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?
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!
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.
Welcome to OpenEdToolbox, a place where I hope to group and share a number of resources that I develop and use in my own classroom. Watch this space for tried and tested classroom learning activities designed for primary (elementary) education.
Feel free to contact me via the blog or my Twitter account linked at the top of the page.