There is nothing like a conference to invigorate you to start the year. This year we held our inaugural Orewa Kāhui Ako: Community of Learning Conference. It was attended by staff from all six schools in our community, with nearly 300 people taking part. Our keynote speaker was Derek Wenmoth who challenged thinking about the future of education. He was both provocative and stimulating, in both his address and his workshops based on deeper learning.
We then sent the delegates off to their workshops. There were 18 workshops in total, all run by teachers from the community. These ranged from specific curriculum areas, through to teaching and learning strategies. Some of the workshops targeted specific age groups, but most could be used and adapted to any age or curriculum area. Most workshops were run multiple times, with the goal being that we generate, promote and share practical ideas.
I ran a few workshops based on video creation, in particular I looked at the app called Clips. In fact, I was surprised to learn that I am the first ADE to run a workshop of this nature in New Zealand. But I know I am not the only one to be using and publishing material from Clips. You only need to follow the #Clips on Twitter to see how widely teachers are using it.
My promise to the delegates: They would be able to create a video that they could use in class, in under an hour. Besides the odd person who had not updated their device, the vast majority were able to do just that. The star of the one workshop was a self-proclaimed dinosaur when it comes to technology. She worked quietly and systematically, and produced a slick, fun and exciting video clip, in under an hour, which she happily showcased at the end.
The feeling in the workshops was largely one of excitement. The reason: the app is free, is accessible and easy to use. But overwhelmingly, the hurdle of the voice over is erased. Teachers can create lessons, use voice-to-text, then mute their voice if they wish. I believe that more teachers would create flipped lessons if they knew that they don’t have to appear on screen, and that they don’t have to listen to the sound of their own voice. And now they can.
I wanted to make it as easy as possible for the teachers in my workshop to get on with the task of creating their videos. So prior to the conference, I reflected on the pedagogical approaches that I have adopted over the last few years, in particular flipped video lessons, and blended learning. This has all culminated in a new online publication:
Chapters include a guide to using the Clips app for the first time, a start up lesson, further lesson ideas with video resources as examples. I also included an end of year activity and some research from my literature review, as well as my Teaching as Inquiry report, all of which were based on flipped and blended learning.
We had such fun putting this conference together. It forged relationships across the community and has given us insight into how the various year levels work. One other thing that I should mention is that we got Eat my Lunch- Buy one. Give one. to do the catering. It feels good, as you tuck into your lunch, to think that you are doing some good in the wider community. For every lunch we ordered, a needy child was being donated a free lunch.