Connected-Learning

Geography Walk meets TwitterTour

How often have you found a bug in the park and wondered what it is? Would you like to have the services of an entomologist at your immediate service?  Have you wondered what the street you are walking along looked like 40 years ago?  Your answers can be at your fingertips  Many teachers can relate to taking students on a neighbourhood walk.  Commonly they are trying to get students to notice things either from a scientific, geographic, civics or historical viewpoint.    Often we have used cameras or sketchbooks to record our observations. Today, I watched from a distance whilst a group of Year 3/4 students embarked on such a walk but they had an added value component planned.  Prior to the day, their teacher contacted Museum Victoria Education staff, responding to their #twittertour of Melbourne idea. What followed is detailed in the Storify below, but what I believe, is that the teachers have modelled a new way of learning to our students.  We have shown how we can seek information in a number of ways, that there are a number of sources of information and technology can enhance that in so many ways.  By making their learning and their questions visible they were challenged as well as informed to a far greater extent than a simple walk in the park may do.    Read the Storify to get the feeling of the interactions.  At their young age, they cannot use Twitter or most social media tools on their own but they are being modelled
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GoogleAppsForEd

Google Apps for Education

I have some renewed enthusiasm to curate useful resources for Google Tools in the classroom since the recent introduction of Chromebooks at my school.  So I have updated the Google site I began a while ago.    It is an area that is hard to keep up to date but  I find the process of collecting and organising the resources worthwhile as it makes me evaluate them and sort them and the fact that many resources are in the one place certainly helps me in my work. With so many tools at our fingertips, I am wondering where to start. Our students have already got their heads around Google Drive but as with all things there are many opportunities to learn.   I think I will ensure that they are introduced to the flexibility of Chrome as some immediate efficiency measures can be very worthwhile and quite engaging as well. https://sites.google.com/site/whygafe/home 
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Teaching

Decisions and moving forward

If you waited till you thought you had the absolute best answer, sometimes you would never make a decision. I watched today as the result of a long decision making process was rolled out – 1:1 Chromebooks for some students, 1:2 for others and shared Win8 tablets for others.   These are new devices supported by the existing ones and new Wireless.  This was the decision of a hard working group of teachers, students and parents when asked to consider the issue of enhancing the personalisation of learning through technology. Many schools when making choices about upgrading technology, leave the decision to a few ‘leaders’ – making well thought out but less consultative choices.  I am proud of the process we explored, which although time consuming provided a result that is considered, consultative and above all focussed on the needs of the teaching and learning and ultimately improved outcomes.  I don’t deny we may have made acceptable decisions without this process but I am extremely confident that the community understand this decision, it is justifiable and above all supported by all. Our process can be roughly summarised like this: Determine a need for change and define an ambition. In our case, “To investigate and identify devices to personalise the learning for students.” Form a representative team to lead the process and consult with other stakeholders – leadership, parents and students Carefully analyse the needs and possible pathways Investigate options – research, consult (this included vendors, other schools, alumni etc) Decide based on criteria from all
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Connected-Learning

Through my Window

I am always keen to find opportunities for our students to see themselves as learners in a wider context than their school.  As they grow, they will be connected in so many ways I could never have imagined 20 years ago.  So when we can find purposeful opportunities to enhance their learning and model the potential of connected learning I jump at it. Recently, we conducted a Mystery Skype and it reminded me of many years ago, before I began blogging and before I was very aware of the wonders of Web 2.0 when  I worked with a class on a collaborative project called “Through my Window”.  In 2009 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
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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 the month or so leading up, to consider a ‘Moonshot thinking’ exercise from our own context.  We were guided through many steps that had us thinking, questioning, giving feedback, re-thinking, ideating and then developing an idea through to an action.  Many people found connections between their ultimate Moonshot questions – in fact in reading them I
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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 I added, subtracted, tweaked content again I sought feedback from another colleague and made more adjustments according to wise feedforward I am finally prepared to present. I will probably write more once it is done – phew !
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Teaching

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 but not unusual in today’s competitive job market.  I obviously think about the young students we are working with, and the experiences that we give them and believe we are on the right track. Our students are experiencing the opportunity of working collaboratively toward common goals, working independently, interacting in online spaces, presenting their findings in a
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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 an activity and note the learning that has taken place – scribe the students words.  Openly create the post with the students (modelling writing and reflective language) creating a chronicle of their learning and hopefully their wonderings too – these conversations happen anyway – blogs allow you to record it and share it .    Using
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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 one type.  The mixture provides a blend of experiences that I value. What Professional Learning Opportunities do you value ? Why ?  
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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 the future from EducationHQ on Vimeo. Sir Ken Robinson at EduTECH 2014 from EducationHQ on Vimeo.  
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