Tagged: students

Blogging Workshop at Warrnambool College

Last Friday, 25 Year 7 students from Hawkesdale visited Warrnambool College to participate in a blogging workshop with about 130 of their Year 7 students. Our students have been blogging for up to four years, so they were able to act as peer tutors for six classes, over three hours. As Warrnambool College students are just starting their blogging journey, our students were able to assist them to change their theme, title and tagline, write their first post and some added links to their blogroll. Alannah and Anna shared their own blogs, showing a cluster map, “Sparklee” text and how they use text and images to share their learning with readers from across the globe.

This was a great opportunity for our students to share their blogging knowledge and demonstrate confidence and leadership skills. We hope that we can continue to connect with students from Warrnambool College, as blogging buddies and perhaps, in future, our students can assist to share their knowledge of the Ultranet.

Thanks to Greg Twitt and David Clift for organizing this exciting opportunity and also to our Year 7 students who did an excellent job. After the workshop the class was treated to a game of Ten Pin Bowling.

“I liked sharing my blog with Warrnambool College students – it was good to be able to help them start their own” Alannah, Hawkesdale College Year 7 student

“I couldn’t believe Hawkesdale have been blogging all that time, but once we were shown how, it’s not that hard really.” Warrnambool College Year 7 student.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Reflections on my Online Class


This year I am teaching VCE Environmental Science to a class of eight students – only one of which who actually attends Hawkesdale P12 College. The seven other students are from Shepparton H.S. and McGuire College in Shepparton and Brauer College in Warrnmabool. These students are all passionate about environmental science and wanted to study the subject in Year 12, but it was not offered at their schools. Through the Victorian Association of Environmental Education teacher’s network, I offered to provide an online course to these students using the Ultranet, blog, ning, Skype and Elluminate. They each provided details of their school and home email addresses, phone numbers, parent and teacher contacts and their timetables. It was obvious that there was very little opportunity for the timetables of four different schools to co-ordinate to allow these students to attend the classes scheduled at Hawkesdale. It was also apparent that these schools have not yet provided Ultranet access to their Year 12 students. Another difficulty is that email, blogs and Elluminate is blocked at these schools.

So far we have had three weeks of classes, with communication from home via email, the blog and four Elluminate sessions, each about 90 minutes in duration. The first two sessions were introductory sessions, getting to know each other and becoming familiar with the Elluminate tools, which include an interactive whiteboard, audio, text, chat, video and application sharing. We will need to increase the number of online sessions as we are not covering enough material to get through the course in a timely manner. By alternating Tuesday and Wednesday and having a weekend session we will be able to increase the number of contact hours.

VCE Environmental Science is not offered by Distance Education in Victoria, as it has a high practical component, with experimental work part of the student assessment. We have overcome this difficulty by meeting at “Ecolinc”, in Bacchus Marsh, where we completed several experiments, including monitoring power output of household appliances, recording the energy transformations in solar panels, hydro and wind turbines and observing a model hydrogen car and the Environmentally Sustainable Design features of the Ecolinc building itself. These practial demonstrations were video taped and uploaded to the blog for the two students unable to attend. Students have also been able to undertake practical work with supervising teachers in their schools. It was a great pleasure to meet these students as it helps to add a face to a name in my memory and find out more about each of them. One of the students is particularly shy, although this wasn’t noticable in an online enviroment, because she had been contributing to the online discussion in the same way as the other students. I think this is an interesting aspect of the online environment that I noticed last year when doing our Virtual Teaching Rounds with Pre-Service teachers from Ballarat University. The online environment reduces the likelihood of one student dominating the discussion and allows students to participate more democratically.

I think the keys to the success of these students will be their motivation to complete the course, their persistence with technology and their ability to take responsibility for their own learning. They will need to have the confidence to ask for assistance when required and the ability to recognise when they lack the understanding they need to fulfill the requirements of the course. On my part, I need to make these requirements explicit to students and have clear expectations of the work required. I need to provide them with the materials they need to develop an effective understanding of the content as well as the skill to synthesize, apply, evaluate and create. I will also need to monitor these student’s learning carefully to ensure they are completing the work required and developing the understandings to allow them to do well in both mid-year and end-of-year external examinations.

I am very interested in feedback from other teachers who have taught online classes abAout what they think is important to ensure the success of online teaching and learning. What are the key ingredients to the success of an online course?

“For a Successful Online Teaching and Learning Experience – Communicate” by Lawrence Regan PhD

“A Top Ten List for Successful Online Courses” at the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching.

Google Teacher Academy

On our last day at school I took the opportunity to take pictures of students for my application to the Google Teacher Academy. The GTA is a free professional development workshop for educators from around the globe get the most from innovative technologies. Each Academy allows participants to get hands-on experience with Google’s free products and other technologies, learn about innovative instructional strategies and receive resources to share with colleagues. Although the applications don’t close until 27th January, I wanted to show my students what their pictures went into, so here it is:

The Science of Toys with the CSIRO

Students working out how different size frogs make different sounds.

Students working out how different size frogs make different sounds.

 Today we welcomed Simon from the CSIRO “Labs on legs” program to the school for National Science Week. He presented two workshops to prep to year 5 students about the science behind how toys work. Students learnt about:

  • what is inside a baby doll,
  • how to make a slinky ‘walk’,
  • which spinning tops work best,
  • how a ‘magna-doodle’ works,
  • what is inside a kaleidoscope,
  • how to make a toy car do two 360 degree loops,
  • how to measure the speed of a toy car
  • why different size frogs make different sounds and much more……………

Video Conference with New York students

Year 7 students in library

Our Year 7 science class was very excited to (virtually) meet Mr. Ardito’s class in New York this morning. Mr. Ardito’s class came in at 7.00pm for a pizza party and we used “Skype” for a video conference, starting at 9.00am our time. Australian students spoke about sport – AFL football (not like grid-iron), netball (not like volleyball) and cricket. Mr. Ardito’s scientists have finished their school year and are ready for summer holidays – trips to Canada, surfing, sailing and summer camps. We look forward to further communication with them when they return to school in September.

Orange Bellied Parrot Conservation

Separating woolly tea tree seedlings for re-potting.

On Tuesday 6th May, 21 students travelled to Mailor’s Flat to assist in a revegetation project to save the critically endangered OBP. There are less than two hundred individual birds left in the wild and they are endemic to south-eastern Australia, migrating from Tasmania to the Victorian and South Australian coast each winter. Part of the program to build numbers of these pretty birds is a revegetation program to provide roosting and feeding plants, which will increase their chances of survival. Students were able to separate seedlings of woolly tea tree and messmate plants and re-pot 3,000 plants. Further information about the OBP can be found here.

Port Fairy Rail Trail

Students working at Port Fairy

Yesterday 26 students visited Port Fairy and assisted with the construction of the Rail Trail. So far the trail has been laid between Glaxo and the railway shed and Year 9 students cleaned up the edges of the trail, removing large rocks and debris to allow a slasher to pass. Mr. Mike Halls (Friends of the PF Rail Trail) and Dean Robertson (Moyne Shire Council) spoke about the development of the concept, funding and works required for the community project.