TeachMeet 2 – A Montessori Experience

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Our second TeachMeet in Margaret River was hosted magnificently by Margaret River Montessori School. We were treated to presentations by two of staff members, Jan and Lee-Anne. These presentations introduced us to some core principles in Montessori education but were not exclusive. I know we all learned something we could use in our own classes. Helen from Margaret River Primary school entertained us with the app, AutoRap and suggested we give class instructions in a novel new way. Nicole from St Thomas More CPS, gave us a brief look into Genius Projects. I know for a fact how fabulous they have been in her Year 7 class. Our principal, Marty, outlined how the peer forum we call the Breakfast Club is helping support staff with curriculum and classroom management ideas and I gave a quick pitch for Twitter as a PLN tool.
All in all it was a fun afternoon get together with some new faces and new ideas. If you haven’t been to a TeachMeet yet, see if there is one near you. Western Australian educators can look here
Next, the TeachMeet at Cape Naturaliste College in Vasse on the 25th November. Our first Middle school event.

The Day Teachmeet came to Town

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What do you call it when thirty educators from different systems and different towns come together to listen and learn from each other in their OWN time?
You call it professional, dedicated and courageous.
You also get to call it a Teachmeet and now it has come to the capes region of Western Australia.

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Thank you all the wonderful educators that attended the evening who contributed to its success. Thank you to Bhavneet Singh (@BhavneetSingh12) for her encouragement and technical support.
Thank you to my principal and colleagues for their support and  I look forward to the second Teachmeet next term.

If you would like to know more about Teachmeets you can go here.
If you would like to see if there is one near you in Western Australia, go here.
In other parts of Australia, go here.

Here is a Storify of the #tmwa tweets.
Consider hosting one today.

Thinking and Walking: A Path to Creativity

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For the last year I have been able to walk to work. Initially I started walking for my physical and mental health. There is a real benefit to having a mental space between work and home, especially when you interact with many people in a day. I know my family have noticed.

What I didn’t realise was how creative this time would be. I find solutions to challenges, new ways of tackling lessons and new ideas popping into my head all within a fifteen minute walk. I’m not saying it happens all the time, sometimes it’s just a beautiful walk and that is a blessing too.

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This reflection made me realise that I expect my students to think creatively whilst sitting down. This got me wondering if they moved around would they be more creative too? So, I am going to test this idea by getting the students to walk when brainstorming ideas. Whatever the outcome, it will be fun.

This lead me to wonder if there had been any research on this and I found a study by Dr. Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, that may explain why.

Are you already doing this? I would love to hear about it.

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

A snapshot of our week in the Computer Lab.

I love my job 🙂

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Pre Primary creating homes in Tux Paint after we discussed different homes around the world.

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Year 5 playing the Free Rice game as part of our Food Security unit.
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An example of our Peace Cinquains in Year 4 which will be included in our Peace Crane Project. and will be sent to our school friends in Smolenskoye, Siberia.

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An example of one peace drawing for the reverse side of the Peace Crane.

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Playing a Saving energy game as part of our environment unit in Year 1 after watching a YouTube clip about saving energy and discussing ways we could help at home and at school.

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?

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.

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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.

Two classes meet via Skype

Over the last semester, our school has been participating in a wonderful project called Crazy Crazes organised by Mrs Karen Stadler (@ict_integrator) of Elkanah House in Cape Town, South Africa. Schools all around the globe research the current crazes in their schools and share this information via a wikispace. My year 2 ICT class are slightly younger than most of the participants but I decided to join as the class were studying different countries with their classroom teachers and one of the boys is South African.
The project has resulted in a whole lot of learning not only for the students but also for me as I have never used a wiki. I have also learnt to use Youblisher to showcase the students’ work about our town and school and VoiceThread to allow the other classes to hear us singing the National anthem.
The highlight was today though when we Skyped Elkanah and shared information about ourselves.
What an amazing opportunity for our students to see and hear each other and develop a better understanding of different schools, accents, time zones and of course crazes. Another joyful moment was listening to our student converse in Afrikaans with the Elkanah students. I don’t know which class was more surprised. We shared a few phrases of Indonesian, our LOTE language.
This was a first for our school and all due to Mrs Stadler. Thank you, Mrs Stadler and we look forward to further Skype adventures.

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