You can lead a horse…

http://bigseadesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/horse.jpe

http://bigseadesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/horse.jpe

We speak so often about the need to differentiate, personalise, and scaffold our teaching programs to our students to ensure that what is being taught is done so in a way that engages, enhances and gives purpose for the students at their particular point of learning need.

I am a big believer in building teacher capacity in a variety of ways which of course then has a direct flow on effect for the learners that a particular teacher is responsible for. Being in a role that oversees the effective use use of technology across 1900 students and 220 staff is, well, a large role, however one that is supported by a host of staff whose own skill sets and capabilities in using technology to support learning is outstanding. Those supportive staff have a particular drive and passion for continual self improvement that they are very willing to share with those around them and that is the difference that sets them apart.

I am a large believer that professional learning for teachers must be invested in heavily by schools if education is to progress in that particular setting. The challenge I find is that some settings do not either place a high enough focus towards this, do it in a way which is the opposite to what we should be doing, as mentioned earlier with our own students, that being said, providing a professional learning culture amongst staff that disengages, does not enhance capacity and has little to no purpose. The other issue I see is professional learning being driven based on the needs of the college or school, and not the staff, and there is a very large difference between the two.

I am pleased to say that I have attended some absolutely outstanding professional learning in my time. PL that has been engaging and had me thinking and challenging my own pedagogical practices and educational paradigms. PL that has been hands on with a focus on creativity and innovation and thinking in ways that I would perhaps normally not. I feel that these professional learning events were, and are rare. My recent trips via Apple to the ADE Institutes in Bali and San Diego, as well as attending the GTA in Sydney in 2011 certainly were (rare) examples of the above. The focus on these accounts were teachers becoming the learning and learning at points of need. Teachers knowing their own strengths and weaknesses and building their professional learning around these.

Recently I have delivered alot of professional learning to educators both within and certainly without of my college setting. This is something that I really enjoy and is a great part of my role. The fact that I can model lessons for other staff, assist them through planning processes, observe and deconstruct taught lessons as well as deliver more formal means of PL all allow me to assist in the building of teacher capacity. I think, or believe for the most part, I am very good at this. I am passionate about working with staff and it is this passion which drives me going forward. There are times that I have delivered professional learning that has not been wholly effective however and I have used these few experiences to better my own capabilities for future scenarios.

In saying all of the above I am keen to determine how I can better, or… be more effective at building teacher capacity. Does this comes down to the way in which I present and run professional learning, or am I needing to focus more upon inspiring staff before I worry about adding to their skill sets?

Regardless, I feel that I am needing to get more of a ‘buy in’ from staff to better and further improve their own practice. The image below sums it best.

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Finding the time to run professional learning in a teacher’s, or teaching team’s hectic schedule can be very difficult. What is not difficult unfortunately is finding excuses to not run the professional learning. A personal goal from here forward is to ensure I keep working hard in supporting staff to build their own pedagogy no matter the focus, or lack of time. What will go a long in supporting this is that ‘buy-in’ from staff to want to improve. A want and desire to better their practice to ensure that they are delivering the highest quality teaching and learning programs that they can offer.

You could say that I will not force the horse to water if it is not thirsty. Teaching reluctant learners does not improve when I force content upon them. What does work however is finding ways in which to engage and hook them into wanting to learn and to improve… and this is my (exciting) challenge.

Watch. This. Space.

#ADE2014

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I first caught wind of a 20th Anniversary ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) Institute towards the end, if not after, my initial induction in to the ADE world following my the Institute I attended in Bali in April 2013.

After having experienced Bali alongside 300 other educators from all over South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, I was intrigued as to how another ADE Institute could top what I had experienced thus far. I had heard other ADE’s talk of their experiences in Cork, Ireland, a year beforehand and how that Institute was an experience for the ages!

Now usually my posts rant and rave and 200 words turn into 2000. I promise this will not be the case. 😉 As much difficulty as I am having in attempting to review what certainly was an amazing week, I am wanting to do that week justice but being conscience, to the point, and not ruin it through rambling lines of text.

It was this week in which I had a fellow ADE, Glenn McMahon (@mackas_ict) visit my college with several of his colleagues who were investigating eLearning and technology integration practices among other things. Whilst discussing all things teaching, learning, technology, and other, Glenn asked me what my biggest ‘take-aways’ were from San Diego. A great question, albeit a tough one. I have been thinking about my response to Glenn and additional ‘take-aways’ I had from attending #ade2014 and, briefly, these are outlined below.

1. Teachers as Learners.

There are a few ways in which I can take this however I will look at it from this angle… Being in a role which effectively is responsible for assisting staff in using technology to enhance  teaching and promote student learning outcomes has over the years thrown up a few challenges. One of these being the reluctance at times of teachers ‘stepping back’ and allowing students to lead. The need to control a class and the way it is being run is for the most part shifting as it perhaps once was the near norm. I now often see students leading their peers and also their teachers in learning new methods to create, share, collaborate, connect and innovate within the classroom. In regards to the institute a key focus was the teacher being the learner. Using our own devices to engage and interact with the institute itself via an iTunesU course and a developed app for attendees was terrific. I look forward to seeing the day when students are personalising their own learning to the point where teachers are no longer teachers, where they facilitate learning and work alongside the students and not in front them.

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Teachers as Learners

2. Making it Mobile.

There’s no doubt the one of the greatest strengths of the iPad is it’s mobility. The simple fact that it can be taken anywhere and do just about anything to support teaching and or learning. This i have clearly seen evident when taking 100+ students to both Sovereign Hill and the Melbourne Aquarium where their iPad devices have been fully integrated to support the learning programs taking place. San Diego in a way was also exactly that. Having our own devices out and about and using the suggested app’s given to us, especially also from an iBeacon point of view was fantastic. The point being made is that learning does not need to be restricted to the classroom or even the school grounds. That also yes, connecting with their learning at home is also great however, when students are engaged with technology to assist them to develop specific understandings when in other rich learning environments so much more understanding can be developed. The map below shows several points of reference where I used my own iPad device ‘out in the field’ and for what reasons.

3. I’m not Alone.

One of the, if not the, best part of attending such an event is being situated in a location alongside 400+ like minded people, all of which have the same drive, passion, and desire that you do. People who are having similar successes and triumphs as well as hitting similar walls and barriers. The professional conversations that were mostly held informally over a beer and dinner were amazing. The connections that I was able to make was outstanding and I have every confidence that through meeting these people, and staying in contact with them I will be a better teacher and leader for it. Thanks to social media, primarily Twitter, I can converse with these wonderful people virtually anytime and anywhere.

Clearly not alone...

Clearly not alone…

4. Break the Norm.

Hearing the stories and journeys that educators had embarked on within their own settings that ‘broke the norm’ of how technology was being utilised was outstanding. Again, hearing like minded educators sharing stories about how they have transformed their teaching practices within their settings was great. This was particularly evident during the ADE showcases where ADE’s had 3 minutes to share the AWESOME things that they were doing in their settings. The common theme throughout the showcase sessions was that these were educators who were willing to trial new things and take a risk within their own practice. They were willing to step out of their comfort zone. Hopefully the  recording of these are made public soon so that other teachers the world over can be inspired as I was!

where-the-magic-happens-your-comfort-zone

5. Celebrate the +’s

My last big take away, is that I realised that it is extremely important to celebrate the positives within our settings and with others. Everything from the big wins that we have such as rolling out 1000 iPad devices to perhaps that small win where one particular student has created a marvellous piece of work. To be within an environment that was extremely positive it encourages you to share more of what you do and to celebrate the things you and your setting do well. From this I hope to begin working on developing this positive culture not only throughout my staff but more so my students. Have them share and celebrate the awesome things that they are capable of!

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“Now usually my posts rant and rave and 200 words turns into 2000.” – Corrie Barclay, The beginning of this post!

LASTLY… I have strung together my own 10 favourite shots from the Institute that hopefully depict the learning, collaboration, and sites that were #ADE2014.

1 iPad, 1 Task, 15 Ways

Recently my year 7 class were issued with an inquiry tasks asking them to select various pathways and answer various inquiry questions, many of which they themselves had created, relating to their current Inquiry topic of Ancient History with a focus on Ancient Rome and Ancient China.

I have embedded this task for you below.

Humanities Inquiry Task

Immediately after the task had been covered, discussed and picked apart, I set the students off to begin creating their presentations. Depending on what we are doing in class I often place a very heavy focus on ‘student voice, student choice’ (thanks @MichelleMeracis for allowing me to ‘borrow’ your phrase) as well as foster a ‘Gradual Release of Responsibility’ towards how work is presented. This essentially means that student can choose to create their work via just about any means they wish as long as they are meeting their success criteria and learning outcomes for that lesson.

After 15 mins or so I began conferencing with the students around the room what it is they had chosen to do and how they were going to go about presenting their work. The task itself involves also having students present their findings to the rest of the year seven cohort in an ‘exhibition’ style setting.

It became quickly apparent that the creativity I was hoping for was not entirely being embraced! A class conversation was quickly organised and a rushed ‘poll’ on NOT what each of the students were doing but HOW they were doing it. Their responses were mixed with a around half selecting to ditch their technology altogether. However,  those who were iPad bound were all looking to create in the same select few app’s.

So being the teacher that I am I decided to show just a few select ways that were quick, pain free and simple to take what was a very ordinary task and ‘jazz’ it up a little!

Below I have completed the same basic task; under the ‘History Pathways‘ component, and the dot point titled ‘What are your thoughts/opinions on slavery?’. To answer this I have come up with three pretty standard opinions and attempted to represent these in 15 different ways using my iPad Mini. Some are extremely basic, others a little more complicated. Some tasks took a little longer to complete while others were completed in under 3 minutes.

Here we go!

# 1.

  • App: Pages
  • Cost: $12.99 however comes free with most recent model iPad devices.
  • Time: 3 minutes

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# 2.

  • App: KeyNote
  • Cost: $12.99 however comes free with most recent model iPad devices.
  • Time: 5 minutes

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Slavery KeyNote Preso!

# 3.

  • App: iMovie
  • Cost: $5.49 however comes free with most recent model iPad devices.
  • Time: 11 minutes (including export to YouTube)

# 4.

  • App: Haiku Deck
  • Cost: Free with in app purchases.
  • Time: 7 minutes (including upload time)

HISTORY PATHWAYS – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

# 5.

  • App: Adobe Voice
  • Cost: Free (An Adobe ID is needed, which is free.)
  • Time: 5 minutes (including upload time)

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Click on the image above to view the video…

# 6.

  • App: Pic Collage
  • Cost: Free with in app purchases.
  • Time: 5 minutes

photo

# 7.

  • App: Popplet LITE
  • Cost: Free, although a Pro Version is available.
  • Time: 4 minutes

screenshot

# 8.

  • App: Tellagami
  • Cost: Free with in app purchases.
  • Time: 3 minutes

# 9.

  • App: Video Scribe
  • Cost: $7.49
  • Time: 6 minutes (47min to export to camera roll!!!)

# 10.

  • App: Prezi
  • Cost: Free
  • Time: 7 minutes

# 11.

  • App: Google Doc
  • Cost: Free
  • Time: 3 minutes

Link to the EDITABLE document here: Slavery – History Pathway

# 12.

  • App: Survey Monkey
  • Cost: Free
  • Time: 6 minutes

Access the link to my created survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/M9GQ2SS

# 13.

  • App: Strip Design
  • Cost: $3.79
  • Time: 8 minutes

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# 14.

  • App: iFunFace
  • Cost: Free with in app purchases
  • Time: 5 minutes

# 15.

  • App: Trading Cards
  • Cost: Free
  • Time: 5 minutes

tradingcard

 

And…. One more for good measure…

# 16.

  • App: Quick Voice Pro (embedded in to an iMovie and exported from an .MP3 to a .Mov)
  • Cost: $3.79
  • Time: 10 minutes

So there you have it… I do actually have ideas for another several however we’ll leave it at that! If you, the readers, have any ideas, I have embedded the Google Doc below so you can add your own ideas, apps, etc…

Your Ideas… 🙂

 

Developing an eLearning Strategy, Post #1

'Strategy' highlighted in green

The time is nigh…

After 3 years, or really 2 1/2, my College’s current eLearning Strategy is due to come to an end concluding this year. Due to this, we are now in the very detailed process of developing a new plan for the 2015 – 2017 period. A task that is somewhat tricky and very challenging.

To develop a plan that embodies all that you want it to be, to develop a plan that will be responsible for the way in which technology is integrated, embedded and used effectively throughout your educational setting is extremely important. This new eLearning plan will drive what we do in ways that encourage creativity, innovation and most all foster 21st Century Teaching and Learning Skills. Quite simple really… 

From our inauguration in 2009 we failed to have an ICT strategy in place that assisted us in driving the way our 1:1 programs were to support teaching and learning practice. During this time however I must add that the ways in which students were using devices and how teachers were using these to also engage and deliver content was second to none.

2012 then gave birth to our first eLearning / ICT Strategy, embedded below, that placed a major focus on device allocation and device allocation only. We did have at the time an eLearning plan however this had been developed more so to ‘tick a box’ rather than to be used as an actual ‘living document’. The main reason behind developing a strategy was due to student devices being under a leased co-contribution model and in the long term leasing for us and our setting was certainly not financially viable. The current strategy itself explains this somewhat.

MLP12C ICT Strategy 2012-14

So as mentioned, the time had/has come again to create a new strategy.

The process began by having an ‘eLearning Strategy Development Evening’ in which all major stakeholders were invited. This involved all PCT and Leading Teachers, all year level team leaders, representatives from Apple (as we are an Apple Distinguished School), school council and select parent representatives, hardware resellers of networking and audio visual gear, and last but not least several of our senior students. Now not all those who were invited were able to attend however those that did proved to be extremely valuable and assistive on the night.

Our Principal introduced the evening where he then handed over to myself who went through the keynote embedded below;

As you can see from the above presentation I had set the attendees to work asking them to answer questions which we felt would drive the development of our strategy.

From the gold old ‘think, pair, share’ we were able to ascertain a great amount of information that already has assisted me in developing a first draft of our strategy.

Once this strategy is complete, i’ll be happy to share and discuss it with you all. In saying this, this will be our strategy that we have developed for our setting that suits our learners and their needs. I can almost guarantee that it will also not be perfect, but again for us, and me being slightly OCD, it’ll be pretty close! 😉 I am also using to assist in this whole process research based information taken from documents such as;

Thus far I have decided to split our eLearning Strategy into 3 components, each with its own agenda yet when all 3 are intertwined will make a for a living, breathing, rich and relevant document that will not only guide but assist in continuing to build our profile as a leader in effective technology use and integration. Those 3 strands are;

  1. College / Teacher eLearning Integration Capabilities. This will focus on building staff skills to integrate technology effectively.
  2. P-12 Device Allocation Model. This will encompass specialist areas and dedicated needs to those areas.
  3. Teaching and Learning Support Technologies. This will focus on college A/V as well as other technologies that will aide and benefit student learning.

As this process moves forward i’ll continue to share this journey. By week 8 of term 3 we are wanting this to be completely finished, ratified, and began to be disseminated among staff, students and our wider community.

Watch this space!

Lastly, if you have any questions please contact me.

Thank you.

Positive Schools Conference 2014

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Last Thursday I had the absolute privilege of speaking and presenting at the 2014 Melbourne Positive Schools Conference.

I had not heard of this conference previously which was quite surprising as those presenting and speaking were, and of course are, of extremely high quality and experts in their respected fields. The turn out also of attendees was very large which made being there all that more worthwhile.

I arrived slightly early as I tend to do when speaking and presenting and although having been at this venue before, the Melbourne Convention Centre, I still wanted to ensure I knew where I was going and where my commitments would take place.

My specific role on the day was to present alongside Simon Shaw, an Education Development Executive from Apple, focusing on supporting diverse learners with iPad technology. Something that I would say I am somewhat knowledgeable about as I am currently teaching in a 1:1 iPad setting and know that within my own class I have a diverse range of learners with a diverse range of learning needs. Something I would be confident in saying most educators would experience no matter where they taught and with whatever year level. The presentation itself went very well with Simon giving an outstanding demonstration of the iPad devices accessibility features, several of which I was not aware of! The accessibility features within an iPad are extremely powerful and can certainly make learning to specific students a lot more accessible if used correctly. Click on the image below to find out more about Apple’s iOS Accessibility Features. I have also embedded my own presentation below this via slideshare. The presentation was originally a keynote that I have converted to a Powerpoint so it may view a little… sketchy.

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Prior to presenting the above, I was also asked to sit alongside several experts (not that I rate myself as an expert) as part of the Technology and Mental Health Panel, which was to be hosted and ran by Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg, one of Australia’s leading child and adolescent psychologists. A person you may recognise from televisions Channel Seven’s ‘SunRise’ program. I was unsure as to what to expect from this opportunity and to be honest I was a tad nervous prior, especially once I witnessed where this was to take place.

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Once I realised also who I was to be sitting alongside, listed below, made this experience all the more nerve racking. 😉

Those that I was sharing the stage with, apart from Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg were;

  • Head of Facebook policy for Australian and New Zealand, Mia Garlick
  • National eSmart manager (The Alannah and Madeline Foundation), Judi Fallon
  • Adolescent Health Physician, Professor David Bennett
  • Leading behaviour expert and clinical psychologist, Professor Tim Sharp
  • Positive Schools chair and social psychologist, Dr Helen Street
  • Head of Google Education (Asia-Pacific region), Suan Yeo
  • Lawyer and senior law lecturer at Edith Cowan University, Toby Nisbet

A fair list you would say, yes? And then there was me… 😉 Once the panel was underway I found it to be a great experience. The questions and discussions that were led by Dr. Carr-Gregg were terrific with of course a major focus on adolescent behaviour, health and technology use. This linked closely as you would imagine with social media use, especially facebook, and the issues that technology poses relating to cyberbullying. All panel members were exceptional to be sitting alongside and I personally did my best to not sound like a complete novice when fielding questions!

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Next year I would dearly love to attend again but this time sit on the other side of the fence and listen to all the other terrific presentations that were happening throughout the day. I did manage to cash in on Suan Yeo’s Google Presentation which was great to hear as well as the end of Professor Tim Sharp’s presentation which was also wonderful.

I will finish by sharing a TED Talk that I had not seen before that Professor Tim Sharp displayed. Essentially it shows how a particular person, Phil Hansen, took his disability and turned that into a mind blowing skill and talent. A key message being by that embracing his disability he was able to create absolute masterpieces and not let his limitation hold him back from what he loved! A GREAT message for our students!

And to completely ends this Post, I need to thank Positive Schools chair and social psychologist, Dr Helen Street as well as the Apple team for allowing me this opportunity. So Thank You!

A (field) Trip to the Apple Store!

http://www.apple.com/au/retail/fieldtrip/

http://www.apple.com/au/retail/fieldtrip/

Whilst waiting to have her iPhone repaired at the Highpoint Apple Store, Melbourne, the Apple ‘Genius’ staff recognised my colleague’s email address as that belonging to an educational setting. After a few more minutes of conversation and idle chit chat, she had managed to book in her Year 12 VCAL Students in for an excursion! Simple as that.

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The back of our lovely yellow t-shirts certainly were not wrong!

Apple Stores are happy to, and do quite frequently, run in store sessions for school groups based on a wide variety of topics and areas. Apple Stores are beginning to tap a lot more into the education market, now even offering professional learning sessions for teachers before and after school hours. These themselves are being ran by ADE’s (Apple Distinguished Educators) at no cost to those in attendance.

My colleague mentioned that her students were working on developing businesses and business ideas and the idea came up of having the students create Business Portfolios. So after booking in a session and date, and a 30min bus trip into the city on the day itself, we arrived and all 15 students, and two excited staff, me being one of them, arrived not knowing exactly was in store (for us that is, the store itself is full of people, iPads and other Apple gear!)

We were greeted at the front of the store where we were all given a lovely bright yellow t-shirt, as you can see below (it’s fair to say that we were hard pressed to lose any of our students). After getting all the students connected to the stores wifi, in we went.

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Now… I have never really experienced anything like it. I think staff meetings and even normal classes at work should begin this way. To walk in to the store and to have every Apple staff member, and there were quite a few, stop what they were doing, and then proceed to clap, cheer, yell, and shout causing for a very boisterous welcome, was awesome! The students and I were quite over awed and some were even embarrassed however it was a welcome that I know the students will not forget in a hurry.

The 3 Apple staff working with us decided to show the students two main Apple tools that would assist them with their projects. These being Apple’s iBook Author and Keynote software. Two great and simple, yet also quite powerful, tools for digital creation.

Most of the students had used either or both of these tools in the past, as I would have expected, however it was great to have Apple staff run them through these and show the students the shortcuts and tips that make using these tools so easy.

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All in all after 90 minutes the students were very happy with what they’d just experienced. They were also keen to get into creating their business portfolios back at school. Several working on them in the bus on the way home. It was a simple yet powerful experience and one that was very worthwhile to attend.

For those schools wishing to take a group of keen students to the Apple Store, all that needs to happen is for contact to be made and a discussion to be had! This link might help… http://www.apple.com/au/retail/fieldtrip/

Lastly, for your information, our exit from the store was just as dramatic as when we entered! 😉

Time Changes Everything… Or Does It?

Classroom in Iowa, USA, 1919. https://www.flickr.com/photos/uiowa/8407650795/
Classroom: 1919. https://www.flickr.com/photos/uiowa/8407650795/

“How has teaching as a job changed for you since you began?”…

A colleague asked me this impromptly the other week and initially I was a little stumped. A difficult question to answer off the top of your head. For me anyway! My reply…  Well, that i’ll leave until the end!

Overall, this question has had me thinking on and off since it was asked regarding  all aspects of what I have been involved in since I began my illustrious teaching career in 2003.

My initial teaching appointment was at a small rural school in Victoria located between Geelong and Melbourne. The school was small, consisting of 90 students, 5 teaching staff, a business manager and a Principal. All students at the time were from large acreage and farming properties and loved nothing more than being outside and active. My current setting, and which was/is my second teaching appointment, is now just 10 minutes away from that first school, consists of 1800 students, 210 staff, and students who are extremely varied in their interests and backgrounds.

What resonates with me is a Keynote Presentation I heard from Greg Whitby (Executive Director of Schools in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, NSW, @gregwhitby) at the 2012 VITTA Conference. One thing Greg said that day  has stuck with me, and I suppose it has become a bit of a driving force for what i do;

“We can reflect over the past 150 of education here in Australia, and even up until now teaching itself has not changed greatly in that time, but lets NOT base where we want to head to, on where we have come from!” 

I will say that’s not a ‘quote unquote’ from Greg, however it was the best I could do and interpret from him speaking and me frantically mashing my iPad keyboard! I’m confident it’s pretty close.

I would say that I now have more patience with my students, something that being a father has taught me greatly. The time to sit, respond, talk, TEACH, discuss, etc… now has a great meaning and purpose, not that I want to take anything away from teaching early on. My craft has developed and changed as have the kids I teach for all varied reasons.

The one undeniable driving difference however between now and then, is undoubtedly all other areas of the profession other than the teaching itself. The administration, the protocols, the diplomacy, or lack there of, the planning, assessment, and so on all for me personally take away from what I want to do and that is teach and teach well. I believe I do teach well and am a good teacher, however, teaching as a profession now just seems… busy. There is never any down time.

I can and will never forget teaching in my first setting. The fact that I predominantly spent every recess and lunch for the best part of 3 years kicking the football and or playing cricket, basketball, downball, or chasey made teaching a fun and great profession to be in! There is NO better way to get know your students than through interacting with them in THIER time.

RANT WARNING: The whole notion of teaching, pedagogy and the education system in general, and here come MY thoughts only, need to be radically rethought. The profession is breeding administrators, not teachers. People who are managers, not teachers. People who place teaching behind other areas of working in a school and that to me does not sit well. RANT DONE.

I believe that I have the capacity and knowledge to lead in a school, and I do, however I am very concerned that one day becoming an Assistant Principal or Principal, if that’s a path I choose to take, will remove me from making the difference I am in the profession to make.

So has it changed…  Well, baring my experience, no. Not really. In saying that, come to think about it, I am both a little concerned and a little surprised by that. The craft of what I do in the classroom? Perhaps. A little. My practice is more… refined. As I have said though it is the other, the external happenings that have changed. And not for the best I may add.

Anyway… Enough from me! One big waffle on!

Watching this will put things in perspective… I think…  😉 Enjoy! 

A Sample of Awesomeness!

www.peopleworksinc.com

www.peopleworksinc.com

In my last post I mentioned that I would share several great examples of work that my year seven students had created. Work they have developed and constructed through being creative and innovative.

Now not to pick favourites at all, but I have selected 5 pieces that I am proud to share that give a great snapshot of what my students are capable of and being that these pieces were created early on in the year, I am positive that what continues to be created and shared only improves.

1. Digital Stories

The concept of Digital Stories was very new to my students and therefore I undertook (well, I had all our year 7 classes undertake) the creation of digital stories. This was a great way for students to show us what they were capable of in terms of using their devices yet also, and more importantly, give us as teachers a greater insight into the personal lives of these great young people! The Digital Story below is just one outstanding example of the many I received!

2. Genius Hour Project

Unlike the digital stories, which were just more slightly known to the students, the concept of Genius Hour was COMPLETELY foreign and both the students and I were breaking new ground! Overall, I think that I’d give our overall score out of ten a… 6… for doing this effectively. Perhaps next time I may need to be more explicit in what I am wanting from the students however for our first attempt… not bad! Below is a presentation made by Anthony who enjoys DubStep Music (it gives me a headache, but that’s showing my age), although who had little idea in how to ‘mix his own beats’… (I am not sure what that even means!). So as part of this project he learnt how to do exactly that and this video explains what he learnt well!

3. Ancient Civilisations

As part of our Inquiry Topic students in small groups were to collect information about an Ancient Civilisation, as part of a web quest, and present basic information on that civilisation. What I love about the video below is that the students involved were using note taking strategies, in this instance ‘skinny notes’, to summarise and rewrite information as they understood it. Then found the images to add as a backdrop to support their text and bam! Presentation completed!

4. Reading Homework.

As part of a homework Task Board, students were asked to record themselves reading with a major focus being placed upon ‘reading with expression’. I’ve found that just about all of my students, and myself included, dislike hearing the sound of their own voices, especially when reading aloud. This task asked student to read a short text and focus on being expressive when reading to engage the audience and below is just one of the great examples that were submitted.

5. ‘Laws and Rule’s at Manor Lakes!’

After investigating some of the more… let be honest and say ridiculous laws that exist throughout the world, students were asked to come up with 5 of their own laws that they felt would be just and fair at our College. I have to say there were a few that were quite… very inventful, and far fetched! :), however what one student developed below I feel are quite good! 🙂 Might have speak with the boss about implementing these!

My Laws

A Reflection…

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Term one complete.. Minus the last two weeks of that term I missed due to taking leave… That being said, time for some reflection!

If you have read previous posts from this year you’ll know that I have been placed back in to a classroom for two day per week, teaching year 7 Core subjects. That means basically everything. Math, English, Science, Humanities, Wellbeing, Personal Learning, and other important tidbits. You would also know that I have LOVED being back in the thick of the action. Having a class of students to engage with on a more regular basis rather than just in passing from time to time has given me not so much a renewed passion, but increased it somewhat.

My role as College eLearning Coordinator does allow me to be spread, thinly may I add, but spread none the less across all classes from Prep right through to year 12 and everywhere in between. This makes building relationships with students and staff very easy as I can touch base with all subschools and those situated within as needed. A great part of my job.

In reflecting and being open and honest, throughout term 1 I have had this sense of having done things to a sub par standard. It’s a safe bet to say that I am not anywhere near happy with even ‘par’ as a standard. I ask my students each and every day to impress me beyond the norm of what they are capable of and my own expectations of myself should be the same.

My one aim was to not let my eLearning role interfere with teaching my class and I am fearful it has from time to time. In fact, each role has cancelled each other out in a way causing for one to be done haphazardly and  vice versa. Something I seriously need to both make amends for come term 2 when I return and something I need to get on top of to ensure both roles do not interfere with it’s counter part.

The identification of the problem, like always, is the easy part. The challenge comes from understanding not how to fix the problem but to delve deeper and ascertain why it happens in the first place. After considerable thought I am a little closer to the answer of this riddle yet more thought is needed. This i shall touch more upon no doubt in a blog post down the track!

I can say with certainty it has been brilliant to witness first hand just some of the work that my students have produced throughout the first term. From being involved in Digital Story Development and Creation to working on Genius Hour Projects to the work they produced daily. They continue to surprise me and surprise often and as I keep raising the bar they keep meeting it! In my next post i’ll be sure to share some of this amazing work!

 

 

 

Learning B4 Technology

http://ihs.wikia.com/wiki/File:Teaching_teachers_forum.jpg

http://ihs.wikia.com/wiki/File:Teaching_teachers_forum.jpg

It’s not often that I can get my hands on my staff, (not literally of course), to be able to run large scale Professional Learning to one of our four sub schools, or if I am extremely lucky, our entire (220) staff!

As much as I enjoy the smaller and more personalised approach to coaching and coordinating Professional Learning, especially either one on one or within teaching teams, that ability to deliver key messages to a larger cohort is always is something I find needs to take place. This ensures that same message is coming from one person, and is uniform across all teachers. What helps is having others spread those messages other than myself, which I am happy to say happens often!

With having a quite a few new staff teaching within our Middle Years sub school this year I felt the need to revisit a few key messages to ensure that the ideology behind how we go about integrating technology, effectively, is done so with one major thing in mind, and that being that good teaching comes first and the technology a second.

This is a message that I have been preaching religiously, no pun intended, for quite a while now.  The importance that our number one craft is teaching and that that craft needs to be focused on and honed over time. The absolutely wonderful thing about this profession is that we can all do it in various ways which enrich, engage and foster the meeting of student learning outcomes. We are all charged with delivering a set curriculum however they way in which we as educators can go about that can be extremely varied to cater for our students needs. There are not many professions I feel that allow for differentiation to occur amongst its staff. Teaching is certainly one of those.

Technology Integration, for example, allows for an educator to drastically alter the way they not only deliver the curriculum, but also, and more importantly, the way that students choose to learn that same curriculum.

Way back in… 2009, when I first started at my current setting all students I taught were involved in a 1:1 MacBook Program. The 6 teachers, including myself had never encountered such a thing, that being a 1:1 program of any description. During those first few weeks it is safe to say we used those MacBooks all day every day which in the end turned out to be detrimental to our teaching programs. First lesson learnt, “Just because they have the technology does not mean you need to have them using it”. 

After time we realised that it was the teaching that we need to get back to focusing upon. The way that we planned our curriculum and the ways that we  were deliver the content were more important than the technology itself. The learning and teaching, that was the priority. Not that we felt the consistent need to use the technology because it was there, and it was certainly evident as the year progressed, that through having that technology support the learning and teaching that was taking place, where applicable, made greater inroads to supporting students than what it did at the beginning.

These thoughts have recently been reaffirmed to me in the form of another blog post written by Steve Wheeler, the  ‘Associate Professor of learning technology in the Plymouth Institute of Education at Plymouth University’. Further to this, Steve’s credentials are too many to mention.I have had the pleasure of meeting him once at uLearn12 in Christchurch, New Zealand and have followed his blog and other learnings fairly intensely since then. At the time of writing this, his latest blog post, titled , talks in depth about this notion and the need to place, always place, learning before technology.

Below I have embedded the presentation I showed to my staff as well as a list of just a few of their responses relating to how I could assist them to become greater enablers of technology to support and enhance their programs.

Middle Years Sub School  – Moving Forward with eLearning

  • Classroom management with iPad management.
  • Exploring Flipped Classroom concepts.
  • Use of Social Media for sharing student work
  • Use of ICT when students have limited access/support in the home (no internet/wifi)
  • Improving student outcomes in maths through student led activities
  • Using Edmodo
  • Projecting students work on the Apple TV via their iPad,
  • Classroom iPad management of students
  • App Tutorials
  • Assisting students making appropriate and relevant contributions to online class discussions
  • Storing digital work
  • Flipped Classrooms
  • developing digital individual learning tasks
  • How to manage student use of iPads more effectively.
  • How students can create their own tutorials in different ways.

 

So to completely and utterly agree with Steve, and to once again quote him via his recent post, “If you forget everything else, remember this: Don’t let technology get in the way of good teaching and learning.”