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

The suprising truth about what motivates us (and what doesn’t)

This talk by Dan Pink is not an education based talk but has implications about how students and staff might be motivated at school.

Roger sent me an article the other day called “Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform” by Michael Fullen which outlines drivers that will hinder and help systems reform in education. It is interesting to note that part of what Fullen says in his report, about what will not motivate educators to improve/be more accountable, is backed up by Dan Pink’s research into what motivates us. Below are two statements form Michael Fullen’s report:

For whole system reform to occur, lead drivers must get to the motivation and competency of educators. Accountability measures plus sticks and carrots do not accomplish this feat.

Accountability in the form we are seeing in the US and Australia does not build widespread capacity, nor does it increase intrinsic motivation.

Australian Curriculum Update

If you teach in the following areas (or are likely to) you may like to make comment about the direction that these areas are taking. I was able to comment on the HPE curriculum when it was available for consultation and found this useful. Once consultation was completed a consultation report was collated and made available on the ACARA website. The HPE consultation report is now available and can be viewed by clicking here. This made for interesting reading for me as part of the report highlighted issues and ACARA’s reponses to those issues.

Draft Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Arts

Click here to give feedback on the Arts Shape Paper              


Draft Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Economics and Business

Click here to give feedback on the Economics and Business Shape Paper




Should we rely on technology as a motivator for students?

I found this blog post by Bill Ferriter posted on Twitter by @jennyluca, Are kids really motivated by technology? It got me thinking about the motivating factors (or not) of technology.

Quote from above article – “You can’t motivate students with technology because technology alone isn’t motivating”.

While I’m not sure I entirely agree with this, for example playing Rocket Math on the iPad is more motivating for an 8 year old than trying to do the same math on a worksheet, I do agree with the sentiment of the statement. If we think we can rely on technology to make our classes more motivating without considering the impact of the technology on the learning then we are mistaken. A poorly planned lesson with a tablet/Web 2.0 is still a poorly planned lesson!

Another quote from the article, which I entirely agree with is, “Basically what I’m arguing is that finding ways to motivate students in our classrooms shouldn’t start with conversations about technology. Instead, it should start with conversations about our kids. What are they deeply moved by? What are they most interested in? What would surprise them? Challenge them? Leave them wondering? Once you have the answers to these questions — only after you have the answers to these questions — are you ready to make choices about the kinds of digital tools that are worth embracing”.

For all the technology I have integrated into my classes over the past 12 or so months, at the start at least, I expected the technology to be motivating in itself. Particularly when starting out using a new technology like blogs. I expected the students to be motivated because they were using a new technology, and to a point they were but if I designed a poor task or a task they had done many times before on paper or in a book they soon became non plussed with the fact it was on a blog. In hindsight the technology was more motivating for me than it was the students.

Mobile and online technologies are only a tool, they are not the end point or the major focus of our planning and teaching. Student learning should hold this position, our programming, pedagogy and assessment should be foremost in our minds. Web applications and iPads/Tablets are just tools to help us to achieve these outcomes more efficiently and more effectively.

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?

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

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

Easy Portfolio App

Something that that I am trying to improve in my teaching (slowly) is the recording and use of more formative assessment.

I need to understand more accurately where my students are at with their learning and feed this back to them on a more regular basis. How do I record the formative assessment that occurs in my HPE classes more effectively, in a way that I can easily access later/immediately?

My solution at the moment is the Easy Portfolio app for iPad. Here is an App that has powerful uses from Reception to Year 12. Once you have entered your student names you can build a portfolio for each student. You can add the following types of files to the student portfolios:

1. Video – add video taken at another time or take a video within the app and add immediately. Oral presentations, video of models and projects, video student collaboration. I have used this during term  3 to video my 7/8 students in practical lessons completing Touch Football drills (short 20 second videos).

2. Images – ad images stored on your iPad or take a photo within the app to add instantly to the portfolio. Take photos of student work or students completing tasks/working with others. I used this the other day with a student whose work would not save on the computer  or USB (it was an image with 5 associated words) so I took a photo of it and stored it in that students portfolio. Perfect for taking photos of student writing in junior primary, easy to see class/student progression in one place (on the iPad) instead of having to take home 17 books to look through.

3. Audio – add audio. This could be a conversation between you and a student (conferencing) or record a students oral presentation and instantly place it in their portfolio.

4. Notes – add notes. Type in notes about students attitude, behaviour, absence, performance, learning etc…

5. URL – add a URL. Add web addresses that contain student work ie a Glogster poster, a photo stored on Flikr, a blog or a website that enhances work they completed elsewhere.

6. Documents – add a document. Documents (all office documents) can be uploaded to the Easy Portfolio app. You do need a Dropbox account  (online/cloud storage 2G free) as the  creator of the app has linked it with Dropbox. I have used this function with my year 9 students by getting them to save a document to my USB. I then copy and paste them into a folder in drop box, assess them/add comment then upload them to the portfolio app. You can’t edit them once they are in the portfolio app. Two minute video explaining Dropbox click here. Download Dropbox click here.

This app would also be great for parent teacher interviews. Connect it up to the white board and show parents and students examples of work completed over the term or semester to enhance discussions about student learning. No need to have piles of books, paper, posters, projects within reach when conducting parent teacher interviews.

To see how the Easy Portfolio app works watch this video made by its creator Jared Robinson.

Learning Design Part 8

The information below is taken from the Leaders Resource – Getting Started developed by the Teaching and Learning Services team DECD.

This is the final post in the series on Learning Design. The sixth part to the Learning Design process is Design the teaching and learning plan.

The final part to Learning Design requires less explanation than the others, having said that it is extremely important. Designing the teaching and learning plan requires the bringing together of the main ideas from all the other parts. Having decided on what those key ideas are from parts 1-5 of Learning Design consideration can be given to:

• What planning is needed?
• What is the sequence of experience/tasks/opportunities?
• What resources need organising?
• What else?