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Aaron Davis  | @mrkrndvs

Aaron Davis | @mrkrndvs

I am an educator whose life has granted a breadth of opportunities, including working in a small country school, a few traditional 7-12 secondary schools, as well as a large P-9 college. My academic background is English and History, however I also have a keen interest in ICT and 21st Century Learning. In my nine years as a teacher I have had a wide array of experience in regards to incorperating technology in the classroom, from introducing the use of IWBs, to being a Ultranet Lead User. In the end, I think that sometimes technology has a way of finding its own.

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Google Docs is the application that Google Apps seems most well known for. More than just a basic word processor, Docs provides a space to connect and collaborate in real-time (something Microsoft is finally doing with Office 365.) It includes such features as the ability to import and export a range of formats, extend communication through comments and chat, work across platforms, including the ability to work offline, add text via voice, edit Microsoft Word (originally via Quickoffice), as well as build documents and add to a range of templates found within a gallery. Going a step further, there are also a range of add-ons which allow you to do everything from create a bibliography to making a flowchart.

Some possible uses for Google Docs include:

  • Digital Workbook: One of the greatest benefits of Docs (and Google Apps) is the ability to move to a paperless classroom.
  • Collaborative Writing: Docs makes cooperative learning more doable, providing the means for interdependance.
  • Administration: Whether it be taking minutes or sharing curriculum documents, Docs provides the means to organise such work.


An interesting example of the use of Google Docs is in the creation of HyperDocs. A cross between Thinglink and a webquest, a HyperDoc is a document which incorporates different interactive features, such as graphic organisers and linked content. In its basic form, it can be conceived as a digital worksheet. However, as with all technology, it has the possibility of amplifying preexisiting practices, providing a means to structure self-directed learning. As Highfill, Hilton and Landis explain,

A true HyperDoc is much more than some links on a document. Digital collaboration is choreographed through the inclusion of web tools that give every student a voice and a chance to be heard by their classmates. Critical thinking and problem solving skills can be developed through linked tasks that ask for authentic products to be created and shared digitally.

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I recently wrote a reflection about different examples of hands on learning that I have been a part of lately. Although there was no question as to whether these different situations involved learning, what seemed missing was a means of effectively elaborating upon the intricacies of the various lessons and activities.

Take the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Program for example. Students engage in a range of activities, including exploring how to care for a garden, developing an awareness of seasons and learning the different skills used when cooking food. This is done while working in groups of six. The usual practise of reflection involves students (not groups) answering a series of set questions each session relating to the focus on the session, either while the food was cooking or as the various materials were being packed up by support staff.Now this was useful to help fill out the time and provide a point of summative assessment, but often meant that the questions used were one-size fits all and did not necessarily capture what may have happened while learning. For example, one week I worked with a group to cook a stir-fry. Each member shared the jobs, taking in turn cutting vegetables or cooking the food. What stood out to me though was how some members took initiative and helped out others. Sharing their prior knowledge and understanding to help other members in the group. Although the questions at the end may have touched on this, it was not necessarily the focus.  One answer to this dilemma is to incorporate more formative assessment through the act of documentation.

One of the key values of Reggio Emilia, documentation involves learners engaging with artefacts relating to their learning. These artefacts can be in any form. Maybe a conversation recorded, a piece of incomplete work or a video capturing learning in action. It can be easy to dismiss the idea of documentation as just a portfolio of work, collected together. The purpose though is not necessarily to summarise products and projects, but rather develop a deeper understanding and provide a narrative. The focus is not to represent a 'final' piece of work, but rather a snapshot of learning to focus on. This inquiry may involve questioning what has been done, reflecting on the process and critiquing the product. As Mara Krechevsky, Melissa Rivard, Ben Mardell, Daniel Wilson suggest in Visible Learners,

Documentation supports the social principle of learning by communicating the importance of the experiences captured, the knowledge gained, and those who participated.

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Posted by on in Education Technology


Although some schools are going one-to-one iPads, there is a growing trend of teachers purchasing their own iPad and bringing them into the classroom. This is a different proposition. Where I have written about how an iPad can support teacher's professional and personal learning, I have not written about how iPads can be used to support learning within the classroom. I therefore put out a call for thoughts and ideas on Twitter:

If you only had ONE iPad in a room, what would you do with it? Looking for links/ideas

Aaron Davis (@mrkrndvs)

Here then are the responses I got (tweets in brackets):

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One of my colleagues recently got the position in a new school. This got me thinking, in a school with no prior practices and protocols, how could something like Google Apps for Education help:

Sharing Work

On a basic level, Google Apps provides an easy way for students to share work. As I have written about before, Google takes away the problem of collecting all the workbooks on a Friday afternoon, only to find that the one student whose work you were desperate to check has failed to hand their book in. In addition to this, students are then able to share and collaborate with each other. In support of this, platforms such as Google Classroom, Google Vault and Hapara allow you to streamline the process even more by providing teachers with the means of keeping track of work even easier.

Formative and Summative Feedback

Another benefit of staff and students working with Google is ability to engage with multiple points of feedback. In my experience, students often receive feedback and have little means of following up. Using comments in Google not only allows you to provide more timely feedback, but it also means that students can easily follow up with any questions that they may have in response. In addition to comments, Google Forms provides a powerful means of checking in with staff, students and parents on any number of topics. For more ideas, see Anthony Speranza's presentation.

Curriculum Planners

One of the common problems associated with curriculum planners is who has the most up to date copy. In the past, such documents have been housed on school share drives, while the modern trend has been to move them to clouds sites like Dropbox. Although both of these solutions work, they restrict collaboration (I don't count five teachers sitting at an interactive whiteboard as collaborative.) Sharing documents and assessment trackers with Google not only means that anyone can properly collaborate during planning, but it also means that people can add further comments at a later stage. This subsequently allows such documents to live and breathe, rather than be static creations lost in time.

Curating Resources

Whatever the purpose, whether it be booking resources, broadcasting daily absences, providing a repository for various resources, such as forward planning documents, or simply providing a central collection point for curriculum and assessment documents, Sites provides the means for connecting everything together. The best thing is that such spaces are completely open to make it what you want. You could have a whole school space or just a space for a specific class. The choice is yours.


Whether it be embedding a range of media within Sites or putting different pieces of work in Slides, Google offers a range of ways to easily create learning portfolios. What is also great is that staff and students can add comments or content to them at any time. For more ideas, Anthony Speranza's presentation.

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Introducing technology has its challenges. Although technology has been a part of who we are since cave men started painting pictures on walls, adding something new and seemingly different is often confronting to the status quo and how we think things should be.

My school recently purchased a class set of iPads, as well as one for each of the teachers. This was a bold move considering up until now we had been largely dependent on banks of netbooks. The question though is where to start. I am well aware of the need to build the confidence of staff long before you introduce them into the classroom. A point well made by Richard Lambert. My question then is where should staff start in the classroom. I have reflected on iPads in education before, but got wondering where do we start in the context of a Prep classroom. So I put out the call out to a few teachers I knew had experience with iPads in the Early Years.

@jjash @MichelleMeracis @BecSpink @samjirwin @iPadWells question, what would your 'quick win' be in regards to introducing #ipad with preps #ipaded

Aaron Davis (@mrkrndvs)

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