Learning journies

I blogged during the holidays about taking a new direction in my classroom teaching/management and thought it was about time to reflect on how it is going so far.

Term 2 I want to explore some possibilities. So these are my ideas so far:

* Desks are grouped in 5 table groups of 6
* Students will have a “home” group where they sit for admin purposes (Roll/SSR/End of Day etc) as well as for topic – they are mixed Y3&4/boy&girl
* Each table group will have a specific purpose during maths & reading/language time that will be the same each day (teacher, equipment, knowledge, investigation, basic facts practice for maths; teacher, reading activities & Word of the day, handwriting, writing (draft/editing/publishing), reading (buddy, library etc) for reading/language)
* Students will be in 5 groups and will rotate around the table groups over 4 days (I think 2 rotations per session especially while we’re trialling this)
* Students will also have a chart/poster of “other” activities they can go on with if they finished the assigned activity

This is really an adapted backbone idea but the activities are going to be varied – for instance:

* Publishing of work will have choices in format – on paper/blog/word/photo
* Some activities will be available via mimio and/or classroom computers
* The students also don’t have their “own” desk to return to – they have a home group (this is made easier by the fact that they have tote trays elsewhere with their stuff in them); the big difference is that while the activities may be similar to what they’ve been doing already they are not returning to “their” desks to work in isolation and some of the activities will now be a group activity rather than an individual activity

So how am I going so far:

  • students are quite settled into having a home with no specific desk – very much first come first choice of seating – some students are moved because they’re too chatty or off task but mostly they seat themselves and are quote happy about it
  • the groups for the maths and reading/language time are working well – they are grouped in 5s and aren’t all at the same exact levels but are close enough to work together
  • I’ve moved from the old ‘sitting in the teacher’s chair while the reading group sits on the floor’ to sitting at one of the table groups for doing reading activities – I really want a kidney shaped table for that purpose but this is working ok for now
  • having a specific purpose for each table group during the curriculum time works very well – it took some time to set up but they know to read instructions and to get on with the work
  • I set up a listening post using my old iPod mini – I’ve got a bunch of stuff on there including a number of short stories from NZ authors as well as some stuff for the whole class – we’re listening to Harry Potter #1 this term & our syndicate Jump Jam is on there as well
  • so far we’ve published to our class blog and I’m keen to go as paperless as possible – the fact that people from overseas had read their writing and commented on it was very powerful for them
  • My next move is to incorporate the use of Google Docs for some of the classwork – Google Forms is a good place to start and instead of just printing out worksheets with questions I’m going to try creating them and linking to them in our class delicious – that way the instruction can be to “go to the delicious page and click on the link entitled xxxxx” instead of printing out heaps of paper.

    I’m also looking forward to Google Wave – the possibilities of collaboration in writing/reading/maths between classrooms (my mind is whizzing ahead at 100 kph here) will be fantastic.

    I think by taking this journey step by step I’m having more success than I have in the past when I’ve tried to do too much in one go.

    I’ll be checking back in later in the term regarding this fantastic journey we’re on.

    A new direction?

    A few days ago I read this post by Shaun a beginning teacher about his observation of a ‘digital’ classroom being run by Jacqui Sharp.

    It made me stop and think.

    Which isn’t a bad thing.

    In fact it’s a good thing because if we always do what we’ve always done then we’re not thinking about our teaching/learning and we’re not growing as teacher/learners.

    I don’t have a full on digital classroom – I have a data projector on a trolley that goes with my mimio (IWB); I have an old (very) desktop that does slow internet and slow word; an xtenda box running 3 desktops – but I can only depend on 2 working at any one time as one always craps out when we’re using them; I have a digital camera which the students use whenever they want; I also have an old iPod that I’ve put audiobooks onto (we’re going to “listen” to HP#1 next term) that I run through my speakers (mine from home). But I still feel rich in digital terms compared to what I’ve had in the past.

    I’ve spent the last term getting used to having the mimio and using it (and the data projector) as much as possible (and learning tips and tricks whenever Delmer an ex-mimio rep has relieved at school).

    Term 2 I want to explore some possibilities. So these are my ideas so far:

    • Desks are grouped in 5 table groups of 6
    • Students will have a “home” group where they sit for admin purposes (Roll/SSR/End of Day etc) as well as for topic – they are mixed Y3&4/boy&girl
    • Each table group will have a specific purpose during maths & reading/language time that will be the same each day (teacher, equipment, knowledge, investigation, basic facts practice for maths; teacher, reading activities & Word of the day, handwriting, writing (draft/editing/publishing), reading (buddy, library etc) for reading/language)
    • Students will be in 5 groups and will rotate around the table groups over 4 days (I think 2 rotations per session especially while we’re trialling this)
    • Students will also have a chart/poster of “other” activities they can go on with if they finished the assigned activity

    This is really an adapted backbone idea but the activities are going to be varied – for instance:

    • Publishing of work will have choices in format – on paper/blog/word/photo
    • Some activities will be available via mimio and/or classroom computers
    • The students also don’t have their “own” desk to return to – they have a home group (this is made easier by the fact that they have tote trays elsewhere with their stuff in them); the big difference is that while the activities may be similar to what they’ve been doing already they are not returning to “their” desks to work in isolation and some of the activities will now be a group activity rather than an individual activity

    I’m not sure how the management will go – but I will present this as a learning journey to the class – for both me and them – and one thing I want us to do is to write daily learning journals (which is a totally new concept to me – and I’m not sure exactly where I got the idea from) – initially modelling it for them but with the expectation that twice a day they will write a learning reflection.

    I hope I’m not biting off more than I can chew.

    Is this the face of homework to come?

    6a00d8341d3df553ef00e5538494e98833-800wi.jpg

    Interesting post from Wes about worksheets.

    Since I’m home sick I’m catching up on blog reading.

    This post from Wes made me stop and think about how many worksheets my students get in a week – and on reflection there are some weeks they get NONE!

    The Thursday Folder and Worksheet Measured Learning

    At the February 2009 Oklahoma Technology Association’s conference, keynote speaker Will Richardson told a story about the worksheets his own students bring home from their public school each week which resonated with me. Will said he’d contemplated keeping all the papers for an entire school year in a big stack, and then photographing them to document the school-communicated learning they’d experienced all year. I then thought about doing the same thing, since our two oldest children (who are in elementary school) bring home a “Thursday folder” each week filled with the worksheets they’ve completed.

    twitter wordle

    subject says it all really – this is my twitter wordle!

    the networked student

    interesting video to watch here

    News Broadcasters

    Today students in my class became news broadcasting teams. They worked in groups of 4 – 2 girls, 2 boys – and took the roles of news reporters (2), camera operator (1) and producer (1).

    Each group had the same script to work from (our school daily notices). They organised themselves into roles with their groups. While the reporters practised their scripts I ran a mini workshop for the camera operators and producers.

    We used the class Canon Powershot A470 mounted on a tripod. First I showed them how to attach the camera to the mounting bracket and then they all had to show me how to do it. Then I showed them how to attach the bracket to the tripod and then they all did that for me.

    We talked about setting the camera up – I set the scene but talked them through it. We looked at framing and distance etc.

    After morning tea I worked with each group to record the news. The reporters practised while I ran through the setup with the camera operator and producer then we silenced the class and they did their recording. I worked through each of the 5 groups which took nearly 90 minutes all up.

    After lunch the camera operator and producers worked on their videos to add titles and end credits to the video using Windows Movie Maker.

    Finally in the last 1/2 hour of school today we watched the videos and did some feedback.

    Once I’ve got permission from parents I hope to be able to share some videos with others.

    It was an exciting day!

    evernote?

    are you using evernote? if not – may i recommend it to you ..

    if you can’t figure out why you should use it after checking the website out take a look at some of the videos at the How I use my evernote project

    and yes i have a video on that

    Engagement of learners …

    A great post here by Jane on her blog

    i’ve embedded one of the youtube videos mentioned because i think it is very powerful.

    visitor vs resident & real life

    I think this is a question that we should be asking ourselves – a couple of weeks ago I asked via twitter the following question “opinion please … can a tchr show/teach impact & innovation in ICT if it’s not an integral part of their life?”

    Talking to a teacher who is taking a lead role in ICT at school this year about the definition of visitor vs resident she quickly said she was a visitor. (Logs in, does what she has to do and logs out.)

    In the debates about computers, internet, ICT integration – how can a visitor understand the POV of a resident? Can they understand it?

    I don’t know. I can’t approach it from the visitor perspective as I am a resident.

    As are my two children (18 & 21). Computers, computing, internet, & other ICTs are all part of our lives – daily. My daughter is on Twitter (@spacegirlnz) and we talk to each other sometimes that way instead of texting (from our respective offices/desks in the house); my daughter decided she wanted to be able to do 2 things at once while studying for her uni exams – so she snagged our old PC monitor (which was attached to our storage computer!) and figured out how to attach it to her laptop and do the dual screen thing – now she can study and watch a movie, or study and chat with friends, or do some photoshop stuff and watch a movie … or whatever! We have 4 laptops and 1 PC between the 3 of us! Along with 2 smartphones (Nokia 6121s) and 1 other wireless device (iTouch) we’re all connected both online and offline. We’re residents. (Back in the day when we had an old 8088/80286/80386 both kids could execute typed dos commands to get to their games without adult help) (And this connectedness doesn’t mean we don’t do other stuff – we cycle together, sit around the house reading books together, go walking together, cook together – it’s just we’re also wired/wireless together as well)

    So – visitor or resident?

    A question I hear very often is “how can they be friends if they’ve never met in real life?” totally misses the point that the definition of “real life” has changed.

    Are my online collegial relationships via Twitter less than those in person? I don’t think so. They’re different – we talk about different things – and sure there’s not a lot of classroom visiting happening – but there is a lot of talk – professional talk – and in fact I would say I’ve had more professional talk with some Twitter colleagues than I’ve had with colleagues here – because I have more in common with my online ones.

    What about all the professional development that goes on via blogs? Is that less than “real life” professional development? As far as I’m concerned I learn more online than in “real life”. Where then is my “real life”?

    I think my real life is everything that’s a part of me – online, offline where-ever!