Monday, July 09, 2007

Failures and starting again

Today I went to visit a friend whose son is going to the new and much touted Coburg Senior High School. This is from the website: “The first stage of refurbishment, a $3 million re-fit of one of the four main buildings, is complete. This has created specialist science classrooms, as well as magnificent open spaces known as Learning Commons. Coburg Senior is an adult learning environment that is less like a school and more like a workplace of learning. In keeping with an adult learning environment, there are no bells, nor a compulsory uniform.”

Technology use is incorporated into the learning: “Apple Computers Australia is a key strategic partner that is supporting the learning of students through the provision of technical and professional development elements. Students will be using the Apple environment to complete much of the online work that is a hallmark of the school. Podcasting, iMovie, iPhoto, iChat, iLife,GarageBand... all these applications and many more are at the core of manner in which students present their work at Coburg Senior.” Each student is required to have a ipod provided by the school. “The learning commons provide large open space learning areas where students and staff work together on learning tasks without being limited by classroom walls and a teacher centred "factory of learning" physical environment common in school architecture over many years.” The students will be assessed in some of their classes using blogs, podcasts and digital portfolios. I had a look at, and liked, the LMS they are using which is Studywiz. It looks clean and simple. The school of the future?

This topic reminds me of my dismal failure with regard to the students in Year 12 English producing podcasts for learning which was an idea I had for this year. The students would have been very pleased to listen to podcasts produced by “experts” or “professionals” (students’ own words) but would not spend the time making their own. In vain did I tell them that their learning would be richer and deeper if they were involved in the production; in the stresses of Year 12 they felt they couldn’t afford the time. Oh well, I’m planning to have a go at podcasting with my Year 7s for whom learning has not yet become a source of stress (mostly). One of my Year 7s just emailed me a poem she has written asking for my feedback. I’m impressed.


After a period of slackness as regards blogging I am planning to write a blog post every day reflecting on my practice as a teacher in preparation for the VITTA workshop at Ivanhoe Grammar. One of the workshops I will be presenting is called “blogging as reflective practice.” I plan to write about one or other of my classes, what the aims of the class were, what happened and my learning from it. I want to get the Year 11's blogging about writing from the Context of the ideas coming out of Gattaca. They are in the first year of the new English Study Design of which the main change is the writing the students do is based on their study of texts. I would also like those students to be conversing with Lillian's classes as well. So let's see how it all goes.

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