3D Printing in Schools

Last Thursday 24th October 37 students from Hawkesdale College were at school at 6.00am, ready for a four hour coach trip to Quantum Victoria. Quantum is one of the specialist Science and Technology Schools in Victoria, “bringing the world of science and maths to life through games technology, augmented reality, project based learning, virtual reality, robotics and mechatronics.” Year 8 students had selected the 3D printing workshop, while the Year 9/10 elective students chose Game Development.

We had about three hours in total, which allowed for each student to create two designs – one in SketchUp on laptops and one in 123D Creature on iPads. Students were able to observe a 3D printer in action and handle some of the 3D printed objects that had been created. Their SketchUp designs (earphone holders) will be printed and posted, as that part can be more time consuming. There are a range of 3D printers on site, from a $50,000 version to a $500 version, and one being put together by Year 9 girls who come in from Charles LaTrobe High School at lunchtime, to build one using 3D printed parts!

So, what are the learning outcomes? Students were given the opportunity to “jump in” feet first, with virtually no instructions, using MacBook and Alienware computers. After stepping through a few introductory activities, they were given the task to create two “key holes” and design a holder for earplugs around them. All students, even our students with special needs (low literacy & numeracy, autism spectrum disorder and ADHD) achieved success, with students who finished early giving peer-to-peer support. Students saw that anything they could create in SketchUp could be 3D printed, but soon realized that long narrow pieces would be fragile. So, “design thinking” was important for the finished product.

Some examples of the uses of 3D printing were shared, as well as the prediction that most Australian households will own a 3D printer by 2030. Joel from Quantum explained that instead of having a warehouse of spare parts, Boeing have a database of 3D “blueprints” that enable any part to be 3D printed in titanium, on demand.  In Australia recently we heard about the racehorse who had his hooves scanned to create custom, 3D printed titanium horseshoes, which are stronger, lighter and fit better, to give him a distinct advantage on the track!

I like the medical uses – a man who had part of his skull 3D printed and the 3D printed ‘cast’ for broken limbs, that is waterproof, light and allows air and water to circulate, preventing the appendage from getting itchy and allowing the person to go swimming and have showers. There is a duck with an amputated leg that can walk again due to a 3D printed webbed foot and an American bald eagle with a 3D printed beak!

Some people believe that in future, we will no longer dash off to Bunnings to buy a specific tool or part, but get online and buy a plan to print one at home. What does this mean for our students? They may no longer get a job in retail as easily, but perhaps there will be employment for students who can design, create, reverse-engineer and visualize solutions.

Ballarat Grammar is preparing students for just that kind of future with their Year 8 Rocketry program, “To Houston…..and Beyond!” http://bgsrocketry.weebly.com/

Learning 2.013 – Making Change!

“Learning 2.0 is a transformative, challenging experience for all participants; it is the conference that leads the change in education. Every year the goals of the conference are to connect  educators from around Asia and the world as well as to create an active learning experience that pushes their thinking about learning and technology.”

What an amazing experience – more than just another educational technology conference! Learning 2.013 is the eighth (?) in a series of unique conferences for teachers, organised and presented by teachers. Although I may have been the only teacher from a small, rural, government school, and certainly one of only about half a dozen teachers from Australia, I was one of four hundred delegates that were inspired by the whole event. Coming from Hawkesdale P12 College (230 students from prep to Year 12) I was amazed by the scale of the conference itself and the resources and infrastructure of the school. United World College South East Asia (East Campus) is a new school, building up to 3000 students from kindergarten to Year 12. It aims to be one of the most environmentally sustainable schools in the world, with passive solar design, air-conditioning powered by solar panels and an extensive recycling system.

Another great part of the conference was the overall structure and the Learning 2.103 app, which allowed users to choose their sessions and have an up-to-the-minute individual schedule at their fingertips. The conference was a combination of learning 2.0 talks (punchy presentations from the stage in the main hall, TEDx-style), extended sessions and ‘in a nutshell’ sessions from the same presenter, student sessions, hands-on workshops, un-conference sessions and cohort meetings. This allowed participants to choose some sessions based on feedback from others. There were three Science cohort meetings, which myself and John Gaskill facilitated.

Thursday 10th October

I attended the pre-conference day, participating in Heather Dowd’s (@heza) “Google Apps Bootcamp” workshop. Heather works at the Singapore American School and started the day by creating a collaborative slideshow using Google Presentation: Learning 2.013 GApps Bootcamp Introductions. Although I knew this was possible, and have seen Tom Barret’s “Interesting Ways” series use it with great success, I was surprised how well it worked with multiple users collaborating simultaneously. Other activities included:

I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend an extended period delving into the more intricate functions of Google Apps and especially ‘Flubaroo’ – a ‘script’ that allows you to automatically correct tests created in Google forms. Thanks Heather, for the huge amount of time and effort you put in to preparing and delivering this six hour pre-conference session (9.00am to 4.00pm).

Friday 11th October

On Friday, I attended Rebekah Madrid’s (@ndbekah) “Everything is a Remix – Learning 2.0 Edition”. Rebekah opened the session by sharing some YouTube videos by Kirby Ferguson, where he demonstrates how popular musicians and film makers have re-used melodies, lyrics and scenes over time. His argument is that there are no truly unique creations and that everything is copied, transformed and combined, so that new ideas evolve from the old ones. His brilliant TED talk is here:

Following the extended session were student presentations in the library, which included “Design teaching”, photography and robotics. These students were very capable, confident and enthusiastic about sharing their ideas, as well as demonstrating excellent technology skills. In the afternoon, Diana Beabout (@dianabeabout) from the Shekou International School, presented  “Asessing Learning with Digital Resources”.

Saturday 12th October

I was lucky enough to attend Adam Clark’s (@AdamClark71) extended session – “Balancing the See-Saw – Living Deeply with Technology”, which was all about  keeping the balance between work and family life in a digital age. He encouraged technology users to take breaks, using various techniques such as colouring mandalas, stretching towards an upturned cup on the floor and Pomodoros.

After lunch I presented my own workshop “Improving Student Outcomes in Blended Learning Environments”, which morphed into a “Digital Toolbox for Blended Learning”, after I discovered that the participants were probably less experienced with online learning than I had anticipated. it was well received, with some good feedback from participants, whose only suggestions were that we needed more time.

One of the most enjoyable sessions was Paula Guinto’s (@paulaguinto) ‘in a nutshell’Creating collaborative conversations in the classroom and beyond”. Paula is a dynamic primary teacher at UWCSEA (East Campus) and encourages respectful relationships between students by building trust. She is an energetic and thoughtful learning leader who cultivates complementary learning spaces, both physically (classroom set up to allow small group work, including a variation of the ‘harkness’ table) and virtually (teacher and student blogs). She facilitated a ‘fishbowl’ discussion, in which half the group were seated around the table and the other half were observers, recording aspects of each individual’s role in the discussion.

Minecraft in Maths

I have written about Minecraft in education before, following a trial at my school with Year 7 boys who built models of different types of bridges. This year I set a task for another class of Year 7 students in which the boys found it particularly engaging. Many of the boys had played the game before and a few were ‘expert’ users. It happens that these boys usually don’t experience success in the Maths class – they struggle with some concepts and despite offering a range of different activities, often don’t seem to enjoy Maths. Minecraft classes allowed these boys to experience success and share their talents and experience with their peers – finally they were excited about Maths!

The task was to create their name in a Minecraft world, using the familiar cubes that we deemed to be 1m x 1m x 1m in volume. They then had to calculate the surface area and volume of their name and send me a screenshot. Some students had not played Minecraft before, so there was some terrific sharing of expertise and discovery learning going on. As students watched their peers constructions take shape they changed their designs, incorporating different colours and textures. As the environment changed (day became night and it started snowing in some worlds) students sought out flaming torches and built verandas to protect their constructions.

Surface area and volume can be easily taught with a textbook and, for the more adventurous, going outside to measure real-life objects in the school yard. However, Minecraft allowed me to engage some of my more difficult students and give them opportunities to shine in the classroom. Now I need to start thinking how I can teach algebra with Minecraft! Have you had success with Minecraft in your classroom? What outcomes have you achieved with game-based learning?

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Blogging with Apollo Bay P12 College students

Step 1: Go to the Global2 website by clicking on this link: Global2 Home Page

Step 2: Click on the link on the right hand side of the page, on the world logo, under where it says “Create your First Blog”.

Step 3: Add your site domain name – I suggest your student code (eg. gow005) or nickname. Choose carefully, this becomes part of your web address and cannot be changed.

Step 4: Give your blog a title, which can be changed at any time.

Step 5: Choose your privacy settings. I recommend that you choose “Visitors must have a login”, so only students and teachers who have registered with global2 can comment on your blog. Create your new blog by clicking on the “create site” button at the bottom of the page.



Step 6: Login to your email account, click on the link sent from global2 and activate your blog.

Step 7: Login to your blog’s dashboard and change your password (Go to “Home” and “My Account”) ensuring you remember your blog address and password.

Step 8: Log in and go to the “Appearance” button to choose a theme for your new blog.

Step 9: Go to “Add Post” and write your first post by adding a title and text. You may also like to add an image – remember it should be an image you have  created yourself or a creative commons image and not one copied from the internet.

Step 10: Fill in the following form with your details.

Web2.0 ideas for getting to know your students

Today I presented at the “ReThink, ReImagine” conference organized by Simon Perry for teachers and pre-service teachers at Deakin University. It was a great way to kick start the year and inspire teachers to try some new tools, new teaching strategies and new ways of learning.

Greg Whitby was the keynote speaker, who challenged us to put “faces to the data” and make sure students are at the centre of learning. What better way to start the year than to ask students to describe themselves and their goals for learning? So here I describe some ways that students can use web2.0 tools to tell you and their peers about themselves.

(1) Thinglink is a web2.0 tool that allows users to upload and image and add annotations, including links to other web pages, YouTube videos – in fact any content with a web address. So students can take a photo of themselves and add links to their blogs and other online digital content. If they aren’t authors of digital content yet, they could write short notes about their strengths, interests and goals or link to pages that interest them.

(2) Tagxedo is a web2.0 platform for creating word clouds using text. @loisath had the great idea for students to upload a photo of themselves and write a short description that can be copied and pasted into the Tagxedo window. Students can choose the colour, fonts, orientation and images to create beautiful word clouds. Print them out to display around the room, post them on student or class blogs or save them for a student portfolio.

(3) Create a student survey using Google Docs (forms) about student interests, characteristics, favourite subjects, hobbies, sports and questions and concerns they may have about the year ahead.

(4) Create a Wallwisher asking students to post five things that describe themselves. You may like them to post anonymously and other students can guess who has written each post (I suggest you set the Wallwisher to moderate posts in this case) or make sure each student signs in to Wallwisher so their name is attached to each post.

(5) If your students are bloggers, they can write a blog post – “Ten things you didn’t know about me”. They may like to put this is an email and send it to you (I have a gmail account separate to my school email for students to send work to).

(6) If you have iPads, WordFoto is a great app to use for getting to know your students – upload an image of the student and they then use ten words to describe themselves (the image above was created in WordFoto).

What web2.00 tools have you used to get to know your students at the beginning of the school year?

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Minecraft at Hawkesdale

This term, a group of Year 7 boys from Hawkesdale College have had the opportunity to access the Quantum Victoria Minecraft world each week. This is part of their “Skills for Living” class, in which the remainder of students have been learning to dance. The idea of a “Skills for Living” class is for students to have time to think about and document their learning goals, reflect on their achievements and areas for improvement and to target specific knowledge and skills that require more work. In addition to the “Tribes” framework, our school uses the “You Can Do It!” principles to discuss appropriate behaviors and attitudes for effective learning. It has become apparent during our participation in Minecraft activities, that this gaming platform is an excellent tool for students to demonstrate their understanding and application of the five “You Can Do It!” principles – Organisation, Persistence, Confidence, Resilience and Getting Along.

Organisation – Registering and setting up a Mojang and Minecraft account to access the Quantum Victoria Minecraft world is a complex task, requiring several steps. It took all students at least one period, and usually two, to complete the process. Students were required to remember usernames and passwords on three separate sites, so those with good organisational skills had much better success. Those students that had difficulty learnt that recording your usernames and passwords in a safe place was a helpful strategy to avoid frustration.
“Stuff you make in Minecraft is made in a similar way in real life.” – Chewy12345

Persistence – Some students came across many obstacles on their journey into Minecraft, but by Week 5 all students had access. Several students demonstrated remarkable persistence each week, attempting logins, waiting for updates and connections and repeating procedures to allow them to participate. The “carrot” was there, so finally they were all able to jump in and start creating.
“It takes time and effort to make awesome stuff.” – PorkChop
“Eventually you can do it, even if it looks too hard” – EaterofBacon

Confidence – Some of this group are lacking in confidence, which is one of the reasons they would prefer not to participate in dance, which is enjoyed by the more outgoing and self-confident students. Minecraft does not require the memory and full-body co-ordination that dance requires, but fine motor skills, problem solving and creative thinking. This group of boys are not all highly skilled sportsmen, but have gained remarkable skills in finding their way around the Quantum Minecraft world, working out the rules and how to play the game and creating structures that they didn’t believe they could.
“Not everything is as hard as it looks.” – GeneralCheese

Resilience – We did have some issues when one week we were unable to access the Quantum Minecraft server and the computer technician allowed us to use the school server which had been set up for another class, the Year 9/10 Gaming elective. Despite being warned about “griefing” – a gamer’s term for stealing and/ or destroying another gamer’s virtual property – some of the boys raided a treasure chest of tools and damaged a house that had been built by another player. When their misdemeanors came to our attention, we asked that the culprits stay inside during recess and lunchtime until the gamer’s property had been restored. Both parties displayed resilience by bouncing back and returning to the game with a lesson learned.
“You shouldn’t damage or steal other people’s stuff”- MVS999

Getting Along – This is the principle that gives me the most pleasure – to see these boys, some of whom have difficulty working in teams and accepting each other’s differences, sharing tools and strategies and helping each other plan and construct houses, bridges, towers, tunnels and railroads, is fantastic. The buzz in the room as they make suggestions for improvements, give and receive materials and laugh at the possibilities in a virtual world, is delightful.
“When people annoy you, you can go somewhere else.” – Bippy14

Thanks to Paul Taylor from Quantum Victoria for supporting our journey into their Minecraft world. Thanks to our computer technician, Nathan Calderwood, for setting up the school server, downloading the software and supporting Minecraft at Hawkesdale College. Thanks also to my delightful class of Year 7 boys who kept on trying, even when I didn’t know how to help them! 

“What’s Web2.0?” at Apollo Bay

Image created with ThingLink

Thank you for inviting me to your lovely, country P12 college today! As a small, rural school in SW Victoria, Hawkesdale P12 College is a very similar school to this. We have about 250 students, mostly from farming families, arriving by bus each school day. I imagine you have similar concerns with isolation from major centres, distance to services and lack of multicultural awareness that comes from living in small, rural and regional communities. Today we are going to look at some tools that we have used at Hawkesdale P12 College for connecting, communicating and collaborating with the world.

Wallwisher is a free, easy-to-use site where you can post digital sticky notes. It can be used for exit slips, brainstorming, reflection and sharing ideas.

Wordle is a site that allows you to create beautiful word clouds from text. Tagxedo is similar, but allows you to choose the shape of your word cloud. Use it for introducing a unit or finding out how much students know about a topic.

Bubbl.us is another fee site where you can create concept maps. Students need to register to save their work.

Voicethread allows students to add text, voice and annotations to images. You can create multimedia presentations using your own images or upload creative commons images from Flickr.

Blackboard Collaborate is free for DEECD teachers and enables virtual classes, meetings and professional development. You can be teaching a class and within 10 minutes be participating in a education conference with teachers from around the globe, without leaving the staffroom. You and your students can link up with experts, such as Scientist in Schools partners or Melbourne Zoo staff, without hiring a bus or organizing permission forms. Please click on this link to access the Blackboard Collaborate Virtual Room.

National Curriculum for Senior Science: “Earth and Environmental Science”

I write to you having just returned from the Australian Science Teachers Association annual conference, held in Canberra over four days. This was a fantastic opportunity to hear about contemporary science in action from experts in a variety of fields. However, my observations and discussions over the past few days have been of great concern with respect to the state of education for sustainability in Australia.

I have been the member of several expert panels to provide feedback to ACARA regarding the national senior science curriculum for “Earth and Environmental Science“. Only one of these meetings was attended by equal numbers of stakeholders with experience in contemporary Environmental Science teaching – all other meetings have been dominated by geologists, earth science advocates and others with very little understanding of contemporary education for sustainability. ACARA’s framework is that there should be four senior secondary science courses, of equal cognitive demand. However, I believe that Earth and Environmental Science, although they have been taught together historically, cannot be deemed equivalent to the major sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics).This belief is detailed by Prof. Annette Gough who writes as follows: “Environmental education cannot and should not be confined by the conventional curriculum jigsaw frame – the jigsaw needs to evolve as the field continues to evolve and our understandings about the environment and sustainability evolve.” (Gough, 2011)

One of the arguments against a separate Environmental Science course is that education for sustainability is a cross-curricula priority, as demonstrated in the Foundation to 10 national curriculums. However, until the ideal of an environmental ethic underpins the “whole curriculum and indeed the life and practice of the school and educational system…. environmental subjects need to exist to exemplify what environmental education is” (Fensham, 1990 p.18). In addition, until students with sufficient understanding become teachers, or those teachers are supported by free and convenient professional development, the enacted curriculum will be quite different to the written curriculum, as teachers will teach what they know best from an overcrowded, content-heavy document.

The EES course arose through ACARA and the Federal Government from lobbying by principally NSW and WA, the mining industry and environmental groups that a course in addition to physics, chemistry and biology should exist to cater for the “fourth” traditional science of Earth Science. It was thought this would satisfy everyones needs as the 4 “science disciplines” were covered. Therein lies a major concern, teaching authorities and schools grab whomever is available to teach courses such as EES, that requires a multi disciplinary approach, a broad understanding of the systems involved and whom are missing part of that knowledge base, so teach to their respective strengths and in so doing do not give a full account of the course material.

To clarify, this is my understanding of a contemporary education for sustainability:
“Education for sustainability is a critical component of 21st century learning, to allow our future leaders to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes that will allow human society to develop in ways that meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations to meet their needs. In addition to the content knowledge of the way that the earth’s systems work, students also need opportunities to engage with the issues of how humans impact on their environment and how these impacts can be reduced. They need to be able to think critically, be ethically and environmental aware and have the knowledge and ability to participate effectively in decision making. Contemporary education for sustainability should prepare students to live and work in ways that minimize their impact on the planet that sustains us – they will need to be able to engage in the debate about carbon emissions, understand the life cycle of products they consume and make choices about the energy and water they use and the waste they produce. An Environmental Science course should include aspects of all the other sciences and Maths, including evaluating evidence and developing communication skills.”

Due to global scientific research into climate change over the past few decades, we have a vast amount of information and the development of new techniques to investigate issues such as the greenhouse effect, ocean temperatures, currents and acidification, measurement of biodiversity and changes in biotic distribution, renewable energy technologies, carbon sequestration, the effects of land use changes etc. It is crucial that we provide students with the opportunity to investigate these issues so they can be informed and aware global citizens. These issues, and more mentioned at “Science Teachers for Climate Change Awareness“, are vitally important to the understanding of climate change. They are very appropriate, if not indispensable, for a senior secondary science curriculum. By attempting to combine the traditional earth science course with these new areas of environmental science, we have a very content-heavy curriculum that cannot be taught in sufficient depth to engage students. Teachers attempting to balance the two will have great difficulty providing opportunities for students to investigate, analyse, synthesize and evaluate the key concepts in a two year course. Hence, parts that teachers have less understanding of will be omitted, in favour of areas that teachers have current experience with.

In addition, I believe there is a conflict between the philosophy and values of advocates of these two sciences. Students selecting an Earth Science course may be primarily interested in careers such as geology, engineering and mining – of course they should also have an understanding of erosion, pollution sinks and sources and land rehabilitation. Students selecting an Environmental Science course, in my ten year experience (confirmed by the Victorian Association of Environmental Education VCE Teacher’s network) are passionate about conservation, wildlife, renewable energy, effects of pollution and sustainability issues. These students are interested in careers in the emerging “green collar” sector. It is time that we put students at the centre and give them opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills to realize their goals of working towards a sustainable future.

It seems to me that the majority of teachers in all other states, apart from Victoria and Tasmania, have a strong bias towards Earth Science, due to the prevalence of mining industries in those states. Extensive free professional development opportunities have been provided by the mining sector in those states, enabling a high level of expertise in the earth sciences and consequently a focus on earth science and the search for and extraction of finite resources. My deep concern is that these same stakeholders do not have the same knowledge of sustainability issues that enable them to provide a balanced and contemporary education to our future leaders. In addition, many of the stakeholders have a vested interest in the status quo, in terms of textbooks, employability and convenience. For example, the textbook for “Earth and Environmental Science” in WA is sponsored by Woodside Petroleum and the ESWA (Earth Science Western Australia). This text has 19 chapters – 16 of which are traditional earth science topics and 3 that include climate change, ecosystems, human activity and biodiversity. In addition, the Minerals Council of Australia and Teacher Earth Science Education Program (sponsored by Exxon Mobil, Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia, Australian Institute of Geoscientists and the Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists, amongst others) provide free or low-cost professional development.

Popular media has also influenced attitudes of the vast majority of Australians, ranging from the dismissive to the blatantly skeptical of the dangers of human induced climate change, biodiversity loss, human population issues, salinity, waste, an economy based on finite resources and more. This destructive influence is documented by Keith Burrows in his presentations at VicPhysics. It is the responsibility of science teachers, who have the knowledge base to understand climate change and the communication skills to explain it, to increase community understanding of this most crucial issue.

If these concerns are of interest to you, you may like to give feedback to ACARA, either by registering and completing a survey or by email, with a cover sheet. More information at the National Curriculum Consultation site.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this lengthy appeal. I hope I have made my concerns clear and that you can offer some advice as to what actions can be taken to inform ACARA, the State Science Associations and relevant Curriculum Authorities of these important issues. I look forward to discussing this with you, if you have the time and the willingness to engage in what may be a battle against the odds, but with morality on our side.

What did I take home from ICTEV 2012?

This weekend I was lucky enough to attend the 2012 Internet and Communication Technology Education in Victoria annual conference at Melbourne Grammar School. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet many members of my online personal learning network from Twitter, together with like-minded educators from around Victoria (and beyond).
Although some of my colleagues thought he was somewhat underwhelming, the keynote speaker was Alan November. He stressed the importance of peer teaching – a strategy I have often used in science teaching, especially the “kids teaching kids” program used at environmental conferences and the “60 second science video” competition. Alan gave an example of a student produced screen-cast showing how to create a prime factor tree – possibly using an app similar to “Show Me Interactive Whiteboard” on the iPad.

My first session was “IPads, QR codes and Augmented Reality” by Nathan Jones (@elearnjones) which was an amazing start. Nathan demonstrated the use of “String”, “Dinosaurs – Live”, “Butterflies” and “Heart Cam”, each of which bring a 3D object onto the screen when focussed on a 2D “trigger”. So, for example, students can have dragons climb out of the table, spiderman battling a crook in front of them or a dinosaur charge through the window. “Aurasma” is another app that you can use to create your own augmented reality triggers. So, for example, you might draw a picture and then add a video of how you mixed the colours or where you got your inspiration. Nathan used this app with his students for book trailers – so each student recorded a video of their book review and used the cover of the book, or a similar image, as the trigger.

Stephen Heppell spoke briefly about education environments, but I found his most interesting point was a graph of PISA scores against interest in science for countries around the world. Finland, usually recognized as having an outstanding education system, has very high test results in science, but a very low interest in the subject. Likewise, Australia has medium to high test results, but low interest in the subject – disappointing!

Stephen Heppell also spoke at the K12 Conference this week and the tweets were running thick and fast! I created this Storify to capture some of his wisdom.


Reflecting on Effective Feedback to Students

This year I am participating in the “Leaders in the Making” professional development opportunity offered by the BSW region to interested teachers who have been in the profession between 6 and 10 years. It involves four days over four terms of full-day sessions, discussing educational leadership. In addition, our group of Warrnambool network schools are participating in a research project embedded in the leadership development course, focussing on effective feedback. Our network meetings consist of teachers from primary, secondary, P12 and special schools of various ages, subject areas and expertise. Such a diverse group has made for interesting discussion and has provided an excellent opportunity to share a great variety of examples of effective practise and issues that impact on student learning. To assist me to digest the ideas that have flowed across the table and to share some of my own readings, I have decided to write this post.

Here is what students (Year 7) say about feedback on Wallwisher.

Projects that Warrnambool Network Schools are doing at

Principles of Effective Feedback (from Curriculum Corporation)

  • Is specific and avoids vague comments
  • Is varied in its method of application
  • Uses models showing desired outcomes
  • Shows a valuing of student work
  • Uses marks or grades only some of the time
  • Provides time for students to act on advice
  • Enables students to know how they will benefit

Methods of Feedback to Students

The method of feedback will depend on the age and ability of the student as well as the skill, product or task  being assessed. No one method will suit all contexts, students or tasks and to be most effective, the method used should vary over time.

Written Feedback in Practice

  • Written reports to parents.
  • Notes on work – positive comments, notes for improvement, corrections, questions.
  • Sticky notes attached to student work.
  • Comments to posts on student blogs, wikis or websites.
  • Google Docs – edits in margins, different colours.
  • Word documents can be edited using “track changes”.
  • Ultranet

Verbal feedback in Practice

  • Parent teacher interviews
  • Three-way interviews (student-led conferences)
  • Peer feedback
  • Comments on oral presentations
  • Blackboard Collaborate, Voicethread, Voki, podcasting.
  • “SpeakPipe” can be added to any site, including blogs, and enables the user to leave a voice message.

Pictorial Feedback in Practice

  • Useful for younger students or students with disabilities.
  • “Thumbs up!”, stickers, stamps and smiley faces.
  • Quickly drawn cartoons, similar to “social stories”.
  • Using colours – Rainbow assessment with highlighters (for example, green = great!,  Yellow = slow down and think can this be improved?, Pink = check your grammar or spelling)

Self-Assessment using Rubrics

  • Useful for older students to assist the transition to independent learning.
  • Requires clear criteria and very specific expectations.
  • Can be negotiated by the class prior to the project.


Ramblings of an Australian Teacher- Giving Valuable Feedback to Students” a blog post (September 2010)

Another blog post with ten different methods of “Effective feedback to students” (November 2009)

Chapter from a book by Susan M. Brookhart “How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students”

“Enhancing student feedback through effective formative feedback” The Higher Education Academy