Tag Archives: School

Food Additives Project Based Learning

In fourth term last year I had the opportunity to work with David Price to look at Project Based Learning. (Check out the Buck Institute for Education to learn more). While looking for ways to engage my Stage 1 Chemistry Students with Organic Chemistry I hit on the idea of a PBL looking at Food Additives. These students have been involved in a number of project based learning opportunities during their high school years. The idea of this project is to have students creating information presentations to help reduce misinformation about food additives amongst the student and school community. While I am still in the planning stage I am excited to see how well it works. If you have any thoughts or ideas let me know.



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Do we need Teacher Librarians?

It has been said by some parents, teachers and school administrators “We don’t need teacher librarians, all the answers are on the internet”, or comments with similar meanings.

I disagree in my opinion “We do need teacher librarians, ALL the answers are on the internet.”

Last week I saw someone share this image on Twitter.

Unbaking a Cake

Unbaking a cake, ALL the answers are on the internet.

Anyone with an understanding of high school science should know that the second answer  is presented as a joke, however helping students to realise that it is not a serious/realistic answer needs to be part of the role of teachers.

The Australian Curriculum General Capabilities of Critical and Creative Thinking outlines four key areas.

The areas of “identifying, exploring and clarifying information”, and “analysing, synthesising and evaluating information” are sometimes combined to be called the “Information Process”.

As part of a degree in Teacher Librarianship focused study on information process models is given. This enable Teacher Librarians to be fluent in the information process and to have methods to help people in their school communities

Teaching degrees in Adelaide do not have subjects that have this information literacy focus, this means that the teachers who complete these courses while generally being information literate themselves have not learnt strategies for teaching the information process. Many of the courses have subjects that look at curriculum, but based on subject descriptions these would not have a major focus on the national curriculum let alone the general capability of Critical and Creative Thinking and how to teach it. (I would love to be proven wrong, if you know of a subject available to university teaching students in South Australia that investigates the information process let me know in the comments).

I am not saying that teachers who graduate from our universities are incapable of teaching the information process or that they do can’t use it (although I have seen teachers who have taken things they read on the internet to be true) what I am saying is that like any area of learning having experts in the school that are able to help less experienced teachers to develop their skills is important for critical thinkings.

Teacher Librarians are also trained in the management of on of a schools most valuable resources (the library books), the promotion of literature and in many current courses Information and Communication Technologies (one of the other general capabilities).

So we do need teacher librarians, to be leaders in critical thinking both online and in our schools.

David Folland

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Blogs I Read

Yesterday SA Teachers Conference asked about educational blogs.

This got me thinking, what blogs do I read? Where do I get my new teaching ideas? Have I shared them with my WordPress readers?

The most common way I read blogs is through my WordPress reader. In no particular order they are

Learn IT by Shane Pilkie, I started following Shane on Twitter earlier this year because he used to work with our year 8 coordinator and she kept raving about him. His blog looks at technology integration from a Top End perspective.

Spavell by Mark Sparvell, I first met Mark 5 years ago as part of his leadership in an environmental values education  project. He is a leader in using  ICT in education in South Australia and is now working for Principals Australia on their Palnet Program.

Heyjude by Judy O’Connell, I first learnt about Judy from the OZTL_Net email list about 7 years ago where she regularly gave wise answers to the questions raised. She is one of Australia’s leading Teacher Librarians, and is now working at Charles Sturt University.

Ackygirl by Amanda Rablin, I first met Amanda at ACEC2010 where she was on of the most prolific tweeters and often commenting on the tweets of Twitter friends of mine. She writes about technology and education and has been involved both as a teacher and in district offices of education.

Teleportation – Are we there yet by Vicki Newton, I met Vicki at the CEGSA conference this year where she had some interesting things to say about Cyber-Safety. She also blogs about iPads and Social Networks from her school in Adelaide

James Herring’s Weekly Blog by James Herring, James was one of my lecturers when I was doing my Masters of Teacher Librarianship at Charles Sturt University. He blogs each week about both a library/education issue and a visual/cultural issue.

On an e-Journy with Generation Y by Anne Mirtschin, I have been following Anne on twitter for a year or more now and her thoughts on technology and schools were worth adding to my regular reading.

Danhaesler by Dan Haesler,  I have been following Dan on twitter since before ACEC2010, he is a teacher and leader in wellbeing in schools who also writes for the Sydney Morning Herald.

While not strictly teaching blogs two other WordPress blogs that do support my teaching are:

Prakkypedia by Michelle Prak an Adelaide based social media consultant who I met at TEDxAdelaide, her insights into social media have helped to further develop my own practice.

Philosophically Disturbed by Madeline Lum an “Industrial Chemist” from Western Australia who blogs about chemistry and science communications.

I also regularly read

The Principal of Change by George Couros, The keynote and workshops that George presented at the CEGSA conference this year made me really think about online practices and leadership, and reinvigorated this blog. His blog looks at these issues and more.

Stephen’s Lighthouse by Stephen Abram, I had the opportunity to meet Stephen, a leader in library studies in North America, at the Australian School Library Association Conference in Adelaide in 2007. His focus is not specifically on school libraries, but many of his thoughts about the future of libraries apply to schools.

Life is not a race to be finished first by Allanah King, Allanah is a teacher and technology leader from NewZealand who I have heared on a number of podcasts, and hope to meet at a conference one day.

The Blue Skunk Blog by Doug Johnson, I first read Doug’s work when I started my MEd TL back in 2005 and have been reading his thoughts on the use of ICT ever since. He is an expert in ICT in schools and libraries.

Butterfly Effect by Danni Miller and her team at Enlighten Education is about helping parents and girls manage social issues girls deal with in their teens, useful for any teachers of adolescent girls.

Apophenia by danah boyd from Microsoft Research looks at issues of network and community for young people.

Teacher Technologies by Selena Woodward is all about sharing teaching resources. I have met Selena on a number of occasions through CEGSA and find her insights to be helpful.

The Podcast Edpod from ABC Radio National is also an excellent source about educational thinking.

I also find lots of useful blog posts while reading the twitter feeds of the above blog authors, as well as other  twitter users to follow.

I am always looking for more sources so please share your favourite blogs in the comments below.

David Folland


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Supporting Tech Reluctant Teachers

Last week a  Mr Deith a primary teacher I follow posted about his thoughts on 1:1 iPads

I responded with one of my key thoughts about educational technology.

Dr Catherine Hart an educational researcher and teacher shared her view that Bring Your Own Device systems are preferable to a school supplied 1:1 system. This lead to a conversation about some of the challenges of 1:1 and BYOD systems.

I got to thinking about the support for using technology, especially from teachers who are themselves reluctant users of technology. How can we help teachers prepare to give the support our students need? Especially if there are a dozen different systems and devices that a class are using. (Android and iOS tablets, Mac and Windows laptops, some with MS office others without)

I have had some ideas, while I am not an expert and have not used all of these ideas with tech reluctant teachers I think they are things I will try with teachers who I am supporting and mentoring in future.

1. It is just a tool – Remind them computer technology (tablet, mobile, laptop or desktop) are just tools for assisting learning, like a pen and paper or a book.

2. Demonstrate – Showing a teacher what is possible with technology and how it is done can be a good way to help them think about doing it themselves. This might be making a short video, recording a podcast or even just producing a powerpoint that is an effective reflection of learning.

3. Admit you don’t know everything – I have had some teachers who have thought there was just too much to learn. When I admitted that I was still learning new things about technology and showed them some of the ways I learnt new things it made them more relaxed about not knowing all the answers. This works with some students too.

4. Pair them with tech strong students – Some students are highly capable with technology, having the tech reluctant teachers work with them can help the teacher become a life long learner and the student become a teacher.

5. Give them time – this is often a challenge for schools but giving teachers time to play with a tool or method of creation will enable them to become more confident in their ability to learn other tools.

These are five that came to mind for me. Are there any techniques that you think will help?

David Folland

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Social Networks for Teachers

Social Networks for Teachers

Updated 18th September

(A presentation for teachers at my school, shared with the world. Please comment to help me improve my presentation)

What are Social Medias?

Social medias are computer networks that allow sharing ‘things’ and responding to ‘things’ others have shared. It is the ability to respond that makes it social.

The Different Social Medias

The different social media have different uses. All this can be explained with donuts.

The Australian Government has also produced a useful social media guide which helps people to understand what is able to be shared and how it can be controlled. The South Australian Government has also posted a guide at its ForwardIT site

I  am going to look at how teachers can make use of (some of) these for their personal development or their classroom teaching.

The western worlds most powerful networks in relation to reach, number of users and corporate might are Google (who also own Blogger and YouTube), Facebook and Twitter.

There are other networks in other countries, and todays big three were not that way five years ago (remember MySpace and Yahoo?) and may not be the big three in 5 years. However that is no reason not to give them a go.

As a teacher there are many things I find that I want to share with others, and I am not alone. How are they sharing?

Facebook and Twitter are the two networks I use but most of the ideas presented here have relevance to other systems. I often share information I find. In the last few weeks I have shared a youtube channel reviewing iPad apps for schools with my ICT Coordinator and Tech. I have discussed thoughts about Pinterest (a graphical social link sharing and recording system) Blog posts about using Facebook with my twitter friends, Shared the excitement of the Mars Landing (which I also blogged about) and shared a video about the power of the internet from 1995 (the year I first used the internet).

If you want to share on Facebook or Twitter like I have you need an account.

You will need an email address to create an account, which you can keep private. You can then add as much or as little information to your account as you would like.

It is important when setting up your account that you adjust your privacy settings to prevent sharing further than you intend.

Facebook Settings

Settings control for Facebook

Once you have joined Facebook or Twitter there are a number of ways that you can use them to help in your teaching.

The key to Social Media/Social Networks is the Social, the connections with people.

On Twitter you can follow people. Some of the things they share will be extremely helpful. After you have followed a number of people you may find it difficult to keep up with all the things they share. Or you may want to separate the different types of account. For this reason you can place people in twitter groups. Either the twitter website or an app (such as twitteriffic, tweetie, tweekdeck) enable you to only view posts by the people and organisations in the group.

Posts from some people in Science and Education who I follow.

There will also be times when there is an event or topic that you are interested in. To examine tweets from this hashtags # can be used. As in the #MSL tag above or the #CEGSA tag listed below.


A use of Twitter that I find interesting is that of Mr Lamshed’s class. They are not the only class tweeting but chatting with Mr Lamshed about his class in person at a conference earlier this year was interesting. Mr Lamshed is an active member of the #CEGSA community on Twitter.

Finally you can set up a link subscription service like paper.li that will collect links that your network have shared during the past 12, 24, 48 hrs or even a week. Different papers can be set up with different settings.

the Lordfolland Daily

The Lordfolland Daily – My educational focused paper.li subscription

With Facebook there are three key ways to learn useful educational information. Firstly become friends with other teachers at your school or teaching in similar areas. They may have suggestions for useful resources, or be able to answer your questions. You may even help them in their teaching development.

The second way to be involved in personal development on Facebook is joining groups. These are collections of people who have a similar interest. A group with an SA focus that I and many of my friends are members of is “What a Great Teaching Idea“. Here teachers share resources or ask for resources from other teachers.

My friends in the group What a Great Teaching Idea

Some of the questions on What a Great Teaching Idea

A third source of useful teacher support is pages. These are created by businesses (like educational publishers) or organisations (such as Computer Education Group South Australia or Teaching and Learning in SA)

The Facebook Page of the DECD Teaching and Learning Unit

One of the powers of both Facebook and Twitter is their mobile interfaces. With a 3G/4G phone or unfiltered wireless network you are able to ask and respond to questions during the school day. This also allows for sharing not just of links but of our whole lives.

Mobile Facebook

Mobile Twitter

Many social media experts suggest that a good way to increase credibility within a community is to share not just education links but also things about activities or interests. Interacting with other people by answering their questions or commenting on their shares also improves credibility.

There are a number of things to remember about being a teacher on Facebook or Twitter. For South Australian teachers some of the most relevant are outlined in the DECD Code of Ethics  page on public comment. These include a reminder that Facebook and Twitter are public sites and so things shared on these sites can be public too. Also students should not be followed or friended by their teachers as this can lead to suggestions of inappropriate relationships.

DECD has published some guidelines and resources for using social media. While they are mainly focused on schools and units it is a good idea to have a look at them, particularly the reminders about interacting with students. [Added 5th September 2012]

There are many guides for people about Twitter or Facebook. George Couros a divisional innovative learning leader from Canada has had a number of good tips. These include Using a photo of yourself for your social network avatar and what you share does matter, even if you don’t feel it does. All of your activity on Twitter, Facebook and other similar networks adds up to what is called your digital footprint. At the CEGSA conference this year George shared on how to develop your footprint. These suggestions related mainly to Twitter, but applying the same ides to Facebook works too. Adelaide Social Media expert Michelle Prak also has some good social media advice on her Prakkypedia. These include a list of 10 Reasons to use Twitter and First 3 things to do when you join twitter if you are still unsure about it. Many profiles on blogs and twitter pages that mention an employing organisation like DECD state that “These views are my own and not that of my employer” this is to ensure that no one assumes that we are publishing for our organisations. Some people create longer disclosure statements on their blogs, this is particularly important when you have a large readership such as danah boyd.

As I mentioned Social Media can be an amazing resource. While preparing this post I asked Twitter and Facebook for advice for you all. Dr Solis suggested that having a good password is important, prevents others accessing your account. My wife reiterated on Facebook the thought about not following students, something she talked to me about when I first joined twitter about four years ago.  Trudy Sweeney pointed me towards Teaching Teachers to Tweet where this useful graphic was posted that explains what tweets mean.

Anatomy of a Tweet by Greg Kulowiec, shared by Justin Reich

Once people have established a presence of sharing other peoples published works the next step is self publishing. this is most often done via blogs, such as this one hosted by WordPress. The use of other blog platforms such as Edublogs or Blogger (which uses google accounts) is also possible. Tom March shared many ideas about setting up a blog at CEGSA 2011. It is also possible to use your Blog account to keep track of what other people are sharing on their blogs.

A Selection of blogs I follow in WordPress

So Facebook, Twitter, Blogs. Not hard to do, you might learn lots. Go connect with some friends, follow some tweeps (twitter people) and share with the world.

Remember if you do join Facebook or Twitter there are lots of wonderful people who will help you in your journey. These include me @lordfolland.

David Folland


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There has to be a better way. The amount of stress I see in teachers at the end of terms as they mark and prepare for reports is huge. Some might suggest it is a sign of a disorganised teacher, however I feel that it is more than just self organisation that leads to this stress. Part of my challenge is the students who I have to chase for work two, three times before I get it. Well enough thoughts for now, back to reading reports form yr 12s that were due in June.

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