Engagement is the Key. Making school fun.

Michael Fullan

It’s wonderful and exciting how separate actions can lead to one destination. I have been reading Stratosphere by Michael Fullan in preparation for my new role this year as an ICT integrator and I am finding lots to think about as you can see by my yellow sticky notes popping out.
At the beginning, Michael states four criteria for integrating technology and pedagogy.
(i) irresistibly engaging for students and teachers
(ii) elegantly efficient and easy to use
(iii) technologically ubiquitous
(iv) steeped in real life problem solving

I’m really engaged by problem based learning and found Lee Crockett’s Solution Fluency a great way to structure a unit of work incorporating technology and literacy. I believe this unit covered three of the four criteria. The initial scenario is outlined below.

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The students understood this was a hypothetical situation but in reality it gave them a great vehicle for finding out what was great about our school and celebrating it with their peers and parents. They were incredibly engaged and came up with great promotional videos after weeks of organising, structuring ,capturing the right shots and interviewing. I was uplifted by their efforts and believe that the Solution Fluency backbone made it successful.

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I was reminded of this project when reading this Integrating Education Technology post by Michael Boykin this morning and the statement that technology could be used by students to ‘show what they know’ which is one of my favourite mantras for Ed Tech.

Oh and as I have taken up the #bloggermore2015 challenge I have also tried to improve my blog post by adding some power words in the hope that it will improve my writing after reading Jon Morrow’s post. See more here.

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Reading aloud to students. Sharing my choices.

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I get to spend about 30-40 minutes in the library with the students from Pre Primary to Year 7. In this time I promote books, help students to select books, issue and return books but my absolute favourite part of the time we spend together is when I get to read out loud to them.

The PP’s and Year 1’s get read picture books and I will show some of my favourites another time as I wanted to share the books I’m reading to the other grades.

Year 2 The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl.
I haven’t read a novel to Year 2 before as I wasn’t sure they would be able to hold onto the plot over a week but emboldened by last year’s success of “The One and Only Ivan” by Katharine Applegate (which I read to the Year 3’s during ICT/library) I decided to give it a go. They loved “The Magic Finger” and when we finished it this afternoon they requested “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.

Year 3 Charlie Burr and the Three Stolen Dollars by Sally Morgan
Great Australian novel and perfect for this age group. Fun to read out loud and a little bit naughty.
I’m hoping this will lead to the other books in the series being requested.

Year 4 Bartlett and the Ice Voyage by Odo Hirsch.
An oldie but a goodie, full of rich vocabulary. This starts off a but slowly but with good voice acting is an interesting read.

Year 5 Cairo Jim and The Sacred Alabastron of Chronos by Geoffrey McSkimming
Also an oldie but with links to Ancient Greek mythology. Percy Jackson isn’t the only character dealing with mythical characters. A book that requires courage to read out loud as a macaw is one of the main characters. Lots of ‘Raark’

Year 6 Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
I was really looking forward to this but as a read out loud it is not as successful as I’d like. I find the conversation a bit clumsy, however, the students are still happy to listen. One student couldn’t wait to find out and bought the books.

Year 7 The False Prince by Jennifer Neilsen
This absolute gem was brought to my attention by my Teacher Librarian friends on Twitter. I’m really enjoying this read as the dialogue reads well and the characters are nicely drawn by the author. One student has held off from reading the sequel. Seeing him intently listening is a great reward.

I wonder how many other Teacher Librarians get to read novels to their students? Reading to a child is such a joy and provides many learning opportunities that add to their literacy.

Believe you are making a difference.

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Looking for inspiration I plugged ‘inspiration’ into Pixabay and saw this image. I resonated with me as I started the year feeling a little jaded. I have been on a remarkable journey over the last two years and have tried to share my enthusiasm with others through blog posts, Twitter and presenting at conferences. Have you ever felt like your message wasn’t being heard? Yeh, me too.

Now on the first term holidays, my brain has time to reflect and I realise I’m feeling energised again. I have to believe that it makes a difference even if I don’t hear about it. I read recently that you get back the energy you put out so I’m putting it out there and hoping for the best.

This last term I had a fantastic experience collaborating with a classroom teacher and art teacher on a narrative + manga + anime project. I tweeted about it. The kids seemed to really enjoy it and I know we did.  Their pride in their achievements at the Sevensation Film Festival held on the last day of term was wonderful to witness. Their parents were pretty impressed too.

I went to a great ICT PD day run by Adrian Torrese (@Adriant_Torrese) and re-connected with my tribe (thanks Amie @AmieMeyer4 ) and to really top things off I’ve made connections with other teachers for #globalclassroom projects next term. My thanks to Kathleen Corley (@KathleenCorley) and Nicole Burrows (@Nicburrows) for their enthusiasm and collaboration. I love Twitter for making connections and gobal classrooms are my passion.

I believe I can make a difference or I wouldn’t be a teacher. I will spend my time showing others I believe they are making a difference.

 

From Garden to Plate – Celebrating Collaboration and Innovation

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Today’s post is to highlight a fantastic event that happened at our school this week and to celebrate the teachers that made it happen.
We have a beautiful school vegetable garden and earlier in the year the year two class had planted seedlings with their teacher, Mrs Warren.
Our year four teacher, Mrs Teague, who is a recent graduate, suggested that her class help the twos and weed the garden then use the produce to cook a shared lunch for the two classes. This idea complemented her health and science program this term. With the support of Mrs T,the students planned the menu, the ingredients required, the amounts needed and the tools that had to be sourced.
They also created two fabulous Tellagami presentations that introduced the menu and concluded the lunch by thanking the students and parents while educating them about the aim of the lunch.
The day was sensationally supported by many parents who spent time with the children and Mrs T, harvesting, cleaning, preparing and cooking the lunch.
The sit down lunch was brilliant and delicious! Special moments included the year fours proudly sharing the cooked food with their year two classmates and quiet discussions around the table. One student was even heard saying they hadn’t realised how much effort it took to prepare a meal.
The year two class delivered beautifully handwritten and illustrated thank you letters before the end of the day to their friends in year four.
What an amazing day! Congratulations and thank you Mrs Teague,for providing our students with such a fun learning experience.

Peace Building Through Global Connections

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During my planning phase for semester two, I came across the Global Education website. This great website has units that focus on global issues and links them to the Australian Curriculum. I found a unit called Peace Building which suited my age level and was a topic I’m passionate about. However, I wanted to connect my students with other students so I began a looking on the web to find a project that we could join that would facilitate this. I found the Peace Crane Project and Pinwheels for Peace.
The Peace Crane Project asks that you create an origami crane using a piece of paper that has a peace poem written on one side and a peace illustration on the other. These cranes are then displayed on International Peace Day or you can exchange them with another school. I clicked on the exchange button and was contacted by a teacher in Smolenskoye, Siberia. This was very exciting and I was able to email my exchange partner and we agreed to try and continue the exchange through snail mail and through Skype. The tyranny of longitudinal distance can play havoc with Western Australian schools as we are often too early or too late to Skype but Siberia is only a few hours difference.

I also Tweeted this information on Twitter and Karen Stadler contacted me and said that her school had also joined this project. I also happen to notice as I was scrolling through the Peace Crane Exchange partners that another Twitter colleague, Melvina Kurashige had also joined. I sent a tweet to Karen and Melvina highlighting this fact and after a tweet storm between us a blog was created where all three schools could share their Peace Crane work. Please take time to visit and add your message for peace on the wall and see our work in progress. You can find us here.
Since it’s creation on August 28th, we have had two other schools join us!
Once again I am in awe of the power of Twitter and global projects to connect educators and lead to real opportunities for our students.
I am so excited to be part of this community and with International Peace Day just around the corner, I hope that you too will reach out the hand of friendship.

Book Week – Engaging families using ICT

Last year we had a Books, Bears and Blanket Family Reading night to celebrate reading in our school during Book Fair. I blogged about it here but Ioved the night and got great feedback from the families who attended.
This year we aren’t having a book fair because I want reading to be more than just purchasing, so I was looking around for an activity that would engage families again. I came across the Get Caught Reading promotion and loved it. What a fabulous concept to promote reading and engage families at our school. With smart phones, iPads and tablets to take the image and email to send it, how easy was it to do?
So this became the promotion for our Book Week and I have received a steady stream of entries. Not an overwhelming response but every entry makes my heart sing. I love the images and the thought that the kids (and dogs and guinea pigs) are reading and it is being documented not just for our competition but for the families too.

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I’ve also added a bit of humour to our library which relied upon the good nature and good humour of our school principal.
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I also received a request for a classic "get dressed up as your favourite book character" parade so I have included this on the Friday morning. A fitting conclusion to Book Week.

How does your school library engage with families?

Having a go at global projects.

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It is amazing how a small leap of faith can result in opportunities that were inconceivable before.My Year 4 ICT class is doing a unit on peace and I recently joined the Peace Crane Project to provide the students with an opportunity to celebrate International Peace Day on September 21st. When signing up to the project it asked if you wanted to be part of a classroom exchange. I ticked the box as I’m always happy to make connections. Within 24 hours I had received an email from a teacher in Siberia, asking if we wanted to exchange with them. When I replied that we would love to (Siberia! How exciting!) she asked whether we would be open to extra exchanges like swapping drawings, having a Skype session (we are only 2 and a half hours apart time wise) and generally learn about each other’s environments. What a thrill! Isn’t this what peace is about? To learn and understand each other. These children will never see the world the same again. The students are learning about biomes with their classroom teacher and when I showed them where the school was they were able to identify that the region was tundra.

I am so excited to be part of this experience and it all started by looking for a way to participate in a global project.
If you want to try a global project, you can go to The Global Classroom Project 2013-2014. This is a fabulous community to be part of with great projects.

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Global Classroom Gratitude

I had to write and say how thrilled and honoured I was to be nominated as a Global Classroom Lead Teacher 2012-2013. I think I fall into the category of ‘most improved’ as I haven’t run any projects myself but have been an enthusiastic participator. Previous posts have outlined the fabulous projects I have been lucky enough to participate in.

Where I like to think I have made a bit of a difference is in the promotion area. I am talking about global classrooms and the power of Twitter to transform our classrooms whenever I can. I truly hope that if I keep talking about it and participating, more people will become involved and our children will truly become citizens of the globe.

I would also like to say how nice it is to receive recognition. Teachers often work in environments where recognition doesn’t come along very often. We happily save for posterity any letters of gratitude we receive and I know I have an thank you email pinned up on my board at school. These small reminders keep us going.

Below is the list of this year’s nominations. I hope you celebrate the achievements too and are inspired to join the community and participate in the next wave of projects.
Global Classroom Project Leaders 2012-2013

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Global Classrooms – Join in on the fun!

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On the 26th June, I celebrated my first Twitter birthday. It’s hard to believe that only 12 months ago I was unaware of how significant this social media platform would be to my development as a teacher. I have written before about how Twitter has enabled me to make connections in the world and how these connections have helped not only me but the classes I have been teaching. In my role as a Teacher Librarian who also teaches ICT from K-7 in a rural Western Australian school, global connections have meant that my students have been able to learn from other students in the world, reach out to people and to have an authentic audience for their work.

This semester, I have been very fortunate to be involved in two very different initiatives organised by teachers in two different continents.
Mrs Karen Stadler’s (@ICT_Integrator) Save Our Rhino’s project from Elkanah Primary in South Africa enabled the students to learn about endangered rhinos knowing not just that they were endanagered but how people around the world were passionate about saving them. This connection with people is what makes the global classroom aspect so powerful. It was also a great link for us to learn about our own endangered animals and hopefully educate others in the world about them.

Ms Katy Gartside’s (@KatyGartside) 9-to-9 Skype Marathon run by her Year 5 Class at The School of Columbia University in the USA was brought to my attention by Katy’s twitter feed. I have Skyped with Karen last year and I love the opportunity for the student’s to have the face to face experience with kids from other classrooms, so I expressed an interest in participating. Luckily for us, we were able to connect with times, not always possible in the US due to the time differences betweeen us. We were the 8.45pm session for them and the 8.45am session for us. The Year 6 students in my class were blown away by the articulate students running the session and learnt a lot about community but more about the similarities and differences in their own schools. We reflected on the session and I think every child loved the Skype experience.

I encourage every educator to make connections globally. Twitter has been for me the most effective way to make these connections and I have found the people to be generous, supportive and inspiring. If you would like to join Twitter I would recommend you follow the above two educators and Michael Graffin (@mgraffin) who is the #globalclassroom Project Co-founder, you won’t be disappointed.