Sphero’s in the Classroom


Article written for Education Today Term 3 2016 Vol 16 (3)

As teachers we need to provide our students with opportunities to learn how to learn, supporting them to find and solve problems. Our role involves developing learners for many jobs that are yet to exist. The critical question we must ask as educators is; How might we best prepare our students for their future?

There are many tools, resources, and applications that can be used to enhance student learning and develop their lifelong learning skills. The Sphero is one of these tools. It is amazingly versatile and will engage and empower your students. A tennis ball sized robot connected via bluetooth to a mobile device, the Sphero can be used to transform teaching and learning across various curriculum areas.

The Sphero can roll at a speed of up to 7km/h in any direction, spin, flip, and change colour. Using a range of Apps students can accurately direct the movement of the Sphero using code.

Creatively designed lessons incorporating Sphero’s can develop many of the attributes we want for our learners. Students will be designing and creating code to direct the Sphero while connecting, communicating, collaborating, problem solving, testing, failing, and iterating, all key characteristics of 21st century learners.

Here are some of my favourite lessons using Spheros;

Mathematics – Shape & Angle investigation.

  • Tickle App
  • On paper students create and sketch a 2D shape showing their knowledge of angles
  • Using masking tape, rulers, and protractors, students recreate their shape on the floor
  • Students connect the Sphero to the iPad app Tickle, and use code to direct the sphero to follow the masking tape shape

Skills students develop:

  • Coding using block code
  • Percentages, Angles, Measurement, Time, Distance, Speed

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Mathematics – Data, Measurement, Mean, Median & Mode.

  • Tickle App
  • The Sphero can be used as a variable to collect data, recording the time it takes to complete a task.
  • Using masking tape or cones, students can record the time it takes the Sphero to follow a course.
  • Using different speeds, students can measure the distance the Sphero travels in a set time.
  • The Sphero is waterproof, so students can record the time it takes to travel through water. Rubber bands can be added to increase friction and alter results.

Skills students develop:

  • Coding using block code.
  • Percentages, Angles, Measurement, Time, Distance, Speed
  • Data, Analysing data, Mean, Median & Mode

Angles – Mini Golf

  • Tickle App
  • Students design a mini golf course
  • Using the Tickle app, students direct the Sphero to each hole in as little code directions as possible.
  • Students can analyse the data from the game and calculate the Mean, Median and Mode for each hole of the course.

Skills students develop:

  • Coding using block code.
  • Percentages, Angles, Measurement, Time, Distance, Speed
  • Data, Analysing data, Mean, Median & Mode


  • Tickle App
  • Students can design and create a plastic cup character that can be placed over the Sphero
  • Students create a story line and move their cup character covering their Sphero to retell the story

Skills students develop:

  • Art, Design
  • Storytelling, retell skills descriptive language, character development
  • Plot, storyline

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Sphero Art

  • Tickle App, Draw & Drive App
  • Students dip the Sphero into paint, and then place it onto a large blank canvas (wipe the Sphero clean after each use using baby wipes)
  • Draw & Drive App – Students can draw an image on the iPad screen which the Sphero will follow
  • Tickle App – Students can code shapes and images

Skills students develop:

  • Art, Design
  • Percentages, Angles, Measurement, Time, Distance, Speed

If you are participating in Sphero Art, my students would love to see your classes creations please share via bit.ly/spheroart

The use of Sphero’s in your classroom will enhance your students enthusiasm and engagement. Whilst developing attributes of 21st century learners, students will continue to problem solve until they achieve success and their achievements celebrated with cheers of delight. Incorporating the Sphero into my lessons has increased my students love of learning and is teaching them critical skills to be successful in their futures.


The Pittsburgh Gal Principal Podcast

I was privileged and honored to be asked to be a part of Emily Clare’s podcast “The Pittsburgh Gal Principal Podcast’.

It was a great chance to reflect on my short career and share my journey in education.

Make sure you follow the wonderful Emily Clare on Twitter to keep updated on upcoming Podcasts.


Pittsburghgalprincipal Blog


Explore the world without leaving your classroom

Article written for Education Today

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Classrooms in the 21st Century should not be confined by its four walls. Technology allows teachers to create learning experiences for their students that enable them to be immersed in locations all over the world, all without leaving their school. These experiences bring learning to life, engaging and motivating our students to inquire and wonder about the world in which we live.

We live in a world that is continuing to be flattened by the accessibility the internet and technology brings. As teachers, we converse with our students about locations and landmarks from all around the world. New technologies now enable teachers to further explore these destinations allowing students to gain a first hand perspective, deepening their understanding and learning.

Google has created a variety of technologies that enhance teaching and learning by allowing students to explore and have experiences all around the world.

My favourite tools include;

  • Google Hangouts
  • Google Maps (Google Views)
  • Google MyMaps
  • Google Art Project
  • Google Expeditions

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts are fantastic. They are a free video call that allow students to connect with the community, classes around the world, and experts in any particular field.

Google Hangouts on Air record your Google Hangout. These can be published to your YouTube channel as private, public or unlisted, the same settings as any uploaded video..

*Google Hangouts and Google Hangouts on Air have an age restriction of 13+. Younger students can still be involved, but need to be led by a teacher.

Lesson Ideas:

  • Share student learning to a live audience
  • Connect classes to collaborate on topics together
  • Invite experts in your area of study to share their knowledge
  • Book Study with other classes
  • Mystery Hangouts with other classes

Google Maps

Google Maps has many features that can transform the learning occurring within the classroom. Students can explore satellite imagery, street maps and 360° panoramic views. By dragging and dropping the pegman onto the map it brings up the Street View function to be fully immersed in that location.

Lesson Ideas:

  • Investigate landmarks
  • Locate different states and territories
  • Town planning
  • Directions

Google Street View Collections

Google has collated the images from Street View into collections allowing students to explore photos and 360° panoramic view images from around the world. These can be linked to a range of topics and curriculum areas. Here are some of my favourite collections

  • Oceans
  • Gallipoli
  • Northern Lights, Finland
  • Pyramids of Giza
  • Amazon
  • Taj Mahal

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Google MyMaps

Google MyMaps is now integrated in Google Drive. MyMaps allows students to create and share their maps with others. They can plot locations, add content, and measure distances anywhere in the world.

Lesson Ideas:

  • Mapping
  • Book Study
  • Holiday Recounts
  • Information Reports
  • Planning school trips
  • Area and distance
  • Linking Literature to world locations
  • Analysing Data
  • Homework tasks

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 7.59.18 pm.pngGoogle Art Project

The Google Art Project allows students to explore museums and galleries around the world. Students can make their way through galleries to look at specific art pieces in great detail. The Google Art Project is fantastic for topics linked to Geography, Art, History, or even for student creativity and imagination for writing stimulus.

Teachers and students can create their own galleries and share these with others.

Lesson Ideas

  • Australian War Memorial – looking at history of ANZAC Day.
  • Exploring who we are and looking at Self Portraits.
  • Looking at Australian Indigenous Art
  • Ned Kelly Exhibition at National Gallery in Canberra

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Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard and Virtual Reality is transforming classrooms. Google Cardboard enables 360° images from Google Maps and YouTube videos to be viewed in virtual reality, fully immersing students in a location. A device (phone) is placed inside the Google Cardboard that brings to life a variety of Apps (storytelling, games) available in the Google Play and iTunes store.

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Google Expeditions:

Google Expeditions will be released in early 2016. Google Expeditions allows teachers to take their students on excursions to over 100 locations around the world. Teachers can guide students to view specific features of the location from their controlling tablet, which has information to further deepen student understanding. My school was fortunate to be one of the first schools in the world to trial this pioneer program. The excitement and joy it brought to the students was amazing. Their questions and wonderings of explored locations enabled great discussions for future learning.

Budgets and excursion expenses don’t have to stop us from allowing our students to explore the world in the 21st Century. These technologies are opening up a wealth of resources accessible to everyone. Teachers can confidently design their lessons incorporating these tools to give students authentic learning experiences.











More than just Picture Storybooks


Picture Storybooks are my favourite. They bring back so many wonderful childhood memories.

There are some fantastic books that will capture your students imaginations, provoke their wonderings and allow them to generate their own ideas.

Being very passionate about the Inquiry approach to learning and in particular Genius Hour, I have on display in my classroom a variety of books that I read to my students when I launch into new topics, units of inquiry and wonderings.

Here are some of my favourites;

The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires


Attributes: Determination, Perseverance, Commitment, Inquirer

The Most Magnificent Thing focuses is a great model for the FAIL acronym – First Attempt In Learning. It talks about a girl with an idea. She sets out to create this idea but soon realises that it actually is not so magnificent. She gets frustrated and angry that she is not able to make what it is she has in mind. Through her determination and perseverance she overcomes all her trials and finally makes the most magnificent thing that she is proud of.

What do you do with an idea? – Kobi Yamada


Attributes: Resilience, Perseverance, Open-minded, Inquirer

What Do You Do With An Idea is about  boy who takes you on a journey about his idea coming to life. He initially has doubts and is afraid that others will think he is silly. He thinks about giving up, but continues as he realises it is ok to be different and to try new things in order to create something truly amazing.

Going Places – Peter & Paul Reynolds


Attributes: Teamwork, Cooperation, Creativity, Curiosity, Inquirer

Going Places is about a class project where all students are given the same ‘Go-Cart’ kit that they are required to build. One student in the class realises that it is ok to think outside the box and try something different. Another student sees this and decides to team up to create an amazing flying vehicle.

The North Star  – Peter Reynolds


Attributes: Difference, Determination, Adventure, Open-Minded, Appreciation, Curiosity

The North Star is about a boy asking questions and wonderings about the world. He gets told he is falling behind everyone else on their journey. He faces hurdles and gets lost, before getting back on track to discover his journey is unique to everyone else and that is ok.

Beautiful Oops – Barney Saltzberg


Attributes: Creativity, Open-Minded, Appreciation

Beautiful OOPS expresses that it is ok to make mistakes. Our mistakes allow us to change our thinking and turn our ideas into something beautiful. It is a fantastic pop out book that has even the older students engaged and interested.

The Dot – Peter H. Reynolds


Attributes: Acceptance, Confidence, Commitment

The Dot shows us that everyone can be a creative artist, you just have to believe in yourself. It is a great story that shows students you can be great at anything.

Any Questions?  – Marie-Louise Gay


Attributes: Confidence, Inquirer, Enthusiasm, Curiosity, Reflective

Any Questions makes me laugh everytime I read it. It reminds me about how interested children are at a young age. How they are not afraid to ask questions and that asking questions that we do not know the answer to is a good idea. It also explores the idea of creative writing and where we can get ideas for our writing. It is through questioning and writing that students imagination and creativity is allowed to run wild.

Press Here – Herve Tullet


Attributes: Curiosity, Creativity

This story engages students to think outside the box and see how a story can capture their imagination by thinking differently. It will have the whole class pushing, blowing and turning the book to know what will happen next.

These are just a few, I would love to hear what other books you use ….