Learning and Teaching at Gilson College

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

This askatechteacher link has a comprehensive list of coding sites for teachers to use during Hour of Code! Very useful!


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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



‘Feedback for Learning: Seven Keys to Effective Feedback’, Grant Wiggins in Educational Leadership

From ASCD, Educational Leadership Journal: September 2012 | Volume 70 | Number 1  Feedback for Learning Pages 10-16

In his article ‘Feedback for Learning: Seven Keys to Effective Feedback’, Grant Wiggins writes:

‘…Advice, evaluation, grades—none of these provide the descriptive information that students need to reach their goals. What is true feedback—and how can it improve learning?

Who would dispute the idea that feedback is a good thing? Both common sense and research make it clear: Formative assessment, consisting of lots of feedback and opportunities to use that feedback, enhances performance and achievement.

Yet even John Hattie (2008), whose decades of research revealed that feedback was among the most powerful influences on achievement, acknowledges that he has “struggled to understand the concept” (p. 173). And many writings on the subject don’t even attempt to define the term. To improve formative assessment practices among both teachers and assessment designers, we need to look more closely at just what feedback is—and isn’t…’

What Is Feedback, Anyway?…’ Read on for the full article:

Educational Leadership: Feedback for Learning: Seven Keys to Effective Feedback

Then, on his blog ‘Granted, but…‘, Wiggins writes more on this subject and includes some tangible steps to providing and developing effective feedback, that  teachers might use with their students, as well as links for his final draft for the EL article and a PowerPoint, which provide fuller thinking on the topic. Find that ‘On Feedback’ blog post here.


Interested in QR codes?

Where can QR codes take you? 

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Caine’s Arcade 2 – Global Cardboard Challenge, Oct 6 2012

From a door handle to a Fun Pass!

Here is the sequel to ‘Caine’s Arcade‘ – one year on!

After you view this video use this prompt to reflect on what you’ve seen and heard.

What Makes You Say That?

  1. What’s going on a year after the creation and discovery Caine’s arcade?
  2. What do you see and hear that makes you say that?

Link to the first Caine’s Arcade Vimeo video

How could your school get involved in the Global cardboard Challenge?



Professional Learning – Teachers need as much differentiation as students

Over a number of years now teachers in most schools in our system have been fortunate to have had access to whole-school-focussed professional learning opportunities. For us a number of these opportunities have been partially funded through application to programs such as the Australian Government Quality Teacher Program, Smarter Schools National Partnerships Program and Targeted Funding Program. These have been supervised by colleagues from Independent Schools Victoria. For several schools this year an aspect of ICT professional learning has been included in these programs.

However, one of the challenges for our system and school leaders when developing and leading the whole-school professional learning programs (which are based on each schools’ data-identified teaching and learning needs), has been knowing how to be sure this learning is also differentiated according to teachers’ needs and takes into account teachers’ experience levels.

In order to move students from where they are to where teachers want them to be – effectively working to close the gap in their achievement levels – we expect our teachers to differentiate teaching and learning according to their students’ needs – and rightly so! It follows then that leaders for the same reasons, must also differentiate teachers’ learning.

Mark Gleeson in his post, quoted and linked here, writes about how to work with teachers to develop the skills required for integrating ICT and 21st century learning skills in their classroom programs and practice. He pleads for leaders, rather than merely providing ICT and expecting it all to ‘happen’, to consider more seriously the provision and scaffolding of teacher ICT professional learning so teachers may develop their knowledge and skills collaboratively and at their own pace.

While we must take notice of Gleeson’s concerns, I feel we can also benefit from applying to our whole-school teacher professional learning programs the general principles Mark outlines! His ideas for ICT are worth serious consideration for all professional learning situations.

Gleeson writes:

As teachers, we have come to learn over the years that we should never expect our students to fully understand a new idea without some form of structured support framework, or scaffolding as the current buzzword defines it. If we want them to solve a problem, we tend to provide them with a range of strategies and tools to assist them. Before writing a persuasive text, teachers present a text framework and spend time developing the language structures and features required. It’s common sense thinking that we need to help learners when exposing them to new experiences.

The same, of course, should be the case in supporting learning for our fellow teachers. From Literacy Co-ordinators to Mathematics Leaders, Education consultants to teacher mentors, it is accepted practice to take a methodical, measured approach to develop teacher capacity in any given curriculum area. With one glaring exception. For reasons that have no grounding in common sense or educational practicality, Technology is just thrown at us and expected to magically stick to us and develop. What actually happens is that it slides right off, repelled by the totally justified and expected reluctance of older teachers who trained as teachers before computers evolved beyond command lines or inexperienced teachers who are still getting their heads around making their challenging students stay in their seats. The lack of a systematic framework for developing teacher capacity and competency in teaching with technology is a massive black hole in Education today. We bandy around the term 21st Century learners every day at school but where is the plan for ensuring 21st century teaching and learning is taking place?

At the moment , I am reading the book, “Leading for Instructional Improvement – How Successful Leaders Develop Teaching and Learning Expertise” by Stephen Fink and Anneke Markholt. Chapter Eight begins by focusing on the idea of Reciprocal Accountability.

“Reciprocal Accountability simply means that if we are going to hold you accountable for something, we have an equal and commensurate responsibility to ensure you know how to do what we are expecting you to do (Elmore’ 2000; Resnick and Glennan, 2002). Practically speaking, this important concept means that accountability must go hand in hand with organizational capacity building with a specific focus on ensuring that teachers and leaders have the expertise necessary to ensure high achievement for all students. ” ( pg 221-2). It goes on to say that “teachers must know deeply each of their students as individual learners, differentiating their instruction accordingly so that each student meets the expected standard regardless of the student’s starting place……..the concept of reciprocal accountability provides the same useful lens to examine the relationship between teachers and principals…..Although principals don’t take the relationship between teachers and students for granted, they often fail to recognize the similar reciprocal nature of their roles with their own teachers.” ( pg 222)…

For me [Gleeson] it comes down to these points.

  1. PLTs [Professional Learning Team Meetings] dedicated to Technology integration into our teaching practices
  2. A constant focus on Technology throughout lesson and unit planning
  3. A restructuring of the role of ICT Leaders/teachers in schools
  4. A greater focus on Technology in Teacher Training programs
  5. A commitment to Technology Professional Development courses on an equal footing with Literacy and Numeracy Projects.

…Read more…

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Life of an Educator by Justin Tarte: Great leaders build great teams…


Justin Tarte states on his blog ‘Life of an Educator’, that he is  ‘Starting in a couple weeks [to] assume the role of the Director of Curriculum and Support Services in a district of 3,000 in the suburbs of St. Louis, MO…’ He has some insightful advice to share about building strong leadership teams. While his context is in the USA, the principles apply worldwide…

Great teams are few and far between, but I believe that’s because the premise of building a great team might be flawed. It’s so easy to build a team of educators who all think alike and have similar backgrounds and experiences. That is safe. That is comfortable. That is easy. That is too easy…

Great leaders assemble teams and tap into the strengths of the members of the team and openly seek out new members with vast and varied backgrounds. Great teams challenge and push each other while always questioning the status quo. Great leaders are able to build teams that believe and trust in one another, while also having high expectations for each and every member. Read more…

What are your thoughts about the make-up of leadership teams?

Life of an Educator by Justin Tarte: Great leaders build great teams….