Thursday, June 26, 2008

More Learning and Conversations

There's the places we visit, and the students and teachers at the schools and then there's the bus trips, the meal times, the walking and sometimes the waiting. And each of these are potential learning times. That's when I am the happiest. In Auckland we have been to two primary schools: Summerland and Marina View, one intermediate school Bucklands Beach Intermediate where we met by Lenva Shearing, and one secondary school Papatoetoe High school. The most amazing thing about all this was the ways students were doing the morning announcements as a TV news broadcast. A few of us from the study tour even got to have a go with students as directors. It wouldn't surprise me if a video of this ended up on YouTube. The welcome the students gave us as we visited their classrooms showed us they were old hands at showing off their work, letting us see their ePortfolios and the VoiceThreads they were making about visits and excursions they had they had done. They were truly remarkable, seeing what they were achieving with the tools in everyday use, and not something special.

We also visited Nextspace and will be visiting Oracle, Google and Apple before heading off to San Antonio. But one off the best things for me so far was a conversation I had in the bus with Al Upton and others about a unit I was planning in my head for Year 10 in Term 3. Being inspired by what the primary and intermediate students were doing I wanted to see what my students could do in making content for others on the novel The Secret Life of Bees. Al took me through the Understanding by Design model of planning as I took notes. We were both really engaged in trying to solve a problem that I had perceived with teaching this novel, that it is not one which students like to study. I wanted to make it more engaging by giving students choice, making the learning collaboartive and having the students have input into how the unit takes shape. The content can be published in a number of ways: VoiceThread with the possibility of comments, photostory provided they use Creative Commons licenced photos (or their own), films, soundtrack, roleplays, 3D animations, and possibly interactive games. The overarching question will be (I am sure) what will I get out of reading this book? or Is this book worth studying? I am looking forward to the answers at the end of the unit. I want to thank both Al and Sue Tapp for their help in inspiring my thinking with this.


  1. Hi Jo,
    I hope you have time to keep writing along your wonderful learning journey.
    What a great opportunity. It must be incredible to see technology in regular use, in such a variety of ways.

    I think it is very important for high school teachers to see what primary school students are capable of doing. As a teacher in upper primary, I often feel that what has been accomplished by the students isn't recognized and utilized later on.

    Enjoy every minute!

  2. It sounds like an awesome trip and you are enjoying networking with your travel group. Ironically, my trip to Melbourne last year where we met up was for a UbD conference. It certainly is a mindset shift for planning classroom learning and takes quite a bit to make part of everyday practice. And UbD really makes teachers consider the best tool for the job at hand and it's not necessarily always a technology tool. Have a great time as the rest of us left back here finish up our term!

  3. Hi Jo

    Sounds like a fabulous trip. Trudy Sweeney gave us a bit of a rundown in a presentation at the recent CEGSA conference Something to think about for next year - if I can save enough pennies.