WA and the USA connect through Edmodo

Another global classroom success organised through the power of Twitter and connected through the simplicity of Edmodo!

It has been our privilege to connect this term grade one and two students from  Dalkeith Primary School in Perth and Windsor Primary School in Arlington Heights, Chicago. As our American friends school year draws to a close, I thought I would share a snapshot from an activity we did and wish them a fabulous summer break.

The students and I have learned so much about life at both schools. We have enjoyed learning through shared mini movies, pdf’s and comments made by the children and teachers at both schools.  We have also shared pictures and movies about life at our school.

Today we read Stand Tall, Molly Lou Mellon by Patty Lovell and David Catrow. We chose this story because it is an American book. Molly Lou Melon is also an awesome character and her story is one that everyone should read.
Windsor School are reading books by Australian author, Mem Fox. We know how fabulous those stories are because we have them in our library at school.
Both schools did story corners and you can see an small selection of ours below

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3 Things I Learned This Year.

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What I learned from 2013

  • Be brave!

Submitting my first submission to present at the Slide2Learn Conference early this year was one of the scariest things I’ve done for a long time.  It required me to step up and challenge myself and present to adults and also put myself out there by saying how much Twitter had changed me as an educator. I enjoyed the experience so much that I agreed to co-present with @mgraffin at the state ECAWA conference in the October holidays. Another fun day. I am also hoping to present next year, hopefully they will accept my submission.

  • Be global

I was thrilled to be selected as a #globalclassroom Lead Teacher this year. I was an enthusiastic participant in several amazing online global projects and I know my students thoroughly enjoyed them as well. I am  passionate about global education and how it can provide so many opportunities for students to engage with their learning, connect with other students and provide an authentic audience. Skype and Twitter were pivotal to the success of these activities.

  • Be flexible

I started the year by adding some comfortable furniture to the library in the hope that the teachers and students would see the space differently. I have been encouraging teachers to consider flexible learning spaces in their classrooms and I am excited that several classes are planning changes for 2014. I look forward to blogging about it.

This time of the year for us southerners is exhausting. End of school year coinciding with Christmas is always a challenging time but I’m glad I’ve taken the time to give thanks for the lessons I’ve learned this year and hope to build on them next year. Thank you to everyone that shared in my learning this year. I appreciate every opportunity I was given.  2014 looks exciting!

A Week as @EduTweetOz – A Reflection

@EduTweetOz is a Twitter account for “Australian Educators from all sectors to share their ideas, experiences, questions and passions” Each week there is a guest host and I was fortunate to be host from October 6-13, 2013. The following is a copy of the reflection I wrote for the EduTweetOz blog.

I am a huge fan of Edward de Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats (Did you see them being used in “Redesign my Brain”?)and I use them in many classes for students to reflect on work they have done. I find it encourages them to consider their work in a holistic way. So to reflect on my experience as @EduTweetOz host I am going to use them. (Primary teacher remember )

Blue hat – Thinking
• Having the opportunity to connect with educators from around Australia was a very satisfying experience and I am thankful to @EduTweetOz for giving me this opportunity.
• It was a very interesting experience being the representative instead of the individual and at times I felt I had to go back to my own avatar to continue the conversation so as not to speak as the representative.
• I had selected to talk about a few topics so I was prepared but I did find that various conversations did just spontaneously happen such as using images in my professional blog.

White hat – Facts
• I am a relative newbie to twitter but thought I might be able to add to the discussion as a rural Catholic educator who was also a Teacher Librarian. I am also a passionate advocate for #globalclassrooms and I thought this would be a great venue to talk about it.
• October is also Connected Educator month and Twitter is an amazing tool for connecting educators. I wanted to show my support and promote connections that would lead to better learning opportunities for our students.
• I volunteered to host as I thought it would challenge me as an educator and broaden my PLN as I would be exposed to educators that I might not already follow. I did find many educators to follow and learn from in my week.
• The admin of @EduTweetOz were very supportive and supported me during the week.

Red hat – Feelings
• I was excited and nervous to be host. The idea that I had to tweet intelligently for a whole week frightened me but the challenge was exciting.
• The @EduTweetOz PLN was very supportive and I was grateful to those people who responded to my tweets and engaged me in conversation. It would have been a lonely week without them. I hoped that people were able to gain something from the conversations, I know I did.
• I enjoyed connecting people and recommending links that I thought others might enjoy. Retweeting was almost a job in itself as the PLN is more diverse and bigger than my own.

Black hat – difficulties
• Daylight savings had just commenced so I was now 3 hours behind the east coast of Australia. This made it difficult as I missed the morning shift of tweets and I had to make sure I was online around 5pm so as not to miss the evening shift.
• I apologize for not using #EduTweetOz enough.

Yellow hat – positives
• Focussing the light on Teacher Librarians as ICT specialists in schools was one of the positives of the week. It was an opportunity to connect other educators with some fabulous TL’s that I follow and who inspire me. This in turn led to them suggesting other TL’s.
• I was hosting during the second week of the holidays and I was presenting at the ECAWA conference at the end of the week which gave me the opportunity to spend time tweeting and tweet in the conference back channel and promote the #WApln.
• I was challenged in my thinking and about my thinking especially with respect to connecting within Australia and how I was using my blog in particular how I used images. I am resolved to build better Australian connections for my students.
• I encourage others to take on the role as I think they will also benefit from the experience and we would benefit from hearing the voice of different educators around Australia.

Green hat – Creative hat
• As a direct result from being host I am taking on the challenge of learning about Google hangouts so that I can extend the connections and learning of my students with other students within Australia.
• It would be interesting to have a guest educator from another country host especially someone who is recognised globally as a leader in education or has to educate in a vastly different environment than our own.

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.

Where will Twitter take you? It took me to Slide2Learn!

My 9 Steps to becoming a workshop facilitator at the Slide2Learn Conference in Perth.
June 2012 – April 2013.

Previously, I had written about taking a leap of faith and doing something that scared me. I submitted a proposal to facilitate a workshop at the Slide 2Learn Conference. I was accepted and this blog outlines how it happened.

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1. Join Twitter through recommendation of Louise Cimetta @LouCimetta – Coordinator of Digital Learning, Catholic Education Office, Perth

2. Have a positive social experience at Catholic Primary Curriculum Conference with fellow tweeps.

3. Receive feedback from a tweet that results in attending a brilliant social media workshop run by MYSA and featuring amazing educators, Prof. Alec Couros @corousa and George Couros @gcouros
a. Start my own blog – Reflection is good for the soul
b. Own digital footprint – About.me/KerryMuste
c. Find out about Hootsuite to organise my hashtags and Flipboard for magazine like reading.
d. Make further connections, plus meet people that already knew on Twitter. Made the day very relaxed.

4. Make further positive social experiences through tweet up lunch thanks to EduBlogger Extraordinaire Sue Waters @suewaters and meet Couros Brothers, and three lovely Librarians;The Daring Librarian @gwynethjones, Dr. Joyce Valenza @joycevalenza and Audrey Nay @audrey_nay. I also met Phil and Jo Hart, Ms D and Sue Hickton. Great day!

5. Join great Global Classroom project run by Karen Stadler @ICT_Integrator called Crazy Crazes.
a. Learn new ways to share information – flipsnack, voicethread and Skype

6. Create Year 7 class blog to display students Digital Photography Competition and invite Twitter friends to view – they comment and provide audience.

7. Find resources and links to amazing ideas and people
a. Read and follow blogs – favourite George Couros
b. Joined another Global Classroom Project run by Karen called Save Our Rhinos
i. Create YouTube channel to display work

8. Be invited to submit workshop idea to National Slide2Learn Conference being held in Perth. Thanks Slide2Learn team!

9. Facilitate a workshop on Developing a PLN using Twitter at the Conference and meet fellow Tweeps like: Michael Graffin @mgraffin, Global Classrooms Project Co-founder; Amie Meyer @AmieMeyer4; Sam Boswell @sboswellhyde. I was also able to make new wonderful connections from around Australia. It was also amazing to meet and attend workshops run by Tony Vincent @tonyvincent. His keynote address was lots of fun and the Web Keynote by Lisa Johnson @Techchef4u introduced me to another fabulous educator.

What an amazing journey and I owe it all to the power of Twitter. I hope that it will continue to provide me with inspiration, enthusiasm, new ideas and life changing experiences.

Has Twitter made a difference to you?

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.

Reflecting and Connecting. My 2013 wishlist.

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Wow! What a great year 2012 was. So much learning and so much fun. It makes me extremely excited about this year and what might happen. So, what did I learn last year?

1. Reflection is good for the soul and for professional practice.

The creation of this blog melded two things together. One I love and one I hadn’t really done before. I love writing but never thought I had the time to reflect. I know, what was I thinking?So, now I use this blog to jot down reflections on things I am doing and the people I meet. It’s all good stuff and I’m very grateful.

Goal for 2013: To continue to add to my blog to share and reflect on all the fabulous things that are happening in our school and in the schools of my PLN.

2. Twitter is a PLN catalyst.

How I have loved Twitter in the last 6 months. What a learning curve! What a fantastic bunch of people I have connected with. I no longer feel like an educator in a small, country town but an educator in a global community.

Goal: This global community is changing the way I view the world and the learning opportunities within it. I have joined one global project this semester which I will be posting further updates but you can find it here. Another fantastic project by Karen Stadler!
I also want to bring other educators along for the journey. I will be making some opportunities to develop this further this year.

3. Connect with your students!

As a specialist teacher it can be quite difficult to make the connections that classroom teachers can as there just isn’t the time together. I did find that last year Edmodo helped make connections with my students. We were able to connect during the week and they could clarify things with me before they came to class. We could also connect with other classes in the world. Well worth trying out.

I loved Skype too! Face to face contact with children from around the world. Could we have ever imagined this? 

Goal: I am going to use Edmodo again this year with a couple of my classes. I am also going to Skype again. My goal this year is to encourage other classes in my school to jump onboard.

Good luck everyone and I hope your year is a fun, challenging and rewarding journey. I know I hope mine is!

 

How do you switch off?


I recently attended a seminar which confronted, challenged and inspired me. I am still processing the information I received and will write a post about it soon but what I didn’t expect was how hard I would find it to disconnect from it. The seminar is the latest installment in an amazing year of professional learning for me. I watched the Tour de France this year and my learning journey feels like I have scaled the Pyranees and The Alps as well as travelling at a pace that leaves me breathless and a little apprehensive.

For those in the Northern Hemisphere, September heralds the beginning of a new school year. Whereas, for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, September can be quite a difficult time. It’s the end of winter, term three and rapidly approaching the end of the school year. Deadlines are approaching and thoughts about how much hasn’t been accomplished yet begin to float into our conciousness.

These disjointed thoughts are basically identifying that I am tired and need to spend time nurturing myself. This was a difficult concept for me to accept when I was younger but now I understand its importance.

I recently read the latest blog post by Stef who was reflecting on how her change in exercise routine made it a priority and I agree wholeheartedly. Now the sun is coming up earlier, I am planning on getting back to walking before breakfast. This activity will help but the activity that really calms my mind is playing the fiddle. I am not a good fiddle player and only took it up a couple of years ago. Learning a musical instrument as an adult is such a good lesson for any teacher. It immediately places you in a place that gives you such empathy for the students you teach and in awe because they are such quick learners. I have felt such frustration at the slowness of my progress but have perservered and realised that the journey is what is important to me, not the speed. I am immensely thankful to my friend, Karien, our fabulous school Administrative Officer and a fantastic fiddler who spends time with me ever Monday afternoon.

So I am off to practise and in the morning I will at least get outside before I go to work.
What will you do to nurture yourself?

Twitter – A global Professional Learning Network

I admit to being sceptical about Twitter as it was high jacked by celebrities and seemed to reflect the lowest common denominator. How wrong I was to scoff at it. I owe my second dabbling to Ms Lou Cimetta (@LouCimetta) for introducing Edmodo to a group of educational leaders recently. I got excited about this application and joined up. A world of educators became visible to me and opportunities for professional development opened up (not an insignificant thing for a rural educator).
I thought if this was possible, maybe I could find something similar on Twitter. Fortunately for me, Ms Cimetta came to the rescue again and I spent the next week learning on the fly, finding interesting and like minded individuals to follow. Amazingly enough some people were willing to take on a newbie. Dr. Alec Couros (@courosa), a visiting Educational Technology academic from Canada on a whirlwind Australian MYSA speaking tour with his equally talented brother, Mr George Couros, took a chance and this small kindness spurred me on to keep developing my PLN, my Professional Learning Network. I set myself some goals to keep motivated because it can feel like you are talking to yourself at the beginning and my 5th goal was to be fearless. I am trying a global classroom project with another Twitterer (@ICT_Integrator) who was recommended to me by a fellow Western Australian educator (@mgraffin). All in three weeks!
I would never have found the contacts or ideas if it hadn’t been for this motivated and generous group of people. I feel connected and my students are hopefully benefitting from these connections. The journey has begun and I’m excited.

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