Celia's reflections

.. on many varied things …

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Digicon15 – DLTV Annual Conference

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Code the Future – First steps

I was lucky IMG_0386enough to witness the initial stages of a Project that began as an idea at a StartUp weekend in Melbourne in November last year.  Code the Future aims to ‘connect developers with educators to help students learn how to code’.

It sounded like a good idea and personally having little confidence with the technical side of things I could see no down side to signing up.  Our school community are very open to connecting with people who can enhance our learning and here was another great opportunity.

My first contact with our mentor was excellent as immediately he had an idea that was raising the bar beyond the possibilities I had explored – suggesting we experiment with Arduino .  If nothing else was to be gained, his introduction to our students raised their awareness of an area of technology most take for granted.

My intention with this project within our school is that we will :

  • expose students to more facets of digital technologies
  • light some passion in certain students
  • connect to outside experts (extending the possibilities beyond our skillsets)
  • benefit from and demonstrate the power of volunteering
  • activate the Digital Technologies curriculum in a small way
  • allow the project to evolve organically
  • create an ongoing relationship with our mentor and maybe more to model to students the benefit of connecting
  • model to the students as teacher learn and problem solve alongside them
  • support particular students who thrive on these types of open ended activities
  • use a secure online space to share questions and learning

It is early days but seeing the excitement on certain little faces when the Starter kits arrived and were unpacked and checked out was a good indication that we are on to something good.

We established an Edmodo group and sent some kits home over the holidays – already the conversations have begun and I am once again struck by the power of connecting.  My role as a teacher is transformed by being the intermediary and I love it !

arduiono

Some of our student responses so far :

arduiono

Are you wondering about Arduino now ? Here is a short Introductory tutorial  and a cool example of what can be achieved :

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Affirmation

I have been lucky enough to speak to a number of teachers over the past few years to share my passion for blogging – professional, class and student.

This week I was preparing for another presentation, but this time, I am taking along some students with me.  The process of preparing our combined presentation was quite simple.  I shared a Google presentation with the students, we had a short discussion about what they would like to share and they divided roles.  They prepared their own sections and we came back together.

After I heard them talk through their ideas, the main messages they wanted to share, I realised that they had covered almost all the important points I do in my presentation.

What this means to me, is that our blogging program is successful, the students value it, enjoy it and can articulate how it impacts their learning.

Yeah!

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#YourEduStory Challenge

How do you infect students with a passion for learning?

I have had a few personal challenges recently that have highlighted a mantra I try to live by:

You can’t change anyone else’s behaviour, only your own

With that in mind, my response to this week’s prompt is to assess my own behaviour as a teacher and coach.

If I want my students and fellow teachers to have a passion for learning, do I have one myself?

Do I reflect that passion in my actions as well as my words?

I think that teachers who infect others with a passion for learning usually:

  • love learning themselves and are not afraid to show it
  • take risks – try out new ideas and see failure as a step in the learning process
  • actively and outwardly acknowledge the steps they take to learn
  • ask questions and listen to the answers provided which provide key guides for future actions
  • share their learning – not only at the end of a process but throughout to show progression, hurdles, achievements
  • find opportunities to connect to their learners on a personal basis.  This connects closely to creating relationships, the topic of a previous challenge.  Understanding their students is vital.

This post is a response to the #YourEduStory Blogging Challenge  by @msventurino.  I am working on the theory that if I do the current challenge you may not notice the missing ones from the weeks before ;) 

 

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Networks : Connecting our learners

YourEduStoryThe #YourEduStory challenge for this week is What is connected learning and WIIFM?”  (WIIFM = What’s in it for me?) and I realised that I had an unpublished post from 2013 (among many others) that could partially address this topic.

 

In 2013, I wrote:

As our world of information overload expands, the use of our networks is getting more and more valuable.  Happily accepting that we cannot answer all questions, but that we can help our learners (whether students or teachers)  connect with someone who can, is an important mindset of a modern teacher and learner. I gain solace when I am able to connect people, use my online or face to face Professional Learning network (PLN) and say “I don’t know anything about that, but I just might know someone who does !”

I am grateful for the people in my network and I believe the power of these connections is hugely amplified when we each act as ‘nodes’ or connectors to each others networks.  On Twitter I regularly see people requesting information from their PLN as they are trusted sources and people willing to help.

My experience indicates that many of our students have yet to see or be exposed to the value or purpose in networking beyond their school environment.  We often read that they are already using the power of networks in their social lives, in online games etc but schools are not mirroring this activity.

School must embrace this and model the value of connecting. Class and student blogs, class Twitter accounts, Edmodo, shared Google documents etc, are some of the wonderful vehicles for this connection.   Recently one of our students published her work from a Positive Education program on her blog, another school picked it up and used her content for class discussion.  The excitement from the young blogger was palpable – she was contributing to other students learning and they were adding value to hers.

Relevant and timely exposure to the value of connecting as learners will provide our students with essential skills.  

That was 2 years ago and it still stands.  In a few hours at work last week, I spent time getting the nuts and bolts sorted so that our students have access to their own blogs, their Google Apps for Ed accounts, Edmodo accounts.  It was tedious administration but vital to exposing them to this type of learning.

The ‘What’s in it for me?” question is partly a no-brainer as Heather so well describes but also a bit awkward.  The essence of being connected implies a mutual benefit – sometimes the balance goes one way more than another, but we are more in to the “What’s in it for us?”

Reading Nancy’s response to this prompt, I connected in numerous ways to her story and in particular to “These connections did not happen accidentally.”   Like any relationship, they have to be worked on, cultivated and allow to mature and change.

 

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Learning shared … in different ways

Neetz 365   A year in the mind of AnitaI am proud to say that I have a decent relationship with my daughters aged 19 and 22.  We chat, share laughs, discuss issues and disagree like any fairly normal mother-daughter relationship.  I accept that my children as they mature pick the pieces of their lives and thoughts that they want to share with their parents, just as I did with mine.

My 22 year old has been a writer all her life – words have been her friend: spoken, read, written and sung.  She has, in fact recently, begun a career using these skills in a Marketing Communications role.  A rich blessing I will say has been passed on from her grand-mother who in her later years shared many musings in the written form.  She has dabbled in blogging for a number of years and I always enjoy the conversations that often lead to a post as well as the end result. 

When someone writes, they often expose themselves in different ways than they would in spoken language and this is never more true than in the recent days when my 19 year old has begun a blog – challenging herself to post each day. When I read her posts feels like I am getting to know her in a different way.  I am seeing a side of her that I admit I had not acknowledged or recognised earlier.  Perhaps it is a result of maturity and a bit of life experience but it is definitely providing an interesting read : enlightening in many ways.

It makes me think about our classrooms and the importance of providing our students with a variety of outlets for expressing themselves, sharing their learning and expressing themselves.  Sometimes, they may not be ready to use a tool in way they may later in their lives but they will learn along the way nevertheless. Our students should be invited to write on paper, in a journal, sketch, write a blog post, draw, paint, record a podcast, prepare a speech, compose a song, write an essay and any other format you can think of.

Our students, like my daughter, may surprise you if given the chance.  The teacher role in this is exposing them to a variety of media, digital and non-digital : many of these ideas will not be in their toolkit unless they are introduced to them. Many will suit them at some times and for some purposes but not for all.

In the meantime, I will keep enjoying the glimpse into the other side of my girl !

 

 

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Technology bashing

I am getting a bit tired of the fear mongering and rhetoric going on around the use of technology both in schools and in the wider community.

I, for one, have never said that technology use should replace ALL other activities, that pen and paper have been superceded by a superior force.  I have actually never heard anyone even tech evangelists suggest such a thing.

Nevertheless, I find myself constantly hearing and reading Warnings about the potential harm of too much screen time.   Listening to teachers who seem to glow with relief when someone says “It’s not all about technology” and almost outwardly heaving a sigh of relief that the role of tech is challenged.   Current affair television thrive on articles about research showing how family lives are being harmed by over use of technology and communication tools.   I almost shout at the TV to say “Where are the parents, the teachers who should be setting BOUNDARIES, producing opportunities for BALANCE and supporting their students or children in PURPOSEFUL use?”

I am left wondering why people have this resistance and I assume it is a fear or a definite discomfort with change.  The media certainly thrive on any opportunity to spout the ‘Technology is evil’ campaign. A friend brought this brilliant blog post to my attention :

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Crowley debunks the fear mongering and explains the situation as part of evolution.  Mark Crowley concludes:

There can be no question but that technology can provide the potential for isolation, for synthetic relationships, for a sedentary lifestyle, an anxiety-ridden social existence, a failure to focus, concentrate, and engage. But surely this is a worst-case scenario conception of technology without balance, without thoughtful schools, informed, engaged parents? An education system that emphasises the need to be cultured as well as educated, well-read as well as literate, articulate as well as able to skim, physically healthy as well as mentally engaged … surely an individual in this context will only benefit from the interactive tools of contemporary technology to allow them to create, design, persuade and engage? Yes, perhaps our brains will be rewired in the process, but isn’t that what the brain has always done throughout history? Perhaps Feifer sums it up best: “Our brains changed to meet the challenge of driving cars. They changed so we could dance to recorded music. Now we are witnessing more change, and our brains will change again. Yes, change can be scary. But it’s what we’re built for.”

Perhaps, I take it too personally as my job involves trying to get technology used in thoughtful, purposeful ways and I am affronted by people who cling to the negativity, inferring I might not be making judicious decisions.  I rarely, if ever see teachers using technology because they are mandated, they always make wise, considered choices about where it will enhance the learning.  Is the negativity a band-wagon that will have its’ day?  I hope so.  

Ferriter : https://www.flickr.com/photos/plugusin/5333410499/

Ferriter : https://www.flickr.com/photos/plugusin/5333410499/

 

 

 

 

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Learning in 100 words

This #EduStory Challenge is “Define “learning” in 100 words or less”

So I ‘Googled’ it and that provided the expected vocabulary:

learning

 I then thought about what learning means to me and these words came to mind:

I am going to cheat and not try and put them in a sentence and I am sure more will come to mind. Perhaps one day, I could put them in a coherent and inspirational sentence or two like Steve did.   Our school term has just begun and I am swimming in Admin tasks to make all the learning possible. !

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Teachers

This week’s #YourEduStory prompt is “How are you, or is your approach, different than your favourite teacher?”.  I admit I struggled with this one and was interested to read that many others did too.  It has however made people think about the qualities of their favourite teacher, so I think I will stay with that idea and perhaps the differences will stand out.

My favourite teachers were people who:

  • were not afraid to show their personal side. They connected on a personal level – made an effort to know their students well.  They acknowledged the individuals in their class and acted accordingly.
  • were knowledgeable but not ‘know-it-alls’.  They had sufficient skills and knowledge to guide and direct but not lecture.
  • were just.  This was a vital trait as there were many who were not and that stuck out as my most negative feeling about schooling.  Teachers who punished a whole class for the actions of one or two made me angry and upset and unfortunately it was a common method. Perhaps I am showing my age on this point.

I could not say it better than Steve, who highlights relationships:

When I think back to those moments in my life where a teacher had an impact, it is never really an ‘aha’ moment that pops up but a hand held out just at the right time. I believe myself to be a teacher who does the same. Teaching is not about content but about taking the journey with young people and building rich relationships.

and Andrew who explains how each of us are the result of combining our experiences

I stole and adapted elements from each into my own “teacher persona” – that conglomeration of influences that make us all who we are in the classroom…….And from all of them, I learned the importance of creating a family in the classroom: how difficult that is, and how magical it is when it happens.

I hope I am not too different from my favourite teachers.  I know I have opportunities that they did not have but in the end the crux as Steve said is about relationships and that has not changed.

My personal issue with a job that does not give me much time face to face with students or the teachers that I work with is how to ensure the relationships are strong.

 

 

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How will you make the world a better place?

#YourEduStory Week 2

How will you make the world a better place?

My first reaction is the pragmatic response – I can’t change the world.  Then of course I keep thinking and know that I can change a small corner of it even if it comes down just changing me.

I was lucky enough to hear Annie Parker speak about Entrepreneurial tips last year and one point she made was to celebrate small wins – don’t wait to you have changed the world, but accept and be grateful for minor successes.

Today I received a gratifiying reply to a comment I left on an ex-student’s blog.  He has just left our school and during the break between primary school and high school took the effort to transfer his old blog contents to a new place (required by our system) .  Jonathan was a keen blogger and in Years 5 & 6 showed a flair for writing posts that helped others understand some of the technical elements of technology we were using at school.  He was self motivated, encouraging and showed flair.

I am happy a celebrate the small success here. At least this student and perhaps a few others have been introduced to an activity that they see value in, a place where they can  contribute and share.  Who knows what will happen – I too look forward to what Jonathan will write as he gets older.

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So I have not changed the world, just a little corner of it and I did not do that on my own either. The other teachers who work with our students are all part of the puzzle.  All too often teachers do not see the immediate results of our interactions with students but as Teresa wrote “I teach” and therefore I change the world in a number of ways, allbeit sometimes small, nevertheless good.

YourEduStory

This post is part of the Blogging Challenge #Your EduStory and here are two other responses to the same topic for other perspectives – Enjoy!

Aaron Davis and Shawn White