24 Nov 2013

The Star Model - 3 Steps To An Integrated Learning Environment for a High School

Life is not separated into subjects, we do not get told, "Now you will be using your english skills and now your science ones".  It makes sense to me that school education should be reflective of the world that our students will be living in.  Primary school does this really well and I think high school could recreate some of the things they do.  Don't get me wrong I do think there is value in specialisation, in getting involved in a subject to develop advanced technical skills, however not everything should be like this.

These three steps are how my school has integrated specific subject areas at a Year 9 level.

20 Oct 2013

5 Hints and Tips for for Student Centred Learning

5 Hints and Tips for for Student Centred Learning

I always seek to have a student centred classroom.  I use technology to allow independence and self paced progression.  I believe successful classroom has elements of students leading their own learning and a teacher that has provided a framework to allow that to happen.  .  Five things that regularly come up for me as important in that framework are:

  1. Differentiated Learning Format According to Self Management Abililty
  2. Students Want Accountability
  3. Tech won't replace teachers
  4. Students enjoy a range of working mediums
  5. Individual Progress Wall Charts are Valuable

1. Differentiated Learning Format According to Self Management Abililty
If you work at one of the few schools that group their students based on interest or ability only then that is great I would like to know how it goes.  Most schools have classes grouped by age and this brings a host of issues with it.  I have students of multiple levels of maturity, thinking ability, self management, numeracy and literacy skills in my classes.  I have found that differentiating the learning based on how well students will self manage has been very effective.  
  • All students do the same work how ever the 'green' group let a lot of freedom and less "must show the teacher here" stuff, they have all the information for the whole task.  

  • The 'red' group sit up the front and get instructions in small bites and regular check in with the teacher tasks.

  • The 'orange' group sit in the middle.

Students will choose where they want to sit and are usually very good at this.  Occasionally they need some suggestion from the teacher to move groups and are usually happy that the evidence for this is in their work anyway.

2. Students Want Accountability
Students want to know what is going to happen to their work.  They want to know that there is some point to putting their hard work into producing something.  I have used e portfolios for this and believe it is a great way to add in accountability as family at home can see it and comment on it, peers in the same or other classes can comment on it.  Also posting to youtube works well for that too.  I like being able to put up any student work on the projector and hold them accountable that way to show others examples of what to do.

Something at the end is essential and they need to know before they start, putting it up on the wall, or speaking in front of the class.  If they feel there is not point in putting in effort then they won't.

3. Tech Won't Replace Teachers

I used a semi flipped classroom format recently and posted a lot of instructional videos and content online with the goal of myself not having to spend time giving instructions and repeating myself.  Thus freeing myself up to interact with students one on one.  

It may have come down to the quality of some of my content, however I found that students didn't understand simply from watching the online content.  They always still had questions and needed some one to bounce ideas of or quality check.  I regularly found that students had spend an entire hour doing the wrong thing as they misunderstood the task.

What I loved about this though was that I did get a chance to spend quality time with individual students and see where they are at and where they needed to go.

4. Students enjoy a range of working mediums
Simple and easy to forget.  Students can get very bored doing the same sort of thing over and over no matter how good it might be too much of a good thing is bad.  In the future I will be using individual work, team work, online creation, sculpting, podcasts, drawing, writing, class discussion, student centred, teacher centred, student teaching etc.  It is easy to forget the introverts in our classrooms, I do identify with them.  Chuck Sandy has ways to make things easier for them here.  Alternatively I strongly support using team work as a way for students to develop thier social skills and here is 10 Do's and Dont's for Group Work

5. Individual Progress Wall Charts are Valuable

This is important particularly with self pacing programmes where students will progress at varied rates.  I believe there is strong motivation for them to 'see' really tangible when they progress.  It can help a lot with goal setting and students gaining the understanding of managing their time and dead lines.


Campbell Potter (@campbellpotter) Teacher at Dilworth Boys, Promoter of Paperless Classrooms, 21st Century Learning, Outdoor Educator, Digital Citizenship Pinterest, Blogger of Digital Learning and Team Building. New Zealand

26 Sep 2013

Battle Of The Adverts 1 V 1

We have been doing a unit on Consumerism for the past few weeks and this is the final product from a Year 9 Class.

The Brief

  1. Make a 30 sec video 'selling' a future focused positive consumer behaviour.
  2. The best two from the class will be posted on You Tube to compete for the most views.

Tell us in the comments which is your favourite.

Reduce Reuse Recycle

Save Power Turn Of The Lights

24 Sep 2013

Student Perspective on iPads in the Classroom

What does using iPad in the classroom look like for students?

Here is a 1 min clip from a Year 9 students perspective. From a class with 1:1 iPads.  


  • Internet access
  • Sharing
  • Essay and Document Writing
  • Make Presentations 
  • Make Music
  • Holds Personal Communication like email
  • Great to have our own in class


  • Expensive
  • Damage to screens
  • Doesn't work with slow/intermittent wifi

23 Sep 2013

iPad Success! 1 on 1 Student Advert Comp

We have been doing a unit on Consumerism for the past few weeks and this is the final product from a Year 9 Class.

The Brief

  1. Make a 30 sec video 'selling' a future focused positive consumer behaviour.
  2. The best two from the class will be posted on You Tube to compete for the most views.

Tell us in the comments which is your favourite.

Get A Bike

Hang Your Washing

21 Sep 2013

How to Fast Track Collaboration

Collaboration is an integral part of teaching and learning for the 21st Century.  True collaboration is a process and begins when we meet people.  The stronger the foundations of the relationships we develop the better our collaboration will be.

The best way to develop strong foundations is by learning and using peoples names surprisingly fast. So fast that they get taken aback, look at you twice, then smile and feel valued.

This short activity has the bonuses of getting people active and the blood flowing with a bit of fun while you learn everyones names.


Be the last one Standing

Game Play

  1. The group stand in a circle arm length apart.
  2. One person stands in the middle, the King or Queen Splatter.
  3. To Splat someone you need to hold your hand towards a person palm out and yell "Splat insert name" (insert the real name of the person you are pointing at).
  4. The King or Queen always starts by looking around the circle and splatting someone.
  5. That person (the one that got Splatted) gets a chance to duck and avoid the blast.
  6. This gives the two people on either side a chance to Splat each other over the top of the ducked person (these two cannot duck).
  7. The fastest person wins. 
  8. If you get Splatted you are eliminated from the circle.
  9. King or Queen Splatter carries on like this.
  10. Eventually there will be two people left, time for a Splat Off.
  11. Standing back to back the walk in time to the count of the King or Queen splatter away from each other.
  12. The King or Queen Splatter yells splat at a random time and the last two spin and splat each other the fastest wins.

The fastest splatter wins but their yell must be intelligible.
If there is no clear fastest splatter it can be a draw and you continue.
If you don't duck in time for the two on either side to splat then you are out.

This is great for learning names, once the group gets the hang of it they can run it themselves and the teacher/facilitator can step out and try to memorise all the names.  This tactic works well as they are all shouting out each others names to help remind you.

18 Sep 2013

2 Reasons Apple TV is a must for Paperless Classrooms

Apple TV opens up the possibilities for learners sharing their work and the possibilities for teacher placement in the room.  I am fortunate to work in a environment with 1:1 iPads supplied by the school and this does make a difference to the poser of ATV.

1. Immediate Sharing or Work
Being able to project work from any Device in the room with a push of a button makes sharing a
simply photo, paragraph, website, short video (yes it wirelessly sends sound too), etc so easy.  It is similar to putting up hands and asking for feedback.  Imagine saying who wants to share what they have created and then flicking it to the big screen for them to explain it from their desk. Easy.

2. Teach From Anywhere in the Classroom
By carrying my device around the classroom I can be anywhere in the classroom and have what I am talking about on the big screen.  This can be really useful for live documents.  Using a google spreadsheet to check of students tasks as I go around with my device and they can see the live doc on the big screen being updated.

Less Cables and Wires
Obvious but nice.

VGA Projector?
Most projectors have the VGA connector, there is an easy and simple way around this. Use the Kanex HDMI to VGA converter, just plug it in and go. (See picture on Left)

These principles would work with any device as long as you sort out compatible wireless streaming.  It really adds a sense of ease of use to the classroom, making the connection between developing digital work and sharing it much more real.  It is a challenge having a paperless classroom and seeing everyones work this makes it far more accessible.

15 Sep 2013

7 21st Century Learner Skills For Social Studies

I teach social studies at the Yr 9 (13 yrs old) level based developing civic competence, encouraging the ability to be an active contributor to communities that learners are a part of.

This does not happen through content alone.  In New Zealand our curriculum is driven by
Achievement Objectives that are based around understanding of concepts eg, People and Places, How People Use Resources, How People Make Decision.

I use these concepts as the content to drive the skills I believe underpin this understanding and are needed to be a successful and active contributor to their communities.

  1. Problem Solving - A strategy developing process for reaching solutions
  2. Decision Making - Process selecting an appropriate course of action among several alternatives
  3. Collaboration - Working together with other to achieve a common goal
  4. Creative Thinking - Bringing into existence an idea that is new to you and adds value
  5. Analyzing PerspectivesExploring multiple points of view to a topic or situation
  6. Communication - Conveying and receiving of information using a variety of methods
  7. Critical Thinking - Reflective reasoning about beliefs and actions

I am still in a formative stage of implementing this skills programme, so far it has been really effective at engaging students and getting them thinking beyond the content.

8 Sep 2013

4 Ways For Learners to Move at their Own Pace

These are the principles I have been using in my classroom to provide my Yr 9 Students with the ability to move at their own pace.  It has been great for the self-motivated quick thinkers.

  1. One to One Internet Access
  2. Flip the Classroom
  3. Find the Right Size Chunks
  4. Self Directed Sign Off

One to One Internet access
This is the environment I am lucky enough to work in.  All the students have iPads supplied by the   iPads are not essential however someway for each student to be connected to the internet opens up so many options and possibilities.
school to make this possible.

Find the right size chunks
This is my biggest challenge in my class.  How much is too much information at once.  After the last unit on Consumerism I am going to simplify my tasks and instructions as much as possible.  Using heaps of pause and do parts in my videos.  Regular check in places will be important.

Flip the classroom
Put as much teaching/instruction giving/working through examples on videos.  I use screen casts to do this.  It is easy to do and then lasts forever.  It can be easy to confuse students with ramblings and the best ones I have produced had a basic script of what I was going to cover.  Show examples of templates for them fill out, the web resources they will need etc.  I found that giving an instruction and then telling them to pause the video and complete it worked really well. I am using google sites to publish these and uploading my videos through you tube.

Self directed sign off
The students love the power of ticking off their tasks.  It gives them the ability to organise where they are up to and what to do next.  I think it gives them a feeling of satisfaction and completion.  I use Google Spreadsheets to do this with names down the side and tasks along the top, they fill in their completion date along their line.