Purposeful Engagement: How Creative Thinking Can Inspire LearningPosted: November 12, 2012 Filed under: Education | Tags: media, resource, TED 4 Comments
I could spend hours browsing the various talks on the TED website or app. Why? Because everyone who speaks at TED has a fascinating story to tell. I become completely immersed in topics that I’ve never been actively interested in, to name a few: Evolution, toasters and happy secrets.
The point I’m making is that once we have a genuine, relevant ‘hook’ by which we can purposefully engage our student audience, most of the work is done for us. The hard work lies in finding the ‘hook’.
I’m not suggesting that TED is the answer, or that we should tune students in to lessons by showing them these videos, but here is one which I was able to draw from this week when beginning a discussion on Asia and linking our Maths talk to real-life.
Which resources do you draw from to ‘hook in’ your students?
Do you have any examples of your favourite ‘hooks’?
What are your favourite TED talks? Share the best of them and your comments below!
Professional Teaching Portfolios, What Should They Look Like?Posted: October 25, 2012 Filed under: Education | Tags: media, personal, portfolio 2 Comments
As a second-year graduate teacher, it is around this time of year that I see a lot of activity on my social networks related to final teaching rounds and preparation for new graduates who will be seeking a job the following year. Lately I’ve become hung up on the obsession that some universities have with the creation of a huge portfolio that graduates are encouraged to take to each interview they successfully apply for.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the creation of a document that promotes reflection upon successful completion of a Bachelor’s (or similar) Degree in Education, and I’ll list some of those reasons below. However, I also think that there are some other things to stop and consider before potentially spending hours on a static document that will rapidly pass its use by date.
Firstly, here’s what I like about the concept of a professional portfolio:
- As I mentioned, by curating a portfolio, new graduates can spend valuable time reflecting on the pedagogy and experience that their degree has delivered;
- Becoming fluent with terms associated with professional practice allows candidates to practice responses to questions if they are lucky enough to be short-listed for an interview;
- There is a huge sense of pride and achievement associated with constructing a document that reflects what you have done, what you are capable of and where your true passions lie.
Now, the parts that I’m hung up on:
- As with any aspect of teaching and learning: practice, knowledge and curriculum are constantly changing. Too many portfolios seem to be static documents which leave little room for updating. Anything representing your professional capacity as an educator should be open to change.
- They are bulky and difficult to navigate.
- The general consensus among the interviewing panel members (in my experience) is that they rarely have time to look through a portfolio.
I’m not against the idea of collating professional knowledge and experience, the very opposite! In fact, visual arts teachers rely very heavily on hard copy portfolios of work for obvious reasons. However, I am just trying to encourage people to think about how they go about it.
For example, digital portfolios have many advantages:
- If you do a great job, they also show your capacity as an ICT educator – a highly sought quality in teachers;
- There are a number of amazing, innovative publishing alternatives (Prezi is a must see!);
- It is inclusive of engaging, digital media (such as photographs andvideos) that have a huge potential to showcase your various talents;
- It can be showcased from a variety of different platforms; including iPad, projectors, laptops, Skype and much more;
- It is a live document that can easily be shared, edited and updated for every purpose – this is my most valued aspect.
I hope this post proves useful to those currently updating their professional resources, and I welcome any comments or thoughts in the space below.
An #EdTech Question: Windows 8 or Apple Tablets?Posted: October 22, 2012 Filed under: Education | Tags: Apple, tablet, teachingtool, Windows 6 Comments
I am appealing to all EdTech people on this one!
I was chatting with a university friend on Saturday about becoming a 1:1 tablet school, providing a networked system of tablets for the majority of students to use.
She is lucky enough to have the dilemma between installing a Windows 8 network of tablets vs. the iOS on Apple iPad. We spent a while weighing up the obvious pros and cons between the two, and I agreed that I’d put it to my PLN for some further ideas and discussion to help direct her school’s final decision.
Here are some of the main points of our discussion:
- Apple is already immersed in our staff/students’ lives via iPhones/personal iPads etc.
- The iPad is very flexible in terms of charging and syncing.
- School networks seem to have more flexibility with Windows OS.
- It is a huge investment to go 1:1 tablet/student ratio. Will tablets replace netbooks? Have they already done so?
- What is the lifespan of the current tablet computers. Is it a worthwhile investment?
Please help out by adding any comments/suggestions/links below to help get this discussion started. It is a discussion that is very likely to take place in many schools as we see Windows (perhaps?) begin to close the gap on Apple’s dominant market share in education and elsewhere.
I look forward to reading and sharing your comments!
Which system do you use in your school?
What do you see as any obvious pros/cons of choosing either system for a school network set-up?
Have you seen this discussion taking place elsewhere? Or even had it at your school? Please share your ideas in the comments space below.
Relevance or Replication? Publishing for a Purpose.Posted: September 15, 2012 Filed under: Education, Literacy | Tags: literacy, maths, media, PISA, reading, writing 4 Comments
First of all, sorry for the delay between posts. End-of-term-itis (self-diagnosed), combined with a major whole-school event and a master’s assignment, have pushed any potential ideas for sharing to the back of my mind.
I’d like to share some of the thoughts and reflections I’ve been considering lately while my class have completed several writer’s workshops, individual student/teacher conferences and ultimately, published pieces of writing.
All too often, certainly throughout my late primary and secondary education, the term ‘publishing’ has given too much emphasis to word-processing a finished piece of writing, adding a nice title and a bright yellow, unreadable form of ‘Kahootz’ font. I quizzed my students on what they thought ‘publishing’ was, and was fairly unsurprised to hear similar responses.
However, by taking my questioning a step further, I was able to tune them into my line of thinking a little more. Over the course of several tuning-in parts of our Reading and Writing lessons, I introduced my 3/4s to a variety of texts (online newspapers, YouTube videos, Twitter to name a few), explaining that books were just one example of a text that we can learn and gather information from. After giving them this as the ‘hook’, I was able to encourage them to volunteer what our understanding of other texts might be, their answers looked something like this:
This set the basis for the discussion that we have been having this term – what are the ways in which we are able to publish our ideas? As the title and introduction of the post indicates, I began to feel that students simply typing their work wasn’t enough to consider it ‘published’, and I wanted them to feel this way too. After all, if a student has already conferenced with me, received feedback and refined their writing – isn’t word processing it just replication of that final handwritten product?
Now that my students are grounded in new (and some old) forms of media, they are beginning to have a deeper understanding of how and why people did/do things that way. Now that we have a comprehensive portfolio of conferenced writing, and some resources available, there are so many options open to us for showing our ideas. We ended up using the first mind map to develop a classroom poster, ‘Ways we can Publish’ (photo on the way!). One of my Grade 4 girls hit the nail on the head just the other day:
‘Teddy, I’ve typed up my fictional recount and turned it into a podcast. If I publish it another way, to show someone else, that’s okay isn’t it?’
‘Fireworks! Excellent! Fantastic!’ I beamed, ‘Here is a year’s supply of stickers!’ After all, isn’t this what we want our students to be doing with their learning? Understanding how to use the tools that we have got at our fingertips to do something better, cooler, more awesome. Instead of replicating, we are generating something new each time, constantly adding new angles and ideas. This is what I call publishing for a purpose: turning old ideas into new forms that encourage people to become switched on by our way of presenting and thinking.
Where does this all fit in? To finish, let me refer to data generated from the 2009 PISA survey results showing Math data that has been compared with entrepreneurial capabilities by Yong Zhao:
Look closely and you’ll notice that the Asian countries leading the way in regards to testing aren’t achieving the same creative outcomes in entrepreneurial capabilities as Australia and the United States. I’ll reflect on this in more detail in a future post.
For now though, we have success among creative entrepreneurs in our education system. Let’s encourage our students to continue publishing ideas in these new and exciting ways.
Of course, this idea of presenting our knowledge doesn’t just stop in the literacy hour, it extends into every area of the curriculum. This publishing focus was begun after students were immersed in the inquiry writing process for Term 1, and spent time learning revision and editing techniques in Term 2.
I invite any responses and feedback to this post as I would love to see what you are doing in your Literacy classrooms and offer some feedback of my own.
What is working for you in your literacy classrooms this year?
What have your students have really taken hold of and enjoyed?
Are there any publishing resources that I haven’t mentioned here worth sharing?
What I’m Reading – ProcrastinationPosted: September 8, 2012 Filed under: Education | Tags: books, Hattie, lifestyle, literacy, personal, reading, review 4 Comments
Okay so I’m writing this post to avoid doing my master’s assignment, but I thought it would be interesting.
I always tend to be reading a few books at once, I like to try and keep a work/life balance and I’m always appreciative of the books that I can pick-up, put-down (such as Hattie’s brilliant Visible Learning adaptation below).
Ballarat has a top-notch selection of commercial book retailers and various second-hand book stores, my favourite being The Known World in Sturt St – I can spend hours in there! Anyway, listed below are some of my current reads.
Engagement Matters, Personalised Learning for Grades 3 to 6 (Kathy Walker & Shona Bass, Acer Press 2011)
This inspiring resource is a follow-up from Play Matters, and offers educators an overview and step-by-step instructions and resources for implementing the Personalised Learning approach in your school. I read this book at the beginning of the year and find something reaffirming and new every time I come back to it. A practical guide for all teachers which I highly recommend.
Visible Learning for Teachers, (John Hattie, Routledge 2012)
Speaking for itself as ground-breaking research, me and my colleagues aptly refer to this book as ‘The Bible’ (Which leads us to ask, ‘is John Hattie God?’). Dispelling myths about some strategies, and providing concrete evidence to support others, this is a book that I constantly refer back to throughout the year to affirm and inform my practice.
The Gringo Trail, a darkly comic road-trip through South America (Mark Mann, Summerdale 1999)
Pulled off a dusty shelf in the ‘Travel – South America’ section of The Known World, this account of three friends’ journey across the turbulent continent has been a stepping stone in my future travel plans for 2013. This book lends itself to the rich history, culture and drama of a range of South American countries and inhabitants.
The Consolations of Philosophy (Alain De Botton, Penguin Books 2000)
De Botton has recently become one of my favourite authors. He has an extraordinary capability to work philosophy and its thinking into layman’s terms. He does this by exploring some of history’s great (and sometimes not so great) characters and exploring their lives in incredibly succinct, relevant detail. In The Consolations of Philosopy, De Botton offers consolation for: Unpopularity, not having enough money, frustration, inadequacy, a broken heart and difficulties. He is also author of a number of other subject-specific books.
Until recently I used Fishpond for my online orders. A colleague has recently recommended Book Depository for their quick postage and excellent prices, but I cannot speak for them myself.
Please use the comments section to add any feedback. I have posed some questions below to help with discussion.
Back to my essay!
What is on your teacher bookshelf at the moment?
Have you got any particular educational researchers/writers to recommend?
What do you read in your spare time?
Have you found this post useful?
Please share your feedback in the comments, I am always on the lookout for a good read!
Graphic Organisers in the ClassroomPosted: September 7, 2012 Filed under: Education, Literacy | Tags: 21stcentury, app, Apple, brainstorm, iPad, learningtool, links, literacy, reading, resource, tablet, teachingtool, template 3 Comments
One of my favourite things about graphic organisers is their application to a wide range of topics and student abilities in our classroom. I find that students learn best when they are made to feel as if they have some choice in their planning approach and, when appropriate, I find that offering a range of planning alternatives is a great way to cater for each individual.
I gradually introduce various graphic organisers through the tuning in part of my lessons throughout Term 1, and encourage their use in reading groups (scaffolded and independently). As the school year progresses, students begin using their prior knowledge to select templates that suit their task. I also have a small window display that I provide for student reference.
There is a huge, potentially endless, range of resources out there. I have narrowed this list down and added some of the ways I integrate them into our classroom learning. Great news for techies too, as there is a growing range of graphic organiser apps being built and shared for iPad-based education!
Freeology (Graphic Organisers) – I like this website because of the huge amount of effort that has gone into giving ideas for almost every graphic organiser template. If you want to introduce these to your reading/writing groups there is a great range of ideas located here.
Eduplace – The templates here are clean and simple. They are useful in the Adobe Reader app for iPad, as students are able to annotate and save their work using the app. These are predominantly the templates that I use on my displays and offer to my students.
The graphic organiser BLMS look best when they are printed on to coloured cartridge paper. I have considered colour coding them in the past, but I’m not sure how useful that would be. I’ll get there eventually.
Wordle – www.wordle.net – This fun tool lets you play around with texts that you provide and create a ‘Word Cloud’ that gives frequently occurring words more notability. Before reading a news article I copy the content into the Wordle and my grade hypothesise what the news story might be about.
Gliffy – http://www.gliffy.com/ – (Requires signup – Free 30-day trial) A handy resource both professionally and for students’ use. This one requires some time investment but it produces some pretty darn cool results.
Popplet (lite) – iTunes Store – A colleague introduced me to this student-friendly app with a neat, simple interface. Multiple graphic organisers can be saved in one app (Full version only) and then exported as PDF or JPEG files. The lite version allows for one local copy and you can still export your files – I find that this is workable if you are only using it in small groups or have a 1:1 iPad/student ratio.
iMindmapHD – iTunes Store – A step up from the simplicity of Popplet but it makes up for it with some trickier user features. The free app is quite restricted but still provides enough options to be worthy of a mention and make the list.
Take a Look (Kath Murdoch) – A colleague introduced me to Murdoch’s inquiry-based teacher tools. Her reflective tools are no exception. This text is well worth a Google.
WA First Steps (Reading, Writing, Viewing) – A formidable resource that we use in our annual, term and weekly planning. They aren’t cheap, but are worth a look from a team based/whole school planning initiative.
Today I was in the world of Twitter and I stumbled across this article on the (extremely awesome) tech website, Mashable:
This has inspired me to lead my Grade 3/4s down the infographic path in Term 4, what possibilities! I’ll keep you posted.
Thank you all so much for your support and kind comments so far. Please use the section below to share some of your uses for graphic organisers in your classrooms, here are some questions to get you started:
Do you have a favourite resource that I haven’t mentioned? How do you integrate it into your practice?
Should we be working towards making everything tech-based (iPads, apps etc.) or do BLMs still have a place in our students’ planning and brainstorming?
Do you have a blog? Share it with us below!
News Shorts, Ed Tools and more.Posted: September 2, 2012 Filed under: Education | Tags: blog, blogger, HandyWebResource, internet, iPad, IWB, links, news, resource, smartboard, twitter, website 4 Comments
I’m going to draw from my weekly notes and favourited Tweets to build a range of links into this short monthly section that cover related news, interesting blog posts and recommended Ed Tools. I’ll try my best to experiment with some of the tools offered. If not, I’ll take care to ensure that they are re-blogged from reputable educational sources!
ABC News – ‘What’s in the Gonski Report?‘, is a well constructed article that includes relevant information, some interesting infographics and a pop quiz! (via @wombatlyons)
ABC News – Peter Garrett alluding to the the fact that it could be several years before an overhaul of school funding takes place (video) (@abcnews)
Blogs and Bloggers
‘The Great IWB Swindle‘ – A thought-provoking, well written blog article that prompted me to reflect on my use of the technology in my classroom. (@richielambert via @kathleen_morris)
Edgalaxy.com – A blog that I have browsed in the past. Regularly has interesting posts and valuable links and ideas. (@AnaChristinaPrts via @mgraffin)
Integrating Technology in the Primary Classroom – An inspiring blog that led me to many other intriguing resources that I plan to investigate and blog on in the future! (via the author, @kathleen_morris)
That’s all for now. I am planning to investigate Sqworl and Storify for my next post. If you’re an expert or you have any comments please use the comments section for any feedback or tips!
App of the Month – CriteriaPosted: September 1, 2012 Filed under: Education | Tags: 21stcentury, app, Apple, appofthemonth, computing, internet, iPad, iPod, learningtool, resource, tablet, teachingtool 1 Comment
Colleague: ‘What apps should I get?’
Rotate iPad 90 degrees, shuffle across to them,
The reality is that there are just so many apps out there, for such a range of purposes, that it is not always possible (in the same time it takes to drink your lukewarm coffee) to pinpoint to a colleague exactly which apps are relevant, useful and practical for them. My current experience of app-based technology in education is an enthusiastic group of professionals spending precious time integrating apps that actually make their lives more complicated! Personally, I have done this and later found myself spending more time re-reorganising files and folders, notes and photographs to get everything back into one, accessible space. I can say the same for so-called lesson enhancing apps.
Reflecting on this, I’m sure we all agree that our focus is best directed when we find an app that does a better job for us than we are doing already. I’d like to clarify my future posts by categorising apps under three simple terms – those being that the app makes things easier, faster or cooler.Because every student will tell you that if it (the lesson) is easy to interact, fast or cool, they’re in. And teachers? Well, I can only speak for myself…
With this in mind, I’m going to choose an app each month that achieves one, two or all of these criteria, to share and evaluate them. Perhaps by explaining their usefulness under these simple terms, I can make them more readily accessible to you.
I look forward to hearing your feedback, experiences and suggestions for alternatives so that this monthly section can become a forum and resource for others. Please feel free to use the comments section to direct future posts or any app categories that you would like to discuss.
Disclaimer: I am by no means an Apple expert. I will only present apps that are tried and tested.
Handy Web Resource – AugustPosted: August 29, 2012 Filed under: Education | Tags: 21stcentury, games, HandyWebResource, internet, IWB, links, maths, numeracy, oswego, resource, smartboard, website 2 Comments
The kids in my grade have had heaps of fun this year being introduced to different concepts via the resources page on the Oswego City School District’s website (above).
Personal favourites of mine include: Stop the Clock (1-5 offering increasing difficulty options) and, Speed Grid Addition.
You can find the game links at: http://resources.oswego.org/games/