Posted in Bicultural context, Mindlab Reflections, Reflections, TAI

Teaching as Inquiry: Plan for 2017

This video reflects my TaI plan. Mindlab has been so worthwhile as the assignments we have had to complete have been relevant to our practice and topical. This year I will continue to look at how blended learning and student agency affects, not only grades, but also enjoyment and engagement in my class.

TRANSCRIPT

  1. DEFINE THE COMMUNITY:

As a secondary school English teacher, I based my literature review on the impact of blended learning on secondary school students. However, while this review uncovered a wealth of research and investigation into tertiary students’ responses to blended environments, little was undertaken in secondary schools, (Sparks, 2015) and even less into the impact this teaching approach has on Kaupapa Maori students. I have some anecdotal evidence based on my own students and that of my colleagues, evidence to be found on our professional blogs. However, there is still a substantial gap in relevant New Zealand-based data which looks at the benefits and challenges of implementing blended learning. This includes whether giving students more control over their learning improves their learning outcomes.

To gather qualitative data, I will conduct an on-line interview with the English Head of Department. In addition, I will do a video recorded interview of the senior management team. It is important to ascertain the level of interest this teaching approach has with colleagues in order to determine their level of support. It is also important to get buy in from the senior leaders in order to drive the initiative through, particularly if it is going to benefit the student body. In addition, student voice is vital. Therefore, I will survey my two control classes to find out what they feel works best for them. It is important to remember that students have diverse talents and learning styles that should be respected and individualised by teachers (Kruger, n.d.). Probability surveys should give estimates from which findings can be concluded.

I am focusing on my year 10 and 11 classes because they have moved up through middle school where there is a lot more freedom and choice in how they approach their work, based on observations at the college I teach at. However, teachers tend to become more autocratic as students head into NCEA years, as the pressure to get credits tends to take precedence. My aim is to see whether giving higher levels of individualisation and independence with more senior students can lead to potentially higher levels of engagement. The potential impact of my findings could result in successfully attaining those highly sought-after credits.

The blended approach promises more one-on-one teacher contact, as well as peer-to-peer instruction. This seems to be in keeping with Kaupapa or collective philosophy and Mahi Ko tahi tanga or co-operation between students.

  1. TEACHING AS INQUIRY PROJECT PLAN: Description

The topic area of this teaching as inquiry plan is blended learning, with particular emphasis on secondary students in a one-to-one device school. If blended learning is said to combine the best of online learning with face-to-face contact, how does this impact on outcomes or results for secondary school students? I will examine how the experience differs from upper middle school, to their first year in NCEA. In particular, I will investigate the impact blended learning environments has on my Maori students.

In addition, I would like to weigh up the benefits and challenges of implementing blended learning in the classroom, given that these students have largely been part of a BYOD school for the past 4-5 years. How have their expectations in the classroom changed over the years? I would also look at what the contributing factors are that lead to effective uptake of the blended learning approach.

A branch of blended learning is the flipped approach which I have been adopting in my classroom for the past three years, to varying levels of success. Through the Mindlab course I have discovered that, not only are there a variety of methods of flipping course work, but also that blended learning is potentially more effective than flipped coursework. So what I would like to ascertain is if the blended approach is more readily adopted by students rather than the purely flipped approach.

Project plan: Justification in context 

I have created an electronic book for each year level, which includes videos, presentations, tasks and reflective questions. I will put a link to this onto Google Classroom for each student to access and download. It will then be resident on their device and is not internet- dependent. This should facilitate access anywhere, anytime.

I will then share evidence, largely gained from my literature review, with my students of the benefits of blended learning in an attempt to show them an alternative to the traditional ‘chalk-and-talk’ method of teaching. This could be a new concept for them and it deserves a measure of justification and explanation. I have found one of the hurdles to new approaches in teaching is assuming students will simply adapt and accept. Students will be encouraged to take ownership of their learning and, through increased one-on-one contact, we should be able to adapt the projects and assessments according to their preferred method of working, as well as their varying ability levels.

Data in the form of surveys, interviews and grades will be analysed and shared with the relevant community. Data will be gathered at the start and end of term one, and then again at the start and end of term two. This should give a good reflection of what is working well, and what needs adjusting and improving. This data will be reflected on my professional teaching blog and shared with the relevant colleagues, Community of Learning teachers and the senior management team. Their input will also help with the reflective process.

Critical to my findings is the shift from student as consumer of knowledge and technology to student as producer of knowledge (Vickers & Field, 2015). So this focus, along with the impact on outcomes for secondary school students, will form the basis for the dual spirals of inquiry. Reflection and refinement will inform teaching practice.

  1. EVIDENCE OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

The communities I will focus on are:

Qualitative: Year 10 and 11 students:

Student voice is vital as they are the target group. So they would need to answer two surveys, one initially to ascertain their preferred way of working and gauge their understanding of blended learning. And then another near the end of term to ascertain how they feel they have progressed with their learning and enjoyment of this teaching approach.

I have taught both of these year levels for a number of years so I feel that I have data to compare to previous years. But more importantly, I will compare their responses both initially and then after each internal assessment or project. (See appendix 1 and 2)

Quantitative:

A comparison of grades between last year’s classes and this year’s classes at the same stage of the term. While this is not fully credible data, it can give some generalised findings.

A comparison of the student’s grades from last year to this year. Again there are a number of variables but it could give an indication of the student’s progress, or lack thereof.

A comparison between my year 10 and 11 classes with that of other classes taught in a more conventional or traditional way will also give some insight. Estimates can be based on this sample of data.

The data will be analysed and put onto a simple, colour co-ordinated pie chart. I will post my findings onto my blog, being careful to exclude student names, classes and colleagues’ identities as the research must be ethical and responsible.

English department colleagues: It will be interesting to note the different approaches to similar topics. I will interview a range of teaching styles, going from traditional face-to-face approaches through to those at the start of their blended approach to teaching.

Community of Learning: Although my target group is years 10 and 11, I am also part of the Community of Learning (CoL) leadership team. Thus I would have small group discussions with the relevant teachers to get their insight and input on blended learning for their areas of expertise. This will further inform my own approach as it gives insight into how students are taught in the junior levels.

Senior leadership team and English Head of Department: It is important to discuss new approaches with the leadership team, particularly when it might have an impact on NCEA classes. Questions for interviews, as well as their responses, can be found in appendix 3 and 4.

Whanau: Instead of a survey, I will initially send an explanatory email home to parents, inviting discussion, questions and interviews if necessary. This is possibly the hardest group to engage and inform as generally I have found parents to be conservative in their approach to teaching, basing their views on their own experiences of school.

  1. REFLECTION ON EVIDENCE OF ENGAGEMENT

As an on-going reflection, I will record students’ collaboration and participation on a regular basis on my teaching blog. However more immediately I have reflected on the feedback given to me by Richard Wells, Deputy Principal at the college and Meryl Howell, Head of English department.

Reflection on how feedback informed plan

Having considered their responses, I feel that my plan might have too many strands. So upon reflection, I will spend the first term focusing on the changing pedagogical approach with both classes, making sure that all class members understand the blended approach. I will, with consultation with students, drill down to find the impact this has on Māori students. I will only address the merits of blended versus flipped learning at the end of term 2. Given that I will have more one-on-one time with my students, I should have a clear understanding of their preferred learning styles by the end of term 1 so that I can make any necessary adjustments to my course.

In terms of student outcomes, it is vital to go beyond grades to look at how empowered and confident students feel about their learning. While this is harder to measure, it can be reflected on in an anecdotal way.

Another aspect I feel I might have glossed over is that some teachers have a fixed mindset. So change like this blended learning approach might make them feel challenged and even have an emotional response against it. I need to be empathetic in my approach to colleagues.

Lastly, the point that Richard made about whanau is vital and should not be overlooked: blended learning has an impact on home life; learning should be seen as a social experience; perhaps whanau should be upskilled in order to fully understand this new approach to teaching and learning. These points will be addressed in my email home.

What I was encouraged by was that the respondents in my community did feel that blended learning was a pedagogical approach worth pursuing and that my spirals of inquiry were applicable to our students.

  1. POTENTIAL IMPACT OF FINDINGS

The outcomes of this project might benefit my community by creating greater understanding and communication between colleagues, not only at the college but also across the CoL. Through discussions, interviews and shared resources, the idea is to improve not only collegiality but also awareness of how students prefer to work. Initially it can be quite taxing to create the online resources in the form of video content and digital artefacts. However, once they are created and shared, it minimises the time needed to create resources in the future, particularly if there is buy-in from a few colleagues and a team effort is established.

This brings in the most important stakeholders, the students themselves. According to much of the research undertaken in the literature review, researchers indicated that teachers are freed up to support students individually and that blended learning removes classroom walls (Vickers and Field, 2015). When teachers make the work available online and allow students to communicate via social media, rather than being anchored to the front of the class, one-on-one time is more feasible. And with this, relationships improve.

John Hattie (2013) said that the biggest source of variance in schools is teachers. Surely it follows then that students experience daily, hourly and lesson-to-lesson variance. If this Teaching as Inquiry plan works, and not only outcomes but enjoyment, collaboration and engagement improves, surely this will have a flow-on effect into the school community as a whole? This should encourage colleagues to embrace blended learning over the tried-and-tested traditional approach many still cling onto.

References:

Hattie, John. (2013). Why are so many of our teachers and schools so successful? [Video].      Norrkopping TedX. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch

Kruger, M. (n.d.). Students’ Changing Perceptions on the Impact of the Online Learning Environment:   What about Good Teaching Practice? In Proceedings of the European Conference on e-Learning. 188-196.

Sparks, S. (2015). Research Uneven, Tough to Interpret. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/blended-barriers

Staker, H., & Horn, M. (2012). Classifying K-12 Blended Learning. Retrieved from http://www.innosightinstitute.org

Vickers, R., & Field, J. (2015). Media Culture 2020: Collaborative Teaching and Blended Learning Using Social Media and Cloud-Based Technologies. Contemporary Educational Technology, 6(1), 62-73.

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Posted in 05. Design for learning, Mindlab, Reflections

Blogs to improve writing

This is the next video I created to reflect my findings on the digital and collaborative strand in Mindlab, where we had to implement, document and critique a learning innovation applied to a specific area of practice. I looked at the research that suggests that having a personal blog can improve writing. I looked at the work done by David Mitchell (@DeputyMitchell) and his ideas on @QuadBlogging. I also looked at the merits of ‘blogging’ on Facebook as opposed to a dedicated blog site like WordPress.

TRANSCRIPT:

Mark Twain said that “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” He may have been a novelist, a journalist and even an adventurer. But never a teacher. As a teacher he would know that even getting words on the page for many teenagers is a struggle. Ask students and they would likely tell you that “writing sucks.” So the problem I would like to address is literacy in the form of creative and formal writing for the average teenager. The innovation is weblogs, or more commonly known as blogs. 15 years ago the word blog did not exist and now an estimated 150 million blogs exist.

 

In our cluster of schools, 16% of students are below or well below the expected writing standard. 19% of our Maori students are below or well below the standard. And 23% of our boys are below or well below the standard. Our schools have identified trends that indicate that there is less success for Maori boys in writing. The aim is that the secondary schools will raise the overall core writing skills for year 9 and 10 in preparation for success at NCEA level 1, 2 and 3. But how? My solution is through social media, in particular a personal blog.

 

So what makes a blog different and therefore a tool for improving writing? Most of my hesitant writers are not hesitant talkers. And if writing is communicating, as is talking, nothing stops them recording their thoughts in a podcast and popping that onto their blogs. This is the first step to getting students to capture their quality thoughts and convey them to an audience. Obviously we don’t stop there, but you often do need to build trust and confidence initially before you start to make progress. The beauty of a blog is that you can easily add text, photos, video and audio to a post. So if we get our students thinking and reflecting in the form of a video to start off with, then build on that, we are going to make progress with the goal of improving the standard of writing. The next step to building confidence is to comment on their unique ideas and the way they structured their thoughts. Then start talking about how these ideas could form a paragraph of writing.

 

John Hattie said that “feedback is one of the top 10 influences on student achievement.” In addition, he said that “interventions that aim to foster correct peer feedback are needed.”

So feedback, in the ‘comments’ section of their blog, is vital. This includes peer reviews. But first we have conversations about the importance of good digital citizenship and give “comment guidelines.” Peer feedback needs to be both constructive and relevant. Students need to understand the marking criteria in order to give informed feedback. This in itself will raise awareness of good writing practice. What a powerful tool when we get students giving their peers, people of the same age group, feedforward and feedback.

 

So in theory, maintaining a good blog site should raise the level of writing. Again I ask, how? If this was the case, and given that the majority of students have Facebook which is, after all, a form of a blog, why hasn’t this raised writing skills?

 

The reason is simple. Facebook pages are owned, run and edited by teenagers. And so they should be. But when blogging is brought into the classroom, the teacher, and later peers, can fill the role of the critic. It means that we can have conversations about content and style. A good blog post has a magnetic headline, like all good media. The post opens with a bang in order to hook the reader in. Persuasive words and good sentences abound. And finally, no one wants to read a post that is simply made up of text. So engaging and authentic images and videos should be encouraged. We don’t have these conversations about Facebook, but maybe we should. And just because we’ve brought blogging into the classroom, it doesn’t mean that fun goes out the window. Part of the beauty of blogging is the audience. There are interactive widgets like “Revolvermap” which tracks your audience. When someone reads your blog, a little flag pops up on the revolving globe and tells you which city they are from. Students get quite excited when they recognise the fact that people, other than their teacher, is reading their work. This is also key to understanding the global audience.

 

So not only are we raising awareness of good writing, we are discussing what good digital citizenship looks like. In addition, it reminds students that “the internet is a big place. Everyone can see it.”  Kate Friedwald from Wairakei School made a good point: “Writing is no longer just on the classroom wall, it’s not just in their books. It’s out there for the world to see.” Students say that, once they start receiving comments, they feel like people are waiting for them to post more of their writing. This encourages them to write regularly. The global audience can include parents and family, even those that are half way across the world. Instead of the stereotypically mono-syllabic conversations parents have with their teenagers, they could actually be reading about what their children did at school that day.

 

Audience is key to the success of the writing. It’s one thing to hand a half-baked piece of writing in when only your teacher will see it. But quite different when you realise that you could potentially have a global following. So with all this in mind, the skill of commenting and posting increases the awareness of good writing. Correct punctuation becomes more meaningful. Teenagers become empowered to write. For my generation, you studied journalism, you worked for an editor, you begged a publisher to look at your work. For this generation, they are journalist, editor and publisher rolled into one. My generation knows the silence of censorship. Letters to the editor that contained controversial ideas got ‘lost in the mail.’ Talk back radio hosts simply put the phone down on troublesome callers. But for this generation, their voice can be heard. They are shaping what we read. With social media, we own the printing press. Besides which, it’s free and therefore accessible to all.

 

So why not allow them to post their writing onto Facebook as opposed to a blog site like WordPress? The reason, just because I deal with teenagers all day doesn’t mean I want to hang out with them at the skate park. Which is what I’d feel like if I was commenting on their Facebook posts. Their personal Facebook page is their domain and I simply don’t belong there. But their WordPress blog is a place where we can hang out together, where we can encourage good writing, which will no doubt have an impact on their other social media activity. At the very least it means that we can have meaningful discussions about what they post on social media.

 

A prolific blogger, danah boyd (she spells her name in lower case) said that blogging is “a place where my voice sat.” So we need to harness our students’ writing and give them a platform “to think, to process, to understand” and in the process improve their writing. And if they come to a better understanding of the online world in which they are growing up, then they would have received an effective 21st century education.

 

Writing online makes copyright authentic. At the back of their mind, the blogger is always asking the question: Who will read this post? If we encourage good reflective practice, the teenage voice establishes itself. And that authentic voice is what sets excellent writing apart from mediocre writing.

 

The impact goes beyond improving writing. The skills my students have acquired is that they can set up a website with categories for a variety of subjects. They can embed videos and understand the rudiments of HTML coding. They are developing the skill of critiquing each other’s work through feedforward and feedback. And we are constantly discussing what a good digital citizen looks like. UK teacher David Mitchell founded QuadBlogging which has now seen over 500,000 students from 55 countries take part. As a group of four schools, each week a different class will be the ‘focus class’ allowing the other three classes to visit and comment on the focus class blog. That’s got to have a positive spin off for writing. In his school he saw that blogging had a dramatic impact on writing standards. Writing scores “rose from 9% to 60% in just 12 months with each child in year 6 making on average double the expected progress for the last three years.” Why would our kiwi kids be any different?

 

Data suggests that they’re no different. Take my year 10 English class. Looking at a comparison between their English GPA from last year to this year, there has been a general increase for most students, particularly the boys. One boy went from an English GPA of 45% to a whopping 75%. Another went from 37% to 50%, a third climbed from 21% to 50%. That’s overall for English, not just writing. But if we are looking at the impact of tools like blogging, ideas like collaboration and put them together in a positive learning environment, the outcome for the student can be very pleasing indeed. In addition, this GPA is based on a creative writing project which consisted of a number of tasks and culminated in a story written for a teenage audience. So writing made up a huge component of the marks.

 

Anecdotally I can add that I don’t have the problem from years back when students simply did not submit work. In part I think, because I encourage collaboration and sharing of ideas, it means all get involved. But I do believe that writing on-line beats handwriting for most students. Having poor handwriting or being weak at spelling is no longer a hurdle for students, and is no longer a block for generating a writing piece. It has even been a while since I heard a student say that they didn’t know what to write about. Sites like “Instagrok” are there to counteract writer’s block.

 

I looked at student feedback where they suggested that posting onto blogs can be challenging if the network slows down. And we all know that if you get a class full of students hitting the same website, it does slow things down. So as a school we have decided to self-host WordPress. At $30 a month, it’s a bargain, given that speed is remarkably improved.

 

As with most websites, rather than a finished product, the blog can be constantly updated and refined. Meaningful feedforward results in improved writing, which is the intended goal.

“I reflect and share publicly to engage others and build understanding. This is my blogging practice. What is yours?”

Posted in 04. Learning-focused culture, Reflections

Going Digital: Reflections on our one-one journey

NZQA visited our school to make this short video depicting our journey after introducing technology into the classroom. The positives that I take out of this visit is that in New Zealand we have a qualification authority that is consulting with teachers who are at the proverbial coal face. But far more importantly than that, they are interviewing the students. If you want to know how a new initiative is working, ask the people most affected by it.

I was appointed as year 9 Dean, the year one-one devices were introduced to this year 9 cohort. As I reflect I feel immensely proud of these students. We have travelled on this journey of discovery for the last five years and I have witnessed their growth and their incredible potential to succeed in this ever changing digital world. At the start of this journey it was all about the technology. What we could do, now that we have a class of students with technology in their hands. All discussions surrounded possibilities: apps that would do the job better than before devices and websites that made work more engaging. Activities that were inconceivable before, were now a reality. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR scale was invaluable as a driving force to shift pedagogical thinking.

However five years on, with all students in the school carrying devices in their school bags, we have largely moved on from the discussion surrounding technology. Technology just exists in the class, along with everything else you’d expect to be there. It’s a given. Now I find that I am simply looking for the best tool for the job.

I feel so grateful that as a teacher we have so many options. I used to dread this time of year because most of my classes are immersed in revision. But we are actually having a great time. Our AKO OREWA drive is towards student agency. So I have given my students choice in the area of work they will focus on. Consequently I have some groups creating Kahoots for their extended texts, others are videoing instructions for their teach-back session based on their section of work. Still others are creating Google Forms for recall type questions. After our PD this week where a colleague, Annie Davis, gave us ideas about revision, I have groups playing “Bananagrams” which is a word game similar to Scrabble.

She introduced us to an excellent app called  Exam Count Down which I have found my students love. It shows them at a glance how many days they have left before the NCEA exams. For example:

Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 12.22.24 PM.png

So yes, we do still share good apps. But it is far more about changing pedagogy to suit the situation. It is more about students taking ownership of their learning and finding out what works best for them, and working at their pace. And it’s about us being flexible enough to allow and promote student choice.

Posted in 02. Professional learning, Mindlab, Reflections, Uncategorized

Mindlab Reflections

I am currently doing the MINDLAB post grad course which focuses on digital and collaborative learning in context. On reflection, I have found the theory behind what we are already implementing in our classrooms is really reassuring. It is important to know that the direction that we are actively taking in class is a movement that is being followed by many teachers and education leaders globally. You will always have those people that complain about the readings and assignments, because let’s face it, adding to an already busy schedule, is challenging. However it is the academic pursuits backed up by practical, coal face ideas, which make this course worth doing. Besides which, it is a post grad course so you’d expect quite a heavy workload.

The biggest change I have introduced into my daily teaching is giving students more choice. I have long been an advocate for allowing students to find their own learning path with the tools they feel comfortable with. But now I find I’m questioning them on HOW they learn best. Particularly with my priority learners I am helping them develop strategies that work best for them. And allowing a variety of submission methods.

In the above video I looked at identifying and analysing the 21st Century skills and key competencies, examining my specific area of practice, namely English for year 10 students.

Transcript:

My specific outcome for them is as follows: After reading a novel I would like my students, in groups, to create a video based on the topic: crime associated with gangs, as read about in their novel (The Outsiders by SE Hinton) Creativity and collaboration would be needed to plan, storyboard and finally script the movie. They would need to research the requirements for a news report style for an authentic teenage audience. Once the iMovie has been created it should be embedded onto their blogs. The blog post should be crafted for a global audience.

This goes deeper than simply writing an essay as it should draw on the following skills: Collaboration to create the video. Interdependence as each group member has a role and function. The video will not succeed without input from all members in the group. They will need to construct knowledge based on their findings in the novel and go beyond that to what we find in society today, New Zealand and beyond. They will need to research the news report genre. They would then use the skill of ICT use and video editing to construct the final product.

The main stakeholders:  are the students and their teacher. Students should be interdependent and rely on each member of the group to create and publish the video.

Students should download the iBook I have created  to flip the work, students come to class with prior understanding and knowledge. Google docs are used for planning and collaboration, and Google Classroom to signpost work. iMovie is used to create their video after the planning, storyboard and script have been developed.

 

However the next step is where the plan tends to falter. That is, publish the final product on the student’s personal blog. Why create a Google doc AND publish a movie AND post to a blog? This is why: Because students with 21st Century tools should be connecting with an authentic audience.

According to the 21st C Learning Design Activity Rubric, students should “communicate their ideas to someone outside the academic context.”

This is where teachers with a more fixed mindset fear the online world, outside of Google Classroom that is. In addition, setting up and using blogs can require more sophisticated ICT skills, particularly when setting up categories. And over decades, teachers have been conditioned to believe that they have to be experts before implementing a new tool or a new topic in class. However, the sooner we realise that there is more than one expert in the class, the better!

As Hattie’s 8 Mindframes video suggests, we should “teach through dialogue not monologue.” So even if a blog site is not thoroughly understood by the teacher, it doesn’t mean that it should be a tool that is ignored. Give the students the courage to master it.

In 2012 Hattie said that “schools should have systems in place to ensure that educators are working as members of a team; students are then provided with multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning.” (Deeper Learning by Bellanca, James A

If we the teachers rely on each other and the so called student- experts in our classes, we’ll accomplish so much more. And if we trust our students to problem solve, they will develop a flexible mindset.

Besides which, technology and tools are evolving at such a rate that we can never be expected to know it all. Having a flexible mindset and being open to moving forward with tech tools is far more important. Understanding the capabilities of the technology, as opposed to intricate knowledge of the workings of the tool is all that is required.

In so doing students publish their work to a global community. And it includes parents into their digital work, which is something lacking if Google docs is the only digital submission required.

This type of work: namely going from a novel study, to a creative script and storyboard, to a movie. And finally to a globally published artefact develops interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies as students learn to work as a team.

According to the paper: Towards Reconceptualising Leadership: The Implications of the Revised NZ Curriculum for School Leaders (Wayne Freeth with Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti ) students are accustomed to being ‘networked.’ “Teenagers create media content and then share it. They feel their contributions matter and feel some degree of connection.” So we should harness this and allow them to publish ideas to a digital portfolio in the form of a blog. This should also encourage “peer-to-peer learning.” Who needs to make the change? Students? Or their teachers?

A well run blog gives students a digital portfolio to be accessed and used for applications, scholarships and employment opportunities. Or if it is never used in this way, at least it would give each student a  portfolio which grows and shows their personal progress over the years. Unlike many other sites, parents can follow their child’s progress over the years. Problem solving is also developed when the blog site raises challenges.

The idea of posting to a public forum like a blog site makes proofreading and editing authentic. It’s one thing to hit the ‘send’ button as soon as the word count has been reached if the teacher is the only one reading the work. But having potentially a global audience reading your work means that spelling and grammar actually does count.

In James Bellanca’s 2014 publication entitled, Deeper Learning he says that:

“Good intentions aren’t enough…if students are to learn at deeper levels, schools must create the conditions that allow for the ongoing, deeper learning. “So while it is evident that some teachers are put off by the complexity of some blog sites and movie creating tools, we owe it to our students to allow them to strive for deeper learning. We need to develop a culture of sharing expertise and ongoing PD.

Goodlad is quoted to have said, as far back as 1983, p.557 :

“Remove teaching from the “cloak of privacy and autonomy” and develop a new culture in which what and how teachers teach becomes the ongoing focus of peer analysis, discussion and improvement.” Just as students are encouraged to collaborate and work as a team, we should strive for this with our teachers. There are enough teachers on any given staff and students in each class with so called 21st century skills to help those that feel less confident.

I do believe that students would benefit from a more consistent approach across their school experience. A transparent blog that caters for all their learning areas would start breaking down the silos of learning. Teachers and students could start seeing cross curricular links and this could make for a more holistic approach because all stakeholders see what is being taught and learnt. And we’d be fulfilling the NZ curriculum which has as its vision to have “connected, international citizens.”

 

 

Posted in 02. Professional learning, Reflections

ADE Global Institute – Berlin 2016

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In July I felt very fortunate to be chosen to attend the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute in Berlin. The process involves submitting evidence to show that you are implementing technology seamlessly into your everyday teaching practice and how this improves the learning experience.

Berlin is awash with history and I soon learnt that it truly is a city of contrasts. The institute consisted of 380 educators from across the globe. This was my second institute and, like the first, it was a week of professional development that was innovative and inspiring. The institute ran from Sunday to Friday and was jam packed with ideas that could be picked up and implemented in our classes. There were educators from all backgrounds from across the globe and a lot of the best ideas came from discussions across year levels, subjects and cultures.

berlin

The structure of the institute was as follows:
1. ADE Central
This consisted of a large lounge where we met informally to collaborate on global projects, play with STEM toys like Spheros and generally share good practice ideas.

stem-toys

2. Apple sessions
These were run by the product developers of Keynote, Garage Band and Final Cut Pro. It was awe inspiring to see how far we could go with these tools, delivered by the app developers themselves.

3. Workshops and spotlight sessions
These were hands on sessions where we got to experiment with coding and advanced video production. Coding is an essential skill and is quickly becoming more accessible to all students. I feel very excited about sharing my new found knowledge with both my colleagues and my students. I also went to sessions on sketch-noting and advanced presentation techniques.

workshop

4. ADE showcases
This is where teachers from America through to Russia, and everywhere in between, got three minutes to present an innovative technique that was working with their students. It reinforced my belief in the potential that exists when you feel passionate about getting the best out of your students.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Berlin. More than the ideas I came away with, I developed global connections with some of the most inspirational teachers. I am currently part of a global project where we are developing a website with tools for teachers who are wanting to break the invisible boundaries that exist between subjects, in order for students to reach deeper learning.