On the Couch with Professor John Hatti

So the debate continues about the rights of parents to choose schools, but not about choosing teachers.  What are judgements made from?  What are the ‘proxies’ that judge the best place for our child’s education?  This is often a great source of dilemma and discussion between families and parents within a community.

The question lies, is it the school leaders who imply the education that creates the greater impact on students of the teachers implementing the programs that make the large scale impact?

After all, in an ideal world of education each child is supported by the whole staff and the impact of their education lies in all our hands.

Project Review

This years project had begun as a single snow ball and has developed into a avalanche.  The enormity of the project is still unfolding slowly but surely and will continue for the remainder of the year.

The project began with a simple idea of bridging Performing Arts and Media together seeming that they both fall under the Arts Domain.  The other aspect of the project was implementing technology, particularly Google Doc.  The growth and development of this project has taken on many facets where my learning has equally equalled that of the students.

So the question lies – How has it all gone?

I believe Kris and l have done an amazing job of supporting each other through planning a project for the students that rivals all projects in the past.  The students task was to work collaboratively in teams to plan and write a narrative using Lane Clark’s AuthorThink as a tool for publishing and to use this narrative to create an audio script with sound effects for radio.  The finished product is to be recorded and aired on STEPS radio for an unlimited audience.

The implementation of Google Doc streamed from the notion that all students have access to one document and could add to the document collaboratively.  We encountered many challenges along the way.  The first was ‘sharing’ the document with each other in their group.  This easily took an hour because of the expertise of the students and myself.  Between the dramas of network connectivity, typing in wrong email addresses and their knowledge of simple ‘how to’ share a document was a huge hurdle.  In fact, it took so long to have all students on ‘shared documents’ that the success came for me when Kris was absent from the room and l had to set up students with ‘shared documents’.  The thrilled l shared was way beyond the students as l learnt the little ‘i’ began the process of sharing.

Step two, was introducing LaneClark.  Through our initial pre-data collection we knew students had some idea of the AuthorThink publishing process but we wanted them to view it in an Arts manner as in publishing in a different format other than paper or stories.  To get the students into believing publishing could be more than text we provided them many examples of audio productions from radio – The War of the Worlds, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and My Daddy ate an Apple.  To help the students with the steps of AuthorThink we created and ‘shared’ a folder of resources on Google Drive.  Another one of my learnings.

So overall here is a summary of our findings in regards to implementing Google Drive into the Arts.


  •  not one person wrote the whole story/script – eliminating the role of a scribe
  • shared responsibility/expectations and shared load of work
  • everyone is able to easily view the script as it is being written
  • all members of the team are able to add text/details on any part of the script while others continue typing
  • shared responsibility of editing and more minds thinking about how to improve the script
  • delegation of roles within the script – 2 students add sound effects while others continued with the story
  • teachers can monitor all stories/scripts to review at any point as they are ‘shared’ with us


  • very time consuming to set up ‘shared’ doc due to the expertise of the students
  • students deleting other’s text within doc as they were editing which in turn upset the person who wrote it
  • sharing the document to the whole level and not just their group due to a lack of knowledge/skill
  • writing inappropriate content just because its fun and new – like writing notes on paper but now on a ‘shared’ document
  • peers highlighting others member’s spelling mistakes or errors in grammatical – lack of sensitivity
  • long wait times to load or share documents due to network
  • limitations of using the ipad and its capacity


So the final question is where to from here?

Simply, finishing the project would be wonderful.  We are at the stage of introducing the Rubric and clinic groups for how to record and edit on radio.  There is still so much to do and will keep us going until the end of the year.  I truly hope that the students get to fully complete their publishing and feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride when it is podcasted on STEPS radio and can be accessed to a huge audience beyond their imagination.




Project Update & Solo Taxonomy.

Today after a month of not seeing the year 5/6 students we finally had an opportunity to develop their Narratives.

Unfortunately my partner Kris was absent and l had to forge ahead with the script writing.  I began with a simple picture book, “My Daddy Ate an Apple” which had an audio version to share with the students of a published narrative.  I didn’t show the students the picture book but just presented the audio.  They were in stitches with laughter all thanks to the expressive language, tone of voice and sound effects.  It was a wonderful simple text to demonstrate the parts of a narrative and how important sound effects and expression were in making a story entertaining.

From there the students went into their groups to work on their scripts.  They were instructed to add in every possible sound effect they could think of in brackets, into the script that would enhance their publishing.  Even a simple tapping of a nail as a sound effect to demonstrate a little pig building their house.  I really want them to use sound effects to create a picture in the listener’s mind and not just rely on the words.  We also discussed how the narrator could have soft music in the background so that the story never had any ‘dead’ sound.

On another note, during our professional development two weeks ago we were introduced to Solo Taxonomy.  Last week Kris and l discussed the pros and cons of implementing the program to develop ‘deep level learning’.  We decided to use the principles of the taxonomy in our Rubic for assessment on this project using the three colours:

Red = Pre structural and only having one concept covered.

Yellow = Shallow learning/ surface understanding.

Green = Deep Learning/conceptual understanding.

Attached is a working copy of our Rubric.  We have decided not to bombard the students with this new terminology but to have it in our background for our own  development.



Yong Zhoa

Due to an extra curriculum program for the year 5 students this week to watch the Nazareth production of The Wiz we were unable to continue with implementing our PARTS project with the students, so l thought l’d take an opportunity to reflect on our Professional Development Day with Yong Zhoa.

On Tuesday we had a massive development day with 300 staff attending to listen to Yong Zhoa speak about Globalisation and Entrepreneurial qualities.  In all he spoke for only two and a half hours which included questioning time but he truly delivered his message with a punch.  It was thought provoking and made you ponder how we teach as a nation to equip our students for the careers that they will embark on many years from now.  It was also, reassuring to know that the contempory classrooms that we offer at our school is the correct step forward to allowing students opportunities to branch out and develop as a whole.

Many points Yong posed about equipping students with skills that can not be replaced by machines and computers was a notion previously visited, pondered and discussed but it was the second component of the day about the Entrepreneurial Quailities of developing confidence, friendship, risk-takers, passion, creativity, alertness to opportunity, global competency, uniqueness and empathy that l got excited about.  These are all the qualities that l strive to instil in the students that l teach.  However, it was the way Yong approached these qualities that got me thinking more about my approach and that education needs to shift to a new paradigm and how to do that.

I agreed with the notion that if we put pressure on students to perform highly in tests in the domains of English and mathematics that we lose their passion for the subject/s.  Yong described it as a loss of confidence and presented data to support his findings.

The thought of teachers becoming supporters or an adviser to students learning perked my thoughts too.  Having students in control of their own learning and learning what they have a passion for capitalising their strengths and creativity is an interesting thought.  The idea is to have students focus on projects based on their interests and creating end products that are meaningful and can be useful to others.  The example he presented was high school students developing a physics app for younger students which in turn would cover all they need to have learnt about physics.

Can we truly go down this path and hope that somewhere along the way they pass all the stages and expectations of learning?  Will they develop mathematically all the concepts prescribed in the curriculum with more purpose and through necessity and not ‘just in case you need it’ learning?  Is this the direction of the future?  Yong posed it in a way that was believer and achievable.  It certainly is something l would like to ponder some more and experiment with.


Success sharing Google Doc

I’m feeling a little bit more successful with assisting students with sharing their documents to their peers.  There was a period of time during our session that my partner Kris had to leave and l was needed to ensure all the students had shared their documents (narratives).

Through the patient mentoring of my partner I was able to help some students to share their doc with their group so they could proceed with their work.  Each time l assisted a child the more proficient and the quicker the process became. Wow, what an achievement!

Another success l had this week in regards to this project is sharing the AuthorThink Chart with the year 5 & 6 students.  The first aspect that l learnt was that it could not be uploaded into Google Doc but in fact needed to be uploaded into Google Drive.  The next step was to share the document with all the students.

Every step forward gets me one step forward to feeling more confident with Google Drive.

Google Stuff

My mind is swimming. I’m like a student learning so many new applications for Google Drive. Firstly, just getting my head around the concept that we call it Google Drive and not Google Doc sends me on the beaten track. I just got used to the concept of ‘doc’.

Perhaps my problem lies in the fact that l don’t use Google regularly in my teaching. Being a Performing Arts Teacher l’m not working with students using document.

Here are the things I’ve learnt on Google Doc this week:

1. How to highlight a doc with a ‘star’ so l can find it easily. I was getting so frustrated trying to find my work program because now there are so many documents that have been shared with me.

2. How to create a folder and move documents into it?

3. That when l hover over the title of a document it creates a down arrow which then gives me the option to share the doc. In fact, today was the first time l shared a doc with the year 5 & 6 students and learnt their level emails.

On a final note l think another one of my biggest struggle with this PARTS project is the lack of time for Kris and l to plan the project.

Let the excitement build

Today we presented the project of publishing a narrative to the students.

Kris and l presented the Learning Intention of : Today we are learning about publishing to gauge the students’ prior knowledge on what publishing meant to them.  We purposely gave no indication of the medium of ‘radio’ in the LI and SC as not to sway them in anyway. Predictably they shared that publishing was generally in the written form and could be then published onto the Internet.   Only one student had a slight idea of a radio script.  It would be interesting to check back with that student if they were apart of the radio STEP team.

This was exactly the baseline we needed as it means the majority of this project will be ‘new’ learning for the students and challenge them in many different ways.

The second major component of the project which links with our PARTS project is how effectively the students can utilise Google Drive to share and plan a piece of work coherently.  This was always going to be challenging for the students.  In their 5-6 years of school they have learnt that in group work you have a ‘collector’, ‘scribe’, ‘timekeeper’ and so forth.  Now we are expecting the students to create a document, share it with their peers (and ourselves) and to all be commenting and planning in the one document simultaneously.

The initial set up process proved more difficult with the first community than the second.  The overall outcome was approx. 80% of groups shared their document.  It is still going to be quite some time for the students to understand that we can all ‘add’ our ideas and edit in one document.  This is where great growth will occur and provide wonderful skills for future teamwork in the classroom and in their future.

Analysising Data

Well it’s only taken two weeks to analysis the wonderful data we collected from the students for the project.

Kris undertook the task of having the students fill in the survey that we created during his media time because the students would have their iPads on hand and could be quickly administered verses during performing arts time. The survey was created using Google drive and was directly collated into Kris’ email. Wow, what a fantastic colleague l have who so skilled with all these google documents. I would have been completely lost working through these programs. I am developing my skills slowly using Google Drive but l still have a long way to go.

The results of the data were fantastically collected and gave us great starting points with what to teach the students. We learnt that the students were well versed with using narrative plans and were adequately familiar with Lane Clark’s Authorthink. 62% of the students were familiar with Authorthink so there is still room to develop the student’s knowledge. What this. Tells us is that we don’t need to go in depth about the process of writing a narrative and better utilise our time elsewhere.

49% of students indicated that they were familiar and knew how to use Google Doc (Perhaps they could help me learn more) but not necessarily collaboratively which was 47.9%. Definitely by the end of our project that figure will be greatly increased.

58.3% of students said that they had published via video or audio to an audience. Perhaps, the most exciting part of this project is that at its conclusion when we collect our post data 100% of students will be able to say proudly that 100% of students have published on audio and to a much greater audience than their classmates. The idea of presenting their ‘radio ready’ narratives on STEPS radio and then accessible for a wider community (parents) should spur them on to working collaboratively and smartly to achieve great success.

Collecting Data Part 2

Welcome back to our project partner Kris Nagy.  Most of our discussions today was about catching up on where to go forth with our project and Learning Intentions.  We also discussed our time frame and truly hope to make a start with the students in week 7 to collect our pre-data so the following week we can discuss our findings from the feedback of the students and which direction to go forth.

So what is our project?

Apart from implementing Google Docs with the students we are hoping to utilise our Media and Performing Arts time to research, plan, prepare, record, edit and present a narrative based on a fairy tale (but written in a different perspective or modernised) using audio production.  The final presentation will be to the whole school through STEPS Radio.

How we are collecting our pre-data.

We began creating a survey for our year 5 & 6 students by using Survey Monkey on the questions posted last week.  After a visit from Rebecca we were quickly swayed to use Google Form.  We set up the survey with multiple choice so it will be easier for us to collate the data so we know what the students need to learn in order to be successful with this project.

Kris will present the survey to the students to complete in next week.

Finally, we discussed the content of our project and how we plan to present it the students.  Its a huge project and we have great expectations.  Perhaps we have bitten off way too much but we will never know what we and the students can achieve if we don’t give it a try.

We are very excited with our project and hope that the students thoroughly enjoy it as well.

Collection of Data

Questions to possibly pose prior to commencing our unit of work.

1. What is your knowledge of ‘Google Doc’ and have you done any collaborative work using this program?
2. What is the writing process/ parts of a Narrative?
3. Have you used Authorthink effectively?
4. Have you ever recorded footage for publishing and how?
5. Which publishing tools have you used to edit footage for a greater audience?
6. How long do you think the process of creating a script, rehearsals and performing your narrative would take? (Hrs)
7. How long do you think the process of editing your narrative would take so it is ready for a greater audience? (Hrs)
8. Who would you like to present your final narratives to and how?

This is the thought process I have undertaken in creating a quick questionnaire to present to the students prior to beginning our unit of work with them.
Ideally the sooner Kris could work together to ensure we have preliminary data the better. Ideally within the next two weeks before we begin planning our program that way we know what we need to focus on and what direction we will take.