongst the first to use Minecraft in curriculum based discovered that although many My experiences on using Minecraft in the classroom can be found at


The Kent Tech Expo is one of the leading expos in USA around education. This Expo showcases the work created by students (by students). I have never attended such an experience before. There were well over 100 schools represented showcasing how they use different tools and softwares in their classrooms to develop their own learning and to enhance the learning of others. The one thing that struck me was the enthusiasm of those students presenting. These students were not the average students that I have in my classroom. They were a complete range of students, from those who were well spoken and extremely intelligent, to those shy and passive personalities who clearly know their work and but speak within the classroom. These students amazed me as they explained what they did in their softly spoken and innocent voices and made me realise that the theme of our conference had trickled down into these Technology Expo space.


What is clearly apparent, is that Australia is one of the most innovative and advanced in the educational sector and we should be proud to share our work with our partners working in parts of the world. Yes, we have limitations that prevent us from doing our absolute best, but we all work in schools that have the students best interests at heart. We strive to continuously be innovative and model exemplary learning habits that our students begin to mirror. We are open to taking risks and will try anything at least once. Furthermore, this Exchange has given me a new voice to encourage more and more teachers to take risks as well as nominate them to showcase their work to the world.

To see the different perspectives from teachers on the Educator Exchange, please go to twitter and follow the hashtag #MSFTEduE2

How to engage students with gaming

Posted on 12 April, 2015 at 1:45

In recent years, there has been much debate as to whether games should be introduced into classrooms or not. Opinions regarding how the validity and academic credibility of the games are often divided and deemed as controversial. This is perhaps due to the manner in which they are used within our own home. We typically think of games in the sense of the Xbox, the wii or downloadable apps for our mobile devices.


Further, games aimed at school age children are often considered to be violent, uninformative and without great purpose. However, games at any capacity have been proven to increase literacy levels, gross motor skills as well as increase an individuals ability to think and act critically and creatively (which is inline with the National Curriculum capabilities).


In recent years, more and more teachers are introducing traditional and online games to engage students as well as to teach and develop new content. They use competitive exercises, either pitting the students against each other or getting them to challenge themselves in order to motivate them to learn better. Further, games often have a fantasy element that engages players in a learning activity through a storyline. Games can also be used to facilitate student centered learning environments as well as flipped classrooms.


This is supported by much research that advocates that gaming is increasing student results as well as their ICT skills. A survey by Games and Learning Publishing Council quotes Din Heiman from BrainPOP in their findings that;


“We’ve learned that if you provide teachers a place to find quality learning games, games that engage and challenge students, tie directly into their curriculum, and play on the prevailing classroom devices within the boundaries of their lesson period – you will be literally overwhelmed with the response”.



Two gaming programs that I use with my students are Kahoot.It and Minecraft. I use these two games for different purposes as well as sparingly so that all students learning needs are met throughout the course (there are many students who do enjoy Minecraft but are not overly passionate on using it daily, so blended learning environment is offered to them. This allows them to succeed using different digital tools). is a great game to test the pre-knowledge and post-knowledge of students. This game requires the teacher to create a quiz or survey before the class and allows the students to select their answer. In this game, there are no right or wrong answers which is great as an engagement tool at the beginning of the lesson as it can be used to prompt conversation and debate.This game requires all students to have their own device as well as for the teacher to be able to project the questions to the class. If your teaching device has Mouse Mischief downloaded onto it, you can also use it to enhance the effectiveness of the game.




Minecraft is more than a game for boys. It is a virtual setting that enables its users to strategically build architecture and more using a grid. This means that everything built on a large scale resembles images that look pixelated. At Rooty Hill High School, Minecraft began as a ‘club’ that a small number of students participated in during lunchtimes and after school. This began as part of a Microsoft Transformation Project that allowed this and 4 other schools from Australia and New Zealand to participate in a collaborative learning environment using “Mineclass*” (it should be noted that a wifi modem was purchased and used in order to reach the external server). Minecraft gave these participating students an opportunity to extend their already mastered skills and complete new challenges that they have never attempted to complete before. This group of students documented their progress which can be found at


Once both the supervising teacher and the students developed their Minecraft skills, an investment was made to purchase a Minecraft Edu server and licence so students could access it whilst at school via the NSW DEC internet gateway.


Minecraft Edu

Minecraft Edu is extremely similar to Minecraft. Although students are reserved at first when using it, they soon discover that few differences exist and that they can do the same things as using Minecraft. This also gives students who do not have personal Minecraft accounts an opportunity to play the game in a safe setting. At Rooty Hill High School, Minecraft Edu is being introduced into teaching and learning programs to support project based learning. Currently it is being used in Year 9 IST to build a setting for their robotic video. In Year 7 TAS (Multimedia), it is being used to create student’s ‘ideal home’ that they originally designed in Google Sketchup. This simply gives students an additional tool that they can use to complete their projects.


What is observed is that students are much more engaged, focused and determined to complete their work. Students are even asking if they can ‘stay in the classroom during lunch’ to work on their Minecraft builds. Our experience using Minecraft Edu is blogged at



*If your school is interested in participating in Mineclass, please go to for more information


It's in the Maker Space Stats!

Posted on 7 April, 2015 at 5:30

Found this today and feel as though that this could really direct me in my set up of a Maker Space;

A survey in 2013, Makerspaces in libraries, indicated 36% of the respondents were planning on providing a makerspace in their library.

Makerspaces appear in most types of libraries – 9% are in school libraries.

The top 15 technologies or forms of making, that were included in their makerspace were:


  • Computer workstations 67%
  • 3D printing 46%
  • Photo editing 45%
  • Video editing 43%
  • Computer programming/software 39%
  • Art and crafts 37%
  • Scanning photos to digital 36%
  • Creating a website or online portfolio 34%
  • Digital music recording 33%
  • 3D modeling 31%
  • Arduino/Raspberry Pi 30%
  • Other 30% (included knitting, Lego, etc.)
  • Animation 28%
  • High quality scanner 28%
  • Tinkering 26%


How to create Personalised Learning Activities

Posted on 6 April, 2015 at 7:20

Personalised learning starts with the learner and asks the question, “What does this student need to understand, and how best can that happen?” Such an approach is becoming more and more significant in the classroom as 21st Century Learning skills are being embedded into curriculums and into classroom learning. This student-centered approach builds around the notion of recognising the vast differences in students. It is an authentic need to know.


So how do I create a personalised learning activity?


Step 1 - Determine the Learning Outcome

This step is no different to organising any other lesson. First thing required is to determine your learning outcome and learning intention.


Step 2 - Ascertain the final product

Next, the teacher needs to determine what the student is to submit. For example, if the task requires a literacy outcome, part of the teaching and learning activity will require a reading or writing component.


Step 3 - Which teaching model is most appropriate for my students?

There are a number of teaching models that you can use in your classroom. What is more beneficial, is that these all support various pedagogical approaches. The most common personalised learning activities are

• 5 W’s

• Blooms Taxonomy

• Blooms and Gardner's Multiple Intelligences Grid

• Learning Across Capabilities

5W's questions students on Why, What, When, Where and How? This is a great task when students are to curate information or a project based on parameters that they may select themselves.

Blooms Taxonomy personalised learning activities allows students to complete tasks at particular learning stages. This provides Gifted and Talented students the ability to extend themselves whilst supporting students whom are receiving additional assistance in the classroom. Activities range from lower order thinking to higher order thinking.

Blooms and Gardners Multiple Intelligences Grid is a matrix that combines Blooms Taxonomy with Gardners Multiple Intelligences. Students can select activities based on their preference of learning and their ability levels to demonstrate critical thinking and deep understanding.

Learning Across Capabilities personalised learning activities break down the ACARA National Curriculum capabilities to provide students with more structured and outcome based learning tasks. This new style of teaching and learning is being integrated into schools across Australia.


Step 4 - Work out which digital resources can be used to create the work

We all have a list of technologies that we enjoy using and a list of tools that we would like to try. This is a perfect opportunity for teachers to introduce new learning tools. To find out about new tools that teachers are using, using social media sites such as twitter and LinkedIn are a great way to determine which tools are more successful at engaging students.


Step 5 - Create the learning Activity

The templates and completed examples for each of these personalised learning opportunities can be found online (Check with Chelsea if this is ok). Create the task with all of your students abilities in mind. Don't forget to include to include tasks that students can complete regardless of learning ability or personal knowledge. If students have an individualised learning plan, it should be referred to throughout this process.


App Review - OneNote

Posted on 6 April, 2015 at 7:20

If you are an avid OneNote user and also enjoy using multiple devices to do your work when you are on the go, an app that will allow you to maintain consistency and efficiency in your work is the OneNote app. This app allows its users to add Notebooks, pages and more to their OneNote account which can then be accessed in its full synced version on your own computer. Depending on the type of phone that you own, you may also include images, videos, links and hand drawn text onto the OneNote app which makes it one of the most universal note taking applications available at this time. Available on both iOS and Android at no cost, this is certainly a tool that all teachers should consider downloading and using with their students.


A Minecraft Milestone at Rooty Hill High

Posted on 31 March, 2015 at 6:45

Today will forever be known as the day that would determine whether all of the hard work that I had been putting in to creating a new pedagogical environment would be a viable teaching and learning environment for Rooty Hill High School.

The new era of learning that commenced today incorporated the use of virtual learning environments, specifically Minecraft. My Mini ME's (Mini Microsoft Experts) and I have been working this year on learning how to create educational challenges in Mineclass (for more information, please go to and learning how to transfer this knowledge to creating a server for use within our own school as well as applying this to our new Minecraft Edu server. With the help of our technology staff and our Technology Support Officer (TSO), this was all possible. The process of how Minecraft Edu came alive has been documented and can found at (Mineclass is a Transformation Project initiated between Microsoft and 5 Australian and New Zealand schools).

My pedagogical approach in the space of technology is that a blended learning is the best fit model that supports the learning of all students regardless of background or ability level. This is particularly important for those 'mixed' classes where students of various abilities are grouped in the one classroom environment. Today was no different to my approach of introducing students to Minecraft educationally.

Students in Year 9 whom are currently studying Information Systems and Technology (IST) are currently completing Project Based Learning that focuses on the creation of a Robotic Guide Dog. This robot can be targeted at any demographic with any disability (at the student groups discretion). Todays incursion was aimed at providing these students with new resources (primarily Minecraft) that they could use to complete their projects this year.

At 8.45am, students met me at the Canteen steps. The fact that we were on an 'incursion' and not an 'excursion' contributed to the negative feelings that students already possessed. I was already facing a battle and I hadn't even said 'hello' to them yet. I gave each student a contract and explained its contents. Students were given the option to sign the contract and participate in the day. If they decided that they didn’t want to abide by the rules, they could simply go to the office and ask for their parents to be contacted and have them collected from school. I left the students at the Canteen and walked to my classroom hoping that all would soon follow. Fortunately, every student signed the contract and entered the classroom. Upon their entry to the classroom, their contracts were taped to the whiteboard. I too signed a contract and this was also added to the wall of contracts.

The activities of the day was delivered via a Sway that I created (and can be accessed at ) Students have never seen a Sway before, so this was a great way to get them engaged quickly. We began the day by watching a series of animations created on Go Animate and YouTube clip on Robotic Guide Dogs followed by a discussion and a Think Tank on what the key features and the implications could be when designing a Robotic Guide Dog. Students were then encouraged to photograph their work as evidence.

This activity was then followed by a game of This a great activity that encouraged students to re-evaluate their initial thoughts about the Robotic Guide Dog and prompted more great conversation about what attributes their robot should contain.

After our first break, each student created a Google Site. Each site contained 6 pages namely; Home page, Do Now activity, Diary entries, Multimedia Project, Promotional Activity and Minecraft. Each page would be filled with information and/or photographs from throughout the day. We then completed a literature review of articles of robots and the use of robotics for personal and business purposes. This review was added to our Diary page (on our google site).

Once the formalities were completed, it was time to begin playing on Minecraft Edu. Students were required to demonstrate their technical abilities of installing the software and launching it. For many students, this was the first opportunity that they had to do such a task. For these students, this task alone was an absolute milestone.

As students were installing Minecraft Edu, I ascertained which students considered themselves as 'Jedi's' (experts in the area of Minecraft) and those as 'Newbies' (have never played on Minecraft before) and allocated a worksheet that would support their level of play. Many other resources such as recipe cards, how to maneuver within Minecraft etc were dispersed to students. At first students felt a little overwhelmed by all of the material, but it was quickly dispelled once they started playing. Within minutes, the atmosphere within the classroom changed. There was no longer a sense of competition between students as to whom had produced the best website and there was no longer a challenge of who knew more. They were working together. As equals. Moreover, even when it was time for students to go on a break (when the bell went), nobody moved. I genuinely don’t think that they even heard the bell. Students continue to build and play and help each other in the Minecraft Edu space for the next 90 minutes. All conversations that I overheard was directly related to the task at hand and every know and then I could hear cheers and squeals of elevation, particularly from those female students who were initially dubious of playing. They were so proud of themselves that they could not only fly, but they were building things. Structures. Structures that were relevant and could be used in their set of creating robotic guide dogs.

Throughout the play portion of the day, students were encouraged to communicate with members of their team about the requirements needed to support their project, document their actions in their Google Site diary, take screenshots (or use F2) and even download Snag It and use it to record themselves (which in some instances was also uploaded to their Google Sites). These activities enabled students to make the necessary connections with the content that was learned this term and the new activities experienced today.

The hardest part of today was asking students to pack up as it was time to go home. Asking all students to uninstall the software (again, students have not completed this task before), review their websites, discuss the future direction of their projects was a really inspiring activity as the growth of students technologically was clearly evident. Many had learned and experienced so many new things in just one day whereas others were able to share their expertise that they may have not normally been able to do.

Today is certainly a milestone for myself and for Rooty Hill High School and the start of our pedagogical outlook and new club - Minecraft 4 Me (named after our ICT4Me BYOD program)

I am, an MIE Educator!

Posted on 21 March, 2015 at 6:00

These past 2 weeks has certainly been a time of firsts and learning new things. I honestly don’t think that I have learned so much as I have since I was a beginning teacher.

After attending many a conference and networking with numerous teachers, I have realised that being a Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator has opened much more doors than I could have ever imagined. Not only did I discover that I was attending the Global Educator Exchange in Seattle to represent Australian Educators, I was able to learn of the more extraordinary things that my colleagues were doing in their own schools. This has encouraged me to be so much more motivated to do so much more in my own school in the space of ICT. Being an MIE Educator has given me the confidence and the voice that I don’t think I previously possessed. Having this 'title' has provided me with a sense of assertion that I am a great educator in this KLA and that my passion and goals is in fact leading towards innovative pedagogies and practice within and outside of my school. I am still completely speechless that I have been given the opportunity to work with the world's finest in Seattle and be classed as one of them.

Prior to becoming an MIE, I used Microsoft Office as a key resource in my classroom. I ensured that students were proficient in their use of these tools and encouraged students to create tasks using Project Based Learning pedagogies. These tools were used to deliver content as well as tools that students used to curate information. Students were encouraged to work autonomously and collaboratively depending on the task at hand. In all instances, a student directed classroom was implemented to extend students in their developing of tools.

Students at Rooty Hill High School also use a Personalised Learning approach. Many pedagogies surrounding personalised learning exist, however I often used Multiple Intelligence Matrices to encourage students to direct their own learning whilst attain learning outcomes. One particular example of how this pedagogical approach was used in my classroom can be accessed via

Using Sway is a tool that I have completely embraced since becoming an MIE. I have found that this tool is just wonderful in creating self paced work for students as well as creating reference resources for students that they can refer too whilst creating a project. More importantly, students can access Sway in NSW DEC schools.

When I met the other Australian and New Zealand MIE Experts last October (in 2014), the STEM teachers were grouped together to create a Transformation Project. I was completely blown away by the resume of each of the teachers that I was now working with. These educators were living proof that we, educators, individual educators, could make a difference. Not the 'difference' that we constantly hear about - in terms of changing the life of at least one student, but a substantial difference that is actually revolutionising education as we know it. We quickly ascertained that a collaborative activity that would involved our students was absolutely necessary. Minecraft appeared to be the obvious choice as Microsoft's new relationship with this Virtual World would simplify our implementation plans for including this new resources into our teaching and learning programs. This would now be known as MineClass.

MineClass at Rooty Hill High School was formally launched at the start of the 2015 school year and since its inception, 6 male students with vast backgrounds have united. This unity growing beyond the virtual world as real friendships have developed in the classroom, playground, and of course on Skype where hours of conversation is being documented. Moreover, my students have developed relationships with the students from the other participating 5 schools and have completed challenges together. This student directed collaborative learning environment is already proving successful. (View our blog at So successful, that our Year 9 IST students will be attending an incursion to develop a teaching and learning program focusing on Minecraft Edu to complete an existing topic. Due to numerous reasons, I personally funded the Minecraft Edu server and accounts for the school and with my skilled technology team, we were able to set up and test our internal Minecraft Edu server. All of the steps involved has been documented on our Rooty Hill High School Minecraft website in an attempt to assist other educators whom wish to do the same for their students. This incursion will run in 1 week and I can NOT wait to share the day with everyone.

Moreover, I attended the 2015 ICTENSW Annual Conference last weekend and was again inspired by my colleagues in the area of Maker Spaces. For those who don’t know about this, its ultimately a safe space where students can make and create objects without teacher intervention. Students have the ability to create and innovate projects that we as educators only dream about as we, perhaps do not have the skill to do so. After deep conversations with each of these presenters, I quickly realised the generosity of large (and) global corporations and was offered free resources for my students. This was new to me. I thought and naively believed that only schools with large budgets could access such technological tools and that schools like mine were left in the dark. I am so humbled by the assistance and contribution of these contributions that my mindset (of education) has again changed. I have realised that being an educator is bigger than what I am currently doing and that I am only tapping a very small percentage of the resources, tools, aspiring leaders available to me. I have also realised that being an MIE Educator will not only open doors for me, but for my school. For those that really need it.

Personalised Learning @ ICTENSW 2015

Posted on 15 March, 2015 at 4:35

Please find here a link to the presentation on Personalised Learning that I delivered this weekend at the 2015 ICTENSW Annual Conference -

All relating tweets can be found on twitter with the Hashtag #ICTENSW (

Planning for future minecraft learning

Posted on 15 March, 2015 at 4:35

I have spent the last 2 days attending the ICTENSW 2015 Annual Conference and in addition to learning new and innovative concepts that I will certainly use within my own classroom and (if possible) school, I also learned a great deal about Minecraft. Moreover, I met some incredible people who already use Minecraft to support existing curriculum.


These individuals have provided me with great insight as to how to plan and implement new teaching pedagogies using Minecraft and how to create a new server within my school (whilst still participating in Mineclass) to engage more students at RHHS. I have learned how to encourage students to use Python and Scratch to use code to create and computate data in the space of Minecraft.


Whats next?

1. First step though is to keep our Mineclass team going and to blog our activities as much as possible.


2. Plan and program the purpose and learning activities of having Minecraft within the school as a teaching and learning resource


3. Set up an internal server and test it


4. Work out the rest of the plan

Going live on Minecraft

Posted on 23 February, 2015 at 16:35

The Famous 5 have officially launched Mineclass and what is more fabulous than the commitment from these 5 teachers from Australia and New Zealand is that we, as teachers are MUCH more excited that the students who are in our teams.


Sir Matt Richards has created a new OneNote that will be used for administration purposes and all of our personal documentation in order to successfully run this program will be included in this collaborative document so that if we ever dig ourselves into a hole and can't get out (Jodi), the others will know where we are up to and be able to carry on with our Minecraft Jedi's.


Our objectives as Leaders of this Transformation Project are to enhance the 21st Century skills of our students in addition to develop their minecraft skills by setting challenges that students are to complete.... as a team. This Digital Citizenship experience will not only help students be a part of a new team within their school, it will build friendship in virtual communities and allow us, as teacher leaders, to develop new pedagogies that embrace the technological components that Minecraft has to offer. This will certainly be identified later as we hope to see students develop scripts using java and other coding languages that replicate what those professionals at large technological corporations are creating. This is just one of the higher order computational skills that our students will learn and develop.


Why are we doing this? We want our students to become the best 21st century learner that exists. We want them to learn open source learning platforms and utilise such tools so that future generations of students can not only learn these same skills but create something even more innovative and take even more risks that all educational boundaries are broken/dismantled/demolished. Lets help make those walls disappear into thin air and create a new world of learning that hasn't even been documented yet.


Mineclass......lets be the Gold of the educational world!

Tools of the Term

Posted on 16 February, 2015 at 5:15


It is already week 4 of the school year and I can not believe how much I have already achieved within the school and within my classroom during this very short time. I feel as though my school has successfully achieved the impossible in launching a BYOD program to a school of 100 staff and over 1100 students. The concept of introducing BYOD was only decided upon last October and since then, we have created all of the accounts necessary for this to work, established policies and procedures in addition to all of the necessary components of the back end of the project.  

Already in 4 weeks, over 50% of the school is online and teachers are feeling more and more confident using collaborative tools. What is more impressive is the response from teachers. They are all determined to make BYOD a success in our school and are all working together to create a new digital curriculum, offer blended learning and new opportunities of learning.

In amongst of all of this, I have delivered hours of professional learning and have shared resources to many.  

I have tried to focus on creating resources for my students using Office 365 tools in particularly OneNote and Sway. A Sway that I created for my Year 7 TAS students can be viewed at This Sway focuses on the design process that students will need to follow to complete their project. This Sway will act as a reference piece for all students throughout all stages of their task.





Students have really taken to these tools and are excited to do work. I have never seen students so engaged before. I have junior students submitting work late in the evening and asking higher order questions as they complete their task. This has led me to create even more tailored personalised learning opportunities for all of my students depending on their ICT abilities. 




2015. The year of ......

Posted on 1 January, 2015 at 1:25

In my bid to better my tan and to stick to at least one of my New Year's Resolution for 2015, namely 'stay up to date with technologies and innovations'; I pulled out my Surface Pro 3 during my pool breaks and began reflecting on technologies in 2014.


It appears that whilst 2013 was the year of the 'selfie', 2014 was the year of the 'hashtag'. Interestingly, many of the twitter posts that I have viewed, and I view quite a few, have hashtags that according programming metalanguage rules, don't actually have any relevance to the post itself. In old school programming days, using metalanguage which essentially had the same purpose as hashtags were to be clear and concise. They were to aid a searcher find your website, image, or data with minimal complexities.


According to Oxford Dictionaries, a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media sites such as Twitter to identify messages on a specific topic: "spammers often broadcast tweets with popular hashtags even if the tweet has nothing to do with them".


Interestingly, the most prominent hashtags, that is the most used hashtags are those that were created by individuals as a result of traumatic events that made headlines for all of the wrong reasons. #putyourbatsout, #bringbackourgirls, and #illridewithyou amongst those that will forever stay with us. Click here for the top ten hashtags used globally:


So, for the hashtag first timer , here are a few steps to help you create hashtags that are relevant and purposeful and most importantly, bring a lot of fun to your personal/professional digital networks;



1. Understand hashtags. The universe of Twitter is vast and can be a little confusing to navigate. Hashtags are one of the most important and efficient ways of organizing information on Twitter. Anyone can make a hashtag at any time, simply by typing a phrase of the form “#topic” in a tweet. For example, if you were tweeting about reading this article, you might say "Reading #wikihow article on using #hashtags with #twitter." Then, anybody searching for #wikihow, #hashtags, or #twitter would see your tweet. After a hashtag has been created, other Twitter users can use that hashtag in their own tweets to add to the larger conversation about that topic. Hashtags can be as general (#wikiHow) or as specific (#howToUseHashtagsOnTwitter) as desired. They are a completely organic form of organization, created and managed by Twitter users, not Twitter itself.

2. Create your own hashtag. The form for doing this is exactly the same as for including an already existing hashtag. Simply type a phrase of the form “#topic.” Do not put any spaces in the phrase that you want to turn into a hashtag, because the hashtag begins with the “#” and ends with the first space. When you click “Tweet”, your new tweet will appear in your list of tweets, and the hashtag you created will appear in blue. Scroll over it and click on it to be redirected to the page for the hashtag. If you have really created a brand new hashtag, your tweet should be the only one on the page. Now, every time someone includes your hashtag in a tweet, it will be added to the page. 


3. Include an existing hashtag in your tweet. You can do this simply by typing a phrase of the form “#topic” within your tweet. After you click “Tweet,” your tweet will appear in your list of tweets with the hashtag in blue type. Scroll over the hashtag and click on it to go to the page for that hashtag. Your tweet will now appear when other users visit the hashtag page. If you wish to use an existing hashtag, make sure that your spelling is correct and that there are no spaces between the words you wish to include in the hashtag. Capitalization, however, does not matter. Thus “#wikihow”, “#wikiHow”, and “#WikiHow” will all produce the same result.

4. Be polite. When using hashtags, observe hashtag etiquette. Twitter's best practices suggest you not use more than two hashtags in the tweet, because this can dilute their usefulness for other users, and make it a royal pain in the eyeballs to read. Understand the purposes of different hashtags. Some are obviously meant to be silly, while others are more serious. Make sure you observe these differences if you do not want to draw the ire of other Twitter users. Only use hashtags that are relevant to the topic you're tweeting about.





App Review: Manga-Camera

Posted on

There is a significant number of students becoming increasingly interested in Anime and Manga. Anime is a cartoon originated in Japan has developed considerably in the space of comics, magazine and animations, A great way to include these cartoons and images in the classroom is by using an App that photographs you and converts it into a Manga. Manga_Camera is free App that is available on both iOS and Android and has numerous settings that can even allow students to create a Manga Magazine by using photographs. Suitable for any age, Manga_Camera is an app that can be used to illustrate any topic for any KLA.