Finalist — Joel Speranza

EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING

LEARNING REVOLUTIONISED BY DYNAMIC QUEENSLAND YOUTUBE TEACHER


He’s had more than half a million hits on his YouTube videos, placed more than 1000 lessons online for students and teachers to use, led his school through making video lessons during the COVID-19 remote teaching period, and leads a classroom different to any other you have seen, where students are the drivers of their own lessons.


Meet Ormiston College’s Head of Mathematics, Joel Speranza, who has been named one of twelve Flipped Learning Global Master Teachers, a Microsoft Innovation Education Expert, and a finalist for this year’s Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Excellence in Teaching Awards, due to his innovative work.


Mr Speranza was one of the first teachers in Australia to use a Lightboard – which involves teachers writing lessons on glass, as if the teacher is writing on the camera lens of the video that viewers are watching – in video lessons for students. He has also led the way for this method of blended learning to be used in classrooms across Ormiston College.


The Advance Queensland Digital Champion, who has spoken internationally on his work, says his classroom is very different to the old chalk-and-talk model.


“There are many, many lessons where I won’t raise my voice above a whisper, because the students are all engaged in what they’re doing – they’re all working really hard and I am just walking from student to student saying, ‘What are you up to? That looks a bit tricky, yeah, let’s try this’,” Mr Speranza explains.

“I’m really lucky; my classroom has all these great windows around it which end up written all over because, I’ve got this big whiteboard at the front, but because I’m talking to three or four students, or one or two students, it’s nice to have these individual writing spaces – these kinds of very, very small miniature lessons to clear anything up,” he said.

Mr Speranza’s classes work off OneNote, allowing students to work at their own pace. He has embedded 100’s of applets – interactive digital applications – which bring concepts from areas like algebra and geometry alive; allowing students to manipulate dots, angles or sides of a triangle on the screen in front of them to discover the mathematics for themselves.


This year, as teachers had to rapidly change the way they taught during the stay-at-home COVID-19 restrictions, Mr Speranza spent his entire Easter holidays mapping his YouTube lessons to the Queensland Curriculum so that teachers, parents and students across the state could use them. The lessons, which are mapped to the new Queensland General Mathematics, Mathematical Methods and Specialist Mathematics syllabi, can be accessed at his new website: https://mathsvideosaustralia.com/ .


Under Mr Speranza’s dynamic leadership, the number of students choosing to study the subject Specialist Maths has doubled, and the number of female students choosing the subject has exceeded the number of male students for the first time in the College’s history. Mr Speranza has also helped transform teaching in other subject areas at Ormiston, by providing other teachers with feedback on how to use technology in their classrooms to improve student learning, including by providing video, instead of written, feedback.


The winners of the TEACHX Awards will be announced on 29 October, on the eve of World Teachers’ Day in Australia.

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