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My 211 Happenings!

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Well. Here we go. What will 2011 hold for me? What are my aims and goals and challenges?

I must say that I am looking forward to this year. I have a number of things that I have in the pipe works in which I am greatly looking forward to. This year will see me teaching Year 9 for the first time in my teaching career. Not that I see this a challenge as I have been fortunate enough to teach the same cohort of students the past two years. Rather than being a generalist class teacher as I have been in the past, I will be teaching two ICT based Discovery Units (Electives) covering two areas I am very interested in.

Game Based Learning has certainly grabbed the attention of educators in the last 18 months and had been a proven hit for those educational settings that have trialed the teaching of this. I look forward to investigating through inquiry why games, video games in particular, are so popular and how they are created. Students will also be given the chance to create their own basic games and to then share these with others. People such as @adrian_camm have been somewhat of an inspiration for me after hearing him speak about game based learning at the recent Ulearn10 Conference in Christchurch. Adrian’s Games In Education Wiki can be found HERE.

The other Discovery that I will undertaking will be titled ‘Digital Media Creation’. This will involve my students looking at film and how technology assists in the creation of certain programs. My students will investigate how films are made, primarily documentaries, and put in to action the creation of storyboards, working with audio and various techniques as well as investigating lighting and trouble shooting lighting issues. I have a core group of budding IT Savvy students who are keen to get involved in this and I greatly look forward to rolling with this.

Another large part of my role for this year will be to Peer Coach staff at my College. Working closely with staff and assisting them as much as I can in regards with implementing ICT in to their teaching and learning programs is something which I enjoy and through the ICT Peer Coaching Professional Learning that I undertook in 2010, I feel I have a great grounding to really set some great Peer Coaching in practice.

The 1:1 MacBook and iPad Trails that I coordinate are certainly two things that I am deeply passionate about! Having seen our Secondary students grow in to the excellent Digital Learners that they are today and to witness the great things they are able to create on their MacBooks is outstanding. The iPad trial also with our Year 6 cohort has been a revelation at our College and has paved the way in opening the eyes of parents, staff and other students in just how valuable mobile technology is and how beneficial it can be.

Teaching teachers and sharing my experiences is also something I look forward to in 2011. I look forward to presenting at several conferences and have already been booked in for a few! Sharing the experiences of our iPad trial and our 1:1 MacBook program are always great fun.

So there. I am sure there are another 24 things I have failed to mention and there will be zero shortage of things to be done in 2011 but, if I didn’t enjoy it, I would do it!

2010 Comes To A Close!

Apple Winter Holiday Mac Christmas Leopard

What a year! A year which promised so much for myself and the College i am part of and having just about all of those promises come to fruition!

This was my first year in a role that saw me out of a classroom full time since i began teaching WAY back in 2003! Being given the eLearning Coordinator/ICT Leading Teacher gig was a major highlight for me personally at the end of 2009 and then to put that role and its responsibilities in to action this year was a great learning opportunity for myself. I reflect back along the course of this year and think that there are so many more things that perhaps i could of achieved but maybe that is setting expectations somewhat high for myself.

Managing ICT at such a fast growing College, one which is set to be the largest single campus P-12 in Victoria, certainly will have it’s challenges, some of which i have already met and conquered is part and parcel if the role i am in. Technology is an area the generally people love or hate because it either works for them, or it doesn’t. The main responsibility i am assigned with is to help people see the light! Help them to integrate ICT in to their teaching and learning practices and to make other educator realise that technology is a tool to be used and embraced, not shunned.

I had the opportunity to not only attend, but to also present at several outstanding Professional Learning sessions throughout the year and these made a huge difference in how i went about my new role. ACEC 2010, ITSE10, VITTA 2010 and Ulearn10 were all sensational outings in which i learnt a great deal from. I heard some amazing keynoters speak, people whom i had heard of, yet never heard speak, or, in some instances meet and converse with in person or even have dinner with! Marco Torres, Steve Wheeler, Gary Stager, Lee Crocket, Sylvia Martinez, and Stephen Heppell just to name a few. Amazing educational minds with even more amazing educational thoughts to share.

Being involved in and coordinating the DEECD iPads for Learning Trial was also a major highlight this year. Being one of nine schools in the State to be selected was great news for our College and would, and has, complimented our excellent ICT programs we currently have running. The 100 iPads being placed in our Yr 5 cohort as well as 10 more for our Specialist Learning House certainly placed us on the map for IT Innovations. The iPads have been a revelation in our College and it was not until recently in the trial that the staff and students really started to demonstrate just how powerful the iPad as a Mobile Technological Device could be in an Education setting. I will certainly keep you posted on all of the happenings relating to this trial!

Next year i am very much looking forward to Peer Coaching. I am looking forward to assisting staff where i can in integrating ICT in to their teaching and learning practices. A great part of this i am sure will be the learning that i will undergo throughout this process. I am sure that i will learn just as much from those that i am Peer Coaching with as perhaps, fingers crossed, that they learn from me!

The learning that i witnessed throughout the year from the students who had ICT firmly embedded in to their daily practices was astounding and i am mainly talking about here students involved in our 1:1 MacBook Program. The students have developed so far over the course of the year, especially our Yr 8 students who started off with their MacBooks last year in the program. The work that all our Yr 7 and 8 students have developed has been excellent. The movies and creative flare that has been shown was by no means lacking. Students used a wide array of applications and software on their Macs such as iMovie, Comic Life, and Garage Band just to name a few!

Overall it has been a year of many learning curves. I am greatly looking forward to 2011 and what it holds! I will be teaching two Yr 9 Discovery Units, Media Creation and Game Based Learning, assisting all staff with their Ultranet endeavours, coordinating the last 12 months of the iPad Trial, as as i have mentioned Peer Coaching fellow staff! I am also booked in already to present at specific conferences next year which i enjoy immensely also!

Have a great Christmas and New Year, and thanks for taking interest in what i have to share!

Cheers!

ICT Peer Coaching PL

On Wednesday I participated in my last ICT Peer Coaching Professional Learning Session for the year. It was a little surreal as the the PL had been ran over 5 sessions consisting of whole and half days. the information that I gained from this was excellent and certainly the knowledge that I learnt i know i will utilise.

My AP, Helen Otway, ran the PL Sessions and did a great job in doing so! Helen has an expansive knowledge in ICT and has been involved in  some great teaching and learning initiatives. We had a number of visitors from surrounding College’s and Schools attend. There were a mix of educators ranging from Accomplished Teachers, to ICT Leading Teachers and eLearning coordinators and even other Assistant Principals.

One of the highlights that came from the PL sessions was the discussion that was derived from what we were all there for, ICT, Peer Coaching, and 1:1 computing. Having the chance to talk, share and discus al things ICT with others from outside of your own school setting is a great opportunity.

The final session of the ICT Peer Coaching PL had us investigating a great topic in relation to ICT Peer Coaching but ICT in general: Roadblocks!

roadblock

As a group we spoke about what Roadblocks we encounter in our own settings. The responses were wide and varied and these responses can be viewed HERE.

We also looked at a ‘mock’ roadblock situation and the steps involved in tackling such issues.

You can view the document that we investigated below:

1. Sample Coaching Roadblock

From the Roadblocks discussion we then discussed Trust and what it means as a coach to trust and be trusted. We looked at the diagram below and spoke about the importance of building strong relationships with the person that you are Peer Coaching alongside.

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Overall, the 5 sessions that i attended were excellent. The sessions were relevant, engaging and prompted a massive amount of discussion which is always valuable. For anyone who is looking to begin ICT Peer Coaching in their setting i urge you to look at the ICT Peer Coaching Link and investigate the great material that Helen had put together!

2010 VITTA Conference!

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Last Monday I had the opportunity to present with a Colleague, Honey Stirling, at the 2010 VITTA Conference at Caulfield Racecourse, Melbourne. We were asked to present on our participation in the DEECD iPads for Learning Trial and our journey so far. We also had 4 marvellous students attend to share their knowledge and thoughts on the iPads also and how the iPad assisted their learning.

We had a great turn out and thank you to all those people who were interested and came along to hear what we had to share!

The session started off with myself sharing what the DEECD iPad Trial we are involved in allowed and how we were integrating these great devices in to our teaching and learning programs. You can view the presentation as well as several other links links on my Presentation Page as part of the VITTA Conference here: Corrie Barclay .

Honey then went on to explain the many and varied ways in which she integrates the iPads in to her teaching and learning program. Honey explained the many App’s that she uses with her students and went through with the participants several examples of the Application uses.

The wonderful students who had attend also got up on to the big stage and shared the App’s they loved using and how they used them in their learning!

We had some terrific feedback from a lot of the people who attended which makes the Presenting at Conferences such as VITTA 2010 such a great experience!

Digital Pedagogy

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Scot Aldred

I’m back. Finally. It’s been a while.

Yesterday i was lucky enough to meet Scot Aldred, a Lecturer from the University of Queensland. Scot was down in Victoria to deliver a report on a study that he had conducted on PBL (Problem Based Learning). Whilst down our way he also had the opportunity to visit several schools and was put on to us by Steve Boyle, our Regional Network Leader with whom Scot had done some previous work with.

Scot obviously had a passion for Problem based Learning and Digital Pedagogy and it was great to hear his views on both of these things in which we at the College also have a passion for. I took Scot on a tour of the College and primarily focused on our 1:1 laptop program  in year 7 and 8 areas as well as the DEECD iPads for Learning Trial which we are involved in with our year 5 cohort.

As we walked through the Learning Spaces he made reference to the way in which our 1 year old learning houses were set up and how they allowed for that teacher and student interaction, mainly from class to class. Scot spoke about another school had visited that week, Silverton PS, and it’s excellent teaching and learning set up where up to 4 teachers look after and share 4 classes in an open plan learning house. At Manor Lakes we try to replicate that within our own Learning Houses and it has been great to see our staff open to the idea of team teaching in more flexible learning areas.

Once we had reached our year 5 classes Scot was impressed to just how engaged our students were with their iPads in hand! It was great to see just how focused the students were and the ways in which they were working. We saw students at tables, on the floor in small groups with their teacher, working individually on the floor, and in pairs around the room. All students appeared to be on task and even once the bell for recess had gone the student continued to work on! That was impressive and a credit to both themselves and their teachers.

Scot and i then spent some time talking about various online tools which we had both utilised to foster Digital Pedagogy and Digital Learners. Scot showed me an excellent ePortfolio Tool called Mahara. He showed me just how he himself uses this tool as well as how it can be used as a Student ePortfolio as well. Something i am certainly going to have to investigate further. Another tool which we looked at was SPARK. A tool for self and peer assessment where students can anonymously assess their peers against what a peer has assessed them self. This appeared to be a great tool and Scot mentioned that he would be trialling this and would keep me informed of it’s progress.

After Scot had left and we had said our farewells it made me think of the Digital Pedagogy happening our my College and if this could be improved and of course the answer, as i imagine it would in most schools, was yes. This led me to the recent Peer Coaching Professional Learning that i was undertaking and how this could assist me in improving Digital pedagogy at Manor Lakes College!  I’ll keep you posted!

Heavy or Light?

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Last week i participated in the 3rd session of my ICT Peer Coaching Professional Learning. It was great to catch up with those that i had been attending with and seeing where they had got to within there schools in relation to embedding ICT Peer Coaching.

The first step of the day was to investigate on a breif note were each of the schools were at in relation to creating a ‘School Agreement’. This involved answering specific criteria as to why ICT Peer Coaching was identified as a strategy in your current school/college/educational setting. Issues that we were asked to consider were;

  1. School Goals, Vision and Priorities
  2. Professional Learning approaches which already exist in your setting
  3. Current Professional Learning needs of staff
  4. School and Individual Professional Learning plans
  5. The role of the school Leadership in supporting a Peer Coaching Program

The afore mentioned document that we all used can be found here – School Support Agreement

The following part of the PL was a great idea and a bit of fun, not to say that the PL itself was not enjoyable to attend! We were asked how we were going to inform out staff/college/school of ICT Peer Coaching and what that involved. We were given 45-60 minutes to create something which would, in my own eyes, sell the whole idea of ICT Peer Coaching.

Of those that participated we had a wide range of creative responses which was fantastic to see. People were collaborating, working individually, working in pairs, and using a wide range of Technology to create and share their work. There were wikis created via PB Works and Wikispaces, brochures were created via Microsoft Publisher, iMovie Creations (my choice) and Videos via the use of Flip Video Cameras. As a group we were asked to share and view out wonderful creations and all were great! I have attached my creation below! Enjoy!

The majority of the afternoon had us all investigating Communication strategies which involved looking at 4 key areas or skills if you like. These being below:

Active Listening: Attend fully to speaker, lock out competing thoughts, lean forward, and pause before responding

Active listening means that you are monitoring and controlling your behavior and attending to the conversation

Strive to pause for 5-10 seconds after someone finishes speaking. Pausing allows time for the speaker to think. This is also a good way to model thoughtfulness.

Paraphrasing:

Restate what was said to indicate acceptance, encouragement, and understanding. Establish a relationship, avoid “I”.

Paraphrasing can create a safe environment for thinking. It says, I am trying to understand you, and therefore I value what you have to say. Paraphrasing can help to establish a relationship between you and participating teachers.

The I statement signals that what the speaker is thinking no longer matters and that the paraphraser is going to insert his or her own ideas into the conversation.

Clarifying Questions:

Add clarity to the conversation, are factual questions, help the speaker to be more specific, are straightforward questions that don’t require a lot of thought to answer.

Examples of Clarifying Questions: How did you present the information? How many students were there? Were students working in groups?

Probing Questions:

Push the speaker to think more deeply about a topic, are often prefaced by a paraphrase, don’t carry a solution (better if the questioner doesn’t have the answer), are questions that help focus the speaker rather than satisfying coach’s curiosity.

We were put through several gruelling short sessions of buddying up and holding specific conversations with another person. I use the word gruelling as i never realised just how difficult it is to fully concentrate on someone who is speaking. The eye contact. The trying, with absolute pain, to not fidget or look away. Busting my gut not to butt-in and ask questions and respond! And that was just the first minute! We also investigated our own ability to prompt and respond via the two types of questing listed above, clarifying and probing. This was such a worthwhile and beneficial activity and gave emphasis to the importance of having excellent communication skills whilst being a Peer Coach.

To assist us with the above we were given ‘Communication Cue Cards‘ to assist us with our questioning and probing techniques. You can find these Linked above.

The above all stemed from article we were asked to read entitled ‘Are you Coaching, Heavy or Light? This was a great article which posed some very deep thinking about the ways in which peer coaching can occur. The two models, light and heavy, were very different and both had their pros and cons, in my eyes. The article stated that as one who is involved in peer coaching progresses, they should eventually end up as a heavy type coach. i disagreed with this and felt that their could be a balance between the two.

Visit the ICT Peer Coaching Discussion Link here to read what the other coaching participants though about the article.

The end of the Peer Coaching Day saw us looking at examples of student work and investigating what we thought the benefits of having students completing such rich ICT tasks involved. We were asked to view the examples of student work and copmpare them, or tick off if you like, what criteria te students and their completed work had met on the following Learning Activity Checklist. One student example we looked at can be found here.

I will be sure to keep you all posted on the future happenings of the ICT Peer Coaching Sessions.

Cheers!

P.L. Workshops!

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This evening at my College we ran our first ever Professional Learning Workshops in replace of our more traditional staff meeting, and from what staff were saying afterwards, it was appeared to be a great success!

Staff were given the option to attend two half hour workshops, which were being presented by other staff who wanted to share their own knowledge in particular areas. We had workshops covering all major curriculum areas such as ICT, Numeracy, Literacy, PBS (Behaviour management) and Science just to name a few. Staff were asked to access a Google Doc in which they were to choose their preferences. This doc also told them what the PL Workshop was about as well as who was presenting.

On a personal level, I decided to share with staff one of the fantastic breakout sessions that i attended at Ulearn10 in Christchurch two months ago, the Apple sMACdown! All things, and several not, Apple related! I ran through with staff exactly what the presenters ran through at Ulearn and you yourself can see all of this excellent teaching and learning content here at the sMACdown site!

It was great to able to show my staff great tips and hints to use on their MacBooks and see them putting these in to action. Simple tricks such as zooming in on a screen (hold Ctrl+scroll up with two fingers) and taking selected screen shots of anything that is on the screen (Command+Shift+4) were great tools which were new to most staff! It is great to watch the thrill that adults get out of learning new things and doing them right away!

As the presenters at Ulearn were sharing their great hints and tips, those attending were also required to share their great tools and knowledge as well via Wallwisher, the sMACdown wall can be found HERE. Feel free to add to the site if you wish! The more teaching and learning ideas the better!

The second session that i attended was based on Web 2.0 tools. This session was ran by to colleagues, kate and Sam, who also went to, and presented at, Ulearn with me. Kate and Sam have created a Blog based on all things Web 2.0, titled Web20hyeah!

Kate and Sam took us through several great Web 2.0 tools which they are currently using within their class such as AMAP, Jog the Web, Wallwisher and Simple Diagrams.

If you have not ran a Professional Workshop session like this at your educational setting, i strongly encourage you to do so, or at least, push those who have control in doing so… in to doing so! It is an excellent way for staff to choose what professional learning suits their needs as a teacher.

I will certainly be keeping you all posted on how staff have further responded to these sessions in the coming days!

Thank for reading!

Kahootz 3!

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This evening i held my second ‘Tech Day Thursday’ for the staff at my College based on the 3D Animation software ‘Kahootz‘. This software was developed by the Australian Children’s Television Association and allows students to “…to create amazing stories, inventions, habitats, games, movies and soundtracks.” The great thing about the Kahootz software is that students can create all of these things in a 3D Environment.

In a previous school i had used the Kahootz software very successfully with various year levels ranging from year 1 students to year 6 students. I had students creating digital stories, animation based recounts in literacy, and the beginning of 3D game creations.

The sessions i held for staff last week and then tonight, were about introducing them to the features of the Kahootz software and how to use it themselves. We looked at importing worlds and objects in to their expressions (animation files), how to swatch these worlds and objects (change colour and background appearance) as well as how to move and animate the objects placed in a world and the world itself.

The third session that i will hold on Kahootz will demonstrate to staff how they can utilise Kahootz within their classrooms. How they can use this software to compliment the already great things that they are doing by incorporating this great ICT software.

The Kahootz site, linked above, contains excellent teaching resources which can be used with students of just about any age, which is another great feature of this software. Once students have completed their expressions and animations they then have the ability to export what they have created as an AVI or MP4 file to be viewed as a movie so that their work can be easily shared.

If you are not a Kahootz user, i encourage you to take a look at this software , which can be operated on both Mac and PC systems.

2 examples of work that i have completed with year 1 students are below. The students were asked to create a world in which they would like to visit, and these two examples, are a small snippet of what was created! Very interesting! (They are small files as when originally exported they were a little too large to embed)… None the less, Enjoy!

Ben’s World

Travis’ World

Book Trailers 4 Learning!

Book Trailer

Recently my year 8 students have been writing Narrative based stories with a focus on the horror genre. We had spent quite a bit of time in class discussing what makes a horror story and the features that are needed to be included to give the audience that sense of fear. We investigated traditional horror literature as well as film and what made the examples we looked at ‘scary’? What was it that classified them as a horror genre?

Once the students had completed their Narratives we wanted to take their narrative to another level. The one idea that came to the forefront was from our wonderful College librarian, Tye, who suggested students create their own book trailers. What a great way to involve ICT skills in to a literacy lesson. It was interesting to notice that all of my students had never seen a book trailer before, however all were familiar with movie trailers! Surprising? Hardly. 😉

Tye ran through with the students several excellent, and not so excellent, examples of book trailers. We spoke about and discussed the positives and negatives of the trailers that were viewed as well as what features of them made them great, and not so!

From here students moved forward by storyboarding their own Book Trailer ideas by selecting the main points, plots and happenings from their narratives. Students had to think hard about what visual images were going to be placed in their trailer, what backing music was to be included, if any as well as any special effect sounds. Once i was happy with the storyboards that the students had created they were then asked to create their trailer. Students were also given the responsibility to move throughout the College to film as well as create their own sound recordings if they wished. Students were also encouraged to create their own music via Garage Band as to not have any issues of Copyright.

The result… EXCELLENCE! Having viewed book trailers which had budgets of $13K, i am most proud to say that what my students created were outstanding!

I encourage you to view these trailers for yourself! You can find what has been uploaded so far on Tye’s Blog, The Book Gryffin. Click on this link ‘Student made Book Trailers‘ and away you go!

Thanks and happy viewing!

ICT Peer Coaching

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Recently i attended the first two days of a five day Peer Coaching Course being ran in my region. The focus being placed on ICT Teachers and Leaders Peer Coaching and Mentoring other staff in a school setting to implement ICT practices.

The Peer Coaching Mission, to implement a 21st Century professional development model to enhance standards-based instruction through engaged learning and technology integration, was discussed and as a group we spoke about the need for not only Peer Coaching in ICT, but all major curriculum areas.

Being somewhat new to the Peer Coaching and Mentoring scenario, more so as a Leading Teacher in my educational setting, it was great to hear the philosophy and pedagogy behind the mission above. It was interesting to hear the thoughts of those who attended on what they thought ‘Peer Coaching’ was. We completed a mind mapping activity via http://www.text2mindmap.com which allowed us to express our thoughts through creating an online mind map, or cluster web. Several of these have been posted on the Peer Coaching Wiki, the link is at the bottom of the post.

We also spoke about what Professional Learning/Development that we had attended which had made a difference to us and our teaching practices. We undertook several professional readings, one being the K-12 Horizon Report, which contained excellent readings relating to ICT Practices in Education. I have attached this report here and i highly recommend you have a look through it if you have not already done so!

2010-Horizon-Report-K12

The second day looked at investigating how Peer Coaches in educational settings are chosen and what there specific roles are. We also spoke about the Coaching Cycle, shown here:

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and  how to implement and determine what is required by Peer Coaches and those that they are working along side. The last step of the day was to begin to develop a School Agreement Plan to determine the likes of the Background and rationale of the Peer Coaching Program, which members of staff may be involved in the program, and how the overall process will work.

For more information on the Peer Coaching Program, please visit the Wiki, the link is below. It contains the course outlines as well as all relevant documents that we used throughout the first two days.

Wyndham Network Peer Coaching Program Wiki: http://wyndhampeercoaching.wikispaces.com/