Live Binders

I just found this resource online. It allows you to create binders from web pages, tables, images, youtube videos and text. You can then share, embed and upload the completed file. You can also ask others to collaborate.
They’re an amazing tool for learning.Live Binder Whose Reality?
I created one for our Context in VCE English, ‘Whose Reality?’

Blogging in the new VCE

images.jpgWell, this was an interesting (is this a synonym for frustrating or annoying in this case?) day as far as getting students to blog at school. It wasn’t my class, so it was probably less frustrating for me than the teacher who was trying to get the whole thing running. I got a call for help and came in to find a teacher who was unable to get her kids blogs started because the server at school had blocked them. I later found out that they were filed under ‘private web pages’ for the security on the server and this was stopping access. We tried several ways around it to no avail and then had another teacher come in to use the lab so we had to move. To the teacher’s credit, she took it with equanamity and we calmly moved on. We had our e-learning co-ordinatory investigate and fix the problem, but he was actually teaching a class at the time so by the time it was fixed the class had finished.

Well, in the end we got kids started with their blogs, and of course we all know with any lesson involving technology you never know where it can go, but this was a practice SAC and the stakes were reasonably high at this point. It highlights the need to try things out well in advance, which in this case the teacher was unable to do because of limited access and time. I still believe that we have to try to work around these things and I hope that the teachers that I’m asking to do this as well don’t curse me for this!

It is vital that we encourage our kids to use technology for learning. The world that they inherit will need them to have some familiarity with this, it also encourages ( which is more to the point) problem solving skills, interpersonal skills, design skills, written communication skills, and I might add patience (!)

Thanks so much to all of you teachers who are doing this, you know who you are. I really appreciate your passion and enthusiasm and (the watchword of the day) patience. The kids will thank you for it even if you do get grey hair!

More on the VCE study design and blogging..

I did some searching to see whether I could actually use blogs, wikis, etc. for students to demonstrate the outcomes in VCE English (see comment below). I did some checking and found this lot in the VCAA assessment handbook:

Work completed outside classMost assessment tasks will be completed in class. This does not preclude students from completing work associated with the task/s outside class time, providing that the teacher can confirm that all work submitted for assessment is the student’s own. Students should be advised in advance as to the conditions under which tasks are to be completed and submitted.


Teachers should have in place strategies for ensuring that work submitted for assessment is the student’s own. Where aspects of School-assessed Coursework tasks are completed outside class time teachers must monitor and maintain records of student’s work.The teacher may consider it appropriate to ask the student to demonstrate his/her understanding of the task at the time of submission of the work. If any part or all of the work cannot be authenticated, then the matter should be dealt with as a breach of rules.To reduce the possibility of authentication problems arising, or being difficult to resolve, the following strategies are useful:·          Ensure that a significant amount of classroom time is spent on the task so that the teacher is familiar with each student’s work and can regularly monitor and discuss aspects of the work with the student.·          Regularly rotate topics from year to year to ensure that students are unable to use student work from the previous year.·          Where there is more than one class of a particular study in the school, early liaison between teachers on topics, cross-marking and sharing of draft student work enables earlier identification of possible authentication problems and the implementation of appropriate action.  Teachers should develop assessment programs for Units 3 and 4 that:·          include both formative assessments, for diagnostic or monitoring purposes, and summative assessments, for determining achievement that contributes to the final coursework score·          include a variety of assessment tasks and conditions·          provide an appropriate balance of short and extended taskstake into account the workload for students Assessment tasks should be completed mainly in class and within a limited timeframe. 

Designing the assessment task

Teachers should develop an assessment task that allows the student to:

·          create a text or texts appropriate to a chosen form, audience, purpose and context

·          demonstrate an understanding of the ideas and/or arguments relevant to the chosen Context and presented in the selected text/s; and draw on these in the creation of own text/s

·          review and edit written work for expressiveness, fluency and coherence

·          discuss and analyse in writing, using appropriate metalanguage, choices made in regard to form, purpose, language, audience and context in the creation of own text/s

·          have the opportunity to demonstrate the highest level of performance.

This leads me to believe that I can do this as long as I give students the same type of experience that they would normally undertake when sitting a SAC a more traditional way. This means that as long as they sign authentication records they could do some of their written pieces on a blog or wiki. I’d really like to try this and I think I’ll actually contact VCAA to triple check.

Year 12 English

The new study design is up and running and students and teachers are getting their heads around Outcome 2, Creating and Presenting. It allows students lots of opportunities to expand their writing skills and to explore a range of ideas in relation to a set of ideas. We have chosen ‘Encountering Conflict’ and so students will look at what it is to encounter conflict and the ways in which this has been explored in the text ‘Secret River’ by Kate Grenville’.

It is really good for students (actually, it’s necessary) to engage with the world beyond that text in order to place it into a framework for themselves. I would suggest reading Grenville’s ‘Searching for the Secret River’ the text that discusses her experience of writing and researching the book. I would also recommend Inga Clendinnen’s article in the Quarterly Review in response to Grenville’s claim that what she was writing was ‘history’. This is useful for an understanding of the world and work of a writer and the ways in which the ideas within the text have ramifications in the world.