Bring on 2015……

I am so fortunate to ‘work’ with such a wonderful group of Indonesian teachers. “Work” is in inverted commas because as Senorfernie puts it, we are largely “departments of 1″and work at different school sites. Fortunately the primary Indonesian teachers down here in our neck of the woods are just as passionate about teaching Indonesian as I am. All the more impressive as they also manage family commitments and businesses on top of their teaching load! I salute them.
Our hub group meets every holiday to plan upcoming units of work, to share ideas and resources and for Australian Curriculum training & development. We have noticed how our sharing has changed significantly over the past few years. Originally we would come to our meetings laden with text books, worksheets and video/DVD’s. Now we bring laptops and/or iPads and everything we swap is digital! Sharon introduced us all to the beauty of hard drives and now we can’t imagine how we coped previously without one!
We met yesterday (mid term!) for ACARA T & D. Our mission was to plan a unit of work that aligns with our new curriculum for term 1 2015, so that we can collect work samples from our students for moderation. When Annie first raised the plan, I had misgivings because I was unsure how it would fit in with my TPRS plans for 2015. I was worried that I would have to choose between collaborating and TPRS. Then I changed my mind and considered the possibility and benefits of being able to collect data to compare TPRS methodology with traditional non-TPRS methodology.
Imagine my surprise and delight when all teachers present at the hub group meeting yesterday expressed interest in learning more about TPRS and are really keen to start incorporating it into their teaching in 2015!! A fellow teacher who has also recently discovered TPRS has described our passion for TPRS as bordering on obsessive and that we are more like evangelists. Even though I was severely sleep deprived yesterday, advocating TPRS proved to be an instant antidote!
Together we planned an 8 lesson unit which will lend itself beautifully to a TPRS introduction as well as consolidating the language students will need for introducing themselves during skype sessions with our sister school that we are hoping to participate in ahead of their visit in September. The assessable task we have planned is for students to create a dialogue using specific targeted language and then in groups of 3 make an iMovie which will be assessed by their peers.
It aligned beautifully with the Indonesian Curriculum and the discussion we had finalising this was useful as it helped us all refresh our knowledge of the new curriculum terminology as well as sharing pointers we have picked up recently at either conferences or from school based training.
The day flew by and when Sharon mentioned she would have to leave soon to do the school pick up run, we all were amazed to realise that except for a very brief lunch interlude (thank you Annie for the delicious chickpea salad) we had been working solidly for 5 hours!

Term 4 Teachmeet

I can’t believe we thought holding our second Teachmeet in term 4 was a good idea! Not only that, but in week 5!! I had 4 teachers RSVP to say they would be able to attend and I also had a few RSVP to say that couldn’t due to teaching commitments. Those of us that did turn up agreed that we are all exhausted and while it is valuable to meet and share, we all had to dig deep to do so. Consequently, we agreed that once a semester is enough and our next Teachmeet will be week 5, term 1 in 2015 and the final one for 2015 will be week 5, term 3.
While the topic was; bring along something you have used successfully in your classroom, our focus mostly centred on using iPads in the classroom.

Sharon shared the following apps:
Languages Online – very large app but useful because you can track student progress.


Sharon also mentioned that she had noticed that there were recent Indonesian story apps available. Kris immediately searched and found:

IMG_0878.PNG if you search cerita anak, the number is very impressive and most are free!! Just need to download them and assess their suitability now…… Definitely a summer holiday job!!

Other apps Sharon recommended include
Cari kata and Indonesian word search:

Moji Jam


Buzz Monster – made by the same people who made Futaba, so guaranteed to be worth the cost.


Kris shared next:
Three ring – good for collecting and storing student assessment data.

Pass the parcel- looks like a fun game-


Kris also reminded us about the Web2 for Language Teachers wikispace she developed and now maintains. If you have any suggestions (apps etc) that could be included, don’t hesitate to contact her.


Sharon next shared a few resources she found on her recent visit to Bali. First she shared a book she’d found which has great illustrations about significant cultural events from all over Indonesia.

And also a DVD called Didi Tikus. We watched part of the first episode which would definitely appeal to young students. The videos have very little language, are slap stick and reminded us all of Mr Bean.


I shared how I use class dojo in my classroom. Up until recently, I called the roll myself asking every student, “Apa kabar?”. Previously in term 4 of every year, students would be invited to call the roll, but it was agonising as it took so long. So I came up with the idea of timing students and having each class work together to achieve the school record. It has worked very well. So, now individual students call the roll using class dojo; one student asks everyone in their class, “Apa kabar?” while I time and record their answers. The fastest time is held by the year 7’s with 32 seconds! The student then completes the absences, lateness and assists me during the lesson recording points.


Astaga! What A Story!

On a high after my first lessons exploring TPRS pedagogy, I was really motivated to take it one step further and explore the skill of storytelling. A google search quickly confirmed that I would need to write my own story (Mainly Spanish and European Language stories available) so that it contained the exact language I wanted to target as well as incorporating already familiar vocabulary and sentence structures from previous unit of work.
After much thought, the story came to me one evening while walking the dogs! This is always the perfect time for me when thinking about any aspect of my writing, I work through blog posts, student dialogues, film scripts, in fact, just about anything and everything – and the best thing is that because it is just me with the dogs, once the idea has gelled, I can then say it aloud and hear how it sounds.
I wanted my story to ;
1. incorporate some language from terms 1 & 2 (myself & school),
2. incorporate some of the language we had circled the previous week (kenalkan),
3. be succinct
4. incorporate students
5. have a twist at the end
6. be easily performed
When it came together, I was so excited. I quickly returned home so that I could write it down while it was still fresh in my mind.
Here it is:
astaga digital

Before the first lesson, I identified the vocabulary that would be unfamiliar yet vital for comprehension:
tidak boleh
mari &
and wrote them up on the board before students arrived for class.

We then began the first lesson by focusing on the pronunciation of these new words. I next wrote the meaning for each word alongside it and asked the class to suggest a gesture for each. This was lots of fun and students were very creative. The gesture I particularly liked was for ‘piket’ (yard duty) which was the enactment of putting the duty vest on. Simple yet effective. Once the gestures were each firmed in our minds, I began circling with, “Saya bermain hoki.” Colby bermain kriket? Tayla bermain apa? Once students had relaxed with this familiar line of questioning, I invited a student to become my first actor, with, “Mari!” I then asked him, “Oscar bermain apa?” to which he replied, “Saya bermain futball.” As a class we then repeated this using gestures for each word. I then began the story and asked Oscar to mime each sentence. The first sentence included the word, “aspel” (asphalt) – vocabulary from 2nd term – and at that point in time I was surprised that not one student remembered this word which to my ears, even sounds like asphalt!! However later it became clear that as they knew it was against the rules to play football on the basketball court, they had automatically disregarded that option!! Funny really as this was the basis of my story!! (i.e. A student doing the wrong thing!)
Next, a second actor was invited to the ‘stage’ and we began the 2nd line of the story. As a class we agreed on which teacher the actor was portraying and then she mimed the gestures as I spoke the next aspect of the story.
The third line, being an action word, also hadn’t been added to the initial list of vocabulary because it was oenapapatic and I had correctly assumed that students would easily work out its meaning.
At this point in the story, I stopped and repeated these 3 lines of the story with a fresh couple of actors. Once the first actors had demonstrated the action, others became keener to volunteer which was pleasing. For the next actors, we changed the sport, the teacher on duty (pop-up for Pak & Bu with this point) and the location.
This repetition was valuable, however as our lessons are 50 minutes, I started to run out of time. So unfortunately the latter half of the story was not circled anywhere near enough for my satisfaction and consequently we didn’t even cover the final stage of the story where the twist was! Oh well….

For the second lesson (and final lesson for term 3), I instructed students to form groups of 2-3, and then gave each a cloze of the first part of the story.
astaga cloze

Even though I only had this one lesson of 50 minutes to achieve quite a lot, I have discovered that having a tight timeline when working with iPads, actually motivates most students to stay on task.
Their task for the lesson was:
complete the cloze
use the app puppet pals to create an enactment of the dialogue.
use themselves as the characters (not the clipart looking characters provided by the app)
upload to camera roll when finished.

Overall, I was extremely satisfied with this extension activity with the story – mainly because of the enormous amount of oral language each student was uttering. While most groups did not finish the task, I wasn’t too disappointed with that aspect. For me, the main aim of this lesson, was to provide students with an engaging way of manipulating and repeating the sentence structures we had worked on till it became firmly entrenched in their minds. Walking around and listening to groups recording their voices reinforced just how successful iPads can help in achieving this. Some groups edited and edited and edited, each time having to repeat their lines over and over and over again until each group member was satisfied with not only the pronunciation and expression but also importantly that the actions matched the words! Even now, 3 weeks on, students still remember lines from the story. Yesterday Jamie, clutched his leg and claimed, “Saya dikena Oscar!”. How awesome is that! (linguistically not the fact that Oscar had actually deliberately bumped his leg!)
Now enjoy a few of the finished projects:


Twitter Time

So many ideas here for me to reflect on. I have an Indonesian language class Twitter account which some classes adore using, but it seems there are a million other ways to utilise it in my classroom which would make it equally engaging for other classes. Do other Indonesian teachers have twitter accounts and how do you use it? So far, I have mainly used it as a tool for classes to reflect upon and then summarise the learning we have done in class that lesson. With the Junior primary classes, I encouraged them to use Twitter to tweet their inquiry questions about volcanoes. This was not so successful except for one of our amazing fathers who is following us and together with his daughter, they would go online and then tweet back the answers. How awesome is that!!

Learning and Growing

It makes my heart happy to see so many teachers creating class Twitter accounts.  Having a one has created some wonderful learning opportunities for my students over the past two years. I’ve learned a few things (sometimes the hard way) so thought I’d share some things in the hope that it can help others.

One of the first things to you need to do is create a Twitter handle – I chose @Millgrove4H.  I would probably use something different now because I’ve learned to

  •  pick a name that will last
  • keep it short
  • make it memorable

 When selecting a name, try to choose something suitable that will continue through the years.  As teachers, we often change grades and even schools.  (As well, we discovered that using a school name can make your site simple to find during a Mystery Skype).  It’s a good idea to try to keep…

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Using the Book Creator app in the Indonesian Classroom

Last term, the middle primary classes continued their focus on our school with the aim of creating a digital book about PEPS for our sister school. After listening to recommendations from other teachers about the best app to use, I settled on Book Creator for several reasons. A main one being that one of the teachers who recommended it was also using it, so it made sense that we explored it together.

Each of the 4 classes had specific areas of our school to focus on, to ensure that each area was covered. Then, from those, students could chose one for their own writing. Each class then brainstormed for ways in which to incorporate a verb in a very simple sentence about school areas. I wrote them all down and then as a class, we translated each of the sentences. Most classes ended up with a sentence similar to, “I like playing in the gym” which translates nicely: ‘Saya suka bermain di aula’. Each class then voted on the sentence they preferred and they then had to write a sentence about their area using the model that they had both chosen & translated! This worked very well because it gave the more capable students scope for imagination and creativity and for those struggling with aspects of literacy, provided them with a sentence they could either use entirely or change very slightly.

I then introduced the iPads that I had bought with my grant monies. With the first class, I walked them through the basics of Book Creator, but luckily the following day we had a student free ICT focus day where we discussed how students can develop 21st Century skills by working it out by all themselves. So with the next class, I gave out the iPads and the only heads up I gave them was the name of the app and what had to be included in their book – a front cover, their sentence written in English & Indonesian and a recording of them saying their sentences. I encouraged them to firstly try themselves, if that failed, then to try 2 more things before asking a friend. I was the absolute last option – mainly because I was also learning how to use it. For the first Book Creator lesson with each class, I finished the lesson with the students all sitting on the floor in a circle with the iPads. This allowed those still working to continue working while listening. In this forum, students who either were still stumped on an aspect had the opportunity to ask publicly or even better, for students who had discovered something really cool, to share it with the others. I remember vividly one class where a student had worked out how to enlarge the text, change the font and change the colour of a page and as that student shared, everyone was following along and experimenting with their own ‘book’! It was so exciting.

Students very quickly grasped the finer points of Book Creator. Students originally were in teams of 2-4 as there are only 5 iPads in the Indonesian classroom. I did this mainly to encourage collaboration, but with a task such as this was, more than 2 students to an iPad meant that the waiting time was too for some of them, so I ended up borrowing the recently purchased bank of 8 which improved the student/iPad ratio significantly.
It wasn’t till the holidays that I had a chance to look at the final products. I then learned that one of the features available in Book Creator is that the books can be combined, so I had this great idea where I could amalgamate all the books into one large book, but this great idea was disbanded very quickly when I discovered that to combine books, all books had to have the same page format and be on the same iPad. I also discovered that to combine, the first book has to include the front cover for them all as all subsequent front covers are not included.Still, it is a great idea and one that could be very useful.

Following are some of the things I love about using Book Creator in the classroom:
– If project has sound, it can be exported entirely to ibooks, the camera roll or even emailed (the quality deteriorates with this last option)
– airdropping to another iPad’s camera roll is possible & very easy
– If exported as a PDF, sound is lost
– Not only can students record their voices, they can also video themselves and import that into a project!
-Students can import photos or draw pictures
– to add to a blog, upload straight to Youtube!

If I could change aspects of Book Creator, all I would do is:
-To export projects from iPad to iPad so that projects can be combined

Finally here is a note to self for the next time I use Book Creator in the Indonesian Classroom:
1. Remind students not to use their surnames
2. Have students using the same iPad to use the same page for each project, so the combine pages is an option.
3. The title of a book must reflect the content of the book and the title and author names also need to be written underneath each project.
4. Each project would look finished with a back cover – maybe incorporating a kenalkan!

Have you used Book Creator in the Indonesian classroom successfully? My students all absolutely loved it and have repeatedly asked when we are next using iPads again!

Mystery Skype – Can It Be Successful In Australia?

I recently bought 4 iPads using the SA e-partnerships with our sister school grant monies and these have increased my total number of iPads in the Indonesian room to 5, which although is awesome, still means a 1:6 ratio of iPads to students. Our one Skype session with our sister school was very successful and after reading about one class having several Skyping conversation happening simultaneously in a classroom, I have visions of that happening in the Indonesian classroom before the end of the year with our sister school, Bakti Mulyar 400, using the iPads!

But in the meantime, I began exploring another way to use Skype in the Indonesian classroom. Early this term, 3 fellow teachers and our principal attended the EduTech conference in Qld and their tweet about mystery skype appealed to me. I immediately went online and read up about it.

How exciting. Asking yes/no questions to discover the location of another class! I could instantly see the benefits of undertaking this with students or an individual in Indonesia. It sounded brilliant, so I began the next step of finding a Mystery Skype partner.
I firstly looked at the pages of those in Indonesia who had listed themselves as being interested in Mystery Skype.
20140712-181943-65983292.jpg I chose all up about 10 and sent them all either an email or a tweet. Not one replied.
It seemed that finding someone in Indonesia to mysteryskype is not straight forward and that is for many reasons. Foremost because I began as the Indonesian school year was about to finish hence all schools, staff & students were caught up with national exams, report writing and end of year functions. Then, as soon as the school year finished, Ramadan and school holidays began!

Selamat menjalankan bulan suci Ramadhan untuk semua keluarga saya yang beragama muslim dan untuk semua temanku tersayang.. semoga kalian semua mendapatkan berkat terbaik dibulan puasa ini.

Thanks to the wonderful Ayu Ambrini for the awesome translation.
So, to get around this, I next wrote a generic invitation on Twitter using the hashtag #mysteryskype.

20140712-182542-66342548.jpg And again no one except for @MysterySkype replied and they were just reminding me where to look for partners, but that was all. So disappointing but I persevered.
At this point I realised that I probably should consult with the 2 upper primary classes I had in mind for mystery skyping and determine their level of enthusiasm. They agreed it was amazing and are very keen to try it but you could have knocked me over with a feather when both classes unanimously decided to delay mystery skyping till term 3 so that they could complete their current project! My constant reminders of time management must have had some impact!
This took the pressure off, but I continued to stalk @mysteryskype on Twitter and finally I made contact with a teacher in Beijing which was sooo exciting. No sooner had I shared the exciting development with colleagues, it fell through. That teacher is off to Poland now, so unless his class are happy to mystery skype at some ungodly hour, I will have to sadly pass on his offer of giving it another go.
I then had the brainwave of finding an Indonesian class somewhere else in Australia. I contacted Penny Coutas, a high school Indonesian and ICT teacher in WA, only to discover that WA and many other state education departments block Skype!! Here is a QLD Languages teachers blog post about this.
It is now the mid year holidays in Australia and it feels teachers all around the world are currently on holidays! While Australian teachers are busy with midyear planning, American teachers are busy preparing mysteryskype sessions for their new school year. So strange!
On appsgonefree today I found the app which is fantastic for discovering the cities and countries that are the best time wise for us to mystery skype with. Interestingly Vladivostok would be perfect!! Wonder what their internet connection is like! 20140712-110720-40040239.jpg

So I am going to continue my search for classes or individuals who are not on school holidays and hopefully have the opportunity to organise a mystery Skype lesson for later in the term.

One of the aspects of mystery Skyping that I just love the sound of and am so keen to explore is that it relies heavily on student collaboration. The idea of having all students working together in ‘committees’ with a student supervisor overseeing it all is something I can’t wait to both witness and experience. I also acknowledge that this is not something that all students will comprehend nor be entirely comfortable with, so am prepared to work with classes beforehand to ensure its success. If only I could be more confident about locating people to mystery Skype with because, I could easily do a whole terms work on it. It fits in beautifully with the Languages Curriculum in regard to creating global citizens.
I am really interested to hear from other Australian teachers who have successfully Mystery Skyped.

Permission to Upload

Term 1 began with a high awareness of the importance of discovering which of our students have permission to have their image uploaded onto the internet. I began my search in the front office to discover that while we had lists of who can have their image uploaded, there were no lists of the opposite. So I scanned the lists against my class lists for every class and came up with the students I needed to target. Turns out this list was also hugely popular with class teachers, especially ones who have class blogs!
This process also highlighted that we as a school needed to update the wording on our enrollment forms for new students, which was done almost immediately. Previously the permission focussed on publishing images in newspapers and newsletters and only vaguely covered class blogs, the school Facebook page, specialist teacher blogs, teacher youtube channels etc., so a more up to date and succinct edit was undertaken. Yeah!
My next step was to target students who were on my reverse list. I began by approaching parents I have know a long time to ask them why they had not given permission for their child’s image to be uploaded. The answer I commonly received was that when they first enrolled their child (6 years ago in some cases), the internet was only just being used in schools and they were unsure of the impact of it, so to be safe, they ticked the ‘no’ box. However, all agreed that now they would happily sign a permission form reversing this decision.
An email was then sent out to all teachers about permission letters currently in use to achieve this purpose! No point reinventing the wheel!! 2 teachers replied and kindly gave me permission to tweak their permission letters. I love the professional sharing amongst colleagues the happens at our school!!
This letter, was approved by my principal, run off on letterhead and now sits on my desk in a plastic sleeve. As students are photographed, filmed or recorded in any way, I check their name and if still on my reverse list, I ask them if they would like their photo/ film to be uploaded onto my blog and if they do, I hand them a copy of my letter. So far I have had 3 returned and I have also been able to scratch a few more off my lists as class teachers are also going through this process for their own blogs.
While the reverse list wasn’t that long, most classes only had about 5 names on the list, it has been a real thorn in my side as all of my upper primary classes have done some amazing work this term which I am itching to share but as I am still waiting for 1 or 2 students, I am debating whether to continue being patient and continue to speak to those students or just go ahead and edit them out of the photo/film. I am leaning towards the second option because I know that once I start a new topic, a new term, new projects, I will find it very difficult to look backwards and find the time and energy to complete it. Guess then, what I will be doing today ready for term 2 tomorrow??? And in the meantime, I will continue to blur faces using a new app I recently discovered.