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Years 5-6

Students design (and as an extension activity, make) a new digital communication solution for the school.

Learning hook

  1. Introduce the project and its focus.
  2. Use the distribution of the school newsletter as a teachable moment. Pose these questions.
    • Who is the audience of the newsletter?
    • How long does it take to produce?
    • What is the format of the newsletter (print/digital)?
    • Where do people read the newsletter?
    • What is the length of time it takes to read?
    • Is the newsletter re-read during the week? How is it disposed of?
    • Does the newsletter have an environmental impact?
    • What is the cost of newsletter production to the school?
    • How successful is the newsletter in getting its message across?
    • How many actually get read?
    • Are there alternatives?
  3. Write out these questions individually, so that they can be displayed on noticeboards/whiteboards around the learning area.

  4. Let students think about the answers to 2 or 3 of the questions by themselves. Give them 2 or 3 sticky notes for them to write responses on.
  5. After students have stuck their sticky notes around the room and discussed ideas in small groups, bring them back into a larger group.
  6. Lead a discussion to find out any key issues that have come up in the small groups.

    Some copies of the school newsletter (print or digital)

    Examples of newsletters from surrounding schools (print or digital)

    Lists of URLs of school newsletters. Search the web for these, they are easy to find as they are mostly attached to a school website.

    Examples of individual school communication/newsletter apps from the Apple AppStore or Google Play. Search for school newsletters at either of these sites.

    Features of a ‘good’ school newsletter

Learning map and outcomes

  1. Read Graphic Organiser for this activity
  2. Introduce the focus of this series of lessons: Home/school communications are vital to the good running of any school, as everyone needs to be informed and needs to feel involved.
  3. After group discussion ask students what information may be useful to answer the first part of what will now be called the Big Question, which you now put to them: Is there a more efficient and sustainable online and/or mobile solution to our home/school communication? (What are the digital alternatives?)
    • Hopefully, students will highlight in the discussion that they need more information to answer this question.

Introduce the concept of big data. Show the Common Craft Big Data Explained video and discuss. Focus discussions on data collection.

  • Ask: ‘How do we decide what we are measuring?’
  • Explain how data can be quantitative (data that can be counted) or qualitative (data that describes).
  • Reiterate the Big Question again. Is there a more efficient and sustainable online and/or mobile solution to our home/school communication? (What are the digital alternatives?)
  • Explain to students that they may need to read and analyse some big data to investigate the possibilities of an online and/or mobile solution for home/school communication, and that they may also have to construct a survey to find data about the views of their school community.
  • Introduce the Assessment rubric. Explain what is being assessed, the terminology involved, the need for goal-setting and how students might work out whether they are on track or not.
    • The rubric should be reiterated during the series of lessons so that the students will be aware of their learning progress, understand what they need to do next and what further assistance/explicit teaching they may require.
    • This rubric can be used for student self-assessment, for peer assessment and for formative assessment by the teacher.

Learning input

  1. Reiterate the Big Question. Is there a more efficient and sustainable online and/or mobile solution to home/school communication? (What are the digital alternatives?)
  2. Discuss the importance of evidence-based decision making.
  3. Ask students: What questions might need to be answered when using data in this project? What are we looking for?
    • Ask students: Would a solution that requires a robust internet and a high level of device ownership (especially smartphone/tablet ownership) be useful for our school community?
    • What does national data say about that? (Reading/analysing datasets).

  4. Introduce to students the datasets from the OECD/ ABS/ ACMA/mobile phone providers.
  5. Assist students in making sense of the big data websites (Skill: Reading/manipulating/analysing).
    • As these sites are data-rich and complex, you will need to model how to access the useful data for this project, without ‘getting lost’. A whole-class or group session navigating through a dataset, with discussion, is vital here.
  6. Set up a space for students to record findings and opinions; for example, a collaborative online space, a whiteboard on which the student recordings can remain until the end of the series of lessons, or a sticky-note wall (again which can remain until the end of the series of lessons).
  7. Provide students with a template for this big data activity.
    • Name of data set.
    • Ease of use, how ‘friendly’ was the website?
    • What assistance did you need to understand the website?
    • Top five ‘takeaways’ from looking at this data set.
    • How useful was the dataset in providing you with information to answer the Big Question?
  8. Place students in groups of 5–6. Divide the datasets from the OECD/ABS/ACMA (online versions, in preference to printed) amongst the groups. As this data is dense have each group of students just looking a one or two datasets (depending upon the time available for this lesson sequence).
  9. Ask students to record their findings and opinions about the data. In groups, they should be able to find 5 or 6 key points.
    • If they already have access to a collaborative website (for example a Google Doc or online forum) they could use that; however, any recording method would be fine (for example, whiteboard, sticky notes) as long as it the results can be seen by all, added to, and edited.
  10. Support/scaffold and teach around the following questions:
    • How do we know what sort of newsletter does our school community want?
    • How can we find this out? How will we get this data? Do we need to conduct our own survey? (Skill: Making our own datasets)
  11. Teach students how to make an online survey. (See Resources for online resources that will assist you.)

  12. Ask students: What data will this project survey try to capture? (Skill: Making survey questions)
  13. Teach students of how to frame effective questions. See Resources for things that will assist you.
  14. Reiterate to students the purpose of the survey: ‘How do we know what sort of newsletter does our school community want?’ Student survey questions should cover issues around preferred newsletter format, connectivity, device ownership, privacy, etc.
  15. Ask: ‘How will we organise and sort the data we collect?’ (Skill: Manipulating spreadsheets by sorting). See Resources for things that will assist you.
  16. Ask: ‘How do we analyse this data?’ (Skill: Data Analysis)
    • Demonstrate how a spreadsheet can organise data, which makes it easier to understand.
  17. Have students find, discuss and report on survey data about preferred newsletter format, connectivity, device ownership, privacy, etc.
    • Ask: What actions will be informed by this data?
    • Monitor responses (see above) from the collaborative space, whiteboard, sticky notes notes and provide feedback for students.


OECD Data ICT Internet Access

ABS Data Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2016-17

Mobile phone providers coverage maps




The New Google Forms (2016) Tutorial‬‬

Survey Monkey Tutorial

Making good survey questions

Sorting an Excel Spreadsheet

Sorting a Google Sheet

Sorting Apple Numbers Spreadsheet

Sorting Open Office Calc

Learning construction

  1. Monitor progress of student input so you are aware of what insights students have and what support and skills that they may need.
  2. Provide sticky notes for students.
  3. Support/scaffold and teach around the following.
    • planning a survey to capture quantitative and qualitative data
    • thinking of setting questions which lead to one or two supplementary questions, (explicit teaching, if required)
    • organising and sorting data (explicit teaching of how to manipulate spreadsheets and use functions)
    • analysing data (see Learning Input section).
  4. Provide students access to the videos (see Resources) on survey questions, setting up an online survey and sorting spreadsheets, mentioned in the Learning Input section.
  5. Work with groups of students (as needed) on planning and project managing their evidence-based solutions to the Big Question.
  6. Teach students mind mapping/concept mapping (if necessary) so they can meet beginning and emerging in the Assessment Rubric.
  7. Introduce flowcharts to students so they can meet Developing and Proficient in the Assessment Rubric

Online Survey websites e.g. Survey Monkey/Google Forms

Spreadsheet mapping app/website e.g. Microsoft Excel/Apple Numbers/Google Sheets/Open Office Calc.

Survey Monkey Export

Google Forms (Online Survey) Tool Jan 2014

Mind mapping/concept mapping app/website e.g. FreeMind, Inspiration, Popplet.

Flowchart can be hand drawn or composed using shape tools of desktop publishing applications such as Microsoft Word. There are also some online flowchart makers.

Flow chart videos

Basic Flowcharting Symbols

Flowchart tutorial

Learning demo

  1. Provide adequate time and support for students to share ideas, demonstrate and showcase their work as well as asking for feedback.
  2. Give feedback, and encourage other students to give feedback to each other.
  3. Conduct an individual/group/whole-class discussion how each group dealt with the Big Question: Is there a more efficient and sustainable online and/or mobile solution to our home/school communication? (What are the digital alternatives?)

Students have an opportunity to discuss what they have learnt from this project. This could be in a report/blog/interview/demonstration format.

They should report on one of the following:

  • understanding big data sets
  • survey construction and collection
  • data analysis and reporting
  • designing a home/school communication user interface (UI).
  • home/school communication prototype construction.

Students can report on goal setting, work flow, task management, collaboration.

Students can report on challenges that they overcame. Were there any that they didn’t?

Learning reflection

Reflect on the following.(One way of doing this is with video software and a webcam on a computer or tablet. Record your thoughts at the start, during the lessons and at the conclusion. Another way to reflect is by blogging.)

  • Did the students have the required knowledge to start this unit? How was this assessed?
  • Did you understand the Digital Technologies terminology? Where you able to use this in your lessons? Did your students start using it during the lessons?
  • How successfully were you in enabling your students to understand data enough to make evidence-based decisions?
  • How successfully were you in enabling your students to use data analysis, planning and project management to solve a real-world problem (home/school communication)?
  • Have you modelled learning reflection for your students?