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.

scenario
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.

working on promos

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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Celebrating Innovation in our school

Like my previous post, I am celebrating the wonderful opportunities that are being offered at our school for the students by imaginative and innovative teachers.
This week’s profile is on our Year Six and Indonesian teacher, Andrina.
andrina
Andrina was the first teacher at our school to get a class blog and has been using it daily for the last two years. I thought it might be useful to ask Andrina a few questions about her blog in the hope that it might inspire others to do the same.

1. What lead you to creating the blog for the class?
I knew about blogs. I knew that teachers at Margaret River Primary had a class blog. I had briefly looked at it. I really didnt understand what one was or how a blog worked but I wanted to investigate them. So I signed up for a blog for me and my daughter when she was sick one day. We just played around with the look of it and then tried to figure out how to use the dashboard. I just started out with posting my stars of the day and celebrating what we did in class. The more I used the blog the ways I could see that it could be used.
yr6blog
2. What is the most positive aspect of the class blog?
The most positive thing is the interaction I get with students outside the class. There are a number of students who visit the blog everyday and comment everyday. It has fuelled their enthusiasm for learning and I think it has had a positive effect on their class work They now come to class prepared because they have watched the maths video I have posted. They also do the revision work which prepares them for tests.
yr6blog math<a
3. How has it changed your teaching practise?
It has changed my teaching practice because
3.1 I can set work for students to do before a class in preparation for a new topic.
3.2 I can revise work on a daily basis by setting a quiz or interactive game.
3.3 If I am away I can still set work for the students to do.
3.4 I have a more organised way to keep my websites in categories and therefore I use them more often.
3.5 I am now developing pages of work which the students will be able to refer to either as an independent learner or as remedial work for children who may need some more work on decimals for example. These pages have information, video and links to interactive games.
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4. How has it changed the student’s learning?
I think that it has made some students more responsible and engaged in their learning. Some realise the benefit of coming to class with some idea of what we are doing and have embraced it.

5. What do you think could be improved?
I won’t know how it can be improved until I find another reason to use it. If you know what I mean. It seems I find out something new that can be done and then I find a way to use it.
One thing I need to do is to come up with more fun activities to draw the students to the blog everyday. I have used rebus puzzles but I need to find some other puzzles and maybe have a different type each term to keep it fresh.

6. Is it difficult to create and maintain?
It wasn’t difficult to start and it has just developed slowly. And like anything the more that you use it the easier it becomes. I usually spent between 10-30 minutes a day depending on what I am doing. If I am looking for new information it takes longer but I should be getting to the stage that I should be able to reblog posts. I find it enjoyable so I don’t mind the time it takes i also have seen the benefit for some students so I am happy to spend the time providing them with extra work. It is easier than finding activities, photocopying and marking them.

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.

ICT/Library lessons so far

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Nearly half way through my semester! I am attempting to spend more time reflecting on my learning/teaching, so here goes.

As part of the Global Classrooms project – Save Our Rhinos,  we have been learning about Rhinos but also thinking about Awareness Campaigns. Last year I had a successful project focussing on basic economics that lead to the students planning and running a stall. This year, I wanted to try an alternative and the concept of raising awareness rather than raising money appealed.

We considered awareness campaigns we had come across in different media and we thought about the audiences they were aimed at. Finally, we considered the kind of persuasive language we might use. A rubric for the topic that I provided in my last lesson actually resulted in them trying a little harder to reach the skilled section.

To plan our campaigns we modified the Problem- Action Steps- Outcomes
model I had found at

http://cdn.icivics.org/sites/default/files/uploads/Students%20Engage.pdf

The students are now creating their Awareness presentations. I have introduced Movie Maker to the classes as another way we could present our information.

To tie in with this project, I have used Africa as a learning focus with the younger kids. Although my major focus for the Pre Primary class is learning to log on independently and the Year 1’s are learning to save their work correctly on the network, we have been reading picture books such as

The Princess and the Pea by Rachel Isadora

The Hunter by Paul Geraghty

Natemba by Annette Lodge

Why the Giraffe has a long neck – Tinga Tinga tales

Just Right by Nigel Gray and Deborah Brown

And using websites such as

www.perthzoo.wa.gov.au

www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/animals

Africa Song for kids – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoYp2_MxkMI

 

I have also shown the kids WWF Together App using Apple TV in our lab.

The Year 1 class are developing skills in Publisher as they learn to insert Word Art, images and clip art as well as developing their keyboard skills writing about different African animals. Whilst looking at Matt Gomez’s great kinderchat blog I realised that I could develop their language skills a bit more and have now focussed on them writing their sentences instead of inserting the missing word. Next week I will have a bank of words for them to use on display.

Next blog post I will outline my upper primary classes.

The History of Surfing for Year 6

Ancient China – Year 7

 

Global Classrooms – Expanding their world

Lesedi and the princess

Lesedi and yr one hugs

Robogal Lesedi

Lesedi helping Yr 5's learn about rhinos.

Lesedi joing the Yr 5 class for Indonesian.

Lesedi joing the Yr 5 class for Indonesian.

The Travelling Rhinos Project A Global Classrooms Initiative by Karen Stadler (@ICT_Integrator)Last year I participated in Karen’s Crazy Crazes Global Classroom project and it was such a good experience for myself and the students that I decided to be part of this year’s project.
We have hosted Lesedi, one of the Travelling Rhinos, for the last 10 days and she has proved to be very popular with the students. One of my favourite memories will be the Year 1 class hugging her after they found out that rhinos were being killed for their horns. Participation in the project has meant that not only are we learning about rhinos and their plight but has brought the world a little closer to us and will enable us to focus on our own endangered species and the need for awareness campaigns. Lesedi leaves us to go to Plympton Primary School in South Australia at the end of the week but her legacy will endure as we continue to learn about animals under threat.
Farewell Lesedi. We will be following your journey through Australia and New Zealand.

If you wish to know more about what Karen is doing you can find her blog here.

Presentations – Feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

jump
Image courtesy of Sujin Jekasettakorn/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In my previous post, I outlined how I wanted to encourage other teachers to develop their Personal Learning Network(PLN) and how I believe Twitter can be a powerful tool.
Thanks to some pretty awesome people in my PLN, I have been given the opportunity to present at an ICT Expo in May for fellow Catholic school educators.
Let me be frank, I’m terrified! However, if my nerves and frantic preparation over the next couple of months means that someone else gets to go on the journey I’m on then it has been worthwhile. It’s also beneficial for me to jump out of my comfort zone and try something new. It can’t hurt my professional profile either provided I don’t screw it up altogether.

To add to my nerves, I have also submitted to the Slide2Learn Conference in April for the same presentation. Who knows, I might get accepted. Then I will be walking on the wild side. I do know, however, that my Twitter PLN will be a source of inspiration and knowledge and my school colleagues will support me.

How lucky am I? I hope you get the same opportunities and seize them with both hands.

Digital Footprints: Concrete or Latex?

I have been involved in teaching digital citizenship to primary students for some time and I felt that as an ICT educator I was providing my students with guidelines about how to behave online. I was content. I was complacent without even realising it.

It took a presentation by The Couros Brothers at the MYSA Travelling Scholars seminar at Hampton Senior High School on August 8, to challenge my complacency.

The sessions that dealt with taking control of your Digital Footprint and Digital Leadership inspired me.

I was encouraged to take charge of my professional footprint on the Internet. Googling your own name is a useful and enlightening exercise. How will the world see you? I learnt about a website called About Me which gives me a professional space to state who I am and what I do, to be proactive about my digital footprint. You can view mine here on my blog.

I thought about the children in my school and how many of them already have a social media presence and wondered if their mistakes would follow them around their whole lives? How fortunate was I to grow up in a non digital age and make mostly anonymous mistakes (embarrassing year book photos aside). The solution for these kids? It was suggested that they could flood their accounts with positive stuff so that it is this which is the overwhelming image of who they are.

If Digital Leadership is the ability to inspire, guide and lead change in the digital world, then I should be modelling this behaviour and encouraging my students to actively participate in their world. I started my effort by being involved with the year 6 blog created by one of our fabulous teachers for her class. I am now an adminstrator and add videos and comments, polls and questions for my ICT classes. They use it in all sorts of ways. You can view it here.

I am now using Edmodo with my Year 4 ICT class and love being able to interact with the students outside of our lesson, finding a valid reason to add in cyber safety lessons and put up pictures, assignments and surveys.

My Year 2 class is participating in a global classroom project run by Mrs Karen Stadler (@ICT_Integrator) that was brought to my attention through Twitter and will be an exciting new way for our students to find out about other students in the world and let them know about us. You can find the project here.

I am also in the process of thinking of ways to enlarge the audience and voice for some of my other classes. With my Year 7 digital photography competition, should I put it online and get a global perspective or judge? Would signing up to google docs be a good way to get a You Tube channel for my Year 6 stop start animations?

All of these are such big steps for me and hopefully positive ones for the students in my classes. I am a work in progress. Thanks Alec and George!