Sunday, May 20, 2007
Richelle showed us some fabulous work by Year 12 German Language students, one of whom had composed and sung his own work on what it was like to live in Australia in German!. He had then sent this mp3 file to his German host family to critique and then improved it. This really showed the power of podcasting in the classroom. Richelle also told us about a program called Breakfast bytes, which was a program for teachers in her school to learn about podcasting over a (catered) breakfast which worked so well that she ran it twice. One feature of this was that she sent out the invitations to the staff by a sound file she had recorded.
Richelle demonstrated how simple it was to record podcasts using an iPod (or any mp3player) with a Micro Memo recorder to plug in to the iPod. There were lots more ideas such as when students are on an excursion they can record their impressions of what they are seeing to later turn into a podcast summarising their learning.
One idea I got from this session that I want to try is getting my Year 7 students to make a radio show, writing the scripts in pairs on things that interest them that they have done some research on (or possibly interviews with friends or family) and recording them. I still need to think some more about how to do this.
I also want to introduce the concept to my Year 12s in the next week, as they are doing their orals outside of class time and preparing to write an essay on one of the two texts they have studied so far. I would like them to work in pairs on their chosen text and interview each other on aspects of the text, record these and put them up as podcasts which would be useful for revision at the end of the year.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
It was great to hear the students around the room saying, “What did you get for q? “What about ambition for A?”, having students both ask and answer the questions of each other. To produce a useful list for revision was a really collaborative effort and I loved using it. It might have helped that we were in the computer room and could perform a search of the play script online.
This activity both surfaced knowledge the students already had and created new knowledge for the students. A worthwhile activity on many counts. Thanks to Graham and his colleagues. (I just heard one say, "Use 'yearn'," and the response: “how do you spell that?”) Most of the students are now back from the injections and we will now continue to read the play.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
A most interesting idea that I came away with from the workshop was the idea of the Learner Profile (click here to see a short video on this concept.) The attributes and descriptors of the learner profile define the type of learner the IBO hopes to develop through its programs. It is concerned with the education of the whole person, emphasizing intellectual, personal, emotional and social growth through all domains of knowledge and can be summarized in just ten words. People who are: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers , communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective. We talked about ways to work towards this, which would mean ways to change the thinking of teachers in some cases. We talked a bit about this tonight as well and I look forward to learning more about it and enacting it in my school.
Image: 'Melbourne City Panorama'
Last night I went to my first edubloggers meetup. I met Graham Wegner in Melbourne when he and five other teachers from his school came over from Adelaide for the Teachers at Work conference with Jay McTighe. When Graham contacted me about a possible meetup I was very excited, and so we spent some time together having a meal and discussing common experiences and, of course, the conference. Towards the end of the evening when I was reluctantly talking about going home to prepare for the next days lessons, Graham and his colleagues, Annabel, Rebecca, Maria and Nancy came out with several alternative ideas I could use, all from the conference experience they had that day, hence the title of this blog post (thanks, Graham).
One of these was The Little Book made from a folded sheet of A4 paper that reminded me of the Literature Pocketmod made by The Reflective Teacher a while back. This one makes a 6 page little book with front and back covers that may be appealing for students to make and use. It could be used for example, to plan an essay or to summarise the characters in a text – one to a page. (I used mine to record the rest of the ideas that were flowing swiftly round the table.) Another idea was to get the students to make a sociogram of the characters in the text we are studying and have them show the impact the characters have on each other (very relevant for the text my year 11s are studying right now – Macbeth).
Another idea was to have students write the names of the characters or events in the text and work in groups to decide the rank from most important to least important and then present to the class, justifying their decision. Yet another idea was ABC graffiti. Students write the letters of the alphabet and brainstorm in groups a phrase or a word for each letter of the alphabet relating to their text. When brainstorming the idea is not to think too much about the word or phrase but to try to access the notable thing about the text that comes to mind first for that letter. The students could then use the list later to help summarise and revise the text.
Other ideas that the group remembered included the One Minute Write where students write in one minute all they can about a prompt, without lifting the pen from the page. They count up the number of words written and the number of three syllable words. Write down the score. Then the students could set themselves a goal to increase the number of complex words they are using, in other words to improve their vocabulary. They could discuss possible strategies to achieve the goal. . Of course as Graham pointed out, good writing in not always about the number of three syllable words used, but I think that focusing on a broader vocabulary in general would be a good thing. And finally, the memorable quote idea. Take a quote that people know: e.g. “Ask not what your country can do for you….” and rewrite it: e.g. “ask not what your class can do for you… etc”, in order to broaden perspective.
As you can see, the discussion was lively and enjoyable. I did not bring my camera and my iriver was had a flat battery, unfortunately, otherwise I could have given you all a multisensory account of our experience. Oh well, there’s always next time.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
"But, first of all I wanted to talk about writing. I absolutely love writing, and it’s what I spend most of my time doing –I write to penpals, epals, people I know, myself; I keep several blogs, a journal, several folders full of random ramblings, poetry, songs, fanfiction, stories, characters… And after all this, I still don’t know what career I’m going to choose. I’d love to be something to do with writing, but my problem is I don’t know what, or even if I’m good enough… All I know is that I really love writing."Don't you just love it? And there's more where that comes from. Surprisingly she finishes:
"…And I will shut up about my story and Cael. I could go on forever, and I doubt anyone is reading this. X)"I am continually amazed at the power of the internet and the delicious diversity among students we teach.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Last night our school hosted a Year 7 Parent Information night for parents at our school, to explain the Middle Years Program (MYP) which we are doing for the first time this year. there will end up being four of these nights (one per term) and, given my new found passion for this program, I thought I'd go along and see what happened. (It is optional for staff to be there.) It was a great night. First Peter had photocopied some of the essays one of the Year 7 classes had done (with no names) along with the task sheet and the rubric for assessment that the students were given. The parents were then asked to assess them. A great discussion followed about teacher accountability and the use of rubrics as a teaching tool. I definitely think that the parents got to see another side of teaching.
Then Daisy, one of the Maths teachers, taught a class on Fibonacci numbers and Pascal’s triangle as if they, the parents, were her Year 7 class. It was very informative, and definitely a highlight of the night. The parents I spoke to felt that they had learned something. Then Peter showed the report formats that the parents will be getting in June and the criteria that students are assessed and reported on in the MYP. Finally there was a bit of a presentation on homework and how the parents could be involved in helping students organise their time.
I think about the advice I have given students in years past about planning ahead and doing a bit at a time and so on, and I recognise that in my work I don't do that. I leave things to the last minute and feel I do creative work under the pressure of adrenaline. When I try to do it ahead, it feels less powerful and not so motivating. Of course, at the time I am doing it I hate it and wish I had done it earlier. But the students maybe find that sort of pressure too much. It was great to see the parents as creative learners and problem solvers at this meeting and discuss the work we do, and I think there was some mutual understanding built.
Since I've been back I've been dealing with my photos (here are just some of them) and emailing some of my new friends in China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan and Australia with photos I took of them. And getting back into teaching. When the students found I'd been to China and only missed a maximum of two (or one) lesson(s) with them, they said "But what are you doing back at school? Surely you have jet lag!" But I don't. I'm still on a high and took the opportunity to tell the students that I couldn't bear to be away from them any longer ;)