Electives 2015 Review | Preshil
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Electives 2015 Review

By February 12, 2016 Blogs, Electives Program News

What an extraordinary year of Electives!

I realised there is so many amazing things to share that it will not fit into this one blog. Therefore this is just a small selection.

Each time I sit down to put this blog together I am astounded at what we have been able to offer and wish these opportunities existed back when I attended school many moons ago.

Each term we aim to commence the program with, not only a presentation from each of the teachers about what their elective entails, but also a special visitor to inspire or maybe even ignite a new passion for our students.

In Term 4 we had the pleasure of a visit from Cherie Davidson from Media Molecule UK. Cherie talked about what it’s really like to work at a video game company, the different kinds of roles and people, the process of making and finishing a game, the things that are fun and not so fun, and of course what you should do if you want to get into it yourself. Cherie passionately shared her experience and I believe kindled some excitement about the vast opportunities available within and beyond the games industry.

Kids Teaching Kids

This year we welcomed three of our current secondary students, from Years 9, 10 and 12, who were thrilled to have the opportunity to share their passion and skills with their young peers as part of this year’s Electives Program. Those activities were Taekwondo, Web Design and Soccer.

Taekwondo with Holly Victor
Holly is a part of the Australian National Team for Taekwondo sparring and has been overseas many times to represent Australia. She is also an instructor at her own club. Each class consisted of games, partner sparring and learning to kick and punch. Students gained skills to keep for life in both discipline and self-defence, whilst also having a lot of fun.


Web Design with Alaister O’Donnell Young

Alaister is a budding web developer and an active member of the Preshil IT Committee (along with two other fellow students). Alaister jumped at the chance to run this elective not only once but for two terms. The course covered basic web design using HTML and CSS, responsive web design, how hosting and domain names work and how to build a simple “to do” list web app from scratch. All students built a functional website which they can continue working on anytime.
Soccer Skills with Riley Phillips
Riley is a semi-professional NPL player with Richmond and coaches the under 11s at Collingwood. Riley shared his experience in new dribbling, passing and positioning drills. Students were able to expand their skills, game awareness, fitness and strength.


Once again we welcomed our primary 11s into the Term 3 Electives, giving them a chance to mix and collaborate with students from Years 7 to 10. It is also a great opportunity to experience some of the different activities we have on offer at the secondary school.

The 10s

For the first time, we invited our 10s over to be part of the Term 4 Electives. This opportunity was met with much eagerness from our young 10s. They took to mixing it with the older students with great pride and had lots of fun exploring a diversity of experiences. It was great to see them getting in amongst it all; to think they are only a little over 12 months away from joining the secondary school for Year 7. Having the opportunity to try new things or get completely absorbed into something they are passionate about helps support them when making choices about their future learning.

Retro Gaming with Adam Siddaway

The retro gaming kids seem to really be into it. A couple of them have started collecting old consoles themselves (they even brought in a Gamecube a couple of times). Seems to be a lot of love for that console, despite its very short commercial life and the fact that all its games run on the wii. It is cool to go through the generations of consoles and game designs, yet they’re all linked by the same common goal of “easy to learn hard to master”. Fun stuff! Not sure which of the many directions I could take this course, or if I need to take it to anywhere particularly? I guess it’s good to get these guys together to talk about the art-form of video gaming (“and I argue that it IS an art-form”). These kids take their gaming extremely seriously and are actually incredibly discerning.

Arduino Programming & Electronics Terms 2, 3 and 4

The Arduino elective this year explored many applications. You may have seen the term 2 students video where they explain how the group built a data logger to record temperature to an SD card where they were able to graph their results on a computer. Students learned how they could use this application in other subjects like Science or Chemistry. In term 4 our young participants, including three from the 10s, were introduced to core concepts in programming and electronics.

They absorbed the functionality of the C programming language like a sponge, creating many example projects using the Arduino IDE. This often led to questions like “how can I use this to make a game?” which further fuelled their interests. In the process, they explored different coding styles and procedures like writing loops and functions and also making decisions as a result of sensor data and button presses using conditional techniques. Using the ‘Preshil Shield’ Karl designed specifically for teaching, they controlled leds and speakers to make light and sound. On the final day of the elective, the group built a working model of a traffic light, by hand soldering their own circuit with three leds, resistors and pins. They then wrote the code for their Arduino’s, to test and implement a state machine, demonstrating their understanding of this term’s efforts. Karl is very proud to say that every student had a working traffic light by the end, despite not having ever previously soldered, connected electronic components together or written much by way of computer programming. You can also drop by the technology room and see our life size, fully functioning traffic light running off the Arduino which Karl built earlier in the year to help teach our students.

Undeterred by complexity, integration and with little understanding of technology in detail, these kids challenged themselves and overcame their fears of “giving it a go”. To all who participated, well done and Karl hopes you go on with your new-found skills and make more great things. A special thank you to Simon Holmes a Court who provided invaluable assistance with the kids coding, soldering and supporting Karl throughout the semester and sharing some emerging technologies like the Grove Shield and sensors as part of the Grove System designed by SEEED Studios. You can also learn a little more about Electronics and coding if you check out Karl’s Youtube Channel: State of Electronics which explores the history, technology obstacles facing hobbyists and the role of education in technology.


3D Printing with Scott Phillips

Each term Scott from The Robots are Coming gives students the opportunity to learn the basics of 3D printing, everything from introductory to advanced. Students experiment with different 3D Cad packages including Tinkercad, Thingiverse, and the latest online program called Onshape where students can not only create but collaborate and share the same projects. They also got to participate in full body scans enabling them to print miniature versions of themselves. In term three some of our students participated in the Quantum 3D PrintaCar Schools Challenge. The team were very lucky to qualify for the finals but were sadly beaten at the finish line. Those students now have the opportunity to extend their understanding of the craft by taking an advanced 3D printing class. Many students today have a high level of technological literacy. The challenge is to move beyond teaching proficiency with modern tools, to engage students creatively and to extend their understanding of what is possible. Scott’s sessions focus on collaborative problem solving amongst groups and challenges students to develop their ability to innovate.

E-Textiles with Harmony Yu from (WIE) Woman in Engineering

Students learned about electronics and programming using the Flora LilyPad Development Board which is designed to get you started in the world of e-textiles. Combining a LilyPad Simple Board with other LilyPad components like a buzzer, a vibration motor, an RGB LED, a button, a switch, LEDs, a light sensor, and a temperature sensor, the Flora lets you dive right into wearable electronics. Harmony guided the students through the basics of programming for the first 6 weeks and helped the students to complete a small electronic embellished festive decoration. Jenny Spruch returned for the last few weeks to help teach the students basic textile construction skills and each designed a finished simple apron.


Art Projects with June McKenzie

During the year students have created a diverse and creative body of work for their new and or ongoing individual projects, which included sketching, painting, design and sculpture. They were also lucky enough have excursions to the Hawthorn Art Gallery to see the ‘The Audible Image’ and the “Data Flow Digital Influence.

Street Art with Adam Siddaway

Students in Street Art continue exploring the works of the great street artists from all around the world as well as experimenting and developing their own ideas and styles. Many of the students have been making their mark around the school. In Term 4 Adam invited former student James Wilson, who is an artist/street artist stabled at Blender studios in the city, to demonstrate some awesome 12 layer stenciling, which was pretty cool on all accounts.

Filmmaking – Visual Story Telling with Karl von Moller

This term students learned the techniques to help imagine, create and tell strong stories by strengthening their ability to say things visually. They explored many of the fundamental building blocks of a visual filmmaker including visualisation techniques, using storyboards, how to use staging to make every scene strong and powerful and frame their shots using dynamic composition techniques. Students also looked at editing to learn about timing, visual flow, “crossing the line” and tricks to break all the rules. Karl brought in a myriad of equipment for the students to use and explore.


Songwriting Term 4 with Lazare Agneskis

The song writing elective helps students develop and refine ideas for songs, including chord progressions, melodies and rhythms. Students are also taught how to record their compositions and continue to add or change parts until they are happy with the end result. You can listen to their song here:

Rocket Science with Adam Simon

Students continued on their journey of the Kerbal Space Program, experimenting with building rockets and the complexity of navigating space.


Film Appreciation with Nathan Carter

Students had the opportunity to watch several classic and modern films. There were several in-depth discussions about how they were constructed, and the ideas they were trying to communicate. They also looked at film history looking at some of the classics.

Zines Term 2 with Charlotte Jowett

Students enjoyed an excursion to the Melbourne State Library of Victoria to visit their unique collection of Zines. The visit stimulated a creative interest in these remarkable little publications.

Tennis with Bill Madafferi

Each term Bill has provided coaching for all ages and skill levels. Bill likes to teach in a relaxed and encouraging environment making it easy for students to enjoy their tennis as they learn the various disciplines of the game. Bill also coaches next door to Preshil Primary Campus at the MCC.


MinecraftEdu Architecture Term 2 with Adam Siddaway

Students collaborated on working projects of architectural wonders. MinecraftEdu are always posting great blogs from teachers all over the world about how they are using the program in their classrooms.

Lawn Bowls with Richard Gale

Richard and his team taught the students this highly skilled sport in all aspects including delivery technique, shot play skills, tactical skills and mental game skills. Lawn bowls has become a very popular sport for young people as results in major world events have shown over the last ten years.

Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation with Candra Sleeman

This class incorporated a strong personal development aspect, which provided students with the tools to build their mental and emotional wellbeing and resilience. Activities also included reflection, visualisation, breath work, relaxation and meditation.

Swimming with David Cobb

In Term 4 the hugely popular swimming elective was led by David Cobb with weekly visits to the Hawthorn and Albert park Aquatics Centres. Students embraced the opportunity to get fit and keep cool.

Careers with David Cobb

This program is compulsory for all year 10 students and introduces students to important information about subject selection for VCE and how the VCE works. Students gather important information about Universities, TAFEs and alternative tertiary education providers, the selection of tertiary study places, work opportunities, and other ideas about the student’s pathway in the coming years. This is includes visits from a selection of tertiary providers. It is essential our students are well informed and equipped for employment, as well as developing the skills and tools necessary for job seeking success. During career counselling sessions, several students said the electives program had helped them when deciding their subject choices for further studies.

Fashion Illustration and Textiles with Jennie Spruch

Writers Salon Term 3 with Donna Coutts

Creative Writing Term 4 with Fiona Martin

Theatre Sports with Adam Simon

Self Defence with Howard Kimber

Boardgames with Liam Routt

Spring Dinner with John Collins

The Art of Pastry with Sophie Nikolaidis

Clay Sculpture with Rosalind Paterson

And several more…..

We also look forward to updating you about our Electives Program for 2016

The Electives Program enables students to:

• make choices about their learning
• work at their own level on small projects
• explore a diversity of experiences and approaches
• engage with tasks that interest them and develop a positive attitude to learning
• plan what they will do by setting short-term goals
• locate resources required for the task
• develop a sense of personal responsibility and accountability
• communicate and work with their teachers/peers
• ask questions
• use ‘self-talk’ to verbalise their thinking processes, thoughts and feelings
• take risks with their learning
• make mistakes and learn from them
• encounter problems and develop practical/creative strategies to solve them
• persist with the task and follow it through to a conclusion
• manage their time
• build on previous learning
• reflect on their learning
• use knowledge gained as the basis for future learning.

The Courage Book

“From the earliest years, children at Preshil are encouraged to choose. In the 5s this takes the form of a simple “choosing time” where children can decide how to engage themselves for the next part of the day. In later years, children are encouraged to choose and pursue one or more special interests…This tradition of choosing special projects and electives continues throughout the school.
Preshil believes that providing children with the choice to follow their own interests leads to a more compelling and rewarding learning experience for both child and teacher. By taking ownership of their education children invest more of themselves and are more motivated to learn.
By learning to make their own choices in ever more significant ways, children begin to learn the importance of making good choices and taking responsibility for them. When children can understand that their every action is the product of a choice they themselves make, whether consciously or unconsciously, they become more empowered to direct their own lives.
By choosing to pursue their own interests children solidify their unique strengths and the growing expertise that will aid them in their later studies, as well as in their vocations as adults.”

The Courage Book