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You can lead a horse…

http://bigseadesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/horse.jpe

http://bigseadesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/horse.jpe

We speak so often about the need to differentiate, personalise, and scaffold our teaching programs to our students to ensure that what is being taught is done so in a way that engages, enhances and gives purpose for the students at their particular point of learning need.

I am a big believer in building teacher capacity in a variety of ways which of course then has a direct flow on effect for the learners that a particular teacher is responsible for. Being in a role that oversees the effective use use of technology across 1900 students and 220 staff is, well, a large role, however one that is supported by a host of staff whose own skill sets and capabilities in using technology to support learning is outstanding. Those supportive staff have a particular drive and passion for continual self improvement that they are very willing to share with those around them and that is the difference that sets them apart.

I am a large believer that professional learning for teachers must be invested in heavily by schools if education is to progress in that particular setting. The challenge I find is that some settings do not either place a high enough focus towards this, do it in a way which is the opposite to what we should be doing, as mentioned earlier with our own students, that being said, providing a professional learning culture amongst staff that disengages, does not enhance capacity and has little to no purpose. The other issue I see is professional learning being driven based on the needs of the college or school, and not the staff, and there is a very large difference between the two.

I am pleased to say that I have attended some absolutely outstanding professional learning in my time. PL that has been engaging and had me thinking and challenging my own pedagogical practices and educational paradigms. PL that has been hands on with a focus on creativity and innovation and thinking in ways that I would perhaps normally not. I feel that these professional learning events were, and are rare. My recent trips via Apple to the ADE Institutes in Bali and San Diego, as well as attending the GTA in Sydney in 2011 certainly were (rare) examples of the above. The focus on these accounts were teachers becoming the learning and learning at points of need. Teachers knowing their own strengths and weaknesses and building their professional learning around these.

Recently I have delivered alot of professional learning to educators both within and certainly without of my college setting. This is something that I really enjoy and is a great part of my role. The fact that I can model lessons for other staff, assist them through planning processes, observe and deconstruct taught lessons as well as deliver more formal means of PL all allow me to assist in the building of teacher capacity. I think, or believe for the most part, I am very good at this. I am passionate about working with staff and it is this passion which drives me going forward. There are times that I have delivered professional learning that has not been wholly effective however and I have used these few experiences to better my own capabilities for future scenarios.

In saying all of the above I am keen to determine how I can better, or… be more effective at building teacher capacity. Does this comes down to the way in which I present and run professional learning, or am I needing to focus more upon inspiring staff before I worry about adding to their skill sets?

Regardless, I feel that I am needing to get more of a ‘buy in’ from staff to better and further improve their own practice. The image below sums it best.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 8.26.28 am

 

Finding the time to run professional learning in a teacher’s, or teaching team’s hectic schedule can be very difficult. What is not difficult unfortunately is finding excuses to not run the professional learning. A personal goal from here forward is to ensure I keep working hard in supporting staff to build their own pedagogy no matter the focus, or lack of time. What will go a long in supporting this is that ‘buy-in’ from staff to want to improve. A want and desire to better their practice to ensure that they are delivering the highest quality teaching and learning programs that they can offer.

You could say that I will not force the horse to water if it is not thirsty. Teaching reluctant learners does not improve when I force content upon them. What does work however is finding ways in which to engage and hook them into wanting to learn and to improve… and this is my (exciting) challenge.

Watch. This. Space.

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#ADE2014

IMG_4058

I first caught wind of a 20th Anniversary ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) Institute towards the end, if not after, my initial induction in to the ADE world following my the Institute I attended in Bali in April 2013.

After having experienced Bali alongside 300 other educators from all over South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, I was intrigued as to how another ADE Institute could top what I had experienced thus far. I had heard other ADE’s talk of their experiences in Cork, Ireland, a year beforehand and how that Institute was an experience for the ages!

Now usually my posts rant and rave and 200 words turn into 2000. I promise this will not be the case. 😉 As much difficulty as I am having in attempting to review what certainly was an amazing week, I am wanting to do that week justice but being conscience, to the point, and not ruin it through rambling lines of text.

It was this week in which I had a fellow ADE, Glenn McMahon (@mackas_ict) visit my college with several of his colleagues who were investigating eLearning and technology integration practices among other things. Whilst discussing all things teaching, learning, technology, and other, Glenn asked me what my biggest ‘take-aways’ were from San Diego. A great question, albeit a tough one. I have been thinking about my response to Glenn and additional ‘take-aways’ I had from attending #ade2014 and, briefly, these are outlined below.

1. Teachers as Learners.

There are a few ways in which I can take this however I will look at it from this angle… Being in a role which effectively is responsible for assisting staff in using technology to enhance  teaching and promote student learning outcomes has over the years thrown up a few challenges. One of these being the reluctance at times of teachers ‘stepping back’ and allowing students to lead. The need to control a class and the way it is being run is for the most part shifting as it perhaps once was the near norm. I now often see students leading their peers and also their teachers in learning new methods to create, share, collaborate, connect and innovate within the classroom. In regards to the institute a key focus was the teacher being the learner. Using our own devices to engage and interact with the institute itself via an iTunesU course and a developed app for attendees was terrific. I look forward to seeing the day when students are personalising their own learning to the point where teachers are no longer teachers, where they facilitate learning and work alongside the students and not in front them.

IMG_4204

Teachers as Learners

2. Making it Mobile.

There’s no doubt the one of the greatest strengths of the iPad is it’s mobility. The simple fact that it can be taken anywhere and do just about anything to support teaching and or learning. This i have clearly seen evident when taking 100+ students to both Sovereign Hill and the Melbourne Aquarium where their iPad devices have been fully integrated to support the learning programs taking place. San Diego in a way was also exactly that. Having our own devices out and about and using the suggested app’s given to us, especially also from an iBeacon point of view was fantastic. The point being made is that learning does not need to be restricted to the classroom or even the school grounds. That also yes, connecting with their learning at home is also great however, when students are engaged with technology to assist them to develop specific understandings when in other rich learning environments so much more understanding can be developed. The map below shows several points of reference where I used my own iPad device ‘out in the field’ and for what reasons.

3. I’m not Alone.

One of the, if not the, best part of attending such an event is being situated in a location alongside 400+ like minded people, all of which have the same drive, passion, and desire that you do. People who are having similar successes and triumphs as well as hitting similar walls and barriers. The professional conversations that were mostly held informally over a beer and dinner were amazing. The connections that I was able to make was outstanding and I have every confidence that through meeting these people, and staying in contact with them I will be a better teacher and leader for it. Thanks to social media, primarily Twitter, I can converse with these wonderful people virtually anytime and anywhere.

Clearly not alone...

Clearly not alone…

4. Break the Norm.

Hearing the stories and journeys that educators had embarked on within their own settings that ‘broke the norm’ of how technology was being utilised was outstanding. Again, hearing like minded educators sharing stories about how they have transformed their teaching practices within their settings was great. This was particularly evident during the ADE showcases where ADE’s had 3 minutes to share the AWESOME things that they were doing in their settings. The common theme throughout the showcase sessions was that these were educators who were willing to trial new things and take a risk within their own practice. They were willing to step out of their comfort zone. Hopefully the  recording of these are made public soon so that other teachers the world over can be inspired as I was!

where-the-magic-happens-your-comfort-zone

5. Celebrate the +’s

My last big take away, is that I realised that it is extremely important to celebrate the positives within our settings and with others. Everything from the big wins that we have such as rolling out 1000 iPad devices to perhaps that small win where one particular student has created a marvellous piece of work. To be within an environment that was extremely positive it encourages you to share more of what you do and to celebrate the things you and your setting do well. From this I hope to begin working on developing this positive culture not only throughout my staff but more so my students. Have them share and celebrate the awesome things that they are capable of!

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 10.53.36 am

“Now usually my posts rant and rave and 200 words turns into 2000.” – Corrie Barclay, The beginning of this post!

LASTLY… I have strung together my own 10 favourite shots from the Institute that hopefully depict the learning, collaboration, and sites that were #ADE2014.

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Learning B4 Technology

http://ihs.wikia.com/wiki/File:Teaching_teachers_forum.jpg

http://ihs.wikia.com/wiki/File:Teaching_teachers_forum.jpg

It’s not often that I can get my hands on my staff, (not literally of course), to be able to run large scale Professional Learning to one of our four sub schools, or if I am extremely lucky, our entire (220) staff!

As much as I enjoy the smaller and more personalised approach to coaching and coordinating Professional Learning, especially either one on one or within teaching teams, that ability to deliver key messages to a larger cohort is always is something I find needs to take place. This ensures that same message is coming from one person, and is uniform across all teachers. What helps is having others spread those messages other than myself, which I am happy to say happens often!

With having a quite a few new staff teaching within our Middle Years sub school this year I felt the need to revisit a few key messages to ensure that the ideology behind how we go about integrating technology, effectively, is done so with one major thing in mind, and that being that good teaching comes first and the technology a second.

This is a message that I have been preaching religiously, no pun intended, for quite a while now.  The importance that our number one craft is teaching and that that craft needs to be focused on and honed over time. The absolutely wonderful thing about this profession is that we can all do it in various ways which enrich, engage and foster the meeting of student learning outcomes. We are all charged with delivering a set curriculum however they way in which we as educators can go about that can be extremely varied to cater for our students needs. There are not many professions I feel that allow for differentiation to occur amongst its staff. Teaching is certainly one of those.

Technology Integration, for example, allows for an educator to drastically alter the way they not only deliver the curriculum, but also, and more importantly, the way that students choose to learn that same curriculum.

Way back in… 2009, when I first started at my current setting all students I taught were involved in a 1:1 MacBook Program. The 6 teachers, including myself had never encountered such a thing, that being a 1:1 program of any description. During those first few weeks it is safe to say we used those MacBooks all day every day which in the end turned out to be detrimental to our teaching programs. First lesson learnt, “Just because they have the technology does not mean you need to have them using it”. 

After time we realised that it was the teaching that we need to get back to focusing upon. The way that we planned our curriculum and the ways that we  were deliver the content were more important than the technology itself. The learning and teaching, that was the priority. Not that we felt the consistent need to use the technology because it was there, and it was certainly evident as the year progressed, that through having that technology support the learning and teaching that was taking place, where applicable, made greater inroads to supporting students than what it did at the beginning.

These thoughts have recently been reaffirmed to me in the form of another blog post written by Steve Wheeler, the  ‘Associate Professor of learning technology in the Plymouth Institute of Education at Plymouth University’. Further to this, Steve’s credentials are too many to mention.I have had the pleasure of meeting him once at uLearn12 in Christchurch, New Zealand and have followed his blog and other learnings fairly intensely since then. At the time of writing this, his latest blog post, titled , talks in depth about this notion and the need to place, always place, learning before technology.

Below I have embedded the presentation I showed to my staff as well as a list of just a few of their responses relating to how I could assist them to become greater enablers of technology to support and enhance their programs.

Middle Years Sub School  – Moving Forward with eLearning

  • Classroom management with iPad management.
  • Exploring Flipped Classroom concepts.
  • Use of Social Media for sharing student work
  • Use of ICT when students have limited access/support in the home (no internet/wifi)
  • Improving student outcomes in maths through student led activities
  • Using Edmodo
  • Projecting students work on the Apple TV via their iPad,
  • Classroom iPad management of students
  • App Tutorials
  • Assisting students making appropriate and relevant contributions to online class discussions
  • Storing digital work
  • Flipped Classrooms
  • developing digital individual learning tasks
  • How to manage student use of iPads more effectively.
  • How students can create their own tutorials in different ways.

 

So to completely and utterly agree with Steve, and to once again quote him via his recent post, “If you forget everything else, remember this: Don’t let technology get in the way of good teaching and learning.”
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Show & Tell

Show+and+Tell+Logo

I’ve been planning to write this post for the past few weeks however time has been getting away from me recently, how dare it, but alas, here it is! As mentioned in previous posts it’s been amazingly wonderful to be back in a classroom again teaching and learning with the squids! Working along side and relating to these young people during the week, on a consistent weekly basis, certainly has given me a new lease on my teaching life.

Now, do not get me wrong, I love my eLearning Director role, however, lately the drain that is constant meetings and administrivia has definitely weighed me down somewhat. So down to business. Below I have shared just a few of the things that I have been up to in my room. Mind you, I am in class 2 full days per week and am enjoying the Challenge of attempting to squash everything in to what is already a super crowded week but also making way for the ‘extras’ I am wanting to implement, both from a learning and classroom management perspective, such as a few of the items mentioned below! 🙂

1. 2014 Middle Years (Yrs 5-8) Challenge Based Learning Unit: Digital Identity

2014 Middle Years CBL Unit: Digital Identity

2014 Middle Years CBL Unit: Digital Identity

We were wanting to run a unit, an introductory unit, for our Middle Years Students based on Cyber Safety, Digital Citizenship, Copyright, Creative Commons, and several other things! The challenge was not so much what to cover and when but how. Dare I say that covering the above topics with Middle Years students is a challenge relating specifically to engagement.

I wanted students to take ownership of their learning and drive what it is they want to know and hence what better way to do that than through a CBL, or Challenge Based Learning Unit. What I love about CBL is that students relate personally to their learning. They are drawing on real life experiences that effected them, either in a positive or negative way and can use these to guide new knowledge and understandings. Already I am seeing some excellent learning taking place via what has been created and shared with the students and facilitated by the staff.

The ‘proposal movie’ that was developed, under CC licensing rights, is embedded below. This movie was shown prior to our Middle Years Students undertaking this unit. The aim of this movie was to get students thinking about what having a ‘Digital Identity’ is and how this affects them as learners and users of technology in the 21st Century.

To assist the staff I developed an eBook, via Apple’s iBook Author Software, and has staff download this as a guide to assist them in running this unit. To develop this, I used Apple’s Own CBL Guide as well as several awesome resources that had been created by Adam Brice, an Apple Education Executive. If you would like to view the CBL Unit as well as the other accompanying documents such as the Assessment Rubric and Student Workbook, head to the shared DropBox Folder linked here: 2014 Middle Years CBL Unit Resources

2. Genius Hour Implementation.

I am not overly sure where I first caught wind of ‘Genius Hour, but I do recall being excited by the notion behind it! For those who have no real idea behind this, it all stemmed from Google giving their employee’s 20% time. This meaning 20% of their working week, which theoretically means one day, to work on projects which interest them as they please during this time. From this, Google Applications such as gMail, AdSense, Google News and Google Talk just to name a few.

In previous years we have implemented students undertaking ‘Passion Projects’ which is similar to the notion of Genius Hour however with fewer restrictions I guess you would say. The presentation below explains in simple detail what genius Hour is and this is what i showed to my students. Currently the students are working through the ‘finding out’ phase in answering their Guiding or Driving Question.

Just a selection of some of the Guiding Questions my years 7’s have come up with so far;
  • How will I learn to create and mix my own DJ beats?
  • Why is their cruelty in the world? (Tough One… but I am interested to see where this leads!)
  • How should people react in a bushfire emergency? (I am hoping that a ‘how to’, or ‘what to do’ video stems from this!)
  • How can I make a iPad Game App, on my iPad?
  • How do violent video games affect the way people think?
  • What is the best way to help endangered animals and what can I do about it?

To inspire my chargers I then showed this great You Tube Clip starring Kid President, which my students loved!

3. Google Drive

Google Drive App

Google Drive App

The joys of Google Drive! This is more than likely not a big deal to most however, having spoken about, presented about, coordinated PL about and modelled and demonstrated about, the positiveness of Google Drive as an App to assist iPad Workflow has thus far been amazing. All teachers within our Yr 7 Team are now planning via Google Drive and sharing all planners, resources, links, PDF’s, etc via this means. The real power is now having students use this effectively to share work, receive work, and access learning materials needed not only via teachers, but also with each other. Collaboration is a major focus as part of our eLearning Capabilities and to now be entrenched in this with my own class is great.

The best part? It’s ease of use and set up!

Lastly, and as an add on to this, I have just discovered Kaizena, an online program that accesses your Google Drive Account and all your files. From here, you can highlight text on documents and leave Voice Comments. Something that I think will save teachers a lot of time in allowing them to give quick, effective and thorough feedback! View the clip below to see how all this works! 🙂

4. Classroom Expectations.

I loathe classroom rules, not to be negative, but, I find them extremely negative, and more often than not against what a classroom should be about. In saying this, I believe there is a need for something to assist and guide students in demonstrating expected behaviours. The power from developing classroom expected behaviours is that these are student created and driven. If the ownership comes from the students then they are much more focused towards behaving in ways that are conducive to what a learning environment should be!

Below are the expectations that the students developed. Expectations which had to relate to at least one of our College’s values (Aiming High, Valuing Our Community, Respecting Others, Being Safe). 

For now. I think that’s all I will share as if this were a real show and tell session I would have been booted off the stage long ago!
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An Evening With Bill Rankin.

This Wednesday evening I was fortunate enough to attend an ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) meeting that was hosted at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education.

The focus for this meeting was to spend a good hour and a half with Dr. Bill Rankin, and educational technology wizard, and a Director of Learning for Apple Inc. World Wide.

As Bill’s Bio states…

“I am a Director on the education team at Apple, Inc., with responsibility for promoting and enhancing innovative teaching and learning. Prior to joining Apple, I worked as an academic in higher education for 24 years, concluding my time as a Professor of English and Honors College Fellow at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. As ACU’s Director of Educational Innovation, I helped design the world’s first one-to-one that gave every student an iPhone or iPod touch as a platform for exploring next-wave mobile learning. With ACU’s Honors College, I consulted on a radically new kind of in situ learning that leverages just-in-time, differentiated instruction and media to prepare learners working to solve issues of urban poverty and social justice in South Dallas. I have received numerous awards for teaching and have presented on the implications of educational technology and emerging pedagogies in more than 25 countries.”

Impressive hey!

I first met Bill when i attended the ADE Institute in Bali earlier this year where Bill was a headline act and speaker sharing his knowledge and wisdom about all things technology and education. Bill also gave us an insight into just some of the powerful tools Apple has to offer, most notably Apple’s Keynote software, which as I found out in Bali, is more than just a slide presentation creation tool!

The presentation that Bill ran us through on Wednesday focused heavily on design presentation principles and the use of Apple’s Keynote software to showcase these. Design Principles that have been adapted from people such as Garr Reynolds and Robin Williams (not the actor!). Both of whom have written outstanding texts on these design principles that Bill discussed and showcased. Links to these texts via Amazon.com are below.

     

This session made me radically rethink the way i go about creating my own presentations, i suppose not just via Keynote but via all presentation tools that I use. Some of Bill’s messages that resonated with me were:

  • Bad design is like static, it distracts people.”
  • “Put things on the slide that put words in the audiences’ head. Don’t give them the answers…”
  • “Presentations need to be explicit and relate to your content.”
  • “You want to give the audience you’re presenting to that ‘pop’!” 
  • “Your presentation needs to have tension and release”
A Great example of what Apple’s KeyNote Software can do is embedded below. An animation created  in Keynote which demonstrates just some of the high quality effects than can be created! The Video itself has been created by Ray Nasher, an educator based in Melbourne. Not only is this a great animation as mentioned, the content contained within gives educators and educational minds a lot to digest and think about!

In summation… the creation of a presentation is more than just images and text on a slide. To effectively engage an audience and convey powerful messages, you need to consider those messages and specific design principles that will allow present your information in the most effective manner possible.
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Quick Fire PL

Just one of the many shots I took whilst down that way!

2 weeks ago I had the absolute pleasure of running a quick fire PL for a small coastal school in Victoria down Aireys Inlet way, situated on the Great Ocean Road.

The PL was based on effectively integrating iPad devices into teaching and learning programs and how a device such as an iPad can leverage and enhance student learning.

As always when presenting and sharing to other staff in various settings, my main and number one point is that it is the teaching itself that matters most. Good, explicit teaching makes the greatest difference in determining students meeting specific learning outcomes. However. When technology is integrated into high quality teaching and learning programs to support what is being taught, then the learning that can take place can be taken to a whole new level.

I also impressed that to integrate technology is not difficult, anyone can do it. To do it effectively however to fully support teaching and learning is something else.

In recent years we have all be taken back by the iPad device and mobile technology in general. The capabilities of these devices for students to access anywhere anytime have allowed students to demonstrate and showcase their learning in many positive ways.

It’s great to walk into a school and see posters like this displayed!

Following on from my philosophical educational technology ramblings I then covered in greater depth just how an iPad device can support teaching and learning. I also discussed and showcased some powerful applications for learning that students at my own College utilise highly to support what they’re doing in class. The link to this presentation, which is an iBook that I created for the recent VITTA conference, is attached below. I have linked the PDF version as it is a whopping 250MB less in size. Click the image below to download this.

In discussing and showcasing particular app’s, I did have to mention that as great as certain applications are on the iPad, it is not about the applications themselves and what they can do. It is more so about how those applications are used! It all comes down to imagination! We are wanting students to drive and personalise what app’s they use to foster that creation and innovation as part of their learning.

With this school moving towards 1:1 iPad devices they will surely find themselves in an exciting space where students and staff have the technology to be able to build on current practices and hopefully, like with all 1:1 programs, encourage and promote learning outcomes to be met at a greater level!

Exciting times!

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Creativity and Learning!

This evening at our College’s latest ICT SIT (School Improvement Team) meeting we viewed Sir Ken’s 2006 TED talk on “How School’s Kill Creativity”. My colleague Michelle and I spoke about how there are some school settings out there giving their students 20% time, or ‘genius hour’ time to work on creative based projects of their choosing.

The notion of doing this is based on Google giving their employees 20% of their working week off, one day effectively, to work on company based projects of their choice that could add to Google’s offerings! A wonderful concept that fosters heavily on creativity and innovation. 2 things that we want our students to be aware of, and to attempt, as often as they can.

2 great local examples of this are from two fantastic teachers in Anthony Speranza and Narissa Leung, both educators in Melbourne. Their blog posts and online resources about what they are doing with their students is amazing and is certainly something I encourage not only our own staff to take up but are great for anyone wanting to ‘release’ their students to showcase what they are capable of!

What i really enjoyed reading was the way that both teachers went about integrating this and guidelines that they put in to place.This gave this idea I feel a greater purpose and meaning for the students as it guides their thinking to be more creative. This is evident in Narissa’s first project guideline where “Students had to learn something new while doing the project- it wasn’t enough to simply regurgitate information they already knew.” 

Reflecting on Sir Ken’s TED talk which i’ve seen several times now, he promotes a lot of thought provoking ideas and discussion points on the notion of innovation and creativity versus academic ability. The idea that the public education system does not cater for learners who have a need and drive for the creative. That schools are based on their academic success and results and it is this reason that our young learners grow to loose their creative ability.

As teachers and educators we need to ensure that we let all of our students have the chance to play to their strengths. That we do not simply rely on academic ability to judge how successful our students will be.

What do these 5 have in common…

  • Thomas Edison – Inventor
  • James Cameron – Director
  • Walt Disney – Animator
  • Mark Zuckerburg – Facebook Founder

and of course…

  • Steve Jobs – Apple Founder

They all are school dropouts. Oh, and all are known for their creativity and innovation in their respected fields.

The more we can encourage our students to be creative and showcase their skills and innovative capabilities the greater learning I feel we will see. By encouraging our students to think outside the box and move away from the norm is certainly something that needs to take place. The days of producing kids in the education system who are only academically driven are fast, if not already, becoming something of the past. Skills needed to be successful in the 21st century rely more not on reading, writing and numeracy, but on the ability for workers to be more technologically minded and globally connected.

The image below showcases 10 key skills and 6 key drivers our students will need by the year 2020. This has been developed by the ‘Institute for the Future‘ who have focused this work on future work skills, not future jobs. These skills being ones that are transferable across a range of jobs and work situations, all of which will aid workers to be successful in their chosen fields.

Click to Enlarge…

I seem to have gone off on some sort of tangent here however… there is a point! 😉

That point being creativity needs to have a greater focus placed upon it in our education system and i feel that in most cases that the buck stops with the teacher. We need to step back, make room and space, and give our kids time to showcase and demonstrate what they can do, and the notion of ‘Genius Hour’ and or ‘20% Time’ is one great way in which we can assist in making the above happen.

For more information on what both Narissa and Anthony have been up to please head to their respective blogs.

Narissa’s Blog – Teaching in the Big Wired World and her post titled – ‘Putting the G in ‘Genius

Anthony’s Class Blog – Year 5/6 @ St.Marks Primary School and his post titled ‘The Genius Hour!

Anthony’s Personal Blog – ReconfigurEd If you scroll down you’ll find a number of posts related to his Genius Hour exploits as well as presentations that he has completed on this topic.
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VITTA 2013

Well another amazing VITTA conference has come and gone and as per usual when I attend something of this ilk I like to take this opportunity to reflect upon the two days that were!

One of the 4 keynote presentations about to get underway…

Personally, i like to judge a PL or conference on 3 main things;

Purpose.

Is this PL relevant to me as an educator and is it relevant to to 21st Century Teaching and Learning?

Practice.

Will attending this PL improve my teaching practice and allow me to improve that of my colleagues?

–  Performance

– Will the gained knowledge led to improved learning performance amongst my students?

It’s safe to say that VITTA ticked all those boxes. As it has in the past. The quality of presenters and speakers was again extremely high and for teachers and IT Leaders to have the ability to not only hear from these minds, but to also network with them, which I feel is just as, if not, more powerful the the presentations themselves.

It is quite astounding the amount of brilliant minds I have met through having developed a very strong PLN via the likes of Twitter and Google+, yet still, even only now, I am meeting people face to face for the time! Having had met over the past two days the likes of Richard Olsen and Louise Duncan face to face was fantastic. To have also attended their sessions and gained a greater insight in to the work that they do was also just as brilliant.

My own presentation was one that I feel was great in theory, yet due to me rushing it’s contents, came off a little… scattered! I’ll wait eagerly for the feedback! 🙂 You can access my presentation in either ibook or PDF formats by clicking on the image below.

So. Rather than give an in depth overview of all the keynote and the presentation sessions I attended, here are 5 things that I learnt and/or had reaffirmed over the course of the two days. There were THAT…

1. …teachers of all areas in all settings are continuing to push boundaries and take risks within their teaching and learning environments. The notion of wanting to create and foster students who are innovative and creative has never been more prevalent, and that technology integration has been and will be a major driver of this.

2. …the time is now. Teachers are THE ones who are the major drivers in technology integration and who can cause the biggest shift in 21st century pedagogical practices. The questions, as asked by Bruce Dixon, of what school is, what should it be, and what could it be, need to not only be answered but acted upon.

3. …teachers and educators are not alone. Through working together, networking, and developing collaborative practices, the ability to be able to ask for ideas, assistance and to tap in to great educational minds can happen anywhere and anytime!

4. …the hot topics are revolving around 21st century teaching and learning, mobile technologies and the integration of BYOD models within schools and colleges. That also when these three things are merged together we can have absolutely amazing teaching and learning exhibited!

5…lastly… as educators, we need to continue to develop a need to better understand our students. The need to develop that understanding based upon the ‘Modern Learner’ and our students learning in a technology rich world. Also, adding to this, that it’s not only about the technology itself, it’s about how our students learn along side that technology.

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Educational Blogging

Last Friday I presented my first ‘techie brekkie’ for the year focusing on educational blogging for my staff. These sessions are fully optional and are run before school on a Friday morning. They are informal, fun, and a great way to learn a lot in a little amount of time!

I first heard about ‘techie brekkies’ from a great teacher in NSW, Henrietta Miller, who ran them often for her staff to help up skill them in all things tech and teaching. Now, like all good ideas, I decided to pinch it!, and run similar sessions with my own staff to assist those who were perhaps wanting more professional learning based upon technology integration, yet in a more informal manner.

A lot of my staff run their own class blogs and the like for a whole number of reasons, mainly to connect their classrooms to the outside world and share their amazing internal happenings externally. As we have a number of new staff to our college in 2013 I thought this a great opportunity to get their own skills in this area up and running.

Now. In the big scheme of things I know a little about blogging from a teaching point of few but I am by no means an expert! In saying this, I do know an expert in this area and it is this person to whom i directly turned to!

Kathleen Morris, the 2012 Primary Victorian Teacher of the Year, is who I consider an expert in Education Blogging and her personal blog, http://primarytech.global2.vic.edu.au/, proves that this is so! Kathleen’s knowledge and resources on blogging is outstanding, a highlight for me being a film her students created on the benefits of having a class blog and explaining this in good detail. I have embedded this here.

Only having half an hour with my staff, and wanting this session, like them all, to be rich, relevant and purposeful, I broke down what I wanted to discuss and made sure I covered the following….

  • Why bother with blogging?
  • The benefits of having a class blog.
  • How to give your students maximum input…

And

  • Where to create and start your very own blog.
To explain the benefits of Blogging i used the diagram below which represents the benefits extremely well. I touched upon each point and linked each to a real educational context.
To gain a more in-depth understanding of the points made above, head here: http://primarytech.global2.vic.edu.au/2011/01/17/a-reflection-on-the-benefits-of-blogging/

From the above I then spent some time focussing on 3 specific to create Blogs for educational purposes and these were:

Global 2

http://global2.vic.edu.au/

Global 2 is an offset of the EduBlogs website however is supported by the Victorian Department of Education. As teachers working in a DEECD school you are able to create these blogs for free, just like the others sites listed here, however, you gain a little more online storage space.

eduBlogs

http://edublogs.org/

This is regarded as the best site for creating educational blogs. It has a host of features and blog themes, is free, and is designed specifically for educational purposes.

Blogger

www.blogger.com

Blogger is a Google App and if you have Google App account, i.e. gMail account, then you can easily create a free blog via this service. Blogger, like those mentioned already, is outstanding and being linked directly to Google App’s, make this an excellent online option

So…

Once our staff get their blogs up and running i will be sure to share them with you to hopefully showcase the great things they are doing in their classrooms and with their students!