LisaHillSchoolStuff's Weblog

'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Ignacio Estrada, via Tomlinson)

Archive for July, 2008

Knowledge Bank Online Conference Session 2

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 23, 2008

Steve Hargadon

The keynote speaker today was Steve Hargadon from the USA.  These are some of my notes that I took from the presentation but for more info, do have a look at Steve’s blog because he explains it much better than I do.

He thinks that Web 2.0 is as powerful a change agent as the phone or the car because it involves a new publishing revolution.  We are no longer recipients of information on the web as we were.  Web 1.0= recipient mode; whereas Web 2.0 = the read/write web  involving contributing,  collaborating, & creating.

Steve identified 10 trends in education – and I took beaut notes about his ideas, pasted them in here – and somehow lost them, so now all I have is my headings…


  1. Ability to create content
  2. Tidal Wave of Information – imagine when everyone is contributing to Wikipedia, eh?
  3. Culture of openness
  4. Culture of participation – Amazon reviews (and travellers rating hotels on Trip Adviser)
  5. The age of the collaborator – the wisdom of the masses?  (I’m not so sure about this.  Who needs reality TV and tabloids anyway?)
  6. An explosion of innovation
  7. The World Is Getting Flatter and Faster
  8. The Long Tail – this means that if the cost of something is too high, it’s not worthwhile for a retailer to sell it.  But if somehow the product does become available, an audience emerges for it.  50% of Amazon sales are for things that are never stocked in shops.
  9. Social Learning Moved Toward Centre Stage
  10. Social Networking – it’s not just My Space, Facebook and Orket, but social networks touch an emotional chord and bring us all together.
 What should we as teachers be doing?
  • Learn about web 2.0
  • Lurk – to familiarise yourself with what’s going on, until you feel confident
  • Participate
  • Digest This Thought:The Answer to Information Overload Is to Produce More Information.
  • Teach Content Production
  • Make education a new discussion
  • Help build the new playbook

Posted in Conferences Attended, Learning and teaching, Virtual conferences | 2 Comments »

Knowledge Bank Online Conference Session 1

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 23, 2008

Last night when I got home from work I viewed today’s sessions from the Knowledge Bank Online Conference through Elluminate.  The first sessions was a really inspiring presentation from two wonderful teachers, Anne Mirtschin and Jess McCulloch from Hawkesdale P-12 College.  They have 10 minutes tech spot sessions at staff meetings, but I really liked their idea of WIWOW Walk in walk out Wednesdays…a little bit like what we have been doing at MPPS but more ongoing, and open to everyone.   Anne and Jess make themselves available after school on Wednesdays for buddying and trouble-shooting for learning Web 2.0 with other teachers, and now 70% of their teachers blog, and comment on student blogs, which is an amazing achievement.   Their maths and science faculties have their own wikis, and the LOTE department even has pages with pronunciation guides for students to practise at home with.  They started off with and with some social networking – which was immediately appealing as it has been with us at MPPS.

One of the presenters said that Web 2 isn’t a thing, it’s a state of mind, and I think that’s true – which is both exciting and problematic, because some people are not very willing to embrace it.  Jess and Anne used Teacher Professional Leave to get the project started at their school, and that enabled them to provide a lot of support.

These are some of the links I noted from their presentation:

They also talked about growing your own personal learning networks eg through Twitter and Classroom 2.0 – but I’m still not sure about this because a network that’s too large becomes too time-consuming.  I’d rather have quality networks that really relate to my practice.

Some of the applications they use are unfamiliar to me so I’m going to have to find out more about them: 

  • MS Photostory for storytelling
  • Skype used for internal communication just for fun
  • Irfanview and digital photo manipulation

Students drive the blogs most of the time, and this is partly because teachers do respond to the blogs.  Assessment was raised as a topic, and Jess and Anne find it helpful that these  blogs are accessible at home.  They feel they’re getting to know the students better, and there are better learning outcomes because it shows students the teachers are interested in them, and the improvements in their writing.  In LOTE using 2.0 also allows for different learning styles, and allows the quieter student to participate. They like the visibility of thinking of the other kids – and think it’s challenging without pressure.  However,  they haven’t developed a rubric for marking blogs – and are not sure that they are necessary.  (I’m not so sure about that.)  The best thing is that it frees up class time for teaching – it’s non synchronous. There’s been a massive increase in asking questions because students aren’t embarrassed to do that online.  

I wonder a bit about the time commitment too… I’m enjoying playing around with 2.0 at home, but what if the enthusiasm of keen innovators becomes the expected norm?  How much of our evenings is going to be spent this way, or is there  going to be a time allowance to deal with it as the use of 2.0 grows?

I didn’t find the presentation about Meeting the Motherfish so interesting.  It was very much about the excitement of discovering new developments in paleontology, and not very much about 2.0. 



Posted in Conferences Attended, Learning and teaching | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

BBC School Radio audio library

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 8, 2008

Today, thanks to Edna, I found the BBC School Radio audio library. This is the most fantastic site.  It has stimulus sounds as audio files for all manner of things: weather, transport, animals, birds, inside, outside. jobs, sports, comedy, space …

How I would have loved this when I was an ESL teacher!  Still, I can see possibilities for using it in the library and I’m sure kids will love using it to jazz up their PPTs etc.

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VILTA’s 40th Anniversary

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 7, 2008

I finally got round to developing some photos today (yes, film, how last century is that!) and discovered some from VILTA’s 40th Anniversary Cocktail Party at the Hemisphere Convention Centre (22.2.08).

It was a lovely night, catching up with old friends from my days as VILTA’s President, though mercifully no one asked me to speak any Indonesian because mine is very rusty indeed.  My successor and current President, Heather Brown, said some kindly things about my contribution and an award was presented to all the past presidents who were able to attend.

I was never much good at networking or representing VILTA on cultural occasions, but I certainly did my best for the emerging group of primary LOTE teachers in government schools.  Before my time VILTA was more orientated towards secondary schools, many of the committee were teachers in independent schools, and many of them were native speakers of the Indonesian.  However, with LOTE becoming compulsory for all Prep-10 students in Victoria, the association had to broaden its outlook and provide for a wider range of skill levels amongst its ranks.  Many of us were not really confident either about our language competence or our teaching methodology, and resources for primary teachers were scanty.  That was why I had started publishing my Word Puzzles for the Indonesian Classroom series, (now out of print) but I also made sure that each issue of our magazine Suara VILTA had curriculum units and teaching resources that were user friendly for primary teachers new to the role.

It probably wasn’t understood by the membership, but I think that the most useful thing I did was to professionalise the association.  (I had been astonished to be given, when I took over as treasurer, a muddle of supermarket bags full of receipts, and even more astonished to learn that VILTA’s accountant was not surprised at all.)  I became president just as we had to deal with the GST, manage very large grants from the Department of Education (or whatever it was called back then) and computerise our operations, all of this at a time when teachers were under great pressure because of the Kennett reforms. 

My dear friend and colleague Ross Benbow took on the role of treasurer and with loyal committee members Heather Brown and Libby Browning to support and guide me, together we steered the association through Business Activity Statements, changes to the constitution, and a host of other imperative changes.  We initiated a 2-day residential gathering of the committee during the January holidays so that we could manage the workload, and moved monthly meetings to a more acccessible venue.  We bought laptops and fax machines for coordinators of key events like Sayembara and Lisan, and outsourced the editorship of the magazine.  We even managed to negotiate our way out of a very tricky situation with a competitor for the association’s fledgling website, and also tidied up the criteria for judging the annual Sayembara competion.

I look back on those days when I was teaching full time, running the association and contributing to its magazine every month – and wonder how I did it.  I couldn’t have managed without the support of colleagues both at VILTA and my school, and patient forbearance from my husband. 

I’m proud of what I achieved, but I do like having spare time since leaving!

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Tzolias, and a teacher’s right to a private life

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 5, 2008

Since I live in Melbourne, the minutiae of the Tzolias story seems to have passed me by, but today I read the story in The Australian.   It seems that Tziolas, a NSW teacher aged 24, featured with her husband in Cleo (in a discreet pose, according to the paper).  The ensuing publicity and ‘complaints from parents’ brought action from the NSW Department of Education, and Tziolas was sacked from her job teaching Year 1 at Narraweena Public School.  Since they breached all the standards of natural justice (i.e. sacking her first, and then having the investigation) DET has now had to backtrack: they are now offering her job back, but not at Narraweena, and not at anywhere she wants to teach.

The rights and wrongs of this situation notwithstanding,  this naive young woman – on only a year-long contract – seems to have put her career at risk because the publicity would surely deter any school from wanting to employ her.  She believes that she spoke out in a ‘progressive society’ about her personal life because it was relevant for today’s young couples.  Today Tonight & Co will surely track her down wherever she goes…

However, the interesting aspect of this case it that it brings up issues of a teacher’s right to a private life, conflicting with a naive notion that children today can still be shielded from inappropriate content.  Tzolias argues that it’s ok for her to disclose specific details for the article (which I will not specify because of the risk that this blog would be blocked from viewing in schools).  She says it’s a basic freedom and she has a right to do it.  Supportive parents at Narraweena argue that it’s ok because it’s got nothing to do with how she does her job, and the children weren’t going to see it anyway.

I find it extraordinary that anyone – in the age of celebrity-  believes that public disclosures about any aspects of private life could be insulated from the world of the school, and that children in a primary school would not come across it.   While they may be targetted for a particular audience or a particular age group,  magazines such as Cleo are freely available, and are not hidden away in private homes, hairdressers, doctor’s surgeries or anywhere else.   Of course the parents and children at her school were going to know about it.  So would her own parents, her granny and her husband’s employer; eventually her own children will know about it too.

So does it matter? Depending on a child’s age, the reaction could be confusion, (‘whips, mummy?’), lurid humour, titillation, mockery or outrage. Parents and the other teachers confronting it would, presumably, deal with it as we deal with all kinds of uncomfortable questions: teachers with discreet evasiveness, and parents with as much honesty as they can manage.

The real question is: what kind of person does a teacher need to be?  IMO, the answer is that we should always be good role models, and that means that sometimes we shield our students from some aspects of our lives – whether ‘everybody does it’ or not.   We have to be ‘respectable’.   We don’t smoke or drink in front of children, and we keep to the speed limit around our schools.  In a religious school, living in a de-facto or ‘progressive’ relationship needs to be kept private; in any school, divulging episodes of excessive behaviour such as getting drunk is inappropriate.

The fact is that respectable people don’t usually do as Ms Tzolias did (though it must be fairly common since she was only paid $200 for it.)  It was a foolish thing to do.

Posted in Opinion | 1 Comment »

Flagship Strategy 1 (It’s Ancient History now)

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 4, 2008

Well, well, it’s amazing what you find online when it’s school holidays and you have time to waste Googling around…

Today I turned up an old Flagship Strategy 1 newsletter, starring Mossgiel Park PS, back in the days when we were all coming to grips with the new VELS.

And now there’s FS 2, they say.  How many of these will there be before I retire, eh?

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Edna, the Australian Education Network

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 3, 2008

Edna (the Australian Education Network) is that network that all teachers want, and probably don’t know exists. 

You sign up, provide details of your interests and projects etc, and then join ‘communities’ that are interested in the same things.  (There are options to keep this info private, shared only with colleagues or registered users, so it’s pretty secure if you don’t want to tell the world about yourself). If you join a community,  then posts from members of the same community show up on your home page.

You can also add colleagues that you know, rather like adding Friends in My Space or Facebook.  Indeed, it’s rather like a Facebook for educators, but (a-hem) more focussed on education.

I’ve joined a number of communities: libraries, e-Learning and eLearning (somebody goofed, so you need to join both), curriculum planning, history teachers, podcasting, Wikis and SLAV – it was through the Wikis group that I found the excellent video about how to make a wiki in my previous post.

Anyone who’s interested in learning Web 2.0 should check it out.  Forums like this are very useful, but they only work if people make them work.

NB Apologies if you’re reading this twice: I’ve also posted it to my other blog because I think it’s so important! 

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