ES Design Lab

We are getting some strong interest in the new ES Design Lab and it’s been great to be able to work with some different Grade 4 classes over the last couple of weeks. Julie has prepared a fun “toy rescue” design challenge where students need to design and develop a device that will pick up a small toy from the ground. After having 4MW and 4RB working in the lab we have uncovered a few improvements so the activity is undergoing its own design process : )

I’ve had a go at making some “aesthetic changes” to the ISB Design Process graphic to introduce a bit more contrast and make it a little more bold. The colours are the same but more intense. This will allow us to create further resources that link each colour and stage to the sorts of learner activities and characteristics that we want to be promoting. We have also been working on some other simple branding that can help build an identity and profile for ISB Design.

In the space we have had wonderful excitement and output from students, they have embraced our design philosophy and are keen to engage with everything we provide them with. Working across a sequence of 3 or so lessons allows us to value add to the “making” activities with lessons on peer feedback and reflection. I am also looking at how to incorporate lessons on design sketching & annotation. Every lesson I am learning a little more about how to grow the program and embed design thinking and process meaningfully into the ES curriculum.

Continued thanks to Geoff, Shane, Clint and of course Julie, all of whom offer a wealth of ideas on how to use the Design Lab that we share to the faculty at every opportunity.



Over the last couple of weeks in the Office of Learning we have been working on our individual and shared goals. My two main individual goals for 2017 are:

  1. To develop and maintain an open, transparent and responsive professional learning blog in order to foster a culture of visible & transparent professional learning and goal-setting through blogging.
  2. To develop a suite of resources to enhance the faculty’s use of various Ed Tech such as Seesaw, WordPress and Office 365 so as to improve systems and enhance teacher technological and pedagogical capacity.

Over the next week or so I’ll refine these goals then set about creating some measurable steps towards achieving them.

2016 E21LE Symposium: “What’s Working?


On Friday I was able to attend the 2016 Evaluating 21st Century Learning Environments symposium, “What’s Working?”. The full day forum allowed various educators, architects and academics the opportunity to present and discuss their study of innovative learning spaces.


The day sought to answer the question: ‘What is working in learning environment design and occupation, and how does this success inform future best practices?’

Around 15 current and recently completed research higher degree students presented a range of evaluation tools and shared their findings of how the new generation of learning environments can enhance teaching and learning.


There was a strong contingent of architects including representatives from Hayball (designers of the Learning Project) with some excellent discussions around the role and benefits of prototyping of new generation learning environments as is the case at CGS. This is pertinent as in Term 3, E21LE will be working with Hayball and CGS to evaluate the Learning Project space.

I also got to have a good look at the new School of Design at the University of Melbourne, it’s an impressive building especially the fabrication lab (FabLab).


Dr. Ruben Puentedura

On Tuesday 24th May, Laura Brown and I attended an Apple ADE event hosting Dr. Ruben Puentedura. Dr. Puentedura designed the seminal SAMR model, a system for effective integration of technology to enhance learning. SAMR defines the levels of technology integration as Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. The SAMR model was only a part of this presentation and the focus was more so on the TPACK model (Technical, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge) and how the two are aligned.


Expert teachers are those who can bring together knowledge of subject matter, what is good for learning, and technology (ICT). The combination is described as Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK). It is more than simply adding ICT to traditional approaches. It depends upon deep knowledge of how ICT can be used to access and process subject matter (TCK) and understanding how ICT can support and enhance learning (TPK) in combination with PCK. Dr. Puentedura’s presentation provided examples of a learning task at each rung on the SAMR ladder and discussed the relationship between this and the TPACK model. The following slides demonstrate these relationships.


Following the presentation, we had the opportunity to work in small groups to develop of own SAMR ladder for Dr. Puentedura to critique. The various SAMR ladders can be viewed here. See the Circulatory System for our ladder. Dr. Puentedura provided a table listing the practices associated with the fundamental domains of human activity; social, mobility, visualisation, story telling, and gaming. We were encouraged to consider these practices in the development of our SAMR ladder. The ideal is to incorporate between 2 and 4 of these practices into any one learning task.

EdTech Quintet

One of the most interesting elements of the presentation was an analysis of multiple credible studies looking the use of technology by students and the associated impact on learning when referenced against the SAMR model. It was fascinating to see the magnitude of the effect, in favour of learning, when tasks assigned to students involved modification and redefinition. Even when tasks are at the augmentation level, there is no negative impact on student learning. Only when the task is at the substitution level is there an opportunity for that task to have an overall negative effect on student learning. Essentially, this is suggesting that when we are concerned about the use of technology and the associated distractions, we need to ask ourselves – where does this task sit on the SAMR ladder? It is a known fact that when students are engaged, they learn better and develop a deeper and more meaningful understanding. If we consider the SAMR model, I would imagine we would also see a direct correlation between engagement and the associated position on the SAMR ladder the particular task holds. Substitution, less engaged, more distracted. Modification and redefinition, more engaged, less distracted.

“Tables for teaching and learning: a systematic review and meta-analysis” Commonwealth of Learning (2015)

At the conclusion of the presentation we had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Puentedura about our recent roll out of Staff Professional Learning Blogs and the use of the Student Digital Learning Portfolios at Caulfield Grammar School. This was pertinent as several times during the workshop Ruben had mentioned the effectiveness of blogs as learning portfolios to move tasks to reach modification and redefinition on the SAMR ladder. It also supports the associated practices of learning through Social, Mobility and Storytelling. So if you’re not currently using DigiMe in your classes, give it a go!

Ines Ting: Premier’s VCE Award

On April 26 I was thrilled to witness a number of CGS students receive Premier’s VCE Awards, including one of my 2015 Year 12 students, Ines Ting, for Visual Communication Design.

IMG_4886 IMG_2791

I was fortunate to teach Ines in Years 9 and 12 Visual Communication Design and it was apparent from a very early stage that her strong work ethic, creative talent and family support would lead to great success in school and beyond. Following an exceptional effort in 2015, Ines received a perfect score of 50 for Unit 3/4 Visual Communication Design as well as a place on the CGS scholars’ list. For Ines to receive the Premier’s Award was a wonderful acknowledgement of her effort, skill and talent in design. Ines is now studying science at the University of Melbourne and recently began commercialising her VCD SAT project “Xenix Design”, a fashion label.

Generating ideas for a clothing brand, Ines Ting, 2015
Generating ideas for a clothing brand, Ines Ting, 2015
Generating ideas for clothing graphics, Ines Ting, 2015
Generating ideas for clothing graphics, Ines Ting, 2015








Final fashion designs, Ines Ting, 2015
Final fashion designs, Ines Ting, 2015
Observational drawings by Ines Ting, who received a study score 50 for Unit 3/4 VCD in 2015
Observational drawings by Ines Ting, 2015


Sulfate etching & printmaking workshop

In the Visual Arts learning area we have a strong commitment to strengthening our art making practice through a rich ongoing internal PD program. During Terms 1 and 2 we were involved in a series of workshops to learn about creating and working with etching plates for printmaking.


In the first session, our presenter, printmaker Antonietta Covino-Beehre took us through the technique of using saline sulfate to etch onto zinc, aluminium or steel plates. The plates are then inked up and put through the press to create the printed image.

We began by looking at the different types of metal plates available to etch onto. There are a range of different plates available and it is important to understand how each metal (aluminium, steel or copper) needs to be prepared and how it will react to the etching and printing process.



Once the plate has been selected and prepared, it is time to etch onto it. When etching, it is important to first understand how the etch will transfer as a print. For example, the printed image will be the reverse of what is etched – this is especially important if there is any text on the print as it should be etched in reverse.



I selected an image of Kyoto Palace to etch onto my plate from a recent trip to Japan:


Once the etch is complete, the plate can be placed in a bath of saline sulfate which corrodes the etched surface to expand the worked lines. The advantage of this is that with the increased surface area, more ink will be held in the plate and bolder lines will be transferred onto the final print.

Following a couple of baths in the sulphate and a good clean and dry, the plate is then covered in ink and put through the press.




I was really pleased with the result. Keep an eye out for some Visual Art teachers’ prints in the upcoming staff art exhibition later in Term 2.


Collegial Coaching Lesson 2

Today was Leigh’s second observation of my Unit 1/2 VCD class. I am still seeking feedback regarding student engagement and productivity as per previous post. Today was a good indication of students’ progress in this area as I spent most of the lesson working with students one-to-one. This meant that students were expected to continue with their work without close monitoring by me.

Prior to the lesson I wrote some notes on the board and reminded students what their support options were and where resources could be accessed. During the lesson I was pleased with the group’s efforts, although there were some concerns over the progress of two students who had become quietly engrossed in one another over the last couple of lessons. Unfortunately it wasn’t until the bulk of the lesson was over that I realised they had achieved very little with their time and the result following a conversation with them was that they were moved! Leigh and I spoke after the lesson and it was really useful for me to be able to debrief the context of the situation and discuss options for the future.

While I am happy with the class’s progress since my first observation with Leigh, I am conscious that we need to improve in terms of output as we move into the next phase of the assessment (digital development) which will be more technically demanding.

Thanks to Leigh for her excellent feedback so far!



Collegial Coaching Observation 1

Today Leigh observed my Unit 1/2 VCD class. The students are in the early stages of an extended design process to generate and develop concepts for a reusable water bottle. Today’s lesson is about using 3D drawing methods to communicate a variety of different concepts.

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 2.40.48 PM

For this lesson, I asked Leigh to offer me feedback on the following:

  1. Productive use of class time. To what degree are all students engaged throughout the lesson? In the early stages of any design process I encourage students to direct their energy towards generating as many divergent ideas as possible, using a range of different techniques. The emphasis should be on quantity of ideas above quality – we can test ideas for quality later in the process, but without a broad range of ideas students are rarely able to develop successful concepts later in the process. I encourage and expect students to maximise class time and develop the ability to focus in on a design task and rapidly generate ideas. I don’t insist on silence during this sort of task because I feel this can be stifling to the creative process – but the ability to maintain productive output whilst engaging in private conversations is a finely honed skill!
  2. Feedback opportunities. A typical VCD lesson involves me first speaking with the class to establish goals and expectations for the lesson, possibly followed by a technical demonstration, then a period of time where students work on a creative task while I circulate the room acting as a sort of art director – “this is working well…” “I like how you have done this…” “have you thought about this…” “you need to keep practicing this…” etc. As we are still early in the year, students are still self-conscious of their ability and it takes a bit more effort on my part to get them to openly share their sketches and ideas. One of my jobs over the next few weeks is to encourage them to embrace the design process in a transparent way by openly sharing ideas with peers for effective feedback.
  3. Ownership of learning/self direction. I share a lot of resources with my students, including iBooks, Schoology materials and many other documents. I spend time every lesson reinforcing with students which materials they should be accessing and  where to find them. This is expected at the beginning of the year, but as we progress through Unit 1 I hope to see my students accessing these resources on their own accord. If not, then why not?

Following this lesson, Leigh suggested she observes the same lesson in 2 weeks’ time – an excellent idea – and hopefully we can track the progress of the points listed above.

Many thanks Leigh for your time today!


PLC Collegial Coach and observations

In 2016 I have the pleasure of working as Collegial Coach with Leigh Abercromby. While my SMART goals do not directly align with my classroom practice, I am keen to employ our observations to gain feedback on a number of aspects of my teaching:

  • student engagement
  • feedback opportunities
  • ownership of learning/self direction
  • collaboration

I’m looking forward to working with you again, Leigh!

Visual Arts S.M.A.R.T. Goals

In 2016, the Visual Arts faculty is committed to achieving the following SMART goals:

Build real world visual art/design connections within the classroom through relationships and engagement with professionals and experts in specific fields. (F, C)

Over the last few years I have been able to establish ongoing connections with CGS alumni who have gone on to study or work in visual art/design industries. This has proven to be extremely rewarding in providing students with extended feedback opportunities, mentoring and an authentic audience with which to engage. Working with past students has also given me the opportunity for feedback on aspects of my curriculum and teaching style. Students respond well when someone they recognise from previous years or know as being connected to the school shows interest in their learning. It could be as simple as inviting a previous student to present or offer feedback over Skype, or you could explore ways to make it more meaningful by consulting over curriculum design or building a mentorship model into your program.

This year I intend to build further on this approach by incorporating the expertise of professional designers into my teaching. For example, in Year 7 Tinker & Design, I have approached some product designers to visit my class (physically or virtually) and offer ideas and feedback. I’ll keep you posted.

CGS alumni Georgia Maclaren offering Yr 9 VCD students advice and feedback on their poster designs.

2. Create high quality resources and online material with an emphasis on archiving student work which models quality learning and outcomes. (O, U, S)

In the last week I have introduced new design tasks for my each of my Year 11and Year 10 VCD classes. It doesn’t matter how well I articulate the task, assessment or resources, it is only when I show them good examples of previous or similar work that I am confident that they all understand. Visual Arts/Design teachers know as much as anyone the value of archiving strong student work as a model for future students and each of us does this in some way every year.

But there are a few challenges to this, particularly the storage of large or cumbersome work. So, if you walk through the Visual Arts department in the last week of school, you will likely see me scanning folio page after folio page to record exemplary student work. But what do we do with all of this digital content? How can we make it accessible for students and teachers, particularly when we so often emphasise high resolution images? That is what this particular Smart Goal is all about.

Last year, I started putting together a Flickr site to curate student folios and finished art and possibly even host online Visual Arts exhibitions. This year I intend to get the site to a state which other teachers feel comfortable contributing to and that students can easily access and hopefully value.

The CGS Visual Arts Flickr gallery is coming together.
The CGS Visual Arts Flickr gallery is coming together nicely.

Another great way of incorporating exemplary student work into curriculum is through iBooks. Over the last few years I have been incorporating work samples or explanatory videos into my iBooks. When I ask students to contribute they are usually enthusiastic as this is seen as a reward for their efforts, and there is a sense of legacy at being a representative of a previous year level. You can see examples of this in the Year 12 VCD iBook which should be visible on Self Service but if not, can be accessed via my Drop Box account. It’s a pretty big file (on account of all the great material contained within). I’d love to hear any feedback you might have!

3. To enhance our technical and practical skills through staff run and attended workshops. (F, O, C, U, S)

One of the reasons I love being a part of the Visual Arts faculty is the amazing breadth of talent every teacher brings to the team. Another reason is the willingness of everyone to share information and support the team’s learning. We have teachers that span many different creative disciplines with varied backgrounds and we each understand that a culture of shared learning makes each of us immensely stronger.

The way we approach this SMART Goal is to begin with suggestions about what we would like to learn and from whom, as well as what we would like to deliver to the team. As we have a couple of new VCD teachers this year, I have been asked to run a workshop on Adobe Illustrator. I would also like to run a workshop on how to use the app Pinterest with students as I have found this to be really useful in the last 12 months. Of the available workshops I am most looking forward to Clare’s upcoming ceramic workshop!

In 2015 one of the workshops I delivered to the Visual Arts team was on the topic of “The Principles of Design” in order to help teachers create more effective resources.
Take a look at the CGS VCD Pinterest site (you'll need a Pinterest account). Its a great way to curate and share web images.
Take a look at the CGS VCD Pinterest site (you’ll need a Pinterest account). Its a great way to curate and share web images.