Teaching

Through my Window

Many years ago, before I began blogging and before I was very aware of the wonders of Web2.0, I worked with a class on a collaborative project called “Through my Window”.  It was 2009 and it went like this : 4 classes connected (via email in those days)  They were based in varied environments, rural, city etc. Each class took photos of scenes outside their classroom windows They then wrote a Descriptive piece describing the scene in great detail – much work went into the language required : foreground etc Each class then exchanged written descriptions by mail (NOT photos) Each class then proceeded to draw the scene described to them We then exchanged the images and were able to see how well our descriptions portrayed the scenes. The learning involved was enormous, the ability to write a very clear description of a scene down to fine details, then the ability to decipher another person’s detail.  The students worked in teams and allocated roles, it was a wonderful task.  Probably my first experience with being a connected teacher and certainly the first time our students had collaborated in a meaningful way with students from other parts of the country....
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GoogleAppsForEd

Community ~ Curiosity ~ Creativity

Community ~ Curiosity ~ Creativity  #GTASyd 2014 This morning, I am feeling a sense of community, curiosity and creativity : combined with a little bit of travel weary, end of term exhaustion.  These were the themes of the mentor presentations at the Google Teacher Academy I attended during this whirlwind week, which began with sharing the Google Apps for Education Summit with 10 of my school colleagues and 400 other teachers in Melbourne. The GTA experience this year was facilitated by Tom Barrett and Hamish Curry from NoTosh, leading us through the Design thinking process.  Thankfully we had been slowly immersed in the process and our ideas by connecting to our Teams in the weeks prior – being introduced and starting the conversations that would lead to much discussion, work and deliberation. If you came to the GTA expecting to come away with a whole heap of Googley technical skills you would have left disappointed.  If you came expecting to be a passive learner, you would have been very challenged.  If you came along to see how community, curiosity and creativity can be enacted, you would be very happy. The process was outward looking, in that,we all had been asked in...
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GoogleAppsForEd

A presentation … A process

  I am presenting at the Melbourne GAFE (Google Apps for Education) Summit this week.  I have never felt very confident as a speaker but recent experiences are encouraging me to extend beyond my comfort zone.  So here I find myself the afternoon before, adding, taking, tweaking for the millionth time my presentation for tomorrow. I have chosen a topic that I hope provides a good balance on theory and practice.  I know people like to come away with new skills but I also believe any skill / tool should be used with good purpose.  The subject is basically using Google tools to create opportunities to have learning conversations – teacher/student, student/student, student/parent, student/other stakeholders etc.  The opportunity to provide feedback / feedforward throughout the learning process instead at the end. It is probably not a coincidence that I modelled this process in the creation of the presentation I re-vamped the presentation from a similar one I had used previously I adapted, re-worded, re-ordered according to my new audience I workshopped the presentation with a group of my peers – lots of wonderful feedback and a great opportunity for me to see the gaps in my preparation and thinking...
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Uncategorized

Future skills

It is reassuring to see the link between our endeavours as primary school teachers and ‘real life’.  Whilst I agree with the notion that school IS real life and not a dress rehearsal, there is no doubt our job is to try to equip our students to be able to handle the world beyond school.    This is getting increasingly difficult as our ability to forecast what that will look like is harder and harder with the ever increasing pace of change.  The Drivers for change and Future work skills listed in the infographic below are interesting and I think provide a good point for discussion. I have a university graduate daughter who is currently applying for a variety of jobs.  I watched with great interest as she was recently put through the hoops of an application process and wondered how our education system is preparing our students for this .  The recent process involved: An online application form.  These included a cover letter and  a current resume Participate in a video or phone interview A group interview participating in both group and individual activities Complete a behavioural based interview and 10 minute oral presentation. This process is rigorous and demanding...
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Blogs

You have a Class Blog – Now what?

  I spend a fair bit of time as an eLearning Coach talking to teachers and helping them set up class blogs.  This is a common and wonderful first step towards opening classrooms to the outside world, sharing practice, collaborating, modelling cybersafe behaviours, digital writing skills and much more.  The value of class blogs is the topic for another post and is well summarised by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano in the graphic above (if you want any further information on blogging Silvia’s blog should be your first stop!) . I have found that there is a point at which teachers struggle to move on – they learn the mechanics of blogging, most often making their blogs a wonderful showcase of classroom activities.  They get a small audience, mainly from parents and their local school community.  Then the enthusiasm wains as the feedback circle ceases or remains small.  They see blogging as an extra activity to their daily routine not one embedded into their practice which has clear purpose and direction. These are the ideas I then present : Use blog as a reflective tool.  Simple classroom activities where you take the last 5-10 minutes of the day to reflect on...
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Professional learning junkie or just curious?

I participate in all of the following types of learning opportunities.  Some may call me a junkie but I gain something from each, something different from each.  Each type has the added value of meeting members of your Professional network created through Social media face to face. The nature of the opportunities could be summarised as follows: Large scale conferences (eg EduTech, ISTE) Sponsors Keynotes – mainly Ed Guru types with a smattering of high profile current practicioners Programs and Trade Shows Largely big picture issues Open to all but limited by funds available   Industry Association Conferences (DLTV and ACEC2014) Sponsors One or two keynotes Most sessions run by practising teachers – practical Open to all but limited by funds available Lower cost ?   Teachmeets (Teachmeet Melbourne) For teachers by teachers Limited structure Free Mixture of practical skills and issues   School based Professional learning Inquiry Action research Practical – directly related to student outcomes Free Amongst colleagues Twitter / Google+ / Scootle Community  Personalised to my needs and interests Online – Any time, any where Creates a PLN Is one better than the other ?  I don’t think so, but I would not want to limit myself to...
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“Enjoy the unknown place for much, much longer. Stay in the question”

EduTECH 2014 I stand to be corrected, but I believe this quote was from Tom Barrett in his keynote focusing on Creativity.  It certainly applies to the way my brain has been working since I left the conference a number of days ago.  I am most certainly still in the question of “What can I take away from this conference and act on?” or “What impact can I have on making change?”.   My enjoyment of the unknown revolves around reading other peoples reflections and comments and mulling over the archives left by those who share so freely on Social media .  I feel quite certainly on the “Edge of chaos” Sugata Mitra’s concept when I try and connect the reality of our schools and the messages portrayed by Sir Ken, Ian Jukes and many others. Thanks to Sue Waters who curated many resources from the recent EduTech Conference in Brisbane in a wonderful Flipboard Magazine, I am now able to re-visit them whilst processing what I heard. All the speakers listed below exhibited the following Passion + Story telling skills + Experience = Captivating  Mark Hunter at EduTECH 2014 from EducationHQ on Vimeo. Ian Jukes on educating for...
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Blogs

Learning curve

In keeping with Pernille and Rafranz’s concept of sharing the good and the bad, I thought I would share some of the learning I have experienced whilst encouraging students to participate in the Student Blogging Challenge over the past few years (over 90 in 2014).  I have written previous posts sharing the highlights. Blogging will not appeal to all students – I have cajoled and encouraged a number of quite capable students who just do not ‘get -it’ at this stage in their lives.  By ‘get-it’ I mean they don’t share my enthusiasm for writing for an audience.   No amount of reinforcement will make them enthuse about blogging.  They may prefer to write in a paper journal or not at all. Following on from the first point, tech savvy does not equal keen blogger.  My most tech savvy students are often the hardest to get on-board with their own blogs.  I presume they have their own outlets for online expression. The idea of an authentic audience does not inspire all students to proof-read and edit.  The key is still elusive and seems to require way too much effort. Students make mistakes – posting a poorly thought out and quite...
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Uncategorized

Update : Student blogging challenge – 2 weeks in

I am thrilled with the progress and events of the past few weeks.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I have two groups, some with a little experience and some with no prior experience. Highlights have included : students taking the reins and being proactive – problem solving, finding their own purpose, developing an on-line identity and highlighting their unique skills, traits and interests mentors (teachers from other places who volunteer to support other students) providing a supportive presence and excellent role modelling for commenting beautiful interactions between students within classes, locally and globally by way of comments opportunities for ICT and cybersafety skills to be discussed and practised within a meaningful environment.  We have had a few instances which provided genuine teaching moments about cybersafe behaviours. the speed at which most students pick up the technicalities of embedding html code and the skills they demonstrated in sharing their skills tangible excitement about the writing process due to the connectivity created through this networking opportunity Sometimes these activities provide moments that affect the teachers more then our young students who are yet to see the full significance or have the global understandings required.  This week, one our our students, Gemma,...
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Blogs

Another round begins : Student Blogging Challenge

This year I am supporting almost 100 students (from 2 schools) who are participating in the Student Blogging Challenge organised by Sue Wyatt @tasteach.  This is the fourth challenge that I have been involved in but definitely the largest for me.  The challenge involves a series of 10 weekly tasks, posted on the blog which encourage interactivity as well as allowing students to respond in many different ways.   The students are supported by their teachers as well as a volunteer mentor who visits their blog at least twice to encourage their efforts. We are in the preparation stages and although all have been in classes with class blogs, I have students who represent the full gamut of experience with personal blogging: those who have never blogged before those who have had Kidblogs but are now learning a new platform (Global2) those who have participated in the Challenge before and are having another go Setting up new blogs for most students using the MyClass feature was straightforward but time consuming and then registering them all with the challenge followed.  I believe that participation in this challenge has the following benefits: active participation in a worldwide event and connecting with other...
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