Tag Archives: education

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!


It is all about the Label

label

 

SOLO

PBL

GBL

OMG

YOLO

DEAR

TEE

PEEL

FML

KWL

PIP

BOW

Yes…. That is  A LOT of acronyms!

Amongst these acronyms are some popular slang terms, some short hand terms used for HSC projects… and labels for different teaching pedagogies or strategies that are ‘trending’ at the moment.

I say ‘trending’, because there seems to be an increase in teachers using some or all of these strategies, just because they are the most talked about thing at the moment. While I think that it is great that teachers explore different ways to engage their students: Is using a concept once because you heard about how someone else used it, really make you an expert? And how do you measure success if you only dip your toe in it?

I am not saying that I am not a culprit of this.

I  have researched and read about many different pedagogies but I am not claiming to be experienced in any or all of them. When I think about my teaching over the last few years, and my conversations with my peers on Twitter, I think that I have taken elements of the things that I like from many different sources, and applied them to my own context.

Over the holidays, I was privileged to be a part of the Project Learning Swap Meet organised by Bianca and Lee Hewes and Peter Mahoney. Let me tell you… the passion that exudes from these people and the amount of excitement that was generated during the school holidays and on a Saturday, was incredible!

edugeeks

 

The reason why I mention this when talking about LABELLING the teaching that we do, is that I believe to be able to take that label on board, you have to have been taken over by that pedagogy, believe in it so much that you are living it and breathing it. Then, that label becomes yours. I have learnt so much from Bianca and her mind and the way she has used Project Based Learning in the classroom. ALL of her topics and syllabus outcomes are taught this way. From Year 7 – 12. All the assessments that her kids produce are real products. Not some made up classroom thing. She always seeks a real audience and real experts to guide her students learning. Bianca is not following a trend, she has created this trend! And because I talk to Bianca about her ideas all the time, I have become inspired by her teaching process and applied some of these ideas to my classroom.

But because I use them, should I label myself as a PBL teacher??

At the beginning of the Year, there was a lot of talk on Twitter about the SOLO taxonomy. I read these tweets, then looked through my research from last year. I was already doing it then…. Thank you to Pam Hook for your excellent info about using this to promote higher order thinking. Stemmed from this I used Tait Cole’s Punk Learning Hexagonal Think Link tool… which also led me to the Triptico App. These tools have been great in my classroom, and I will continue to use them…

But because I use them, should I label myself as a user of SOLO??

Over the last few years I have designed a few games as units of work to engage and inspire my students. I developed websites that allow the students to work from level to level to achieve different learning outcomes. As the level gets higher, so too does the expectations of the student. One was for my Gifted and Talented class, a topic about Conflict, where the students journeyed through Conflictus. The other, a Visual Design unit of work about concept art and game design, where students journey through an Unchartered Land.

But because I use them, should I label myself as a GBL teacher??

Let’s just think about these labels before we put our names to them…. If you want to take that label, be true to it. Otherwise, be like me, use what works for you… apply it to your context.

Don’t follow a trend for the sake of it….! Just love your teaching for what it is…. and keep up with your 21st Century Learners!!!


Connectedness

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connect |kəˈnekt| verb [ with obj. ] bring together 
or into contact so that a real or notional link is established

I like to be connected.

I confess that I am a social network addict and love to share aspects of my everyday life. My partner has rolled his eyes at me plenty of times, and asked if just this once, our meal could remain private. HAHA! (Sometimes I appease him, but I really do enjoy taking pics of my food – sorry!)

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It is increasingly easier to share your everyday comings and goings with the virtual world and it is rare to feel alone. Using Instagram, I feel a sense of community with many like minded people, also sharing photos of their daily lives. Twitter is where I share my teaching ideas and Facebook is a more personal space for me and my close friends.

In my own little world, I have noticed how this sense of connectedness makes me so happy. And how it has helped me to become a better teacher and a better friend. I have my own little ‘communities’ or ‘networks’ that provide me with constant laughs, challenges and ideas.

Besides my partner (who is amazing), my colleagues and my uni friends, there are 2 groups of people that I talk to everyday… and without those conversations, I think I would feel stifled.

CONNECTION #1

The Work Ladies

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Jude, Lorna and I at Lorna’s Wedding in Wales, July 2012.

After training on Mondays and Wednesdays, we have breakfast together. This gives us the chance to debrief and gather our thoughts. As friends and work colleagues, we can talk about anything: from assessment tasks to weekend adventures. Having such a great support network at school is seriously undervalued. I know not all teachers are lucky enough to have friends in their workplace, but I can tell you, without these ladies – some days at school would be more difficult.

CONNECTION #2

The Edmodo Ladies

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Me, Bianca and Monique

We met in the most random way. While we had already been connected on Twitter, we had never met in real life. Until Edmodo brought us together. All three of us were selected to present at EdmodoCon 2011 – an online Virtual Conference. In preparation for the conference, we thought it would be a good idea to meet up and discuss what we were going to present. The random thing was, we all lived a suburb away from eachother and were able to meet. (Edmodo had no idea about this – they just thought we were all from somewhere in Australia!!!!) This random meeting developed into great professional relationships… and awesome friendships. I think the highlight of this connection has been the EPIC group SMS that we have been sharing over the last month or so. These ladies are great to bounce teaching ideas off, have a laugh and reflect upon our day in the classroom.

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So….

With all these connections in my everyday world, I started to think about how important it was to replicate this dynamic into my classroom.

It is written clear as day in the Quality Teaching Framework document:

 ELEMENT

What does it look like in classrooms?

What does it look like in assessment tasks?

Connectedness

Lesson activities rely on the application of school knowledge in real-life contexts or problems, and provide opportunities for students to share their work with audiences beyond the classroom and school. Tasks apply school knowledge in real-life contexts or problems, and provide opportunities for students to share their work with audiences beyond the classroom and school.

While a traditional classroom exists in the one space… in-between the four walls that are prescribed to us by a school

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In the amazing 21st Century classroom, there are no boundaries as it can exist in an online space

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Modelling the way I connect using Social Networks, I have tried to develop this sense of collaboration in my classroom. Building up the students understanding of how to communicate and share with their peers as a community.

But I wanted to take this a step further. 

This year I was allocated 3 Year 8 classes.

*sigh*

I thought I was going to go mad if I taught the same thing three times in a week. I had to change the programme, not too much, but just enough, so that while it was more exciting for me, it would still cover the outcomes that the other teachers were covering.

I reflected upon the way I connected… and how it had opened up my eyes and has helped me everyday to understand my teaching practice more. Why not bring this into the classroom???

I reached out to my Professional Learning Network and asked if any teachers here or overseas would want to connect with my Year 8 classes who were studying the topic of ‘The Suburbs’.

Bingo! There was a teacher from Alabama who said yes… and from there my idea developed. Inspired by the blog/photography project 52 Suburbs, I wanted the students to not only look at their suburbs and their small worlds, but compare this to other students experiences.

What am I going to teach then?

I decided that I wanted my students to study the artists we would normally study, but instead of writing about them, they could make little videos that we could share with the class overseas. This will be particularly interesting, because the two key Practitioners are Reg Mombassa and Lin Onus. Mombassa is an Artist who uses many Australian icons in a humorous way. Onus uses his art to reflect upon his identity as an Anglo Saxon and Aboriginal living in a white community.

I also wanted them to make art to share with this new audience. While they are sharing images of their different communities using Edmodo, I thought about how cool it would be to be PenPals with these overseas students. Going back to old school letter writing to compare their lives on the other side of the globe. So, the students are going to design their own postcards and send them to this new connection overseas.

Exciting times ahead!!!

Check out the outline for the unit of work. I have used Bianca‘s PBL model to nut out the ideas that the students are going to explore.

How do you get your students to connect in the classroom?


A real audience

I have had so many blog posts in my head and it seems not enough time to write them. But, I feel that this post is urgently needed.

Urgently? But why?

Because I really want my Year 7 GATS Class (Academic Extension) to have a real world audience. Inspired by the PBL units by Bianca Hewes, my aim was for the students to create a narrative based upon their journey through an RPG style game that I designed.

The unit of work is on CONFLICT and the premise is that Mr Conflict is causing havoc in Conflictus. The players must journey through the land and complete missions that will help them catch Mr Conflict.

I had done a similar unit of work last year and had used Weebly to design a Game, but after seeing Simon Harper’s World Food Quest my game seemed lame. So, I gave myself the goal of redesigning it. I also thought about different things that were a challenge from last year. One main thing was that to level up, last year I rewarded points using Edmodo that went into the grades feature. 10 Points = 1 gold star. A certain amount of stars were needed to level up.

While this was great for GATS kids as it took out the need for grading and marks, it also gave me ALOT of work. If I hadn’t checked their work, then they couldn’t level up and then they sat in class not doing anything.

For the redesign, I changed this and made a map with different levels. The students can choose any location to work on, however, some levels require an artefact that can only be gained by completing a different mission.

To document the students work, they have created blogs. This is where the real life audience comes in!

I would love you guys to read their posts and comment on their characters and their responses to what conflict is. I think they will be stoked to realise that it is not just me reading and commenting!!

Explore the land of CONFLICTUS <————

(this is still a work in progress!! Any ideas would be appreciated!)

and see what they students think conflict is!

http://conflictrpg.edublogs.org/

http://tigerlilli.edublogs.org/

http://conflictingconflict.edublogs.org/

http://agreementanddisagreement.edublogs.org/

http://stateofdisharmony.edublogs.org/

http://2factions.edublogs.org/

http://conflictusblog.edublogs.org/

http://landofconflicto.edublogs.org/

http://cutoutconflict.edublogs.org/

http://theawesomeone4ever.edublogs.org/

This is just a sample from my class! I hope you enjoy!