Digital Content Linked To The Australian Curriculum: Start Using Scootle Today!


Scootle ( provides access to more than 20,000 items of digital curriculum content published by Education Services Australia. Most of these link directly from The Australian Curriculum website. For example, when seeking resources for ACSSU113, there is an obvious link to Discover resources at scootle:

Otherwise, by going directly to scootle, teachers can find interactive learning objects, images, audio files and movie clips via browse, search and filter technology. Then they can create personal lists of favourite resources for quick access.

Discovering Learning Content

You can find the content that you need by performing either a Basic or Advanced search. My advice is to consult the Scootle User Guide as this is a skill in itself, but one worth investing some time in. Another place to find help is within the Scootle users demonstrations, Education Services Australia, YouTube playlist. Again, the best way to discover content is to find content by Australian Curriculum. Then your search will yield all digital curriculum resources that fall within the curriculum content and year level that you are seeking.

Learning Paths

Probably the best feature on the scootle site is the ability to create and manage Learning Paths. A learning path includes a sequence of learning content, interwoven with teacher comments and descriptions and delivered to students either online (by use of the student PIN) or offline (by using an exported learning path spreadsheet or PDF). This system stops just short of being a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Blackboard. I would still use it to sequence my learning and link to it via my Virtual Classroom. I can’t emphasize enough what a great system for sequencing learning this is. If you are contemplating using it, I highly recommend consulting the Scootle User Guide and the Scootle users demonstrations, Education Services Australia, YouTube playlist.

Collaborative Activity

Learning in a collaborative or interdependent way provides students with a social and intellectual context for greater levels of critical thinking, motivation, peer review and self-reflection. These opportunities are outlined in the ACARA General Capabilities.

ACARA General Capabilities

Scootle’s has big range of collaborative activities in an environment where students collaborate to build understanding, express their learning and receive  feedback. Some of the features of Scootle’s live workspace that support collaboration are:

• a dynamic environment – Students can add their own text, comments and online resources, and rearrange the workspace to build a structured, collaborative response to a task.
• feedback – Ongoing feedback is available from the teacher at any time for student reflection and meaningful formative assessment.
• online identity – Students choose nicknames and avatars for themselves in the live workspace.
• Scootle chat – Chat in real time, with all discussions recorded and available for feedback and reference for students and teacher.
• file upload and sharing – Students can upload their own files and resources to attach to a learning activity

Assessment resource

Many of the digital content items available are assessment resources. These can be used as a check for understanding as part of a Learning Path. I have also seen them used in a summative way as well. I would use these because they are linked directly to the Learning Goals of my content area of the Australian Curriculum and therefore rigorous. It also means that I don’t have to create an assessment item, print it out and mark it as it is all online and automated.

Start using Scootle today!




Creating and Communicating with ICT using Weebly

In the Australian Curriculum, students develop Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability as they learn within and across disciplines.

ACARA ICT Capability
ACARA ICT Capability

Weebly for Education can be employed to compile information together in a different way or collaboratively constructing knowledge; as well as sharing and publishing the products of their learning. There a many other free online systems for creating websites, but this is the only one that is not blocked by our firewall. This is a great system to use for a Mulitimodal response from your students. Why not build this into your next assessment task.

Have your students view the quickstart guide below. From there, the system is very intuitive and will require very little input from you. Why not have them work in collaborative pairs and help each other on a shared artifact of learning.






Learning Design and Management for Queensland Schools

Linked below is a  guide to Learning Design and Management, using Queensland Standards Elaborations as a starting point for Proficiency Scales and then auditing the learning sequence against the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities.

I have previously created a guide that I would describe as a qualitative approach to Learning Design and Management, because Proficiency Scales, in the guide, are designed to move up a Cognitive Taxonomy. In this guide, Proficiency Scales are adapted from QCAA Standards Elaborations and I would describe this as roughly a quantitative approach.



Learning About Life in Medieval Times with CoSpaces and Virtual Reality

I recently worked with a year 8 history class to experiment with CoSpaces. This is an easy to use 3D environment for creating 3D scenes, animations and interactions for Virtual Reality (VR). Have a look at their YouTube Channel for more ideas.

The Plan

I posted something of a learning sequence on Padlet, in the form of a mini project, where students worked their way through a series of questions that would lead them to develop particular objects in their Medieval Town. The kinds of questions I asked were:

  • Will you need a water source?
  • Will you need a Market Square?
  • What were Medieval streets like?
  • What was the biggest and grandest building in a Medieval town?
  • What about houses in Medieval towns?
  • What about people and animals?
  • What was the structure that kept Medieval towns safe?
  • What was Farming in Medieval times like?

The Results

The results were not too bad. For me, this was really just an experiment to see how easy CoSpaces was to use. To this end, I would really encourage you to give it a go as it is probably the easiest 3D environment I know of and students picked it up quickly.

From a learning point of view, students also seemed to pick up on the knowledge associated with the questions that I asked because they straight away recalled it and applied it to their creations.


As with any project that requires the creation of a PRODUCT of learning, there is quite a bit of lead-in time required to learn the skills needed to produce the 3D environment. At the other end, there is also a considerable amount of time needed to manufacture or produce the end product (the VR environment, in this case). This may be too much of an investment in time for the assessment of just one standard. Therefore, I would create a project that required all parts of the inquiry process; where students need to find gather data (primary and/or secondary source), evaluate information sources, apply, analyse and design/create a solution. This is fairly standard fare for Project Based Learning (PBL).

On The Road to Project Based Learning (PBL)

Or Not Quite PBL

“The road” by Rick Turoczy is licensed under CC BY 2.0 ]

I’m hoping that this is a “before” snapshot and later I will be blogging the “after” version; because I’m just not there yet. Many people and organisations, such as BIE, Edutopia,  teachthought,  gettingsmart  and  globaldigitalcitizens,  stress the importance of inquiry and a student-centred approach to PBL. There has also been some work done on the difference between projects and project-based learning and continua to consider for effective PBL.


[Effective PBL Continua by Peter Skillen & Brenda Sherry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.]


In my context, the culture of Teaching and Learning is very traditionally based. Students learn and behave in an environment that is teacher-centred, fixed and synchronous. There is very little collaboration and so students don’t have the interpersonal skills they need for PBL. There is very little personalization or student agency and so students aren’t used to taking responsibility for their learning and don’t have the skills they need to manage their own learning; and so they tend to be passive rather than active learners. Lastly, there has not been an emphasis on 21st century fluencies or capabilities and so students do not possess the information fluencies they need for  inquiry.

I surmise, that because of this prevailing culture, I have not been successful in my attempts to have students collaborate in their learning and exercise voice and choice. Typically, the moment students realize that they are no longer tethered to their chairs in a seating plan, they have a tendency to become giddy and unfocused (I have even witnessed a student doing cartwheels). Then, even though I have provided all the resources and scaffolding they need, they do not engage unless I explicitly or directly teach them as passively as possible; such is their expectation.

Never the less, I intend on moving forward. So far, my PBL looks like this:








Locus of control

Before: At the moment, I initiate the project, but there is some latitude. For example, a project may revolve around developing a website for a client and the client has specific needs that need to be met, so the way students solve the problem will be different. However, students still rely on me to help them manage their projects, with me setting milestones and deadlines. Students are further supported with extensive scaffolding and templates.

After: I think that I need to work my way from setting the theme of the project to allowing students to engage their passions and interests. However, for students to operate successfully at the other end of the spectrum, they need to take responsibility for their learning. Therefore, I will work my way towards giving students more autonomy, in parallel with training them to personalize and manage their learning. The approaches that I could use, with increasing locus of control to students are:

1. Creating a theme or context – students solve a clearly defined problem with a restricted scope. In my teaching area this would be designing and developing a technical solution such as a website or an app.

2. Hack or remix something that already exists – in this situation students could choose something to modify but it may turn out to be too difficult, so I still need to restrict the domain. Students will still have some latitude within these restrictions though. This option works well in my area because students can follow some instructions to build something and then add their own modifications. For example, could learn how to control LEDs with an arduino microprocessor and then create their own wearable T-shirt with flashing logo.

3. Tie project to a competition or challenge – there are many competitions and challenges that are essentially PBL challenges. These often have scope for student choice.

4. Real world client – not only is there a level of choice here but also motivation. When students have a level of accountability to a real person its a whole new ball game.

5. Free play – this is where students can really engage with their passions and interests.

In their book, Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom, Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy encourage teachers to choose a track:

1. Set-Product Track (most restrictive) – produce a set product or thing.

2. Problem Track (medium restrictive) – initiate project by presenting students with a problem or scenario.

3. Open-Ended Track (least restrictive) – the only restrictions here are the learning goals.


Before: I do all the questioning here. My scaffolding mainly consists of design questions. Even when having students identify “other things to consider”, I use questions. My students aren’t delving very deeply into learning through self-directed inquiry.

After: I need to build up my students’ information fluency and inquiry skills. I can do that by embedding the ICT Capability of Investigating with ICT into my project scaffolds or explicitly train students in the process and then encourage them to use these skill to ask questions and develop their solutions. I can also take up the advice from Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy in their book Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom and qft pg 24 and class-wide umbrella questions pg 68


Before: This rarely happens explicitly; often students will collaborate in a spontaneous way but this is not part of the process. The main reason for this is summative assessment, where it is difficult to determine which evidence has been generated by individual students. For this reason, on projects that are team-based, different aspects are nominated as team or individual.

After: A key hurdle seems to be summative assessment. In Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age (2nd Edition) by Suzie Boss & Jane Krauss, it is suggested that a final performance task that requires students to apply what they have learned is one approach that can be taken. However, my projects lead students through an engineering cycle, resulting in a final product. Therefore, I will keep with team and/or individual milestone tasks but may add an ongoing reflective learning task, such as a development log.

The other hurdle is collaboration skills, or the lack of. Again, Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom pg 29 has some good guidance on how to teach these skills.


Before: Again, I scaffold very heavily here and provide the content.

After: Definitely need to build up my students’ information fluency and inquiry skills. I can do that by embedding the ICT Capability of Investigating with ICT into my project scaffolds or explicitly train students in the process and then encourage them to use these skill to ask questions and find their own content links.


Before: Not doing too badly here as students do a fair amount of analysis, evaluation, design and creation. I do use blogs and wikis so that students can share and evaluate each others’ work.

After: This could be made a bit more visible by assessing the level of sharing and evaluating between students.


Before: The majority of my projects do have a real world context and students are forced to seek out a client for some.

After: I need to include a client in all projects and source a real-world mentor for either groups of the whole class.





Stories From The Field: Learning Mathematical Modelling with Desmos

 Karen Oliver

One of my teaching colleagues, Karen Oliver,  just showed me what she has been doing with  Desmos Classroom Activities and graphing linear equations. I was very impressed with their system.


Let Karen explain what she did in her class:

Other Online Mathematics Applications Like This





WALT and WILF the Easy and Rigorous Way

The QCAA has already developed the basis for WALT and WILF within the senior syllabus standards and P-10 Australian Curriculum elaborations; with cognitions and qualities for each standard A-E. Why not use them!

For example:

Cognitions are highlighted in yellow and discriminating qualities are highlighted in blue.

These standards can be used in formative assessment by modifying them to add quantity and content dimensions. In the example below, I have added the quantity of content that I am looking for.

I have students set goals and track their learning by highlighting these scales.

What about Higher Order Thinking Standards?


You probably could still add a content/quantity descriptor, for Analysis, as the standards are usually of the form:

Health Education

However, if you do want to provide more rigor, then I suggest aligning the skill of Analysis to Marzano’s Taxonomy. In this case Analysis increases in complexity from Matching at the bottom end to Specifying at the top.

[Adapted from The New Taxonomy (Marzano and Kendall, 2007) and Marzano Taxonomy – Thinking Processes with Design Verbs ]

So, using this, to be proficient with a score of 3 or at standard, students can Match or Classify. To score a 3.5, students could Generalize and Specifying could score a 4. Therefore, a student Proficiency scale for Health Education, becomes:


This is an example Proficiency Scale for the Learning Goal “I can EVALUATE..” Notice how it ‘climbs’ up Bloom’s taxonomy almost exactly.

This assessment criterion for English is not too bad as it too recognised that a poor evaluation is closer to an explanation or analysis. Most just use the qualifier discerning or thorough evaluation.

I would value add to your existing criteria by adding:

2 = explain/identify

3= evaluation

3.5 = justify decisions

4 = make recommendations


This thinking skill tends to be wide and deep and this is reflected in the range of standards across subjects:


Ancient History


So, leave these as is or use simpler language. You can then increase students’ familiarity and understanding of these by unpacking them and providing tangible examples.

How to use them

I develop these at the beginning of a topic and then just point to the place in the criteria sheet that relates to a lesson or learning activity. At the end of a unit, these also become my marking criteria (front-loaded assessment).

I have students set goals and track their learning by highlighting these scales (self feedback). I also use them when conferencing with students (feedback) and students can use them for peer feedback.

This is one I have used recently: WALT-WILF

Explicit Instruction and Not Quite Blended (NQB) Classrooms on the Road to BYOD

“BYOD” by AJ LEON is licensed under CC BY 2.0


BYOD So Far….

Federal Government funding in Australia for a 1:1 ratio of devices to students is long gone. This has left most school in the situation of having something like a 1:5 ratio, of school owned devices,  that they can barely sustain. There has been an attempt, by most schools, to address the shortfall with a Bring your Own Device (BYOD) program. This has largely been unsuccessful; a strawpoll of schools around the region suggests a less than 10% uptake. Even in places where students have multiple devices at home, they rarely bring them to school. When asked why they generally respond, “My teacher doesn’t do anything with it.”

Why is it so?

The main problem is the focus on the device and the technology, rather than the pedagogy. As articulated by Michael Fullan, “Pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator.” So, when we were given devices but no training or the development of a culture of growth and reforms to our practice, we did the only thing we knew and substituted this tool for something we were already doing. Internet connected devices certainly are useful for ‘research’ or other online content. For a variety of reasons we did not engaged in practices that let us see how transformational technology can be in the process of learning. Meanwhile, students and their parents have not developed a value for technology as an indispensable device for learning.



Where to now?

The only way devices are going to make it through your classroom door is by students bringing them. Parents will not provide devices and students will not bring them until they both value them for learning. Therefore, we need to make the first moves and begin to demonstrate the value that technology adds to learning. We can do that by shifting to Blended Learning.

What Will the Shift to Blended Learning Look Like

Blended Learning is a mix of face-to-face and online learning, along a learning path or sequence. Blended Learning is also Personalized, so students have an element of agency over the pace, place and path their learning takes. Before we leap straight into this and because we don’t have devices, we need to start with ‘Not Quite Blended’. This will then be the foundation we need to journey all the way to learning opportunities afforded be Inquiry-Based Learning such as Project-Based Learning.

Not Quite Blended

The major difference with this approach is that it does not have all the systems and processes you need to Personalize learning. This is more of an explicit approach rather than an implicit one, so students are more likely to be consumers of information rather than producers of knew knowledge; you might post content online and guide students through it rather than guide students through an inquiry process. At this stage, technology is used to enhance pedagogy with Substitution and Augmentation (SAMR Model), with some creep into transformation. This may be in the form of starting to use the 4C’s of 21st Century Learning:

  • Communicate – students might blog their learning and receive feedback
  • Collaborate – students may develop shared artifacts of learning with wikis, blogs or other web 2.o technologies such as Padlet.
  • Critical Thinking – this might be made more visible in combination with Communicate and Collaborate strategies
  • Creativity – instead of the product of learning presented as text, other media may be used in creative ways. Students may also synthesize knew knowledge via inquiry learning.

How can I do This with Explicit Instruction?

If you have read this far, then you already know that it’s all about the Pedagogy! The Pedagogical Framework we use is Explicit Instruction (Archer & Hughes 2011) overlayed with the Gradual Release of Responsibility:

Explicit Instruction

Warm-up ideas

  • Play a youtube video as students enter
  • Pose a ‘Socratic’ question
  • Give a short pre-test using Kahoot
  • Have students play a game
  • Project an image at the start of a lesson
  • Demonstrate a physical behaviour such as a chemical reaction and ask ‘why is it so?’
  • Read an interesting quote from a famous person.
  • Analyse a tag cloud of the topic for high frequency words
  • Hold a Seed Discussion online
  • Have students post an Anticipation Guide


  • Always have these accessible 24/7 in your Virtual Classroom (Blackboard for senior, Edmodo for Junior).
  • Have students track their learning, either on paper or online.
  • Try using a KWL, either on paper or preferably online (have students post this in their online journals).

I Do ideas

  • Create a Virtual Classroom (Blackboard for senior, Edmodo for Junior)to curate ALL content
  • Reduce cognitive load for students by sourcing multi-modal content
  • Let the content do the “chalk and talk” for you. ie: there is probably a youtube or teacher tube clip out there that will say it better and students can watch it several times until they get it.
  • If you do “chalk and talk”, record it and upload it to provide a bank for review/revision. You can then build on this to ‘flip’ your classroom. ie: have students review the material for homework and then go straight into the ‘we do’ step.
  • There are a heap of online learning activities , around content and input experiences, that you can access.
  • Why not explain a concept with someone else’s animation.
  • Chunk‘ content into digestible bites
  • Identify critical input experiences
  • Manage response rates with Kahoot, Padlet and a host of other technologies.

WE DO ideas

YOU DO ideas



1. Develop a Growth Mindset

2. Deliberate Practice

In Hattie’s “Teachers Make a Difference What is the research evidence?”, Teachers accounted for 30% of the variance.

The research also tells us that Teacher reflective practice leads to increased pedagogical skill which results in increased student achievement.

Deliberate Practice is about refinement of practice over time:

3. Couple Deliberate Practice with a Collaborative PLC Cycle, for you and your colleagues:










Gamify Your Classroom With Kahoot and Other Online Formative Assessment & Response Systems

Why Kahoot?

Kahoot is great for:

  • Introducing new topics
  • Review, Revice & Reinforce
  • Formative Assessment and Checks for Understanding
  • Surveying to initiate discussion and debate

Kahoot is available on desktops and all mobile devices as an app, so one way or another, students have options for access to a device that they can use (BYOD). This is a great stepping stone to inspire students and parents to value technology for learning. Actually, students love this, so don’t be surprised if devices flow into your classroom if you regularly use this as part of your exit routine.

How it Works

Powerful Ways to Use Kahoot

Alternative Online Systems



5 Ways to Use Padlet In Your Blended Classroom

Why use Padlet?

Even a basic use of Padlet ticks most of the 4C’s for 21st Century Learning: Communicate, Collaborate, Critical Thinking and Creativity. In terms of integrating digital technology in your class, it is at the Transformation end of the SAMR Model. From a pragmatic point of view, it is also a great vehicle to use to inspire students and their parents to value technology for learning and start bringing in their own device (BYOD).

How does Padlet Work?

The best answer to this question is to read the Padlet FAQ. Otherwise, it can be used on desktops, android and apple platforms; so your students should have reasonable access to some kind of device for learning.

How can I use it?

1. Word Wall

Word Walls have multiple uses and pedagogical intents, such as:

When these are just in the physical classroom, then they can only be used in a synchronous way and are usually not sustained beyond the timeframe of a unit of work. There is also limited opportunities to update and refine these as learning progresses. When these are posted online, however, the reverse is true.

View this example

2. Increasing Response Rates

Normally, gaining responses from a class involves the teacher asking questions and recording responses on a whiteboard. This may be effective for you if you pair it with strategies to increase student response rates. With Padlet, you can have a response from all students.

3. Collaborative Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking is usually not a collaborative affair beyond very small groups of students. You could arm expert jigsaws with butchers paper and have them fill in a graphic organizer and then post the finished collaborative artifact of learning on a spare wall. Or, you could use Padlet.

View this compare and contrast example

View this Evaluation example

4. ePortfolios

Folio assessment tasks are great for students to collect evidence of their knowledge and skills, even when they are on paper. However, paper-based folios are difficult to share within and beyond the classroom. This means that students miss out on feedback from peers and others to inform their learning.

ePortfolios improve on this by allowing a public reflection, evaluation and sharing of learning. Students can also Personalize their learning with “voice and choice” because they can determine what they need to learn, how they will learn and present evidence of their learning. This is the main reason that ePortfolios are utilized for Problem-Based, Challenge-Based and Project-Based learning; where students determine what the problem is, decide how they will solve it and then present their solution.

Padlet has upgraded its technology and now you can drag and drop files to organise an ePortfolio.

5. Exit tickets

These are a great formative check for understanding and can be used as part of your feedback for visible learning.

View this example

Padlet Alternatives

Stories From the Field

My colleague, Wendy Coleman, uses Padlet to give her students anywhere, anytime access to learning activities and resources.  Students are then able to interact with learning resources at their own time and pace.

These Padlets are password protected, so she also sends these to parents so that they can support students at home. Further to this, they all have an associated QR code.

Wendy tells me that she likes the visual nature of padlet and the way it is so easy to post a variety of content. As you can see from the snapshot below, Padlet is quite versatile.