2015 – The year of change


After taking almost a year off from blogging, I’ve realised a few things…

Firstly, I have felt a sense of guilt for not blogging at all but the little voice inside keeps saying “it’s okay, you’re super busy with the arrival of your second child, your move to the Gold Coast in Queensland, renovating own new home, starting your new position at St Hilda’s School and your ADE commitments. So don’t beat yourself up, just share via twitter. For those interested in following me can do so using my handle @martinezgeek.

Secondly, while twitter is awesome for sharing quick links to resources or thought and reflections, I’ve really missed blogging. I toyed with the idea of deactivating this blog but I simply couldn’t do it for a number of reasons. Whether or not this blog is used by the wider education community, it’s a great way of my own personal reflection on resources and pedagogy that are meaningful to me at a specific moment in time.

And lastly, I need to make time to blog. I cannot over commit and promise a certain number of posts per week or per month but I can say that my blogging hiatus is over. I will continue to share via twitter as well as via my blog.

Thanks for all of the support and positive comments, please be sure to keep sharing this blog with your PLNs and stay tuned for some exciting new posts.




One Best Thing Collection on iBooks

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Last year was a huge year full of growth and development both personally and professionally. I won’t bore you with the details of my personal growth here but I will share my professional highlights and projects from 2013.

In 2013, I became an Apple Distinguished Educator and was invited to attended the ADE Asia Pacific Institute in Bali. This was hands down the single most profound and powerful professional development experience of my teaching career to date. Being surrounded by so many like minded educators was inspiring. The passion, knowledge and collective talent from the participants at that event was incredible.

As part of the ADE Asia Pacific Institute, ADEs were introduced to the One Best Thing project. The One Best Thing collection highlights a specific use of Apple products, apps, and other content to transform teaching and learning.

I am proud to announce that my One Best Thing has been selected for publication and is now ibookstore-on-itunes

My One Best Thing is empowering students to become technology leaders by providing them with opportunities to create and deliver professional learning workshops and tutorials. As an educator I have transformed my learning environment by facilitating and coordinating a program called iLearn uLearn. The program promotes an open learning community where the learning process between students and teachers has been redefined. Students have been empowered by contributing and sharing their skills to enhance our learning community. The program offers students the opportunity to share their knowledge with teachers and students by planning and delivering their own ICT workshops.

Do yourself a favour and explore the One Best Thing collection as a source of professional reading that include some truly inspirational stories.

Free ANZAC Day Multi Touch Book for iPad and Mac

Last year, I created a simple multi touch book using iBooks Author for my class. It was on the topic of ANZAC day and it focused on the famous poem “In Flanders Fields” written by John McCrae. Once I shared the book with my class, they began to connect with the content almost immediately. They all downloaded the book on to their iPads and within the first 5 minutes of the first lesson, students were engaged and connecting with content that other students found to be very dry and boring in previous years.

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Why was this the case? What made these students so interested in this topic. After much discussion with the class, many students stated that having all of the resources in the one place that they were able to look through at their own pace made a huge difference. Even though the students had access to all of the lessons and the corresponding resources, this was not a self paced project nor was it student directed. Lessons still took place in class but the book allowed the students to have direct access to the content on their iPads.

What I found last year was that I had only scratched the surface of what is an amazing part of Australian history. The students were so engaged and inspired by the few lessons that I had planned. It made me feel as though I was doing them a disservice by having not prepared more

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lessons. So this year, as ANZAC day approaches, I decided to create a few more chapters to the book. Now, I would normally publish this via the iTunes Bookstore but I cannot be 100% confident that I have all of the permissions to do so as many of the images are archival and difficult to obtain the correct attributions for. Therefore, I am making this resource available here for free. As it is purely for educational purposes and not for any financial gain, I am sure that it shouldn’t be a problem.

The Free ANZAC Day Multi Touch Book for iPad and Mac can be downloaded here via Google Drive

The Free ANZAC Day Multi Touch Book for iPad and Mac can be downloaded here via Dropbox

Socrative Exit Tickets

If like me, you’ve started the academic year with ideas of improving and enhancing your practises, you’re probably thinking about how best to collect and utilise formative assessment material to inform your teaching and target students who need your help the most. This has always been an area of my teaching that I have struggled with. I always thought that there must be a smarter and more efficient way to collect this information throughout lessons but I could never quite master all of the various suggestions offered to me by many of my peers. Some teachers love handwriting anecdotal notes, pages and pages of it, and that works for them but it never really suited my teaching style.

So after a bit of research, I decided to start using the Exit Tickets survey on Socrative as a reflective tool at the end of all of my Maths lessons for the last 3 weeks. What I have found is that I am able easily to collect important information about how each and every student felt about their ability to understand the content of the lesson. Furthermore, I am able to compile all of this information and quickly review the responses to help me from my next focus teaching groups based on the needs of the individuals.

So let me explain how it works.
1. The teacher creates a free account by visiting www.socrative.com where they are given a unique class code.
2. During the lesson, the teacher logs on to www.socrative.com and selects the “Exit Ticket” for their class.
3. Students can use the free Socrative Student App on their iPads or they can visit http://m.socrative.com/student/#joinRoom and enter the class code.
4. The student are then asked 4 simple questions
a) Their name
b) How they felt they understood the lesson – multiple choice
c) What they learnt during the lesson – short written response
d) Solve the question on the board (the teacher will need to construct a review question on the board for the students to answer using Socrative.
5. Once all of the students complete the survey, the teacher is then able to review the results or email themselves a very handy csv (Excel) file which contains all of the information.

Using Socrative, teachers can also create their own quizzes for students. These quizzes can be made up of multiple choice answers, response type questions or a combination of the two. Again, the results can be viewed online or emailed for your own record keeping.

I have decided to take a baby bite and only use the Exit Tickets for the moment but it is clear that using Socrative has already enhanced the way in which I collect and analyse information about my lessons.

Combining Socrative and Evernote is another powerful way to record, storage and review the assessment data from Socrative. It also allows you to share the data with a team of other educators. The possibilities are endless and I feel as though I have just scratched the surface.

Here is a great video that better explains what Socrative Exit Tickets are and how it might be used within an educational setting. Enjoy.

Photoshop Touch for iPad








The amazing Photoshop Touch app has been available on iPad for quite some time now and I’ve been a massive fan from the first few moments of exploring the app’s capabilities.

Now let’s not get this confused with Abode’s Photoshop Express App that is also available for iPad. The major difference between the two apps is while Photoshop Express offers a range of handy little filters and tools for enhancing your images, Photoshop Touch offers you the whole kit and caboodle! It’s an absolute beast and it pretty much allows you to experience most of the functionality that is available through Adobe Photoshop on a desktop computer. 

Considering that the latest desktop version of Adobe Photoshop CC  is available on annual subscription for $19.99 per month, the $10.49 once off cost for the iPad counterpart is a pretty good deal. 

Rather than go into the nuts and bolts of the app here on my blog, I decided to create some tutorials that show you how to use various tools within the app. These videos can be found as a playlist on my YouTube Channel 

Free ePub – Making Learning Mobile

Last year, I was asked to present at the BEAQ conference in Brisbane. The BEAQ is the Business Educators Association of Queensland, who generally have a member base of, as the name would suggest, Business Studies educators who predominantly work in secondary colleges across the state of Queensland.

My workshop focused on the following areas:
1. Benefits of using mobile technology within and outside of the classroom
2. SAMR model and how it relates to planning and delivering lessons using mobile technology
3. Edmodo – How Edmodo can be used in your classroom with detailed explanations and tutorials about the Edmodo Workflow
4. Showbie – The future of assessment and feedback for students and teachers including detailed explanations and tutorials about the Showbie Workflow

As part of the workshop, I created a multitouch book with all of the content that I presented on the day. The ePub file can be downloaded by clicking on the link below. Please note the due to the video content within this book, the current file size is roughly 215mb but well worth the wait I assure you. I am in the process of applying for the relevant accreditation to publish this book via iTunes so get it while it’s free😉

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IMG_5962Let me start of with an apology, you see, I’ve realised just little effort I put into my blog over the last 12 months and it’s a little embarrassing. I have Now that that’s out of the way, let me get down to business. I’ve been reflecting on some of the positive projects that I initiated last year as I am deciding which of these to continue for the upcoming academic year. One of the most enjoyable and surprising projects of 2013 was my Minecraft Club which I previously blogged about oh so many moons ago. been pretty active on Twitter in the last year though and I have had some pretty major events occur in my personal life throughout 2013, however my blogging activity does need addressing and I aim to blog more often in 2014.

The aim of the club was to explore how Minecraft could be used in the context of education to enhance teaching and learning.

Now I am well aware of software such as Minecraft Edu and so forth, however, my school runs a 1:1 iPad program so I really wanted to explore the iOS version and how the students could integrate their love of Minecraft with their learning tasks within a classroom.

Keep Calm

It’s no surprise to me that when I got out the way and let the students lead their learning, what they produce completely blew me away! It’s so important as educators to allow the students to drive their learning and unfortunately, it’s not something that too many of my colleagues feel comfortable enough to do.

All year, I’ve been collecting images and videos of students working on the complex structure during our weeklyMinecraft club with the intentionofputting it together to showcase some of the amazing work that has been produced. It’s been one of the things that has always been on the back of my mind but finding the time to complete it was somewhat challenging.

So rather than waffle on about all the different ways that you could use Minecraft in your classrooms, and trust me, the possibilities are endless, here’s the video that I created highlighting some of the work that was create but grade 5 students – 10 and 11 year olds. I hope you all find this as amazing as I do. Enjoy. DM

Minecraft in Education – Starting a Minecraft Club

iPads in Physical Education

Recently, I have been asked to assist my PE teacher with the integration of iPads into the PE curriculum. I am fortunate that the PE teacher at my school is quite forward thinking and keen to involve mobile technology into his lessons as we share the belief that the iPad and the available sport apps have huge potential for

improving student outcomes. In it’s simplest form, we wanted to see if using the iPad as a skills development tool would translate into students analysing and critiquing their technique and therefore improve their performance. Needless to say that the natives were very excited about the prospect of using their iPads during lessons.

After a brief discussion, we choose to trial 3 free apps into our PE curriculum.


The first app we asked the students to download was Slo Pro. Slo Pro is a great app that allows you to record up to 1000 fps and play back your video at super slow motion. This app also allows you to slow down a recording at variable rates, which means that you can play sections of your video back and changing speeds. The student were able to use this app with minimal support, the interface is simple and intuitive and the app works as described. The only thing that caused some difficulty was sharing the videos recorded. Even though the free version allows users to upload their videos to YouTube, doing so was very clunky and unreliable. Out of a whole class, 3 students were able to do so successfully. The free version of Slo Pro does not allow the user to save their video to their camera roll on their own device, to be able to do this, you need to purchase the full version, which costs $4.49. Buying the full version also unlocks some other useful features like altering the frame rates of your recording.


The second app that we asked the students to download was Coach My Video. This app also allowed the students to record and play back their videosn slow motion and with frame by frame accuracy. It also allows the user to draw lines, shapes and calculate angles on top of the  video recording. This made analysing skills much easier as students were able to highlight areas of their technique that require practise. Another great feature of this app is that you can place two videos side by side and play them together. This feature, I believe, is what this app does best. When it came to sharing their work, the students were able to save their images with drawn overlays as jpgs which can then be emailed.

2099711763-iOS-StyledThe third app we experimented with was Ubersense and is my personal favourite of the three apps discussed in this post for a few reasons. Firstly, Ubersense allows you to record your videos in slow motion just like Slo Pro, you can playback at frame by frame rate, and it also allows you to draw and annotate your videos as Coach My Video does. So in other words, it can does what the other two apps do. Secondly, when it comes to sharing your video, Ubersense just works! Users sign up for a free account, this then allows them to not only email their videos, but it also allows them to record audio on top of their video with their annotations. So what they can produce is a video, that not only highlights areas for improvements, it allows them to record audio reflection or commentary of their videos.

We are yet to see if using these apps and iPads within PE classes will result in improved student performance but what is evident, is that our students are already becoming more aware of their technique and are able to describe where they need to improve when watching their recordings. Watch this space for further developments.

Minecraft Club

Ever since attending the Game Master Exhibition @ ACMI in Melbourne last year,

Game Masters Posterthe thought of utilising Minecraft as a learning and teaching tool has appealed to me. Since then, the Minecraft bubble has continued to grow and swell without any sign of bursting. More and more of my students have become totally enthralled and spend hours of their spare time online creating some of the most detailed and magnificent structures that many would never have believed they would be capable to building.  In the amongst all of this creativity and flexibility, I believe, lies an incredibly powerful teaching and learning tool.

During the Game Master Exhibition, my students were given time to explore the games that were available. I came across one of my students creating a basketball arena in Minecraft. The engagement, concentration, focus he displayed was mind blowing. I instantly thought two things
1) A list of educational application came flooding into my mind within seconds. Advanced spatial awareness, rotation of shapes, symmetry, angles, volume and capacity, area and perimeter etc and that’s only in Numeracy! Imagine how many other ways Minecraft could be used across various other curricular areas.
2) Why the hell aren’t I already using this in my classroom?

I came across a great post on edumedic a couple of moths ago that reignited my first thought when I first saw one of my students using Minecraft.  So I decided to start a Minecraft at my school for students who might be interesting. As you can imagine, the response was completely overwhelming. Over 65 students expressed their interest to join what had been advertised as a “small club”.

Before taking on the responsibility of creating the Minecraft club and getting my students all riled up, I needed to answer a few questions for myself. What is the purpose of the Minecraft club? Why do we need it? What are the students going to get out of it?

I came across another great blog written by David Lee who started a Minecraft Club at his school in Korea to teach students about civics and citizenship. Great read and I thoroughly recommend you have a look when you get a chance. What I found interesting was the idea of collaborative teams working towards a common goal. I contact David and we are in the process of negotiating a Google Hangout session so that our students can discuss how they are using Minecraft in education.

I decided that teamwork, communication, planning, collaboration and sharing of resources and ideas would be the fundamental skills I wanted my students to take away from our Minecraft Club. I also wanted them work on small construction projects in competition with other groups within our club.


Week 1
Students formed groups of 4 to 5, created group names and established rules and a code of behavior for future Minecraft club activities and participating members. Edmodo groups were established for each team as a forum for members to share ideas, distribute resources and discuss their projects.

Student where then introduced to their first construction task. The first task was to reconstruct a model of Melbourne’s Eureka Skydeck using the scale of 1 block is equal to 1 metre. Students were given time to research the dimensions of the actual building using a range of websites and begun calculating the height and width of the various sections of the building. They then shared their findings with their group via their Edmodo group page.

What struck me was the ease in which the students were able to conceptualise how they would replicate the original building using Minecraft while applying size, scale and shapes contained within the real life model. I look forward to adding more to this blog post as the weeks progress.

ADE Institute 2013

So before I begin, I acknowledge that it has been a very long time since my last blog post. Kinda sounds like a confession doesn’t it😉

I need to make more of an effort to keep posting despite how hectic and busy school life gets.

So where do I start? I have returned from one of the most energising and inspiring weeks of my professional life as an educator; having spent a week with some of the most amazing and talented people has had an amazing effect on me.

Before I go into some of the details of the Institute, a lot of friends, family and colleagues have asked me “What is an ADE?” or “What do you have to do?” I think the best way to explain is in this video.

The Institute was brilliant. The workshops, quality of the presentations and the amount of learning that occurred was nothing short of incredible. The one thing that struck me was how open and genuine everybody was. You could walk around the amazing resort and start a conversation with a stranger and within minutes you would hear a story about their experience that would blow your mind. This happened to me on numerous occasions.

I was lucky enough to meet some colleagues who I have been following on twitter or reading their blogs and form a face to face relationship with them. It was great to be able to discuss ideas and future projects with like minded educators – the nerd talk was pretty sensational. One night on my way to the pool, I walked past two Canadian guys talking about video compression rates😉

While attending the workshops was incredible, the whole experience really went into another gear during the evenings. There were so many opportunities to network and mingle with an unlimited supply of highly skilled professionals, granted, many of these opportunities took place either by or in the pool.

For me personally, there were simply too many stand out moments for me to list or discuss here. However, I will mention one thing that I saw that applied to me. It is a powerful little video called “How To Lead Innovation: The 3 Carriage Train” and was created by Ray Nashar (straight As and no Es) who I had the pleasure of meeting. Ray created an iTunes U course called “How To Lead Innovation: The 3 Carriage Train” and I throughly recommend that you have a look at it. For me, this video has come at the right time as I look at position of where my school is at the moment and where I want it to be. Do yourself a favour and watch the video

I’m feeling inspired and reinvigorated by the new people that I have added to my PLN and I’m happy to say that I have a few new projects on the horizon that I’m excited about. I’ll leave the details of the projects to another time.

SAMPS Multi Touch Book for iPad

Just before I end this post, I’ve created a new Multi Touch Book exclusively for iPad. The Book has been designed for my school, specifically for the parents as a condensed version of our school website  with access to all of the necessary forms and notices while utilising the features of iBooks. The Multi Touch Book is on our website http://www.samps.vic.edu.au or can be downloaded directly by clicking here