PLP ConnectU

My journey is now moving along as a part of the PLP ConnectU Animals group, where we are coming up with a PBL lesson around our chosen topic.

My kids are now very excited about this and have come up with some excellent ideas that are starting to take shape. Some of the ideas that the kids are coming up with include:

  • Building Lizard Habitats
  • Creating more planted areas.
  • Raising money for trees and tools that we need by building and selling Possum Boxes.
  • Cleaning up the Path of the Ibis.
  • Cleaning up the creek/river.

Very exciting things starting to happen.

More information to come!

History never repeats….well sometimes it does…

Just finished working with the grade 5/6 kids to set up their iLearning projects for the next round, where we are creating news reports of Historical events that have happened outside of Australia. The kids will also create a game level for our Time Traveler game that is based on their historical events. The amazing array of events that have been chosen are:

  • The Plague
  • The Sinking of the Titanic
  • Joan of Arc
  • Invention of the Telephone
  • September 11, 2001
  • Napoleon
  • Attack on Pearl Harbour
  • Alexander the Great
  • Discovery of Gravity
  • Match Girls Strike
  • Fall of the Berlin Wall
  • The Great Fire of London
  • The Moon Landing
  • Lance Armstrongs 7th Consecutive Tour de France
  • Eruption of Mount Saint Helen
  • Bermuda Triangle Discovery of Electricity
  • French Revolution
  • Invention of the Car
  • Woodstock
  • Christopher Columbus Circumnavigates the Globe

It should be really exciting to see how these turn out as the kids are producing some excellent work at the moment.

The Meredith Amazing Race – An Amazing Success

Coming towards the end of term, it is always good to do something fun. The kids are starting to lose interest, they’re tired and at this time of year they are normally suffering from some sort of cold. All of these issues can add up to a severe lack of engagement.

Today in our room we held the Amazing Race, based on the Television show. I have run Amazing Race sessions before, but today was the first time that we were actually set to leave the school and race around some of the parts of Meredith. The day was planned out with fun in mind primarily, but it was also a chance for the students to test some of their Egypt Knowledge, a theme we had this term. There were various activities throughout the day such as:P1030083

  • Running around the school.
  • Digging for clues.
  • Scanning QR Codes to locate a jumbled message.
  • Completing an Egypt quiz and Web Quest.
  • Hunting through trees for clues.
  • A Road Block and a Detour.
  • A down ball competition.

 Planning for the day I found a great website with resources to make the clues. Having clues that looked real helped the kids embrace the ‘Amazing Race’ and really get into the theme of it. The Website can be located here.

 Amazing Race Resources

The day began with the students getting into teams of 2 and coming up with a relationship, just like the contestants in the show. These ranged from neighbours, to models, to footballers and even a real brother/sister combination! As they ripped open their first clue they raced out the front door and the chosen team member ran a lap of the school to meet their teammate at the sandpit where they dug for the pre-buried second clue. We saw a perfect case of the tortoise and the hair here as the first team to arrive at the sandpit, were the last team to leave it.

 The clue from the sandpit lead them to our school shed, where they had to enter, one team at a time and scan a QR code to discover a series of letters, that needed to be unjumbled. Fairly easy to do, except there were multiple QR codes and only one had the series of letters, pick the wrong one and you’re back outside and back to the end of the line.P1030080 After the kids discovered that they had to “HEAD BACK TO THE ROOM” they ran and back to work on their Web Quest. However, unknowingly they had to join with another team, whichever was next to arrive. This was a great teamwork activity as we had students working with others that they normally wouldn’t work with.

 After the Web Quest, they had to race to the first Pit Stop, which lead to some interesting dynamics that the kids later called ‘backstabbing’. With the 2 teams completing their Web Quest at the same time the race to the Pit Stop was crucial. One industrious student saw an opportunity, convincing his teams temporary teammates to put the computer away, which they didn’t have to do, before racing to the Pit Stop. Needless to say they won their race to the line. As more and more teams finished, the encouragement to the teams racing to the line was amazing to hear.

 After morning tea we headed over to the vacant field over the road, where the teams took off in a staggered start (depending on the previous finishing order) to hunt through the trees for their next clue, which told them to run to the Recreation Reserve, about 800-1000m away. For some of these students that is a MASSIVE distance, but all put in a great effort to get there as quick as they could. Some of the efforts really amazed us and the encouragement in the partnerships was brilliant. During this time the students were required to cross some back roads by themselves, but there were a number of teachers along the way to ensure the students were safe.

 On arrival at P1030086the Recreation Reserve the students came to the Detour!!P1030088


The students had to decide whether they wanted to bowl a ball at a cricket wicket until they hit it on one bounce, or to roll a football around the football oval using only your hands. With about a quarter of the teams picking the football, most of them regretted it as it was incredibly draining on a set of young legs that had just run a kilometre.  On completion of the Detour, they were given their Road Block Clue.

Who’s the Biggest Baby?


This lead to the selected student, crawling like a baby across a muddy oval to the second Pit Stop, which gave us new leaders.

 When we arrived back at school we finished the amazing race with a down ball competition to decide who got to hunt for the final clue, a hidden Miss Pritchard, which also happened to be the finishing line. We had 2 games happening at once and at the completion of the time (30 second increments) the people in the king position got to grab their partner and go on the hunt for the finishing line.

First to the finishing line was Damo and Christine, Neighbours, who were consistently at the top throughout the race and pulled into the lead when it counted. They were never the first to finish any tack, including the down ball task. But they were the first to find Miss Pritchard. It really was an Amazing Race today and seeing the smiles on the kids faces and hearing them thank us at the end of the day made all of the effort worthwhile. Yes there weren’t a whole lot of KLA’s covered, but there was plenty of student engagement and social benefits. Today was easily one of the best days I’ve had at school this year.

Winners Damien and Christine


Game Development Day

As a part of our Game Based Learning Trials, Game Development Strand, Fairlie and I have had the opportunity to do some work with the fantastic Paul Callaghan (@paul_callaghan) about the process of developing games, before even turning on a computer. Our last session, we took 4 students from our grade who did the same activities that we had been doing. Some of these included were:

  • Identifying the Nouns and Verbs in a game.
  • Characters and their movements.
  • Back Story.
  • Level Design.

The 4 students enjoyed the day so much and got so much out of it, we felt it was a shame to deny the rest of our students the opportunity. So our group of ‘experts’ planned with us a day for the rest of the students to pitch their ideas for games.


The day started of with the Nouns and Verbs activity, an amazing way for students to associate the 2 parts of speech and it was unbelievable how easy they found it to come up with the Nouns and Verbs that they can relate to games. This was followed up by a Game Discussion task that they applied to the last game that they had played. This activity is designed to get them thinking about what makes a game fun and enjoyable. The final activity was a design brief, where the groups had to design different levels of a particular game featuring Captain Playlunch!!


The really amazing work occurred after recess where the students designed their own games. The groups each had to come up with a 2 minute presentation for their idea and ‘pitch’ the idea to our panel of experts. Each ‘pitch’ had to include:

  • Main Character and some information on themP1020959
  • Nouns and Verbs of the Game
  • Front Cover
  • Type of Game
  • Platform for the game
  • Back Story
  • Controls of the Game

Every single group came up with an amazing game idea, and no 2 groups came up with the same idea.  Some of the games were designed for Xbox 360, Wii, PC and even the iPhone/iPod.

 It was an amazing day full of powerful learning, engaged students and an awful lot of fun. Who would have thought it, a day of game development in our classrooms and not a single computer was turned on.

P1020963   P1020952

The Five Apes

Everyone knows that education is in the middle of a shift, things are changing and whilst many are embracing the change, there are still a large number, maybe even a majority, of educators whom are content to just move forward in the same old way, because that’s how it’s always been done.

Recently at the ICTEV conference, I was asked to come to a discussion regarding the teaching of teachers at University, how can we produce better educators for the future? Most of the people in the discussion said…more time in schools…more time in schools…but I think that could honestly be a hindrance rather than a benefit. I spoke up at this time, that a lot of these students are seeing bad practice at work, something that Donna Gronn of ACU agreed with, saying many students come back from their placements saying that the ideas spoken about at University aren’t happening in the classroom.

Reflecting on this, it all fits really well together with a point that was made at the Grampians Principal’s Conference Keynote address about the 5 apes. I have included the story below.

“Inside the cage, a bunch of bananas are hanging on a string and a set of stairs is placed under the bananas. Before long, one of the apes will see the bananas and start to climb the stairs to get to them.

As soon as they touch the stairs, you take a fire hose and spray all of the apes in the cage with ice cold water until you knock them down and drive them away from the bananas. Sooner or later another ape makes an attempt and, again, all the apes are sprayed with cold water.

Pretty soon, whenever another ape tries to climb the stairs, all the other apes will attack that ape to try to prevent it from going for the bananas because they don’t want to get sprayed by the ice cold water—another attempt, another attack, another attempt, another attack. Before too long, all of the apes know what will happen to them if they make a move.

Now, put away the fire hose and the cold water, remove one of the original five apes from the cage, and replace it with a new one. Of course, the new ape will see the bananas and attempt to climb the stairs. To its surprise and horror, all of the other apes will attack that ape to prevent it from climbing the stairs because they don’t want to get sprayed with ice cold water. Another attempt, another attack, another attempt, another attack.

Pretty soon the newest ape knows that if it climbs the stairs, it will be assaulted. Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with new one. As Yogi Berra says, this becomes déjà vu all over again—the scene will repeat itself—and the first ape we replaced will actually take part in the punishment of the newcomer with the greatest enthusiasm!

Likewise, replace a third original ape with a new one, then a fourth and fifth. Every time a new ape tries to climb the stairs, it gets attacked. Interestingly enough, the apes who are beating him have NO IDEA why they are not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest ape. After replacing all the original apes, none of the remaining apes have ever even been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no ape will ever again approach the stairs to try for those bananas.

The question we need to ask is why not? And the answer is because as far as the apes in the cage know . . . well, that’s just the way we do things around here.”

We can’t let ourselves get like this, I don’t ever want to hear myself say well, that’s just the way we do things around here, because it might be what we do now, but who says it can’t be done a different or even better way.

Here is a link that contains the full presentation as well as many other things from the Grampians Region Prin’s Conference.