Learning and Teaching at Gilson College

Learning for living, Character for life, Hope for the Future


eReader or Tablet Devices of iOS and Android Variety? Which do you recommend?

A colleague recently forwarded me the emailed query quoted below. It came from his colleague was seeking information about the value of introducing eReaders in his school for loading on textbooks and novels. I thought I’d share my response:

We are currently looking at the feasibility of issuing eReaders to all our students for all their required school textbooks and novels. I would like feedback from anyone how has already taken this path and maybe able to advise on any pitfalls and a reliable and cheap supplier of the eReader and the associated texts.

While eReaders have their place, I disagree with the purchase of eReaders merely as a storage for textbooks.
I also disagree with the premises stated in this gizmodo.com article that was referenced in one of the responses to the email writers query. I stand to be corrected but from the points argued in the article it is my opinion that the writer may not be an educator. I do agree however with responses given by the main ‘Comment’ writer , who I suggest writes from the point of view of an educator. The writer of the article quite unfairly I believe uses the commenters seeming preference for Apple devices to try to discredit the comments. While the commenter might prefer Apple products his/her arguments could equally apply to android as to apple devices, as such devices allow apps to be downloaded that are appropriate for pedagogical use.
To be frank, I’d never vote for the purchase of a device for education purposes such as an eReader, however cheap, if it is just being purchased to able to access textbooks or even novels in digital form. How is this different to having paper versions?  It is my opinion that this is false economy.
As well, while other devices, whether android or iOS are more expensive they allow for far more 21st century pedagogical variety and functionality, and all of those ‘smart’ devices allow access to free eReader apps such as iBooks, Kindle etc., which if absolutely necessary allows for digital textbook and novels upload.
To my mind this is much better economy, even if in the first instance fewer devices are able to be purchased.
I would argue too that the educational world is actually moving quickly towards Bring Your Own Device programs that alleviate initial and ongoing costs for multi-use devices e.g. purchase, insurance etc.
As well schools and educators often decry and ban the use of personal devices in schools, however I would argue that administrators and teachers really do need address the question of how they might work with their students to create a culture of trust to allow for the educational use of personal digital devices in schools rather than perpetuate the development of a culture of banning. I would ask, ‘Have you explored for example the value and use of twitter to connect, network and learn, messaging to survey, blogging to collaborate globally, podcasting to reflect, videoing to engage, wiki to collaboratively publish etc. etc.’ Personal digital devices ranging from smartphones of all varieties, iTouchs, iPods, Android and iOS tablets can all be utilised to carry out all of these tasks and more.
I would in fact argue that these days there is no need to use textbooks at all in a 21st century learning and teaching environment. We are entering the conceptual age, where inquiry, curiosity, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and reflective practice (by student as well as teachers) among other skills, are paramount for our students to develop for life-long learning. All of this in opposition to retaining 20th century, education-still-in-the-Industrial-Age focused pedagogy. Isn’t using an eReaders for textbooks merely transferring traditional methodology to new technology? Just transferring paper-based books into a digital form, with some interactivity added? Isn’t this just doing the same old  thing in a new way rather than a new thing in a new way?
Content, information, interactive or not, is abundant, even unlimited these days via the Internet. Better for teachers to consider, explore and implement the pedagogical changes needed for delivering 21st Century learning and teaching and then allow the students themselves to decide what tools they need to use to support their individual learning needs, than make the tool the focus of learning. The tool chosen may be the humble pencil or may indeed be a multifunctional digital device.
It is important to remember that 2012’s Year 12 students right down to our Preps have never been educated in the 20th Century; indeed those annually entering our schools now were all born in the 21st Century. Sobering thoughts I think for educators.
And here endeth my rant and rave.
What is your opinion? I’d be pleased to know.

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‘Science is for everyone, kids included’ – TED

Primary school students have their work published in a scientific journal!

From my standpoint as a Christian educator I disagree with the evolutionary presuppositions at the basis of the learnings of the students in this TED video, nevertheless it is an awesome example of what students (in this case Primary students) can achieve when they are encouraged by their teachers and facilitators to inquire into a question that they (the students) develop and want to explore.

It should be noted that their quest to be published took many more months than their inquiry! Because they were child scientists 😦

I’m sure you’ll enjoy watching the video, and will consider some more the value of Inquiry-based Learning, the value of persisting through all aspects of  any journey, and the importance of valuing our childrens’ learnings!


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From the ‘Why Open Education Matters’ video competition: Not winning entries, but…

Check out these ‘Why Open Education Matters’ competition entries, posted on the Why Open Education Matters website and on YouTube.

Quoted from the website:

‘[From March to June this year] Creative Commons, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Open Society Foundations [ran this competition] to solicit creative videos that clearly communicate the use and potential of free, high-quality Open Educational Resources — or “OER” — and describe the benefits and opportunities these materials create for teachers, students, and schools everywhere…The competition received over 60 qualified entries…’

All entries, including the winners are linked here.

These are a couple of my favourites!

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‘Exploring Sustainability in Our School’ – Nunawading Christian College Primary, an ASV School

Teachers and students at Nunawading Christian College – Primary School have been exploring the concept of Sustainability. The video they produced shows some reflections on their learning.

Helen Reed, P-6 Learning and Teaching Coordinator  at NCCP writes about their initiatives.

‘Every Friday afternoon for the past few months, Year Prep/One and Year Two students at Nunawading Christian College, along with parent helpers, have been involved in a number of hands-on sustainability activities.  These activities have included planting hundreds of native and indigenous plants, cleaning out the school chook yard, establishing an orchard, creating additional vegetable gardens, making a worm farm, and cooking using fresh produce from their vegetable plots.  The students loved these activities and all agreed that Friday afternoons were the best time of the week.

The students from the Year Four/Five class have been focussing on the environment too.  They have been active in keeping the local creeks free of litter and have run initiatives such as ‘Nude Food Day’ and have organised an energy saving competition for all the classes in the primary school.

Nunawading Christian College is committed to operating in a sustainable way.  This commitment has seen the recent installation of 37 solar panels, water tanks with a storage capacity of 500,000 litres and a significant reduction of waste going into landfill.  The school community is proud of their achievements and are happy to provide further details to those who may be interested…’

Teacher Israel Best worked with students to produce the video.

Do you have a QR Reader on your Smartphone? Scan the codes below to add the School details to your address book of your Smartphone.

Nunawading Christian College – Primary School


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Celebrating Teacher Learning: Justin Martin reflects on his 2012 PL Journey with Web 2.0

The Action Research-based (AR) whole-school teacher professional learning cycle at one of our schools – Gilson College – culminates each year in a Celebrate Teachers’ Learning day, where 12 staff members are asked to present about their current learning and its effect for their development as teachers, and the results for their students. This year the school celebrated the day on Monday, October 8.
During 2012 Year 4 teacher, Justin Martin investigated use of Web 2.0 with his students. Part of his creative AR presentation included a song. The video and words are posted here. Thanks Justin for permission to share.

Justin writes:
I wrote this song for a presentation I did as part of Action Research at my school. I was able to present in any style I wanted and so I re-wrote ‘Vincent’ by Don McLean. The COWS mentioned in the song stands for Computers On Wheels which we use at the school…not actual moo cows. Hope you enjoy.

Web 2.0

(to the tune of ‘Vincent’ by Don McLean)
Using IT right
 That’s what I set out to do
 Reading, thinking, playing too
 Learning as I go along.
 Talked with all my group
Worked out what I wanted to find,
Twitter, wordle, wikis, blogs
And other Web 2.0 tools!
Now I understand
What all these things do for me,
I know these will help my pedagogy.
The kids will learn and all is good.
They did not listen,
They did not know how!
Perhaps they’ll listen now.
Looked round at different blogs,
Found one I liked the look of:
www dot kidblog dot org
Messed around a bit.
Posted different things,
Not really knowing what to do
Mistakes there were quite a few
But I’m glad I persevered!
Now I understand
What all these things do for me,
I know these will help my pedagogy.
The kids will learn and all is good.
They did not listen,
They did not know how
I hope they’ll listen now!
Some problems that I faced:
Kids not knowing what to post,
So I let them go I gave them rope,
And really let them have a lot of fun!
COWS had minds of their own,
The internet was really slow,
Children could not get it at home,
And so I had to work with what I had!
Now they understand
Why they do these things for me
It helps with their pedagogy
They are learning and all is good.
They started listening
They are  listening still,
I hope they always will!
Thank you Gruen

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‘Defining and Developing Spirituality in Christian Schools’ – Mark Treadwell

Circle - Phil's Provocations
At ACEL last week I listened to Mark Treadwell speak about conceptual learning. Today I received in my email inbox, eCSM, from Circle which included a link to Mark’s article that I’ve linked here. It is worth reading carefully and pondering on. What does developing a comprehensive program for embedding Christian values in learning and teaching mean for the development of our students’ character and their relationships with each other and our God.


Mark Treadwell writes:

‘…Schools that embed Christian values into their culture and promotion subsequently attract a clientele that desires such values. This provides the school with a warranty to espouse those values with clarity and purpose. The elements that contribute to the formation of a student’s character and principles should be developed in a planned and strategic manner and done so explicitly and with no apology. This requires a good understanding of how virtues can be developed, encouraged and outworked in a student’s life to a point where they become dispositions that are applied with passion…

Read on…


John Hattie interviews Pasi Sahlberg

Thank you to my colleague, Mark Vodell, Principal of Gilson College, for sending me a link to another video worth viewing and reflecting on. The blurb from the source introduces the participants and the context.

‘In Conversation with Pasi Sahlberg and John Hattie: two of the world’s leading education experts on how Australia can learn from others and improve its educational outcomes.

Pasi Sahlberg is Director General of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation (CIMO) in the Ministry of Education in Finland. He has worked as a teacher, teacher-educator, policy advisor and director, and for the World Bank and European Commission.

Professor John Hattie is director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education. His influential 2008 book Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement is believed to be the world’s largest evidence-based study into the factors which improve student learning.’


While I believe we certainly can learn from the experiences of other countries, I also agree with perspectives taken from a number of presentations at this year’s Australian Council of Educational Leadership (ACEL) Conference held in Brisbane this week: We also have much we can learn from each other in Australia – across sectors, systems and schools. We all have knowledge and understanding of, and experience in the Australian education context and culture,

What is your opinion?