Could you use Khan Academy in your classroom?

I won’t explain the history of Khan Academy here other than to say that it is a series of video tutorials on maths, science and history that are free on the Khan Academy website and can be searched and viewed on You Tube. If you would like to learn more about Khan Academy click on the link below:

One Man, One Computer, 10 Million Students: How Khan Academy Is Reinventing

If you teach maths, science or history at any level ask your self the question, can you use Khan Academy to help your students understand concepts? I don’t mean replacing your teaching with the use of Khan Academy videos but assisting your teaching. Below I have included 3 videos (math only) at different levels from basic addition (1 + 1) to higher level maths. Before viewing one or all of these videos consider that there is a khan Academy iPad app that would allow students (or the teacher) to access these videos on iPads or alternatively students access the videos in the computing suites or in the classroom on a laptop. The videos could be used individually (iPads, laptops, PC), pairs, small groups (on IWB). If you wanted to work with a small group of students you could do this while the rest of the class was accessing a video at an appropriate level on an iPad.

Basic Addition

Level 4 Subtraction

Level 1 Multiplying Expressions

Facebook – Connecting with students

Why school? Post 2

I was going to do a series of 3-4 posts about the eBook Why schools? by Will Richardson. See Why school? Post 1 If you haven’t seen this post or viewed the video in it I suggest you go back and view it before you view the video below.

I no longer have to do a series of posts because I have found a video of Will Richardson presenting at TEDxMelbourne, recorded only two months ago. The talk encapsulates his book Why schools? Hence the reason why I don’t need to do any more posts on it.

Valmai spoke to me about the key message she picked up from the first post which again is reinforced in this video, “we don’t have to do school better we have to do it differently”.

If I had to choose one video to watch from the wide range posted on this blog during 2012 this would be it.


Why school? Post 1

This will be the first in a series of posts based on the book Why school? by Will Richardson. If your interested it can be downloaded from Amazon to your Kindle or iPad Kindle app for $2.04 (at the moment). The reason for bringing this book to your attention and discussing it in further posts is to generate discussion on a topic that is current.

I came across the book Why school? on Twitter, it is an easy read and raises many questions about our students learning in 2012 and beyond. Its main premise is that teachers, knowledge, learning and getting an education are no longer scarce commodities that can only really be accessed through institutions but are now abundantly available thanks to the Internet.

“Today if we have an Internet connection , we have at our finger tip, on-demand access to an amazing library that holds close to the sum of human knowledge and, equally important, to more than two billion people with whom we can potentially learn.” Will Richardson, Why school?

The author does acknowledge that the Internet is not without its issues, both in equity and as a place that is difficult to navigate, “It can be overwhelming, distracting, nonsensical, and at times frightening.” He also sees schools as important places, “I believe there remains a great deal of value in the idea of a school as a place our kids go to learn with others, to be inspired by caring adults………..Communities built around schools are better for it.”

This video is a good introduction to Will Richardson’s views on education. It is a TEDxNYED talk made before the publication of the book Why schools?


The reach of social media

Below are the visits our site has recieved broken down by country. This is the information gathered by the ClustrMaps map found at the bottom right of the blog page. It is based on a persons IP address. Each time an IP address visits the site it is logged as one visit. If an IP address visits more than once in a day it is still only recorded as one visit. This is different to the Page Hits counter (found above the ClustrMap on the blog) which counts every visit and page hit hence why it is a larger number.

So far since January this year to the writing of this post there have been 1622 visits from people around the world based on one visit per day per IP address while page hits are at 3859. The reason I wanted to bring this to your attention was 1. purely interests sake but 2. to point out what we write, either as a post or as a comment is not just read by staff at our school but by a world wide audience. This blog has relatively few visitors compared with others but it does show the reach you can have when you put your thoughts and ideas online.

As professional development tools blogs, wikis, Facebook and Twitter (among many other Web 2.0 tools) are almost unlimited in their ability to offer professional learning. If you haven’t considered using them for professional development before you may like to in the future. They have certainly contributed to my knowledge and directly to my teaching in the classroom.

The reach of social media is huge and linking to other teachers on it is easy. Here are some social media statistics to blow your mind:


  • There are 955 million active users on Facebook
  • Each day Facebook users spend 10.5 billion minutes (almost 20,000 years) online on the social network
  • On a busy day, twitter sees about 175 million tweets
  • One hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second –  that’s 24 hours of video every 24 seconds
  • Instagram – more than 50 million users over past 2 years and 300 million pictures uploaded to Facebook a day (via Instagram)

PBAS R-12 Curriculum and Pedagogy – statistics

Sorry about the poor formating for the data below. Its the only way I could copy it from the ClustrMaps website.

The breakdown of the Australian numbers is SA 613, NSW 147, Vic 97, QLD 54, WA 46, Tas 10, ACT 8, NT 2, NA (unidentifiable IP address) 132.

                                                               Australia (AU)


                                                               United States (US)


                                                               France (FR)


                                                               United Kingdom (GB)


                                                               New Zealand (NZ)


                                                               Canada (CA)


                                                               India (IN)


                                                               Singapore (SG)


                                                               Europe (EU)


                                                               United Arab Emirates (AE)


                                                               Pakistan (PK)


                                                               Belgium (BE)






Getting Started – Classroom ideas for learning with the ipad

Click on the link below and have a look at the digital book “Getting Started  – Classroom ideas for learning with the ipad”. This was put out by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (Victoria) as one of the resources for an iPad trial in Victoria. Some good ideas about pedagogy and how ICT and iPads can be used. Click here to read the book “Getting Started  – Classroom ideas for learning with the iPad “.


Skype – an amazing free tool

Firstly let me say that  I don’t mean ‘amazing’ as in ‘wow I’ve never seen this technology before’ rather here is a tool that allows you to connect with anyone in the world who is willing to talk to you or your class for free! It is one of the great things about Web 2.o – great tools, which if not free are cheap for what they provide.

On Monday my 10/11 PE class spoke with Olivia Warnes, a sports nutritionist who works for the Crows (she is actually quite nice), Redbacks, track cyclists and the Sports Med Hospital.

Students prepared questions based on work they had been doing in class and I emailed these to Olivia. The questions are below.

  1. What hydrates more effectively, water or sports drinks? (Kienan)
  2. How does the diet of an AFL footballer change from preseason, during the season and post season? (Rory)
  3. What types of foods and drinks do AFL players consume during games to keep their energy levels up? (Meghan)
  4. What is an example of a meal that an AFL footballer might have the night before a game and why is this a good meal to have? (Callum)
  5. Are the levels of carbohydrates required at an elite level different for male and female athletes? (Tyler)
  6. What type of diet does an AFL footballer have? What foods can they have a lot, moderate and small amounts of? (Courtland)
  7. How many kilojoules are used in a game of AFL football? How does this compare with other sports? (Brad)
  8. What is an example of a meal that an AFL footballer might have the morning of a game and why is this a good meal to have? (Madison)
  9. Do AFL players have much choice about their diet or does the club have total control over what they eat? (Nick)

Unfortunately the Learn Link system does not allow Skype to work on our network currently. So with the help of an iPhone hot spot we were able to connect with Olivia and spend about half an hour talking to her. The students took it in turns to go up and ask her their questions while the rest of the class took notes. At the end of the call students walked around and shared with each other their answers. This information will be used along with work done during the semester to complete their major assignment for the term. I also recorded the audio so that students could listen back if they needed more detail.

Click on the links below to hear the first 3 questions:

Olivia Warnes Introduction (audio recording missed start which is where she says that she works for the Crows)

Olivia Warnes Qu 1

Olivia Warnes Sports Qu 2

Olivia Warnes Qu 3

Taylor asking Olivia Courtland’s question (Courtland was away)

Skype is not without its problems. The video had to be cut because connection was weak which left us with a photo of Olivia and her voice (which was fine) and I had to use a personal phone to get access to Skype. Having said this these were the only two problems I came across and everything went quite smoothly. The benefit of having an expert in a field far and away outweighed any minor problems we encountered.

The great thing now is I have a contact who is willing to do this again and hopefully can link me with other experts in related fields.



iPad and Web 2.0 Presentation

This presentation shows some of the iPad and web tools that I have used in my teaching in the past 12 months. Click on the enlarge icon (bottom right) so that all images and text are visible when viewing slides. If you would like to see the notes that go with the slides click on the link below the presentation which will take you to the presentation on the Slideshare website. The notes are visible on the Slideshare site.

Create educational videos




One way of helping students learn content or to understand concepts is to create a screen cast of your lesson and upload it to your You Tube channel for them to view as part of their homework or as a revision tool. There are many screen capture tools on the web that are free. The one that I prefer is Screen O Matic. Once you have an account you have access to 15 minutes of free screen capture time per video. The tool allows you to capture whatever is happening on your computer screen or interactive white board as well as audio and then turns it into a video.

Capturing your lesson notes and explanations is just one way of using screen capture technology. You can use it to:

  • get your students to demonstrate their learning by creating their own videos with explanations of concepts or topics.
  • produce an instructional video on a topic that you can use when required as part of a topic. This could be useful to help differentiate the class. While working with one group the video can be assisting another. Build up a library of these on your You Tube channel to use when needed.
  • produce a video that helps explain a concept or topic to upload to You Tube that can be used for homework. The video can help parents assist their children.

Screen capture technology is not only restricted to the web. The iPad has a wide range of apps that do the same thing. The two I have used are Educreations and Show Me.

I have used this technology (Screen O Matic, Educreations and Show Me) this year to create videos for my Year 12’s in physical education. These videos were created prior to me needing them and are designed to be used by my students as another way to access curriculum  content or review topics. Ed has also used this technology (Screen O Matic) with his Year 9 maths class. Ed captures the explicit teaching parts of his maths classes live while presenting to the students (using Screen O Matic and the interactive whiteboard).  This is a really impressive use of this tool. Students can go home and do their required home work and access Ed’s video explanations at home. What a great resource for his students!

If you are interested in using this technology then ask Ed or myself for help. Yes that’s right I said ask Ed for help with technology – he has done an awesome job using technology to help his student’s learning.


Ed’s You Tube Channel

Nick’s You Tube Channel

Example of video made using Educreations app – this video is an example of using the iPad to capture a lesson ‘live’. In my Stage 1 PE class (mostly yr 10’s) I hooked up the iPad to the data projector and then wrote on the iPad which recorded the text and my audio. As there is no IWB in science lab 1 the iPad replaced the IWB as the presentation tool.

Example of video using Show Me app

Blooms Taxonomy – The Differentiator

I have written about this resource before and there are links to this tool on the Pedagogy page. I’m re posting information about this tool as the creators have rebuilt it trying to make a better version. The Differentiator is a tool that allows you to generate a task by dropping in Thinking Skills (Blooms), Content, Resource Type, what the final Product will be, and Group Size. This is all the tool does and it is fairly simple to use once you have had a play with it. What I think is good about The Differentiator is the fact that as you design a task it gives you a wide variety of options under the headings I have mentioned. This may spark some ideas that you would normally think off when designing tasks. We all have our favourite modes of presentation or resources etc  for students to use and for the benefit of student learning we should try to use a wider variety of task types, presentation modes, levels of Blooms etc.

An idea that I had to help differentiate your curriculum was to use this tool to generate tasks at varying levels of difficulty on the same topic i.e Year 9 History (Vikings – social structures). Use the tool to create a task at the lower end of Blooms, a task in the middle and one at the top as a way of engaging more students in the work.


Click here to try out The Differentiator