Author Archives: murcha

Using Twitter for Professional Learning

Tomorrow I will informally present to a group of Lucy Gray’s students who have been studying different ways of gaining professional learning (PD). My topic will be using Twitter and Twitter Chats for PD.

The following online resources will be shared

  1.  Twitter Chats – a list of resources that that can be accessed during and after the session.
  2. All Things Twitter – a previous presentation of mine that has general tips on using Twitter.

Twitter can be used for PD:-

  1. As a general search engine on topics of interest
  2. Following hashtags of interest
  3. Creating lists of tweeters who have common educational interests
  4. Through subscriptions to existing lists – tweeters who have common interests in education eg global education, games in learning etc
  5. Twitter chats

I like the idea of Lucy calling on her extensive global network to present on topics that they are familiar and passionate with, in regard to PD.

What have I missed? What would you share with a group of trainee teachers?

Learning Arabic Online


Year 11 Business Management students will learn basic Arabic in 1.5-2 hours  using a mix of online tools. As businesses become more global in nature and outreach, cultural understanding and ability to interact with other languages is essential for success. Most of my class live on farms and  their beef and lamb may be exported to the Middle East.

We have been offered the opportunity to learn Arabic, initially with a Sophia Aron of  Critical Language Service  in the USA and then, finally with an Arabic native speaker in Egypt. They will initially learn basic language and also view a number of cultural videos. This is to support Sophia with her request for sample videos of students learning Arabic and will be recorded. Skype was used to connect with Sophia for each of our classes with her. She was able to speak to us, be on standby for any questions and share her screen with us so we could be stepped through some of the tools. The skype chat was used for sharing codes required for some of the tools.

The time allocation:-

  • 45 minutes: studying the vocabulary and materials that would be used in the lesson on the platforms Quizlet, Memrise. and Flashcards by NKO.
  • 30 minutes actual class
  • 15 minutes: student reaction and question time.

Tasks Prior to Learning eArabic

Students will obtain a username and password login for the following sites. Use your login code for computer access as your username.

Pre – session

Sophia was online on skype, she helped us  walk the students through the process live of setting up accounts using screen share.  The classes work on a Flipped Classroom/Blended learning model so Sophia pre- teaches the material via online tools and then the face-to- face time with the Egyptian teacher serves as a chance to practice implementing what they already learned.

Here are Sophia’s notes to us

I plan to use 2 platforms to pre-teach materials:

1. Memrise

Memrise is the main platform.The class was divided up into 3 groups.  Inside the group, there are 2 courses. We will focus on the first course; Arabic for All Ages. The second course is simply an FYI about the Arabic alphabet. If  students do study that, then the Egyptian teacher will incorporate writing into her live lesson with them, if not then she will not use any Arabic letters. Inside the course “Arabic for All Ages” there are 4 levels. Level 1 is a video level. The first video in Level 1 is the vocabulary video. It is a section of a cartoon and most of the words we will use in the live lesson are in this short clip. The videos below the cartoon video offer English explanations of basic Arabic expressions and grammar. Level 2 is the where the studying begins. This level is spaced repetition flashcards of the vocabulary words. Students study the flashcards in small chunks. They can opt to take breaks between studying chunks to go back and watch the cartoon video from Level 1. The goal is for Memrise to determine that they have mastered all of the vocabulary words in the list; though due to time constraints this will not likely happen. Level 3 is not relevant for this class. Level 4 is culture videos. These videos will help the students to perform culturally appropriate role plays during the live class. They only need to be watched once.

2. Quizlet

Sinbad Sets 1 and 2 Transliteration w/D…

Quizlet is used for its games. After the students have been studying the vocabulary for a while its useful to have competitions between groups and individuals using Quizlet Live and the various games built into the platform.

The problems we faced-

  • Logging in to some of the platforms and gaining user registrations.
  • Downloading some of the apps. Bandwidth at home was not strong enough in our rural areas to download the apps on to their smart phones.
  • Student smart phones to not have wireless access at school nor is there mobile phone service.
  • One student did not have a smart phone
  • Finding common times that would suit all time zones. However, amazingly our Egyptian teacher only gets home from work at 1am and is willing to connect with the students after that time.
  • Initially finding a class that I could work with easily. But on reflection, it was easy to ‘tweak’ Business Studies curriculum and fit it in there as it is a small class and I have them 5 times a week This made it possible to work in with Sophia’s time zone.girls-and-sophia1


Safer Internet Use Day

Feb 7th is Safer Internet Day  across the world, not only for students but for all who use the internet – whether beginners or experienced users.

Our Department of Education and Training in partnership with the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commission organised several webinars on Safer Internet Use. Read more here. These webinars were online and free.



Another exciting opportunity was offered to schools in Victoria, to apply for the opportunity to bring 2 female students from year 10 to work with Facebook and Instagram in their new Melbourne offices in the Docklands discussing the topic – Safety in the Age of Disappearing Media. Much to their excitement, two of our year 10 girls were accepted into the workshop and I accompanied them. The hashtag used is #girltakeover with the discussions being on encouraging them to be the power for change and make the internet and even more positive place to be, especially in regard to social media. Facebook and Instagram sponsored this event and were interested in getting feedback from this age group as all too often it is adults who are vocal and dominant.


There were fun activities for them to start with enabling them to get to meet the other students, gain confidence and have fun, in preparation for the ‘hard fun’ about to begin.

Some of the great advice given once the day formally began included:-

  • Best filters that exist are between your brain.
  • Disappearing media does not happen – it is there forever but it can be rewritten
  • be empowered, be fierce, be strong, control your own brand.
  • Facebook and other sites create great privacy settings so ues them – block, mute where necessary!


The children’s eSafety Commissioner took an active part in the day.

Girls discussed

  • the pressures of sharing information,
  • why misunderstandings occur, why stories might be change and the trust that goes into the moment of sharing.
  • the challenges of sharing media eg snapchat, instagram story.

Trust is  put into ‘just a moment’, will people understand the context of what your are sharing, screenshot content which is supposed to be deletable. Platforms are evolving all the time. Instagram has live story now to create real connections. T is all aoubt likes – adds new pressures. Doesnt have to be perfect. Deletaable media. Share moment which are not to be massively shared. Can put lots out there without spamming.Our intentions are temporary and private but can be made public. You are not being humiliated – they are.

A cartoonist captured many of the activities and events of the day.

As we all love social media – there is a need to talk about all that we love in this world. Expectations as women what we want out there, how it should be respected etc. The girls will come back to school and take on a leadership role sharing what they experienced, seeking further feedback and keeping conversations open at school on  positive and safe social media spaces.

SticksnStones and Project Rockit and were there to help organise the day.


What did you do for Safer Internet Use Day?

Getting eStarted for a New School Year

What a contrast these students face in getting to school each day and how fortunate I am to teach in Australia where education is a given right for students.

Today is the start of a new school year for government schools in Victoria, Australia. Teachers return today but students in my school only return on Thursday. Tomorrow has been set aside as a day dedicated to speaking with parents of students in Year 7 and Year 12. Some of the time will be spent in staff meetings, PLT groups and PD and some time will enable planning.

Students from years 7-12 in our school now bring their own technology. The school suggests a range of technology that does not include smart phones as a larger screen and soft keyboard is mandated. This year our school will use Compass as its education management provider. This means that class rolls will be marked electronically, our timetable and school calendar can be easily accessed and student misbehaviour can be easily reported and shared.That is where we will start and then gradually move over to some of its other uses. Start simple enables all teachers to come on board with confidence and relative ease.

What I need to do today to make sure that students can access technology:

  • Make sure all students have logins to our school network, especially new students to our school.
  • Check out the new study design for VCE Business Management for Units 1/2 and 3/4
  • Set up MS 365 accounts for new students
  • Ensure all students in years 7 to 10 have Global2 blogs.
  • Find videos for introducing accounting, resources and other multi-media resources to engage students with from TES, pinterest, youtube, slideshare etc

Setting up a OneNoteup will help with MS 365

Chinese New Year


Our Chinese friends celebrate the Chinese New Year on Jan 28th although celebrations go over a period of time. 2017 is the Year of the Rooster.

The Rooster traits include loyalty, commitment, hard work, family values. These can be shared by all. The celebrations go for approximately 2 weeks. This article from the London Telegraph shares what it is like.

Here are some of the sites that I may use with my students in learning all about the New Year.

Do you this special event for learning in your classroom? What do you do or what resources can you share? Please add as a comment below.

Australia Day


On 26th January, Australians celebrate Australia Day – a day to be proud of being Australian and a time for reflection on how lucky we are to live in this wonderful country of ours. We enjoy a wonderful lifestyle, good wages/working conditions, health benefits, freedom of speech and so much more. Australia Day is a public holiday for all!

On this day, (although the date is now somewhat contentious), schools are still on summer vacation. Many people are camping and enjoy barbecues on this day. It often starts with a community breakfast put on free by a number of service clubs and community organisations. The Lions Club of Port Fairy (where we are camping) put on a bbq breakfast of sausages, bacon/egg in fresh bread, bottles of juice apples, oranges and tea or coffee.

This was followed by a Moyne Shire awards ceremony where a number of people are recognised for their outstanding achievements and service to the community. It was with some pride that my nephew, Steven Mirtschin, received the Moyne Shire  Young Citizen Award.


Many Australians will enjoy the warm summer day with barbecues, swimming and other traditional Australian foods including lamingtons  (white coated cake, iced with chocolate icing, coated in coconut.


As we are camping in the Port Fairy caravan park, we joined many fellow campers at 7pm and gathered around 17 flags (for 2017) of varying heights, to sing the National Anthem.


The song “I Am Australian” could be heard at various times of the day.

When Learning is Evident outside the Classroom

vesna-and-the-virtual-tour-of-shangha1One of the joys of teaching is when student learning from one classroom becomes evident in other subjects or classrooms or better still beyond the classroom.

It has given some self fulfillment to have students return to me to double check how to use moviemaking software for an English class or some other tools/apps that have been taught in the ICT classroom to be transferred to other classes, but when on a recent school trip to China, I was so proud to see one of my ICT students use the skills learnt from videoconferencing in skype with both global and local classrooms, to using skype with her family back home, taking them on virtual tours of the places and attractions that we were visiting and the places we were staying. Although many sites are blocked, including google, skype was not.

shanghai views.jpg

Fortunately, there was free wifi at many of the tourist attractions eg our restaurant at the base of the Great Wall of China, our hotels and much more. But, the most memorable use of Vesna’s use of skype with her family was with her family all gathered around in Hawkesdale as she capably used skype to walk her family around the lookout on the 90th floor of the World Financial Centre (Bottle Opener) in Shanghai.

vesna and the virtual tour of Shanghai.jpg

Her family included primary students, secondary students through to university students and her parents. They were able to ask her questions on what we all could see and she could share the Bund and other wonderful sights of Shanghai.

Where have you seen evidence of classroom learning in your students outside of the classrom?