One of those times when you let things slide little by little and next thing you know there’s a 5 month gap between posts. Not that there hasn’t been anything to share of course, just that in the busyness, it was always ‘I’ll do that tomorrow’.
Well, the wake up call has come.
Working with a group of teachers who want to want to build their professional learning network (PLN) and take it to where they are active bloggers, tweeters and teachmeeters. An email lobbed in my inbox the other day with a link to one of the team’s new blog. Here it is: Inspired to learn and create
It certainly inspired me to ‘get back into it’. Thanks for the kickstart, Cathy! @cathy_mc2
Oh, and here’s the link to our ‘Build Our PLN‘ blog.
Recently during what would traditionally be called a ‘Staff meeting’, students and teachers shared their learning with each other. Parents were present too when the students were sharing. Briefly, here are my notes from the Learnmeet.
Year 1 students sharing how they completed their individual research projects and what they learned in the process.
Year 2 students sharing their Numeracy learning by telling us about the book ‘One is a Snail and Ten is a Crab‘ and then posing a question to the rest of us – “How many ways can you make 24 by choosing different animals (that have different numbers of legs).
Year 5 student sharing how edmodo has helped her learning this year.
Kindergarten teachers sharing the importance of play in early years learning. I liked how they finish with the question ‘When was the last time you played?’ They also demonstrated use of iPads to help a new arrival student to practise sentence building and storytelling.
Year 1 teachers sharing how they use Moodle to set up weekly forums with a question for the children to respond to and share their responses. Also posting activity sheets that parents have requested to help their children with Numeracy and Literacy practice at home. Establishing and strengthening the home / school link.
Year 2 teachers sharing the importance of collaboration and reflection in promoting successful open plan learning spaces. Called on the work of Michael Fullan and others to emphasise the importance of using research evidence as part of the basis for planning open plan learning spaces. Some of our teachers had earlier been to a seminar run by Michael Fullan, part of which focused on the wrong and right drivers for educational change. It was good to see these terms being used by the teachers to describe how they use research findings to help guide them in their implementation of open plan learning spaces.
Year 3 teachers sharing how they organise their learning space, and the process of working together to maintain flexibility in managing a timetable that accounts for different preferences in learning styles and the ‘interruptions’ that occur.
Year 4 teachers sharing how they use Dropbox to share teaching and learning resources. Each of the Year 4 teachers is part time, so they need a way to share resources and they need to be able to upload and download them both from home and from work.
Year 5 teacher sharing how now is an exciting time to be teaching, with the many opportunities that tools such as edmodo provide for collaboration and shared learning.
Teacher shared her experience of the PLANE Festival of Learning and how she has already implemented an initiative around game based learning as a result of attending the festival.
Teacher sharing the work of John Hattie and how that has made her rethink and change her teaching to focus more on the students’ view of learning and to prioritise activities which have a higher ‘effect size‘. In the videos below John Hattie explains and describes teaching practices and their effect sizes.
‘Disasters and below average methods’
Teacher sharing experience of ISTE 2012 Conference and implications the experience has had on promoting the way we organise Professional Learning.
Teacher Librarian sharing a new vision for the junior school library space, with of focus on making the more flexible and open to a variety of uses throughout the day.
The Learnmeet was a great way for our teachers and students to share their learning in a supportive, collaborative way. Having attended Teachmeets and a Studentmeet it seemed a good idea to blend the two. I’m glad we did and am looking forward to more next year.
PLANE held their Festival of Learning (FOL) at Sydney’s Seymour Centre over the 19th and 20th October. If you haven’t come across it before, PLANE = Pathways for Learning, Anywhere, anytime – a Network for Educators.
In my wrap up of FOL, I’ll just comment on some of the sessions I attended, and not try to give a picture of the whole Festival. I’ll use my tweets to remind me of the learning and connecting experiences over the two days.
Gaming and Virtual Worlds
This was the strand I was looking forward to most as it’s the strand I have the most to learn about.
Quest Atlantis has been around for 10 years but this is the first time I’ve been to a walkthrough and discussion (as I said, so much to learn here). Dr Bron Stuckey explained the rationale behind Quest Atlantis and for me the most important feature is it provides a secure environment for teachers and students (aged 9 – 16) to learn through mission based activities in an online world. I’m keen to pursue this idea with some of our students next year and have other teachers involved too.
Lucas Gillispie, online from the USA, took us through SAGA (Story and Game Academy). I’ll save this for later reading and exploration.
Apps and Mobile technologies
With sooo many apps around now, I enjoyed the emphasis in the ‘There’s an App for That’ sessions on content creation and even building apps. iBuildApp.com seemed popular, pushing that move from not only content creation but towards making apps to suit your needs and interests.
I liked Greg Alchin’s advice that one of the best apps on the iPad is ‘Settings’….. dig into it to see what more it can do for you.
Here’s a jumble of the good things I took away from the keynote addresses. Adam Elliot’s infectious humour and enthusiasm as he related his story of winning an Oscar in 2004 – so many good points, it was a case of ‘pick your own metaphor’ as an example of making change happen. Dean Groom’s comment around ‘schools are no more built for the internet than high street shops are built for online shopping’ (or something close to those words). And Dr Jason Fox’s great technique of getting us to practise that age-old post-conference experience: you return to work, try to spread your enthusiasm and some people are, let’s say, less than interested. It was fun and useful to role play that scenario with someone sitting nearby.
Connecting with other educators
And so on to the most important part of events like FOL – they give us all the chance to connect with other educators. I met up with teachers who had similar interests and were exploring similar initiatives. A couple of examples:
– Caught up with a teacher who is using edmodo to connect with other classes around the world. We’ll be connecting one of our Year 5 classes with one of hers. Initial suggestion is to see how the two groups can share their learning in HSIE and Science.
– Met an e-learning integrator who is doing interesting work integrating iPads into learning and found out enough about Canvas Learning Management System (more here), FilesConnect app and Media Core to want to go looking for more. We’re arranging to visit each other’s schools to share more of each other’s initiatives and adventures in e-learning integration.
Wrapping Up Gangnam Style
Topping off the Festival was the mighty Gangnam Style dancing blast. Thanks @rolfek for posting:
Thanks to all at PLANE for putting on a great two days, giving us much to go on with to help us and our students to learn today and every day.
Some of the presentations that stay in my mind are:
Stephen Heppell – his presentation style is more like a conversation than a ‘keynote speech’. His talk addressed:
– the importance of arranging the physical space so that it promotes learning and collaboration. Students having a role in building their learning spaces.
– students helping peers and teachers with their tech issues. A ‘Genius Bar’ idea staffed by students.
– gave examples of how new devices now are encouraging collaboration (example, students gathered around an iPad – much easier to do this with an iPad than a laptop or a desktop).
Alan November – talked about the work of Dr Eric Mazur on the use of peer instruction, where students read the content outside of formal lectures and use class time to discuss questions related to the content with each other. An example of the flipping of the traditional classroom setup, with ‘kids teaching kids’ is Mathtrain.tv, a site with maths tutorials created by children for their peers.
Pymble Ladies College – a Principal’s account of change in a school that was already well resourced. So the focus was on getting teams to change the way they work rather than on the provision of resources.
Alan November’s excellent keynote was shortened so that a sponsor’s (Dell) ‘keynote’ could start on time. There was a stark contrast between the two keynotes. Alan November highlighted the importance of the child at the centre of learning, where the Dell keynote focused on how their products make learning easier and more collaborative for students. Sponsors have a role in conferences like this and the trade-off for their presence is that conference fees are lower. For me, I’d rather higher conference fees if it means no presentations like this one. Educators can see through the message to the marketing exercise. I left before it finished.
Was the conference experience worthwhile?
For me, yes. Hearing leaders like Alan November and Stephen Heppell is valuable in that helps to provide a way for us to know that we are ‘on track’ with what we are doing to bring about change in our schools.
The 2013 Congress website – EduTech Congress and Exhibition 2013
At ISTE 2012, you’re automatically immersed in the diversity of educators and tools for learning. There is so much going in here that it becomes a challenge to find a way through to the ‘good stuff’. My plan is loose with an emphasis on taking advantage of spontaneous moments – attend sessions that sound interesting but happy to be diverted if I find something better along the way.
A bit like teaching and learning is for many of us now – an abundance of choice. Knowing what to do with those choices is a key challenge. Listen to others, trust instincts, keep an eye out for hype and stay flexible.
By chance I came across the Emerson quote above while browsing books in the ISTE Central area of the conference. Seemed to me to be a good thing to keep in mind both now and after the conference.
While completing some study on ‘Teacher Growth and Change’, we were asked to read an article about some seeming paradoxes around the idea of teachers conducting research. Here they are:
‘Paradox #1: It must be mandated; it can’t be mandated’
‘Paradox #2: It must be championed by a strong principal; it can’t be owned by the principal’
‘Paradox #3: There must be an outside actor; the outside actor’s role is questionable’
‘Paradox #4: Teachers must learn research skills; teachers must trust their own knowledge so as not to be overwhelmed by the things they need to learn’
‘Paradox #5: Teachers’ teaching changes profoundly; teachers say their research confirms things they already knew’
‘Paradox #6: For it to work as a whole school reform, teacher research must be woven into the fabric of the school culture; teacher research is contrary to the culture of schools’
…from ‘Teacher research and school change: paradoxes, problems and possibilities’ by Jennifer Garvey Berger, Katherine C. Boles and Vivian Troen, pp 93 – 205 in Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 21, Issue 1, January 2005
Having undertaken a few Practitioner Inquiry projects, I find all of these ring true, with perhaps the exception of paradox 6. For several years, teacher research was woven into the culture of the school and I find this makes a positive difference to what a school thinks is achievable in teaching and learning.
This year, part of our professional learning plan offers a coaching model. A teacher can choose to work with a colleague who takes on a coaching role, helping the teacher to achieve their professional learning goal for the year. I’m working 1:1 with some teachers who have goals related to to their integration of ICT into their teaching or another aspect of their role.
I’ve chosen Edmodo as the tool for us to record our progress through the year. A couple of reasons guided this choice. Some of our students will be using Edmodo for class activities this year, so it will be beneficial to have a number of teachers familiar with its use. Also, I’m asking the teachers involved in the coaching if they are willing to share their ‘journey’ with others who are also involved. Edmodo facilitates this easily by being able to form a group where they can see each other’s posts. So while the coaching sessions are 1:1, Edmodo provides a facility for collaboration.
This then leads on to the idea of the coaching sessions having some part in building our professional learning network (PLN). It will be good to see how this way of working will help teachers achieve their teaching goals, and together, build our PLN’s.
I’d suggest a great start to seeing how a teacher incorporates Edmodo into her teaching and learning is this blog post by Bianca Hewes.
Some teachers have used Twitter for years and have posted thousands of tweets and gathered thousands of followers. Some have heard of it but never used it. These notes are for some colleagues who are new to Twitter and want to start using it.
So you’ve heard of Twitter, may have opened an account, but it really hasn’t gone anywhere useful. Maybe followed a couple of people, ‘posted’ once or twice and then left it because it seemed useless. I did the same when I started. Twitter is a tool that relies on ‘following’ enough interesting people and being ‘followed’ by enough interesting people… and having conversations with them and sharing useful information and links.
It’s been suggested that there are 4 main stages people go through in taking up Twitter.
So why should teachers use Twitter? Well, simply…
– To be connected to other teachers around the world who share a common interest and expertise. You may have great colleagues at the school where you work, and there are thousands more around the world.
– And because of that, you can develop a Professional (or Personal) Learning Network (PLN) where you can get help and feedback, and provide it for others.
The 4 Corners program on 6 Feb 2012 ‘Revolution in the classroom’ provided a spark for a great Twitter conversation for people following the hashtag #4corners (What’s a Twitter hashtag?). So if you’ve been tentative and want to start, grab someone you know who uses Twitter, and start following (and tweeting). And when you’re stuck and no one’s around, tweet for help or go to Twitter support!
Wikipedia’s entry on Twitter
Mashable.com ‘Twitter Guide Book’
Twitter basics – help from Twitter.com