EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING
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 where students are the drivers of their own lessons.
Ormiston College Head of Mathematics, Joel Speranza, has been named the winner of this year’s Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Excellence in Teaching Award for his innovative and dynamic teaching approach.
The award was announced on the eve of World Teachers’ Day celebrations.
The Flipped Learning Global Master Teacher 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 and Microsoft Innovation Education Expert, 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.
Congratulations Joel on being the winner of the TEACHX Excellence in Teaching Award.