Sustainable networks!

Sustaining relationships and friendships over time takes effort.  This weekend I am having lunch with six other women who were my friends way back in primary school and secondary school.  That’s pretty amazing, since that was a long time ago!  We don’t always see each other, and sometimes one of us may be temporarily on ‘leave’ for a variety of reasons – work, health, family and the like.  But, we know where we are and we know we will be back. It is a connection that we will take through our life journey.

In my work life, I have many colleagues and friends with whom I connect in a professional context. These connections, just like my group of friends from school, needs to be nurtured and effort is needed to sustain them.  Since 2008 I have been part of a growing professional (personal) learning network (PLN).  Recently, I attended two workshops organised by the State Library of Victoria with Alec Couros and Will Richardson, on learning networks.  I was lucky to be invited to both sessions and to find that there were so many of the people who I knew and had connected with through my online networks since 2008. You can follow further conversations on Twitter with #plnlead and #vicpln.

The networks, over time have grown, strengthened and taken on a new purpose.  What seemed to be a network to learn from and share ideas and resources, has now matured and become one that can influence and shape education.  The dialogues have become deeper and the reflection more evident.  Sharing resources and links is still important, but what can be achieved through ‘voice’ is really something worth tuning into.

In 2008 I wrote a blog post about The Power of the PLN, and also Learning in a Networked World, and presented at local conferences.  Here is one I did in 2009.  You will see mention to Alec Couros and Will Richardson, as well some local talent too!


Oh wow, SoHo!

Even though this is not about my journey with education, ICT or leadership, it is my daughter’s journey in her creative endeavours. Last year she was cast for a part in “Wordless” a short film by Dir. Lisa Kappel, a student at Victorian College of the Arts. It was filmed locally here in Melbourne and was entered into the SoHo International Film Festival. Just recently it won the audience award for short film. (I think I have that right!)

You can see my daughter, Tammy, very briefly in the following trailer. She is the one on the couch with the main character.

Wordless Teaser from Lisa Kappel on Vimeo.

I think film is such a powerful medium to tell stories. It is something that, as a teacher I have enjoyed introducing to my students, and have delighted in watching their creations. This time I delight in seeing my daughter as part of the story.

Abbot and Costello Maths!

I am often amazed at the great things happening in schools with the use of ICT and social media.  Today I came across a wonderful clip from Abbot and Costello that was used in a class blog to stimulate discussion about the processes of maths, problem solving and right and wrong.  The responses from the students demonstrated their thirst for inquiry and questioning, and their ability to reflect on each others’ responses.  I am sure this maths conundrum was a hot topic of conversation the next day in class.

I loved the clip so much that I thought I would add it to my blog here to remind me of the fun you can have with numbers!


Quick Response Codes

I have been learning about QR codes recently. Over the last few months they have been appearing on Twitter and in marketing but I have not really known much about them. Lack of time, a different focus, or simply filtering new information has meant I have let these little square bar codes pass me by.  My response has not been so ‘quick’!

Recently, at the ANZ ADE Institute, we needed to use them to gain information about others. I was given my own QR Code! Now I had a reason to learn about them, and use them which meant I need to download a QR Reader on the spot. Who knew? Well, me now!!

So after coming home and having more time to explore, i have now generated my own from a QR generator. I am sure there are others.


As well as a form of marketing, I learnt from a colleague, that you can generate these codes and use them with your students to create a scavenger hunt or task.

101 ways to use QR Codes here – including apps for scanning and generating.

I wonder how others use them?

Project Based Learning explained…

With all my reading at the moment about data, it is still incredibly important to me to capture the good stuff that kids can do that doesn’t necessarily become apparent through a test or a score.  Of course, if we are good at our job as educators, we certainly do not just administer a test at the end of a unit of work/study, but rather capture the thinking, the processing and the behaviours that the student demonstrates throughout the learning process.

I have just watched a Project Based Learning video by the Common Craft crew that was linked by Miguel Guhlin. It’s simple and effective in explaining PBL and the C’s that aren’t often explicitly taught or evaluated –

  • Critical thinking
  • Collaboration
  • Communication

It’s not rocket science that kids learn effectively when they can be actively involved in a project, use their thinking (creative, critical..), work and learn with others, articulate their understanding through presentations, performances or products.  I love this type of learning environment for students and for myself.  It’s real and purposeful, and students are very much able to see their own strengths, weaknesses and establish learning goals of their own because of it.



Most of the work I did with my own students was around the inquiry/action/project based learning models and by far it was what stuck with students and what made them want to be in class. Now as an Assistant Principal I am able to share this passion with my teachers and their students.   More of this soon…

Twitter top followers

Just for fun, I thought I would add my Twitter Top Followers for 2010 here.  Not sure how this is all worked out but this is what I got –

My Twitter Top Followers

My Twitter Top Followers

This is an interesting list of educators and like minded people.  Many I’ve known now for quite some time whilst others are new.  Some I have met through Twitter others I have met in person first then continued the discussions through Twitter.  I have learnt from all.

Having connections online has helped to grow relationships, something that can be a bit and miss in a fast paced world.

Go to to check out yours!

It Takes a Village

Over the last few months I have been engaged in a DEECD Innovation and Next Practice project with web conferencing – the Virtual Conference Centre.

It’s been a fantastic project to be involved in. The team is small, 10 web leaders in total. We run our own PD series and also train people in using Elluminate.
kidsThe best part of the project for me is the PD series that I run - It Takes a Village. My topic is around –

  • Learning Culture
  • Learning Paradigms
  • Learning Spaces

I believe educating our students is a collective responsibility. As educators and leaders in schools we often wonder if we are providing the best possible education for our students.

The presenters I have my for series are

There will be more sessions coming up after the school holidays and I will be confirming my guest speakers shortly :-)

It’s been a busy few weeks lately but I aim to reflect on each of the sessions.

Big Day Out

Ultranet_LogoTomorrow is the Big day Out for Principals and Assistant Principals in Victorian Government Schools. This is my first time attending and am looking forward to hearing from some highly regarded educators such as Richard Elmore,
Yong Zhao, and Sugata Mitra.

You can see TweetPhotos here from the rehearsals today for the Big Day Out by @ultranvic (Darrrell Fraser) the Deputy Secretary, DEECD.


Push or Pull Professional Learning?

Q – How do we plan for professional learning and does it work?

Q – What sort of Professional Learning makes the most impact on

  • Classroom practice
  • Educational reform

As an AP with a role of Student Learning and Professional Learning, I am often linking the two and trying to work in ways that are going to make a difference to our students.

There are many great intentions within our school systems to provide opportunities for teachers to learn and grow in particular fields and in general pedagogical understanding.

For me as an educator I learn in many ways but always I learn best if it is something that is purposeful and relevant to my needs then and there.  Some if these are –

  • face to face workshops
  • online through my PLN
  • coaching and mentoring
  • conferences
  • speaking and presenting for others

Overall, I tailor my professional learning to suit me.  As a system, this is very hard to achieve and differentiating the learning for teachers is just as hard as it is for students.

Today I listened to Charles Leadbeater talk about innovation in education.  I have heard him speak on similar topics whilst in Melbourne and now on Ted Talks.  One thing that resonated with me was the ‘push vs pull’ style of schooling and education.  We often talk about engaging our students in learning and wondering but I am not sure this is much the case for professional learning in schools.

So why isn’t it?  Time, multiple needs, conflicting priorities?

I’m wondering if it something else?  Is it because we don’t quite know where we want to go?  Or because we don’t know what we don’t know?

Chris Lehmann spoke about a ‘grass roots movement’ that brought together all stakeholders (students, teachers, parents and community members) to discuss ways to get us closer to the vision of a ‘school 2.0’.  This sounds like a great ‘pull’ movement.

Recently I have been invited to work with various schools about moving forward with educational spaces, technologies and pedagogy. This is on a small scale of course, but there are communities that are interested in this.  So why not bring these communities together to discuss and debate this vision together.

Perhaps what others are doing can be the ‘pull’ for what we are doing.

What do others think or do?