Category Archives: RTC 4 – Professional Learning
My twitter feed has been quiet of late and there is one simple reason for it.
At best most teachers tolerate writing reports as a bureaucratic necessity and at worst they see it at a medieval torture device due to rigid formatting requirements and the lack of sleep that go hand in hand with report writing season.
If I spend an hour analysing data, thinking, writing, drafting and proofreading for each child adds up to 30 hours on top of normal teaching duties as well as the multitude of other tasks bureaucratic that pop up at the end of the school year. If you happen to teach students who are at an age where they transitioning to another part of the education system, there will be reports to fill out to add to the paperwork.
Aside from the legally mandated statements about a child’s progress against National Standards, my school has been experimenting with reporting to parents. This experimentation has left us with a lot of wriggle room to try out Instead of ticking boxes my syndicate has put a greater emphasis on qualitative feedback. Sure this has has been more time consuming for me as a teacher however the process has been less painful because I have more ownership in the product.
Alongside my comments the students have written their own comments about the year on a google form, selected a picture from the class flickr account and next week will film the final part of their video time capsules which will be included as a QR code on the paper report. Sure it’s a mishmash of old and new technology and the report is not standardised to the whole school.
We don’t all learn the same and we don’t teach the same.
So why should school reports the same?
I’m sure that there are a lot of educators that view reports as a relic of bygone era where communication between parents and teachers was largely limited to official bits of paper going home at mandated times of the years. These days I will phone, email and text parents about concerns and also victories in class.
Nevertheless the end of the year marks a milestone. Reporting for me is part of the process of taking leave of the time I spent with my students. I found it rewarding thinking about how my students have grown in this last year. This is particularly the case for my Year 8s who I have taught for two years.
Like many things in life reporting is what you make of it.
Our jobs as educators is try to find the awesomeness in every kid and nurture it.
Reports are time to see how we’ve both done in progressing towards that goal.
Last week I passed a significant milestone in my teaching career, I became a fully registered teacher. In New Zealand Newly Qualified Teachers go through a two year-induction and mentoring process. At the start of the process I decided that I wasn’t going to keep a PRT folder in the traditional sense.
Out went the dull meeting minutes and dry forms, in came blog posts, twitter chats, youtube and flickr. I’ve wandered through classrooms in different cities and countries and had some incredible experiences with my learners along the way.
None of this would be possible without the amazing support of the online teaching community only a fraction of whom I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting offline. I started to write a post wanting to thank you all but quickly realised that it would be inevitable that I would forget someone important. So instead if at some point you’ve dropped me a blog comment, responded to one of my tweets, had a chat at a conference, put me up for the night, then you are part of the awesome tribe of virtual mentor teachers.
At the start of this process my goals were to share, learn, show an alternative and inform.
1. To share – I haven’t shared as much as I had hoped to at the start of this process because I simply didn’t have the energy. I often have posts rolling around in my head but getting them into some sort of coherent and publishable form at the end of a long day of teaching is difficult. Nevertheless there are some posts I’m proud of and I’ve enjoyed documenting this journey. The bonus is of all this sharing has been tapping into expertise of some amazing educators.
2. To learn – To say the last two years have been a steep learning curve would be an understatement. When I look around the classroom, the space is markedly different both from a physical and pedagogical from the start of last year despite half the students being the same kids. This change has been result of reading about other more awesome teachers ideas and repurposing them for my context. The biggest learning moment for me has been the realisation that the induction process for new teachers is too important to be left to one person. I’ve had two incredible mentor teachers to learn from but having a world of educators expertise to tap into has made me smarter. I’m a proud member of the ‘mentor whore’ club.
3. To provide an ‘adjacent possible‘ Over the last two years the online community of teachers has grown considerably and it’s been fantastic to see more PRTs active on twitter. Hopefully others might start thinking that traditional PRT folder has long had its day and it’s time to start something more awesome.
4. To inform. I said at the start I wanted to show that teachers aren’t finished products immediate post graduation. 2 school years on, I feel like even less of finished product. Teachers need to be learning and growing because our kids and communities are ever changing.
Have there been any downsides?
Aside from the cringe that comes when someone says ‘hey aren’t you traintheteacher’ the only downside is the pressure to keep up with everyone else. It can be easy in a world of awesome teachers doing amazing things to think what you are doing sucks in comparison. There are frequent offers to join collaborative projects or new initiatives and sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to say yes to everything.
I’m often asked if I’m worried about breaching privacy of my students and colleagues by reflecting on public platform. If by keeping 99 percent of what I do at school off limits in terms of what I write online, then yes, I am totally invading other people’s privacy. Learning how, what and who to share with are important skills not just for our students but for teachers as well.
So thanks again to the dozens of mentor teachers out there helping make my classroom more awesome!
Twice a year my school requires that I send a survey out to my students. On one level it’s fantastic to get feedback from your learners about what is going well in class and what needs tweaking but on the other there’s the ZOMG my students are grading me feeling. Was I too grumpy yesterday when student A hadn’t finished work? Could I have done a better job of talking to Student B about their improper PE uniform?
The survey is done via google forms and the results then get shared with my principal. There’s a few must dos but there is also an opportunity to add other questions. Most of the questions are agree/disagree questions like ‘my teacher treats students and their ideas with respect.
I tend to prefer qualitative feedback that quantitative. I asked my kids what their wins for the year are and something they want to improve before the end of the year. It was rewarding to see kids valuing learning activities and opportunities through the year.
However there are areas to work on. A number of my students have talked about wanting more challenging work so I will work with them to look for projects that they can sink their teeth into for the rest of the year.
Another thing want to get better at before the end of the year is maths. I’ll freely admit that maths is a subject that I struggle to get excited about the way I do about other areas of the curriculum. Perhaps I’ve watched too much Conrad Wolfram. Nevertheless, it’s my job to get excited about teaching maths and then get the kids enthused about maths.
Earlier this week a blog post came through my twitter feed from a teacher who walked away from the profession. I recommend you read the post first. Don’t worry, I’ll still be ranting when you get back.
The raw emotion in that post struck a chord, the ugly side of our profession that we don’t talk about all that much teacher burnout.
It’s the feeling of being constantly exhausted but not being able to sleep. Where it seems to take forever just to make the to do list let alone accomplish any of the tasks on it. When a small set back suddenly becomes the worst thing ever.
I hate being one of those teachers counting down the days until the holidays.
But here I am.
15 more school days.
I have no idea how people with young children do this job because come holidays the plan is to fall into an exhausted heap for the first week.
A lack of sleep (not helped by midnight earthquakes) and a very busy week ahead: a large sporting event, learning conferences and less then two weeks out from school-wide production. It’s all totally do-able and like other teachers I’ll just suck it up.
And that’s me for the week.
I love Google Apps for Education. However managing workflow can be an absolute nightmare with students sharing new docs and not naming the correctly which can make it hard to find work. Moreover keeping an eye on your data can be even more cumbersome.
But what if there was a system that easily shared documents with students, gave you an overview of the class and stored the data effectively.
Doctopus (document + octopus) essentially acts like a giant photocopier which can send files out to individual students, project groups or the whole class. There’s a nifty little chrome extension called goobric where you can enter levels and feedback onto a form which then is magically pasted back to a spreadsheet giving you a view over your whole class while students have access to the class.
I’ve used Doctopus for formative writing assessments and rolled out through the specialist teachers reports. The downside of the script is that it doesn’t like to do more than about 100 kids at a time. However in terms of managing workflow in Doctopus is the bomb.
Before you get started make sure you are using Chrome. create a Doctopus folder which contains
- A spreadsheet with the names + gmail addresses of your class (you can export from your contacts) in two separate columns. You can create a 3rd column which groups students. If you want the kids to be in the same group, assign them same letter in this column. You might not want to share to all the kids in the class in which case just write exempted in the group column.
- The document/s you wish to share
- A folder for all the student docs you’ll be creating
- A rubric in spreadsheet form (optional)
Right lets party.
The first thing you need to do is to install the Docotpus script. In the spreadsheet with your student roster click on tools then script gallery. Doctopus will be right there. Install the script. You’ll get a couple of pop ups asking you to authorise the script for your account. Go ahead and authorise.
Once the script has been installed you’ll notice an extra tab on the top of the spreadsheet with doctopus go ahead click on it and launch installation.
The first choice you’ll be asked to make is what kind of ‘share’ you want.
Project group shares one document to a group of students to work on.
Individual all the same shares the same document to each student individually. Useful for whole class tests.
Individual differentiated shares different documents to kids based on groups that they work on individually. Useful for writing groups or giving extra scaffolds for some kids and not for others.
Whole class shares the same doc for the whole class to access.
Once you’ve decided on the sharing type, you’ll get some options about sharing. You can give editing and commenting rights to other kids automatically. There’s also an option of sharing these documents with other teachers which is useful moderation purposes.
Click on ‘save settings’ and you’ll get a weird octopus come up. That means the script is doing its thing.
The next thing you’ll be asked for is what document/s you wish to share and with what group. This is where the folder comes in handy. First click on the folder then select the documents you wish to share.
After that, click save settings again.
This brings us to step 3.
First you need to select where you want all these docs you’re about to create filed. This is where the ‘student work’ subfolder comes into play. This dumps all the files in the one spot making it easy to find when you are looking for tests.
Next you have to name the file. I always put $name (which creates a named file for each student) and then the project they are working on. You can also send a little message out when you share the file to let the kids know which assignment to find.
Now your final step, sharing the document. Have a quick check all the information is correct and hit the ‘Run copy and share’ button. This will send the document out to your class. You can redo step four if you have students that might have been exempted that you now wish to have the file.
You’ll get a little doctopus dancing as the files are being shared. Just leave the computer to do its thing.
Once you are done, you’ll notice some extra cells on the spreadsheet. The hyperlink will take you to the doc that’s been shared with the student. The ‘last edit’ lets you know when the student last edited the document. You can lock down the documents in the doctopus tab by hitting the embargo for grading.
Speaking of grading.
The chrome store has a nifty little extension called goobric. This basically puts a pop-box in each document for you to mark a students work and then give some comments. The comments paste into the doc and back into the spreadsheet you’ve been working on.
First install goobric onto your chrome browser. You know you’ve been successful when you see this little eye on the right hand corner of your address bar when you are a viewing a google doc.
Now that goobric has been installed, go back to your doctopus tab and hit attach goobric.
Now you need to select the rubric you’ve put into selected earlier. Here’s an example of the e-asstle (a New Zealand writing test) that I’ve converted into spreadsheet form. You need to make sure you’ve got the criteria going down one column and the levels going across the other.
Select the spreadsheet then wait a few seconds your pop up should have the spreadsheet in the window. Hit on the ‘attach Goobric to this assignment button.’
You’ll notice now that your spreadsheet has more columns filled in with the different criteria. Those will be filled in with grade. Click back to sheet one and then you can start grading.
To mark a piece of work, simply click on the eyeball thing in the corner and you’ll get a pop up.
Enter the levels and the comment and then hit submit and paste into the document. You need to make sure you’ve hit submit before going to a different page otherwise you’ll lose the comments. You can choose to email the grade to the student or perhaps you might want to wait if you are moderating work.
Once you are finished, the goobric will be pasted into the students work.
But what makes goobric awesome is that those marks and comments are also pasted back into the central spreadsheet. You can mark a piece of work multiple times and decided between an average mark or a last mark.
This lengthy post probably makes scripting seem hideously complex. But once you learn the process, you can set up a copy in a few minutes and it makes managing data, particularly for teachers of multiple classes so much easier.
I also like that teachers can easily share student work easily for moderation purposes.
Scripting probably isn’t a sexy topic for normal people. Moreover doctopus probably sits more down the modification end of the SAMR spectrum. The technology is doing the same stuff we always did on a computer but with a few functional improvements, making data and online workflow easier to manage for teachers. But hey sometimes teachers need to make life easier for themselves.
Stay tuned for what happens when the kids start using the task…
A bit late in posting this but as always, better late than never.
I’ve lost count of the number of educamps I’ve been to since @fionagrant gave me a lift up to Educamp Tai Tokerau 2 years ago. But suffice to say it’s been a few. The beauty of educamps is that each one is always different from the last and even old hats like me get something out of it.
The problem with educamp is that it has forever ruined the traditional ‘sit and get’ model of Professional Development. As a learner I have a very low tolerance for any PD I feel isn’t meeting my needs.
My takeaways from #educampakl:
I’m moving away from the technology. The more educamps I attend, the less I find myself less interested in what the technology does but more how technology is being used to transform learning. As I mentioned in the think slam something that has been bugging me of late is this idea of ‘oh hey we used to do something this way but now we do it on a computer.’ What’s your purpose? What’s the effect of this effect of this on student learning? How are you changing learning culture in your class or even your school by using this technology? I suppose this is a natural progression for me as a learner.
Innovators in schools can feel incredibly isolated. Outside the pockets of awesomeness, I suspect there’s a few educamp attendees that are likely viewed as one of the ‘crazy ones‘ in their school. Educamps are a way to connect with like-minded educators and pick the brains of others who share a similar passion. Innovators thrive on collaboration. This is why educamp participants will sometimes travel 100s of kilometers on their own coin to attend these events.
Wise school leaders support and encourage innovative teachers to do their thing.
Our faculties of education are not preparing their students to be 21st century teachers. Much as I loathe the term ’21st century learning’ it’s an ongoing issue and not one that there has been a great deal of change since I was student two years ago. The result being that our beginning teachers are falling back to how they were taught. This isn’t good enough.
Teachers need to stop assuming that our students are going to be the ones that will force our institutions to change. There’s a lot of racial and socio-economic privilege wrapped up in the idea that our students are going to be the ones that force a change in the status quo. It assumes that not only that all kids and their families are able to challenge our institutions to do better but more importantly feel they have the right to. Put simply the standard we teachers walk by, is the standard we accept.
Student-driven learning = lots of teacher scaffolds. Daily 5, 20% time/passion projects etc. Kids need scaffolds to channel their energy into the tasks at hand. Making links back to the NZC and making effective use of time is something I’m working on at the moment with my kids. I’ve been impressed with my students’ engagement but know we can do better.
Being an awesome teacher is a journey not a destination. As always I’m amazed at how many educators willingly give up a morning to come together to learn. It was fantastic to renew old connections and make new ones.
Onwards to EducampPalmy…
I never sleep well the night before the start of a new term. There’s lots ticking over in my mind. how will the new classroom set up go (answer, a few remarks about more space and then business as usual) suddenly remembering a job on your to do list, a wake up jolt from an earthquake.
And this term a new principal.
Out of all the jobs in a school, the hardest definitely has to be the principal. Classroom teachers have the LOLz that go with spending time with the kids and not having to worry about setting budgets, buildings and managing the toughest group of learners in the school, teachers.
I joked on twitter that getting a new professional leader for a teacher feels very much like a student getting a new teacher. Students don’t get a choice of who their teacher will be and that new person in the swivel chair is now in charge of professional learning.
Which leads to an important question.
Who is this person who suddenly has the power to make your working day very different?
In this age of google you can quickly find out about a person from their digital footprint and New Zealand is so small that there’s almost always a mutual acquaintance.
A new principal brings change and with change comes uncertainty.
There’s a chance that this new person coming in is going to give up your patch of school culture, change your practice, or challenge a deeply held belief.
That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing.
As I often tell my students if we were all the same, the world would be a very boring place.
A fresh pair of eyes can sometimes do the world of good. Staying the same, doing things the same is ultimately leaving your students behind.
I’ve called this presentation bringing our classrooms and in that vein I hope that you’ll join the conversation via twitter. My username is @traintheteacher and I’ll be putting out links I’ve talked about on twitter using the hashtag #soccon13. I’m happy to answer
questions here or online.
Last weekend I had one of those meltdowns into misery we all have when we are in the middle of a creative project and it’s not going so well. Rather than write my speech, I found myself trawling around looking around at classrooms of the future and found some really interesting images.
The first was from a set of postcards by a French artist called Villemard. He produced a whole set of postcards, which you can find on Flickr by the way, and these postcards look at what Paris might look like in the year 2000 from way back in 1911.
What do you notice about the image?
So what I thought was really interesting was that Villemard was actually on the money as far as technology goes right. You’ve got the teacher feeding books into a machine which kids can listen to – that’s in essence podcasting right? And you know its fantastic except if you happen to be the kid in the corner having to make the machine work.
Lets move forward 50 years.
This is next image is from a comic strip from the 1950s called ‘closer
than we think.’ What do you notice?
Yep you’ve got the teacher up on the big screen disseminating
knowledge. It’s that flipped learning we’ve heard so much about right.
But I think is interesting is that there is also that culture of
surveillance. Through the little cameras you can see poking through
the desks, which are there for the teacher to keep an eye on their
What is really amazing in these images is that they imagine these
amazing technological changes without stopping to think about the
changes that technology brings to culture.
Those social inequities from Villemard’s turn of the 20th century are still there – the child in the corner cranking the machine. Learning isn’t so much for him. Where are the girls?
Our all powerful-teacher from the 1950s – the era of mass production this art work was seen as way to staff the schools of the baby boomers during a time of teacher shortage.
These scenes get the technology right but don’t stop to ponder what changes technology might bring to classroom culture. Our teachers are still all powerful and all knowing. Our students are still passive recipients of knowledge.
I’m going to argue to that using technology in the classroom isn’t just about “oh hey we used to do it this way and now we do it on but rather that technology is fundamentally changing how we understand ourselves, who we are, how we function in this culture.
It’s scary right – We have seen the enemy and it is us.
When we talk about wanting our students to be more engaged and learn more that in fact it might be teachers sometimes are in the ones standing in the way.
Because that might mean we need to change, how we learn, how we engage how we get along in this culture.
Or are we content for a few people to get ahead as long as our little patch is protected?
I don’t think that’s case.
I don’t think there are teachers going ‘hey that globalization unit I taught 5 years ago still has some good stuff in it…’ and then foist yesterday’s learning off on today’s students.
But nevertheless are we really has the culture of learning changed that much in our schools?
Are teachers using the connections both real and online to create learning opportunities for students that were unimaginable even five years ago?
I taught English in the Republic of Korea for a number of years. Being a good daughter I would send home emails and photos and found that the task was a lot easier on a blog.
I initially used the internet as way to keep connected with the people I loved back home. But slowly but surely I started to build up a following of people and over the last 10 years I probably have more friends that I’ve only met online than I do in real life these days.
Truly a friend is really just someone you haven’t followed on twitter yet.
I think that brings up an interesting point – in a globalized society many classrooms have students with family members overseas. I’ve been astounded out how many family member’s we’ve had checking in our blog to keep those connections going across borders.
At that very basic level technology can change that classic question –what did you do at school into something very different. For the kids whose first Facebook appearance may very well been in utero technology is already changing the way they communicate.
I love this photo my nephew Max, he was 18 months when he took this picture on my iPad. He might have only just learned how to walk and a few one-word utterances, but he’s already learned how to unlock phone
and take a selfie.
What kind of disruption are kids like Max going to make?
Do we just give each kid and iPad and stand back and watch? Well no. I think perhaps one of the biggest mistakes in technology in the classrooms is that we don’t stop to ponder who do we change our learning culture?
At one of the spectrum you’ve got substitution. Where technology is used to do the same things we’ve always done just on a computer. We see this in primary schools where instead of kids writing their finished stories on refill they now get to type them up on word processor.
Modification is where the tool is being used but there have been some improvements. For a lot of kids this might mean a spell check or
perhaps having the teacher add comments via a google doc. But again
the task is still the same.
Augmentation enables a significant redesign in the task itself. Audio as well as static and moving images are used as legitimate forms of communication alongside the written word. And this communication
Technology enables a redefinition of the task themselves. Thinking of my own class where one of our quadblogging classes made a lovely quiz about my school. My students quickly picked up some factual errors. Then came questions, how do we tell our buddies about this? Why would our buddies think our school has a pool when we don’t? It’s that unintended learning that happens when two classes from other cities come together that redefines tasks.
When we stop and think about the tools that our students carry around with them even fairly rudimentary technology it’s mind blowing.
Our students have access to the kind of production facilities that were only available to professions just a generation ago.
Our students carry around with them recording studios that have access to ears around the planet.
Our students carry around with them movie production facilities that can reach more screens than ever before than in the history of humanity.
Our students carry around with them printing presses that allow them to communicate with people across the world.
So that’s what they do.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s talk photographs. This information I’m going to feed you is really old, it’s from 2 two years ago so it’s completely wrong.
The Alexandar Turnbull library has New Zealand’s richest collection of photograph images.
If this square represents the 140,000 images held by the Alexander Turnbill library
This square is its relationship to that to all the photos on Instagram.
And if this square represents all the photos on Instagram this its relationship to all the photos on Flickr.
And if this square represents all the photos on Flickr this square represents its relationship to all the photos on Facebook.
As of 2 years ago there 140,000,000 photos on Facebook. We upload more pictures to Facebook in 2 two minutes that the whole of humanity did in the 1800s.
Our students do this with technology that fits in their hands.
Except for one place.
How many New Zealand kids are told to put their phones away because they disrupt classroom learning?
How many schools routinely block social media?
How many teachers think that this is internet thing is yet another education fad and it will be business as usual?
Our students carry with them more information than we’ve ever had in the history of humanity and we tell them to leave it in their bags.
We’ve met the enemy and it is us.
Anyone heard of this girl up on screen? She could probably be a kid in any school in New Zealand right?
Martha set up a blog last year called Never Seconds that reviewed the school dinners. There was a photo of the dish, how many mouthfuls each dinner had and a quick review of the taste of the meal. Nothing
earth-shattering and the tone was respectful.
The blog hit the media and then the local authority in charge of this particular school did the worst thing you can possibly do to a 10 year-old blogging about school lunches.
They asked her to shut it down.
Can anyone guess what the result was?
Yep by calling Martha into the heads office and asking her to stop taking pictures of her school lunch the blog quickly went viral.
All of a sudden a 10 year old was trending on twitter. People were quite rightly outraged at the thought of censorship. Eventually the school relented. Martha’s published a book and has used her new-found
fame to raise funds for a charity supplying lunches in Malawai.
Really important thing now that popular culture isn’t just this one way street anymore people. Kids can publish, photograph and video the worlds to the world.
Are we going to like what they say?
Does it even matter?
After all aren’t like 60% of the pictures on Facebook just of people’s cats.
Case in point.
Gangnam style. The song has been viewed 1.734 billion times on you tube making it more popular than Justin Beiber. But the thing is that we didn’t just listen to the music we participated.
Who could have written this script during the Cold War – hundreds of people in Moscow would be dancing to song made famous by South Korean and then publish their work to an American company.
Of course behind the goofiness of millions of people doing the horse dance can be a serious message.
This video was put up by a group of Shirley high boys protesting their school’s proposed merger with Christchurch boys high. The students were using this remix culture as vehicle for social expression.
I’ll give you another example of this two-way participation.
This year my syndicate went to see the documentary I am Eleven. What was fantastic was that the reason I had heard of the movie was actually through a teacher blog. By chance I looked up the video and it was
showing in Wellington. So off we went.
At the screening the film festival the director found out we were coming via twitter and asked for a photo of the kids enjoying the screening.
Which led to a Skype interview with the students before they went out and filmed their own documentaries.
See what I’ve been trying to illustrate is that the internet isn’t that. But the true power of the internet is really about bringing our classrooms into the world.
Last year the education and Science select committee held an inquiry into e-learning and modern learning environments. Since the school-wide topic was citizenship I asked my class if they would be interested in making a submission on learning
There were questions. What’s a submission, what’s a select committee, Can kids do this? Will we get arrested?
But eventually the kids pulled together a submission. Each group wrote and then filmed a section of the report. Which we filmed on iPod touches. However it was important that the kids had a broad audience
as possible. so the video got uploaded to youtube.
The question then was, well how do we make sure the committee sees the movie so we used the class twitter account and got in touch with the MPs via twitter. The response was amazing, 2 hours later the chairwoman of the committee Nikki Kaye had responded. This two way communication was almost instantaneous.
But really our story didn’t end there. Being based in Wellington, parliament was only a train trip away, the class decided to send along their representatives to parliament to give a submission.
It was equally exhilarating and terrifying as a teacher to have your 12 year old students sitting in front of dozen MPs, the media and packed select committee room telling their stories.
The kids were amazing but they had a lot of help along the way. They Skyped a class at Point England school in Auckland talk about their 1:1 programme, they visited Amesbury school,the first new build in Wellington in a generation to look at modern learning environments. I also put out a call for help on twitter I managed to get Mark Unsworth, one of Wellingtons most prominent lobbyists, to sit with the kids for as session.
For the kids to make a success, they needed to learn from people. What is like in 1:1 classroom? What is a modern learning environment? What is like spending time in front of select committee. I couldn’t tell them answer but I could put them in front of people. In the process they, tweaked their ideas, learned about project such a success.
What I’m getting at is technology is a mindset. The idea for the submission this came from a sign in Wellington. If it looks like a child designed the sign, you would be correct. A class of Year 1/2 kids
went on a trip around their local community and noticed their sign didn’t look very nice. They designed a new one and lobbied Wellington’s City Council for change.
So what’s at the centre of this culture?
Is it students, teachers, money, technology, the economy. Hekia Parata would say it is NCEA level 2.
Because what we put at the centre changes the shape of those concentric circles.
What makes technology in Social Science so fantastic is that enablesconnections to become a whole lot easier. That whole gap between the real world and school becomes a whole lot smaller. Our kids don’t need to study dumbed down problems, they can get their teeth into meaty problem and make change whether it be a city sign or getting lunches into schools.
So my challenge to you today is this:
What problems are there in your community that students can solve?
What issues can they speak up on?
The internet gives our students not just the ability to listen to others but also to speak up.
Because let them use crayons is the 21st century version of children should be seen but not heard.
I’ve been a lazy blogger again. I didn’t even manage a weekly reflection at the end of term such was the low level of energy levels at the end of the term. Alongside organising a school disco, I also put together a school talent show for the end of term.
For all my moaning, the rewards have been fantastic. The talent show in particular was an amazing showcased some amazing kids. While sports and academics quite right get a lot of attention, the talent show made me realise how important it is for our kids to shine in other areas.
I was reminded of this again when it came to the end of term expo for our passion projects. My class gets 20% time and at the end of the term we get together to find out more about what the kids have gotten up to. The diversity of groups was fantastic but what really blew my mind was how the kids ended up writing of their own volition. Sure they might have made manga cartoons or movie scripts or a multi-touch book about engines. But they are still communicating.
It’s been another busy holiday. I was up in Auckland before heading to Hamilton to give a presentation for SocCon on Tuesday. Then to add a little bit more craziness I moved house this Thursday.
The SocCon presentation was something that had me quaking in my boots. This was my first presentation, I’m a newbie teacher and the audience was made up of mostly secondary school teachers and tertiary lecturers. What could a newbie primary teacher add to the conversation?
As I was preparing my presentation, I realised that I wasn’t really writing a presentation but the ideas of my learning network. Bits and pieces of ideas, experiences were laced in with ideas from all the hundreds of teachers across the planet that influence my learning.
Apologies for the poor quality of writing this week. I’ve been trying to write this post over the last few hours while my apartment in Wellington has been rocked by a series strong of earthquakes. It’s a bit disconcerting being up on the fifth floor but even the xfactor updates were a relief from the shaking.
One of the joys of teaching primary school is that, in theory, you get to teach a bit of everything.
In practice the bulk of my time is still reading, writing, maths with some PE thrown in for good measure. Most schools also have an inquiry/topic which covers everything else.
Intermediate kids go off for specialist teaching in some subjects those opportunities to teach the ‘fun’ stuff is even further stretched for generalist teachers.
Simply put there are not enough hours in the day to get to get through all the other must dos let alone those practical hands-on type activities.
Our school is very fortunate to have a kitchen where all kids get a chance to learn more about cooking. On Wednesdays an advanced class runs for some students.
Knowing about my love of cake decorating the foods teacher graciously let me have a go at teaching the kids some basic cake decorating skills.
As an added bonus, my class went up in the morning to bake bread. We had a look at yeast yesterday, what it looked like, what it smelled like. Then left our bread to rise overnight.
We came back in the morning, happens to the mixture over time.
I even found a nifty timelapse on youtube for the kids to look out the changes in the dough.
Take aways from today.
Food = Smiles
There’s something about sharing food that always gets the same sheepish grin from kids.
Hands-on learning = exhaustion
Even by my standards, today was manic. On top of PD before school, colouring fondant during morning tea as well as having a late finish on cupcakes, I also had student council plus saw a couple of maths groups before assembly. I was on feet rushing around. But I know when all is said and done my kids might not remember the lesson I gave on fractions but they will remember eating hot bread on a cold winters day.
School maths does not equal real world maths
A student who has never answered a test question about fractions correctly on a test was able to tell me lightening fast how many 1/4 teaspoons I would need to make 1 + 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Context is everything.
Never stereotype any activity as ‘girly’
A lot of guys would probably roll their eyes at cake decorating and wonder why bother teaching boys about cupcake decorating. But here’s the thing. 12 year old boys haven’t figured out cake decorating is a ‘girly’ pursuit. They like eating and they get to play with fondant which is basically edible playdough. To a 12 year old, boy or girl, this is awesome.
Teaching out of my comfort zone makes me a better teacher
I have my room and my way of doing things. While there might be some cross-class collaboration in my syndicate, I can see how easy it is to fall into a teaching rut. Today gave me a good shake up and I learned tons. Moreover actually teaching rather than just popping in for a quick nosey gave me a huge appreciation for the incredible work that goes on up in technology classes.