Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What can children and educators learn from Willy Wonka?

Just to clarify this blog post was inspired from watching the 1971 film with Gene Wilder.

We all know the classic Roald Dahl story of the wacky candy maker and the one honest, thoughtful and well behaved boy.
We learn from the story that being greedy, demanding, not having manners and only watching television will not get you far in life. I would love to see a modern day spin where talking to people in real life rather than just online could have some interesting results.
It is then Charlie who keeps his promise that inherits the wonderful world of the Wonka Chocolate Factory.
What sometimes fails to be the focus is the visionary that Willy Wonka actually is. He is not only a dreamer but he is action man - he has an edible garden, a chocolate waterfall, fizzy lifting drink, Wonkavision and much more. Willy Wonka can be used to inspire us to create our own factory of dreams that we work to make reality.

I have to be honest here I am still trying to get my head around STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths) and how it can be incorporated in my constant classroom practice. I am also more a fan of STEAM (A for arts) as that acknowledges some of us creative types when it comes to performing and creating items that serve more of an aesthetic and social purpose.

I also think about how we as educators are using our classrooms as our own Wonka Factories - are we being risk takers? Are we exploring the different ways to teach, encourage problem solving and encourage our students to make dreams realities? Do we have our own dreams and what are we doing so that we have not completely let them go. This might sound a little too optimistic and I know there are some realities with some dreams but are we letting our students know that too soon?

There has also been a lot of discussion regarding the paradigm shift in education. Maybe if we consider the visions and dreams that Willy Wonka has and how he experiments and tries to achieve them - we too could make the changes that are need to suit the needs of the current world we live in.


Creating memes and being aware of what students respond to could be one way that we “Wonkify” our classrooms.

I had to of course create my own condescending wonka meme for this post. Keep in mind that inspiring isn’t always trying to change the world. We can inspire to read, inspire to travel, inspire to help others. As educators we should be inspiring students to solve problems, lead some movements and of course, most importantly, keep learning.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


The #aussieED team were very excited to team up with the Royal Agricultural Society and the Sydney Royal Easter Show to host an event where teachers could come along, connect with other teachers, get some teacher tips  about STEM and see what the Easter Show has to offer for education.
Brett kicked off proceedings by talking about the #aussieED online PLN and defining what is STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and the first part of what it looks like. Followed by Danielle Krix and Jenny Hughes from RAS sharing what the Easter Show has to offer.
It’s important to know that the Easter Show has many opportunities for both Primary and Secondary students to attend, engage and learn with links to agriculture, science and more. They have a Primary Preview Day (day before the show opens), Resources, Risk Assessments and an Assessment Competition every year.  A lot more can be found at this link here Easter Show – Teachers.
All this was shared to the close to 200 teachers who attended on Thursday 17th March.  The #aussieED team also got to share about how they have used a range tools and resources to restore STEM into their classrooms.
I shared how incorporating Minecraft can be used to engage students and allow them to show their learning and lead to many writing, talking and listening opportunities.
Zeina shared iSolve maths program, where students planned and calculated a full day at the Easter Show – using the website, timetables, a wide range of cost factors (down to the petrol) and much more.
Kelly shared how STEM is used in high schools by engaging the crowd with a fun Kahoot! It was great for teachers to realise STEM can be incorporated into all lessons and in all parts of a teaching program.
Rob shared about STEM in Rural areas, including the Digital Sparks Challenge & Expo a range of tools for getting students to code, including how clever his daughter was to program and create an electric guitar using Little Bits.
We finished off the session by allowing teachers to get moving with the Trident Challenge where all STEM ideas, learning and discoveries were put on Twitter using the #RASedu. All of this can be viewed in the storify created using the hashtag here aussieED Live RASedu.