Inspire@Amaroo - Engaging Teachers in Innovation Projects

Thanks to Tiffany Mahon at Amaroo School for helping us to put together this post.

In a previous post, we outlined Amaroo School’s approach to developing ICT capability at the school. A feature of this is the ICT Action Plan, which includes the following outcomes for 2015-2017:

  • Each student 5-10 owns a digital device for use at home and at school to increase engagement and develop digital citizenship skills. 
  • Each student is engaged in innovation, communication, collaboration, critical and creative thinking. 
  • Each student is enabled to determine learning goals, plan and assess their strengths and weaknesses, track their own progress and build on successes. 
  • Each student is engaged and motivated through a personalised learning approach. 

To support staff and students in these priorities the school has launched the Inspire@Amaroo Centre, which is designed to develop, promote and support ICT integration across the school. As well as being a functioning library, the school’s resource centre acts as the Inspire ‘hub’, including spaces, furniture and resources designed to help teachers and students innovate and further their learning.
Different kinds of furniture give students options for working together or alone...

...and creating flexible learning spaces. 
Inspire@Amaroo is set up to facilitate many ways of working. 
Throughout the development of the Inspire@Amaroo concept, a group of lead teachers have been working on ‘passion projects’ where they investigate an innovative idea that will enhance their work with students. Amaroo School’s investment into these teachers and their work is one of the key strategies tied to the ICT Action Plan. Giving six teachers time off class to dedicate themselves to this work is roughly the financial equivalent of the salary of one teacher; however with this model the school gets to utilise the skills, expertise and passions of a range of teachers, something that one teacher could never hope to achieve. It also has the advantage of building a cohort, and the associated camaraderie and capability that comes with this. Amaroo School hopes that future lead teachers will see the 'inspirational' work that this highly diverse team are doing, and be 'inspired' to maybe apply to the program themselves.

Inspire@Amaroo Launch

On March 22, seven lead teachers demonstrated their projects to Amaroo School staff. These projects are outlined below.
Anita Donaldson - Digital Portfolios 5-10

Imagine a classroom where students actively transfer understanding from one subject to another, evaluate their own work and the work of peers and focus their own thinking. Digital portfolios can help these things come alive in the classroom.

Anita demonstrated live versions of student portfolios that highlight students engaged in metacognitive reflection. Students discussed how using their portfolio for reflection has developed their understanding of Australian Curriculum content and how they learn. Anita demonstrated how portfolios can easily and seamlessly be integrated into lessons without being a burden on the teacher.

Tamsin Thomas - Students Creating and Capturing their own Learning.

Through implementing an exciting and intuitive blog site called EasyBlog, we can provide students with a resource they control and use to present their learning. Students are able to video, photograph, voice over and write text about their learning whilst working on a task.

EasyBlog is extremely intuitive and simple to use, allowing students to blog independently within the classroom and provides more time for the teacher to teach! Teachers and students can collect formative evidence of student’s learning using audio/visual ICT; further supporting formative and summative assessment gathering. Parents are also enabled to view their own child’s blog profile and ‘see’ what their child is learning on a regular basis. Tamsin demonstrated the blogging tool and showcased the work of her students.

Tobias Hughes - Augmented Reality

How can Augmented Reality within the Google environment engage students in learning? Google Cardboard is an amazing educational tool that allows for both Virtual and Augmented reality using only a modern smartphone and some cardboard.

Tobias demonstrated how he has been working with students and Google cardboard to:

  • Experience diverse perspectives using pictures taken from different heights
  • Engage students in locations from excursions they are unable to attend
  • Record learning journeys for parents unable to attend on the day.

Tobias is also developing a custom app for Amaroo School that will provide access to location based technology using any smart device to augment the school’s reality.

Google Cardboard makes virtual reality easy!

Ian Thomson - AmarooCrew

Ever wanted to capture a classroom event you were holding…or wish you had some photos of that amazing excursion you led? Maybe your students are exhibiting a unique piece of learning, or a particular creative exhibition and you want some video or photographs of the event? AmarooCrew is for you.
Ian showcased the work of the AmarooCrew. The crew are teams of students who have been trained in basic video and photo skills, and can be 'booked' to help teachers capture educational moments. The teams are 'requested' via a Google form, and will work to produce a piece worthy of sharing with students, the school or the wider community.

AmarooCrew, helping you share what you do....

Brendon Jones - STEM

Students can develop skills in STEM areas through a whole range of activities. Brendon demonstrated three areas that he's been working in: BreakoutEDU, 3D Printing and Robotics.

Brendon and his students have been working with the BreakoutEDU kits to help develop their skills. 
Breakouts/Escape Room scenarios promote teach teamwork, problem solving, and critical thinking, by presenting participants with challenges that ignite their natural drive to problem-solve.

Brendon has also been working with students around creating content with Amaroo's 3D Printers. He demonstrated how easy they are to use, and talked with teachers about purpose they might serve in their classroom.

Melissa Datson - Digital Storytelling
Who wants to tell a story? Throughout the ages humans have shared their stories through a variety of different media, etched on a wall, in the sand, books, through movement or the human voice. Digital storytelling involves students sharing their stories through the use of technology. It is the sharing of their learning, work and experiences through digital content. 

The digital stories that students create can take the form of persuasive, instructional, historical, informational and reflective. The digital storytelling journey that Inspire@Amaroo is embarking on incorporates the green screen. Images of the students’ work, illustrations, technique and research are projected behind the student whilst they are filmed in front of their work, sharing the story of their learning. Digital storytelling works for all ages and across all areas of the curriculum.

The green screen comes in very handy for digital storytelling and a whole range of creative activities.

Melissa also demonstrated the new 3D pens.
This maker space in the Inspire@Amaroo Centre includes magnetic boards that students can remove and use for brainstorming and inventing.
Nicole McAlester - Amaroo Inventors.

Teachers at Amaroo School can book innovation workshops and encourage interested students to join the Amaroo Inventors club, where they can develop, prototype and market their ideas.

Nicole has made herself available to help teachers and students with:

  • Google Sites - creating portfolios, assignments or topic specific sites.
  • Google Sheets or Excel - assessment/record tracking, creating graphs.
  • Google Docs - converting between Word and Docs, class collaboration using one doc.
  • Google Slides/Powerpoint/Prezi - creating cool looking presentations with interactivity.
  • Educreations/Show Me - apps enabling students to demonstrate learning via visual (video/drawing/image),verbal (voice recording), and/or written formats.
  • Primary Connections digital resources - I am a writer and developer (my other job).
Hands on Science or Technology - give me a concept, She'll give you a demo!
These innovation projects are designed to support and develop teachers and students to better understand and incorporate ICT and STEM into everyday learning in the classroom. If you’re interested in finding out more about these projects, please contact Ian Thomson at Amaroo School.