Snippets from the classroom

Walking down the hallway listening in on the lessons underway is a fascinating exercise. Little bits from the different subjects – Industrial Revolution and the slave trade, quadrilateral equations, Vikings – all little parts which make up the whole of a student’s day.

Someone made the comment that it would be fascinating to tweet the snippets to the world… but then like everything in the classroom… context is everything.

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Favourite Lessons

We all have those lessons we love to teach, the moments we know are coming and smile greatly when they arrive. This week has been filled with the lessons. We have introduced blogging into the classroom once more.

Miss, I know how to do this… but I would like to test your knowledge…

Working with Edublogs is dead easy with the kids and they love it – I am smiling right now as they are busily teaching each other things they have learned over the week. Embedding video, uploading content and working out what widgets they want on their sidebars. They are enjoying the “real internet”, rather than the walled garden they generally have.

These are the lessons I love.

Getting back on the educational horse

Horse

The end of term 4 seems like an age ago now, but heading back to work this week for the professional development, for the first time in about six years not studying, researching or doing anything extra, has taken something of a mind shift.

This is shaping up to be an interesting year as we work towards the MYP and PYP programmes, as well as change the structure of the school from a “middle school” approach to a more traditional faculty based structure. Change can be a challenge (at times), but this is proving to be a fascinating journey.

So I am slowly getting back on the educational horse, tweeting will recommence shortly… and I assume that by the end of week 2 it won’t feel like I have had a break at all…

Future learning and student voice – a ramble

I am coming to the end of my learning journey – well this particular formal learning journey. In the next few weeks I will complete my masters and then have a whole lot of time on my hands… or perhaps I will have time for that novel I have been meaning to write…

This week I am reading a lot about student voice in not only learning, but in learning environments (I am also writing about it a lot as well), and a question is really sticking with me…

Are we giving students an “authentic” voice in their learning?

The paper I was reading was talking about allowing students to have a real say in their learning environments, it wasn’t talking about Student Representative Councils or other representative bodies (which it viewed as “tokenistic” in many of the decisions they allow students to make).

I would like to think that I give students the opportunity to have a say in their learning (at a classroom teacher level I have managed to get some pretty cool things happening in partnership with my students), but at a whole school level, I don’t think I have been as successful as I would like.

A problem that I have with getting student input into whole school happenings within ICT, is that the students who have been identified as “student leaders” are not really those who are interested in what is happening, or could be happening with technology in the school.

I need to find a better way.

The Hours?

Teachers work long hours… “holidays” are some of my most productive times, there are days I don’t get to my email until late at night and there are weeks where the only daylight I see during the week is on playground duty. But does all of this work make me an effective teacher?

Earlier this week the headlines screamed about the NSW Government’s proposal to introduce performance pay based on (what I assume is) the Australian Professional Standards for Teaching (if it is the AiTSL standards, this hasn’t been made clear). Now while the headlines were predominately about the ability of principals to be able to “sack” nonperforming teachers, or those who were seen to be “not meeting performance standards”, the reaction has been to something quite different.

And then the twitter lit up.

Teachers from across not only NSW, but other parts of the country began to tweet about their days work. How many hours they were there for, what they needed to do at home, the challenges, the victories and a whole lot of other things were aired.

Now I have been teaching for a while now – I made it through my first five years and so statistically speaking I am now going to be teaching for years to come. I know that there are some things which take me forever to do, and other things which I manage to get done relatively quickly. I am not the first at work in the morning, and sometimes I am the last to leave, but not all the time. I work at work. I also work at home, but that is my choice.

The hours I work don’t make me an effective teacher – my actions do.

Listing the hours worked isn’t as powerful as listing actions achieved during those hours.

</rant>

And for the record I am against performance pay.

Digital Playtime

IMG_0070It is an age old English teacher technique, show the kids a photo and have them write a story to go with it. Well this happens to be the opening task for one of the new subjects I am offering this semester. IT Digital Storytelling. The class itself is interesting in its makeup. The students were told that there would be IT involved, but that there was also an emphasis on the different techniques which are used when we tell stories for a digital audience… how are things different when we need to write to not so much to tell the story but when you need to draw a player through one? I am sure that the 12 girls and 8 boys will enjoy most of the elements of what is happening.

The big change with what is happening in this space is where the learning is happening, or more to the point – where the learning is being shown.

We are breaking out from behind the walls of the department, armed with a permission note and parents who are showing their support of what it is that we are doing, the students will have blogs and what they are learning will be out in the open.

We are all a little excited about that.

1:1 and seeing what happens

I have been thinking about what it would be like to be back in a school which has a 1:1 program again. A few years ago I had the opportunity to work in that environment, and really, that is where I finally got to be the type of teacher I wanted to be. It was a hard place to work for other reasons, but being able to think of work as play for the first time, was really eye-opening for me.

I am typing this from a Chromebook – made by Samsung – I think that there is a general feeling that if I can make this work for me in the classroom, the way that I use computers, then this should be a good option for the kiddies (not sure if the way that I will use it will be the same as the kids, but we shall see… it will get a workout).

First lesson – Chrome. I remain the only one in the house who hasn’t installed Chrome onto my computer. I may after this, as yet I am unsure and will wait to see how I go getting things to work on the network tomorrow. I have made the deliberate decision not to drop the thing off with the IT boys in the morning and get them to connect it. I need to be able to do this myself… lets face it I am the head of ICT, so I should be able to connect it – but there are no guarantees that I will.

Second lesson – It isn’t a Mac. I run Mac at home, having lost the battle at work. But I have my Mac Air for work (PED). I love it. It does everything I want it to, so it will be interesting to see if this can convert me. Well at least convince me that it will work for what I want it to.

And what is that… I have no idea right now. Well I have half a clue, but we shall see. More to come.