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.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's finally here


It was bound to come, no matter how far away it seemed and high the mountain I still had to cross was. And now it's here. Leaving tomorrow with a group of thirty Australian teachers to see some schools, visit Google HQ and Apple and attend NECC. That means my 4000 word essay for my Masters has been completed, the mountain of marking has been scaled, the reports have been written. No more than what any other teacher and learner for life has to do. But for some reason it's taken a lot out of me this term. I am looking forward to my time away to do some reflection and to re-evaluate my working life. To put transformative education first, and to inspire students with the creative possibilites that I see unfolding around me in my personal learning network. I am looking forward to NECC because I feel that there is so much to learn and that I will renew my inspiration, enabling me to go on doing what we all do every day. I feel that often I simply just touch the surface of what possibilities are out there. It would be better for me and for my students if I chose one thing to do and to do it well. Having just finished my reports for students I really enjoyed reading this great post by Dina, a 7th grade English teacher about report cards for teachers - our own report on ourselves. I will be reflecting on this term in the holidays, writing my own report card, and I know there are a number of things I will try to change. One is, I really HAVE to get more organised!

If you are feeling that you would love to stay on top of what is coming out of NECC this year even though you can't be there, have a look at this blog post by Vicki Davis. She is writing about following the rss feeds of interesting things being written from NECC and as she said, the first year she went she wasn't even there but was following all that went on remotely. I am so looking forward to waking up tomorrow and finding myself on holiday, but the best kind of holiday - no housework and lots of education, lots of technology and lots of talk. Who cares about sleep? I'm sure Sue Tapp will tell you when we get back. After all, she has to share a room with me!

Finally I have enjoyed making my wordle and seeing those of others. Digital Maverick Drew Buddie shared his wordle (love his words such as "amazing", "cool" and "fun") and has an idea that we could be writing shape poetry with it or something like it! Looks awesome.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Podcasting revisited

I just spent some time listening to Aussie biology teacher Andrew Douch speaking about how he is using technology in his biology classes on this elluminate session. It's the why and how of his talk, the philosophy of teaching and learning that I found so engaging. He makes a number of great points and gives us his take on what questions he needs to answer about a new technology before he would consider taking it up in his classroom. I do recommend that you give "Podcasts, vodcasts, screencasts, discussions and blogs: new teaching with Andrew Douch" a listen, it's very inspiring. Just what I needed at this end of the term. While I'm on the topic, if you like what you hear you may like to give this a listen as well. LOTE teacher Jess McCulloch interviews Andrew, as well as all about podcasting - what it is and how to get started doing it. Great stuff

Thursday, June 05, 2008

IWBs in secondary classrooms: Where is the Interaction?

Thought provoking slideshare by jasondenys which I found through a new group I joined in Diigo IWB-Pedagogy set up by Lauren O'Grady. This is a group set up "to discuss, collaborate and share IWB pedagogical research, resources and projects."