Tag Archives: Edmodo

Teaching teachers

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And so ends my first ISTE conference!

I have had a blast in San Antonio. Not only have I hung out with 15999 other like minded teachers, but I have also hung out with my edugeeks friends from Sydney; Monique, Bianca and Ashleigh.
I have been thinking for a while about the value of teachers teaching teachers as professional development and how much I love it. Hearing about real experiences with real ideas makes it much more valuable.

I love sharing what I do with teachers!!!! Be it my successes or my failures….

I feel that I have so many great teaching ideas that are trapped lifeless inside my head. I believe that I have a creative mind and want to do so much more in my classroom. Ironically, I am restricted* by my subject area of Visual Arts. I am dying to do more cross-curricula projects, but many of my colleagues at school are unsure about this concept in their classrooms.
*restricted may be too harsh- I do what I want in my classroom, and achieve the Art outcomes at the same time…. I just get excited by English and Science and History and how they can become blended in my classroom.
This is why I like to teach teachers. I can share these many ideas and engage in a dialogue about how to make them happen. By talking about my success, other teachers reflect upon their classrooms practices and realise that perhaps other things are possible.
Presenting at ISTE as an international presenter was certainly a highlight for me. I did a mini-workshop that participants had to pay to come to. This meant they really valued what I had to say. They read my workshop description and believed in my ideas. (I sure hope that I delivered!) I presented on collaboration in the classroom and discussed ideas for how technology can make this run more smoothly. I also gave suggested rubrics and classroom management strategies to make it feasible.

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I have also recently done two weeks of tutorials at Sydney uni for the M.Teach course. This was exhausting but great. A room full of potential and keen pre-service teachers who want to learn about the art of teaching.

Over the last 14 weeks I have had a Prac Student under my supervision. While giving him feedback on his lesson plans and classroom management, this has also been a great tool for me to reflect upon myself. Some things that I was suggesting to him reminded me to keep doing these things too. I believe you have to practice what you preach! Watching as he built relationships with students and really blossomed as a teacher made me really proud. Don’t get me wrong- he already had an amazing body of knowledge and excellent ideas for the classroom, but as a teacher teaching a teacher, it was an invaluable experience. He was so good infact and I was so confident with the teacher he has become, that when he finished his prac, and I was heading overseas to ISTE, he then stepped in as my casual teacher and took my classes for a block!!!!

All of these experiences lately make me even more excited to make connections with teachers and share my ideas. I want to be inspired by teachers who are as passionate as me, and I want to help other teachers to build their own classroom practices so they can have as much fun as me in their classrooms!


The Wild Survival Kit

As part of a transition unit at school, we developed a cross-curricula Project Based Learning (PBL) unit of work with a driving question:

What kind of wild thing are you?

I have written about the art focus in an earlier post here, but to reiterate, it was great to have all the faculties work together for a common assessment goal. The great thing was that we also worked with the local primary school to embed language that was consistent with Stage 3 into Stage 4. So the students had to create 3 products and/or performances to demonstrate to a panel their understanding of the question. So, while they were working on this group goal, each class they went to for at least the first 4 weeks of term taught within their faculties an understanding of the WILD THINGin that subject. For examples, Maths was: Is your wild thing a thing of the past? Where the students used History and Mathematics to analyse different number systems. Geography used field work at the Zoo to analyse data about the environment around them. Technology produced animal ipod cases, footprint stamps and morphed digital animal beings.

I went and watched some of the presentations and it was really interesting to see how the students had synthesised these concepts and worked in groups to produce great examples of their Wild Self. It would be even better next year to have some Team Teaching going on to illustrate the links between subject areas more consistently.

I have the Gifted and Talented (GATS) class in Year 7 which we call the Academic Extension class. They have 3 periods in the class and it is not based upon a set syllabus. The curriculum is open to extend their learning and develop their creative thinking and problem solving skills.

So, I got to think of an exciting way to explore the concept of the WILD THINGS with this group and I developed the task:

Design a Survival Kit to aid you in the wild.

There were three parts:

A representation of the wild thing inside of you.We all have wild emotions and the desire to fit in. When Max runs away and ends up in the land of the Wild Things, he encounters lots of new friends but has very different relationships with each of them. Discover what makes you who special. 

A study of the wild. Max travels to a land very different from the one he knows. It is full of new creatures, new abilities, new friends, and it is a place where Max rules as king. Use your imagination to create a world where you would like to live.

“Let the wild rumpus start.” In Where The Wild Things Are, Max experiences many different emotions, from trying to figure out how he fits in with his family to trying to figure out how he fits in with the Wild Things. In addition, the Wild Things manifest many emotions as they struggle with some issues that Max faces and some of their own. Start a wild rumpus of your own.

As academic students who are selected via the selective schools exam, I wanted to use the text as a metaphor for fitting in and discovering your self. But I also wanted them to understand that it is not always easy and that they are special students who are different from others.

The students were definitely challenged. I didn’t really know what I wanted the outcome to look like and I certainly didn’t want to define the parameters. But I also didn’t just want a boring essay submission that was not creative and didn’t think outside of the box. I got the students to look at different learning styles and how there were many ways to present information based upon these. Things like videos, board games, a timeline, a play, a poem or a song could all illustrate your ideas.

I also banned large pieces of cardboard with collage and glitter!

I ended up having to explain myself quite a few times and did some really fun brainstorming sessions to develop their ideas:

The REAL wild and the METAPHORICAL wild

Then the ideas really started to flow….

Here are some student work samples that I have curated into one document:

We ended the Term with their Wild Place… and while technically the unit is over, I still want them to Let the Wild Rumpus Start.

So, this is what I have developed for that…

wildrumpus <——– click to open document

How I envisaged this was that a WILD RUMPUS was something in the community that the students had a part in. So I found real situations that could translate to classroom activities and goals for the students to achieve in groups. Inspired by @biancahewes I wanted a real audience and real project that the students could link to their world and their understanding of the Wild Thing inside them. I wanted a spark to ignite about the way they can become involved in their community and that they can have an impact.

I am going to use Edmodo in small groups, Class Dojo and Goalbook to facilitate their learning. Constant peer evaluation and the creation of a time management plan to make this all possible. I am going to break down the walls of the classroom and allow them to respond to this challenge however they feel fit.

I hope they get something out of this. I will keep you posted on what their outcomes are.