Great expectations

As I wait with baited breath to receive my new laptop courtesy of the NSW DET, an invigorating post by Melissa Giddins has got me planning how to introduce change to my faculty. Only where Melissa as Head Teacher has the authority to set the pace of change in her faculty (laptops used in some way every lesson for the first few weeks, then moving to every second lesson on average – I love it!), as a rank-and-file classroom teacher I can only lobby for such change.

My major strategy will be resource sharing at our faculty meetings – a new teaching idea each fortnight, starting with using features of Word to annotate texts (using formatting, comment, track changes etc.) and moving through to more time consuming activities such as making a digital story.  Luckily the teachers in my faculty are all quite excited about the arrival of the laptops, though some will need more tech (and moral!) support than others.

Download my handout on using comments in Word

Download my handout on tracking changes in Word

During these meetings I’ll also be able to model some key pieces of software starting with Audacity (for making podcasts), Adobe Premier Elements (for movie making – most staff are familiar with MovieMaker…), and taking a look at where to find things in Word 2007 (most still working on 97-03 versions).

Another important strategy is to share work samples from my own classes and discuss what worked, and what didn’t work.  For teachers to feel confident in explaining a task or activity to student, I think they have to have a picture in their mind’s eye of what the product will look like.

All very ‘lead a horse to water…’, I know.  So far though, so good – I’ve been doing this kind of thing (without the software modelling) all this year, and the mood in the faculty is feeling far more positive these days.

But…what could people a bit higher up than me initiate that may bring about change more rapidly?  How about:

  • Head Teachers set high expectations for their faculty – laptops to be used in some way every lesson for the first few weeks, then moving to every second lesson on average, sounds good to me
  • Paper based ‘Daily Notices’ and ‘Staff Bulletins’ be sent electronically – ensures that teachers check email daily/weekly to retrieve these
  • Form a Technology Leadership team, with representatives from each faculty, to meet regularly to share ideas/resources and take ideas back to the faculty level
  • Add links to resources for teaching with laptops to school intranet homepage (e.g. TaLe, Curriculum Support)

I’m sure there’s loads more.  What can you think of, or what have you been doing already, in whatever role you are in at your school?


  1. #1 by mgiddins on June 30, 2009 - 11:23 pm

    Great post, Kelli, and thanks for the link back to mine. Personally, I would love to share cross-schools and not just within schools. Will you be creating a site where you post all that great information? I would love to have a common place where all teachers can share their successes, so that we can all learn from each other and get inspiration and ideas. My biggest worry is that if we all try to do it alone, it will be too big, too tiring – collaboration and PLNs will be the key for ultimate success beyond the first terms.

  2. #2 by kellimcgraw on June 30, 2009 - 11:40 pm

    I wonder if working across faculties may be a better idea for high schools. In my school (and all schools) there are some faculties who are just not that into it yet. Trying to motivate a whole school to develop a relationship with another whole school (or several) sounds like a project that would move too s-l-o-w-l-y…

    What would be the best way to connect English faculties? Through CK-12 (too formal? too general?) Through the English Teachers Association? Our informal PLNs are developing nicely, but may be hard for newcomers to feel at ease in. I think I’ll try to get a list of DET Twitter users working with the new laptops so we can formalise that network, maybe go from there.

  3. #3 by Troy on July 2, 2009 - 6:38 pm

    So inspired…I am caught inbetween, like you, I can only suggest, discuss (with myself or people outside my faculty) or like you I have placed resources on the share point, used email to share resources. Recently I passed around the next year11 assessment for checking, I wrote ‘Imagine if we could just email this to each other?’ Someone wrote under it: ‘Not everyone has email.’ I have such high expectations of myself and the students and my colleagues. Sometimes I feel as I am pushing too much- but that lasted two seconds today when one of year nine group showed me their youtube channel…Can’t wait til they have access to the little babies…

  4. #4 by mrborgert on July 2, 2009 - 9:30 pm

    Kelli I really like your idea of working across faculties as it will plant the seed in numerous places. The concept of a Twitter group of teachers in DET is awesome – I have found it is the easiest way to make contact with people, and will form part of a presentation on PLN’s on Day 1 Term 3.

    What about Laptop mentors – I don’t teach Yr 9 but have offered to the Maths Faculty to be another person in the classroom when they try things. It is far to easy to get caught up in the “projector not working”, particularly when the individual is not a confident user. This could occur across the school.

    We are also running a session on Office 2007 for those staff that recieve laptops – past experience with this change (in a laptop school) has shown it to be quite traumatic. People expect Word to be the same! Really like the way the English mob are progressing with laptops – unfortunately my attempts to convince our boss that English at our school should recieve the bulk of the laptops didn’t work (and I am the Maths HT!) – just ask @madiganda

  5. #5 by tboy72 on November 19, 2009 - 12:35 am

    Kelli, it is great that you are pushing for the use of technology to facilitate learning. Really great.

    I am convinced that this is the direction higher learning will be taking more and more in the future. I myself, am going to college 100% online, with all my text books, the university library, e-books, everything you can think of, all online. I attend the University of Phoenix. I am pursuing a BA in Information Technology/Networking.

    Many, many people do not realize the learning in this kind of environment is really not what they think it is. Just because I am not in a bricks and mortar university doesn’t mean I am not learning. Many people don’t think these online campuses are real universities.

    I will be receiving a real BA degree, from a real college.
    The use of technology to facilitate learning is absolutely great. Laptops are amazing tools and are the right tool for this job. They are mobile and powerful tools and I am glad you are encouraging people to use them in this way.

    Again, hats off to you!

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