Napp reflections

I’ve been on a leadership journey this year working alongside a bunch of fantastic teachers. The NAPP (National Aspiring Principals Programme) course has been challenging, exhausting, frustrating, enriching. Here is my leadership inquiry summary!

Using Sparkol Videoscribe

Over the past week Tara and I have been working on our research report – we decided to do it as a series of short videos – and have ended up getting a Sparkol Pro Videoscribe account to do this. While quite easy to use, it does take some time to create a finished product – especially if you’re wanting to do a voiceover as part of the video. We created the first two episodes in a trial account and iMovie, the third will be done entirely in the pro account (and iMovie for the voice over), and the fourth has been done in a mixture of trial, pro, and iMovie.

However, we have also seen the promise of using this as a classroom tool – not for the kids – but for us to create short snappy videos of concepts and ideas we want the kids to master. Here’s a short video about writing. All videos will be CC licensed for others to use.

Gagging teachers

Just a short post to ask a question – and hopefully get some answers!

What control do you think a school principal/management/BOT should have over whether a teacher is allowed to use twitter or blogger or other social networks to express their opinions on teaching, education etc.?

(This would be on well established personal accounts.)

 

Time Lapse Fun

Last week I tried my hand at some time lapse photography in my classroom. I did a little research (thanks to the sister of a colleague who attended Learning@School this year) and discovered some Mac software called gawker which runs on your computer taking photographs at whatever interval you specify. I showed my students how it worked then set my laptop up to run during 3 different blocks of time during the day: literacy time; maths time & lunch time (which was very interesting to watch). I’d like to get a whole day but that would mean a little more thought as I’d need to reposition things for power supply etc.

So here we go – a glimpse of Room 9 on St Paddy’s Day.

Digital Art

I am not an artist – at least I’m not a graphic artist (although I am a musician!). Sometimes as a teacher it’s hard to inspire your students in an area you are personally weak in – like art for me. How is it then that we are currently completing our 3rd major piece of art in 7 weeks? (Given my reputation for lack of art work – in previous years I’ve used the excellent art ability of my CRT teacher to produce art work!)

The answer is a session I attended at Ulearn09 presented by my friend Rachel Boyd. I really attended it in order to pick up some information to share back with our junior teachers but I’ve ended up using the ideas for my classroom. Her session was called “Juniors can do IT” – and if you get a chance to attend one of her workshops you must because it really should be STUDENTS can do IT (and teachers for that matter). I’ve embedded one version of her slideshow below:

Our first piece of art is demonstrated in slide #21 – photo symmetry. Here’s our result:


cc licensed flickr photo shared by dragonsinger

The second piece of art was a kind of blue screening effect (slide #22) where the students sketched a picture with them in it; then a buddy took a photo of them in the correct pose for the picture; printed the picture and cut themselves out; drew the background and stuck themselves into the picture. Here’s our results:


cc licensed flickr photo shared by dragonsinger


cc licensed flickr photo shared by dragonsinger

The third piece (and not all finished) was a take on Andy Warhol style pop art (slide #23). We did two versions – using 4 colours for each set of 4 pictures. Instead of paint or dye we used pastels or coloured pencils for our pictures. Some of the colour choices were quite inspired.


cc licensed flickr photo shared by dragonsinger

The best thing about art work like this is it draws on my strengths (technology) and incorporates creativity. Thanks to Rachel I’m exploring new avenues of expression (as is my class).

Wordle for classroom displays

I’ve been experimenting with creating some Wordle displays to use as posters in my classroom. Here are the four I’ve done so far. My aim is to have them photocopied up to A2 size for displaying in the classroom.

Maths

maths_wordle

Literacy

literacy_wordle

Addition

addition_wordle

eLearning

elearning_wordle

End of year posts

I’ve just made a final post to my class blog – next year I’m in a new classroom with a new number and and year level. The new teacher who will be in the new Room 10 probably won’t be taking over the blog – although she’ll take over the Room 10 wiki later in the year.

In the mean time I’ve created a new class wikiand class blog. Next years students are going to be using edublogs for their ePortfolios so I’ve changed the class blog to Blogger.

Saying goodbye to Room 10 hasn’t been as painful as I thought it would be.

They say a change is as good as a holiday …

I’m not really sure who they are but I suspect they are sort of right.

I guess it depends on what we do with the change or even how we approach it but if we do it right it’s great.

The change for me is moving into a new classroom (ex-library) and up a level – from teaching Year 3&4 (Grade 2&3) to Year 5 (Grade 4). Our “middle” part of the school will have 3 vertical teams each with 4 classes and each class teaching a separate year level – Year 3, Year 4, Year 5 & Year 6. It’s the first time we’ve done something like this at our school but I think it’s exciting.

Because we are a full primary school (Y0-Y8) our Year 6 students are in a bit of a limbo – other primary schools that only go to Year 6 have leadership roles which the Year 5&6 students take up – but in our school those roles are given to the Year 7&8 students. By having vertical teams we should (theoretically) be able to see some of our Year 5/6 students being given opportunities to show leadership within our teams.

I was initially apprehensive of moving up to Year 5 – my previous experience teaching in that level wasn’t so great – but it was in our old format and I was job-sharing and once I realised that it was going to be different then I began to be quite excited by the prospect. Although I will only have 3 students moving with me (the rest being shared out among the other Year 4 & 5 classes) I will still have a core who’ve been through our fantastic year and who’ve done much of the eLearning experimenting/experiencing with me (including my fantastic student who featured in my Ulearn09 presentation). These 3 students will be my ‘experts’ for the first term.

My new classroom is going to be fantastic – we move in on Monday and when we visited the empty library today the kids started planning out where desks and “learning space” (not my term!) could be. We’ll have a week and a half in there before we break for our summer holidays. I shot a short video of the library before the books were packed; after they were packed and the shelves moved; I’ll shoot one on the weekend when my son and I move some of the gear over and then another short one with the desks and kids in there. Then I’ll merge them all and post here.

I’m looking forward to next year – it’s going to be another exciting, fast moving, thrilling eLearning journey for me and my class.

And my motto for next year?

I have two (which I am going to turn into posters for the classroom):

  • Learning is about taking a risk
  • Learning is about flying high
  • Both inspired by an old book (late 70’s publication) I have called “Skies Call 2” full of skydiving photos taken by Andy Keech that has some truly spectacular photo shots. (The one below features on the cover of the book.)
    keech

    My class will be the Room Nine High Divers. We’re going to dive into learning, take risks, enjoy new challenges and soar to new heights.

    Pondering Giftedness

    Giftedness:
    -noun
    1. the quality or state of being gifted

    A conversation with a colleague several weeks ago has had me pondering giftedness and what it really entails.

    In school we have GATE programs for gifted and talented students – but that usually means those gifted in arts or music or maths or sports etc. But what about students who are gifted in other ways? Are there other types of giftedness?

    My colleague, Julie, and I are running a buddy class program – we split our classes and each work with 1/2 of the others class on Friday afternoons – that means I get 14 of my Year 3&4 students and 13 of her Y1 students (5-1/2 year olds).

    Julie is a talented/gifted artist – she’s had several exhibitions to show case her art over the years. I, on the other hand, struggle to draw stick figures!

    I have some talent in the area of music and singing – but am not what you’d call gifted in those areas. My area of gifting is to do with technology which is an area that Julie struggles in.

    Colleagues say to me “but how did you do that?” all the time – my response is that computers talk to me. And as strange as that may sound I believe that it is a type of giftedness – one that perhaps is overlooked – “he’s just a geek” or “she’s just a geek” being a common reaction to those of us who sit down at our computers to produce our masterpieces – whether they be webpages or wikis or whatever.

    I know that when I’m talking to other teachers about a program and we’re tossing ideas around as to what we can do, I come up with the techo stuff in the same way that the arty people, and the literary people come up with their ideas.

    I also don’t think it strange to be on my computer for hours on end – I get a lot of enjoyment tinkering away at different things – my wiki page; working on my wikieducator stuff; blogging; tweeting; chatting online etc. My computer is an extension of me – as I explained it to someone last week – some people take handbags with them whereever they go – I take some sort of computing device – I’m never far from being online – even if it’s only via my cell phone.

    What do you think? Is an affinity with computers, web2.0, cloud computing, technology to the extent that the machines are talking to us a form of giftedness?

    And … if it is – what are we doing for the students in our class who are gifted in this way?

    Using Google Docs as part of teaching

    I’m out of my classroom this morning for a literacy workshop. I’m not sure who the relief teacher will be but that’s ok – all my work is already online waiting for my students.

    When my students arrive they turn the computers on and open up their assigned browser (long story!). Their home page is the class work blog. They read through the schedule for the day and then usually go on to play one of their favourite maths activities.

    blog1208

    Today they will do the same but I won’t be there to see them through the first 1-1/2 hours. They can still do their work though and the relief teacher won’t have to do anything except manage the class.

    I use google docs to plan my week. Then I publish it as a web page – this puts it into a format that is easily shared with my class (and others).

    plan1

    I hyperlink other work so that as I am demonstrating things for the class it’s easy to find them. The lessons are done the same way – I type up instructions – format them – and then publish as webpages – this makes it easy to hyperlink them in the class blog as well.

    This is a shot from today’s maths:

    frac1

    I also set up maths activities (aka games) for the week and have them linked from one page:

    mathact1

    When I come back into the class later in the morning the work is ready to go – I have this week’s spelling words linked as well as our reading activity for the day:

    readlang

    I’ve become a fan of google docs and find it frustrating when I have to use Word or even Open Office. One of the great things is I can still edit as I go – these are all living documents. Sometimes when several students ask me a question I then go back and write the answer up as part of the instructions. I do this quite openly in front of the students – it’s part of their teaching and learning as well as mine.

    I’m happy to share the actual links with people so please let me know if you want to see the working documents.