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Preview: So what does a Cluster Educator do ?

So what does a Cluster Educator do ?

Unless you work in the Victorian State Education system you would not have come across a Cluster Educator. I get many people inquiring about what I do, so I thought i would keep a blog so others could follow my journey and learn with me.

Updated: 2014-10-04T22:18:24.184-07:00


New year, new job, new challenges


it is the last day of 2007, and I cannot wait for 2008. Can't wait for 29th January actually. My life as a Cluster Educator is over, and I am very sad to leave it. I have loved every minute of this role; loved meeting so many new and exciting people, appreciated the support network we had established, thrived on being able to have the luxury of time to continue and advance my learning, loved having the opportunities to spend time with so many class room teachers and students from Prep through to year 10.
(image) These are the flowers my management team gave me at our last meeting for the year. They were lovely. I wish the Templestowe cluster schools all the best for the future, although clusters as we know it no longer exist. it is a shame, after four years, the relationships were built and change was happening .. Oh well.

I am taking on a new role ... Year 9 Learning Faciilitar at Ivanhoe Grammar School. They have introduced an innovative out-of-class learning program for their year 9 students. It is quite amazing ... It involves an Inquiry based learning project operating from LaTrobe University, an Urban Systems experience at their St Stephens campus, an online collaborative project with schools in New Zealand and a "journey" fully planned and organised by the students. But don't worry you can follow my jouney from the new blog i have established. And when I get settled and organised anyone who is interested can come and have a look at what we are doing.

MySpace TheirSpace ..... a practice


This is a presentation I did for the parents and staff at Templestowe Heights Primary after working with Robyn Treyvaud from Cybersafe Kids. I have uploaded it as a trial run to see if if would work. Next I will do my "Dinosaur to Avatar" one, (see post below)

(Still waiting for it to be uploaded to Teachertube .... hhhmm a bit slow on the Mac ! Will pop back later today and add video)

I need to re-do it with music as obviously when i present it I TALK my way through it. Maybe after I do my PD day on GarageBAnd on Thursday I can put it to some original music rather than doing something illegal ! This presentation is based on the work of research of Robyn Treyvaud in her paper "Young people's use of the internet and related technologies" Seminar Series July 2007. Hopefully I will be working with Robyn to further cyber education throughout schools and the community.

Anyway off to Andersons Creek Primary School today .. apparently they have an excellent ICT program throughout the school, then helping Temp. Heights organise a Scope and Sequence and to integrate ICT into their programs for 2008.

What a week ....


It must be almost December, there is so much happening all of a sudden. This week is full of exciting things in my cluster, and for me. Today (Tuesday ) I went to the VITTA conference There was a range of interesting people speaking, I was just one of huge number of presenters... actually i felt quite strange a "humanities and Legal Studies " teacher presenting at the Information Teachers Annual conference !!

After lunch I was fortunate to attend a session by Professor Stephen Heppell on "Building the revolution - starting at your own school" I must admit my ignorance ( I have been so busy writing job applications lately I hadn't done my homework and checked out who he was !) He was fabulous. Entertaining, humble, inspiring and so articulate about "how schooling and learning SHOULD be,, my only question is WHy isn't he talking to our Educational Leaders.... ???


I loved his 5 Things to try now

1. Get the KIDS to run a staff development day on what they think the teachers need to learn ( How kool is that !!)
2. Give kids a pre-paidmobile and let them TEXT in ideas, complaints, suggestions ... he went as far as to say let that replace the school council ( WHOAHHH )
3. Set up a learning research project for examle " how does sound and music change our learning"
4. Knock down some walls - Give the kids 5 sticky labels each, ( and staff in a different colour) and get them to choose a wall. How quickly you will discover where all the Bullies hang out !
5. Give the kids a STOP watch, get them to press stop when packing up and moving around the school and START when actualy working. (great way to prove the need for longer lessons to get through some deeper learning.

He also has a Phone Blog .... takes a picture and adds text and zaps it direct from the phone . Another idea i am definitely going to try. Imagine the instant publication of student observations, recordings, excursions.... loved it.

My session was called " From Dinosaur to Avatar - You can too" I discussed my journey from only ever using a data projector two years ago to what i do now. I think i got TWO party bookings ! Ballarat Grammar and maybe one other.
As soon as i adjust the timing on my slides with video clips, I will save it as a Podcast and put it on my blog.... i may even get some more party bookings

To Peter and the gang at OLSH


Today I was invited to speak to a group of teachers at OLSH in Bentleigh. We had a great session, talked about Differentiating Curriculum and of course the conversation came around to Blogging and the use of MYSPACE in the classroom. I am hoping that they will log on and take a look at this blog, of course I recommended Jo's and I also suggested they have a look at Colin Turners' year 7 English Blog . I have DARED them to be a bit adventerous and leave a comment.

Let's see how many do. It would be great for a few to comment on the year 7's too. We do get so excited when someone takes the time to leave a comment.

Spreading the word..


I was invited to The Lakes P- 9, last week to chat to the staff about PODCASTING, Blogging and the usual "technology" stuff. I was quite nervous at first when I noticed how young they were. I made an assumption that they were the Facebook generation, and that I may have had nothing new to tell them. But I was quite wrong. I forget that so many teachers are so busy now just keeping up with their lessons, and VELS and reporting that they don't often have the time to play, read, experiment and learn like I do. The session went very well.

So well in fact that the Prep teachers immediately started a Prep Blog . I am so proud of them, and chuffed, that it was as a result of my talk. Feel free to have a look, and please leave them a comment if you do.

Change of name ... 'cause it is all over !!


I am thinking i will have to change the name of my Blog, now that i am an Ex- Cluster Educator !!. Yes, the government has had a change of mind, change of direction and we all lose our jobs in December , all 256 of us. Some Educators are upset and ranting about not being valued, after the contributions they made and so on, others are acknowledging how lucky we were to have such a great job but we knew it had a limited life span.

i feel very fortunate to have had this job for two years, I relish the time I have had, the opportunites that i were able to take, the experiences and incredible things I have learned. Visiting so many other schools and classrooms, meeting a huge number of people, working with teachers in Prep right through to VCE, establishing an incredible network of people. The knowledge and skills that I take with me now into whatever I do for the next few years is priceless. I only hope that I manage to get a position that allows me to continue to share it with other teachers and students.

The beauty of a blog


One of the best things about a blog is the fact that like a website, you can store information here and then you know where you put it, unlike a filing cabinet or even the filing system on my macbook , always a mess. So I have come across many new things lately and decided to store them here for easy keeping.
it is a bit of a "have you seen" .... segment
Have you seen the Top 100 tools for learning website. How many are you familiar with?


I am often asked about how I download and save Youtube videos into my ilife as above. I used to use a great program called Cosmopod , however this is Mac specific, and I have had trouble with it lately, so try this site 100 It is free and so far, works fine. You can choose whether to save videos as Mov files or Macs, AVI for Windows, MP4 for ipods or 3GP for phones.

If you are into making movies and concerned about copyright and the kids with their music, here are some sites that provide free music and sound affects (thanks to Michelle at Coburg Senior High for these)
free play music
for free sounds
partners in rhyme

who says preps can't ......


I had two of the most exciting lessons this week, teaching grade one & two to make mini movies and teaching the Preps to play with PhotoBooth. The teachers at Manningham Park Primary have been blessed with two mobile pods of Macbooks however the staff were a bit nervous about how they could use them in the lower classes so i joined them in class to model some examples.

We had a ball. The Grade 1/2 class read their poems into imovie and made mini movies. The Preps manipulated photos of themselves. They had just been doing a topic aboput space and astronauts and martians so they enjoyed taking headless photos and morphing themselves into strange creatures. Even I was amazed at how quickly they took control and became creative and experiemental. I took my ipod out to record the laughter and enjoyment, it was truly an engaging lesson. We printed off the pictures and the teacher will now use them for writing pieces.

Catching up...


It has been a BIG few weeks for me. The conference at IGS for VITTA was great. Fascinating to meet all the people from cyberspace who I had been visiting but really did not know. I loved the 'just in time learning' that I experienced - it forced me to upload to Youtube, something I had wanted to do for a while. These workshops were really interesting in the range of people attending, from people who had never used youtube and didn't even know what teachertube was, to people like Sue from andanotherthing who taught me things. Thanks Sue for Animoto ... I must admit to wasting time playing with that now too.

The next day was my Full cluster Professional Learning day. And what a huge success that turned out to be, certainly helped by Colin Pidd and Gin and Trevor from Dramatic Edge . ( I 'm sure they will update their website soon !!) We ran workshops on Inspiration, Blogging, Comic Life, Movie-maker, Digital Portfolio's imovie and Photo-story. The staff loved it, think we even converted a few !! Requests arrived for more workshops on Blogging... it is interesting that many teachers are just unaware of what the possibilities are.

The next week I completed my Eleanor Davis School Leadership Program . That was a valuable and rewarding experience, although I am not sure it is the direction that I wish to pursue. I am still concerned about what Principals' know and how much influence they have on what is going on in their classrooms.

My first YOUTUBE


Tonight I am presenting a workshop at Ivanhoe grammar for VITTA on Youtube, Teachertube and Mojiti. However, although I play with these sites regularly I had not ever posted anything... so Talk about "just in time learning" - or learning for a purpose. Today I "uploaded" a little movie I made for the Year 10 Patisserie class. It is not perfect and there are heaps of improvements i will make over the next week but for now ....

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experimenting with youtube


will this work

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Linkin Park Lyrics

what happens ?


I haven't posted for a while, I have thought many things but just not made the time to stop and reflect. I know kids of today ( my own two included) claim they can work and think with music on and MSN chats happening and stuff going on around them but I cannot. Call me old fashioned, old school or just OLD !! For me to truly reflect I like quiet!

I have been reflecting on a number of things though. In my job I work with teachers from P to 12 and many things have hit me lately
1. I taught grade 1/2 today , read them a story and gave them a creative task. Watched as their teacher discussed the importance of planning and the questions they needed to ask themselves before rushing off and designing a 'chicken feeding machine. Their enthusiasm and creativity was delightful.

2. Then I helped grade 5/6 make movies for a project on Health. A few were creative, they were less keen to stop and plan, and I noticed they were far more conservative in their ideas.

3. THEN, I asked a friend how her year 9 science class went. We had spent quite some time trying to make 'elements, compounds and molecular structure' more interesting. Giving them the opportunity to make a model, allowing them choice in the method of demonstrating their understanding. But alas ... no real interest, no creativity, no enthusiasm. Yes VELS suggests making it 'real-life' learning and turning topics into true problem-solving activities - but the reality is 4 x 45 minute periods with 7 topics to cover and be assessed for the next report.

I found myself asking 'what do we do to these kids that kills that love of learning.' Why do they have to learn about 'elements, and compounds anyway !" How cold we have done it better ? We have tried many things with 9E in science - interactive websites, Comic Life, mobile technologies ... we just can't seem to engage them .... not at this particular school anyway. It disturbs me and I will be giving it more thought.

The Lakes School ... my vision in reality..


Many of us have a 'vision' of what best practice looks like, of how education SHOULD be. Well on Thursday i saw mine... It was The Lakes P-9 , a new school in Sth Morang. Based on the concept of a learning street, it was amazing. Principal Kerrie Heenan proudly invited me back. "i could tell you anything" she said to me, come back and watch us in action, talk to the kids. I intend to Kerrie .. Have a read about them in The Age article

Fellow travellers ... my friend would say


One of my friends used to refer me to as a "fellow traveller", it is an expression I have come to appreciate as I meet many other teachers who fit into this category nicely. Joseph from Ivanhoe Grammar Plenty campus is one such person. We have met only briefly a few times but we think alike. Actually blogging has proved that you do not even need to meet a 'fellow traveller', you communicate with people who you know are just like yourself.
Joseph invited me to the Plenty Campus on Friday 25th May to take part in a SKYPE with
Tom Barrett Tom is currently an assistant headteacher and Year 6 teacher at Priestsic Primary and Nursery School in Nottinghamshire, England. He was a finalist in the Best Wiki awards for Edubloggers in 2006. He talked to us about the many ways you can use Google Earth in the classroom. This has huge potential not realised by most teachers. He also showed us a site that records where visitors to your blog have come from. Many people visit and read blogs but do not comment, a little disturbing for the kids who look forward to seeing if anyone has been visiting them. digital point shows where 'visitors' have come from. It looks like this in a blog. (image) ... hmm yes I know no-one visits mine !!! but you can see how this would be interesting for kids and it spring boards discussion and interest about other places in the world.

Whilst at the Skype I met two ladies from VITTA and they invited me to speak at a mini conference being held at Ivanhoe Grammar Ridgeway Campus in August. I will be speaking about Teachertube and Mojiti. Quite amusing when you think that two years ago i didn't even know how to use the video camera !!. The conference is being held in conjunction with a visit by Will Richardson. i have added his blog to "blogs I read. Anyway keep a look out for their conference details it sounds really interesting.

Speakers worth listening to


As I continued my search for 'keynote' superman (or woman) for my cluster PD day I stumbled across two more incredible people. Colin Pidd from BTLi (Below the Line)had all 200 staff at the Brentwood Cluster PD day talking. He talks about communication, and the difference between effective communication and the 'above the line'corporate talk. He is engaging and personable, and he is now booked for the 31st August, for the Templestowe Cluster.

Another "must see" is Marco Torres. He was out here courtesy of the Department of Education, talking about the future of education, and what we have to do for our kids. I liked his philosophy about teachers who are resistant to change; they have three choices - 1. Quit, 2. Complain, 3 Innovate. Many bloggers have discussed him in detail, see susanvg's blog reflexions The movies his students have made are truly amazing and can be viewed at sfett. He began his presentation with the following film .. wouldn't you just love to show this to your staff
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wonderment and awe !!


I have been a bit of a PD "groupie" lately attending Professional learning days of other schools and clusters, in search of a keynote speaker and presenters for our Cluster Day in August. The focus of our day is (of course) ICT and PoLT. i tend nowadays to be drawn to like minded people and over the last 2 weeks have had some incredible conversations and learnt so much. I decided I had better record some of what I had learnt to share with others. Some of the stuff that is "out there" now is so exciting and just literally makes me respond with "WOW" !!" It reminds me of Art Costa's Habits of minds - one of which is responding with wonderment and awe. I did take a minute or two to wonder though, do our students respond to these new technologies in the same way, or is it so much a part of their world that they don't find it as A M AZ I N G as I do ????????????????

For example, Youtube may be blocked but you can access Teachertube which has some brilliant videos on it. Or check out Mojiti where you can add "spots", text, animation, audio, whatever you liked to existing clips. See my first, very amateur experiment below.

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Now the question has to be asked, how can we use this in our classrooms ?

for the kids....


I have had such an amazing week, some days I can barely believe I get paid to do this, by the end of the week however, I was reflecting deeply on what I truly want to do. The week began with a curriculum day at Ivanhoe Grammar and my brain was invigorated by professional conversations with a range of people, I met up with Joseph Papaleo, our minds and ideas raced faster than we could speak. I presented at Huntingtower and by the end of the workshop had eight staff blogging, groups making podcasts, mini-movies and feeling so much more comfortable with technology.

I liased with the Principal team at Bulleen Special School about establishing the Principles of Learning and Teaching into their setting so that it was non-threatening, sustainable and effective. Sat in on a full day session on Effective Writing in the Primary Classroom (Writer's Workshops) at Templestowe Heights Primary- they are adopting a whole school approach. I was asked to run a half-day Professional Development day for Manningham Park Primary in June. I will run Sessions on Assessment, and using tools for assessment incorporating some protocols. Manningham has also asked me to model 'thinking tools' once a week at their staff meetings.

Thursday I drove to Rowville to meet my mentor Daphne Clements, Assistant Principal at Rowville Secondary College. I have been fortunate to have been selected to be a participant in the Eleanor Davis program. This was just an informal meeting before the program begins but the thought of shadowing her, and getting the 'big picture' experience of how a school operates is exciting and inspiring.

On Friday attended the Assessment PD afternoon at Templestowe College and assisted a small group of LOTE staff with how to incorporate the standards, and a range of assessment tools to determine how to report on students against the progression points. That evening I attended the Year 10 formal, it was then I was overcome with a great sense of sadness and began to question what I was doing ......

Although I don't have classes now, this group had been my year 7 cohort when I was year 7 co-ordinator, the girls had invited me, many of boys sidled up beside me, cuddled me and wanted photos taken. They love towering above my almost 5 ft stature, to show how much they have grown. I watched them dressed in their finery, dancing away, I danced with some, I loved their proud faces, smiling at me, the banter and the 'connectedness' we shared and then it dawned on me, if I keep going in the type of job I am doing now, then in two years time I will have not have a relationship with any students !!!! An overwhelming feeling of melancholy came upon me......

Using a Blog to do the teaching


On Monday 16th April I am presenting at Huntingtowers' Professional Learning Day. My brief is to provide samples of many different ways teachers can incorporate ICT ( Information Communication Technologies) in their classrooms - from Prep through to year 12. I will do my best to try to inspire them with examples of Blogs, Podcasts, using programs such as MovieMaker, Photostory, imovie, Comic Life and embracing mobile technologies such as phones and iPods. After my talk staff will break up into groups and they have an hour and a half to "produce something" using any of these technologies.

To encourage staff to use the technology, instead of producing a handout, I have included the task requirements for one group, here on my Blog. So welcome !.

Your task is ;
1) to post a comment in my Blog about my presentation today - good bits, bad bits, how I could improve, (anything really !)
2) Make your own Blog
3) it must have at least one "post"
4) A link to a website
5) A photo ( it can be of you or anything else)
6) You must include links to the Blogs of the other staff in your group
7) Make a comment in another persons Blog
8) Inlcude information about yourself in the profile section
These are the mininum requirements. As in any classroom offering a "differentiated curriculum", there are many more aspects you may choose to include, if you have time.

You may use any of these free sites,, Edublogs , or Although at the time I wrote this, there was some difficulty with the Schoolblogs site. You may even be adventurous and find another site to host your Blog. Good Luck and I look forward to linking to your sites.

The last month


Wow! How time flies. It has been over a month since I sat down to write something. What HAVE I been doing !!. I have actually been working in four of my five schools. We have begun the PoLT (Principles of Learning and teaching) process. In the state system this is really BIG. The six principles of effective teaching. . In our cluster we have conducted the teacher interviews ( called Teacher component maps), and surveyed our students both about their learning preferences and their perception of their teacher. It is quite a daunting task for teachers who volunteer. The data will be analysed and Professional Learning Plans developed for individual teachers, for each school and for the cluster.

ICT everywhere.


I have sat down many times to write a new post over the past two weeks, and each time stopped to think carefully about what to write. What do you say that is going to be of interest to others? I have done many things over the past two weeks, that will hopefully be of benefit to staff in my cluster schools. I have also seen some incredible examples of ICT. I have done protocol training and de Bono DATT ( Direct Action Thinking Tools) Training. Attended an ICT Professional Learning afternoon at McLeod College where a colleague used an impressive site from INTEL to compare staff and student understanding of "communication" . I also visited Huntingtower School in Mt Waverly. A school confident enough to have their parent survey results displayed on their website.
Somewhere along the way I discovered The Web is Us/Using Us on Youtube. Well worth a look. It had a million hits in its first week and 3200 comments. An interesting lesson alone for students. What would YOU say to a million people?
My son's friend showed me his MYSPACE - to my amazement he had had 6800 hits, and 415 friends registered. No wonder the kids are addicted to them.

Where to now ?


On Monday a forum was held for all the state Educators. We heard about our uncertain future. Student outcomes have improved but the data collected cannot prove a direct causal link between this and the I & E initiative so will the government be prepared to fund us for another twelve months ????? No answer on this yet.
The Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) seems to be heavily influenced currently by the writings of Professor guy Claxton. His paper on Expanding the capacity to learn was widely discussed.
I attended a session by Gavin Grift , the Educator for the Mulberry Hill Cluster. One of the best things about these forums is the networking and sharing, seeing what other schools and clusters are doing is often inspiring and can be quite amazing. Gavin and other members of his cluster have designed a Planning Tool that is incredible. It has links to all the domains, standards, thinking tools, and strategies. It has been taken up by the Department and will soon on the website. As soon as it is I will link to it.

Learning from others


As I spend time reading other blogs Ikeep discovering interesting and fun things that I could use. I spend time practising putting them onto my page so that I can help staff and the students when we start doing this at school. Jo McLeay . alerted me to the Dave Walkers free cartoon blog. where I obtained the cartoon below.

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Have you ever noticed ???


Well my first week was off to a flying start. After not knowing what to do with myself initially, I spent quite some time assisting the two Legal Studies teachers, met with all the Principals or Assistant Prins from the five schools in my cluster, produced a newsletter on ICT and began settling into my new office.

When I taught Legal it always amazed me that whatever topic I was teaching that week seemed to be in the news. It was great for the kids as it made the topic interesting and relevant. Well the same thing has happened with "blogging". There was a blog competition in our Local newspaper, an article in the Sunday Herald Sun Magazine about Baby Blogs and DEE&T (Department of Education, Employment and Training) have established a web site for teachers to publish work called e.potential. You can log on to to view an excellent Powerpoint on Blogging.

Why Blog ???


Teachers in my cluster will have now seen the article in our local newspaper promoting a Blog competition. Others mayhave followed travel blogs, and for some the word itself is foreign. Why should we as teachers be promoting it? How can we use it in our classrooms? Is it just another ICT fad?

Many of the PoLT (Principles of Learning and Teaching) surveys across the state have reported that the two things students hate the most are "oral presentations" and "journals". And yet many kids have MYSPACE accounts, are really into You tube and may already be Blogging. Podcasts can be the modern version of an "oral" and Blogging (keeping a web journal) is a journal.

Hhmm school site won't allow me access to some of the links I am after. Will finish this later at home.

To be continued ...................

Back to school ..... but what to do !!!


Tuesday teachers go back to work and Wednesday the students arrive. But what do I do? I have no classes and I doubt any teacher is going to want me hanging around when they are busy getting started. I hope they take the time to do the most important thing - get to know their students. Making the connections and working on the relationships is so important . Primary schools tend to do this well, but secondaries !! Well ?? unfortunatley so many secondary teachers still think the most important thing is to set the rules and begin work, get stuck into "their subject". I intend to invite myself into a primary classroom to watch and learn how this is done in the upper primary level.

I have a collection of ideas and examples of activities teachers can use to get to know their students. I think during this coming week I will put them onto a WIKI to share and to allow any people who read my blog to add to , if they wish. A "wiki", hhmm, that makes me smile, a week ago I didn't even know what one was and now I can't wait to set one up !!. It goes to show that the philosophy of "just in time learning", OR "What's in it for me?" applies to adults as well as teenagers. If you are passionate, or interested in something or just "have to " know for a purpose, you WILL learn. We need to keep this in mind for our Middle Years students, especially year 9's.

At Templestowe College the Year 7 staff should be starting with a "Learning to Learn" unit devised by four Educators. Spending the first few lessons in all subjects getting to know the kids and then teaching them about how they learn best, establishing their preferred learning styles, discussing and learning about the sorts of foods to eat, how they affect the brain, the best environment for learning and beginning to talk about the Habits of MInd.

The Cluster ran numerous workshops and professional development sessions on the Habits of Mind in 2006. Daniel Gooding, Leading Schools Fund Eucator for Knox Secondary Learning Community, was a great help to us and his knowledge and assistance was appreciated. The College decided to implement the Habits into the school curriculum and culture, beginning with the Junior School and then continuing in 2008 into year 9 and 10. Staff need to be committed and make a conscientious effort to incorporate them into their units plans and daily lessons. It will be interesting to see how they go. I hope they remember I am available at any time for assistance.