Feature wiki – Lowther Hall AGS

Glenys Lowden, Head of the LRC at Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School has developed an interesting wiki resource with English teacher Jenny Cas. Part of the Year 10 English course requires the students to read and study a book of their choice from a list available on the wiki.

Reading wiki homepage
Reading wiki homepage

Glenys outlines why the wiki was developed:

Jenny and I set up the wiki to encourage the girls to discuss and gain insight into texts which we had purchased specifically for this purpose.

It is great to see, when visiting the wiki, that students have indeed joined and made comments about their books. In some instances, these comments have become conversations when either Glenys, Jenny or other students engage in further discussions about the texts. Glenys outlines some of the issues that she and Jenny faced when setting up the wiki:

We had some problems with students gaining access to the wiki although I think this may have been due to our settings.  Consequently it took ages for the students to get their comments up and by this time the short program has almost finished.  When I last checked not all students had followed through with commenting.  This is another issue which needs to be addressed prior to the next group.  However it has been good to learn from this group and improve the process ready for the next group to start.

Glenys and Jenny have also kindly agreed to publish their supporting documentation; a letter to parents, an introduction to the program and the introductory discussion questions they have been using.

Glenys and Jenny have set up a useful wiki for the girls and have obviously learned a lot through the developmental stages. Well done!

Feature wiki – gaming4learning @ PGSC

Preston Girls’ Secondary College teacher librarian Judith Way was recently one teacher selected by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development‘s KnowledgeBank: Next Generation branch to trial gaming in schools. Judith explains:

In term 2, 2009 (April-June) selected schools in the Australian state of Victoria are trialling videogames as learning tools. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s Knowledge Bank: Next Generation team are currently leading action research with selected teachers in Victoria to identify potential technologies that may support learning and teaching. This project is supported by The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, The Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development (Multimedia Victoria) and The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

In term 2, 2009, these technologies include gaming consoles such as Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 are being trialled in approximately twenty schools. Being a DEECD project, there are strict guidelines and record keeping so all research can be validated. This is a major step for the government’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in acknowledging the educational potential of gaming and backing up ideas with action research. The DEECD will be formulating department policy in regards to gaming once the research has been completed. Schools were emailed in March 2009 to indicate their interest in the project and apply to become part of the trial. The DEECD were offering grants of A$4000 per school to cover the costs of replacement teachers, consoles and software.

Fortunately, I was one of the teachers selected to participate in the trial.

Students in the trial are in either year 8 or year 9.

* My gaming research question is:

Is it possible that games such as My Word Coach on Nintendo DS can improve literacy skills?

What is the curriculum focus of your teaching for this action research?

  • (Identify VELS domains and levels or VCE/VCAL/VET subject areas)

• develop an understanding of their strengths and potential
• develop skills of goal setting and time and resource management
• increasingly manage their own learning and growth by monitoring their
learning, and setting and reflecting on their learning goals
• recognise and enact learning principles within and beyond the school
• prepare for lifelong learning.

• understanding that design, creativity and technology leads to innovation

develop new thinking and learning skills that produce creative and
innovative insights
• develop more productive ways of working and solving problems individually
and collaboratively
• express themselves in contemporary and socially relevant ways
• communicate locally and globally to solve problems and to share
• understand the implications of the use of ICT and their social and ethical
responsibilities as users of ICT.

It is also expected that the project will address the National Literacy Standards.

  • Which PoLT principles will you use to support your pedagogical practices? (please list only those relevant to your research question)

1.4 ensures each student experiences success through structured support, the valuing of effort, and recognition of their work.
2.1 encourages and supports students to take responsibility for their learning
2.2 uses strategies that build skills of productive collaboration.
3.1 uses strategies that are flexible and responsive to the values, needs and interests of individual students
3.2 uses a range of strategies that support the different ways of thinking and learning
3.3 builds on students’ prior experiences, knowledge and skills
3.4 capitalises on students’ experience of a technology rich world.
4.1 plans sequences to promote sustained learning that builds over time and emphasises connections between ideas
4.5 uses strategies to develop investigating and problem solving skills
4.6 uses strategies to foster imagination and creativity.
5.1 designs assessment practices that reflect the full range of learning program objectives
5.2 ensures that students receive frequent constructive feedback that supports further learning
5.3 makes assessment criteria explicit
5.4 uses assessment practices that encourage reflection and self assessment
5.5 uses evidence from assessment to inform planning and teaching.
6.1 supports students to engage with contemporary knowledge and practice
6.3 uses technologies in ways that reflect professional and community practices.
5. How will you evaluate and document your action research?

The students selected to participate that are in the Literacy program will be given the TORC test before the program begins. The group will be given the TORC test again at the end of the program to ascertain results.

Students will also be asked about their engagement and attitudes to literacy now that gaming is used as a learning tool.

Documentation could take the form of a report or blog posts. Debriefing sessions could be held in Elluminate. 



A ‘Decoding’ Literacy group was selected to participate in the trial. Out of the five students in the group, four are in year 8, one in year 9. TORC test results at the end of 2008 place these students at either grade 2 or grade 3 level for literacy.

Before the trial began, students were surveyed about their attitude and understanding of gaming.

  1. 60% played video games at home while 40% did not. (The 40% who did not said they didn’t enjoy/not interested in playing video games.)
  2. 80% of students owned a console.
  • 80% of these owned a Nintendo DS
  • 60% owned a Playstation 3
  • 20% owned an XBoX
  1. All students agreed that they did sometimes play video games; 20% played daily, 40% played a few times a week while the remaining 40% played a few times a year.
  2. Students playing video games said they felt:
  • Happy (20%)
  • Full of fun (40%)
  • Challenged (60%)
  • Focused (40%)
  • Relaxed (40%)
  • Learning (20%)

while students said they did not feel ‘stressed’ or ‘unahppy’ while playing video games.

5. Students mostly agreed that they played video games with others.

  • 40% played with siblings
  • 40% played with parents
  • 40% played with friends
  • 20% played online with friends
  • 20% played alone
  • Students said did not play online with stranger

6. All students thought that video games could be used in schools for both learning and fun. However when quizzed on this, students could not think what they could actually learn, apart from how to use the game.

7. 80% of students thought they would like to use video games at school to learn and 20% (1 student) did not.


This trial was extremely worthwhile. Although each and every student did not increase their TORC test result, there were other gains to be had. The students felt that they learned a lot of new words during the term.

Both Anne Clark (teacher aide), the students and I agreed that the students formed quite a powerful bond with each other during the term that hadn’t been there before. This increased their connectedness to school. They said that they felt closer to each other and they believed it was because of the trial. They felt quite special to have been chosen to participate in the trial. I noticed an improvement in their relationship with me as their teacher librarian. Each student was particularly pleasant and polite and would go out of their way to speak to me in the library or in the quadrangle.

Each student mentioned that the trial was fun and that they enjoyed learning in a different way. Attendance and punctuality improved as well.

Anne Clark noted that students were very engaged and proud of their success when their ‘Expression Potential’ went up a range. Students were very happy during the lessons and were sad at the end of the term to know that they would be going back to the ‘regular’ Literacy classes.

One student ran to the class every day, so excited about using the DS as a learning tool!

At the end of the trial, students were surveyed again, this time about what their favourite part of the trial, gaming and how they felt about school.

  1. 80% of students thought their favourite part of the trial was ‘fun’. 80% said ‘exciting’, 40% said ‘different’, 100% thought is was ‘learning in a different way’, 60% ‘felt privileged’ as no other group had use of the DS and 40% said love of video games.
  2. 100% of students said they learned new words, 80% said they learned more words, 60% said they learned how to spell and 60% said they learned interesting words.
  3. All students said they made more of an effort to come to school during the trial.
  4. All students said they made more of an effort to be on time to school/Literacy class during the trial.
  5. 75% of students said they feel more connected to school now.
  6. All students said that they feel more connected to their Literacy group now.

This response from students is very encouraging in relation to their connectedness to school and each other.

I believe that the four things I set out to investigate have been proven to be effective:

  1. Overall students’ Literacy achievement increased.
  2. Students all agreed that they were more engaged in their Literacy tasks during the trial.
  3. Overall students’ attendance was better and students said they made more of an effort to come to school during the trial.
  • Students’ punctuality improved as the term progressed.
  • Results

     You can see on the results page how students improved academic achievement, punctuality and attendance. Students also said that they were much more engaged than in regular Literacy classes.

    This was an interesting project that really engaged the students when learning. 

    Feature wiki – The Hamilton and Alexandra College

    Margaret Simkin, the Head of Information Services and Head of History at The Hamilton and Alexandra College is happy to share the development of her wiki  with Bright Ideas readers.

    Margaret explains:

     This wiki is the result of several years of deliberation about what to do and how to do it in the most sustainable way, while allowing for the fact that we have a small library staff with limited time available for management. Undertaking the SLAV Web 2.0 course provided the idea as it enabled us to work on things together and discuss their potential. Two of us successfully completed the course.

    The catalyst came when I attended the SLAV conference where Will Richardson used his wiki as the vehicle for his professional learning delivery. Suddenly the whole picture became clear and the way in which to link it all became obvious. 



    The aim was to create a site where staff can go when they want to find out how to do something to enhance their teaching and learning. Working through the best way to set it up in terms of layout and linking pages took some time and is still open to alteration as suggestions arise. Affirmation during this process came from a teacher responding to an email link I had sent about how to create podcasts. She replied: “It would be good to have somewhere to put these links so we could find them when we need them”.

    After several months of trial and error the site was ready to introduce to staff last term. We held a special afternoon tea and demonstrated how to find information. Since then visitors have had a look from all over the world, which is very exciting to see.

    Google apps

    Google apps

    To anyone thinking about what to set up and how to do it, I would suggest that you just need to start. As with all things technological, change is continuous and there will be another new thing tomorrow! My preferred option was a wiki as I had used them more often in class than blogs or nings. It is a matter of personal preference and should not be a cause for concern or delay. Just develop your concept and see where it leads. There are many valuable spinoffs, most significantly the fact that cooperative planning and teaching is strengthened by the process.

    What's new

    What's new

    Our next intention is to create something for students to access, most probably a blog!

    View more presentations from msimkin.

    Congratulations to Margaret and her staff on creating a visually appealing and useful wiki, with lots of Web 2.0 tools embedded such as Animoto and Slideshare. We look forward to featuring your blog!

    Feature wiki – Whitefriars College “Reading – Active and engaging

    Whitefriars College Head of Library and Information Services (and School Library Association of Victoria President) Rhonda Powling has created an incredible wiki. Entitled “Reading – active and engaging”, Rhonda’s wiki focusses on strategies for engaging students with reading, particularly for boys (as Whitefriars is a boys’ school).


    Rhonda has introduced her students to ‘Book trailers’ This  is where students make a movie style trailer advertising a book. Rhonda’s rationale for introducing the student to book trailers includes:

    There are many students who seem disengaged at school. It has been said that young people are not reading and won’t write anymore than they absolutely must.
    Outside school, however, it is a different story. Studies have shown young people are reading and writing incessantly, updating their MySpace/Facebook pages, keeping blogs and WebPages

    In other words they are reading and writing but in different modes and media to the more traditional print literacies of the 20th century. Indeed the definition of literacy is evolving all the time. Literacy can no longer just encompass print-only works. In the 21st century literacy must include digital, hypertext, images and the plethora of communication media that make up the complex systems that bound in today’s world.

    The complexity of messages in today’s world means that our students have to not only know how to “read” them but also know enough about them to be critical viewers, with the power to analyse and understand the obvious and more obscure meanings of the messages around them.

    Students are bringing multi-literacy skills to the classroom and teachers tap into their interests and skills and then enhance their students’ understanding of these various diverse texts. This will enable them to become skilled at critically viewing any of the diverse texts that is presented to them so that they can confidently use all the media around them to learn, clarify and communicate information rather than by passive users who can be coerced, confused and persuaded by the unscrupulous.

    Some statistics: (in 2008)
    · 73% or ¾ students on the internet watch or download videos
    · ½ of the young internet users say they watch YouTube
    · Many young people post videos to blogs and even more forward on a link in an email
    · They are socializing, researching, playing games, getting news via technologies.
    In schools we need to look at innovative ways to capture the interest and commitment of students to the understanding the deep-thinking and as the learning world because more and more immersive these initiatives are an important step.

     Rhonda has supplied some examples of book trailers developed by her students.


     The General

    Nemesis Book 1: Into the shadows


    Rhonda has included the process of storyboarding and planning before students begin filming:



    Also included is an assessment rubric:

    Assessment rubric

    Assessment rubric

    You have to agree that Rhonda has created a sensational unit or work and seeing the students’ brilliant efforts only reinforces what a wonderful job Rhonda has done to bring the love of reading to students in this age of multimedia.

    Tania Sheko’s English wiki

    Whitefriars College teacher librarian Tania Sheko has been busy! She has also created a wiki for the English class she has been working with.

    Tania explains how the wiki came about:

    The English wiki was created to support a particular English class but with a view to sharing resources with all English teachers. It’s in its very early stages, and will continue to evolve with time, according to the needs of the English class.

    There is a variety of information and resources, including resources and ideas to support teachers (lesson ideas, rubrics, warm-ups), support for students (brainstorming ideas and research), ideas for using technology (cool tools, using multimedia, videos, Voicethread – podcasts are still coming), ideas for units of work (digital storytelling, using picture books), resources for ESL and VCE, and links to English blogs and wikis. Some pages have only one example, and others (lesson ideas, picture books, videos and Voicethread) have a longer list of resources.

    Recently I’ve created a NING, which is a virtual learning community, and this will house the wiki, as well as providing a space for individual student blogs and countless discussions and groups.  At this stage the NING is a closed community.

    The wiki and the NING are both in their early stages. I’m learning how to construct it as I go, and I’m using people in my own PLN (personal learning network) to help me. It’s great to be able to ask questions at any time, and receive replies from people all over the place. The best part of being a teacher is being a learner.

    Tania is more than happy to have people join the wiki and make contributions.

    Thanks Tania for sharing your hard work and ideas with us. Congratulations on the development of all your ICT tools.

    Feature wiki – Tania Sheko’s art wiki

    Whitefriars College teacher librarian Tania Sheko has agreed to share the development of her art wiki  with readers.

    Art matters

    Art matters

    Tania explains,

    The wiki is an excellent place to collect information and links to sites in order to support teaching and learning. It can be used as a closed space for one class, or it can be a shared, collaborative space.

    The art wiki began as a support for a year 11 Studio Arts class, and was initially a collection of resources and links. I was invited to the class to introduce the wiki, and also to get to know the students so that I could find resources for their individual projects. I started out going around to the students one by one to get an idea of what they wanted to do and what they needed in terms of online information, resources and images. As well as these tailored resources, the wiki houses general resources, such as links to galleries and museums around the world, as well as online magazines, excellent for visual examples when students need inspiration and ideas. For the theoretical component, there are links to websites about art history, art styles, and artists.  There’s a growing list of art blogs, which specialise in a variety of art, and are a wonderful way to read about aspects of art in a personal way, as opposed to textbook reading. Of course, the blogs often open up discussion which is interesting in itself, and invite participation.

     There are links to controversial issues to support essay writing, points of view, practical tips and how-tos, and help with research and essay writing skills.

     Wikis allow you to easily embed media, and so there are links to podcasts, multimedia, Voicethread and videos. Multimedia resources are popular with students, and provide a dimension that text cannot.

     However, the wiki is more than a repository for resources. As stated on the home page, it is ‘a shared space for you to place and locate information and ideas, a place to discuss and question.

    If you click on ‘edit this page’ above, you can add content to the page. If you have any information or links to add, you’re welcome to contribute. Just remember to save the page when you’ve finished. You can also comment or raise questions using the ‘discussion’ link at the top of the page.’

     A well prepared and considered introduction of the collaborative nature and possibilities of the wiki is important, and it helps if the teacher supports this. I was fortunate to work with a teacher who is passionate about Web 2.0 technologies, and she stressed to the students that they should visit the wiki regularly to check for resources which are constantly being updated. She also created a page for the class to display the work they created in the Studio Arts class. My aim for the wiki is that teachers and students take ownership of it, contributing to it, and reshaping it according to their needs. My relationship with the teacher and the students is vital for the adoption of and interaction with the wiki, otherwise I have spent countless hours creating a resource that is forgotten about.

    And, of course, the wiki is a dynamic resource, growing constantly, and evolving through collaborative efforts.

    Tania has obviously put a lot of thought, time and effort into creating useful and innovative resources for her students. Well done Tania and we are keen to see what you develop next!

    ICT Toolkit

    Anesti Anestis, the Whittlesea Network Coach for the Department of Educaton and Early Childhood Development‘s Northern Metropolitan Region Ultranet Team, is one of the people responsible for a sensational ICT toolkit wiki.

    ICT toolkit homepage

    Anthony Oldmeadow, Tennille Blake and the remaining NMR Ultranet Coaches joined Anesti in developing the wiki, which is home to all sorts of ICT tools.  Anesti says,

    Since its inception in March other state Ultranet Coaches have also contributed, notably Krystie Alleaume. We have designed it as a resource that any teacher looking to apply various ICT ‘class tools’ has a choice of over 40 categories, with each category linking to and listing anywhere from 5-20 tools.  On last count, there are over 500 different tools teachers can explore!  The site links to other powerful wikis and the epotential resource (which provides student and teacher examples of some of the tools). In addition to class tools 1 & 2 there is detailed support for elearning leaders undertaking the job of eplanning in a school.  Many of the resources are custom made by Ultranet coaches (like the epotental analysis spreadsheets) to assist with greater interpretation and analysis of school data.

    A - Z of online tools
    A – Z of online tools

    The wiki is not locked and is open to any member who would like to share their work, findings and ideas. Look forward to seeing you in and around the icttoolkit wikispace!

     Thanks to Anesti, Anthony, Tennille, Krystie and all of the other educators who have developed such a useful resource.

    Feature wiki – Casey Grammar School

    Casey Grammar School Head of Secondary School Teaching and Learning and teacher librarian Julie Squires has developed a very useful wiki for her year 11 English class.

    Wiki homepage
    Wiki homepage
    Julie explains, ‘Although I created the wiki specifically for my class, I made it public so that any English teacher and/or student can use it. I am introducing my students to the wiki slowly; they need to complete their VCE profiles via the wiki and I want them to get used to doing homework online. I want the students to take responsibility for their own learning. I am encouraging them to use tools such as Essay map and bubbl.us to plan their essays online. Students can contribute to the ‘Reading/responding resource bank’ so that others can see what their classmates are doing. I really hope it becomes a collaborative effort between them as often students don’t realise what their classmates are writing and thinking. It’s not cool to share too much in class, so hopefully this way they can experience the power of learning collaboratively.’
    Useful online resources

    Useful online resources

    Julie continues, ‘And by giving them links to useful resources, like Glogster and Ergo, I am helping them find resources they would not necessarily come across themselves.’

    Congratulations to Julie for her great ideas, creativity and for sharing her wonderful wiki with us. Julie really is a leader in her field! If you have a moment, check out her ning, a place for Victorian teacher librarians to meet and share.

    Feature wiki – Buckley Park College

    Buckley Park College Librarian and Web 2.0 whizkid Leslie Sharples helped with the introduction of wikis to College staff in the first week of the school year. Pauline Kossis, the Assessment and Reporting Coordinator and Senior Accounting Teacher immediately grabbed the idea of using a wiki with her class and ran with it.

    Accounting homepage
    Accounting homepage

    Pauline explains how her wiki came about. ‘I became excited with the thought that wikis could combine all of the features I was looking for as a teacher and for my students to access information and share their knowledge.’

    Course content
    Course content

    She continues,’ Previously I was setting dates and times to be online so I could assist students with their exercises, but this was solely one on one and other students were not privy to the information. While my wiki is a starting point for students to access resources, links and classroom activities 24-7, they can collaboratively explore the various topics covered in Accounting 3.  I have just finished inviting my class in and eventually, there will be an inclusion of more resources, eg. vokis to highlight key concepts covered, current articles, PowerPoint presentations, as well as questionnaires to rate their learning experiences(ie.what went well and what topics could be explained further).’


    Pauline says, ‘Students will provide some of the work that will be displayed on the site also e.g. Chapter summaries (these will be used for revision). The same process will be duplicated with all my other classes.’

    Leslie Sharples says that Pauline’s wiki is making a real difference to her students. Well done to Leslie for introducing wikis to the staff and to Pauline for her excellent ideas and commitment to developing exciting educational learning for her students.

    Feature wiki – Preston Girls’ Secondary College

    On their arrival at Preston Girls’ Secondary College earlier this year, teacher librarians Judith Way and Reina Phung grappled to get a handle on the curriculum requirements of the college. Job-sharing the 1.0 position, with no support staff, Judith and Reina found it difficult to find the time to meet with subject coordinators to ask for their input. Aware of the few audio visual resources and a collection that needed updating, they decided to set up a ‘Curriculum Audit’ wiki.

    Not a link, just a screenshot of one of the pages from the wiki

    Not a link, just a screenshot of one of the pages from the wiki

    It was decided that the wiki was to be kept private, for the use and eyes of the  school staff only. Staff were emailed an introduction and request to contribute to the wiki. The email contained a word document attachment that included detailed instructions and screenshots on how to contribute to the wiki. Staff were then asked to contribute their thoughts on a number of questions:

    1. Do you need library resources for this topic/subject?
    2. What type of resources do you need? Please be explicit.
    3. Are you happy with the resources the library already has?
    4. What resources would you liked to be purchased or discovered?
    5. Do you have research skills embedded into the topic?
    6. Would you like to work with us to embed research skills into the topic?
    7. If you’d like help, when can we meet? Please nominate a time/date.
    8. How else can we help you in the teaching and learning process?

    Some staff not only responded quickly and in some detail, but were enthused about the possibilities of wikis. One teacher, Les Kyle, proceeded to quickly create her own extremely detailed wiki for her VCAL class; the whole curriculum, topics and links to resources (with some contributions from Judith and Reina). This wiki was kept private within Preston Girls’ (using an email to the students’ email address inviting them to join the wiki) as full student names appeared on the wiki and discussions between teacher and students took place. Judith and Reina were proud to think that their Curriculum Audit wiki was the catalyst for Les’s fabulous wiki.

    However, many staff did not know what a wiki was, and some had trouble even logging on. The ideal situation would have been an introductory session during a Curriculum Day for those interested/needing guidance. However as all Curriculum Days had been allocated to specific topics (Literacy), Judith and Reina continued to work one-to-one with interested teachers. Judith and Reina believe that something like the SLAV Web 2.0 course for teachers would be terrific, as they often felt that the majority of the teaching staff would benefit from the introduction to the Web 2.0 tools out there that can enhance teaching and learning.

    The idea that wikis were the ideal tool for student/student and student/teacher (and teacher/teacher) collaboration was introduced to teachers. That students projects could be completed in teams, and the teacher automatically alerted by email to when contributions had been added. Students taking full responsibility for their own learning becomes apparent when those with access to the wiki can see (and also have email alerts) who has contributed what to the wiki. The way discussions and comments are structured means that students have to think about their responses, rather than perhaps plagiarise by cutting and pasting.

    The bonus was that discussions about wikis and blogs now regularly take place and teachers who have not yet made a contribution to the wiki promise to do so when the VCE classes finish. The new ICT Coordinator has begun his own blog. And the teachers who contributed to the wiki will have the best resourced subjects in the school!

    The only problem that Judith and Reina found was that the initial wiki grew so large that it had to be split into two; years 7-10 and years 11-12.