Get to Know Your Class Using PechaKucha

Have you ever had the situation where halfway through the year you are talking to a student and they reveal an amazing fact about themselves that you didn’t know e.g. that they are a black belt in karate or they love to go fishing or something equally unusual, and you suddenly realise that you don’t know your class very well at all? Well, when this happened to me this year I decided to try and do something about it, in a way that wasn’t teacher time intensive and that was interesting.  So I implemented my Form Class PechaKucha Project.  

 So I explained to them that they all had cool talents that I am sure I didn’t know about and wanted to them to share these with their classmates and I.  I asked my form class to do was to create a 2min presentation on themselves that they could show to their class in form time. (I adjusted the time constraints of a traditional PechaKucha to make the task as easy as possible.)   I suggested they used PPoint but they didnt have to.  In my instructions I said they could include things like: Family photos, baby photos, crazy photos of themselves, their goals this year or long term, their hobbies, favourite foods etc, but I emphasised the fact that these were suggestions.  Before they began, I did a presentation on myself so that they could get a better idea of what I was wanting.  We spent our form time for two weeks in a computer lab and then they were ready to present.    

What Was Surprising?

  • Because it wasn’t a graded assignment the students seemed more interested in completing it.
  • They revealed a lot about each student.
  • Students were not embaressed to share info about their families and themselves, right down to their own baby pictures and even more personal, their goals both long term and short.
  • For some students it was the first time they had used ppoint and they were excited to learn this new skill.  

Other Benefits

  • It was a great opportunity to practice speaking in front of their peers before their speeches in English.
  • Learning where to stand and how to talk while using a ppoint.  We had informal chats about some of these things as we went to help them improve their presenting skills.
  • The opportunity to share funny things about themselves that they normally wouldn’t.
  • Some students learned new computer skills such as emailing attachments etc. 
  • It was a great opportunity for students to help one another create interesting presentations.  Particularly for skilled students to help those with little experience.  

Key Things About Doing This Project

  • Do in term two.  The students said they wouldnt have wanted to do it in term one as they would have been too self conscious in front of new classmates, but they would be fine by term two.
  • Do one yourself and present it to them first to show them how it could look.  
  • Dont limit the info that they can share.     

PechaKucha’s for PD

Edu ignite is run by the NEAL group in auckland.  They host a PD night once a term and they are run in basically the same way as a PechaKucha, which is where I was first introduced to this style of presenting.  Teachers register for a PD night where they can go and listen to other teachers present info on something they are doing in their teaching that they are really inspired about e.g. Using facebook or setting up specific programs in their schools.  The topics are so varied and really interesting.  The second time you go, you have to either present yourself or bring a friend.  The ultimate goal of course is to ignite our passion for teaching and in doing so in our students.  I recommend attending these at least once, you will be amazed at what other teachers and educators are doing and you will be inspired to try new things yourself.  I myself am aiming to try to do a presentation at one of these next year when I return from my maternity leave.  So go ahead and get inspired.

Want free PD with No Reliever Costs, Answer=TWITTER!

The are a number of ways you can use twitter in education. My focus for this blog is specifically designed to help teachers use twitter to get the most amazing professional development at their fingertips, anytime, anywhere and for free!

I must confess before I signed up with twitter, I really didn’t get it. Why would I want to follow celebrities writing about what their doing all day. And why would I want to tweet about what I am doing? However after an inspiring pd course given by Billy Merchant (HOD PE at Pakuranga College) I thought I’ give it a go. Basically all I did was sign up and follow Billy! I had no idea how to use it, but figured I wasn’t loosing anything by having a go! Wow, my perspective on this has changed 360°. I have had more PD in the past 6 months from twitter, and the best thing about it is you can pick and choose what you read about. No sitting in a courseall day and then figuring out it really doesn’t have anything new to offer you! I now find myself sitting on a Saturday morning with a cuppa in hand, scrolling through to see what amazing things other teachers are doing, not only in NZ but all around the world. Once signed up, you can access your twitter account from the internet, a tablet/ipad, or a smart phone. So I have put together a few notes on how you can do exactly what I have done.

Here is where you sign up to get a twitter account and here are the step by step instructions on how to set it up. Do consider what email address you want to use with this. I personally use gmail so that I don’t clog up my school email. I do this for all the elearning links or blogs etc that I follow.

Secondly, think about what your user name is going to be. If you are using it for PD purposes in many ways you want it to reflect who you are in the professional world, as this is how people online will remember you. And obviously great networking can be done with them in the future so you don’t want it to be too obscure. If you decide you want to use twitter with classes in the future you can create multiple accounts with different user names.

It is important to put some info in your profile so that people can identify you if they are searching to follow you. It also helps differentiate real people from spam profiles.

Here are some things below to help you start using twitter.

Basically the way twitter works is you choose people you want to follow. Then anything they tweet will come up on your Home tab. So to see what people are saying you just scroll through this.  To follow someone you know or have heard about, click on the @ tab along the top. It will allow you to enter their name and then search for them. It will bring up a list, you will need to click on the one you think it is and have a look at their profile description to see if it is the person you are wanting to follow, if it is click follow (usually a blue button). If not keep looking on the list.  To widen the number of people you are following you can choose to follow everyone that person is following. This way you get a wider range of info to read. You can delete anyone off this list at any time.

If you are wanting to find info on a certain topic, you will need to use a hashtag. For example #edchat. Most people when tweeting will put a hashtag on the end that describes what the topic of the tweet is. So to then search you click on the #discover tab along the top. Type in the hashtag and then you can read the tweets that come up and if you choose to you can follow the authors of good comments. Below is a list of common education hastags. But before you read on, good luck, learn lots and of course have fun. 🙂

General Education



Specific to PE

Subject Specific This list comes from Edudemic website

Extra Curriular Topics ( may be useful in curriculum classes ( also from edudemic)















#mathchat – mathematics#scichat – science

#engchat – English

#artsed – the arts in education

#musedchat – music

#eltchat – english language teacher

#STEM – widely used for posts and resources in STEM education

#SSChat – social studies    chat

#RETeacher – Religious Education

#HistoryTeacher – History

#GeographyTeacher – Geography

#ASEChat – Association of science and education weekly chat Monday 8-9pm GMT

#PhysicsEd – Physics


#pgce – this is a widely used hashtag and is a great way to share ideas and support#gtchat – for tweets related to gifted and talented education

#esl – English as a second language, this seemed to have more relevant tweets than


#Bullying – especially good for finding bullying resources or help and support if bullying is an issue though it is not confined to school bullying

#cpchat – connected principals discussion

#ntchat – new teachers, (#nqtchat seems to have lapsed)

#spedchat – special educational needs. Live chat every Tuesday night at 8:30 EST for special education related topics

#homeschool – everything related to home schooling, seems to be far more widely used than #hsc

#playoutdoors – outdoor play and learning ideas

#TLChat – is the hashtag for Teacher Librarians’ discussions/resources

#ESDGC – Education for sustainability and global citizenship

Edudemics website also has a full list of 400 educational hashtags!!!!

First Vodcast Ever – Training Zones in PE

This is my first attempt at creating a vodcast/screencast for my students.  Please let me know what you think.  It is designed to be used with my year 11 Physical Education students who are working towards a 6km race at the end of their running module (A.S. 1.9)

It was created with the Snagit program, which was a little tricky at first but I think I now have the hang of it!!  This video is designed to be viewed at home (to achieve the flipped classroom model).  I have put it up on youtube as an unlisted video.  This means that only people that I give the url to can view the video.  I have also pasted it on my classes private facebook page and that also works.

If you have any suggestions or tips for creating vodcasts/screencasts please let me know and any feedback on the video would be appreciated via this blog.  Also if you can tell me how to embed the video in my blog rather than just the url that would be fantastic!

Flipped Classrooms

This blog on the edutopia website is awesome.  It pulls together the pro’s and con’s of a flipped classroom model, gives examples of how to flip your classroom and tools and strategies that may be useful, all developed by people actually putting it into practice.  A great place to start, will take me a while to get through it all, but I think it is really worth the time spent to get ideas rather than reinventing the wheel.

As I am just beginning to see, there is loads of information out there on how to, and why flipping your classroom could be beneficial to your students.  I intend to start small and build my way into this concept.  Essentially I have already begun this process by some of the ways I have used Facebook outside of the classroom (see my first blog).  You don’t need to go as far as podcasts and vodcasts initially if you are not ready for it.  And I do think it takes a bit of getting used to for students also.  But the possibilities are endless and so to are the benefits to students.

For those that have begun down this path, here are a couple of neat strategies that I have come accross so far.

I also really like what NZ PE Teacher is doing with flipping the classroom.  In particular the WSQ sheet (pronounced Whisk).  This is a task that students complete after watching a vodcast (video) at home.  It requires students to Watch the video, Summarise its content and then create a Question that they want answers to on the topic.  A great way to easily see the next day in class which students are completing their homework.  Which if not completed can then be done in class or lunchtime (if prefered by the teacher!), or if your lucky enough to be a BYOD school already, they can watch it then and there on their own device without further disrupting your lesson.  Click here for a screencast of this strategy.

Another little tip I just picked up from Katie Gimbar’s Flipped Classroom clip on utube was when creating a screencast/vodcast/video, you can use the term VIC which stands for a Very Important Concept.  When students hear this they know they need to listen more carefully!   She produces her video’s for her flipped classroom using a basic flip camera and whiteboards.  Then uploads directly.  This is also an easy activity for students to learn to do, as a way of presenting information back to the class or teacher, either in groups or as individuals once they have gotten used to the idea. She has a range of video’s on flipped classrooms on youtube, here are some of them that I found interesting:

Why I Flipped My Classroom?

What if students don’t watch my video’s?

What if students don’t have access?

Huge thanks to teachers and educators everywhere for sharing their work is such a wonderful and easy to access way.  Here are some other sites I have also come accross.

Educational Vodcasting

The Flipped Class Network

Facebook – How I have used it.

This year I am trialling the use of facebook with my two Year 11 PE classes. I have set it up as a facebook profile with a facebook group set inside it. It is the groups they are connected to which are private and work by students requesting access and me as the owner of the page accepting them. Membership to this was offered as a voluntary option to students. My reasoning behind using facebook at this stage as a way to communicate with my students, was purely based on the fact that most of them already use facebook, and so any post I make on the page automatically comes up on their pages. So essentially everything comes to them easily using facebook.

Currently the way I have used the page is for


This is one of the easiest ways I used to remind my students about bringing their PE gear if I had changed what I had planned for the next lesson. Or about bringing other equipment needed for the lesson. Reminders about tutorials coming up, homework that needed to be completed or something that I had forgotten to mention to them during the lesson.

Providing Web links to our LMS (learning management system)

Currently all of our powerpoints, worksheets, links to videos and loads of other information is set up in our LMS which at our school is Scholaris. I have used scholaris quite extensively since its introduction at my school, however I always found the students reluctant to bother going onto it. By providing them with the links, they have utilised this system far more than any students I have taught in the past.

Asking Thought Provoking Questions Prior to Teaching Content

Occasionally I will try to come up with a question in a sporting context that is in line with what I am about to teach. I have not required students to respond but merely put the question out there. Sometimes students have commented and other times they have not. I think that even though they are not replying there is the possibility that the student may ponder that question even if only for a moment. By doing this I am trying to get students to think using their prior knowledge and their kinaesthetic knowledge of movement in order to answer a question. By doing this before I have taught a concept I am hoping that students will bring that prior knowledge with them to class.

Asking Questions

For this I will write the homework question on the board and pop it on the facebook page at the end of the class. It may have been after teaching a concept or theory which I then want students to have a go at applying to a sporting context they are familiar with. It is important to be asking good questions but questions that only require short answers, essays length answers will most definitely turn the students off and the number of reply’s will be limited! When doing this I will often while sitting at home in the evening have a quick look at the responses. I have the ability at this point as does any other student to reply to them to let them know if they are on the right track or not. Ideally I want them in the future to use each other to do this also, this has begun to happen, although the students still place a higher significance on the teacher’s comments.

Contrary to what one would think, this is so quick and easy and worthwhile. Students love the almost instant feedback and it is so much easier than using valuable class time to check homework has been completed. This also gives teachers a record of understanding of students that can be accessed via any internet capable device. Rather than in a book somewhere at the bottom of a schoolbag. The level of individual feedback possible is awesome and the opportunity should not be taken for granted. Obviously if you have large classes and many of them, more general group replies are an alternative.


Flipping the Classroom

This concept is quite the buzz idea at the moment, particularly in elearning circles.  This involves students doing tasks that would normally be done at school at home e.g. writing content notes, leaving time at school to apply the content.

The way in which I have used this is by putting up a link on the facebook page to a set of notes stored on scholaris (our LMS).  Students are then required to read those notes, summarise into key points or to complete particular questions (videos can also be used in this way).  The homework tasks can be varied and could include summarising information, gathering key points to then apply in a practical context the next day. The next day we then talk about the content and do activities that require students to apply that information.

Students Comments 2012

Here are a few of the comments students recently gave about our use of facebook so far this year.
“Really, really, really helpful.” Jodie

“There’s more class interaction.” Katie

“Helpful as you can get ideas from others as to how to answer a question if you are struggling” Georgia

“It is helpful to be able to access links to the power points” Leah

“It makes you think” Jodie

“An opportunity to give feedback.” Georgia