Author Archives: annemirtschin

A Fun Easter Hat Parade


The Theme: An Easter Hat Parade

The Models: Grade 5 students from near Boneo, Rosebud, Victoria.These students shared their wonderful Easter Hat creations in a virtual parade.

The audience: Year 7 students from Hawkesdale P12 College, a visiting teacher who is interested in seeing how the virtual classroom works

The tool used: Blackboard Collaborate (BbC)- virtual classroom software provided by our Department of Education for use by Victorian teachers

The outcome – an engaging and fascinating linkup between students of different age groups all learning from each other using the video conference through BbC.

Other Activities: Further activities included all students drawing decorated Easter eggs on the whiteboard, sharing what they were doing over the autumn holidays (this started to show the difference in nature of our geographical locations) and then a discussion with our visiting teacher, who teaches Japanese, as to any pre-existing knowledge about Japan.

Result of 30 students sharing a whiteboard to draw Easter Eggs

Result of 30 students sharing a whiteboard to draw Easter Eggs

What Worked Well

  • taking the plunge with a teacher who is a close colleague (Sally and I are both web conference coaches) and as such we have complete faith and confidence in each other.
  • an engaging activity – the Easter Hats. All students like to see parades!
  • the nature of the activity – it was a theme on Easter, a popular celebration and displayed lots of creativity. Our school does not do the Easter Hat parades but maybe this will inspire us to do so next year.
  • the chat – students could interact with each other in the chat, ask questions and give feedback on some of the wonderful creations.

The challenges:

  • testing that audio and video works immediately. When classes are involved, it takes time to ensure everyone can logon.
  • Switching off the audio when a class is watching. The loudest noise activates the web camera and projects that classroom.
  • Learning new communication techniques including clear, deliberate, diction, appropriate use of the web camera.
  • Having a visiting teacher in our room

Have you been involved in virtual parades with other schools? How did it go? Would you recommend these types of activities to others?

Tech Talk Tuesdays: 2013 in Review

When: Tuesday, December 3rd 4-5pm, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia time (gmt+11) See timeanddate for your timezone.

Where: Blackboard Collaborate Click on this link to join the session or copy and paste the following url into your browser:

About this session: As this will be the last webinar for the year, the topic of conversation will be “2013 in Review”. It is hoped that participants will share on the following, so please  bring along:-

  • highlight(s) for 2013
  • one frustration that you may still have
  • your favourite new tool
  • your tried and tested ‘oldie goldie” favourite tool
  • something funny that happened over the year
  • a New Year’s Resolutions
  • your opinion on the best trending topic
  • a blog post that has resonated with you or a conference or session you attended etc

Please come along and help build the conversations. If you feel you have nothing to contribute please also come as the conversations and questions will add to the interest. Hope to see you for this, the final Tech Talk Tuesday for 2013.

Resources from the Global Education Conference

global education twitter profile

What a fabulous and amazing conference this was.  A big, big thank you goes to Steve Hargadon and Lucy Gray, the conference co-chairs. If you missed the conference you can find the recordings of presentations  here. The keynote presentations will be uploaded to the globaledcon youtube channel.

People are encouraged to leverage the resources developed by the Global Education community.  Lucy Gray has shared this list of resources:-

The Global Education Conference – a personal involvement

This is the third year of the Global Education Conference – one of the most amazing conferences – all online, free and open to the world to participate in. Steve Hargadon and Lucy Gray are the co-founders of the innovative concept.

You must make the time to attend at least one session. You should also join the ning and participate in the chat as there are many educators from many countries – all wanting to converse, meet each other  and learn from and with each other.  Last night I was in the chat with a teacher from USA, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Australia and many others – amazing! Take a good look through the  schedule for the conference and choose sessions that suit your time or interests or take a punt and just go to any of them. There are still three  days of sessions to enjoy. Follow the hashtag on twitter or other social networking sites #globaled13

Following are some useful links for best use of the conference

I am proud to be able to either present or co-present for the following sessions. Please join me if you can and push global education to the fore

  1. Where do we get started with Global Projects Link to recording
  2. Teaching and Learning Across the Globe with Lorraine Leo Link to recording
  3. Keynote: The World is my Classroom Link to recording
  4. Stories from Hello Little World Skypers (HLW skypers) Link to the recording
  5. World Museum Scratch Projects Friday, November 22, 23:00 GMT Presented by: Prof. José Manuel Sáez López, Prof Yoshiro Miyata, Lorraine Leo Link to the recordin

Following is The World is My Classroom keynote presentation

Other sessions that I have a personal interest or passion for:

  • Work with What You Have Tuesday November 20 at 2:00 GMTPresented by: Louise Morgan Link to recording
  • “Window to the World” – a path for the school of the future Friday, November 22, 13:00 GMT Presented by: Effie Kyrikakis Link to Recording
  • Global Classroom 2013-14 Stories & Project Launch Friday. November 22 at 11:00 GMT Presented by: Michael Graffin Link to Recording Repeat session: Saturday, Nov 23 at 20:00 GMT co-moderated by @warwicklanguage and @mrsmorgansclass Link to session
  • A Glimpse Into The Life of a Connected EFL Teacher Friday, November 22 at 9:00gmt Presented: Tatyana Chernaya Link to recording 
  • The Connected Educator in Progress A Beginner’s JourneyThursday, November 21 at 12:00 GMT Presented by: Maria Colussa Link to recording

Are you presenting? What is your topic? What sessions will you attend? What sessions will you recommend?

Children’s Day India 2013

Today, India celebrates Children’s Day  My wonderful colleague Sebastian Panakal from Kerala, India skyped me yesterday:

 I plan to invite you to wave to a school here in Kerala. If your students too are around, it will be great. The students only need to wave “Happy Childrens’ Day” to the Indian group here. If you have time, you may address the audience with your message, please.

Delightful students from Kerala

Delightful students from Kerala

Daylight saving prevented students from my school connecting as school had finished. However, I was able to speak to a number of delightful students from Kerala who were 7-10 years of age. They presented  well to the camera and addressed me politely and with a smile. After introductions, I asked some questions and discovered that they have special festivities, meals and activities today. In order for this linkup to go ahead, Sebastian had to travel 4 hours on a bus to help these students connect with the globe.  Thanks Sebastian and Ranjith for including me in these celebrations.

Next time, I shall make the time to produce a short address that can be sent to the students should the skype connection fail. These young children are the future of India – they will have the potential to be well educated, to take their communities out of poverty, aid Kerala and India in entering the developed world and enjoy a better standard of living. What would your message be to these young students?

Introductions and testing

This special linkup made me wonder whether Australia celebrated a Children’s Day. A search brought up  a wikipedia page sharing when this day is celebrated in different countries. Australia appears to celebrate a week for children. When do you celebrate Children’s Day? How do you celebrate it?

Tech Talk Tuesday: How can I keep up with it all?

When: Tuesday November 12th, 4-5pm, Melbourne, Australia gmt+11, See timeanddate for your timezones

Where: Blackboard Collaborate – Click on this link to listen to the recording

About this session: Life can be crazily busy and with so many wonderful resources, things to do, things that need to be done, how can we keep some sanity and form of organisation. This session will discuss some of the problems faced by networked  teachers, some different methods for organisation and keeping up with it all and a general sharing amongst participants with their tips and tricks. Please join us and share in the conversations.

Tech Talk Tuesday Takes a Virtual Excursion to Melbourne!

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) have organised some wonderful webinars this year and provided suggested student activities for their exhibitions. Melbourne Now is the latest exhibition at NGV and according to the website Melbourne Now celebrates the latest art, architecture, design, performance and cultural practice to reflect the complex cultural landscape of creative Melbourne. As it is connected educator month, Tech Talk Tuesday will take a virtual excursion and join the NGV as they share this exciting new exhibition. It also fits in neatly with Connected Educator month with educators connecting with the community. Please join NGV for another great webinar. Details are as follows:

When: Tuesday 29th October, 2013, 4-5:15pm, Melbourne, Australia time (gmt+11)

Where: Click on this Link to the virtual room

About this session: Are you planning a visit to Melbourne Now with a group, or just curious about what the exhibition might offer for your students?  These webinars with NGV educators will provide a general overview and selected highlights of the exhibition, and present ideas and resources for pre and post visit activities at school inspired by the exhibition.   The program is also an opportunity for teachers to share ideas and ask questions about the exhibition and visiting the exhibition with a school group.

Please join us!

The ideal class!

Walking into my first year 9/10 ICT class for the semester, I faced high-5s, excitement and high anticipation!  What!!! Why???

This was an elective class, students who chose to be there and the name of the class was “Gaming!”  I wanted to trial gaming as an elective to see what learning could take place and obtained permission from the leadership team to do so. We have some serious gamers in our school and they are in this class!

pumpkin head

However, I am not a at all a digital gamer and have no real inclination to be one. That puts me on the lowest level of knowledge and the least likely to be qualified to teach such a class. I am still working through class content and the way in which learning can be assessed.

MinecraftEDU is on our server and is the one constant game played over the semester. Students just do not seem to tire of it. However, students come up with minecraft challenges and these challenges are given out to the others. Students will bring in hardware including wii, xbox, game boy,  play stations, hand held devices etc Are they learning anything by just playing games? Let me tell you more.

game boy

The Student cohort:-

  • A large proportion of under-achievers and disengaged students
  • Excursion and school avoiders
  • A lack of girls (although several came in later in the semester)
  • High absenteeism
  • Students who will be absent from school in order to queue at the shop for the latest games release or in order to make sure they get the limited collectors items.
A collaborative minecraft project: work in progress

A collaborative minecraft project: work in progress


  • Highly engaged students often working in small groups, mentoring each other, sharing their knowledge and learning, answering each other’s questions etc.
  • Students working out challenging projects together
  • Excitedly sharing with me the latest things they are trying out
  • Searching online for video tutorials or withing online forums to solve problems encountered, best prices,
  • Working out budgets to see whether they can afford the latest games etc
  • Collaboratively and simultaneously building fixtures in minecraft

Interestingly I can “con” them into learning some associated digital literacy skills using gaming as the theme so that my role as a teacher:

  • Teach them how to blog and journalise their progress in games
  • Encourage them to write posts on things pertaining to games playing eg game reviews, 5 things I learnt this week, 5 things you might not know about…… , My top 10 computer games, 10 games you should play before you die!, What makes a great computer game etc
  • show them how to add links, resources and hyperlings in blogging
  • #tags in twitter for favourite games
  • how to use a spreadsheet and create budgets etc
  • Create online surveys to get games feedback
  • Collaboratively build online documents sharing knowledge, ideas and processes etc
  • Introduce some free educational type online games and get them to trial them eg logos for business studies, history games, commerce games etc.
  • Teach them how to screen casts to show progression over time and
  • create videos that will be uploaded to youtube.
  • Demonstrate how to upload videos to youtube, change thumbnails, apply tags etc
  • Curate favourite sites with diigo, symbaloo links etc on blogs etc
  • Look at social issues caused by games eg games addiction, rating of games etc, application to the workforce eg simulations etc
  • Organise a knowledgeable student(s) to introduce some games making software eg MS Kodu, and Gamemaker


I asked students what we could do and how I can assess it as traditional  assessment methods will not work. They have come up with some great ideas on this collaborative google document. This is still work in progress but their use of blogging etc, stats, comments, youtube uploads etc Evidence of collaboration, mentoring and sharing etc.


This Thursday, the class will go by coach to Quantum in Melbourne (a 4 hour drive each way) for a full day workshop on Games Technology.  Many of these students would normally choose to avoid excursions or just be very slack in returning forms. But….. this time, forms are all back and came back the next day!

What does all this say? I am still trying to work through it all but I know that I have engaged students with almost nil behaviour problems in this gaming class. Now, how can I get this in my other traditional subjects?

What experience do you have? What have your findings been?

European Day of Languages

One thing about being a connected educator, means that you hear about many of the special International Days and celebrations that other countries participate in. One such day is the European Day of Languages, celebrated on 23rd September, 2013.  This was brought to my attention following lengthy discussions on the HLW Skypers skype group. Teachers were discussing how they would celebrate it and how they could connect their students to countries whose language they were learning.

Tatyana Chernaya, of Moscow, was seeking partnerships for her students. As we were on school holidays, and I happened to be in Melbourne at my son’s unit, I was able to connect over skype with Tatyana and one of her language students. It was with quite some surprise that he shyly told me that he was really interested in languages and could in fact speak three fluently: Russian, English, French and German. (I did not have the heart to tell him that I could only speak English despite learning French at school and have retained little knowledge of it).

Unfortunately, in Australia and perhaps as we are an island and reasonably remote from bordering countries, our students, in the main, do not see much purpose in learning another language. Hence although it is required that students learn another language other than English from early year levels through to year 8 (in our school), they learn culture rather than the language. Our school teaches mandarin Chinese but students do not speak it well. Yet, visiting Chinese students to our school speak English well.

Taking a Russian languages student out into the streets of Melbourne

Taking a Russian languages student out into the streets of Melbourne

As I was in Melbourne and had mobile internet access, I was able to virtually “walk” him and Tatyana out into the lovely ‘leafy’ street that my son lives in and share a little of Melbourne with them and the context in which the English language is spoken. Tatyana’s students blogs can be found at Well Done.

How important do you think that it is to learn another language? What languages do you speak? What languages are taught in your school? How do your students view the learning of languages.

The Changing Space of Learning

Equipment I have taught over the years

Equipment I have taught over the years

When I started teaching just over 30 years ago, I faced my first classes, one of which was a typewriting class. I had never learnt to type so this was a challenge to me! After maternity leave and three children, I returned to teaching to discover that I now had a computer class. When I walked into that classroom, it was the first time that I had seen or touched a computer! I faced a class full of engaged, eager students on Commodore 64s!! I had no idea what I was doing, so I created content as I went along and learnt alongside the students.

Although education as we see it has not changed much, the tools that we use certainly have! These tools and innovative use of technology have the power to change the space of learning as we now know it. Spaces are increasingly becoming digital, virtual, global and mobile. People can learn anywhere, any time and on any topic they like. Learning is increasingly organic and networked but much of this occurs beyond the classroom. The Changing Space of Learning was the topic for my recent presentation for the Reform Symposium Forum online conference.

My presentation will share some stories and experiences from my classroom where technology is immersed. As I teach in a small rural p-12 school in south eastern Australia, my students are culturally and geographically isolated but technology has broken down these physical and social barriers and created many learning spaces. Time will be taken to share some of my favourite tools, how I use them, the impact it has had on learning and the huge influence that professional learning network has had on my teaching and learning. New skills and expertise required of educationalists as learning spaces continue to change will also be discussed.

Please join me for this session and share in and build upon the conversations. How are learning spaces changing for you? What impact has this had on you and your students? What are some of the questions that you have? Please share them as a comment below.

Following is my presentation:-

Or, you can view the recording of my presentation by clicking on this link.