Tag Archives: 21st Century student

How is BYOD going?

It has been a few weeks now and we still have the one class enjoying having their own devices in the classroom. We are looking at expanding this by the end of the Year to include all of Year 7 and 8.

However, this will have it’s set backs. There are still teachers who don’t really use technology in an integrated way in their classrooms, and the network at school may need a little oomph! But these are things can be worked through.

Sometimes I think that it would be better to have no choice of device, and support teachers better with one system that can then be managed and monitored and have professional development modelled around it. I don’t have a preference for a device I guess, but do like the workflow of iPads. This however, is not a device that would last the students through the whole of high school… as by the time they are in senior school, they would definitely need a laptop instead. And really, my philosophy of education is not about the technology, but about the teaching pedagogy.

As part of the implementation of BYOD, I had the GATS class do an assignment on what they thought it would look like in our school, and how lessons can be transformed with technology. They presented to a panel of myself, the principal, and two kind parents who are a part of the P&C technology committee.

Check out some examples:

Student ONE

Student TWO

Student THREE

My reflections


While their presentations were great (albeit some had WAY too much text on their slides that they proceeded to read), I was saddened. Saddened that they still believe learning to look like the teacher is at the front of the room, and they have to take notes and do tests. It is so embedded in them to think this, that even when told they could make the changed lessons anything they wanted, they didn’t know what that could look like.

I watched Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on TED on the weekend again, and hope that I can at least change the landscape of education in my context.

How do you think you will bring the LEARNING REVOLUTION to your context?

The Wild Survival Kit

As part of a transition unit at school, we developed a cross-curricula Project Based Learning (PBL) unit of work with a driving question:

What kind of wild thing are you?

I have written about the art focus in an earlier post here, but to reiterate, it was great to have all the faculties work together for a common assessment goal. The great thing was that we also worked with the local primary school to embed language that was consistent with Stage 3 into Stage 4. So the students had to create 3 products and/or performances to demonstrate to a panel their understanding of the question. So, while they were working on this group goal, each class they went to for at least the first 4 weeks of term taught within their faculties an understanding of the WILD THINGin that subject. For examples, Maths was: Is your wild thing a thing of the past? Where the students used History and Mathematics to analyse different number systems. Geography used field work at the Zoo to analyse data about the environment around them. Technology produced animal ipod cases, footprint stamps and morphed digital animal beings.

I went and watched some of the presentations and it was really interesting to see how the students had synthesised these concepts and worked in groups to produce great examples of their Wild Self. It would be even better next year to have some Team Teaching going on to illustrate the links between subject areas more consistently.

I have the Gifted and Talented (GATS) class in Year 7 which we call the Academic Extension class. They have 3 periods in the class and it is not based upon a set syllabus. The curriculum is open to extend their learning and develop their creative thinking and problem solving skills.

So, I got to think of an exciting way to explore the concept of the WILD THINGS with this group and I developed the task:

Design a Survival Kit to aid you in the wild.

There were three parts:

A representation of the wild thing inside of you.We all have wild emotions and the desire to fit in. When Max runs away and ends up in the land of the Wild Things, he encounters lots of new friends but has very different relationships with each of them. Discover what makes you who special. 

A study of the wild. Max travels to a land very different from the one he knows. It is full of new creatures, new abilities, new friends, and it is a place where Max rules as king. Use your imagination to create a world where you would like to live.

“Let the wild rumpus start.” In Where The Wild Things Are, Max experiences many different emotions, from trying to figure out how he fits in with his family to trying to figure out how he fits in with the Wild Things. In addition, the Wild Things manifest many emotions as they struggle with some issues that Max faces and some of their own. Start a wild rumpus of your own.

As academic students who are selected via the selective schools exam, I wanted to use the text as a metaphor for fitting in and discovering your self. But I also wanted them to understand that it is not always easy and that they are special students who are different from others.

The students were definitely challenged. I didn’t really know what I wanted the outcome to look like and I certainly didn’t want to define the parameters. But I also didn’t just want a boring essay submission that was not creative and didn’t think outside of the box. I got the students to look at different learning styles and how there were many ways to present information based upon these. Things like videos, board games, a timeline, a play, a poem or a song could all illustrate your ideas.

I also banned large pieces of cardboard with collage and glitter!

I ended up having to explain myself quite a few times and did some really fun brainstorming sessions to develop their ideas:

The REAL wild and the METAPHORICAL wild

Then the ideas really started to flow….

Here are some student work samples that I have curated into one document:

We ended the Term with their Wild Place… and while technically the unit is over, I still want them to Let the Wild Rumpus Start.

So, this is what I have developed for that…

wildrumpus <——– click to open document

How I envisaged this was that a WILD RUMPUS was something in the community that the students had a part in. So I found real situations that could translate to classroom activities and goals for the students to achieve in groups. Inspired by @biancahewes I wanted a real audience and real project that the students could link to their world and their understanding of the Wild Thing inside them. I wanted a spark to ignite about the way they can become involved in their community and that they can have an impact.

I am going to use Edmodo in small groups, Class Dojo and Goalbook to facilitate their learning. Constant peer evaluation and the creation of a time management plan to make this all possible. I am going to break down the walls of the classroom and allow them to respond to this challenge however they feel fit.

I hope they get something out of this. I will keep you posted on what their outcomes are.

H.S.C – Have.Some.Care

You know those blog posts that you dream about… you are going to nail it… all those thoughts that have been washing through your head and are now in writing…! YES! That is this one! A long awaited post that is well overdue…!

After marking the HSC Visual Arts Written Exams, I had many frustrations running through my head.

Piles and piles of exam papers regurgitated pre-learned essays/artists/ideas. Our Syllabus requires us to teach case studies.

investigation of content through at least 5 case studies in art criticism and art history

The content is driven by the teachers strengths and interests, and most teachers try to cover an array of artists. Some case studies are also student research based, so that they can have autonomy over their learning and find artists that interest them and support their art making.

Well, this is the goal anyway….

It was evident that deep learning and understanding was lacking in some responses. It seems that some students think that HSC Art is only about the art making and not about the written component… Now, this is not a criticism on any teachers – more on the role of the HSC exam in their learning.


But feel there is a disconnect in the content that I have to teach and the end exam. How can learning and understanding from 5 case studies… which should be approximately 15 different artists…  be represented in a 1 ½ hour exam? The questions ask the students to make sophisticated links between artists and ideas. They must understand not only the aesthetic qualities of the work, but the conceptual practice of the artist and the world influences on their work.

I know that no matter what happens, we are controlled by the Syllabus and there will probably be some sort of quantitative tool used to evaluate a students learning as the endpoint… But I also want my kids to have a visual language and understanding of the art world that goes beyond an exam.

After seeing the Picasso exhibition yesterday, my teaching values are even firmer in my mind. I don’t want all my students responding to the exam with the same wrote learned artists. I want them to be involved in the work of the artists that they know – so much so that any question thrown at them they will be able to make links and develop an argument.

Don’t you just love my holiday romanticized view of Teaching!?

But what does this have to do with Picasso???

Well… just as the HSC exam questions required the students to make links, develop arguments, draw conclusions, recognise the impact the world has on art and do all this in a short space of time.. when seeing the audience viewing the Picasso exhibition, I am sure many were confused, didn’t know how to react, but thought cause he is famous and the work was in a gallery it was art. But were they all able to EVALUATE his artistic practice and realise the importance of all his processes. I want my students to be able to engage in a meaningful dialogue about art beyond the HSC exam.

Portrait of Olga in an armchair, 1918

Not all his works were good and not all works were ‘typical’ Picasso. His body of worked developed and changed in response to the world around him. Picasso experimented with different approaches to the picture plane and was confident in his own aesthetic. He was a talented artist, but was also smart enough to be able to challenge the traditional artistic conventions. Picasso’s oeuvre ebbed and changed as he tried new things and figured out what worked for him. He did not let anyone sway him and continued the Cubist style throughout his lifetime. It was evident when looking at Picasso’s work that he has awareness of the art world around him. His work did not exist in a vacuum. The aim of studying HSC art is to develop creative thinking and problem solving skills that help you to respond to the visual world around you.


Visual Arts at Stage 6 is designed to enable students to:

•      gain increasing intellectual autonomy in their abilities to aesthetically and persuasively represent ideas in the visual arts; and

•      understand and value how the field of the visual arts is subject to different interpretations.

Picasso’s work shows an awareness of the world around him, and his response was to turn it on it’s head.

Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe, Manet

‘The déjeuner sur l’herbe’ after Manet, 1961, Picasso


When a student sits the HSC exam, it is like a Picasso –

Portrait of Dora Maar, 1937

you have to look at the question for a while, consider everything you know, turn it upside down and inside out… extrapolate what they are really asking of you, minus the number you first started with, use evidence to support your findings and write an essay that actually means something to you.

After the HSC, you are not going to have to write an essay, but you will probably go into an art gallery and engage in a dialogue about the art you are viewing. I hope that my students can do that meaningfully and with passion when they leave my classroom!


image retrieved from http://everything-underthe-sun.blogspot.com/2011/05/exams-at-iit-described-in-funny-style.html#.Tw4gv96z6Qo
image retrieved from http://www.robinchung.com/top-5-sources-of-daily-frustration/ 
image reference http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/picasso/room-by-room/return-to-classicism/
image reference http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/picasso/room-by-room/anxieties-love-war/
image reference http://www.ululating-undulating-ungulate.com/category/art-appreciation/aesthetics/
image reference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Manet,_Edouard_-_Le_D%C3%A9jeuner_sur_l'Herbe_(The_Picnic)_(1).jpg
image reference http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2008/aug/27/art.france