Student Engagement on #lsalearn

These are our 5 key questions tonight:

Engagement and compliance – how do they compare?
Why is student engagement an important consideration?
What factors inhibit engagement in learning?
What strategies and tools foster student engagement?
How is task design a factor in engaging students in their learning?



#lsalearn Questions on the topic Starting A New Year

Tonight at 8pm ACST we have the first #lsalearn Twitter chat. Here are the questions we will focus on:

Q1 How do schools make new students welcome?

Q2 What strategies have you observed or used to give students ownership of their learning environment?

Q3 How do schools foster connections with parents in the beginning of the school year? (esp new families)

Q4 What communication strategies are effective at the start of the school year?

Q 5 What tips do you have to help maintain work-life balance?

#lsalearn Participating in a Chat On Twitter 

With the first #lsalearn chat coming up here are a few tips to help you in participating –

  • Before the chat begins ensure you have the #lsalearn back channel open. Do this simply by typing in #lsalearn in the search window and pressing enter. If you get keen, you might want to get a Twitter platform installed like Tweetdeck. This is not necessary but it allows you to see more than one feed at a time.
  • When the chat begins, have a nice coffee, a couple of biscuits and put your feet up.
  • Normally you would get asked to tweet your name and where you’re from – this is just so we know who has tuned in and helps to break the ice. It’s OK to lurk anonymously but you’ll get more out of it by diving in sharing your perspective. A great way to increase your PLN (professional learning network)
  • The moderator will post the questions as we go with ‘Q’ preceding the question number. If you respond to Q1, write A1 at the start of your tweet, and close off with #lsalearn (this ensures that chatters will see your tweet)
  • Don’t forget, everyone’s opinion is valid, so be nice!
  • Always include #lsalearn in your tweet because that’s how your contribution to the chat is included

A great idea is to look at other chats (and there are plenty). #aussieed, #luthedchat, #whatisschool and #ukedchat are excellent examples of Twitter chats for educators. That is one way to see how they generally run.

PD that works – A Personal Project Approach

An innovation which has taken place at my current school was commenced last year. It was decided that we would have a greater focus on allowing staff to use allocated PD days to pursue their own passions and needs rather than keep the one PD for all approach. This became a project for each staff member. From personal experience it has resulted in a significant change in my teaching practice and understanding of how we should cater for students with higher abilities. In the end, my professional learning combined a number of approaches, as outlined below, which it would have been difficult to without the flexibility allowed by the school.


The first post is to have an understanding of what I wanted to learn about. From the schools point of view it was necessary to have an accountability framework but for the teachers it is a great way to look at what their personal learning needs were, think about what strategic focus the school had and also to consider the needs of the students they teach. This was the starting point for everyone on staff.


Each staff member was allocated a coach who had completed training supported by the college. This was an integral part of the process, helping to promote and enable deep reflection. When the coach asked good questions (and she did!), it helps you to see more clearly where you need to focus your energy. It also helped me to clarify how I would use the new found knowledge.

Reading and Reflection

Searching out books and readings about the topic gave me some background and also helped me to know what it was that I needed to learn about. We had a couple of staff meetings set aside for this and rather than working in my office I chose to go into another part of the school to ensure that I wasn’t interrupted.

The reflection was an important part of this process. This is the opportunity to fine tune the learning I want to pursue and think about how I might like to achieve that.

School Visits

One of our regular PD days were set aside for staff to work on their personal PD focus and I used this opportunity to visit a school to have a professional conversation with another school leader and see first hand what another site of learning might be doing. I was there with two other staff from the school which was really the highlight as we had time in the afternoon to discuss our observations and give feedback to each other with our projects. This in turn lead me to engage in some more reflection about my project and a further clarification about where my project was going to head.

Multi-day PD Workshops

The workshop style PD I have attended has involved multiple days with interim tasks to try out and develop. It has also allowed reflection, collaboration and discussion. It has been about something passionately want to learn about. This is what I fortunately able to undertake, a 6 module course which involved all these things. I have attended other multi day PDs which haven’t had the same impact but the fact that it tied in with my project was the catalyst for its success.

Implementing things with students

The long term nature of this approach to PD allowed me to implement a number of different strategies with the student. Having the ongoing PD workshops and the free staff meeting times allowed me to evaluate how these went with the students and consider the improvements I needed to make. A key part of the process is also to get feedback from the students. Working with smaller groups allowed me to get this verbally; however, written feedback would be another way to get a response form the students.

Staff Presentation

This can be seen as an accountability tool but it is also the most valuable part of the process. It served two main purposes for me:

  1. It gave me a clear purpose for my learning
  2. It brought the learning to a new audience

I have had a number of opportunities to share what I have learnt and each time I refine it for my audience, and at the same time new learning gets synthesized into the presentation. If you wish to see the result of my learning journey, look here.

Introducing Change in Technology


Being given the opportunity to change the direction we take with the technology we use in the classroom has come with it the opportunity to evaluate how we used technology in the past and how we can better use it in the future. As with all change, it is important to consider collaboratively why we are changing and to outline the vision of what we want to achieve.

After having a mix of iPads and laptops in the school, we are replacing all the laptops with iPads based on the action research of a group of teachers. This is my attempt at giving form to how we implement new technology devices:

Junior School iPad Program.

The purpose of this document is that it is brief, but at the same time, captures the rationale for what we are trying to do. I also want to ensure it could be applied to any change of technology we happen to go through. Do you have any feedback for me? Please comment.

Google Docs In Class

GoogleDocsSomething that freaked some of my Yr 4 students out recently was the use of Google Docs with my iPad and the class interactive whiteboard.

We don’t have Apple TV in classes yet (working on that!) Our work laptops have docks and it is a bit tricky to run a class/large group discussion on the IWB. My handwriting looks atrocious because the projector doesn’t quite line up consistently. Character recognition on SmartBoard works well but the process of using it to change written text to typed text is cumbersome and disrupts the flow of discussion.

I had an ah-ha moment where I decided to set up a document on Google Docs to hyperlink in a Smart Notebook slide. Once I have it on the IWB, I open the same document on my iPad (using the Google Doc app) and as we have a discussion I (or a student) can type the discussion points on the iPad ‘et voila’ it appears on the white board.

The Yr 4 group I teach is the kind of active group who struggle to maintain any length of concentration so this helps to just keep the discussion flowing quicker and gives them something to watch on the screen. It certainly catches their attention!

It has proven to be a good tool to use in staff meetings (again no Apple TV yet) where I can type up discussion points and people can see it in real time, make suggestions and point out corrections.

What next? It would be great to enable the students to access Google Docs and use it as a collaborative tool on the student laptops and iPads. And then…go global!