Thinking Digital

Last year Tara and I had the privilege of speaking at the Thinking Digital conference in Newcastle, UK. It was an amazing experience – only enhanced by the fact that Sugata Mitra was also speaking – immediately after us! Here’s the video:

25 Jo Fothergill V1 from Thinking Digital on Vimeo.

 

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.)

 

ShowMe

 

I don’t often rave about apps but this one is definitely ‘rave-able’! Craig posted yesterday about using this app in his classroom so I thought I’d download it and show it to my class today. Well – talk about excited! They got together with buddies and scripted some quick maths videos.

 

  

I found a ‘relatively’ quiet place for them to do the recording and left them to it. Half the class has had a go already and the rest will have a go tomorrow. They really enjoyed working like this and reckon they won’t forget their demos when it comes time to use them during maths lessons.

Here are four of the videos they created.

 

 

 

CORE eFellowship 2012

CORE education have announced the deadline for their 2012 eFellowship awards. As a 2011 eFellow I’d like to encourage innovative educators to think about apply for this award.

The CORE Education eFellowship Awards recognise innovative e-learning practice by New Zealand teachers. The Fellowship celebrates teaching excellence in an eLearning context and aims to raise public and educational community awareness of the benefits of eLearning. Once inducted into the fellowship, fellows will provide ongoing, community-focused leadership in the field. In any one year up to 6 new fellows may be selected for the CORE Education eFellowship Induction Programme.

I’ve really enjoyed my time this year – getting to meet others, from different sectors of education, who are doing different things to what I’m doing – we’ve all learned a lot from each other.

As 2011 draws to an end, I’m aware that I’m going to miss our masterclass times together, but I’m excited at my growth this year and for my continuing e-Learning journey. I’ve been working on my poster for showing at the CORE stand at Ulearn2011 and my research wiki. This journey doesn’t really have a destination – it’s ever-changing and evolving – which makes the journey even more exciting.

This is my current draft of my poster – for a non-arty person I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed and have had to learn a whole new set of skills using GIMP to produce this poster. My initial idea was quickly thrown away and I’ve toyed with a few ideas before settling down to produce this.

You’ll notice the QR code – we’re all going to have QR codes on our posters – I think I’ll put this poster up at school and see if anyone there asks me what it is.

 

 

 

Ulearn10

I am home again after a fantastic 4 days in Christchurch participating in the 10th ULearn conference hosted by Core Ed. Over the next few weeks I’ll be processing the input from the keynotes and sessions I attended. Here’s my summary:

Tuesday

  • Unofficial Geocaching workshop – great to introduce newbies to the addiction
  • Pecha Kucha session in the Limes Room – I think this was filmed so will find the link for it
  • Twitter dinner

Wednesday

  • Keynote: Lee Crockett
  • Breakout One – this was my workshop <G>
  • Breakout Two – Inspiration, Ignition, Impact with Paula Jamieson
  • Keynote: Steve Wheeler (aka @timbuckteeth)

Thursday

  • Twitter breakfast
  • Keynote: Lane Clark
  • Breakout Three – Change, Creativity, Curriculum & Community: Succeeding in Spite of the System – Chris Betcher
  • Breakout Four – Apple sMacdown
  • Conference Dinner

Friday

  • Breakout Five – Trades Hall visit – had a quick mini-lesson on the Promethean board
  • Breakout Six – eCompetencies – Linking eQuality teaching directly to the Key Competencies with Kellie McRobert
  • Keynote: Stephen Heppell

Prizes

I won a couple of fantastic prizes and must thank the sponsors for those:

  • HP: My DP has already responded about the 42″ digital sign I won – we’ve just completed a new admin area and I know it will look fantastic there
  • Learning Media: I spent my 2 hours at the airport waiting for my flight reading the teachers manual for the Write Tools – can’t wait to get stuck in – and when Murray Gadd next visits I’ll do a show and tell with him 🙂

And as for the other freebies:

  • Xirrus – while I know the t-shirts I got weren’t so much a prize as a giveaway I want to say thanks for them – they’ll fit right into my wardrobe!
  • DLink – best gadget ever – the screwdrivers – a must for all us geeks
  • Apple sMACdown – my new earbuds are very welcome – they’ll be residing at school – and will be very handy for my kids recording using the iTouch/iPhone

As always one of the huge bonuses is meeting up with my Twitter PLN – it’s great to see the international tweeps here with us kiwis. Thanks to all my PLN the personal input was amazing!

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).

eLearning = authentic

One of the huge benefits of eLearning is providing authentic contexts for students to work in.

This year, for the first time, I have students clamoring to share their mihi with others. Sometimes the Te Reo we learn becomes a rote kind of thing, especially if we’re not visiting a marae any time soon. This means that learning their mihi becomes just another thing to do.

So why the difference this year?

I had spoken with my friend Myles @ Melville Intermediate, Hamilton via Twitter and arranged to skype with a class at his school to share our mihi. Another friend, Claire, from a school in Dunedin got in on the act too. (We skype with them this week.) Suddenly there was an authentic reason to learn their mihi.

We used our school’s learning journey as the basis of our mihi and did lots of practise. My Maori students also were able to find out which iwi they belonged to with one discovering that she was a descendant of Te Rauparaha and then discovering that she and another student shared a connection with the Tainui waka. That was very exciting especially as we live in the area that Te Rauparaha lived. (Our mihi relates to Kapiti Island which was Te Rauparaha’s tribal stronghold.)

As our skype appointment drew close I asked for volunteers to share their mihi with the Hamilton class. Nearly 1/2 the students wanted to share so I had to divide them into two groups one for sharing with each school. Our skype session was fantastic and all those who shared are very proud of themselves.

Screen shot 2010-03-08 at 6.40.47 PM
Luke sharing his mihi (in the corner) with Melville students watching

We finished with a waiata – Ka Mate – appropriately written by Te Rauparaha! I used my RearSight gadget to quickly change the webcam view from front to back so the whole class could be seen while they sang/danced the waiata.

you can just see the RearSight attached to the macbook lid
you can just see the RearSight attached to the macbook lid

We hope to skype with St Clair’s School in Dunedin this week and all those who shared last week want to share again along with those scheduled to share.

One side effect that I’ve noticed is that the students pronunciation has improved rapidly over the last couple of weeks – knowing you have an audience that’s not just your class really raises the standard for students (and teachers).

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.