Mr Melkert's Meandering Mind

Tales of an Upper Primary Teacher

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Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

Wow, May 2016 was my last post. Two and a half years, one brain tumor, one Richmond premiership, a marriage, later and I am back in the same position, teaching at the same school and loving it! I must get back to doing a regular post – at least once a month as otherwise people might think I have given up on blogging. This is not the case, I have my students regularly contributing to their own Kidblog and find it a great place to share positive things about the goings on in my classroom and mind. The reason for this post is just a brag that I have become an Apple Teacher, hence the banner in the right sidebar.

Catch you soon,


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Investigating Digital Technologies

This year the year 3-6 students spend at Dwellingup spend Friday afternoon together spending part of the time investigating digital technologies and part of the time doing sport. Over the past three weeks we have been investigating some visual coding through apps such as Beebot, Scratch Jr, Kodable, Lightbot and Tynker. The students have been very engaged, some working individually, some collaboratively. There has been evidence of problem solving, creative thinking, perseverance and peer tutoring.

This week we also looked at Sphero and Osmo, (we were very excited to hear about Osmo coding being released). I was lucky enough to be part of the Leading Digital Technologies Conference a few weeks ago and can’t wait for our package of digital technolgy tools to arrive.

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Google Hangout

Teaching in a small school with limited students it is important to be able to connect with others outside our community to develop students knowledge of life outside our town. We participated in our first Google Hangout with another class this week. Our students have been reading Morris Gleitzman’s Pizza Cake and have done research on Morris Gleitzman. We connected with a class of Year 3 students at South Halls Head Primary in Mandurah who have been studying Dr Seuss. Each class asked some questions of the other about their authors. It was great to be able to ask questions about each others class, school and interests as well. The students were buzzing during and after the event and are keen to participate in more google hangouts. Check out our class blog to get the student’s perspective on Google Hangout. Here is a short video of what it was like:

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Teach, Tech, Play Part 2

Makerspaces on a budget:

Another fantastic session I attended was run by Narissa Leung (@RissL) who is principal of two small government schools. After showing the must see Caine’s Arcade, Riss explained her journey of the “makerspace” at her school and how it started with a pile of sand and the student’s own curiosity. Read more about it on her blog post.

Narissa emphasised that the space and equipment of a “makerspace” are of far less importance than fostering a “maker-culture”.

Visit Narissa’s Oz MakerSpacers Google+ community.

Explore the world with Google tools by Samantha Vardanega

One goal I had from the conference was to have something to take back to our local network meeting to do with HASS. This session supplied a multitude of ideas to use in HASS but cross curricular ideas. I had a quick play with Google Tour Builder briefly describing my journey to Teach, Tech, Play.

Google My Maps has been demonstrated on Teach, Tech, Play episodes before and Samantha provided relevant, practical ideas for its use across multiple learning areas.

I have found some great resources for my maps tutorials but if anyone knows of any Australian sources I would love to know of them.

Mark Anderson’s Creativity App suggestions included many useful apps, that could be used by both teachers and students to enhance learning experiences. A couple of my favourites were:

Action movie: Easily add your own special effects in seconds.

Photofunia: Create amazing scenes with your own photos in seconds.

Ping Pong: An amazing app that can be used for so many evaluative purposes.

Unfortunately on returning to school I am having trouble getting iPads to log into a room. if you know of a fix for this I would appreciate any suggestions.


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Teach, Tech, Play Conference 2016

Wow! I had the pleasure of attending and participating in the inaugural Teach, Tech, Play Conference held at Ivanhoe Grammar in Melbourne on April 7th and 8th. No doubt it was the best educational conference I have been to in 20 years of teaching. From keynote speakers overflowing with passion for their area of expertise to every concurrent session providing relevant, practical resources and inspirational ideas. A huge typorama

Below are some of the ideas I have come home with:

keep it simple

One of Mark Anderson’s, @ictevangelist, key messages was Keep It Simple Silly, not a new idea, but important to remember when using IT in the classroom. Mark says, “Keep IT simple – You’re not a computer programmer, use stuff that works and is easy to use. Keep IT real – Don’t just use it for the sake of it. Make IT count – use it for a purpose, to enhance or support learning or make life easier.” Find out more here.

A fascinating session that used very little IT at all was run by Hamish Curry and Tom Barrett from No Tosh. The participants were asked to take on the thinking of various visionaries from history and contribute to discussions about a provocation and come up with some launchable ideas. Some participants, myself included found it difficult to stay “in role” with their thinking but there was a buzz in the session  with people coming up with many ideas of how they could use something similar in their own classroom.

I was super excited to find out the queen of Google Classroom and spreadsheets was keynoting at Teach Tech Play. What was evident in the first few minutes of her keynote was Alice’s passion and enthusiasm for her work. Her messages included Technolgy is not going away so we need to take advantage of it, make it work for us and that it can be used to spend more active time with students. If you have not checked out Alice’s website , her YouTube channel  , or her book you need to.

There was so much I couldn’t fit it into one post, more to come soon.


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Top 100 Tools For Learning

This list is going to keep me busy for a while, (wish I had discovered it at the start of my long service leave and not the end). I will not only be perusing the sites listed but purchasing the guide book available at Lulu. The book is by Jane Hart @CPL4T

Check out Jane’s Website here. How many of these tools have you used? heard of? would you recommend?

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Teach, Tech, Play

Keep the first Monday night of each month free if you are an educator wanting to develop your ICT skills and practical ideas. Some of the best professional learning is hosted by Eleni Kyritsis and Michael Ha, two educators from Melbourne. They gather presenters from all around the world and then give them each 4 minutes to present their idea/concept/useful tool. Here is an example of one of their episodes. 

You can check out the website at Teach, Tech, Play

The next episode is Monday March 2nd 2015 at 8pm AEST. You even get to participate and vote on who you think is the Play King/Queen for the month.

Don’t miss it!

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This is my favourite classroom tool at the moment. Create and play quizzes, surveys and discussions using any device with a web browser. You can make your own, use the public kahoots created by other teachers or find out what your students really know by getting them to create their own Kahoot.

Here is a presentation I made for a TeachMeet session.

Here is a link to my Kahoots that I have created:

Click here to create your own Kahoot account.

Click here to play a kahoot. (You will need a game pin to play)

Watch this video about Kahoot created by Susan Johnson.

Or this one created by Tim Smith.

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Make Your Own Font

I am not an advocate of spending too much time teaching kids handwriting these days although they still need to develop a legible writing style. One way of keeping kids computer created work individualised is to have them create their own font. I found this great explanation by Mya on an easy way to create your own personalised font. Mya also has lots of fantastic other ideas on her site Full Time Kid.

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Lip Dub Creation

As a farewell to Dwellingup Primary School the year 6/7 students of 2014. With help from the year 5 students, created a lip dub taking viewers on a walk around the amazing place that we are lucky enough to go to school at. It took lots of planning, research, cooperation, perseverance, creativity and support as well as being fun and motivational.

Here is a link to the lip dub. We would love some feedback and for it to be viewed by as many students as possible. Do you think we have the best school grounds in the world? I can’t think of a better place to go to work each day.