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A Mid-Year Tech Review

As I am approaching the half-way point of our school year I want to assess my ‘Tech Targets’ to review my plans for the remainder of the school year.

Flipped Learning

The Flipped Learning Model is a practical way for teachers to maximize class time. The excellent Flipped Classroom Infographic by provides an easy way to see the benefits. This is a useful tool for front loading information and allowing students to prepare questions in advance.

In an inquiry-based PYP classroom I rarely prepare lectures for my class. I want to be part of their learning journey to assess prior knowledge, address misconceptions and plan the next day of learning depending on student understanding and ideas. However, using video reminders after a lesson has been very useful. I decided to design my own infographic, based on Knewton’s, to target the specific needs of my flipped classroom.

Below is an example of how I have begun to put these ideas into practice.  (video no longer available)


Every now and then in education you stumble across something that has a big impact in the classroom. is a simple idea and very easy to use. It is attractive, fun, engaging and has seeped into all curriculum areas of our classroom.

Kahoot excitement to liven up a shape quiz on a Thursday afternoon #sislearns #kahoot

— Amanda (@ALMcCloskey) October 15, 2015

My class are constantly requesting more Kahoot quizzes. We even have our own style of chair dancing emerging thanks to the catchy tunes. If you haven’t tried Kahoot yet I recommend it!

Minecraft Mania

It is clear that Minecraft is currently a major influence on primary-aged children. The excitement of even mentioning a mine, and the many conversations in class that can be related to Minecraft is impressive. I first saw it used in the classroom by @donovanhallnz in 2013 and began to realise the potential of Minecraft. I now feel ready to launch an ECA and have just received approval for site licenses and a server. My research has now begun and I have found some excellent information on some coetail blogs including @davidc, @wayfaringpath @chezvivian, @holtspeak. My new project awaits!

Image from Flickr by Mike Cooke

Presentation Zzzzzz

The Journey from Zzz to Zen

Two months ago I delivered a presentation to class parents as part of our ‘Meet the Teacher’ night at school. The presentation contained all of the necessary and relevant information for the school year ahead. Here is the presentation:

After reading the Presentation Zen blog by Garr Reynolds , and laughing along at Life after Death by Powerpoint by Don McMillan I realised (and cringed) at the many shortcomings of my presentation. Below are my reflections on these shortcomings.


I have used a basic theme from google slides which seemed adequate at the time. I did not give much consideration to the design of the slides and I can see now that they are full of text and quite boring. 


I had a handout with all of this information on so I can see it wasn’t necessary for me to also have it on the screen (I fear I may have just read from the slides too). My personality and character does not come across at all in this presentation. 

UOI circled

Although I’ve attempted to highlight the key points there is still too much information on the slide.


The presentation is essentially a list of ‘do’s and don’ts. I haven’t considered the big picture of how students and parents may be feeling, instead I just focused on the content of what I wanted to get across.


Whilst talking to the parents I explained my passion for teaching and the privilege of teaching the final year of primary school- but this doesn’t come across in my presentation at all. 

Layout of Slides

I haven’t used any images in my presentation. I have used bullet points excessively where it isn’t necessary. I also didn’t consider the exact purpose of each slide.

Home Learning circled

An over dependency on bullet points.

no images

No images used.

After learning about the principles of presentation zen I can see that I may have been sending my audience to sleep. An interesting article in the Guardian by Andrew Smith ‘How PowerPoint is killing critical thought‘ has also made me question the purpose and content of my presentation. When discussing a procession of endless slides he states

In the face of such a procession, we switch off, because nothing is being asked of us.

I missed the opportunity for my presentation to include parents thoughts, fears and questions- which are usually covered in a haphazard question and answer session after the presentation.

So now begins the process of improving my presentation to include all of these suggestions. I can now see the benefits of spending more time in preparing a more effective presentation. I am planning to include images whilst using the ‘Rule of Thirds‘.

And here is the first page…

meet the teacher compressed

The beginning of my updated presentation.


Empowering Student Action with 1:1 Devices

Recently my school has adopted a full 1:1 programme in the Primary School. After only a fortnight of using our own iPads I am already beginning to see the amazing benefits of a 1:1 programme for young children.

Immediate Impact

My students now have the choice of how and when to use their iPads. Without planning to, we have naturally moved away from scheduled  ‘ICT lessons’ to students accessing technology when it is relevant to them. Students have requested to use apps, take photo’s, record themselves talking to take notes, video something interesting and more. And it feels like we are only just beginning to redefine our classroom practice.

Image authors own. A choice of tools available

Another significant improvement in our lesson time is that we no longer have to deal with passwords. If you haven’t had to help a class of Grade 2 students log in using computer generated passwords then you may not realize the significance of this statement. It is usually the most time consuming and frustrating part of any lesson. I’ve tried a number of strategies to overcome this (password cards, teacher log-in prior to use, saving passwords on desktops) but there are inevitably problems. I am relived now that we can use the wonderful ‘remember password’ feature.

Image authors own. Not your typical spelling list.


As I now reflect on how to enable my students to reach their full potential I am considering how I can make the most effective use of our devices.  After reading ’20 Things I Learned’, created by Google, I felt reassured that I may not know everything but what is important (especially for my class) is that I am learning about developments on the web.

Life as citizens of the web can be liberating and empowering, but also deserves some self-education.

Thanks to my research for my COETAIL course I have increased my awareness of cookies, browsers and filters. I can also see how important it is that I become a ‘search engine expert’ so that I can teach my students these vital skills.

Search competency is a form of literacy, like learning a language or subject. Like any literacy, it requires having discrete skills as well as accumulating experience in how and when to use them.

What I am witnessing is that how we are learning is constantly changing. This should impact on how we teach. David Weinberger explains this well in his book ‘Small Pieces’.

The old model is about control: a team works on a document, is responsible for its content and format, and releases it to the public when it’s been certified as done.

David Weinberger,

Although not aimed at primary educators the point is still significant. Technology is not just a substitution for how to publish work. Now we have the potential for students to create, share, connect, comment on and transform their learning. This was written in 2002, yet many schools are still not realizing the potential of how the web can enhance and alter everything we do in the classroom.


An excellent example of how a primary student can use the web to share and connect globally is Martha Payne, a Scottish student who kept a blog ‘NeverSeconds‘ of her school dinners for a writing assignment. She currently has ten million hits on her blog and an incredible story to share. If you too are inspired you can donate on Martha’s just giving page for Mary’s Meals here.

As a PYP teacher, action is an area where I feel the web should have a huge impact on student experience. One of the five essential elements of the PYP programme is action. In the document ‘Making the PYP Happen‘ the importance of action is explained.

In the PYP, it is believed that education must extend beyond the intellectual to include not only socially responsible attitudes but also thoughtful and appropriate action.

Making the PYP Happen, 2012

As a teacher attempting to provide authentic opportunities for students to ‘act’ the web can be a powerful resource for connection. Student-initiated action can be enhanced by:

  • The potential of a global audience
  • Connecting with like-minded individuals
  • Learning from others instantly
  • Continuing to receive feedback on their ideas and move their understanding forward
  • Reflecting on their own understanding

Educators need to model these connections in the classroom to enable students to appreciate the full extent of possibilities. The potential for students using the web for action is vast and almost incomprehensible. Our role is to increase student awareness and skills, then step back and allow them to access the power of their global connections.

As I attempt to move my teaching forward and to utilize our 1:1 devices effectively I hope to promote more meaningful and collaborative uses of the web in our learning, and to inspire student-initiated action.