My favourite VCAL projects for 2016

Well I survived my 2nd year of teaching; and, like I teach my students, it’s time to ‘reflect’.  

This year I taught a Year 11 Business Management class and two Year 11 VCAL Personal Development Skills (PDS) classes (a mixture of Intermediate and Foundation students). Obviously though; as this blog is called VCAL Resources & Ramblings, I’ll only be reflecting on my two PDS classes.

So here is my reflection for  on my teaching & learning experience for 2016.

In Term 1 – I completed the following activities / programs with my students – Team building Activities to start the year ,  a Cafe Program, a Barista Course, Goal Setting, and I tried to start a volunteer program.

In Term 2 we went through the RACV Safe Mates campaign, organised a student led VCAL Camp, took the students to Torquay for the Coastal Guardians program, Warringa Park Program, Work Experience Research, and started their Learning Journey.

In Term 3  I mentored a Pre-Service Teacher and he came up with a ‘Pergola Project’, which is based on a program I created called ‘Leave your Legacy’. We also completed a Photojournalism project, organised student led excursions and tried to, but completely failed at, coming up with ‘Passion Projects’.

For the final few weeks of Term 4, we completed the Salvation Army Homelessness program and brainstormed ideas / activities for 2017.

I only came up with two modified projects for the year, but I’ll speak about those later.

So What went well in 2016? A lot of things to be honest, and lot more went well than my first year of teaching in 2015 and this year I tried to incorporate the following principles in to my teaching (Thanks to Rod Sheehan from Peter Lalor Vocational College)

  1. Real World Application
  2. Technical Content
  3. Hands on Learning
  4. Reflection

Coastal Guardians Program: My students loved getting out of the school and heading to  Torquay and the Coastal Guardians Program is one of those programs where students get to work outside, get their hands dirty, and do something good for the environment. Students learn about the local environment, get to do real world risk assessments, plant trees and the guides are extremely knowledgeable. My students loved the fact that they were doing something that was making a difference to the community. Something that I will be continuing in 2017. I was also passionate about the program as I live in Torquay.

RACV Safe Mates: When I finished high school, I completed my BA in Advertising, so this program is close to my heart,  and it is something I not only love to do, but I have some experience in, which I could then share with my students. The basic premise  of the program is – Students need to develop a social media advertising campaign about Road Safety. Not only were students engaged with creating media for facebook, snap chat, instagram etc, they were good at it (we didn’t win though). I was also lucky enough to take my students to a real life marketing agency (thank you to Hard Hat Digital), where students pitched their ideas to their ‘mentors’.


Work Experience Research: To be honest, this is a really boring task, students don’t really like it, and it’s pretty dry, BUT IT WORKS, and I’ll do it again. It helps students to find work experience and it also helps out the careers office. I only spent 250 minutes on this task, so it’s not that exhaustive. Students were tasked with finding 10 employers that they would like to work with in Term 3. Last year, I didn’t do the exercise and around 20 students didn’t find work experience. This year, only 5 students didn’t (or didn’t want to) find work experience. Click the link to head to the task.

Photojournalism Project – Most of the projects / activities that worked well  in 2016 were projects that I was passionate about. This is not to say I’m not passionate about everything I do, but the programs that I run that I am the MOST passionate about are the ones that work the best. This was a long program, roughly 10 weeks, so it takes some time, but it is needed. A quick run down. I first ask the students about what they want to be remembered for, then they do a quick research / poster assignment on Australians who have left a lasting legacy. They then pick someone that they are close to, or who have made an impression on them. They write interview questions and photograph their subjects. They then create a movie (here are the movies) on their subject with the questions they ask and the photos they have taken.  I loved this project.

Salvation Army Homelessness Project: If you click the link, you’ll find the QA document from 2014 that the Salvation Army has created. I didn’t use their QA, but I used the ideas from it. Students watched movies on homelessness, organised excursions, and came up with ideas to help the homeless in Melbourne. Students saw a totally different world, and we got to head into Melbourne for a talk from the Salvation Army. Students were engaged with the material and they loved watching the documentary (I even got them to watch it at home). Students also came up with some clever ideas to help the homeless without actually asking anyone for any money, so they were using their critical thinking skills during the program.


Student Led Excursions: This is one of my favourite activities. Students are tasked with coming up with ‘group cohesion’ activities for the end of the year (based on Outcome 5 for Intermediate). Students can come up with any idea they like, any activity they like, but they have to work as a team during the activity. Students also find out and learn how hard it is to organise excursions. They must write a letter to the executive team, they must cost and budget the activity, they call the activity providers, book the excursions, and create permission slips. They also must come up with valid risk assessments (some students were very clever and actually asked the providers for their risk assessments, so they were very real and valid!)

Barista Course: Only 7 (out of 20) students enrolled into the course, (due to the cost) but students came out with their ‘Prepare Espresso Coffee Certificate‘. Students loved the fact they got out of school for the day, they can use their certificate in real life, there was lots of technical content, and when I asked them to reflect on their learning, they actually made me a coffee using their skills. Bonus!

What do I need to improve on? A lot! I’m still learning just as much as my students are, so there will be another blog post at the start of 2017 with the things I want to focus on, so stay tuned.

Hopefully you can take some ideas from this post, and if you’d like any more information, then please contact me via the contact page or email via edumail (flannery.bryce.s)

Have a fantastic break, and hopefully you’re all back reading this in 2017.




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