Slowing down to Travel with a Tale…the plan

The end is near to this wonderful COETAIL experience. I am trying to put the finishing touches to my Video. I just published 2 more Travelling Tales ( that is 4 now )  when suddenly I realised I have not published my plan! Doh!

My plan was not set in stone last year as I had too many ideas. But when this academic year came round I had changed grade, changed jobs and didn’t really have a clue what my project was going to be.

Time was on my side. I slowed down. So that I could see what was happening in the classroom and give me some head space.

Photo Credit: 12th St David Flickr via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: 12th St David Flickr via Compfight cc

“Going nowhere, as Leonard Cohen would later emphasize for me, isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly ”Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere


And I did. I saw the world in my classroom more clearly. A spark came my way.

Below is the UBD plan for Travelling Tales.It is between 6-8 weeks in length. I have included resources that I created to help teach the plan. This is written for K2 students in mind but I believe that the Unit could be adapted to teach other aged children.

Travelling Tales…the plan.

Message in a bottle

How did we communicate globally before technology? Was sending a message in a bottle a valid way of communicating? Did it empower the sender? 

Photo Credit: the past tends to disappear Flickr via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: the past tends to disappear Flickr via Compfight cc

Is it an interesting concept to think about how far we have come as technology has continued to develop since the first telegram in 1844. Since then technology has continued to improve we have used the phone ( thanks Alexander Graham Bell) , radio, records, mobile phones, fibre optics, email,  Spam, social networks,  Googling.

All of these landmarks changed the way that we communicated. Until 2009 when something went wrong… A carrier pigeon carries 4gb of data quicker than broadband did over 60 miles! Umm that wasn’t supposed to happen…

Well that has been solved and pigeons are no longer as fast as technology ( apart from free hotel WIFI!).  In fact now their is an explosion of communication tools as we now communicate over long distances to large groups of people instantly with Skype, Factime, Twitter, Webinars etc.

Going back to the idea of sending a message in bottle Students understand how easy it can be to connect with others. After all it is what many are used to. They have grown up seeing their parents have face to face conversations with others who live on the other side of the world. However what students need to be shown is the true potential of connections. Our role as connected educators is to empower the children to use technology to it’s full potential. I suppose it is like giving your bottle a solar powered motor, a GPS and a steering wheel. It changes the game somewhat.

Simply connecting a student to another classroom via skype, a blog, or a wikispace is not groundbreaking classroom practice.

The classroom is flat. Our role needs to be empower the young learner so that they are connecting for a real purpose. That way they are developing their 21st Century skills of :

  • Communications
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
  • Connecting

I suppose it comes down to making meaningful connections. There is no need to simply throw a message in a bottle out to sea and hope it makes it somewhere. We need to be clear and concise in the connections that we make and the connections that we make for our students. There is no one size fits all tool to do this. The tool will change for the class and the teacher. It comes down to thinking about the fact that:

Any tool that is worthy of consideration by a teacher should first clearly represent how it will impact student learning: What will my students be able to do when using XYZ? How will using XYZ in my classroom create a richer learning experience for my students?

Photo Credit: Alexandra Lamb Flickr via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Alexandra Lamb Flickr via Compfight cc

Creating meaningful global connections can transform classrooms. Such as Bridget Suvansri who connected with an independent school in Karachi after reading I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, The program was for students to create meaningful connections with peers from a different culture and develop a better understanding about the world. The benefits were amazing for the Bridget and her class:

  1. Students develop empathy through interaction.
  2. Video exchange taps into different learning styles.
  3. Global collaboration gives students a new audience.

But as I mentioned earlier what works in one classroom might not work in another. It is up to educators to experiment and try out tools, connecting with other like minded educators also helps. Creating a PLN so that they you learn from each other and share your experiences. My PLN helps me constantly. Just this morning I gained a further insight into the blogging platform Seesaw. Thanks PLN!

Which brings me back to connections. My students have been making connections this year. The connections are purposeful and have meaning and are giving them opportunities to use these 21st Century Skills in practice. They created a film about our school and class and shared it to the world. The idea was the children’s. They created the StoryBoard behind it. They took the photos and recorded the voice overs. What you see in the video is 95% of their work from start to finish. I think a pretty amazing achievement for a class of 5 and 6 year olds working together for the first time.

The video below contains their video and also shares the process of making the video. I did not create the video but our amazing Educational Technology Coaches did to share to our Lower School during a recent Staff Meeting. Thanks to Tanya and Stephan for doing this. You have done an awesome job.

But this is my class that has been empowered by using technology to connect with others. Is it like a message in a bottle? I think not. What are your thoughts?

From lurker to …

It seems a long time ago that I wrote my first blog post I am a lurker…but I am changing… I was ready for some changes to my teaching practice however I did not anticipate the transformation that enrolling in COETAIL would allow me. Welcome to Joel 2.0!

COETAIL has opened my eyes to a vast array of possibilities in the classroom. I have enjoyed learning from and with so many brilliant people that I can not name them all. Some are local ( check out our  COETAIL lunches at ISL, every Wednesday) some are more further afield. It has been a real roller-coaster of learning. And what has pulled me along? Pedagogy has been the driver. Technology has been the accelerator. 


In the past year I have been sharing my thoughts regularly through my blog. I have blogged about the classroom, the learning that has been taking place, the good and sometimes bad. But the biggest thing behind blogging is the reflection element to it. It allows us as Educators time to think about what went well, what could be improved, and what could have been.  You see blogging is our job.

I have a new role this year as Activator of Thinking and Learning. We are making our thinking visible and creating a culture of thinking with help from Ron Ritchcart and Project Zero at Harvard. I thought that a way of making our roles visible was to create a blog to show what we are doing and all the brilliant things that are happening in our school. Tanya gave me the spark to host it at COETAIL so that we could gain a bigger audience and create further conversations around the world. Welcome to Thinking at ISLux.

So now I am running 2 blogs. Not only that for my Course 5 final project Travelling Tales. I created another website to host resources, information and host out Travelling Tales etc.

So now there are 2 blogs and 1 website that I am looking after. This is from someone who just over 14 months ago had never created/organised a blog/website. I think my thinking is becoming pretty visible!

Photo Credit: e-box 65 Flickr via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: e-box 65 Flickr via Compfight cc

Commenting on Blogs

Reading and commenting on other blogs also gives a greater understanding to our role. It is our job to model the correct behaviour to children. COETAIL has really set the tone for this. Starting commenting with a positive response, asking questions for further information, giving help and advice with links to other readings/ videos etc are all how we want to be spoken to in a conversation. And that is what blogging and commenting is. An Online Conversation. You see online and offline it is all the same.  


Twitter has been a great source of information and a way of connecting with others around the world. I am connected to many educators around the world. Getting amazing ideas every single day. In fact I have become quite obsessed with Twitter. Currently I am using 4 different Twitter Accounts. This is from the person who  previously used Twitter to check the latest football gossip. Twitter is like eating cake. Hard to stop!

Photo Credit: @Twitter Flickr via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: @Twitter Flickr via Compfight cc

All  of the Twitter accounts are for different audiences and for different purposes.

    1. @bevansjoel – a way of connecting and collaborating with other educators across the world, reading about current ideas, reading new articles, sharing what I am up to, Twitter chats, Professional Development, you name it…
    2. @mrbevsclassroom – is an insight into what is happening in the classroom. Connecting with other Classes around the world, Giving children a voice/audience to their learning
    3. @travellingtale – A Twitter Account to help my Course 5 Project. A way of connecting classes through Travelling Tale
    4. @thinkingatISLux – A new Twitter Account to share what is happening at International School of Luxembourg as we strive to create a Culture of Thinking in the Lower School. This is to share good practice in our school, share ideas from others and current reading and ideas into visible thinking. #islthinks

Twitter Chat

Twitter Chats are an amazing way to have a conversation with other like minded people.The hashtag is such a powerful thing.


There is such a variety of chats or conversations that you can really find what ever you want to. You can join in, lurk or do at bit of both. Personally I find the slow chats a fantastic way of being able to join the conversation when time allows. Lately I have been joining in with #AfricaED and #ITSEIntSch because of this reason. However I have taken part in a few others too including #COETAILchat. I recently came across #creativtychat that interests me too. Choose one that suits you. Join in the conversation.


I am connecting with people around the world who are asking for feedback or ideas. Joy Walker asked me to connect with her so that we can share ideas and resources about Seesaw, Blogging and e-portfolios. Joy created a great Flipboard Magazine which I contribute to. NKS reached out for some feedback on her amazing Course 5 project.

Global Collaborations

I recently was also asked for my permission to use my tweets in a presentation that was made by Ryan Jenkins ( a Lego Tinkerer)

Screenshot from Twitter. CC J.Bevans
Screenshot from Twitter. CC J.Bevans


From Lurker to… Connector. 

I think that biggest element of COETAIL to me is the connections that I have created along the way and continue to do so. I look forward to continuing this journey over the coming weeks, months and years after COETAIL. I am now applying this to my classroom and my class. That is why I decided to create Travelling Tales. So that they can connect and collaborate with others around the world to create a  Travelling Tale.

Would these connections be possible without technology?

Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee Flickr via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee Flickr via Compfight cc

Lift Off

CC J.Bevans 2016 Created with Typorama
CC J.Bevans 2016 Created with Typorama

Lift off. I have made a decision, finally. For my Course 5 Final Project I am going to be working on Travelling Tales. It is (I hope…)  a simple concept based on a Story Mountain, from the author Pie Corbett. It goes a little like this…Story Mountain

  • Someone tells the beginning of a story.
  • The next person tells the build up.
  • Another person tells the problem or dilemma.
  • The fourth person tells the resolution.
  • The last person tells the ending to the tale.
  • Finally the story is told and published to the World.

It taps into the understanding that humans are social animals.  Telling a tale is the most natural thing that humans can do. We are all natural storytellers. Instead of huddling around the campfire to tell our stories like generations before us, we will be doing it around the digital campfire. Welcome to Travelling Tales.

CC J.Bevans 2016 Created with Typorama

The aim of Travelling Tales is to connect schools/classes across the world together so that they can collaborate by creating a Tale, that is then shared with the world. Each school/class will be assigned a part of the tale to tell and have  48 hours to view and then create the next part of the tale. In 2 weeks there will be a finished tale, which will be shared on the Travelling Tales Website. Each Tale will be complete with images, drawn pictures, photographs, icons or words. It is your choice as you tell the tale. Because every picture tells a tale.

CC J.Bevans 2016 Created with Typorama
CC J.Bevans 2016 Created with Typorama

How did I get here? 

Photo by J.Bevans 2016 CC

Our year in K2 started with each of our students making a story of themselves and sharing with our class. We then connected with classes in Cambodia, UK, New Zealand and Canada and inquired into how our schools and countries were similar and different. After many questions and answers between the classes a child in my class made a fantastic connection. He said “Why don’t we share our story with other classes by making a video too ?”

The class got started straight away. Thinking about what we could show in the video to our friends across the globe.

Then we organised ourselves into 3 groups and prepared the iPads for the next day. We would work in small groups (6 children and one adult) with our plan to take photos and record a description of the locations simultaneously. Just 45 minutes later the groups returned to the classroom to re-order the photos and voice-overs and here is the finished product. Welcome to International School of Luxembourg.

It is amazing for a class of 5-6 year olds to have an idea, create a plan, organise themselves into groups, take photos, record a description and publish it to the world. All within 4 weeks of working together.

It got my mind racing…Could schools work on a similar project, across the world? Could schools collaborate to create a tale? SPARK. I thought about the idea further. Spoke to colleagues. Could this work ? Let’s go. Travelling Tales was launched.


All schools/classes are working on Literacy elements in the classroom. But how much of their work makes it out of their book? How much of it has an audience? The aim of Travelling Tales is to take the work that is already going on in classrooms and share it with others. So that students can learn from each other by telling a tale. We will be connecting and collaorating and creating a tale across the world.

What do you plan to do and why?

I plan to connect my class and other classes around the world to tell a tale. They will collaborate together to create a tale for a global audience.

I want to make more connections for my students and other students around the world. There is no need for work to sit in a book that just the teacher and student see. Let’s celebrate what we are learning in the classroom by creating something that others can learn from.

How do you think you might get there?

I will be starting small. First trialling it in my school by creating a travelling tale. Then with a few members of my PLN to create more travelling tales.

But I would love it to get bigger. I have created a website, a Twitter Handle, and a Google Form (Sign up now!) so that anyone can sign up and join in Travelling Tales.

What are you hoping to see in your students learning as you conduct the project?

I am hoping that we will learn from other children. I am hoping that they are proud to share their thinking and learning. I am hoping that they enjoy seeing their work being published to an audience. I am hoping that they enjoy collaborating with others around the world.

Join Travelling Tales.


Lift Off.

Photo Credit: Jiuck via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Jiuck via Compfight cc

Ch Ch Changes

A little over a year after my first ever blog post and a lot has changed.

I was a lurker a year ago. 


  •  I was happy to consume content  – I used Twitter as way for checking football gossip ( I still do this…but not as much!).
  • I didn’t make global connections  (apart from family and friends living around the world).
  • I didn’t create any content  – I didn’t write a blog, I didn’t share what was happening in the classroom.
  • I didn’t particpate -I was not commenting on blogs, joining in MOOC’s

As a  teacher

  • The kids I worked with created lots of amazing content but no one ever saw it.
  • They collaborated in their classroom or in other Grade 1 classrooms  but not on a global scale.
  • They communicated however not out of Luxembourg.

But ( the good news) and with the help of COETAIL  and my awesome PLN.

I was a lurker but I have changed.

22402993359_ff2cfd1246_oWhat changed?

I received a challange in my first post from a comment made from Jeff Utecht. It is something that I keep on coming back to.

Jeff Utecht's Comments from my First Blog Post
Jeff Utecht’s Comments from my First Blog Post

I realised the most important thing that I needed to learn is how to connect my students to others around the world. I also needed to find a PLN so that I could learn and share ideas across the world. I needed to get connected.


Twitter, COETAIL, My RSS feeder, Educators around the world with similar ideas, Pocket ( I love pocket -an amazing tool to read articles etc when offline), have all made the world a smaller place. It has allowed me to change, to connect.

COETAIL has rewired me as as a learner,  teacher and innovator. I know that this is not the end of the road of my journey because the journey of an educator is that they we are always developing. You see,  I am (still) going through Ch Ch Changes.

Photo Credit: Chris Piascik via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Chris Piascik via Compfight cc

Time to face the strange ( as the great David Bowie famoulsy said).

I am working in a new grade. Goodbye Grade 1, I am now a K2 Teacher.

I have a new role at my school. No longer a Grade Level Leader for Grade 1, now an Activator of Thinking and Learning for Lower School.

Things are a little strange but it is fantastic to be working with a new team of people, to be in a new environement, to be working in different ways, to be working with a new curriuculm. It might not seem like a lot but the changes are invogorating and exciting.

What’s new? 

The year has started with a bang. It has been all go. 3 weeks into the school year and our K2 class has been so busy:-

One of the biggest things for me is that I am documenting and sharing what is happening with others. The learning that is going on is real and has real purpose. Their is an audience that we are sharing the processes to our learning – not just the product. Follow our journey @mrbevsclassroom

How do these changes affect my Course 5 project?

When I wrote down my ideas for the Course 5 Project ( Magic Carpet Ride) I was thinking that I would be teaching Grade 1 children (6 & 7 Year olds)  in a curriculum that I helped to design.  Now I am teaching K2 children (5 &6 year olds)  in a curricullum that I am getting more familair daily. The thing is that I am changing my mind on a daily basis as to what my project should be.

Do I document the MakerSpace development?

Do I think about connecting classes across the world together though making a book online?

Do I use Scratch to begin coding with 5 year olds?

Do I introduce digital literacy to the class to give them the best possible start to their digital footprint?

What do you think? I am not sure…

I am (still) going through Ch Ch Changes.


Course 4 – Final Projects – Magic Carpet Ride

OK… So I am not really sure what I want to do…

Photo Credit: blazerowner via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: blazerowner via Compfight cc

I have thoroughly enjoyed the past 4 courses of COETAIL. It is the best Professional Development I have ever done. It has been an amazing journey – a little like a magic carpet ride.  Up’s and Downs. So much learning but so little time. Surprises and Fears. It has been an unbelievably action packed, whistle stop stop tour of Education Technology and Information Literacy (aboard a magic carpet!). But you see, I am pretty indecisive…because I cant make up my mind… I am going to give you a choice too!

Welcome aboard the Magic Carpet.

Press play on either the 1968 “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf (Canadian-American Rock band) or Press play on 1995 “Magic Carpet Ride” by Mighty Dub Katz (AKA Norman Cook, AKA Fatboy Slim) the English DJ, musician and record producer/mixer. Your choice… as I take you through my choices because I am not sure what I would like to do for my Course 5 project.




Photo Credit: gonzalo palmieri via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: gonzalo palmieri via Compfight cc

Describe the project: What will your students do?

Children will learn key digital literacy skills such as the ability to locate, organise, understand, evaluate, and analyse information using digital technology. I am hoping that the children will:

  • mindfully read new media
  • become makers and tinkers of text and media
  • offer guidance to becoming responsible digital citizens

How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?

I loved Course 3 of COETAIL. I had such a great time messing around with so many new tools and ideas. Digital literacy is the basic understanding of how to interact with a computer, how to interact with applications on that computer, how to make it do what you want. We all want children to grow up having skills which they can use in later life. Teaching digital literacy from Grade 1 will give the children a fantastic start to their digital lives. Combining it with Gamification ( which I became interested in during Course 4) is a way of keeping younger children invested in learning these key 21st Century skills. This could be through badges of maybe even an online platform…something to think about.

What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?

I hope to give children an opportunity to gain digital literacy skills which they will be able to use throughout their lives – Understanding how to read a picture, citing a picture, thinking about design, creating an interesting presentation.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

I think Grade 1 children can learn these skills that will help them redefine their education and give them skills that they will use throughout their lives. I really like the idea of gamifying the project to make it accessible for 6 and 7 year old.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

Digital Literacy is a huge area…where to start…what skills do Grade 1’s need to know first?

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

Modern classrooms have moved from the traditional brick walls to connectedness in digital learning. Digital learning provides more opportunities, compared to the flat, traditional way of learning encouraging the 3 R’s — reading, writing and arithmetic. But the 3 R’s are not the only essential skills now needed.Students now also need the 4 C’s. These 21st century essential skills of learning and innovation include the following skills sets: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. Fitting it all in is going to be the biggest shift!

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Children will have to be happy to learn new things using technology – luckily most 6&7 years olds like using technology. Perhaps it may require a positive response from some parents?



Describe the project: What will your students do?

Coding in Grade 1 using Scratch, perhaps with raspberry pi ( and maybe other things that can move and do things!). To thrive in tomorrow’s society, young people must learn to design, create and express themselves with digital technologies.  Scratch is a visual programming tool which allows the user to create animations and games with a drag-and-drop interface. It allows you to create your own computer games, interactive stories, and animations using some programming techniques without actually having to write code.  

How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?

Photo Credit: mag3737 via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: mag3737 via Compfight cc

Coding is something that I have scratched the surface with (no pun intended!!) – I want to know more about and want to the children in my class to really understand how and why we are using it. Coding and programming gives anyone the ability to make digital technology do whatever – to bend digital technology to one’s needs, purposes, and will, just as in the present we bend words and images.

What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?

To give children an opportunity to code and program for a real purpose. Giving them skills that can be used again and again in the course of their lives. The mental skills developed by learning to code are supremely useful in many other facets of life. It improves your ability to take a large problem and break it down into a series of smaller tasks. It will improve children’s decision-making and critical thinking.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

There are so many things that are possible from coding. Learning to code allows anyone to understand machines, computers, internet, mobile apps, blogs, websites etc. Most things that that we have read, discussed and written about throughout COETAIL is based on some element of coding.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

My main concern is fitting it into our first couple of unit’s of learning – 1.Communication and Structures and 2.Materials.

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

Letting go a little – I think the students will soon become the experts very quickly!

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

An open mind to play with blocks on a screen…what could be better!



Describe the project: What will your students do?

A makerspace cart to be developed in Grade 1 or maybe for the Lower school as a club. With children helping to design flipped videos of instruction of how to use the cart.

How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?

Photo Credit: fabola via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: fabola via Compfight cc

Children want to make and create. If they are making and creating then they will be using language and joining concepts together in a meaningful and purposeful environment. Makerspaces are all about real-world challenges, learn by doing and using new (and old ) technology. Using the flipped classroom idea so that children create videos to explain how to use the equipment, etc will add an added dimension to the project.

What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?

Create a culture of making, active learning, design and thinking.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

It is something that incorporates lots of learning throughout COETAIL. Remix culture, design, technology, thinking routines, real world situations.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

I am not a natural maker…Will my school want to do this?

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

How do you change your culture and ensure that your  makerspace will empower students to acquire 21st-century skills? How do you change the culture of student apathy to encourage a mindset of doing?

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Engaging students in it through design thinking. Celebrate failures, both large and small, by insisting that students document the learning that results. Honour the outcomes by publicly showcasing projects, either physically through a gallery experience or online through a class website, Twitter, or other social media.

Magic Carpet Ride. Who knows where I will end up?!?

Which one did you choose? Could the ride get better? Let me know…

Visitors only please…Residents by permit!

Are you a visitor or a resident?

Photo Credit: Canadian Pacific via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Canadian Pacific via Compfight cc

Resident – An individual who lives a percentage of their life online.

Visitor – An individual who uses the web as a tool in an organised manner whenever the need arises.

Think about these words as you read on…

In the last 60 seconds there have been:

  • 527,760 photos are shared on Snapchat every minute
  • 701,389 Facebook logins
  • Twitter sees 347,222 Tweets per minute
  • YouTube boasts of 2.78 million video views
  • As many as 150 million emails sent are sent every one minute
  • 2.4 million search queries on Google
  • Almost 20.8 million messages are exchanged on WhatsApp

Take a look at the numbers below as they change while you read this blog post…. It really is mind-blowing how much information is being created and how much is being consumed.

What has changed?

Children today are  Digital Nativesaccording to Mark Prensky. They have been born into a time where using the internet is the norm. As part of the generation of children who have grown up in Web 2.0 it is part of their culture to be uploading, creating and distributing their creations for the wider world to consume as they like. But perhaps “digital resident” and “digital visitor” is a better way of describing people because it is defined more by attitude than age. Do you live on-line? Or do you us the web in an organised way?

For all of us the online environment has changed. Adults and children are using devices to connect with other people. With the internet there is truly a global world at our fingertips. In today’s hyper-connected 24 hour society of information overload it is hard to say no and switch off…We want to know more, feel more connected, not miss out on the latest news, photo, etc. We are working harder than ever- online or offline.

 How do we live with technology? And is it healthy? 

Photo Credit: mrkrndvs via Compfight cc

How many of us are guilty of checking our phones (email, text, Twitter, Facebook etc) during a family meal? How many of us put their phones on the table during a meeting just in case a little bit of infromation comes in? We have all done it…I know I have!

The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

So why do we feel this need to quench our infromation thirst? I think it is a case of fear of missing out (FoMO). Psychologist Adam Ferrier said that people have always felt the fear of missing out on parties and activities even before the Internet, but social media indeed elevated the FOMO intensely.There is a very strong positive correlation between the hours spent on digital technology and higher stress.

What can we do in the future? 

We need to conquer the infromation overload both personally and within our schools. We know that there is more infromation being produced than ever before. I know that I need to make  a change. Here a few things I am going to try out from Daniel Levitan:

Getting organised can bring us to the next level in our lives.

In my classroom

Photo Credit: Sandro_Lacarbona via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Sandro_Lacarbona via Compfight cc

The children and I are pretty active in the classroom. There is no set place to sit, children work on the floor, on desks, on iPads, on the computer, at the microphone stand, on the IWB, in the quiet space, in the construction space. There is lots of choice in what and how they do something. We take breaks in our day for a little Go Noddle, use brain-breaks and thinking and learning routines. Getting children (and adults) active (body and mind )is so important.

At the beginning of the year we spend a lot of time talking about the expectations using iPads and computers in class and how to use these apps correctly. It is time consuming but  this communication is so important for the children to feel trusted and valued in how and when to use technology. Therefore screen time and  internet or device distractions are not really a big issue for the children in my class. We have 4 desktops and 7 iPads. The children have a choice of using them at any time and for any purpose. I find it interesting though that I never have to remind them about the amount of time that they spend on these devices. Why is that?

Could it be that children are quite balanced in making their online and offline choices. They see the need for communicating, consuming and creating using both technology and also not using it. One boy told me last Friday afternoon ( after spending all day rehearsing our Grade 1 play)  “I have been on Kidblog, I have played Minecraft, I really want to build a marble run!” Maybe they just get it. Perhaps they see the internet and devices simply as tools. They might think that going on the internet, is like going to the park.

So the children can navigate through this online and offline visitor and resident ideas…how about me?

In the time reading this…

  • How many emails have I received?
  • How many twitter notifications have I received?
  • How many WhatsApp messages have I received?

Am I a visitor or a resident

Education Rebooted

Nearly every industry in the world has changed beyond recognition by the invention of computers, the internet and mobile technology. The world has been rebooted.

But has education changed and evolved? 

The simple answer is no!

In the 1800’s, students sat in a classroom, listened to a teacher and took tests. In 2016, some students do exactly the same thing. Our current education system was designed and conceived for a different ageThe classroom is a relic, left over from the Industrial Revolution.


So why has education not changed when it is has the most to gain from change? 

Education has to give children the correct skills so that they can succeed in today’s hyper-connected world. The pace of change is accelerating. By one estimate, the amount of new technical information doubles every two years, and 70 percent of today’s students will end up in jobs that have not yet been invented

But it is not happening…

Researchers have identified numerous elements to bring about this culture change including teachers’ beliefs about what constitutes effective instruction, their lack of technology expertise, erratic training and support from administrators, and neither the time nor the incentive to explore and experiment.

Photo Credit: arwcheek via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: arwcheek via Compfight cc

Of course they will need a few core skills like reading, writing, math, thinking, imagining and creating, however we cannot know what knowledge or skills they are going to need in their lives. Simply buying technology and adding it to the current system is not going to work.

Yes schools have bought technology,  substituted a chalkboard for an Interactive White Board. A good use of money and technology? Likewise there is nothing transformative about every kid having an iPad unless you’re able to reach higher-order teaching and learning.

We need to Reboot Education.

Pedagogy first, it’s not about buying a load of tablets.

What skills are the children really going to need when they grow up? 

The general consensus is that students need to acquire transparency-level skills in the following areas:

  • Problem solving -Students need the ability to solve complex problems in real time.
  • Creativity -Students need to be able to think and work creatively in both digital and nondigital environments to develop unique and useful solutions.
  • Analytic thinking -Students need the ability to think analytically, which includes proficiency with comparing, contrasting, evaluating, synthesising, and applying without instruction or supervision.
  • Collaboration -Students must possess the ability to collaborate seamlessly in both physical and virtual spaces, with real and virtual partners globally.
  • Communication -Students must be able to communicate not just with text or speech, but in multiple multimedia formats. They must be able to communicate visually through video and imagery as effectively as they do with text and speech.
  • Ethics, action, and accountability -This includes adaptability, fiscal responsibility, personal accountability, environmental awareness, empathy, tolerance, and global awareness.
typorama 3
Created with Typorama – J.Bevans 2016 CC

I hope that education will be rebooted to include these skills so that children can succeed. As educators we need to be Future Wise to what and how children will need for theirs and ours futures.

How can we do this? 

Education is complicated. There are so many elements that will make up the Future.

What will the school building look like?  Will children learn in their living rooms?  

Research shows that students and teachers do better in spaces that offer variety, flexibility and comfort. Classroom redesign has begun however  maybe we won’t even have classrooms. Perhaps kids will just sit at home and log on to lessons brought into their living rooms.

Are online courses the future?

Online Courses ( such as University of the People) and MOOC’s allow students to study on a flexible time schedule, offers hands-on experience, and encourages ‘out of the box’ thinking. Great examples are  Edx, Coursea, and CS50.

Do we need a timetable? 

We may conclude that it makes no sense to break down the school day into fixed “periods”. Interdisciplinary and real-world projects could be the answer.

Are the teacher/student roles changing?

Teachers are acting more as facilitators rather than keepers of all knowledge. Students are driving their own education to the path that they feel best fits them. Knowledge is not something to be passively received; it is to be sought out, questioned, created, and investigated. Students need to be engaged in the processes of asking, acquiring, analysing, and adding to knowledge

How does Virtual Reality fit into education? 

It will revolutionise  field trips. If you want to teach a child about the solar system, the ability to physically drop them onto the surface of Mars and show them what the gravity there is like is an incredibly powerful educational tool.

A new Industrial Revolution? 

3D printing will become mainstream, offering students the chance to create a new industrial revolution from their desks.

As I think about what the future of education will be, I look at all these interesting changes that are happening now because of technology. 

My hope is that some of these and more creative ideas will continue to be shared through our growing PLN’s to produce an education system that will allow the children to succeed in life. An environment rich in resources, the space to fail, explore, discover how the world works and the technology to share it with the world.

Most educators and observers agree that the school of the future will go electronic with a capital E!

Education Rebooted.

You name it I will play it

I am here today to admit something… I am addicted to games. You name it I will play it.

So how did this begin?

Photo Credit: kytetiger via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: kytetiger via Compfight cc

Well play is the work of a child. Growing up I played a lot of games. I played games outside (Football,Cricket, Tennis, Tag). I played games inside (Monopoly, Subbeteo, Test Match, Balloon Ball). I played computer games (Football Manager, Super Mario Kart, Sonic the Hedgehog, Streetfighter, Elite). You name it I played it.

Some of these games I have to admit being mildly addicted to. With Football Manager I was obsessed, delusional and generally idiotic for a bloke who should know a lot better!

At the end of the day, a game is successful only if each individual gamer has an interaction with it that makes him or her want to come back for more. 

This is not a new phenomena. Gamification has been around for a long time, the earliest example is the belt system used by martial arts starting at white and working your way up to black.

But I am not here to write about the multi-billion dollar video game industry or martial arts. Instead how does this fit into the Education system? 

Well the simple reason is that play is our favourite way of learningPlay is useful because it simulates real life experience — physical, emotional, and/or intellectual — in a safe, iterative and social environment, not because it has winners and losers.

Some learners may lack motivation, especially when they do not find the purpose of a learning activity. Gamification and Game Based Learning  can make learning activities more active and participatory. So put simply they are both about engaging children in their learning. But there are differences too…

Gamification typically involves applying game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. In education it is generally used to motivate by using challenges, rewards and achievement badges. It encourages fun, mastery and meaningful choices.

Game Based Learning is the use of games (analogue or digital) for teaching a subject matter. The idea is to get children to play with already made games for a purpose.

So there are 2 separate ways of playing games at school as well as at home. Online and Offline…


Photo Credit: wwarby via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: wwarby via Compfight cc

There are plenty of educational games online for children of any age to play. Sites such as Khan AcademyLearning games for kids, Question Quest,  Brain Pop -Game Up, Amplify, Minecraft Education, Dragon Box  and OpenEd elements of gaming. Other games such as PaGamO allows teachers to create custom games and share them with other educators.


It is not simply children sitting around a computer or screen playing online games. It is so much more than that…Gamifiaction is

the application of gaming metaphors to real life tasks to influence behaviour, improve motivation and enhance engagement.

Taking elements of  popular games and using those elements can create a powerful offline game too. But it is challenging to correctly find this balance in fact many educational games fail because they simply do not offer

an intricate balance of challenges and rewards that continually push players to, and then beyond, the limits of their knowledge and skill.

Which is why a well made games become addictive! Games such as Sims, Sim City and Minecraft are all games that have been designed for gamers and the mass markets but with careful thought and planning can be adapted to use in schools.

In reality Gamification and Game Based-Learning are taking over real life in a bid to engage users. Amazingly in China a unique database of consumer information, a gamified social credit system compiles individual social credit scores. But this is not an anomaly. There are so many examples of it being used in every day situations:-

It is not surprising really because this TED talk predicted the future 6 years ago!

So what’s happening in the classroom? 

We play games a lot in the classroom. Maths games, writing games, reading games, online games, offline games. You name it we play it. We really enjoy playing games in our classroom.

Personal Picture- J. Bevans CC
Personal Picture- J. Bevans CC
Personal Picture- J. Bevans CC
Personal Picture- J. Bevans CC
Personal Picture- J. Bevans CC



Personal Picture- J. Bevans CC
Personal Picture- J. Bevans CC













But we play a lot of analogue games in the classroom I really want to delve into more online/technological games. However I want the games to be purposeful and relevant to my class.

I am aiming to put Minecraft into my class certainly during our Structures and Materials Unit and Communication Units next year. I have recently bought a Raspberry Pi and over the Summer will look to implement gamification with this. Finally I am exploring exploring SCRATCH and gamifiaciton and how to build this in to our game based classroom.

Why do I want to do this? 

There are games to reach every learner in a fun, non-threatening environment which allows for 21st Centruy Skills like communication, collobration, creativity and critical thinking. I think that

I love games… Games inside, games outside, games online, games outside. I am addicted to games. You name it I will play it. Why?

Well the simple reason is…

Fun + Play = Learning. What are you playing? 



The future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it and turn it inside out.

Whats the SPARK in your classroom? How do you ignite children’s learning and curiosity?  

Photo Credit: evelinazvirbule via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: evelinazvirbule via Compfight cc

There are so many X-based learning models. Here are a few:-

that allow for children to take part in a variety of

in-depth investigations of real-world topics worthy of children’s attention and effort.

The ideas behind these X-Based pedagogies are nearly 100 years old. It is not a new concept in education. But it is one that has been remixed throughout the past century.

Most feature some elements of BIE’s 8 Essential Elements of PBL. Most get their names because they use a specific context for learning. If these pedagogies are remixes of each other then I suppose it doesn’t really matter what you decide to call your, er… extended learning experience just depends on how you frame it. The bottom line is the same…they… can powerfully engage and effectively teach students!  

Do we want to teach for a test next week? OR do we want to our students to be creative and critical thinkers who can solve problems and bring about real change?  

My SPARK is giving them life skills which they can use by linking concepts and understandings across a variety of subjects and ideas. This type of education is preparing them for their future. I am aiming to

So what does this SPARK look like in the classroom?

I think I am creating a mash-up of  some of these X-based Learning Models. Challenge, Problem, Project and Inquiry Based Learning (I.B.L.). are all incorporated into the what happens in my classroom (My aim is now to try to add Zombie Based Learning to this mash-up…probably not but imagine that!)

Currently we are inquiring into our Responsibility and the 5R’s Unit of Learning. With the Central idea of What we do affects our environment.

On Friday Grade 1 hosted an Inventor’s Workshop. The provocation (Inquiry Based Learning) for the workshop was the wonderful Caine’s Arcade. The children were reusing/repurposing materials that they brought into school which would normally have been thrown away or recycled (Challenge Based Learning).  The children had freedom to create whatever they wanted to as long as there was purpose behind their design by not throwing something away (Problem Based Learning) . They came up with some wonderful designs/ creations including:

  • A desk tidy for pens
  • A slingshot
  • Marble run
  • A toy tea set
  • A soccer game
  • Stuffed toys
  • A bag

It was a brilliant day with a real buzz around the whole Grade 1 area. Parents came in and helped, Administration and our Maintenance team came and supported the children making connections with their current learning and their previous learning.

Specialist Teachers came to support the learning in the classroom as we collapsed the schedule to allow for deeper more meaningful learning. This allowed specialists to come and support their students in their homeroom. Children did not have to stop every 40 minutes and learn in small boxes. Instead they could use their knowledge and learn across subject areas to create something meaningful and worthwhile using skills that can be used later in life to solve problems, critically and creatively think.

Specialist teachers loved it and it allowed for collaboration across subject areas. One French Teacher told me that “this child has leant more French with me in the past 10 minutes than they will do all year. We need to do more of this. Hands on, practical experiences that will help the in later life.”

A child ( more than one but one sticks in my mind) “This is the best day ever”.

I suppose the whole  idea behind the Unit of Learning could be called Project Based Learning because students learn knowledge and elements of the core curriculum, but also apply what they know to solve authentic problems and produce results that matter. At the end of the Unit the children will be expected to persuade Grade 2 to change their habits through a variety of mediums including persuasive letters, videos, a podcast as if it is a radio station, posters etc. These high quality collaborative products can then be shared to a wider audience using our class blogs, Twitter, Vine, education publications and through conversations with other aged children via Skype or Facetime.

What it really comes down to as a teacher is creating that SPARK because it enables them to continually learn, grow, and question the world they live in.

Teachers can do this by exposing students to a wide variety of topics.  Different people find different things interesting—one reason to provide learners with a range of subject matter, in the hope that something will resonate.

That way we can ignite a child’s SPARK. 

What’s the SPARK in your classroom?