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Emma and Penny's Teacher Blog

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  • 5 Dec 2017 10:20 AM | Anonymous

    The Foundation for Educational Digital Development (FEDD) has applied for a federal government grant to help fund free STEM training for women teachers in Robotics in 2018.

    FEDD will design and deliver a robotics teaching program to women teachers, culminating in a Sumo Robotics challenge at the 2018 Game Changer Awards.

    As this will be funded by the Federal Government, the program will be free for teachers.

    For more details, see the Sumo Robots Competition brochure.

    Should we be successful in securing the grant, we will be calling for volunteers to participate in the program in Term 1 2018. If you would like to know more or register your early interest please complete the Expression of Interest or email STEM@fedd.org.au. Numbers are limited so get in quick.

  • 22 Nov 2017 12:16 PM | Anonymous

    3D printing was an expensive interest 20 years ago, but with the creation of open source 3D printers and software it has become a relatively inexpensive hobby for someone with a creative spark who is interested in making their 3D model coming to life.

    There are many ways to 3D print, ranging from using lasers to super heat powdered synthetic polymer to using arc lights to set layers of resin to create a strong flexible product.

    The most common and cost-effective form of 3D printing available is Fused Deposition Modelling, with users ranging from hobbyists to architects and even designers in the automotive industry.

    As an educator, this is quite possibly the form of 3D printing that you’ll be teaching in schools to children ranging from lower primary school through High School. Given the right software, access to a 3D printer and a bit of imagination you can create anything, you can even build your own working 3D printer! Click on the link http://www.craftsmanspace.com/free-projects/3d-printers-diy-plans-and-build-instructions.html which has blueprints for a few different models of 3D printers if that is something that you are interested in doing.

    Before you get started it is important to get an idea of the different types of 3D printing and what their uses are.  You can find a complete breakdown of each method, as well as some of the industries that use them by clicking on the link http://3dprintingfromscratch.com/common/types-of-3d-printers-or-3d-printing-technologies-overview/ or https://all3dp.com/1/types-of-3d-printers-3d-printing-technology/

    Now that you have an understanding of each method of 3D printing let’s focus on what you need to get started. Obviously the first thing you’re going to need is a 3D printer, as of 2017 the majority of 3D printers range from $100 to $10’000. Like with any piece of technology, your intended use and budget will determine what type 3D printer you should purchase. For schools a cheap, easy to setup/ use printer with low maintenance and an enclosed frame would be the ideal. PC Mag has done a review of their favourite 3D printers of 2017, they also go into detail about the different types of filament FDM 3D printers use. You can peruse through them here http://au.pcmag.com/printer-reviews/25115/guide/the-best-3d-printers-of-2017.

    Okay, you have a 3D printer now but what do you do with it? 3D printing is similar to normal printing in that you need a product to print, however it differs in that you need an actual model to print. How do you get a model you ask? Well there are two ways. You can make your own or you can download a pre-made one and use that. To make your own model you need to find a computer-aided design program, or CAD for short. There are plenty of different programs out there, some paid, some free and some under the creative commons licensing. Each one caters to a different style of 3D printing and some even come with ready to print 3D models.


    Some open source CAD programs are:

    freeCAD: https://www.freecadweb.org/

    openCAD: http://www.openscad.org/

    Blender: https://www.blender.org/


    Some free to use are:




    All these CAD programs have instructions and tutorials on how to use them but if need be https://ultimaker.com/en/resources/manuals/software has extensive resources which take you through the whole 3D printing process.

    Once you have created your model there may be the need to texture and clean up any print inconsistencies. This is achieved by using a meshing program, which helps you get rid of any unwanted ‘noise’, like duplications or null faces which then gives your final product uniformity. The two most recommended programs are http://www.meshlab.net/ and http://www.meshmixer.com/.  Both programs come with measurement analysis of your model to help determine if the final product will be stable and hardy. Think of meshing as the finishing touches on your piece of art, the garnishing on your meal, the icing on your cake.

    Now your model is completed and you want to print it, this is where your slicing software comes in. The slicing software takes your model, breaks it down into layers and converts it into instructions that 3D printers are able to understand. It’s important to do this step otherwise the 3D printing won’t know what to do!


    Most commercial 3D printers come with their own software to slice your 3D model and convert it into the right format. However these slicing softwares can be quite slow when converting. There are many other open source slicing softwares available with different packages. The most distinguished program on the market at the moment is Slic3r, it comes available with some open source printers otherwise you can find it here http://slic3r.org/. Another notable program is Cura which can find through the Ultimaker website here https://ultimaker.com/en/products/cura-software.


    Now you’re ready to print your 3D model!

  • 21 Nov 2017 1:00 PM | Anonymous

    Teachers have already started shifting towards personalised learning experiences for their students and do this by building upon what they already know and do. Teachers are usually introduced to a Learning Management System (LMS) that can link new learning opportunities with technology. However, the greatest potential of learning with technology comes from the fact that teachers and students can change the traditional learning environment, processes and products to make for a more cohesive learning environment with better outcomes. An organisational tool like an LMS will not transform the way that the teachers conduct their lessons. This will only come from constant support and the selection of the correct learning applications.

    The SAMR Model developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura provides a guideline for explaining the digital transformation. The four levels within this model are Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition.

    At the Substitution level, teachers merely replace the traditional methods of instruction with digital tools, so instead of reading a printed textbook, the students are printing out their own pages from an online textbook.

     Instruction is at the Augmentation level when the use of technology benefits a commonly performed task, such as, having students submit their work within an online dropbox instead of having to turn papers in to their teacher in the classroom.

    At the Modification level, there is a meaningful change between what happens in the traditional face-to-face classroom and the digital age learning ecosystem. An example of this type of instruction is to design an authentic project, share it and then receive immediate feedback from others.

    Finally, instruction reaches the level of Redefinition when something is created that could not exist without the use of technology tools, resources, and access. Furthermore, the ideas and products are also student-generated.

    Digitized Learning

    Digitized learning includes the first two parts of the SAMR Model, Substitution and Augmentation. Below is an illustration that shows the differences between Digitized Leaning and Digital Learning. The digitized learning assignment allows the students to read from an online text instead of a printed text. It then has them completing the questions on a document file on the computer rather than writing the answers on paper. The students are told exactly what they need to do to end the project which is a slide show that lists information. They are then asked to submit this slideshow to an online dropbox. There are some benefits to this such as the students work can be organised and they can access everything that they need online, however there is very little instruction needed and there is no room for creativity or critical thinking.

    Digital Learning

    To help students and prepare them for change in the digital world they need to engage in a range of complex and ever changing digital learning experiences. In the illustration below the students can review a variety of multimedia content so that they can take things that are needed from a wide range of resources. They need to be able to reflect on the information that they have gathered to create an opinion. They are then asked to defend their opinion based on the evidence that they have spent time researching. This activity allows for an elevated level of critical thinking that they do not need in the digitized learning task. It also allows for a higher level of teaching input and gives them the option of being creative in the way that they form their opinions. The final step is for them gain feedback from others to enable them to create a published version of their findings. In this type of assignment, the digital learning is then more likely to reach the Modification and Redefinition levels.

    What happens next?

    Teachers need to review the learning experiences that they are providing for their students that include technology. They need to decide what level of the SAMR Model that they are using when they give their instructions. To move on from digitized learning to digital learning, teachers need to provide a more open-ended task that allows the students to make choices. This may prove difficult to begin with as we have spent many years teaching children to succeed by following direction without giving them the power to be creative in how they do this. Schools can assist their teachers by providing a more comprehensive toolbox of digital learning applications, giving them ongoing professional development that enhances their skills and making sure that the expectations on these teachers are achievable. This will, in turn allow for creativity in the way that students learn which will help them to become effective digital learners.

  • 26 Oct 2017 1:06 PM | Anonymous

    Adults have a responsibility to make sure the children in their care are safe and happy. As much as we’d like to think we do a good job, it can often be the case that we miss something. Bullying is unfortunately more common than we’d like to believe and although we can sometimes catch it early and stop it in its tracks, there are unfortunately the times that we don’t.

    Bullying can have a terrible impact on a child’s life and we need to make sure that we know the signs.

    The following is a list of the possible warning signs we should be looking out for to determine if we think a child is being bullied and needs our support.

    • Unexplained physical marks, cuts, bruises and scrapes.
    • Unexplained loss of toys, schools supplies, clothing, lunches or money.
    • Doesn’t want to attend school or will not interact with peers when at school.
    • Often pretends to be ill in order to be sent home.
    • Afraid of going out of classroom during recess and lunch. Will often ask to stay in and do ‘jobs’ for the teacher.
    • Suddenly becomes clingy and wants to sit near to the teacher at all times.
    • Sullen, withdrawn, evasive or makes remarks about being lonely.
    • A sudden change in typical behaviour.
    • Appears to be sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed for an extended period of time.
    • Attending school tired and reports from parents about difficulty sleeping, nightmares, bed wetting etc.
    • Begins unprovoked bullying of younger students.
    • Suddenly has fewer friends or doesn’t want to be involved with their regular group of friends.
    • Sudden and significant drop in academic achievement.
    • Describes themselves as “not good enough”.
    • Reports of running away from home.
    • Makes comments about feeling helpless or talks about suicide.

    As a teacher, we know our kids and part of our job is to teach them that bullying will not be tolerated. We also need to let them know that if they are scared, upset or hurt then we can be trusted and can help.

    The link below is an article about a teacher who made a massive impact on her students in a very simple way. Please have a read, carry out the experiment yourself and see how your students react.


  • 5 Oct 2017 11:37 AM | Anonymous

    1.     Your students are asking questions, not just giving answers.

    We all love it when we ask a question and get the correct answer. It makes us feel like we are being listened to. However, if your students are asking questions, then we are definitely making a difference. A student having the confidence to speak up shows that they are comfortable in their environment and it’s probable that their confidence will continue outside of the classroom too.

    2.     You have used your authoritative role for inspiration, not intimidation.

    Inspiration is one of the most important parts of being a teacher. Students like to be inspired to do good things, not be dictated too on how things should be done. Always show that you are open to ideas and watch your students grow in confidence and ability.

    3.     Your shy students start participating more often without being prompted.

    Randomly calling upon particular students to answer questions etc. may keep them on their toes, but it never creates an atmosphere of collaboration and respect. When the quiet ones feel comfortable enough to participate on their own, you know you’ve made an impact.

    4.    A student you’ve encouraged creates something new with her talents.

    The simple act of creating is so personal, memorable, and gratifying that you can rest assured your student will want to make it a habit.

    5.     You’ve been told by a student that, because of something you showed them, they enjoy learning outside of class.

    Even if it becomes a short-lived interest, your student will realise that learning outside of class doesn’t have to mean doing homework. I always ask my children what they have done at school; the normal response is “lessons,” “Maths” or on occasion “I can’t remember, I’ve done loads of stuff.” As a parent, I feel completely out of the loop when they say this, but when they volunteer information without the barrage of questions or when they want to show me how to do something that they have learned, I know their teachers are doing something that is making a difference to them.

    6.    You’ve made your students laugh.

    People like, and therefore listen to, other people who make them laugh. Showing you have a sense of humour about a topic will lubricate the learning path for your students.

    7.     You’ve tried new things.

    Students, especially if they are older, can be critical of change. A new grading system or an unexpected group discussion session can easily lead to resentment instead of renewed interest. But your students will remember it. Whether the change succeeds or not, they will remember it years down the road when all their other classes, so similar to one another, blur together.

    8.    You’ve improvised.

    Respect and inspiration result from going out on a limb, whether the limb breaks or not. We all have times when the best of plans don’t work out. Show your students that this doesn’t have to spell disaster. Show them that this is a chance to adapt to change rather than fear it.

    9.    You have taken a personal interest in your students.

    Your students may or may not achieve what is currently expected of them. This can be very disappointing for both student and teacher. However, showing that you have an interest in what they have achieved and how to progress from that point makes them feel inspired to stretch themselves. Looking at their options on a personal level makes them feel like an individual and not a name on a spreadsheet.

    10. You’ve let your passions show through in your lessons.

    It’s hard to stay animated when you’ve been teaching the same material for twenty-five years, but it’s also hard for your students to stay animated when they don’t know why your subject should excite them. Even if they never become excited by your subject, they have learned that different people have different interests and that it’s okay to share your passion regardless of what other people think.

    11.  You’ve made students understand the personal relevance of what they’re learning.

    Psychologists have proven time and time again that people remember things much better if they are personally relevant. Easier said than done I hear you say and yes for the most part it is. However, if it’s possible then use it to your advantage, it will definitely make a potentially boring lesson more interesting for your students.

    12.  You have cared–and shown that you cared.

    Researchers at the University of Leicester have proven that students assign the most authority to teachers who care about them. If this is true, then you are demonstrating a wonderful principle: that respect comes from kind behaviour.

    13.  A parent approaches you with kind words.

    Certainly too seldom the case, but reassuring when it happens. Sometimes you have no idea your student listened to a word you said until a relative comes forward to thank you. Happy Parents =Happy Students = Happy Teacher = Happy Principal = Happy School.

    14. Your students visit you when they don’t have to.

    This is not a popularity contest. This is an accessibility contest. If your students feel comfortable approaching you outside of class, whether, for help on an assignment or advice on a career, you’ve made a difference already.

    15.  You can be a mentor when you need to be.

    Many students suffer from major obstacles to learning in the form of inner conflict or turmoil at home. While school counsellors exist for a reason, you can’t afford to be completely closed off to personal issues. Learning is not independent from feeling, and this is something you can demonstrate to your students.

    16. You practice strength and patience.

    We’ve all reacted to current situations with emotions left over from the past, whether it’s trouble at home or personal strife. The ultimate lesson, at the end of a rough day, is not blaming anyone but yourself for your reactions. Students are always watching; someday someone will be watching them too.

    Despite what administrators might drill into our skulls, educators exist to produce good people, not good test results. The true measure of our success is hard to record on paper but easy to recognize in a student’s behaviour. Look for the signs and be open to improvement.

  • 8 Sep 2017 8:50 AM | Anonymous

    Our students performance has been declining in the past 16 years in maths, science and reading. What impact will this have on our children's futures?


  • 6 Sep 2017 8:42 AM | Anonymous

    The recent NAPLAN testing is showing a disturbing trend. We are teaching our primary children to read and write, but higher level skills required to analyse and interpret are lacking. There's an interesting article you can read about this more here.

    At FEDD, we have set ourselves a mission of improving education across the country. Using adaptive learning programs that engage children, we have gathered empirical evidence that demonstrates that we can improve those comprehension skills. We can support you implementing and achieving improved student outcomes before high school.

    If you'd like to know more, please contact me at 1800 34 FEDD (1800 34 3333) or email me penny.walsh@fedd.org.au.

  • 4 Sep 2017 2:43 PM | Anonymous

    As a teacher, ever changing technology can be very daunting. Teachers often dread the next staff meeting when the next bit of technology is being brought in and we are all obliged to have a go. The problem is, as much as we dislike it, it’s needed.

    We cannot rest on our laurels and carry on with the attitude of “If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it”. The kids in our care deserve more than that. They deserve to experience new things and they deserve the opportunity to “have a go”.

    What I have noticed is that one of the things that has come into play in the classroom and has stood the test of time is iPads. As soon as the teacher says “Today we’ll be using the iPads”, the pupils are delighted and the teachers have a happy classroom.


    There are so many benefits of iPad use in the classroom, I’m going to talk about what I think are the top eight.


    1.    Access Australian Curriculum aligned apps

    iPad Digital Education apps like BouncED, ZooWhiz, Study Ladder and Sunshine online are proven to improve students learning. The students are engaged with these programs and treat them as a game, unknowingly learning as they “play”.

    2.   iPads fit students’ lifestyles.

    The appeal of using iPads in school is obvious and students tend to find them easier to use than traditional computers, especially when they are able to use them frequently. This novelty leads to learning and when schools don’t implement what has now become “everyday technology”, they are doing the students a disservice.


    3.   Classrooms are ready for iPads.

    iPads are compatible with online learning platforms and are easily integrated into lesson plans and the every day running of the classroom. Planning and assessment has been made easier and resources are in abundance.


    4.   Collaborative content creation.

    It is now so easy to create and share content with others. The touch interface of the iPad means that the way we interact with our computers has been revolutionised. Sharing of work, databases and assessments is more straight forward for students and staff which in turn enhances the learning journey.


    5.   Students can be their own helpdesk.

    Students are so eager to learn new things that they often troubleshoot and resolve iPad issues faster than adults. Just think of the time that can be saved if students can do this rather than teachers having to sit on the phone to a helpdesk for what seems like forever.

    When students can problem solve an iPad issues it seems like a natural progression for them to be more likely to be able to go through the motions of solving personal issues without the need for teacher intervention. 


    6.   Mobile data collection.

    Throughout every aspect of teaching in the classroom, it is expected that teachers include cross curricular links. The iPad allows for this to happen easily. Students can record observations from one lesson, using photos, videos, timing and notes, save them to the iPad and use them in another lesson. iPads allow for the transition between lessons to become less stressful on the teacher and more enjoyable for the student.


    7.   iPads integrate with IT trends.

    iPads and cloud based systems means that students can work from anywhere at anytime, including homework tasks that they can complete with parents. They have greater portability and connectivity. Schools then do not have to pay for computer suites and accessories that they no longer need. iPads make mobile computing labs easier. When you compare the cost, size and mobility factor iPads win.


    8.   Paperless innovation.

    Schools have found many creative ways to use iPads to save money. Although there is an initial outlay, things like homework, digital textbooks, data sharing etc., means that iPads offer numerous ways to eliminate paper, saving dollars and the environment.


    Taking all of this onto consideration it seems that iPads are a winner in the classroom. It’s the future folks, and we all have to keep up.


    If you want any further information as to how the BouncED portal offers a great way of integrating digital technology into the classroom contact me at emma.wilson@fedd.org.au


    With only three weeks to go before the end of term why not get in touch to find out how to start a BouncED free trial in your classroom in Term 4.

  • 4 Sep 2017 12:08 PM | Anonymous

    As our Digital Education Consultants meet with schools across the country, they are often asked the question; "Does Digital Education work?" Kinross Primary School in Perth's North undertook a six month reading program using Digital Education. Using the Neale Analysis for Reading, the students were assessed at the start of the program, and again at the end.

    The average increase in reading age is 11%. Want to know more? Call one of our Digital Education Consulting Teachers on 1800 3 FEDD (1800 34 333) or email fedd.org.au.

  • 24 Aug 2017 10:58 PM | Anonymous

    When you choose to have a child, you choose to educate. The way in which a child learns is a complex situation. It begins from the moment that they are born and continues late into adulthood. Parents are the very first educator a child has, and statistics show that the parental involvement has a strong impact on language development and educational achievement.

    In recent years research has produced evidence to justify a focus on parental involvement with a particular emphasis on early years to raise literacy standards. The key findings are:

    • Families and parents are critical to children’s attainment – Parental involvement in their child’s literacy practices positively affects children’s academic performance and is a more powerful force for academic success than other family background variables such as social class, family size and level of parental education.
    • The home is crucial – Parents have the greatest influence on the achievement of young people through supporting their learning in the home rather than supporting activities in school.
    • Early intervention is vital – The earlier parents become involved in their children’s literacy practices, the more profound the results and the longer-lasting the effects. Children learn long before they enter formal education.

    As children become older parental support continues to play a crucial role in education. Children spend 15% of their lives from age 5 to 16 in school and 85% with their families, parents and within their community. When considering this, it is clear to see how influential parents are in the way that a child views the world and how important it is for them to bridge the gap between home and school.

    Digital Education and Parental involvement.

    Learning the ins and outs of the latest technology is a lot like learning to swim or ride a bike: The younger you are, the more naturally it comes. This is troubling news for parents who already feel two steps behind their digitally savvy children.

    While assisting with traditional school work poses enough challenges, parents now need to help their children build wikis and solve math problems on iPad apps. As schools shift toward online platforms and e-learning devices, tech-challenged parents may feel intimidated. The good news is that keeping up with the digital pace is as simple as starting a conversation.

    Advice for parent

    • Show and tell -  If your child is using a device, program, or website you aren't familiar with, have them show you how it works. Let’s be honest; I don’t think I’ve ever met a child who doesn’t love to be the teacher.
    • Google it - It's a simple but often overlooked step to technical understanding and Internet safety.
    • Get excited -  Computers, tablets, and smartphones bring students out of their shells and open up exciting new avenues for learning.

    Parents can overcome their own digital insecurities by talking to other parents and engaging with their child's teachers. Send the teachers a quick e-mail and ask how they use technology in their classrooms—you might be surprised what you hear back. Some teachers maintain class websites and blog about what the students learned in school that day.

    Parental involvement in their children's education has the greatest impact on Children's development

    Emma Wilson

    Digital Education Consultant

    Want to know more? emma.wilson@fedd.org.au

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