Digital Classroom Management : Survival Tips and Tricks

Classrooms that are rich in digital resources such as laptops, iPads, iPods and Interactive Whiteboards enable students to work on individual and group projects. The projects can involve video, audio and text based digital inputs, a wide variety of applications and tools and will progress at different rates.
This vibrant individualised working environment can be a challenge for teachers who are more comfortable in a controlled teacher centric classroom.
Here are a few tricks to give you time to breathe in and relax in such a ‘vibrant’ environment.
Ask 3 Before Me   (Develop a strong learning community)
Often there are other students who know the answer to many student questions and can assist you. Encourage them to ask others and only come to you if the collective knowledge of the class cannot solve the problem. This will reduce the flow of questions and promote shared learning practices
Consult A Wizard  (Students as experts)
Ask students to nominate themselves for applications in which they would consider themselves an expert and make a visible reference chart. eg Photoshop Wizard, Book Creator Wizard, iMovie Wizard. This works so well on many levels – students receive kudos from peers for their area of expertise and have opportunities to develop mentor skills, it takes the pressure off you as a teacher to know each Web 2.0 Tool or application and most importantly often the new wizards are students who are your ‘invisible leaders’ whose talents have not yet been discovered and they have a chance to shine.
Teach The Teacher Sessions  (Shift the power base)

Run short sessions where students can ‘Teach the Teacher’ new technology tips. It shifts the power base to students and give you an opportunity to get an update on the latest tips and tricks in school time. Any students who can teach you a new trick can add their name to an honour board with a brief description of the trick for students ( and you) to refer to in the future.

Hmmm… I don’t know…   (Shift the answer base)
Try saying Try saying “I don’t know” more often and assume Rodin The Thinker pose – you might be surprised at what happens next!

‘Learning How To Learn’ Is The New Black

‘Learning How To Learn’ Is The New Black

“Learning how to learn” and developing agile learning independence  is the key element for survival in 21st Century learners and is changing the learning landscape

Knowledge is ubiquitous and the days of teachers and lecturers being the keepers and deliverers of knowledge is long gone. By the time a student finishes a six year university degree over fifty percent of what they learned is obsolete.
So how do we ensure that we, as teachers, are not also becoming obsolete with the rise of excellent online courses such as Coursera and iTunesU?

Three magic words will put you on the right track.

Try saying “I Don’t Know” more often

We need to be ‘learning facilitators’ who can develop the skills a student needs to ‘learn how to learn’ and gain learning independence.

Teachers who can guide students to develop a powerful repertoire of independent learning skills will realise the less relevant they become to the learners success – the more successful they have become as ‘learning facilitators’.

Independent Learning Idea 1  :

Want What You Find!  Be a Super Sleuth




Online Answers for Independent Learners

How does the search game work?     How Google Search Works.
How do I play the game?                       18 Google Search Tricks
Is this website the real deal?                Find If A Website Is Legitimate 

More ideas to come… next post

Collaboration-Key to Deep Learning

 Collaboration Using Forums

Collaboration is a task that was included in many of the subjects in the Masters degree. The collaboration format that was most prevalent was the Subject Forum which allowed learners to respond to focus questions or negotiated learning tasks. This was valuable to be able to read other points of view which many times was diametrically opposed to my own personal view and challenged my perception of knowing.

Other posts were insightful and added a new layer of understanding and brought in ‘other worldly’ experiences from a variety of learning situations. Responding to posts in a constructive manner was a valuable learning outcome which was expertly modeled by the Subject Coordinators. The opportunity to have input to assist other students was also a valuable teaching and learning opportunity and the ability to share technological, pedagogical and content knowledge. afforded many learning possibilities and the learning was not a one-way process . The asynchronous  communication enabled anywhere anytime learning in an informal setting. Another format that enhanced collaboration was the wiki and this was a great source of information, contibutors posting from  lifeworld experiences and proved a go to place to locate additional information recommended by other learners.

I learnt new technologies formally through tutorials and informally through video on social media sites such as YouTube , Vimeo and paper based tutorials on the web. The learning took place on a need to know basis and was often supplemented by additional resources placed in the course by other learners.

Reading the media was assisted by the Brookfield reading on examining educational perspectives using specific lenses  that we need to consider when critically reflecting on educational performance.

This flows over into other areas when we examine knowledge in relation to the key cultural, theoretical and political factors that are at play . It is important to interrogate the interests and motives that may motivate knowledge claims to effectively lead to a critique. Another interesting concept is the ‘armchair critic’ who fails to come up with alternative solutions to a problem they are criticizing.


The model of inclusive leadership is one of the areas that I touched on in my School ICT Integration plan and involved several meetings with the ICT Committee.  This involved sharing ideas on possible directions that the BYOD implementation could take. Many on the committee had strong opinions on what should be occurring and the direction they wanted to go but the planning matrix was a lifesaver because it kept the discussion on track and focussed on key areas. A second instance was when I suggested that it would be timely to introduce ePortfolios as a formative assessment piece. Many staff put forward their ideas and together we were able to construct a model that each member had a key contribution.


There are many workplace differences based on culture, gender, life experience, interests and personality types and I think that I have learnt how to manage these through informal means. I try to find the positives in everyone, take an interest in their point of view and listen attentively to their issues and understand the problem from their perspective and acknowledge their position. I then try to negotiate a win-win situation wherever possible

Nous, savvy and instincts that can be trusted are intangible elements and difficult to define and identify and I believe that I have learnt to trust my intuition in other people  However I would not be able to say that I have learnt them during my studies

Authenticity, charisma, persuasiveness, ‘street’ credibility are all characteristics that I relate to a person who knows the ‘knowledge stuff’ well and uses it in day to day teaching and interactions with staff. I believe charisma is innate and is definitely on the nature side of the nature versus nurture scale. Street credibility is one of the key aspirations for me as an eLearning Coordinator and I work consistently to build my technological and pedagogical knowledge to a level that engenders confidence in others who are seeking assistance




Abrami, P., & Barrett, H. (2005). Directions for research and development on electronic portfolios. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology/La revue canadienne de l’apprentissage et de la technologie31(3).

Brookfield, S. (2009). The concept of critical reflection: promises and contradictions. European Journal of Social Work12(3), 293-304.

Harford, J., & MacRuairc, G. (2008). Engaging student teachers in meaningful reflective practice. Teaching and teacher education24(7), 1884-1892.

Loughran, J. J. (1997). An introduction to purpose, passion and pedagogy. In J. J. Loughran & T. L. Russell (Eds.),

Teaching about teaching: Purpose, passion and pedagogy (pp. 3-9). London: Falmer.

Pelliccione, L., Pocknee, C., & Mulvany, J. (2010). The Use of Social Interaction Technologies in E-Portfolios. Handbook of Research on Social Interaction Technologies and Collaboration Software: Concepts and Trends, 233.

Voogt, J., Knezek, G., Cox, M., Knezek, D., & Ten Brummelhuis, A. (2013). Under which conditions does ICT have a positive effect on teaching and learning? A Call to Action. Journal of computer assisted learning29(1), 4-14.




Who knows …is the Acquisition of Knowledge Really Knowing?

I once felt certain that the acquisition of knowledge was a sequential continuum and that to be a good teacher all I needed to do was to carefully deconstruct what knowledge was required, sequence and deliver the content as empirical truths in manageable chunks. I would plan and provide activities that reinforced that knowledge, add a few ticks, revise the crosses and send the students off with a smile.

This is a simplistic version, but essentially that was how I used to teach. I worked really hard to provide pretty worksheets, create reusable work cards and a variety of group learning games. I was a dedicated and totally didactic committed knowledge educator and the personal agency of my learners was low.

I began my learning journey towards a more sophisticated academic view of learning when I returned to post graduate studies after fifteen years in the classroom.  This totally unsettled my original, limited understanding of the science of education – the focused ways of coming to know and how this can be translated into a balanced knowledge repertoire . My studies have lead me to explore the learning theories of researchers such as Vygotsky, Jonassen, Gardner, Bloom and Anderson and New Learning theory as described by Kalantzis and Cope . The diagrammatic concept of ‘crosswalks’ of Kalantzis and Cope have assisted enable me to visualize connections and parallels between these theories.

Each time I investigated a new theory it unsettled my knowledge, forced me to critically reflect on my performance, question my assumptions and rationalisations (Brookfield,1995) and adjust my expectations of more divergent outcomes. I assimilated new ways working and ways of framing and reframing questions to reconsider what the students know and what they are learning.

I realized that teaching is not a one-way process and I began to see my role as that of a coach and mentor who facilitates learning experiences that promote  21st Century skills of creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving.

multimodalAfter exploring the ideas of knowing , my future energies will be focused on developing a balanced approach to the building of a knowledge repertoire of my students using the strengths of knowledge relativism and committed knowledge. I will concentrate on extending their ways of knowing to include applying appropriately and creatively, experiencing the known and the new, conceptualising by naming and theory and analysing functionally and critically.



A strong knowledge repertoire empowers the learner to make appropriate knowledge making choices according to the particular learning context and their interests and needs and allows them to become insightful and powerful learners with a strong sense of personal agency. I am uncertain if my knowledge could become settled again but my new powers of critical reflective thinking will ensure I do not become complacent


Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Annual review of psychology52(1), 1-26.

Gardner, H., & Hatch, T. (1989). Educational implications of the theory of multiple intelligences. Educational researcher18(8), 4-10.

Kalantzis, M., & Cope, B. (2012). New learning: Elements of a science of education. Cambridge University Press.

Brookfield, S. D. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Loughran, J. J. (1997). An introduction to purpose, passion and pedagogy.

Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Schön, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions.

San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Smyth, W. J. (1992). Teachers’ work and the politics of reflection. American Educational Research Journal, 29(2),




Student Agency – Get On The Bus – the Bandura Bus


Albert BanduraSocial cognitivists explore the nurture perspective in the social versus biological learning theory debate. Through the lens of the social cognitivist, nature provides a range of affordances that are optimized by socio-cultural cognition. Albert Bandura is a socio-cognitive theorist who explores the concept of human agency as the deliberate intentions and actions of the learner. Personal, proxy and collective agency are the three key features of Bandura’s theory on human agency.

student agencyPersonal agency is the ability to be generative, creative, proactive, reflective and reactive. It is developed through cognitive processes, social and cultural experiences, purposeful pursuits and self-reflections . When students are given tasks they make deliberate intentions to act mindfully, determine what is expected of them, set personal, motivational goals, construct and test hypotheses, reflectively test their adequacy and evaluate their results.

Bandura_attitude_feature_6Bandura contends that student actions give rise to a self-reactive influence through comparing their performance with their personal goals and standards. If they experience difficulty, they either engage in self-enabling or self-debilitating self talk . If they believe they can overcome the difficulty they will increase their effort, but if they do not believe they can overcome the difficulty they view the failure as a personal deficiency and will become despondent. If they feel they are undervalued or disrespected they will become apathetic or hostile . These self-regulatory and motivational factors affect the personal agency of the learner.

Bandura CanSelf-efficacy is an important element in the success of the learner. Bandura believes there is a distinct link between learning and the belief of the student in their ability to achieve tasks in order to learn. His research into the social and cultural process of learning found that students who were capable of learning often failed to achieve because they lacked confidence in their ability to achieve a task. He described this self-belief in an ability to perform a task as self-efficacy.  The level of student self-efficacy can be improved by teacher or peers modelling a task, observing other similar students successfully achieving a task, which Bandura terms ‘vicarious learning’ or watching videos of their own successful performance .


Proxy agency is the deferral to the knowledge or competence of experts to assist with the burden of responsibility. This could be asking for assistance and expert knowledge from a teacher, parent or peer. Proxy agency is helpful but at the same time it makes the learner vulnerable because their success relies on the competence, power or favours of others, which affects the proxy efficacy.

Collective agency is shared deliberate intention to achieve a task using the collective knowledge, skills and abilities. The degree of collective efficacy is affected by the dynamics of the interactions, the coordinated transactions of the group and the shared belief in their collective power to produce results. Bandura believes the stronger the perceived self-efficacy, proxy efficacy and collective efficacy, the higher the aspirations, motivations, staying power and moral resilience of the learners. He states that the visible benefits of a high sense of efficacy are evidenced in a social, cooperative, helpful, sharing learner who has a vested interest in the welfare of others.

Practical Classroom Implications of Bandura’s Theory

Bandura believes that motivational and self-regulatory factors govern the degree of personal engagement and efficacy of the learner. The implications of this in the classroom are that the infrastructure for learning needs to be constructed to ensure that careful planning and implementation strategies are used to maximize motivation and engagement of the learner. The atmosphere of the classroom needs to be warm, encouraging and positive. Learners need to be engaged in social learning opportunities as cognition is social and the most powerful learning is collective rather than individual.  Teachers should model acceptance and value of a myriad ways of thinking, speaking and collaborating.

Teachers need to provide challenging and engaging learning tasks that require a need to actively cooperate to achieve a common goal, that push the learners beyond what they know but remain in Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, within the bounds of what is knowable.

Intervention should be timely, supportive and make use of Socrative questioning to guide learners in their thought processes with encouraging feedback. There should be multiple opportunities to share knowledge, promote proxy agency, engage in collective agency, observe others experiencing success and model learning.

Opportunities should be provided that allow the learners to choose their own learning styles and present their learning in a variety of formats  This will encourage learners to develop representational knowledge to enable them to make sense of their world and communicational knowledge where they can pass that knowledge on to others through language, gestures and visualisation

Assessment of learning should provide positive feedback, opportunities to reflect and modify the task based on feedback; furthermore it should encompass alternative ways of conceiving intelligence and diverse ideas to demonstrate learning visualisation.

Are you on the Bandura Bus?


Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Annual review of psychology52(1), 1-26.

Gardner, H., & Hatch, T. (1989). Educational implications of the theory of multiple intelligences. Educational researcher18(8), 4-10.

Kalantzis, M., & Cope, B. (2012). New learning: Elements of a science of education. Cambridge University Press.

Roblyer, M., and Doering, A. (2013) Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching: International Edition, 6th Edition, Pearson.

SAMR Model – is it for teachers or could the kids ‘GET IT’ for themselves?


I have been using the SAMR model as a teacher reflective tool for a few years since I met Reuben Puentadora in Oz at an Apple PD event.

I started using the framework to reflect on my teaching and learning activities but now I believe the SAMR model has far greater powers when the control is put in the hands of the students. When the SAMR model is explained and is used as a student springboard to creating open-ended activities and challenges it changes the dynamics of who is doing the reflection.


Based on the curriculum I give the students creative choices on the learning tasks that they want to attempt and suggest ideas for challenges that range from the Substitution to Redefinition. They also choose the solo, double, triple or quad group concept and also the audio, video, text and real life presentation model. They also engage in self-reflection and positive commenting combined with peer reflection opportunities.

mountainstoclimbSo in effect, they are free to move themselves up and down through the hierarchy when and if they are ready. There is also the option to create new learning activities with consultation and completely shift the control.  This can produce innovative, powerful learning adventures that I would never have thought of.  The student orientated SAMR model can really empower the students and really enhance the development of a network of learners helping each other to learn.

They can choose their own mountains to climb.



ePortfolios – An Authentic Student Voice Heard From Within The Knowledge Jungle ?

It’s  a Jungle out there – a Knowledge Jungle

Are ePortfolios the answer? Is it possible they could be the vehicle to enable an authentic student voice to heard from within the Knowledge Jungle


ePortfolios – How Can We use Them to Promote Powerful Pedagogical Practice _ A SWAT Analysis

The purpose of this reflective blog is to consider what I have learnt about the value of ePortfolios using a SWAT analysis to explore the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for P-12 Students.

The image below is one I made from this article in Wordle to demonstrate the key concepts – in case you don’t want to read on and just want to head for the summary. Sadly, my name is the least noticed word in the Wordle but you can see that Barrett is a prominent researcher – and one I will follow carefully!

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 3.19.55 PM

An ePortfolio is a selective and structured collection of information gathered for specific purposes and evidencing growth and accomplishments over time.

Portfolios over time have been used to collect information for a specific purpose. Artists use them to demonstrate their art, financial portfolios can be use to demonstrate wealth and an educational folio can demonstrate a students learning and achievements.

What are the strengths and opportunities afforded by ePortfolios?

Digital portfolios offer the chance to capture so much more about the learner and the learning journey. Helen Barrett has been researching the benefits of ePortfolios, published numerous articles in the past ten years and maintains a website dedicated to ePortfolios found at ‘Portfolios support reflection that can help students understand their own learning and provide a richer picture of student work to document growth over time.’

ePortfolios provide greater opportunities to capture the learning process because they combine the value of portfolios to collect, select, reflect and project with the value of multimedia to decide, design, develop and evaluate. . The flexibility of eportfolios enables artefacts to be created, reflected upon and modified to reflect new  learning. The structure is fluid, does not need to be hierarchical, enables a more creative and non-linear presentation,and can be changed to reflect the personality of the owner. Students can present learning and reflections over time and can be continually evaluating their artefacts. .

‘Evidence in an electronic portfolio is not only measured by the artefacts that a learner places there, but also the accompanying rationale that the learner provides- their argument as to why these artefacts constitute evidence of achieving specific goals, outcomes and standards.’

If the curriculum incorporates ePortfolios in carefully considered, purposeful and structured ways the students become more connected with their learning.  If Web 2.0 tools are encouraged to become part of the ePortfolio then there are opportunities for student- directed learning, learner choice,collaborative activities, knowledge sharing, peer reviews, critical reflection and debate.

Being able to hyperlink between artefacts and reflections enables the students to connect more deeply with the learning and develop metacognition.  This will require a new set of considerations in encouraging strategies in our students such as self-regulation, initiative and direction without teacher supervision

‘A good self-regulator will pay attention to tasks, persist when it becomes difficult, demonstrate flexibility, and be confident that more effort will lead to positive outcomes.’ As educators move towards using digital media to teach, and we rely more on children’s independent initiative and motivation, it’s important to develop kids’ learning strategies so they stay on topic while they use these tools.’

What are the weaknesses and threats that must be considered?

If the digital portfolio is not permanently accessible and enduring the students will not value their efforts engage in a meaningful way and it will be like the student workbooks that fill the school bins on the last day of school – all that learning just thrown away!

Teachers who have not had any authentic experiences with creating their own  digital ePortfolios may not appreciate the learning opportunities, the potential for reflection and growth and be reticent to plan for and encourage student use.  They may view the ePortfolio as an add on to their courses rather than considering rewriting the course structure to accommodate new learning opportunities and may attempt to adapt the  ePortfolio to fit their current practices.

The careful intent to plan and scaffold of tasks, the guided intervention to develop effective reflective skills and quality and timeliness of quality feedback by the teacher will require further exploration and skills in their professional development.


There are multiple purposes for an ePortfolio that need to be considered further. Firstly, it needs to be a digital archive of the student’s work that documents attainment of standards, it needs to be a quality showcase of samples that reflect the student’s best works but most importantly it need to foster students telling their own digital stories that evidence their personal learning journey over time.

It is important that the true ownership stays with the student for it is only when it is their story, powerfully told by them that the intrinsic worth, the  critical reflective value and the optimized learning potential of an ePortfolio to will be realized.


Barrett, H. C. (2007). Researching electronic portfolios and learner engagement: The REFLECT initiative. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy50(6), 436-449.

Barrett, H.C 2013 Is The Future Of ePortfolio Development In Your Pocket Accessed  11 Jan 2014

Challis, D. (2005). Towards the mature ePortfolio: Some implications for higher education. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology/La revue canadienne de l’apprentissage et de la technologie31(3).

Pelliccione, L., Pocknee, C., & Mulvany, J. (2009). The Use of Social Interaction Technologies in E-Portfolios. Handbook of research on social interaction technologies and collaboration software: concepts and trends, 233.

Uhls, Y.  (2012).  As Digital Tools Abound Help Kids To Self Regulate

Accessed  11 Jan 2014

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