Category Archives: Learning area

Languages Teachmeet

I’ve written about Teachmeets before – they are terrific informal professional learning opportunities that are free to attend and all are welcome to attend or even present a two or seven minute session.

Coming up next week is the first ever Teachmeet exclusively for language teachers. It will be held at Avila College in Mount Waverley from 4.30pm next Wednesday 6 August.

Find out more and register to attend (and present) on the Teachmeet Melbourne wiki.


Fighting devastating ignorance with fact-based worldviews everyone can understand.

Gapminder is an extraordinary source of information and statistics about the world providing a wealth of resources with numerous applications across the curriculum. Gapminder is a non-profit venture – “a modern “museum” on the Internet – promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.” Founded in Sweden in 2005 the initial focus was on developing the Trendalyzer software which is used to turn data into vibrant, animated, easily understood displays.

Gapminder World allows the comparison of development of all countries across time and includes a downloadable pdf guide to help you get the most out of it. There is also an offline version of Gapminder World available.

This screenshot shows the comparative life expectancy and wealth of nations in 2012. The online version allows you to move back and forward through years to see changes and development in a highly visual way.

Gapminder World

The Gapminder site also includes videos and some excellent resources for teachers.

Watch one of the Gapminder founders, Hans Gosling, present “The best stats you’ve ever seen” at TED:


Maths teachers – have you seen It’s like a mini-Khan academy filled with fabulous short videos explaining maths concepts except all the videos have been created by students. Here’s a sample:

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From the About us page:

Mathtrain.TV is a free educational “kids teaching kids” project from Mr. Marcos & his students at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, CA. Mathtrain.TV was created by middle school mathematics teacher, Eric Marcos. It is part of the Project and was created to host our student-created math video lessons all in one place. It is Web 2.0 friendly with its ability for users to generate “ratings” and “comments”. Our middle school students use a tablet pc and screen-capturing software, Camtasia Studio, to create the math tutorials. The site is powered by PHPmotion, a free video-sharing software.

Students at Lincoln Middle School create math video lessons (screencasts or mathcasts) which are used for classroom instruction and posted onto sites such as Mathtrain.TV,, iTunes, YouTube, TeacherTube and Google Video. Our students work hard at creating the content and construct the best explanations they can in our unscripted format. The videos are offered free, “as is” (under a Creative Commons agreement) and we take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or errors which may exist in the content or site. All videos are reviewed (and sometimes further edited) by a credentialed math teacher. In an effort to make our videos available to many different learners, we are in the process of closed captioning (CC) our videos. At the moment, there may be two versions of the same video lesson on this site; one with and one without captioning. On other videos, we may “burn” the captions right onto the video itself. As technology progresses, we hope to offer our viewers not only the ability to toggle on and off between closed captioning but also alternative language subtitles. For more information about how to caption your own videos, go here:

We invite students, teachers, parents and educators to join us and help contribute to this global collaborate effort. We are especially interested in student-created mathcasts, hence the “kids teaching kids” motto.

My motto is “Learn, do, teach” because it is through the act of showing someone else how to do something that I truly consolidate my knowledge. The content on is fantastic and there is plenty to be learned there but wouldn’t your students’ mathematical skills benefit from creating similar explanatory videos? And what about other subjects? There is enormous scope for learning by teaching. Steve Wheeler has recently written about the value of Flipping the teacher (as opposed to the classroom) and has some other useful suggestions for how this can be done. The tools used are becoming more widely available and there are plenty of great examples out there. Let me know if you and your students have created any of these videos and they can be featured on Bytes. Or if you’d like to give it a try but don’t know where to start please get in touch.

Heide Education Resources

Heide Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved from

You may have visited Heide Museum of Modern Art with its galleries, cafe and beautiful gardens (if you haven’t I highly recommend you do!) but you might not know that their website contains a range of very useful education resources, and not just for art.

From the Education Resources page you will find links to videos and printable resources on artists such as Albert Tucker and Mirka Mora; general art resources, sustainability resources, and education resources for many of the exhibitions held over the years. All are free to view or download.

I particularly enjoyed this video on Concrete Poetry with its cross-curricular application to language and visual art.

Concrete Poetry from Heide Museum of Modern Art on Vimeo.


I only came across Europeana recently. It is a website where galleries, museums and libraries from across Europe are providing access to their collections. The British Library, The Louvre and the Rijksmuseum are just three of the many institutions contributing to this site.

Europeana Launch Video from Europeana on Vimeo.

From the about page:

Explore millions of items from a range of Europe’s leading galleries, libraries, archives and museums. Books and manuscripts, photos and paintings, television and film, sculpture and crafts, diaries and maps, sheet music and recordings, they’re all here. No need to travel the continent, either physically or virtually!

Found something you like? Download it, print it, use it, save it, share it, play with it, love it!

Search results include images, text, video and sound recordings. It is easy to refine a search with the options on the left hand side. I particularly like how you can limit your search to display items that are licensed for re-use if you wish. This search result shows 160 image, text and videos related to medical instruments that can be re-used with attribution or with restrictions.

Europeana search results

The contributing institutions are from all over Europe so the built-in translation service is handy.

You can register for a Europeana account if you wish which allows you to save items for future reference.

Google Cultural Institute

The Google Cultural Institute provides access to thousands of works of art and museum exhibits through an interactive, highly engaging portal. The aim is to make cultural heritage from around the world freely accessible to all. You will find artworks, landmarks and world heritage sites, as well as digital exhibitions that tell the stories behind the archives of cultural institutions across the globe.

You can take a virtual tour, see works in great detail and create your own gallery. There are special features for educators including the Art Project and the World Wonders Project.

This video  will give you a glimpse of what is available but (warning!) you will need to visit the site and be prepared to lose a few hours to start to see the magnitude of what is available.

The Google Cultural Institute is highly relevant to teachers of history, geography and of course art.

ABC Splash

Have you seen the ABC Splash website?

ABC Splash was launched last year as a new world-class education website for Australia. It includes excellent Australian content from ABC television and radio, and they have joined up with Education Services Australia to link hundreds of new learning resources directly to the Australian Curriculum. Look out for cutting-edge games, virtual worlds and immersive digital experiences.

The special teacher area features thought-provoking articles and blog posts, teaching resources and up-to-date education news. You can even read about the project I was involved in last year: Disaster Resilience for Students.

ABC Splash also runs some live events for teachers and students – to find out more and be kept updated about upcoming events, visit the site and register for their newsletter.

Would you rather…?

Would You Rather? Asking students to choose their own path and justify itmiles-vs-days

Would you rather earn a dollar for every foot in 1 mile OR earn a dollar for every day you’ve been alive? Whichever option you choose, justify your reasoning with mathematics.

Well I’m old so the answer is easy for me…but for our students there’ll be some mathematical thinking involved in deciding the most profitable path.

Would you rather? is a fabulous site, full of interesting questions, like the one above, requiring critical thinking and mathematical reasoning to answer. Some other recent questions include:

  • Have a 30 acre crop planted with seeds that carry a 58% survival rate OR have a 50 acre crop planted with seeds that carry a 42% survival rate?
  • Have 1 of 8 slices from a 10″ pizza OR 1 of 10 slices from a 14″ pizza? Whichever option you choose, justify your reasoning with mathematics.

Why not ask your students to quickly make a choice (write it on a slip of paper or set up a google form to vote) then spend some time justifying their choice mathematically. How many will change their mind? How many different answers will be right?