Author Archives: annemirtschin

Going Global can be Local!

Many think that for global education, educators need to connect, communicate and collaborate with others overseas. However, within many of our local communities there is opportunity for cultural exposure and immersion. Here is one great example!

aboriginal dancers

Several weeks ago, I was approached by an innovative Victorian Teacher Meli Panagiotidis from Kurunjang Secondary College. She was interested in bringing in other classes virtually to share their amazing day of cultural activities that she had organised for her school -Cultural Diversity Celebrations. Her ideas were to bring in an Asian and an Australian class(es) and wondered about making connections with someone in Asia and the best tool to use.

My suggestion  was skype – for ease of use, comfort and widespread acceptance. To find Asian partners I suggested an amazing school in India, but unfortunately the times did not work. I offered a class from our school.

Prior to the Cultural Diversity Celebrations

  • Meli’s technology teacher installed skype, created a user id for the school and added me as a contact.
  • We tested the connections but it was dark in the initial position within the stadium where the celebrations were to be held.  The connecting laptop had to be moved around until the lighting improved.
  • We were to be projected up on to 2 big screens above the performers.

Video call snapshot 108

On the Day

A selection of Year 7 students came into the computer lab at 9:30am. We logged onto skype through my id, and once more tested the sound, visuals etc. The lighting was ideal and the sound was good. Students were reminded quite firmly of appropriate positioning, behaviour and good netiquette. We were introduced to the principal prior to the formalities. The Minister for Education was an invited guest.

Unfortunately, as the proceedings commenced, we faced some technical difficulties – the internet fell over at Kurunjang Secondary College. That rectified as the Minister was speaking. Then I pushed my laptop off button twice trying to get speakers setup for our sound! However, things then ran smoothly but we lost their sound somehow. My students had to experience what deaf people, do – visuals with no sound. However the students were highly engaged as the performers were often colourfully dressed, danced and used highly visual body motions. Each performance was of approx 10 mins. I gave students the option to return to their class but they were happy to stay. We saw the choirs, watched the Japanese Taiko Drummers, the Aboriginal Entertainment Experience, Indonesian and the Indian Cultural Performance.

Further activities included Cultural Performances from Italy, Africa, Macedonia, Chile, Bhutan, Samoa finishing with local primary schools choirs singing “We Are One”.

Video call snapshot 109

Students are asking whether we could do something similar in our school. This is a difficult call due to our geographical and cultural isolation but I wonder….. We nearly always go global but could we go local?

Some Global Days that would be great to celebrate cultures are:

  1. Cultural Diversity Day  21st May, 2016
  2. World Harmony Day 21st March, 2016
  3. International Friendship Day  July 30th, 2016

Learning Adventures in the Connected Early Years Classroom

Today, I presented at the Future Schools Conference in Sydney on the topic of Learning Adventures in the Connected Early Years Classroom. See my presentation below:-

An online resource google document was shared so that most of my links and resources could be accessed after the conference. The presentation shared my adventures with my

  1. prep/year one ICT class when there were no ICT learning standards for this age group in Victoria
  2. my experiences with my older students collaborating, connecting and creating with prep-2 age groups from both Australia and across the globe.

Draft ISTE standards student standards learning standards include the following:

  • the global collaborator
  • creative communicator/creative learner/creator and communicator
  • digital citizen

Part of the presentation explored how people safely use common information systems with a discussion on avatars, privacy, plaguarism etc.

Self Checkins

Self Checkins




The OZeLIVE conference – online, free from the comfort of your chair!

The OZeLIVE conference is on this weekend. Lucy Gray has already kickstarted the conference with a great presentation on Going Global: Project-Based Learning with an International Focus The recording is a must see as Lucy shared many projects, ideas, ways to get connected and advice for successful participation or leadership in global projects.

Julie Lindsay also leads the way in global connectedness and collaboration with The Dragon that Roars – the Imperative of Online Global Collaborative Learning tomorrow morning at 9am, Melbourne Australia time. Many other sessions follow over the weekend. This conference is on in Australia friendly time and features a number of innovative Australian educators together with others from across the world. Check out the program here, choose your time zone, scroll through the program and  join in all or some of the sessions and conversations.

Hope to see you there!

“Peace Across the World” – A Global Message


Lorraine Leo from the USA and  Yoshiro Myata, Japan, the founder of the World Museum Project requested us to compose messages for “Peace Across the World” for the World Peace Song project partners at the beginning of the peace workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, February 3.

In this World Peace Song workshop the focus will be on creating a peace song for Syrian children. We look forward to sharing your messages of peace and our beautiful World Peace Song with workshop attendants in Thailand.

As time was short, students in year 7 were asked to compile their thoughts. It was then  shared as a text update on the  World Museum Edmodo networking site. Following is the collaborative message from my students:

Peace is awesome. Peace is the most wonderful thing to share with the world and is definitely something we need more of. It is about giving, helping each other out, enjoying ourselves and others and not fighting. Peace is when everybody is happy and working as a team. Peace is what we all want and shows with happiness and laughter all around the world.

What would your message be?

Student Learning – MS Skypeathon with Anthony Salcito

Many people ask why they should bother using skype or videoconferencing in the classroom. What do students actually learn?

Some year 7 and 8 students were involved in the recent 24 hour skypeathon with Anthony Salcito. As part of this skype, each class was asked to pose a question of the next global class that Anthony was to connect with. Sri Lanka was straight after us, so students asked them “what was their favourite food and pastime?” The response came back in a tweet from Anthony:-

Immediately, we were learning about different foods and hobbies as singing is not high on our list. Below are some of the responses from the girls, when queried about what:-

  •  they enjoyed in the skype linkup
  •  they learnt.

sharing flags

Sophie: The best part was telling Anthony about what we have in Australia. I liked being able to interact with another country. I liked the whole thing and learning everything about it. I like being able to talk to the person far away from here which is much better than reading a textbook. They don’t know about Australia and I can teach them something.

Santa pays a visit

Santa pays a visit

Brooke (who played the role of Santa complete with costume and gift): I loved being Santa because I wanted to show different people what Santa does and how he looks as people are normally asleep when he is at work. I also liked Anthony talking about his hobbies – rugby. I liked him describing the US flag – like all the stars. I didn’t know what the US flag looked like till then. I like meeting new people around the globe and seeing their faces and best of all it helps me build confidence around other people.

Abbey: My favourite part was when Anthony talked about the different types of farm animals that they had to us – wineries, apples, grapes, chicken farms. We have sheep, cattle and dairy in our area. We got to talk about our country and find about their country – the similarities and differences. I liked it when Terri showed him the vegemite, Anthony hadn’t tried it. They cant find Cadbury Marvellous Creations in USA. We have it everywhere here.

Wool from the sheep farm

Wool from the sheep farm

Kiara: I enjoyed the skype linkup as it is fun seeing people from other countries and what they have to show us. It tells us more about other countries and what life is like there. It helps me make up my mind whether I want to go there. It also helps me to talk better in front of other people.

the blue tongued lizards on the kinder girls

Sophie:  My  favourite part was me being able to speak to Anthony. I liked the lizards best as they kept showing their blue tongues. I liked learning that lollies are not called that, they are called candy.  I could see what Anthony was like, how he looked and how he spoke and could work out whether I liked him. I liked him because he was so nice and interested in what we had to say
from aus to usa


Terri: It was really fun because we got to speak to people who live in the USA and ask them all kinds of questions. We got to show them all sorts of things from Australia so they get to know us as well. I learnt that lots of people grow up in completely environments to us, they don’t see animals everyday like we do eg blue tongue lizards, farm animals etc

Vesna:- “I enjoyed it because we were able to connect very clearly  and speak and understand the audio. It was good to be able to setup the gifts and interact with other people so we could make it eventful and engaging for both Anthony, Leigh and for us. We could change it on ‘the fly’ for Anthony so it wasn’t boring hearing the same questions, playing the same role.  He thought it would be normal questioning and answering from us but we had pre-organised props so he could learn more about us and make it interesting for him. I learn to speak clearly and slowly and can add another country to the  list of virtual visits I have made.”

Jess: I enjoyed it because I liked being a part of their challenge to try to reach a million miles. I like a challenge. I learnt to help people out and how to do that.

A gift of Tim Tams

A gift of Tim Tams

Bethany:  I liked it because I loved Anthony’s accent like “Wow look at those candies (lollies), getting spoilt!” I was impressed talking to someone from another country.

Megan: My favourite part was knowing how many miles we have gone, (we talk kms). I liked Anthony opening up the presents and telling us about the US flag.

the class with santa

Advent, Christmas and New Year across the Globe

The class from India

The class from India

“Advent, Christmas and New Year” was the title of a google hangout organised by Reinhard Marx of Germany. Five countries were involved:- Germany, Sweden, France, India and Australia. As school was still in for the other four countries, students from classes there presented on the theme. As students have finished school in Victoria, I shared what Christmas and New Year looks like here. Although we are increasingly becoming a multi-cultural country, Christmas is still our major festival and a special time for family gatherings.

It is rather surreal to sit in the classrooms of students across the world, from different countries and cultures. It was winter over in Europe so students were warmly dressed. It was hot in Hawkesdale – 38 degrees so I was dressed appropriately. The French students wore their Santa hats, some classes sang carols in their own language most shared presentations and enabled us to see how it was similar and different in our own countries. We may use different names for Santa Claus, Father Christmas, St Nicholas etc and we may celebrate Christmas and New Year on different dates, but many of us eat the same traditional foods, follow similar customs and the same carols.

The French Class

The French Class

Of most interest was the class from India whom many would associate with the Hindu religion but there are areas of India, (where the British predominantly settled) that are Christian in nature. Their different religions and cultures tend to be quite tolerant of each other, with Hindu and Muslim people wishing Christians a “Happy Christmas”.

I strongly feel that we need to hold on to our culture, celebrate our traditions, maintain the stories over the generations and share with others. We can develop empathy and understanding, tolerance and develop a culture of peace. Many governments and departments are trying to stay politically correct and ban or prevent the Christmas traditions in school, the work place and community in case it should offend others. However, all cultures should be able to celebrate their festival days and share with their fellow country people without fear!

The Swedish class

The Swedish class

Thank you Reinhard for this wonderful event. I learned so much about the history behind Advent, Christmas and New Year and the celebrations in other countries.

What major festivals do you celebrate? How do you celebrate them? Watch this video on Christmas in Australia, put together by a year 7 student last year.

Celebrate Learning without Borders – results of a 2 day Skypeathon!

Celebrate Learning without Borders was a 2 day Skypethon event organised by Skype. During these two days, teachers and classes were encouraged to connect with others locally and globally. Students in our school were given the opportunity to connect with Anthony Salcito, who is Vice President of Education globally for Microsoft. See the video created to share snippets.

Anthony called into 33 classrooms non-stop on December 3rd, starting at 4pm in Seattle with a call to Auckland, New Zealand, and finishing with a classroom in Microsoft’s backyard, Bellevue Washington. During the 24 hours he called into classrooms in New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Korea, Sri Lanka, Egypt, India, South Africa, Kenya, Macedonia, Norway, Austria, Russia, Ireland, UK, Finland, Canada, Argentina, Puerto Rico and the USA.


As our school is nearing the end of the year, classes were mixed and we were able to connect directly with Anthony Salcito and Redfields School, in India. But another post will cover this. Did you participate in the skypeathon? What were your experiences in learning?

The Hour of Code


This week celebrates the Hour of Code #hourofcode across the world – December 7th -13th. On day one of this week, lesson one at school, I had a combined year 7-9 class. They were highly engaged in completing challenges for the Hour of Code, using drag and drop blocks by  Building a Galaxy in Star Wars followed by Minecraft. The more competent or experienced students used the javascript tutorials.

girls on code

The Code to Learn tutorials are great because:

  1. small video clips feature people across the world explaining what the students are to do.
  2. The challenges feature topical animations and games that students are familiar with.
  3. The graphics are great
  4. Students were able to follow the user friendly instructions.
  5. A certificate is given once the challenge is completed.
  6. the amazing part was that three students who struggle with literacy and maths etc in the classroom were the fastest at completing the challenges!!!

lachie on code

Here is what we did:

  • Discussed ways technology impacts our lives, with examples both boys and girls will care about (Talk about saving lives, helping people, connecting people, etc.).
  • As a class, listed things that use code in everyday life
  • Watched the following videos as an introduction

Students then wrote down instructions the actions that need to be taken to leave the classroom for lunch time eg logoff computer, stand up, push in chair, turn right, take 5 steps, turn right, take 15 steps, open door, turn left, take 30 steps to lockers to pack books away etc etc. Then discussed how this would look in code.

Student tasks:

  • Signed up for the hour of code
  • Spent an hour learning how to code by accessing an online tutorial using ‘drag and drop’ blocks of code in Star Wars and Minecraft.
  • Saved a copy of their certificates (given to them on completion)
  • Added the certificate to a post on their blog
  • Printed a copy of their certificate to take home

Teacher Resources

  1. Start here
  2. How to do the Hour of Code
  3. Check out these teaching tips
  4.  Calling all teachers and learners of code
  5. Making webpages with the Khan Academy

bailey on code.jpg

Further videos, if time permits

  1. What most schools dont teach
  2. Anybody can Learn code
  3. The Hour of Code is Here


Join the global Skypeathon Dec 3 and 4

the girls1.jpg

Skype has always been one of my favourite tools as it is user friendly, capable of being used across all cultures and countries, is free and it just works! It works both at school and at home on our often poorer bandwidth.

Skype are encouraging educators across the world to get involved in a 2 day skypeathon to celebrate learning across borders on Dec 3rd and 4th. They hope to travel 1 million virtual miles in that time and encourage classrooms to get connected and enjoy the learning that can come by being connected.

Our first connection will be with Anthony Salcito, vice president of World Wide Education at Microsoft in Washington, USA. This will be at our lunchtime tomorrow Dec 3rd but Anthony will still be enjoying Dec 2nd. We hope to share objects and images that reflect the Australian culture and the place where we live. This will add 10,180 miles to the 1 million miles tally!

@SkypeClassroom tweeted:


Are you taking part in this? Who are you connecting with? Simply tweet your connections with the hashtag #skypeathon and the miles will be added.

The Global Education Conference – from a moderator’s point of view

There is something surreal about moderating and leading  a Global Education Conference presentation with representatives from across the globe including Bolivia, India, China, Korea, Vietnam, USA, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Somalia etc However it is not just any conference but a virtual one which is free, online, runs 24 hours a day over four days. There were participants whose names I could not pronounce, nor did I know which was the first name or last name, nor the gender attached to the name. The title of the session was Tools and Apps for the Global Educator. You can view the presentation.

Participants came from all levels of education – from teaching the very young through to tertiary and beyond. They came from a variety of languages including Chinese, Korean, Sinhalese, Filipino. Yet our interest in global education led us to develop a list of apps and tools that global educators might find valuable.

As the US participants went to sleep, it was time to take over the moderation of the conference. The Australian evenings and late afternoons were certainly quieter than the frenzy of the US day times. Sessions always had participants, unlike previous years where there was sometimes just the presenter and moderator. It was pleasing to have a good number of sessions with presenters from the Philippines. The background sounds changed with dogs barking in the background, roosters crowing and motor bikes on the road nearby. Technology rarely failed. The last night of the conference was the busiest with four concurrent sessions sometimes running. Maizie from Israel, Sue Wyatt from Tasmania and I were able to handle these busy times until the US once again started their day.

The Spanish conference presentations are always a challenge as I cannot speak Spanish and many of them cannot speak English. Google translate and Bing translate come into their own in these circumstances. Trying both tools, I think that Bing was more successful in translation than google. But often, the full meaning had to be guesstimated. There is also something surreal about being a participant in a Spanish session, listening to the speed, the intonation and the flow of the language!

steve being translated in spanish

I was able to attend one session during my daytime – that of keynote presenters Will Piper and Pedro Aparicio Engaging in Learning Beyond Borders. These two guys met each other in the Global Education Conference five years ago, struck up a connection and have worked together ever since. It was multilingual (which I personally loved with Pedro sometimes speaking in Spanish and then translating back into English). They had a great sense of fun as can be seen by Will’s quick costume change at the end!

having fun with will and pedro

This is a truly amazing conference when the world is involved and that shared passion for global education evident. It is highly recommended that you watch some of the recordings of presentations. The keynotes are a great place to start. Did you participate in any sessions? Which would you recommend?