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.

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!

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.