Lismore Primary Principals APPdates

Volume 1, February 2015


This is my first Lismore PP APPdates flyer to introduce myself as your new Technology Reference Representative and to also share with you some of the technology we are using at my school. If you have any suggestions or APP reviews you would like to see here, please do not hesitate to drop me an email to

Effective communication with the parent community in the 21st Century

It is no surprise that parents want positive communication with their child’s teacher and their school. All too often, the only time a parent will hear from their child’s teacher is when something is wrong. Effective communication can be achieved through many ways but over the past three years that have allowed me to develop a strong working relationship with parents and the school community that has surpassed anything I have ever dreamed possible.

I have been driven to maintain and extend these communication links by knowing that such a large proportion of my students actually spend their time between multiple homes and parents have often expressed frustration at not knowing what is happening, that they are not receiving notes and that they don’t even know what the homework expectations are each week! I’m sure I’m not alone in the frustration that comes from finding a note that never went home or a child finding it in their bag weeks after it was handed to them to take home.

Ask the teachers on your staff,“How virtual is your classroom?”, “How do you communicate with parents and the community?” Weekly newsletters? Before and after school chats? Assemblies, Term newsletters? There are many ways that I have given parents a new “virtual” window into my own classroom using real-time methods to keep them informed each and every day regardless of whether they can physically be at school or even if they don’t see their child at their home on that particular day.

Educators must teach respectful and appropriate use of technology and use it to build their skills as well. I’ve had students with a huge range of needs in my classes in recent years who have created their own cartoon avatars, created their own blog pages and added links to their favourite websites. They have engaged in commenting on others blogs and can upload their own photos and documents to showcase their achievements online. I also believe whole-heartedly that my students found learning in my technology-integrated classroom more stimulating than a traditional classroom environment.

Why are we using Social Media at Urbenville Public School?

Do you currently use social media in the form of Facebook, twitter or Instagram? Do you have a professional social media account either for yourself or your school or company? A growing proportion of our school community and families are using social media to stay in contact with their friends, family, brands, hobbies and interests. Social media is not a fad and it is revolutionary in every aspect of our daily lives. Have you ever tried to google your school to see what other community members could learn about your school? By using social media, Urbenville Public School has the opportunity to control our digital reputation and build a positive profile online. We can also use social media as a way of improving parent communication but more importantly we can also help students learn safe and courteous online behaviour, increase community involvement and enrich student learning.

As of today, our Urbenville Public School App I created has been installed 50 times. Pretty cool for a town that has no mobile phone reception! Bogangar Public School's App I also created has now been downloaded 174 times and parents regularly comment on how handy they find it to use when they are at work or away from their home computer.

The advantage for me was a very time-poor teaching principal is that it takes me less than a minute to tweet or post a photo on Instagram and because it is embedded into our school website, it immediately loads to the website instantaneously. This is also a way for those that do not use smartphones or devices to be getting the same information as those that do have these devices. A website that never changes or is never updated is no longer visited by those you are wanting to attract to your site.

Our role is not only to use social media as way of improving parent communication but to also help students learn safe and courteous online behaviour, increase community involvement and enrich student learning.

You might hear colleagues and parents perhaps voicing concerns over the scary digital world…the opportunities that social media provides are too great to ignore. You can manage the risks, encourage privacy settings and constantly monitor these accounts. You can communicate with the parent community in real time on a daily basis.


Help me

The 'Help Me' App - developed by the Daniel Morcombe Foundation. At a cost of 99c and with just one click of a button, it will send off an SMS to two nominated 'safety' numbers. This text includes the GPS co-ordinates from where the text was sent so the sender can be located or a last known place of contact is indicated. This App also provides a range of helpful resources and assistance that is designed to educate kids and parents on how to keep safe plus keep them up to date on the latest news! For more information log onto

Fires Near Me

The 'Fires Near Me' developed by the NSW Rural Fire Service provides fire information on bush fire incidents in NSW.

For more information log onto


Keynote is an app used at school for creating impressive slideshow presentations quickly and easily. Like PowerPoint, students can choose from a great selection of themes, animated transitions, 3D graphs, and other features to make their presentations look professionally designed. The app requires basic reading skills and will be mostly academic in use for younger children, so it comes recommended to ages 7 and up.

Puppet Pals HD

Puppet Pals allows students to create their own unique animation shows. They just pick their actors and backdrops, drag them onto the stage and then tap record. This app encourages creativity and huge imaginations. There are limitless possibilities for students to create characters and act out their own stories. It is recommended for ages 4 and up.

Jungle Coins

Jungle Coins is an incredibly easy, fun and interactive app that teaches children money in a visual way. The Jungle theme, complete with animations, animal roars and sound effects, truly immerses students in a deep and alive jungle where they need to rearrange coins, count coins, give correct change and even flip coins just like you would in real life. It even comes with over 15 different currencies! It is recommended for ages 4 and up.


Cybersmart was designed to provide information and education to empower children to be safe online. It is divided into categories for young kids, kids, teens, parents and schools to access facts at various literacy levels about cyberbullying, playing online games, digital footprints, netiquette and social networking. It is a site that enables children to learn about staying safe online and for parents to educate themselves about online safety.

They are everywhere on everything and kids LOVE making them! Especially useful in infants classrooms for students to just "scan" the iPads camera onto the QR code and it takes them directly to the website you want them to visit. No more misspelt web address wasting valuable lesson time! Give it a go today. If you scan the code here, it will take you to my school's website in a flash!

Smore is one of the many great websites out there that allow you to make webpage flyers, posters, invitations, newsletters and information sheets that look great. Students find it incredibly easy to use and love the result. It is what I have used to make this flyer. Try it today!

Storybird allows children to make visual stories in seconds! The site curates artwork from illustrators and animators around the world to inspire writers of any age to turn those images into fresh stories. It encourages literary exploration in a fresh and innovative way that kids love. There is a digital sticker reward system and all stories can be embedded into class blogs or websites to share with family and friends. It's simple with a focus on writing and creativity.

About me

In my interview for my current position, members of the interview panel told me that they were concerned about how I would go living and teaching in that town when I was so technology-driven in my teaching. I smile now knowing that just a few weeks ago, in our local general store, a parent of two of my students who does not own a computer, tells me that he posts copies of the school newsletter to his mother in Scotland so that she can see what is happening at her grandsons’ school. In her last letter, she told her son there was no need to keep posting the newsletters as she had downloaded the school app to her iPad and loves seeing what they are up to on that. I work in a school nestled in the Border Ranges National Park where we have two classes with a total of 32 students. I am a firm believer that by incorporating the explicit teaching of ICT that we will help students thrive in today’s world.

Not all my students will stay in Urbenville but some will move away and they will need to be prepared to be world citizens. Technology may not move as quickly in Urbenville but it will happen and sooner than anyone can predict. I know that through my use of websites, blogs, social media and apps that I am preparing the next generation with the advancements in technology as they happen.

I was raised in Ballina attending St. Francis Xavier and Ballina High School. I attended Southern Cross University for both my undergraduate and postgraduate studies. I have taught in 22 schools in my career to date in both NSW, QLD and in Japan. In May 2014, I was asked to speak at the Spectronics Inclusive Technologies Conference at Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast about connecting with school communities in the 21st century. I was a 2014 SCU Young Alumnus of the Year Finalist, a 2013 NEiTA Award Finalist and a 2014 NEiTA Award Nominee.

Feel free to contact me if I can help you or your staff in any way that I can in regards to website or app creation, blogging, social media, iPads or any computer technology queries you may have.

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