What is 21st Century Learning?

The following video helps to describe what it is to be a learner in the 21st Century. The video highlights some shifts in focus which are perhaps more valued now in education than they were for the majority of the 20th Century. This is not meant to be a definitive list just a chance for you to consider how you teach your children, and what your classroom looks like in relation to the things listed and mentioned in the video.

  • Love of embracing change
  • Curiosity and a questioning disposition
  • Collaboration
  • Being reflective
  • Technology and specifically the impact of mobile technology
  • Skills for creativity.
  • Change of focus from students consuming content to students creating content using new media technology.
  • Learning happens everywhere. Traditional school strucutres and timetables are slowly changing to be more flexible in a world where we can communicate anywhere any time.

What does it mean to integrate technology successfully into your classroom?

Effective integration of technology can be difficult. So when I found the table below I thought it was a useful resource to share with teachers that helped to explain the difference between merely using technology and fully integrating it into your teaching. The table was created by Aditi Rao and posted on the website Teachbytes which can be viewed here.

I think that the way that this table explains the differences between ‘just using’ technology and ‘integrating’ technology is very relevant at PBAS now. Sure we have had ICT’s at our school for a long time but with the inclusion of the iPads I think we need to carefully think about how we use this new (new to our school at least) technology.

There is no doubt the iPads are engaging, so how do we integrate their use so that the engagement factor is taken advantage of while ensuring student learning is front and centre?

  1. This will take time as the novelty of the iPad means focus is on the ‘iPad’ – for a while at least.
  2. When the novelty wears off hopefully the iPad becomes another tool with a powerful impact.
  3. Staff development is important. Staff knowledge of how to use the iPad to improve learning needs to be developed. Sharing is important.
  4. Ensuring that we treat the iPads as a tool for learning and that when we use them it is planned and structured in a way that tells students the iPad is for learning. It is not there to keep them quiet or to keep disengaged students busy while we work with the engaged students.

I think the days of ‘visiting’ technology, i.e. a computing suite are numbered. They don’t allow for true integration of technology in learning. With the correct infrastructure mobile technology offers a much better platform to support student learning whether this is via Chromebooks, MacBooks, iPads or iPod’s does not matter. Mobile technology allows the learning to be front and centre because the technology is more easily accessible as opposed to visiting a computer suite which often then dictates the learning i.e. lets learn Power Point, lets make pamphlets, lets learn how to copy and paste, so we work the learning to fit with the technology not the other way around.

How do you integrate technology and how will you integrate the iPads so that they improve student learning? Will you have lessons that are iPad lessons i.e. every Tues and Thursday in lesson 3 we will use the iPads? Or will you use the iPads as they are required, not as the focus, but as the tool that will engage, challenge and support student learning?


Professional development @ PBAS

Professional development should be about improving gradually. Change always takes time. Effective change requires planning, collaboration, commitment, goal setting, support, leadership, problem solving and perseverance among other things. When we make a commitment to change we do so knowing that it will be time consuming and at times uncomfortable.

I think that collectively we (staff at PBAS) see change in relation to our professional development as fundamental to our work and understand its importance. The research around teacher quality and student learning is well established and is not new information. There are a number of changes going on in our school, all at different stages, that require a commitment to change, that challenge us, that might make us feel uncomfortable and take us out of our comfort zone. The introduction of the Australian Curriculum, teacher development through peer collaboration and iPads. Each of them carries their own challenges and we are all at varying stages of knowledge and understanding. One of the keys to making change successful is collaboration. Talking, discussing, debating, being on the same page and creating group agreements & understandings are important.

So in that spirit of collaboration I would like to invite all staff to view the following 3 documents over the next few weeks and add your comments below this post in the comments section giving your views and opinions on these. These documents relate to either professional discussion (TfEL and Australian Professional Standards) or classroom observations (Marzano’s 10 Design Questions). I am looking for feedback on these as part of our planning process which will allow for professional discussion and classroom observations to occur. Feel free to comment on areas relating to professional development and classroom observations that fall outside of these documents.

I see documents like the ones below assisting us to be able to:

1. Have professional discussions with peers, particularly around the concepts in TfEL and The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

2. Student feedback – What do students say about our teaching? Where do they see our strengths and weaknesses? How doe this relate back to TfEL and The Autralian Professional Standards for Teachers?

3. Classroom observations – A process that will require meeting with a colleauge 3 times to undertake one observation (pre observation, the observation itself and post observation).

I know that putting comments online is not everyone’s bag but it would be great to take a risk and put your thoughts out there. It is one way that we can see what others are thinking and begin a process that allows for discussion and debate. If you have never commented online before it will also be a new thing to learn!


Professional learning discussions using TfEL – what do staff think of these as a tool for having professional discussions?

Professional learning discussions using Australian Professional Standards for Teachers – what do staff think of these as a tool for having professional discussions?

Marzano’s 10 Design Questions – what do staff think of these as a basis for classroom observations?

It is important to have some common understandings about the way in which an observation process would happen and how we are to act and interact with each other. I have added the document below which has some suggestions in it. What do you think?

John Hattie – What really works?

As a follow up to what was presented on Thursday for staff I have decided to put the video we watched into a post plus expand on some of the things that are in Hattie’s list. The video I showed was a slightly edited version I created in iMovie of the two videos below, in total they are about 3 minutes longer.

Part 1

Part 2


The information below is taken from “Visible Learning by John Hattie (2009) summary by Gerry Miller (North Tyneside EAZ Consultant). Click here to visit a site that has this summary in the form of a link at the bottom of the web page.

The first one that I am going to mention is homework. Homework is not in Hattie’s top 30 and has an overall effect size of .29 and listed at number 88 out of 138. The reason I am putting it in is because of the variance Hattie found between primary school and high school. In primary school the effect size is.15 while at secondary school the effect size is .64 placing it inside the top 20. In the video Hattie mentions that surface level homework is more effective than deep level homework and that homework of more than one hour is less effective.

Another not inside the top 30 but ranked at number 42 with an effect size of .52 is classroom management. I mention this one because there are areas within classroom management that rank exceptionally high by themselves, they include:

  • Teachers ability to identify and act quickly on potential problems. Effect size 1.42
  • Effective disciplinary interventions. Effect size .91
  • Teacher retains emotional objectivity. Effect size .71

Number 1 – Self-reported grades (effect size 1.44)

This influence on learning comes from the student. It is not something teachers have direct control over, but we could influence it. Self-reported grades is when a student predicts their performance based on past achievement. If the student prediction is set to low then it is highly likely their achievement will reflect this. On the flip side if the classroom environment involves the student in goal setting with achievable short term and medium targets to achieve the goal(s) then their predictions are likely to be higher.

Number 4 – Micro Teaching (effect size .88)

Micro teaching is when analysis and reflective teaching occurs often through video taped lessons. It requires peer involvement in the process and discussion with peers about what occurred during the lessons.

Number 8 Teacher clarity (effect size .75)

Communicating clearly the intentions and what success means within a lesson contributed to significant student learning. Organization, explanation, examples, guided practice and clarity of speech from the teacher where prerequisites for teacher clarity.

Number 9 Reciprocal teaching (effect size .74)

This is an instructional process designed to teach students cognitive strategies that could lead to improved learning. Teaching strategies that involve summarising, questioning, clarifying and predicting supported by dialogue between teacher and student. Students take it in turns being the ‘teacher’, with the teacher and student taking it in turns leading discussion so that students are exposed to repeated modelling by the teacher.

Number 10 Feedback (effect size .73)

This is one of the most powerful influences on learning for both teacher and student. Understanding what is quality feedback is important for it to be successful. Feedback is only really effective if it follows up effective instruction. Feedback that focuses on the personal i.e. “You are a great student” is rarely effective in increasing achievement. Task orientated feedback is more powerful.

Number 11 – Teacher student relationship (effect size .72)

The ability for the teacher to develop trust within the classroom between teacher and student and student to student is key to students feeling comfortable in making mistakes. The highest effect sizes within teacher student relationship came from empathy, warmth and encouraging higher order thinking.

Number 19 – Professional development (effect size .62)

The four most effective methods of improving teacher knowledge and behaviour were:

  • Observation
  • Micro teaching (see above)
  • Video/audio feedback
  • Practice

Key to these being successful were – learning over an extended time (not one off), using external experts, challenging teachers, teachers talking to teachers about teaching, opportunities provided to process new information.

Number 26 Direct instruction (effect size .59)

Direct instruction involves having clear learning intentions for the lesson, , ‘hooking’ students into the lesson, modelling, checking for understanding, providing opportunity for students to practice, teacher time to review and clarify and an opportunity for independent practice.

Number 29 Mastery Learning (effect size .58)

This means students learn effectively when provided with:

  • Clear expectations of what it means to master the material.
  • High levels of collaboration (i.e. not competitive).
  • High levels of teacher feedback.
  • The ability to independently self correct.
  • Seeing mistakes as a learning experience.

Number 30 Worked Examples (effect size .57)

Worked examples that demonstrate to students what success looks like are very powerful for assisting student learning. With problem solving, worked examples can be used to reduce stress over what the completed product/task looks like allowing students to focus on the processes that lead to the answer.


These are only a selected few of Hattie’s 138 influences on learning. If you would like to view all 138 and their effect sizes click here.

I hope that after Thursday’s presentation and then having the opportunity to review again through this post that we begin to deeply consider the methods that we use in the classroom. Hopefully something has sparked your interest. Is there something that you could focus on improving during this year with the help of your peers?



Do schools kill creativity?

This talk by Sir Ken Robinson at the 2006 TED Conference is a fantastically entering and funny but more importantly thought provoking talk. It is one of if the most watched TED talks ever with 3,974,014 views. I have seen it a few times over the past couple of years and it makes me think about how a pedagogical scaffold like Blooms, which places creativity at the top of higher order thinking skills, is often at odds with the way schools educate students. Ken Robinson’s talk is about how he believes schools kill creativity.

Why is it that every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects, mathematics and languages at the top and on the bottom are the arts? Ken Robinson 2006

Facebook – Connecting with students

Classroom Observations

Research over a long period of time suggests that teacher quality above all other educational policy has the biggest impact on student learning. The following quote is from the AITSL website under the heading, The crucial role of the teacher‘The greatest resource in Australian schools is our teachers. They account for the vast majority of expenditure in school education and have the greatest impact on student learning, far outweighing the impact of any other education program or policy’.

Discussion has begun at Leadership around how we can structure teacher observations and processes at PBAS that allow for peer observation of our teaching in a way that is comfortable for staff & provides honest and targeted/useful feedback.

To help foster this discussion Leadership are trying to get Eudunda Area School to visit us in term 4 and explain how their classroom observation processes work (Clare High may also be a possibility). If these visits occur the purpose will not be to hold up any particular  model as ‘the best’ but rather use them as starting points to generate discussion and ideas for our own model.

Some considerations to be discussed by Leadership and staff through the remainder of this year and into next include:

  • Is this process part of the performance management system of the school (or separate)?
  • Do we have a whole school focus for classroom observations i.e. TfEl 3.2 Foster deep understanding and skillful action or do teachers choose specific areas they would like to focus on?
  • How will feedback be given i.e. informally, formally, notes, oral, video or a combination?
  • Guidelines for observing teachers will need to be clear and easily understood.
  • How will the observation proforma look and work? Needs to provide specific & useful feedback that is a easy to understand and use.
  • How do we provide time for teachers to:
    • meet with their observer prior to the observation
    • be an observer for a colleague
    • provide feedback from an observation session
    • reflect and act on feedback provided by the observation?

An article Denise gave me called ‘The Gentle Art of Observation: a small schools approach to peer mentoring and observation’ (Uradila PS) has a statement at the end of the article that summed up their purpose for classroom observations.

The goal at our school is not to have homogenous teachers but teachers who can argue their teaching practice and can honestly say what they are doing is effective teaching.

I look forward to any feedback that staff may have at this point regarding classroom observations either directly or by commenting on this post. The benefit of commenting here is that your peers also get to read your thoughts and ideas which can only benefit the discussion.

Hopefully any observation process we develop at PBAS doesn’t generate the following emotion from staff.

What are your views on homework?

Found this interesting tweet by @johntspencer:

“Grading homework is essentially the same as grading the organizational structures and family context of the child”. Is this quote accurate? When we set homework is the success of this homework based on:

  • what other activities a family has organised.
  • whether or not parents are home at an appropriate time to assist/encourage.
  • having or not having a designated place for homework.
  • the time the homework is completed (done early or late when children are tired).
  • the parents valuing the type of homework coming home.
  • how much stress and argument the homework causes.

What influence do we have on homework being a successful?

  • Do we set homework just because teachers have always set homework and we feel obligated?
  • Do we think carefully about how our homework is structured, the time it will take and the value it adds to the learning at school?
    • Do we expect students to work at home on concepts that they struggle with in the school environment that provides professional support (classroom) and think they should be able to manage?
    • What supports do we put in place to help ensure homework can be completed successfully?
  • Do we take into account external factors that impact on the success of the homework we set i.e. the family structures mentioned above?
    • Do we set too much?
    • Do we set it too often?

Homework is often a topic that attracts debate, some parents/teachers see it as vital for learning and that it should be lengthy and set regularly while others will argue it is a waste of time and does not enhance learning. There are also those that choose to try and find a happy medium between these two views.

Regardless of your views about homework it is an unavoidable reality that at year 11 and in particular Year 12 students will need to do homework, and at times lots of it to be successful. This could also be said of further education at TAFE and university. This presents the argument that homework at other year levels prepares students for what will inevitably come.

My personal belief is that homework has a place in school but only if careful consideration of its implications are thought about first.

Here are two articles that look at homework from different perspectives, one is a list of why homework is important the other an article which looks at homework from a parent perspective. Below these links is a 5 minute video discussing ‘A new Vision for Homework’ – very interesting.

Top 14 Reasons Why Homework is Important – Interesting to note that these are commendable reasons but if they are to be successful what sort of environment is needed at home to foster these?

Why we’re getting the homework question wrong

What are your views on homework?

Creating the schools we need – Chris Lehmann

In the following video Chris Lehmann speaks about a range of topics in a passionate and inspiring way. Chris is the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, a progressive science and technology high school in Philadelphia, PA.

A quote from the video – “How dare anyone think you can transform a child if you are unwilling to be transformed yourself.”

Chris’ talk covers the following topics:

  • Learning v training for a test
  • Training for the work force v training the citizen
  • Schools need vision
  • Unlearning and relearning ……..
  • Schools should be caring institutions – we teach kids not subjects
  • Inquiry and questioning
  • Student centred, it is not about us
  • Kids need adults and mentors
  • Technology – ubiquitous, necessary and invisible
  • Community based – bring the world into the classroom
  • Collaboration
  • Schedules, day structures, integration, deeper learning
  • Meta-cognition – teach students how to think

Dylan Wiliam – The Classroom Experiment

This is a two part series called The Classroom Experiment. Each video is an hour. I realise this is a large amount of time and that the end of term 2 is not the best time to watch them. However I highly recommend these videos. So if you do choose to watch them you can probably count them towards your time for week 10 term 4. You may wish to download the videos from You Tube and watch them in smaller chunks over a longer period of time. Perhaps through term 3?

One of the purposes of this blog is to share educational theory and research. I think that these two videos are a valuable and give the opportunity to view practical educational ideas (at least one of which is being implemented already at PBAS by Ed – coloured cups).

In this two-part series education expert Professor Dylan Wiliam sets up an experimental school classroom. For one term, he takes over a Year 8 class to test simple ideas that he believes could improve the quality of our children’s education. The concepts and ideas presented have implications from R-12.

Some of the concepts/issues in the experiment include:

  • No hands up – names on lollipop sticks.
  • Coloured cups.
  • Use of mini white boards (1 per student) – everyones in the spotlight/instant student response system (low tech version).
  • Removing grades from work. To help students focus on the comments on their work. High achieving students struggled with this. Whay do we need to give students grades?
  • Student feedback to teachers. Student observers.
  • Daily exercise – 10 minutes in the morning to prepare students for learning.
  • The second episode shows some good stuff about high achieving girls and making mistakes and their struggle with this.
  • Secret Student – improving student behaviour through peer pressure. The class earns points through positive behaviour. A Secret Student is picked each day (students don’t know who). The Secret Student for that day is the only one that can earn the points through behaving in a positive way.

The videos can also be found on the Pedagogy page under TfEL Domain 2.

Episode 1

Episode 2