Top Takeaways From TeachTechPlay 2018

I’ve just returned from two fabulous full days of learning at the TeachTechPlay conference. This grassroots event is held annually at Ivanhoe Grammar in Melbourne. It’s certainly one of the best conferences I’ve been to!


The main reasons are:

  • It was well organised by local teachers: Eleni Kyritsis, Corey Aylen, Steve Brophy and their helpers.
  • It was held at a fantastic location (it’s always fun to explore other schools!).
  • The sessions were excellent and there was a mix of presentations and hands-on PD.
  • The attendees were very friendly and open to connecting which is one of the core missions of the conference.

Here are a few takeaways from the sessions I attended.

Kasey Bell

Kasey (aka @ShakeUpLearning) presented a keynote and I also attended her workshop on Google Slides. I can see why she has such a big following! I liked the way her messages are easy to understand and implement. If you’re interested in anything Google, Kasey’s website is a great resource.

In her keynote, Kasey talked about the importance of entrepreneurship. She showed this great video of 12 year old Alex Knoll who shared an app he created on the Ellen show.

It’s amazing that Alex’s initiative was recognised on such a grand scale. What’s also amazing is the fact that he did this outside of school hours.

Can we allow for innovation and entrepreneurship inside of school hours too?

Kasey also talked about the importance of opening your classroom to the world.


Global collaboration was the topic of the second presentation I gave.

Kasey’s session on Google Slides was fantastic. Even though I’ve used this tool many times, I’m no expert and there’s nothing like someone running you through the possibilities in person!

Eleni Kyritsis

Eleni and I first connected a number of years ago when she was a graduate teacher who wanted to get started with blogging. When I returned to the education community after having my two children, Eleni has taken the edtech world by storm!Kathleen Morris and Eleni Kyritsis

It was great to meet her in person, although it felt like we had already met!

I attended two of Eleni’s sessions on integrating technology into the classroom. Her work with her primary school students is inspiring.

There are many things Eleni mentioned that I’d like to try. For example, Binary bracelets which is just one of the simple (yet fun and effective) activities from Hint: Mother’s Day is coming up if you want students to create gifts!

Bloxels is another resource I’d like to try to build a video game. You can buy a kit at Kmart Australia for $39 although you don’t even need the kit to use the app.

Eleni also shared the video, Caine’s Arcade. This is the story of a 9 year old boy who set up a cardboard arcade that ended up inspiring the world.

Caine’s Arcade is a powerful story that echoes Kasey Bell’s messages about entrepreneurship.

Imagine showing this short film to your students and seeing what their takeaways are? Perhaps they’ll be as inspired as Eleni’s students and set up their own arcades!

Cathy Hunt

Cathy (aka @iPadArtRoom) is an absolute wealth of knowledge and inspiration when it comes to creatively weaving iPads and art.

Prior to attending this two hour workshop, I didn’t really know how iPads could complement and enhance arts education.

Now I know!

Cathy shared SO many examples of her students’ work with all age groups.

A key message for me was around avoiding the cookie cutter approach. Basically, we need to remember that the goal isn’t for all our students’ work to look the same!

This is such an important reminder when it’s so easy to be tempted by all the “pretty” Pinterest templates.

Good for fine motor skills, fun perhaps, but this is not an arts education

Cathy also shared some practical tips on how students can share their images from their iPads.


Cathy shares all of her resources on her iPad Art Room website, via blog posts and ebooks. Take a look if this is a topic that you’re interested in.

Emily MacLean

Emily is an international educator who is now working in a leadership role in a Melbourne school. Her keynote weaved in the stories of the changes that she has made in her life such as moving countries and schools a number of times.

Emily talked about “courageous change” as being contagious and a mindset that requires agency.

She encourages educators to “get out of the driver’s seat” and avoid always being the solution. Not only for students, but for teachers if you’re working in a supporting role too.

One example from her classroom that Emily shared was having her students create their own online courses. I had never thought of this but I’m excited by the idea. What a real world skill! Online courses are becoming increasingly popular and there is a huge process involved in organising a course. Even on a very small scale, this could lead to some tremendous authentic learning.

Tom Barrett

Having followed Tom on Twitter and via his blog for many years, it was great to see his keynote and meet him in person.

Tom certainly won the audience over with his comedic approach, such as his advice on opening a keynote.

One of Tom’s key messages was about assumptions. Just because we teach something, doesn’t mean we can assume a child has learnt it. And how do we know what they have learnt? “We can’t peer into their skull.”

Cartoon of students all thinking different things

Tom mentioned the Shadow a Student Project as just one idea to help educators challenge their assumptions. He suggested that a “learning walk” is not enough.

Tom’s thoughts on initiating change were spot on.

^ Don’t ya hate it when your tweet has typos!

Of course, I couldn’t agree with Tom more regarding his thoughts on blogging.

One of the most important choices I ever made was to start a blog.

Matt Heinrich

It was a pleasure to meet Matt and attend his session on GarageBand. What a friendly and inspiring teacher.

I entered Matt’s session thinking I am “not very musical” but after playing around with GarageBand, realised that anyone has the potential to explore music.

Matt reminded us of the simple power of music through this Bob Marley quote,

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.

He shared many ideas that I think would be fabulous to try including:

  • Making simple soundtracks for students’ stories
  • Having a DJ performance at assemblies using GarageBand features like Live Loops
  • Creating a “library” of Creative Commons music files

Tip: If you don’t know anything about GarageBand, search for the free eBook in iTunes which goes over the basics.

Who knew it was so easy to create such a pleasant sound in minutes?

Okay, maybe I should keep practising. 😉

I asked Matt if he thought it was essential to cover music theory first as I have heard that message a few times. Matt wisely pointed out that at lunch time when students are playing soccer, they don’t want to spend 20 minutes discussing rules and skills. They just want to get in there and have fun, learning as they go. Yep. So true.


This post provides just a small snapshot of the inspiration and learning that took place at TeachTechPlay. If only I could have attended more sessions!

I’d like to offer a big thanks to all the wonderful educators who came to my sessions on blogging and global collaboration. It’s always so enjoyable to share with such receptive teachers.

Thanks to my Californian blogging buddy, Linda Yollis, who added her perspectives to my story of making informal global connections.

It was terrific to meet people who I’d only connected with online in the past, as well as catching up with some other people I haven’t seen for years.

Bring on Teach Teach Play 2019! And in the meantime, we have the monthly webshow to look forward to. This free bite sized PD is worth checking out.

Did you go to TeachTechPlay? What were your takeaways?

What sort of conferences do you enjoy?

TeachTechPlay is one of the best conferences I've been too and I share many of the new ideas I came across!

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