September 12, 2019
September 12, 2019
October 2, 2018
Kids Conference 2018
A fantastic opportunity exists for students to present at the Kids Conference 2018.
The conference involves short speaker sessions where primary and secondary students can present innovative projects relating to History, Geography, Science, English and digital technologies. It allows students to present on how they have developed their learning by exploring new and emerging technologies and presentation tools.
August 24, 2018
A fantastic Q&A with Principal Gail Doney of Wallarano Primary School, Victoria, Australia who sheds light on equality issues in access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and how help from the private sector can help.
Read the full article here.
November 1, 2017
Our guest blogger this week is Stephen Spain from the Australian Catholic University
The 2017 Kids’ Conference brings together primary and secondary students from across the world to share their ideas and creativity using new and emerging digital technologies. ACU will once again host the conference in partnership with the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria and the Geography Teachers’ Association of Victoria on Tuesday 21 November at ACU’s Melbourne campus. The Conference welcomes new event partners this year: The Royal Society of Victoria (RSV), Cultural Infusion and the Victorian Association for the Teaching of English (VATE) with sessions spanning History, Geography, English and Science.
‘Kids’ teaching teachers’ has been the vision for the conference to highlight the remarkable creativity in our schools, promote ‘student voice’ in learning and enable teachers to facilitate, observe and hear from students applying digital technologies in new ways. The Kids’ Conference 2017 brings together primary and secondary students as presenters, offering them the opportunity to share their creative and innovative projects, and allowing senior teachers, early career teachers, and pre-service teachers the opportunity for professional development.
Founded in 2012 by Stephen Spain from ACU and Dr. Jo Clyne from the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria, the conference has grown significantly over the past few years and will include for the first time this year two new disciplines, Science and English. It has also expanded internationally with the inaugural Kids’ Conference Germany held this year.
The State Member for Melbourne Ellen Sandell MP will be this year’s guest speaker, with senior representatives from both state and federal government in attendance. Professor Dr. Klaudia Schultheis and Dr. Petra Hiebl from Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt Germany will also be attending to present virtual presentations by German primary school students in the history and science sessions.
The Kids’ Conference has been kindly supported by the Australian Catholic University and the Australian Government, Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
For more information on the conference please visit: http://www.acu.edu.au/about_acu/faculties,_institutes_and_centres/education_and_arts/kids_conference
November 16, 2016
Our guest blogger is Dr Jo Clyne, History Teachers’ Association of Victoria
The Kids’ Conference was founded in 2011 by Stephen Spain from the Australian Catholic University and Dr Jo Clyne from the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria. It is sponsored by the Australian Catholic University and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
In the past, digital technology has been very much the domain of information technology and science teachers. In these classes, students were provided with opportunities to build robots, assemble Dick Smith electronic kits and play Space Invaders. If history teachers felt a bit jealous, they could always be comforted by a resource cupboard full of pottery shards, diorama-making materials and colourful posters of historical figures spouting inspiring quotes.*
Advances in technology have completely reconfigured the educational landscape and the nature of subject-based learning. The integration of digital technology is now the responsibility of all teachers. As a consequence many history teachers struggle to envisage how they can develop the same ease with technology as their scientific colleagues.
In creating the Kids’ Conference, our overarching objective was to provide an opportunity and the inspiration for history teachers and students who wanted to use digital technology more meaningfully in their classes. As seasoned conference delegates and presenters, we knew the value of learning through the sharing of ideas and projects. As a child, I viewed conferences as Very Important Adult Business – but do they need to be?
The premise of the conference was to hold a forum where school students of all ages could present a finished project about history using innovative technology that could be shared beyond the safety of the classroom. The project had to be innovative and about history – and it had to be good.
In the first year we assembled eight primary and secondary students who presented their projects in a two-hour block to a small audience of teachers, pre-service teachers, staff from cultural organisations and academic staff from a cluster of Victorian universities. Six years on, the program is now conducted over a full day with primary students in the morning and secondary students in the afternoon.
How do we define ‘innovative technology’?
After the first year, we realised that teachers and students around Victoria had very different ideas about the concept of ‘digital innovation’. We have since placed a very strict ban on PowerPoint as an ‘innovative technology’. It was mind-blowing in 2004, but in 2016 we can do better
The Kids’ Conference provides students and teachers with a forum to showcase innovative projects, including those involving game coding, app development, Minecraft, augmented reality and the use of techniques and applications such as green screening, Puppet Pals, Book Creator and stop motion.
A favourite conference moment was when a senior student demonstrated the notetaking app he had developed to help his class study for a VCE history exam, and teachers began to immediately download it onto their phones. A winning scenario for the historically-minded student entrepreneur.
What could go wrong?
Organising conferences with student presenters can sometimes be a challenge. What if they get stage fright? What if they cry? What if their digital project doesn’t load properly? Will the students travelling from regional areas get to the conference venue on time? What if presenters are subjected to non-constructive criticism from the audience? Is it fair to ask students to stand up in front of an audience – a concept many adults struggle with?
Stephen and I were both justifiably nervous when our youngest presenter, all of seven years old, stepped up to the lectern. However, our fears were unfounded – she sailed through her content with the confidence of a professor emeritus. Indeed, I still show her presentation at teacher professional development training.
Do participants enjoy it?
Our conference evaluation forms from that first year were extremely simple – they included three thought bubbles or ‘sound bites’ and a question: ‘What did you think of the Kids’ Conference?’. However, the response from both students and audience members provided the sort of positive feedback required to know that we were on the right track.
‘I’ve never been more excited to use technology in the history classroom. See you next year!’
‘An inspiring student-led experience…not to miss!’
‘As a pre-service teacher this is the perfect day to demonstrate creativity and best practice in the history classroom.’
‘Very informative regarding what technology students are finding most beneficial to their learning.’
‘Hearing from both primary and secondary students was priceless. It’s great to see growth through the age groups.’
‘Who are these students? Where do they come from? They are the world’s future leaders and they come from our classrooms. Very impressive students.’
‘So great to hear kids excited about history.’
‘Made me think creatively about setting assignments and assessment tasks.’
‘Can’t wait to bring some of these ideas to my own classroom!’
‘A great experience for teachers and students to share learning.’
‘Learning first hand from other students was inspirational.’
‘Positive reinforcement of teachers as well as students.’
‘Audience was really engaging and supportive.’
Six years later and the evaluation form is still exactly the same. We’ve continued to use the format for other combined student/adult events. We’re also yet to receive a single negative comment about the conference. It seems to bring out the best in both presenters and the audience.
Is it worth it?
Some of the highlights for me have been a student presenter who shared details of her learning disability with the audience as a preamble to showcasing her project. Because her disability made it difficult for her to write fluently, making a film allowed her to express her ideas. Her point was that technology had allowed her to excel in history, where in the analogue classroom she might have been dismissed as ‘not good at history.’
Each year we have students with disabilities – such as those with Asperger’s syndrome, a condition that can affect their learning and communication – participating in the conference. These students find their voice through technology and the conference empowers them, along with students from our gifted and talented program who appreciate the opportunity to spread their wings. ESL students have also featured heavily in our program.
Full disclosure: the Kids’ Conference is messy and unpredictable to organise. But every year after the last student speaker has finished and received their framed certificate we think ‘yes, this is worth it’ and start planning for the next year.
Click here to register if you would like to attend the 2016 Kids’ Conference. Students and pre-service teachers can attend for free, but they still need to register online.
*I actually really love pottery shards, diorama and historical posters.
Dr Jo Clyne
Manager of Education and Consultancy
History Teachers’ Association of Victoria
September 3, 2014
by Jillian Brown
Our Guest Blogger this week is Simon Trembath, Digital Learning Coach, Cardross PS
We were very excited when we found out that we were fortunate enough to receive a Polycom video conferencing unit earlier this term. As an isolated school 550km north west of Melbourne we began to have visions of all the amazing things that we could achieve with this fantastic piece of technology. When the magical day arrived and the unit was installed we all gathered around and marveled at the clarity of the screen and the ease at which we could move the camera. But then we asked the question “who should we call?” It was something that we grappled with for quite a few weeks.
During this time our Principal started to use the unit to conference with nearby schools (approx. 50km away) that also received a unit. This proved to be a fantastic use of our Polycom as it allowed our Principal to connect and collaborate with other schools without having to leave our school saving massive amounts of travel time. However, classroom teachers were still were not using the Polycom unit effectively with students. We tried a test call to Japan to practice maneuvering a camera on the other side of the world and looked in on random lobbies across the world. The kids loved it but there was not a lot of real learning going on. After discussions about how we could utilize this with our students we were fortunate to be involved in a professional learning opportuntity that showed us how we could get our kids truly involved with the use of our Polycom.
One of the key websites that we were directed to was www.seeshareshape.com.au. This website is run by Electroboard who many schools would be familiar with if they have Smartboards in their school. Electroboard has a dedicated team of presenters who create amazing learning opportunities for students using video conferencing as tool to connect teachers and students from all across the country. On the site teachers have access to a calendar of events, which outline the topics that are going to be covered and connects the event to Australian Curriculum standards.
Our experiences with these sessions have been amazing. All of our students from grades P – 6 have since been involved in a number of these sessions. They have connected with schools from across the country and had the chance to work with some great people. Recently our grade 4 – 6 students worked with well-known Australian author Rod Clement. The students had the opportunity to talk to Rod about his writing process and were so excited when they received a set of signed books from Rod’s publisher Harper Collins. This opportunity would not have been possible without our Polycom unit. This experience is just one of the many that our students are now enjoying. Our Polycom unit has become a hot commodity in our school and it is always in demand. Staff have also used the Polycom unit to engage in professional learning opportunities. We recently connected with world renowned educational researcher Yong Zhao through a Bastow Institute event. To have our whole staff listen to Yong and discuss education with him was a truly amazing experience and the best part was it cost our school nothing! If we all have to travel to Melbourne to take part in this event it would have cost our school thousands! Thank you Polycom.
We certainly don’t think that we have got it completely right yet, but we think that we are heading in the right direction. The Polycom unit is enabling our students to view their education as that which extends beyond their own school walls. In a lot of schools I see Polycom units tucked away in staff rooms or places that aren’t accessible for a whole class. This is unfortunate, so here are my tips for increasing your Polycom use in your school:
- Have your unit in a prominent place where a class can comfortably sit in front of the unit.
- Undertake professional learning so that all staff know how to control the Polycom
- Visit www.seeshareshape.com.au and check out the Virtual Excursions page.
- Have a Polycom timetable in your staff room so that double bookings don’t occur.
- Involve your students in looking at the opportunities and try to connect it to what they are currently working on in class.
We have implemented this within our school and we have found it very successful. The Polycom unit is an excellent piece of technology so be sure to make the most of it.
August 20, 2014
National Literacy and Numeracy Week is running from 25 – 31 August in 2014. It is an Australian Government initiative that runs in partnership with state and territory governments. During this week many schools run a range of fun activities for their students to help them explore literacy and numeracy.
At Huntly Primary School students are using technology to support their writing by publishing narratives, explaining concepts and peer assessment.
Some useful links:
- National Literacy & Numeracy Week website
- DEECD National Literacy and Numeracy Week
- FUSE packages for Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary students provides resources to learn about the future of books, writing and reading, create and share poetry mashups or tell people what you think, or find out what others have read.
- DigiPubs link to English resources, software, apps and classroom ideas.
- FUSE packages for Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary students will get them engaged with interactive and real life maths.
- FUSE eBookBoxes contain lesson plans, interactive resources for AusVELS F-10 and VCE
- DigiPubs link to Maths resources, software, apps and classroom ideas.
- 8 Math talks to blow your mind. Mathematics gets down to work in these Ted talks, breathing life and logic into everyday problems. Prepare for math puzzlers both solved and unsolvable, and even some still waiting for solutions.
Conference – English, Arts and Technologies: Literacies for Lifelong Learning
The Australian Literacy Educator’s Association, Victoria and Australian Centre for the Moving Image annual one-day multiliteracies conference is on Friday 12 September 2014. The conference will explore authentic learning and contemporary teaching strategies that draw upon multimodal resources and tools – from traditional multimodal texts such as picture books through to user generated moving image texts – along with some of the grammar, or codes and conventions needed to become proficient speakers, readers, viewers, writers and creators. Find out more and register.
August 12, 2014
Our guest blogger this week is Erin Jackson from Kennington Primary School
What is Mystery Skype?
Mystery Skype is a game played through Skype between two classes. Each class aims to work out the location of the other class, by taking in turns to ask yes/no questions. The winner is the first class to work out the location of the other.
Students take on different roles while playing the game. There are many websites that list different roles that can be undertaken, but I like to keep it simple. I have:
- 2 scribes, who record information on a whiteboard
- 2 speakers, who sit in front of my laptop, asking and answering questions
- Researchers – all other students use their iPads to research and come up with questions to ask.
The first, and probably most obvious, benefit of playing Mystery Skype is the improvement in students’ geographical knowledge. It has helped to improve my students’ mental maps of the world and to improve their understanding of where we are in the world. It has also helped them to develop their knowledge of different cultures around the world.
Secondly, there are many mathematical benefits, such as map-reading, directions and time zones. Playing Mystery Skype often highlights concepts that we, as teachers, may take for granted that students understand; for example, what the different lines on Google Maps represent.
Mystery Skype also lends itself well to the English domain. The game naturally requires students to listen attentively to the questions and answers, whilst building on their comprehension, research and visual literacy skills. They develop their ability to ask ‘good’ and ‘follow-up’ questions, as well as whole-group and small-group discussion skills, such as negotiating.
Finally, my students have a high level of engagement when playing the game. My students often ask when we will have the next Mystery Skype and are always excited to come to school if they know we have one organised. They work together as a team and feel a real sense of pride and excitement when they are able to work out where the other school is.
Where to start
Start by creating a Skype account and joining ‘Skype in the Classroom’ (http://education.skype.com). Go to #MysterySkype and send out some messages to teachers you might like to skype. I usually send out about 5 messages with a given time and date, as not all teachers will reply or may have other commitments at that time. I also give the time in my time zone and convert to their time as well. Once a teacher replies, add them to your Skype account and you are ready to go! You might like to send them a message through Skype on the organised day to ensure the other grade are still able to participate in the game.
For Grade P-2 students, try beginning by playing Mystery Skype with local schools or other schools in the same state. For Grade 3-4 students, try other schools in Australia or capital cities/major towns in other countries. For older students, use towns/cities outside of capital cities in other countries. I aim to choose places that fit with my Integrated Studies topics, such as Thailand when we were studying Asia for Geography or a school on the Ring of Fire when learning about earthquakes. You might like to prepare something to share at the end, such as 5 facts about your town.
July 29, 2014
Last week I was invited to attend the Campaspe Cohuna Local Learning and Employment Network (CCLLEN) ICT forum for Year 9 students at Kyabram P-12 College. This interactive even featured young ICT professionals, higher education and industry representatives providing real insights into ICT studies and careers. Technology in areas ranging from games, robotics, applications and what drives a computer, were featured in a fun and interactive way.
Students participated in a series of hands-on workshops and found out about qualifications, skills and interests that are vital to succeed in many aspects of the ICT sector including:
- Robotics from La Trobe University
- Game Making from GOTAFE
- Software and app development La Trobe University
- Computer repairs and maintenance from Advance Computing, Kyabram
- Multimedia cartooning from Splatoon Cartoons, Beechworth
The event was in good hands with a year 10 student being MC for the day; and students enjoyed the Q&A panel featuring three young people working in ICT industry.
The event was a great example of schools connecting with local industry and educator providers. It also showcased how engaged students are listening to other young people.
For more information contact CCLLEN: http://www.ccllen.com.au/contact-us.html
Local newspaper story: ICT 2014 Ky Free Press
June 26, 2014
Our guest blogger this week: Wendy Macpherson, Digital Learning Branch
The workshops began with the case for project-based learning, making, tinkering, and engineering. Participants looked at examples of children engaged in complex problem solving with new game-changing technologies and then explored the breakthroughs in science education, and the global maker movement that are combining to create rich learning experiences.
Participants had a chance to take on the role of learner and tinker with a range of exciting new low- and high-tech construction materials that can be used with students. At the end of each workshop teachers shared how their experiences and learnings could be applied back in their schools.
The team from Warrnambool College decided they would like to expose all staff to the ideas of making, tinkering and engineering by setting up a ‘Maker Corner’ in their staffroom where staff could play and experiment with new materials
As a starting point, the team from Matthew Flinders Girls Secondary College are exploring how they can create a new hands-on technology subject that combines digital, materials and food technologies with science, engineering and mathematics. This will be the starting point as they explore how constructionist principles and an explicit focus on thinking can be applied to other subjects.
Silverton Primary School teachers resolved to take another look at Scratch (a programming language for students available on the EduStar image) and see how they could use it to program Lego constructions to respond to commands.
All teachers had fun with:
- Soft Circuits, using conductive thread, sewable coin battery holders and felt to create wearable electronics projects.
- Interactive Greeting cards using conductive paints
- Makey Makeys which allow students to connect anything in the real world to computer software that respnds to keyboard input
- Arduinos which allow student to build electronics projects using an arduino, breadboard, jumper wires, LEDs etc
- Probot, a small robotic car that can be programmed to move and draw.
- Turtle Art a computer drawing program inspired by Logo programming language
To help you bring the new Digital Technologies curriculum to life explore these and many more ideas on the Invent to Learn Website especially the Invent to Learn / Stuff page. Gary Stager will be returning to Victoria in August. Please contact Wendy Macpherson for further information <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez co authored the new book, Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom.