Graphic organizers used to explore future jobs with 200 students

As part of Careers Week, Ashdale Secondary College held a series of interactive activities and workshops focussed on careers – highlighting the skills and attributes students needed in the workplace. Using interactive technology to improve student engagement, students creatively imagined future jobs then voted for the “coolest”. Based on the top job, they then had to brainstorm online the skills, knowledge, and personal attributes necessary for that job. With such a neat idea, we had to share some of the graphic organizers they used. student engagement preparing for graphic organizers Lynne Makin from Ashdale Secondary College reiterated the great need for career guidance to be promoted and celebrated in local schools. “It’s important that we invest the time to support young people with advice and guidance which puts them on the right track to careers success at the earliest opportunity,” She said the initiative was about inspiring students to achieve their dreams and encouraging them to ask the right questions. The session kicked off with Co-Founder Jeremy Lu sharing his personal career journey, then asking students to imagine what jobs would exist in 2050.  Here’s the graphic organizer they used – a simple list used to capture the different kinds of jobs. From DNA based credit cards to Exo soldier to nuclear engineers, there certainly wasn’t a shortage of unique professions.

What jobs do you think will exist in 2050?

graphic organizer Students were then asked to consider and discuss the different ideas and to dot vote on the one that they thought was the job that would be the most creative and worth exploring further. As you can see, Food Printer topped the list. Seem off the radar? Perhaps not. In fact, talented Dutch industrial Chloe Rutzerveld is already exploring this space creating artistic portions of healthy based finger foods. edibel-growth-3d-printed-food-2 With the job of food printer in mind, a graphic organizer was created with the following 4 headings:

1. Skills – What they can do
2. Knowledge – Knowing why they do what they do
3. Experience – Time spent doing what they do
4. Attributes – Personal traits that decide how they do what they do

This was a great way to gather ideas from students about what was needed to secure those future jobs. As students completed their brainstorm online, these were shared in real time with everyone, including the teacher so that it could be used as a tool for facilitating discussions. It was really interesting to see where students struggled and where they were on the right track.

What skills, knowledge, experience and attribute do you need to be a Food Printer?

skills knowledge and experience graphic organizer for student brainstorming This information and discussion became the basis of the ensuing workshops aimed to hone those skills and knowledge. Industry mentors and representatives were invited to speak to share their experience, as well as some goal setting challenges for each student to consider what they could do to plan for their future career. This was a great scene setter and helped teach students the importance of building and creating your own future.

So what did the students think about this approach?

(Our thanks to the teachers who helped collect and send us this feedback)

“It was cool to see the ideas on the screen and amazing how the technology brought everyone together.”

“Very creative session and fun to work with others.”

“This session showed us how easy it was to use GroupMap to help us learn new things in a fun way.”

“It helped me relate to the task as technology is a big part of our lives.”


If you are keen to create your own graphic organizers to improve student engagement in the classroom, you can try the above to run your own career exploration activities or check out more lesson plans. About the Author Vicki Hodgson is a business management Lecturer who previously worked within Education in the UK.  She has developed and delivered leadership and management programs at one of the UK’s foremost Further Education colleges. Vicki was nominated for two national enterprise awards in 2014 and won the academic staff member of the year in 2012.  She has continued her work with Curtin University and Edith Cowan University in Australia.

Graphic Organizers at the TeachMeet SciTech Event

GroupMap classroom teachers
Thanks to all science teachers who joined us at the GroupMap session

It was a fantastic turnout as teachers gathered for a lightning 6-minute GroupMap session. This activity involved a frenzy of phalanges as we explored the use of the KWHLAQ model for improving scientific inquiry.  Think of it like the traditional KWL (know-What- Learn) template but with a few additional steps to extend student learning. Graphic organizers like KWHLAQ provide a simple and effective way to complement your lesson plan through a process of reflection, collective sharing, questioning and applying.

We asked a few volunteers on the day to help us out with the activity here using a BuzzFeed video with a few snippets about the human brain. You can see some of the things they added from their iPhone, iPad or table on the day.  It’s a quick snap shot of how an edutech-enabled KWHLAQ runs.  Of course, this was a quick 5-minute exercise – it’s up to you how deep you want to take each activity.

In practice, this is an activity that you run across the length of your lesson plan, whether or not you have a flipped classroom. Here’s an example of a lesson plan.

visual organizer, KWHLAQ, GroupMap,
Example 1 – from the teacher participants at SciTech

How does the KWHLAQ impact student learning?

It may just seem like a series of questions, but each one leads them through Blooms taxonomy from recall through to synthesis and application.  The starting point is to pick your topic.  This tool is subject agnostic so it can be as simple as “What is the Sun?” through to “What are the key elements of forensic chemistry investigations.”
Here is the run down on each stage so you can decide how it might apply to what you teach:

K – Let’s start with what you know.

This gets students to recall what they already know about the subject and activates conversations – who knows.. you may learn something new yourself! This is a good way for you to offer feedback or to challenge some of their initial assumptions, encouraging them to back it up with facts.
By quickly capturing the wisdom of the group, you get a sense of the starting point for the group.  I recommend doing this as an individual exercise to begin with. Individual silent brainstorming at this stage gives each person the opportunity to draw our more specific information and a way for each student to start thinking about the topic. It gets them all involved straight away and is often a way to see who has “contributed” the most in the first stage.
Once you think there is enough input, open it up to class discussion and feedback.  At this point, I like to provide a bit of content, a video or a few slides on the topic to add to or validate what the students have put forward.

W  – What would you like to find out?

This steps promotes inquisitive thinking, giving students the opportunity to design and create their own learning experience. Encourage them to question what might not be known and to consider why they are asking the question. Creativity is key here. You might add a few key things that you have to cover from the curriculum but then provide a little space for new discoveries. Sharing what people have put forward is a good way to inspire new perspectives.
If you are really short on time, you can ask students to vote on the things they want to find out about the most.  This will help focus the class on the key questions.
This list can help you design your next class or act as a blue print for the next step.

H – How would you find out?

This step encourages students to take charge of their learning. They have to think of the sources of information to answer those questions. Not everything should just be Googled. They may have to talk to others, design their own experiments, look at referenced articles or interview an expert.  If they are heading towards a design of an experiment, you may wish to separate this out to a separate activity around experimental design. I tend to give the most feedback here because I find that this is where they need the most guidance or lack specificity. Throwing in a few examples you expect from them doesn’t hurt.
Once this is done, they can start their research or activities. This is usually where there majority of time is spent.

L – What did you learn?

Once the class or activity is over, this reflective exercise asks students to summarise key learning from their work to be shared with the class. This is key to see if there have been any new facts gathered in the process. I love being able to give a thumbs up for new information that I find remarkable or worth recognising the effort put in.  This can sometimes be a step done after student presentations so that it can brings in learning from the whole class.

A – What actions can you take?

Great job so far. Now it’s time to make it real by asking students to think of a few ways the new found knowledge can be applied on a day to day perspective or to solve a different problem. By translating knowledge into action, this helps them consolidate information into a real application. It’s up to you how much emphasis you want to put to this.  Sometimes the thinking is enough, and other times, you actually want to go further to make it real, adding in comments and pictures.

Q – What new questions do you have?

Often the more we find out, the more questions we have, so this last step captures any new questions that may have come from the first round of activities. It teaches the importance of continued questioning and how our questions advance as we discover more.  It might even be the catalyst for the start of a new topic.

visual organizer, KWHLAQ, GroupMap
Example 2 – Directed brainstorm with a single facilitator

Whilst you can do the activity above on paper, you can also use digital visual organizers to reduce manual collation and to give better real-time feedback. GroupMap, for example, let’s you switch between brainstorming styles, provide comments to students, vote in real-time and see what individual students as well as the whole class did.

The KWHLAQ template reminds us that we need to build on our existing pool of knowledge, be curious, scientific and deliberate, to share our findings with others in order to build on the knowledge pool and to apply it to solving real world problems. Aren’t these the basic principles of being a good science citizen after all?
Thanks again to the wonderful folks at TeachMeet and SciTech for inviting us along and to @EmCummuskey for this shout out. I hope the above is helpful in helping you deliver your next lesson.
twitter Teachmeet GroupMap
Have you applied the KWHLAQ activity in your classroom? What other tips can you give?

What is TeachMeet?

TeachMeet is a volunteer run organisation for Teachers by Teachers based on lightning quick presentations of teaching in practice. Our presentation was run at SciTech.

About the author

 Jeremy Lu has been a lecturer and tutor at Curtin University for the last 8 years, recognised as Sessional Lecturer of the Year 2014 at Curtin Business School. He is currently the School Business Manager for Science and has also helped start up teams with commercialisation of ideas. He has facilitated strategy and planning workshops with previous business management and training in the Health, Education and hospitality industry. He co-founded GroupMap as an online brainstorming tool to help improve the way people share ideas and a tool to help facilitators and educators improve the learning and decision quality of a group.


Want to try this out free? GroupMap offers a 14-day free trial so you can see if this is right for your classroom or school.

How We Got 160 People to Brainstorm on GroupMap.

When GroupMap was invited by digital creative festival organisers to take our online brainstorming tool out of meeting rooms and classrooms to the general public, we needed a fun, eye-catching way to get people’s attention.

The goal was to get people’s ideas about what would make a city more innovative.

Festival folk joined in on the day or online giving us their responses. Everything from changes to transport systems and single owner housing offices through to spaceports and community-driven designs was thrown in.

We ended up with over 160 ideas and even a thank you letter from the city’s CEO. Sweet. We also managed to collect creativity tips from industry professionals about what makes them more creative.


GroupMap Testimonial – City of Perth

Creating workshops with a difference – Youth Leaders in Aged Care

How do you get young people to be more involved in aged care boards? Injecting fresh innovative ideas into boards requires a new approach. Rather than a traditional workshop, with sticky notes that don’t stick, the organizers ran an “unconference” where people across generations could share ideas in real-time using an online brainstorming tool. Combining an audience response system with guest speakers from leadership bodies helped to engage the crowd and capture more ideas quickly and come up with strategies for action.

Dr Nicky Howe of Southcare Inc.

Alicia Curtis, Facilitator

Teaming up with Southcare Inc and facilitator Alicia Curtis, GroupMap joined in the action with over 30 brilliant minds to create innovative aged care organisations.

“How can we redesign our services and become more socially innovative?”

Southcare Unconference

Here’s their top 3, which they were happy to share. How would you rate?

1. Be okay with failing – Don’t blame failure, celebrate it. Define the appetite for the risk, then take a bite!

2. Create a culture of open communication – have respectful debates and look outside your own community for ideas.

3. Challenge the values of the boardroom– give people permission to think with innovation and challenge the “common sense” approach in the boardroom.

Engaging youth was the next challenge, but with over 46 ideas generated, there were certainly a few standouts. Popular actions included advertising in youth areas and universities, reaching out to grandchildren and specialised training programs. Specific governance strategies included changing constitutions to re-define board profiles to hosting youth-driven think tanks. Ideas that really broke from the norm included reaching out to detention centres, immigrant families and having permanent rotating positions.
So how did they come up with these ideas?
People sat in cross-generation teams and were addressed by industry leaders who shared their views and insights, creating a little communication fodder. Some believed it was about creating innovation champions within organisations and individuals change agents (Sue Van Leeuwan, CEO-Leadership WA) whilst others believed it required the whole Board to have the right mix and culture. Patrick Critchton, Justine Colyer – Chair.CEO – Rise Network). What seemed less divided was the need for training the next generation through structured pathways (Julian Keys- Chairperson, Swancare) and creativity and diversity on boards to ensure you aren’t just recycling the same old concepts.(Andrew York, CEO – People who care) The group was given tasks like writing a business case for their board and to brainstorm takeaway actions to increase engagement of youth in aged care. Seeing a room full of passionate people taking a collaborative approach to problem-solving was great. Coupled with an electronic meeting tool that brings everyone’s ideas together in real-time was an effective way to solve common problems across the sector.
From our perspective, it was great to see the inter-generational sharing and diversity of the team come together to meet help solve the issues associated with the Aged Care sector. Having a mixed team of ages, genders and industry backgrounds doesn’t come without its challenges. Sufficient time is needed to allow each participant to share their story and to justify why their idea should “stay on the page.”

All the best for your next collaborative workshop. We hope these tips and story helps you create better engagement too! Here are some testimonials from the facilitator and some of the participants during the workshop.

We Get Creativity Tips from 5 Industry Leaders

What tips for creativity can we learn from 5 industry leaders?

In our very first public group brainstorming workshop, GroupMap joined the Pause Fest-Digital Festival during Innovation Month and had the opportunity to talk to industry leaders about what fuels their creative engine. From the head of the festival, to motion music masters and animation artists, we’ve asked them to contribute to our online brainstorming exercise.

Our question- What top creativity tips do you use?

Here’s what each of the industry leaders had to say.

George Hedon – PauseFest Digital Festival

When he’s not accused of being too photogenic on camera, George and his awesome festival crew run the digital festival in and out of Australia. Here’s what he had to say…
  • Surround yourself with talented people Being around other creative people helps you realize new ways to be creative. They challenge you with good insight or critique.
  • Curate interesting things Collecting interesting or new items can give you something to reflect on and “admire”. This can help some people clear their heads or spark new ideas.
  • Combine different things together Mixing and matching things that don’t usually go together can help to realise a totally new idea. If something isn’t working for you, try combining it with something else and see where it goes. (hmm… we wondered where kite surfing came from)

Robyn Fawcett – Shock records

Robyn is the Digital Marketing Manager for Shock Records in Melbourne. Pablo is the co-founder of the creative agency ‘Plenty’. They both sat down for a post-lunch chat to tell us their top creative tips.
  • Research your audience It may sound contradictory, but a little research effort goes a long way to focus your message. Creativity doesn’t have to be coming up with a wild idea no one understands, it just has to be one your audience does.
  • Fake it till you make it Trick your brain into believing you already have all the answers. If you can act or pretend to be creative, then perhaps the subconscious brain will follow suit.
  • Tap into a dream state Relaxing or dozing off can help to ease some stress from your mind and open it to new ideas. Be prepared for a little active dreaming.

Pablo Alfieri from ‘Plenty

  • PLAY and Brainstorm Make it okay to play, then brainstorm and map your ideas visually to help bring order to chaos. Seeing what you’ve been thinking can help you create new branches from existing ideas.
  • Set time limits and give yourself time. Some people work better when faced with a deadline. Putting a time limit on yourself can force you to get down to business and get the ideas going. Create both time and a timeline for creativity.
  • Meet people and work together. If you ask Pablo, he’ll say that he enjoys being with people. It gives him energy and it helps to create energy and inspiration. It fuels the time for self-reflection and private creativity.

Foo Ching Sung from Squint/Opera

Foo Ching Sung – or ‘Fooch’ as he is better known – heads up Squint/Opera’s Australian division, focusing on architectural films.
  • Teach/Give knowledge back Sharing what you know can open the door to a whole new set of thoughts and ideas. By mentoring others you reinforce that knowledge in yourself, while helping others. That’s a win-win win!
  • Steal ideas Using other people’s work as inspiration can stimulate your own creativity. By observing other people’s creativity, you can emulate them and create your own unique ideas.
  • Look back Pull out that old notebook, those high school sketches, or dust off a previous prototype. There might just be a treasure trove from a snippet of the past. What may not have inspired you then can quite possibly do so now!

Chris Vik – Ethno Tekh

Chris is one half of the talented duo “Ethno Tekh”. They blend music and movement capture technology together seamlessly to create an amazing visual performance.
  • Collaboration It’s not just about blending music and tech. It’s about working with other artists and cranial mind masters to find new projects.
  • Try new things Keep an open mind by actively fueling it. What was your last venture into the unknown?
  • Change of scenery Sometimes creativity can be blocked by your environment. Taking a walk or moving to a different room can help to refresh yourself and get your thoughts going again. Don’t believe it? Try it.
And finally a few parting phrases from Mark Simpson MC and head honcho of design and animation house Sixty40criticise yourself constructively, persevere, and work hard! The GroupMap team wants to give a great big thank you to all our fantastic interviewees as well as the bunch of brilliant minds that contributed to our tips for creativity GroupMap. From the GroupMap Team. Want to create your own brainstorm with your team? GroupMap lets you create brainstorming templates to innovate, create, ideate and prioritise. trial it free at

GroupMap at PauseFest


Big Brains for Science – How to get a group to work together

Australian Council of Deans of Science Breakout group brainstorm ways to improve pre-service teaching in an interactive workshop.

The Big Questions:
  •  What essential skills should secondary teachers in Science and Maths have?
  • What complementary skills should secondary teachers in Science and Maths have?
  • What can Science and Education Faculties at University do to improve this?
  • How can Science and Education Faculties collaborate to improve pre-service teaching?
We take for granted that much of the world as we see it is only possible through constant and sustaining scientific research. This knowledge transfer starts in primary and secondary schools and encouraging and engaging students in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is a growing need. Broad scientific literacy is needed by the Australian community. Full stop!!
Dean Professor Jo Ward, Dean of Science, Curtin University
Following the Annual General Meeting of the Deans of Science across 30 Australian Universities, a plenary session was run by Professor Jo Ward, Dean of Science, Curtin University.

GroupMap was used by the Deans to respond to Treasury announcements targeting sustainable programs to improve pre-service teaching. The question style involved initial segregation between essential and complementary skills for pre-service teachers. Participants then moved towards the key question of what could be done at the Faculty level (Science, Education, and Combined) to best meet the criteria for the funding programs.
The outcomes ranged from statements of intent to suggestions of pragmatic initiatives that mirrored best practice examples. Common themes and goals were shared with the group in real-time and this then formed the framework for collaborative practice discussions. By being able to quickly consolidate information from the group meant that everyone could move through the questions quickly, leaving more time for lunch and networking.
GroupMap is very supportive of improving teaching and learning outcomes, so this initiative was one we could not say no to. It was fantastic to see ideation and sharing by a group of thought leaders who have the potential to continue to improve and enhance Australia’s scientific prowess. Our thanks to Professor John Rice, Executive Officer of the ACDS, and Professor Jo Ward, Dean of Science, Curtin University for choosing to use GroupMap at this event.