Grass Roots Leadership – Leading Digital Schools Conference

Martin Levins recently posted a comment ‘Leaders or Followers?’ on the ning of the Leading Digital Schools Conference. In that comment Martin reflects on the phenomena of leadership arising from ‘the bottom’, as opposed to that leadership that arises from those in formally designated executive, administrative or bureaucratic positions.

Martin is seeking examples of such leadership that have utilized digital technologies in education and this post attempts to list a few such examples.

At Mirboo North Secondary College a Wikispace, was set up by teachers to facilitate major review of their middle school curriculum.

Grade 2KM at Leopold Primary School have a dynamic blog (2KM @ Leopold Primary School!) facilitating dialogue between students and parents.

Many Victorian teachers and students are aware of the work of Douchy in creating a digital learning community around VCE Biology.

Bozeman has utilised screencasting to build a virtual classroom for his students undertaking their AP Biology course in America.

Students at Immaculata High School in Somerville New Jersey maintain a class portal on Child Slave Labour that registers as the top hit under that search phrase in Google.

Year 10 students at Leongatha Secondary College have begun a Year 10 Biology Class Blog that aims to document and reflect their learning through development of blogging skills.

A more comprehensive list would be most useful and I will keep an eye out during the Leading Digital Schools Conference and continue to add to this list. Any suggestions would be most appreciated and could be left through the comments tab.


What matters to you?

What really matters to students at our school?

How can we tell? How do we  know?

What issues do students at our school feel so passionate about that they would find out? Speak up? Post an opinion?

This blog was begun on April 21 2010 motivated by Tom March and his Look to Learn approach to developing greater cognitive sophistication in students.  This approach forms the basis of a more comprehensive framework for engaging students in a manner that will “bring the transformative powers of technology to the essential and critical challenge that is the education of out children”. Tom coined the phrase The Edge-ucators Way.

Tom March - The Edge-ucators Way

Even accomplishing the foundation of The Edge-ucators Way has taken considerable effort with the ‘digital natives’ in our area found to be needing plenty of direction and encouragement to sign up to blogs, link web 2.0 applications, check school webmail regularly, and manage user names and passwords. Much consolidation work remains to be done. However a start has been made at gathabiotens and lsc9osciblog.

In planning the move to the second rung of the pyramid the question arises as to how we can ensure that focus around which a ‘Class Portal’ can be created is one that is deeply intrinsic to these students. Surfing class portal type blogs quickly reveals numbers of blogs where the teachers voice is readily audible while the student voice is less so.

What issues will determine that our ‘Class Portals’ are truly owned by students and reflective of conversations important to them?

Student Survey

A survey was conducted asking students in my Year 10 Biology class their opinions on using their new ‘netbook’ computers in this class.

You can have a look at the results by clicking through to the class blog at

10 Biol Wk 7 Lesson – Chemical Code for Life

‘They used to say that a child conceived in love has a greater chance of happiness. They don’t say that anymore.’

In the not-too-distant future, a less than perfect man wants to travel to the stars. Society has categorized Vincent Freeman as less than suitable given his genetic make-up and he has become one of the underclass of humans that are only useful for menial jobs. To move ahead, he assumes the identity of Jerome Morrow, a perfect genetic specimen who is a paraplegic as a result of a fall. With some professional advice, Vincent learns to deceive DNA and urine sample testing. When a colleague is killed he is finally scheduled for a space mission, but a colleague suspects his origins and the police begin an investigation.

‘Gattaca’ – this  lesson confirms the significance of the letters in the title of the film.

What features of the futuristic society portrayed in Gattaca did you notice that are different from our society today? Post your ideas on our wall at Wallwisher

Leave a comment by clicking on the Leave a comment’ tab below. In your comment explain what parts of the film you feel could become reality in the future. What parts of the film are unlikely to become fact? What do you think is going to happen next in the film.

Check out the comments that others have left. Leave a reply to at least two of your colleagues.

Now watch the lesson introduction.

Looking forward to reading your work, and your post on the class blog at  gathabiotens

Bozeman and the virtual classroom

I found Bozeman through Douchy who posted ‘Will School Become Redundant, Too?’ . On this post Douchy discusses the issue of whether schools will become redundant as online resources of this quality become freely available.

While I agree strongly with Douchy’s sentiments it needs to be remembered that, like myself, many teachers are products of the seventies teacher education practices where Ivan Illich’s book ‘De-schooling Society’ was popularly promoted as the way of the future. A full copy of the book is available online. Like so much of the idealism of that era (remember the copious leisure time that was to be delivered by computers), the notion of a de-schooled society has been buried in the neo-conservative economic paradigm.

Following the state wide student free day for teachers to be introduced to the ‘Ultranet’, an article in a Melbourne daily tabloid claimed that the student free day had cost the economy hundreds of thousands of dollars.

No matter how good our online resources large numbers of those in our society are not wanting to be encumbered by the burden of taking responsibility for their own children twenty-four hours a day.

I imagine schools will be around for a while yet!

Natural Disasters – What are the big questions?

9O students watched the video and considered these questions.

What would it be like in a big earthquake? At the time? Immediately after? The next day? Check out their feelings by clicking thIS ‘Comments’ Tab. Reply with a comment of you own!

They then searched a list of earthquake, volcano and tsunami disasters to identify a choice to highlight the big questions and the science behind understanding that event.

Wikipaedia ‘List of natural disasters’

Class discussion focussed around ‘What is a big question?’ and students attempted to develop a ‘big question’. They posted these on Wallwisher.

Visit the 9O Wallwisher to read their ‘Big Questions’

Click this link to see the natural disasters that students have selected to study.

“Parts Cluster”

  1. What’s the main idea or feeling? Put it in the center.Work as a class to brainstorm as much as you can about the movie.
  2. Use clustering software like
  3. Work as a class to brainstorm as much as you can about the movie.
  4. Group or connect any of the items into larger sets.

Anxiety? Don’t panic!

This week, the Anxiety Recovery Centre of Victoria is running a series of workshops and seminars to help those with Anxiety and OCD. Louise Cooper, the Co-ordinator of the recovery program at ARC Victoria, chatted to Richard Stubbs about what the program entailed, and different mechanisms for coping with anxiety disorders…

Don’t panic