I'm writing this post for a few reasons, but mostly its because I need to express my excitement about the future of my school.
It should be obvious to anyone who has reached this website, that I work at Yass High. In case you didn't, I'll quickly enlighten you. It's a small rural school (around 480 students) about an hour's drive North of Canberra, the capital of Australia. I am part of the Technology and applied sciences (TAS) faculty, and currently teach computing from years 9-12.
The school experienced quite an event in late 2012, that affected me as much as the students - the TAS building burnt down. Right to the ground. Investigations later revealed electrical faults from 60-year old wiring leading to sparks, and well it just got worse from there. Metalwork, woodwork, textiles, cooking and my beloved computing lab were gone over night. I included some pictures taken by the local newspaper below for your benefit. There are more available from the Yass Tribune here.
As difficult as it was to lose those classrooms, computers and resources for the school, as well as working from temporary setups for what will be about two years, there is extremely wonderful news.
After what seemed like endless negotiations and stellar performances from the Principal of Yass High, and various community members, the school was not only promised the funds to replace and upgrade what was lost, but double the size of the building to cater to 6 new learning spaces!
So what's new?
The bottom floor will remain strictly TAS oriented - with industry trade standard facilities being built for Hospitality, Metalwork and Woodwork. Modern new learning plans will be implemented for food tech, textiles and my computer lab are on the way too. I was especially proud to be able to have input on the physical nature and construction of my future classroom - how many teachers get to say that?!
Then comes the spectacular stuff - through the vigorous rallying described above, a whole new floor will be built above. This will house a new staff room and 6 new classrooms with four of them capable of expanding into a massive open learning space. I am thoroughly looking forward to teaching in the new computer lab, but I am additionally so keen to be part of the open-plan learning environment, that I'm heading a new course ready to be implemented next year that is specifically designed to make use of the facility.
I've included some blueprints below, as well as clip I made of the future appearance of the school using SketchUp.
The bottom floor, while difficult to make out, is full of all the latest, well, everything. Ergonomic computer desks, trade standard construction workshops, enormous cooking benches and plenty of material storage.
The top floor (shown below) just entices learning! Student centred desks, high laptop seating, no walls, drama stage and connected classrooms.
When Purple Zeus first went live, I was please with the immediate response and support from ICT and computing educators through my own personal learning network, and the network of my employer. Above all else, effective feedback was provided that improved some of my own teaching and lesson plans instantly.
After only a few days active, the website was also featured in the Sydney Regional ICT Newsletter for the DEC. The feature not only promoted the website and brought more visitors from other statewide ICT coordinators, but it helped me build yet another connection to educators. Notably, a connection to the ICT coordinator or coordinators. As a (still relatively) new teachers, this admittedly made me quite proud. It served as yet another reminder of the importance in learning of effective feedback to students.
I have provided a copy of the newsletter below, and you can visit the website here. On top of the latest news around the DEC, it also contains multiple access to resources and other links to like minded teachers.
A Computing teacher with a passion for collaboration and open source teaching.