About the 100 Day Challenge…
This is a project I facilitate at school with our Year 10s.
Here’s a copy of information they were provided with this year: 100 Day Challenge 2014
DAY ONE HUNDRED!
Feeling exhausted at the end of running the 100 Day Challenge for the second year in a row, it is important to take a moment to reflect on why we put this project in front of our students. So, in the words of one of these Year 10s, today’s learning is a reminder of the sincere value of the 100 Day Challenge:
What was the most rewarding thing about being involved in the 100 Day Challenge?
– Knowing that I was dedicated enough to do something for 100 days straight.
What skills or talents did you feel the 100 Day Challenge developed for you?
– Perseverance and time management
Why would you recommend the 2015 Year 10 students take part in the 100 Day Challenge?
– You will feel great after completing it.
(As part of our celebration today, we cut out 100 golden stars to acknowledge our achievement. These will be displayed during our exhibition next term.)
Today I have been involved in the Year 9 Creative Inquiry Symposium at school. This involved delivering their ‘keynote address’; setting the scene for thinking about making a positive contribution to communities. I then offered a workshop where we looked at the idea of a ‘personal brand’. Giving the same workshop four times over in a row is an interesting experience! In the afternoon I was helping shape students’ inquiry projects. I have a new-found appreciation for working alongside students in this manner. It takes a great deal of energy. Using SOLO as a framework provided a sense of structure, but I do think a design thinking process and mindset would work better. But my main learning today; the energy.
100 Days Project
The end is nigh – only a few more days to go. I confess that while I’ve been disciplined at completing this challenge it hasn’t always been that easy. Completing my third 100 Day Challenge in three years has sapped a little bit of my enthusiasm for the project. Having said that, I was chuffed to be pinged in Steve Mouldey’s blogpost today where he outlines his intention to pose a question every day for two months. And this reminds me of a thought that flitted across my mind the other day.
Given my new-found passion for design thinking, I’m considering re-framing next year’s 100 Day Challenge as 100 days of iteration. I’d like to do something more creative and do something more along the lines of finding 100 different uses for … a peg? A 30 centimetre length of wool? A cotton reel? Who knows… watch this space. But in 2015 – I think I’ll deserve a wee break first 🙂
Publish to the Web
I’ve just learnt how to embed my Google Presentations. Now I want to update this blog appropriately – take out the annoying hyperlinks, and add in the slides themselves! Thanks to Sonya Van Schaijik for prompting me with this lesson. Take a look at TeachMeetNZ for its awesome professional learning. And while you’re there, I’m presenting through this forum too on the 12th July as part of the CLESOL conference.
Thanks, once again, to Twitter, today I learned about Wellington Startup Weekend, which is in August this year. While this looks like an awesome event, even more exciting is its education theme. Might have to go…
It’s been an amazing day to demonstrate the power of technology to aid ‘any where, any time’ learning. I started my learning day lurking in a GHO with Grant Lichtman, who was talking from the #fuse14 Design Thinking conference with Steve Mouldey, Claire Amos and Karen Meluish Spencer and Meghan Cureton. I then managed to stumble into a ‘live’ #dtk12chat which was being streamed from the same conference. And finally I’ve been listening into a webinar on MLEs (Modern Learning Environments). It goes to show that physical location is no barrier to access or to learning.
Over 10 years…
I’m fascinated by this news report from the Dominion Post and covered on Stuff this morning that employers are finding NCEA reports “too long and confusing” and therefore want a “meaningful assessment of students’ skills”. NCEA is New Zealand’s national education qualification and has been the system for over ten years. It has been re-aligned since its implementation and is well embedded in secondary schools. I’m therefore both intrigued and flabbergasted that employers have still not learnt how to read the reports students submit as part of a job application process. Why isn’t that the angle of a news piece?
While I’m not hugely enamored with this blogpost‘s emphasis on aligning education with what employers want, there are various points that are raised that I do very much like. One is, obviously, the call for change in education, but particularly the focus on student voice: “If parents, students and teachers make their voices heard about what true accountability would look like, they could change the conversation.”
I also like the way some American universities are starting to question their application process and the role standardised testing, in the form of SATs, play – and probably shouldn’t. It is clear some colleges are experimenting with substantial shift, and the post highlights the example of Olin College, a ‘maker’ university.
“Students are the power tools of change in education,” Miller said. “They are the most ignored and they have the most at stake.” But, as Olin has found, when they are given free range to design, make and innovate they can be very powerful examples of what a great education can produce.”
Reading a series of blogposts this morning by Grant Lichtman this morning, who will be a key conduit for me to attend #fuse14 virtually, I was struck by his comment that design thinking is not a “process nor a product”, but that it is a “mindset”. I like this. From what I’m learning, design thinking is about problem finding. It is about creating and generating. It is about seeing possibilities. It is about exploring and immersing and persisting. It is about questioning and being comfortable with not knowing. It is an open, growth mindset.
The Invention of Wings
I finished reading this novel by Secret Life of Bees author, Sue Monk Kidd, this morning. I was interested to learn that one of the two main characters, Sarah Grimké, was a historical figure. And then I was embarrassed to learn I’d never heard of her, or her sister Angelina. These two women came to reject their wealthy, white, Charleston upbringing to champion abolition, and also women’s rights, tying the two causes together. Angelina was the first woman to speak before a legislative committee, and Sarah wrote the first feminist tract, both in 1838.
On this day in history, the Beatles landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1964. More information is available here.
I’m not actually too sure what I learned from this TED Talk entitled ‘The Museum of Four in the Morning’, but I do know that it moved me.
I enjoyed watching this TED talk today from Susan Cain on the power of introverts. As an introvert myself, it naturally spoke volumes to me. But as application to a teaching context, I also found it important to consider the emphasis on collaboration and group work. I like working in a group just fine, but I like thinking time before feeding back, and I like to have an individual task to accomplish on the behalf of the group. I must consider whether I’m allowing such opportunities for the introverts in my classes too.
Benefits of Blogging
By virtue of this very forum, I enjoy blogging. I especially like the reflection aspect of it, and the feeling like I’m having a conversation. While I don’t use blogs in the classroom, I’m interested in the idea of giving students an actual, authentic audience. But listening to this podcast this morning opened my eyes to a few new ideas about blogging and its benefits. Two particular ideas struck me. Firstly, the idea that in a Science classroom, you could get students blogging about their experiments, and have students comment on those blogs in imitation of a ‘peer review’ that academic research is frequently subjected to. Spinning off of this, but relevant to all blogging situations, is the teaching of critically evaluating blogs and then commenting thoughtfully and respectfully. Following a virtual rosebud, with ensuring that the comments are kind, helpful and specific, could be a great way to start.
Just in the way that I’ve just created a hyperlink to connect my title to the podcast I’ve just been listening to, everything is linked. Everything is connected. These beautiful interviews and snippets of TED talks have this as their central message. Which made me think. We teach our students to make connections. Maybe we also need to teach them to see connections. To appreciate how everything truly is connected and interdependent.
Windy Wellington (?)
is on Willis Street in Wellington. The ‘pebbles’ are designed to move in the wind. Perfect for a city with a reputation for plenty of the gusty stuff, right? Except, according to one of the members of the Sculpture Trust I heard speak this evening, in an ironic twist of fate, this particular work of art has been placed in a non-windy spot! The trust is hoping to raise some money to move the sculpture at some stage one metre to get better wind so the ‘pebbles’ will move as dynamically and independently as they were crafted to do.
Yet more Design Thinking discoveries
Today’s learning was more than ‘mere’ learning, but a true EUREKA moment. Read today’s blogpost for the full details!
I’ve been continuing to explore design thinking today. I can see that there are various models for this. For example:
From Ewan McIntosh and Notosh: Immersion -> Synthesis -> Ideation (Prototyping, Feedback) -> Implementation
From the dschool at Stanford: Understand -> Observe -> Point of View -> Ideate -> Prototype -> Test
And this version too: Empathise -> Define -> Ideate -> Prototype -> Test
From the D3 Lab: Dream it (Discover, Dig Deeper) -> Design it (Brainstorm, Define) -> Do it (Plan it out, Get it done)
And more – piggybacking from the extensive thinking around design thinking that Hobsonville Point have done – from Steve Mouldey, for example.
I can see that I’m going to need to use the design thinking process to think about the design thinking process 😉
Good news! Today – this evening in fact – I learned that my fabulous senior manager and I have had our proposal accepted by CORE Education to present at ULearn14. I’m so happy to be able to give back to an organisation and a conference which was so seminal in my development as ‘Future Learning Leader’.
In a really good example of learning as you need it, I have started to re-visit ideas around design thinking. I’ve read Steve Mouldey’s blogposts on this, and I know it’s been a topic for the #hackyrclass movement, and I’ve genuinely been interested in the concept, it’s not until you’re going to use the process that something has traction and resonance. So, with that in mind, today I’ve been exploring notosh and Ewan McIntosh‘s work on design thinking.
Today I have learned that I can write an effective media release! I am very proud to be helping the indomitable and inspirational Danielle Myburgh with the #edchatNZ conference. As one of my jobs, I wrote a press release (under the guidance of a wonderful friend of mine who actually knows about such things), and emailed it out to various media last night. I’m stoked to report that it’s gained some traction, and well done to Education Review NZ for being the first off the block!
The power of positive feedback.
In yesterday’s staff professional learning session, I used TodaysMeet as an example of a backchannel to honour student voice. And today I received some wonderful feedback from a teacher who has already implemented the tool with one of his senior classes. He reports that the class are feeling more positive about their ability to tackle their up-coming internal assessment, and that it will allow him to connect with his students when he’s unable to be in the classroom tomorrow. Success!
How amazingly fortuitous: later on this week I need to create a new staff professional learning presentation, introducing the idea of ‘UDL’, Universal Design for Learning. And then this morning I find the link to this blogpost tweeted out. Awesome serendipity – I can see that my presentation will be very closely modelled on this post 😉
(Don’t fret, Marsden, I’m not that easy to get rid of!) The reference is to this awesome blogpost by Anne Knock that I just read: ‘Position Vacant – Change Agent’. It’s resonating with me for at least two reasons:
- The purpose of the #edSMAC movement Matt Nicoll (@mattynicoll) and I have established as part of the #hackyrclass project by Claire Amos (@ClaireAmosNZ), is to be agents of change.
- I’m feeling increasingly disgruntled by traditional modes and structures of schooling, and this post is a reminder that I have the power to do something about that.
- And actually it fits with some of the discussion I participated in yesterday during #satchatoc, where I was arguing that it doesn’t take a title to be a leader.
I like it.
Here’s the blogpost I wrote today reflecting on a nifty student feedback activity I learned about on Twitter.
Here’s an interesting blogpost I read today which helped me to better understand why educators might get passionate about gaming. I particularly liked the links to English:
Through design-thinking, coding allows folks to put together specific metaphors, signs, and systems in ways that enable the articulation of experiences through a shared system of meaning-making.
And I also stumbled across #satchatoc, which I learned was a Saturday morning Twitter chat for the Oceania region. The topic up for discussion was school culture. It was fun connecting with a new group of global educators.
That you can never have too many cat videos on YouTube. Like this one.
Based on a recommendation, I have been checking out Jenny Luca’s blog, “Lucacept“, and today I watched her TED Talk on education leadership. I could really relate to her anxiety around changing from teaching at a state school to a private school, as I have experienced this sense of guilt myself. However, some of my key ‘takeaways’ were around her calls to action for support for teachers who embrace technology and spend a great deal of their own personal time upskilling themselves so that they can go back into the classroom and implement what they have learned; and around the need for connected or networked teachers. I found this talk resonated with some of the ideas I have.
Life imitating art
On the drive home I’ve just heard about this news story, where protestors in Thailand have been banned from using a symbol of resistance, taken from the novel / film series The Hunger Games.
One of the aspects of my job description as ‘Future Learning Leader’ says that I will “assist departments and individual staff with FL inquiry and skill-building.” I feel pleased that two Heads of Departments independently thanked me today for the efforts I have gone to to find appropriate technology tools for the needs they have relevant to their specific context. While there remain areas of resistance, I do feel as though I have added value today. Kaizena appears a popular tool to play with for the Languages Department, and Socrative for Science. So what have I learned today? That I am fulfilling my job!
He waka eke noa: A canoe we are all in with no exception. In other words, we’re all in this together.
This blogpost from Anne Knock captures a belief I have. In education (and, actually, outside of it) we shouldn’t be referring to 21st Century Learning. Um, hello, we’re already over a decade into it. Similarly, I’m not a fan of ‘e-Learning’. Um, hello, learning already has an ‘e’ in it. Instead, we should be focusing on the learner and the educator and making that dynamic and relationship as meaningful as possible. Technology is ubiquitous in allowing us to do this. And we should also have at heart what the learner in front of us will need in their future, not what was needed 50 years ago. While I don’t love my title as ‘Future Learning Leader’ (sounds a wee bit pompous), I do feel as though the emphasis is more accurate.
At the heart is a teacher and a learner
I’ve just finished watching this RSA talk by Sir Ken Robinson. As it’s an hour long, it’s hard to quickly synthesise here. It’s interesting to compare (and contrast) what he has to say with the reading and viewing I’ve done over the last two days about Sugata Mitra’s work. I think what I like best about the above talk is the idea that:
- we can change education from the ground up; governments don’t change culture, people do
- we can change education from the ground up because at its most fundamental, education is about the relationship between two people: an educator and a learner
- change is already happening
Drop the bomb and get out of the way
OK, I’m kind of embarrassed that I actually ‘learnt’ about SOLE (Self Organised Learning Environment) on Day 48. But had no recollection of this when the term came up again in last week’s #edchatNZ Twitter chat. Hmmm. Oops. Never mind, handily, when I asked what ‘SOLE’ was, the nice group sent me some useful links. Today I read this one on SOLE and Sugata Mitra. I especially love this quote:
I learned just how powerful adults can be when they give small groups of children the tools and the agency to guide their own learning and then get out of the way.
I like the image it conjures in my mind of posing big questions and then just letting the students get on with figuring it out. I can see a lot of potential with this. It resonates also with a podcast I heard some months ago where a teacher simply said “they didn’t need me” when his students were so engaged with their project. I’ve had a glimmer of this experience when my class was working on their website. I think these ‘big’ problems or inquiry-based projects have the ability for the students to generate their own knowledge, learning and understanding. I think I’ll do some exploration to learn about SOLE in more depth.
(I think that’s the bingo phrase?) I’m excited for our Teacher Only Day on Tuesday because I’ve been asked to spend some time with the Languages Department who want to get more on board with teaching with technology. When I asked for some direction today, their HOD mentioned wanting a tool that would help them give feedback on oral portfolios. I had a few ideas, but on research I don’t think they’ll work. A good old Google search based on some feeling that I had read somewhere at some stage something about voice comments in a Google Doc unveiled Kaizena. A little play and maybe a wee bit of Kiwi ingenuity later, and I reckon I have a contender. Yay!
PS I also asked my PLN on Twitter. and the help is still rolling in. Love those guys – awesome.
What I have already learned
I was lucky enough this evening to attend a Professional Learning Group hosted by Amesbury School looking into future-focused pedagogy. It was particularly awesome to hear from Rachel Bolstad of NZCER on this topic. I loved the ‘time travel’ activity she did where we imagined being in 2114 and visiting a Museum of the 21st Century. We were asked to consider which of the artifacts collated from 2014 education were familiar or strange to us. A neat angle to provoke our thinking. This is the true goal of e-learning/future-oriented/focused pedagogy: not the tools, not the 3Cs, but in creating the kind of future we collectively wish for.
What I was also struck by was that I had read the research Rachel spoke about. I had read the Keri Facer book she referenced. Uh-oh. No excuses now. I must have some clues about future learning. Now, time to take action!
As I continue to think about MakerEd, as provoked to by Claire Amos this week, I read the following two blogposts:
And I’m realising I have done stuff like this in the past. Like the time I had a class spend weeks making a cardboard castle and study Arthurian legends because it (loosely) related to our film study. Or the time we played with pipe cleaners in pairs and then had to describe the creation so that another person could make it – to focus on giving precise instructions. Hmmm I wonder when I stopped doing activities like these? And why?
I’d heard of this, but kind of dismissed it as a robotics/technology thing. But Claire Amos’ explanation this morning and the ensuing tweets helped me get my head around the idea. I can see the benefit of giving students hands-on time to conceptualise, create, play, connect… and see the value for reinforcing concepts. On reflection, I can see that the times I’ve asked students to create a shoe-box model of a character’s bedroom fits with this idea.
Now I want some playdoh, pipecleaners, a hot glue gun, and heaps of ‘stuff’ from Spotlight or an emporium somewhere… Oh, and a dress-ups box.
A leader is just a lone nut until he or she has a follower.
Pockets of Change
Today’s learning is documented here in my latest blogpost.
“Chance favours a connected mind”
While I’ve yet to engage with the ‘5 takeaways for your classroom’ from this nifty article from TeachThought (love those guys!), I really enjoyed the little video. It explains well to me, again, the benefit I find from participating in and contributing to Twitter.
More Margaret Mead
OK, I know I’ve quoted this before: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” but I’m feeling this sense of hope again.
- All the teachers around NZ contributing their posts to the #hackyrclass challenge
- The participation of teachers in our first #edSMAC chat to experience a Twitter chat
- The Christchurch contingent of the #edSMAC community having an #edchatNZ ‘party’
- The continued stunning development of the inaugural #edchatNZ conference
Keep your coins
I was reminded today about underestimating students. My Year 10 students are in the midst of a study of the lovely film October Sky, directed by Joe Johnston (now – sidebar – this is an excellent example of project/problem based learning in action). We have a theme of ‘exploring the nature of change’ for the year, so I challenged them to think of all the changes present in the film. As you can see in the document, there were loads! And then we came to picking the ‘main’ changes. Well, the girls could think so broadly and meaningfully. Much more than I anticipated. It was great to be reminded that the teenage brain is a beautifully complex beast, and we shouldn’t ever forget it.
Bad PD leader
OK, I’m honest enough to admit I’m cross that I didn’t think to write this blogpost myself. But luckily someone (more wise and thoughtful than me) did. Great job, Steve! It contains excellent, practical advice on how to get started and how to manage a Twitter chat. I stumbled across #edtechchat today and quickly got overwhelmed myself with the sharing going on. Unfortunately I hadn’t read Steve’s post yet, but fortunately I rapidly came to one of the conclusions he reaches: “The first step is not to stress about reading everything that occurs in the chat.”
One of the ways my #hackbuddy and I are hoping to help our #edSMAC PLN group transition into participating in a Twitter chat is to have a mini chat on Thursday lunchtime to demonstrate how it works and how to join in. Handily, #edchatNZ is on the same evening, so maybe we’ll get some converts to contribute in the following hours! Will keep you posted. (Pun intended 😉 )
I started reading this article from Slate entitled “Confessions of a Grade Inflator” a couple of days ago, and just managed to get back to finish and I’m so incensed I barely know how to formulate a response. I’m furious for multiple reasons, including but not necessarily limited to:
- The mockery her ‘system’ makes of assessment and rubrics
- The broken education system which means that professors must vie for their positions using grading as a weapon
- The tone of justification
- The lack of professionalism and integrity
Now there are certainly interesting philosophical questions about the position of, and relationship between, assessment and grades, but that’s not what this article focuses on. If “grading fairly is just not worth the fight” perhaps it’s time to evaluate the battle.
I’ve just finished watching Clay Shirky’s TED talk on this subject. It really reminded me a lot of Daniel Pink’s book Drive, which I read in the summer. (And this is a great summary of it.) The two together explains to me why I’ve become obsessed with Twitter. It’s not some needy FOMO thing. It’s that I gain a great deal from my interactions. Twitter helps me to feel connected with like-minded educators. I also feel like I contribute and, in some small way, help a colleague out when I post a link, or participate in an #edchatNZ Twitter chat. I learn from Twitter, and I think Twitter learns from me. This fits my understanding of intrinsic motivation.
I believe teachers head into the classroom to make a difference to their students. And I guess, Twitter is the platform whereby I can make a difference for my colleagues. Double bonus.
OK, confession time. Today I went and saw Godzilla. Yes. The most recent remake. But, you know what? It made me reflect on several aspects that I have been covering with my Year 13 English class on Jeffrey Cohen’s 7 theses of “Monster Theory” (1996). In summary they are:
- Thesis I: The Monster’s Body is a Cultural Body
- Thesis II: The Monster Always Escapes
- Thesis III: The Monster is the Harbinger of Category Crisis
- Thesis IV: The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference
- Thesis V: The Monster Polices the Borders of the Possible
- Thesis VI: Fear of the Monster is Really a Kind of Desire
- Thesis VII: The Monster Stands at the Threshold … of Becoming
In particular, what really struck me is to do with Thesis 2 and 4. I don’t think Thesis 2 is much of a plot spoiler, but in case you think it is, I won’t say any more about that. I will however spend just a moment thinking about Thesis 4. Really, the main monster villain of Godzilla is a ‘monsteress’ (I don’t think there’s even such a word). I found it interesting that not only is this monster part insect (remember: only cockroaches will survive a nuclear apocalypse), part dinosaur, but…she’s a pregnant female! Beware the woman whose hormones are rampaging! Woe betide the man who takes such a creature on!
Cohen’s over-arching idea is that monsters speak to our deep cultural anxieties. We can definitely see this in Godzilla. Nuclear power – that’s dangerous. But women? Woah.
Change management? Change inspiration!
I think I feel a full-length blogpost on this brewing, but just to capture my learning today that’s sparked this idea: today I was lucky enough that my school sent me to the Independent Schools’ e-Learning Seminar. The keynote speaker was Derek Wenmoth. I enjoyed both of his sessions immensely, but was particularly struck by the ‘change management’ material he went over with us this afternoon. Much food for thought.
I found the ‘Concerns Based Adoption Model’ a really useful and structured way to concerns barriers to adopting innovations being implemented.
In addition to this, it really got me thinking that my fabulous senior manager and I are really having to take on a lot of roles: e-learning leaders (teaching tech tools), shifting paradigms (addressing pedagogy and effective teaching and learning) as well as managing huge change. I think it’s beyond the scope of ‘management’ and rather needs to be ‘inspiring’ to encourage real shift and engagement. No challenge there 😉
8 ideas that will permanently break education as we know it
The 50,001st thought
Some of our students had a guest speaker today. As the Year 1os’ session fell during our English lesson I got to attend. My takeaway from the half of the talk I had was that we think around 50,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot of thinking. No wonder we get distracted, lost in our thoughts, forget what’s going on, lose track of time, fail to make connections… really, the reasons for not being fully present are endless. It makes me reflect on our learners. How important it is to start a lesson with a hook. To recap previous material. To encourage connections to prior learning. To engage. With so many thoughts in our learners’ heads, what new thoughts are we inspiring? And can we generate more thinking and more thoughts from them?
Celebrate your wins
Woohoo! Half way through! To celebrate this important milestone on my 100 day learning journey, here are the wins that made me smile today:
- A member of #edSMAC ‘complaining’ that they now spend all of their spare time on Twitter
- Being asked by another teacher at school to give my thoughts on the new approach she’s taking to her film unit, inspired by Project Based Learning
- Having a Google Doc shared with me by an HoD who wants to use the tool to continue to connect with her learners once they rotate onto another topic
Curriculum: Content v. Context
I had the privilege of being able to attend the Maths Department meeting after school today. Now, I’m an English teacher. Maths is very far away from being my forte. I wasn’t sure what the meeting would be like at all. But you should always be open to learning experiences, and boy I found this one fascinating. What really struck me was, what I perceive to be, the conflict between the intention of the curriculum, and the beautifully worded explanations of what mathematics and statistics is and its learning structure, and the prescriptive nature of the Achievement Objectives.
For example: “Mathematics is the exploration and use of patterns and relationships in quantities, space, and time. Statistics is the exploration and use of patterns and relationships in data. These two disciplines are related but different ways of thinking and of solving problems. Both equip students with effective means for investigating, interpreting, explaining, and making sense of the world in which they live.” (From the NZC)
And: “Measure at a level of precision appropriate to the task. Apply the relationships between units in the metric system, including the units for measuring different attributes and derived measures. Calculate volumes, including prisms, pyramids, cones, and spheres, using formulae.” (From Level 6 Geometry and Measurement AO)
This strikes me as being a conflict ripe for hacking. I would be interested in hearing in hearing from schools who feel they have struck a balance between, or feel they’ve resolved the conflict I see between the curriculum, context and content.
Today I read two blogposts. Highlights from each: ‘The secret of change is to focus your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new’, which is quoted by Steve Wheeler in his post entitled “Taking Risks“. And the second: SOLE, which stands for Self Organised Learning Environment. I much prefer this to project or problem based learning, or inquiry learning, as I feel it can encapsulate them both. This acronym comes from Joe Jamison, and I learned about it from this TED blog.
A change could do you good
I’m still thinking about change, and why some do and why some don’t. Today I tweeted out a quote from Dennis Littky: “Change is possible. Most people really want things to be better.”
However, I also read this blogpost from iPadWells today, which was entitled ‘Moving the ‘un-moveable’ teacher’. Some of the key points he makes I’ve quoted below:
- Just because 15% of teachers have a self-drive to improve their own practice including technical skills & knowledge doesn’t mean the rest do.
- The history of western education has not produced a world body of teachers that view themselves as part of a world-wide connected and well-researched profession. Teachers around the world have always had an opt-out option and are rarely held genuinely accountable for the success of their students, as doctors and lawyers generally are.
- EdTech leaders in schools will not impress and inspire with tech alone. Most people don’t have the intrinsic interest in tech to find the abilities of technology engaging.
- Incentives to use technology must be non-technical and focus on the personal gain achieved from making the switch if real change is to be achieved – teachers are only human after all.
I definitely agree getting enthused about tech tools will not shift educators. I can absolutely understand that appealing to time-saving and efficiency will help people get on board. However I’m not so convinced that tech tools necessarily do this. All I can come back to is that the change is about effective pedagogy and being a better teacher (not implying that anyone wasn’t before, of course!); it’s not about being a tech wizard. There will always be another new shiny toy. But equally, there will always be another student to reach. And are we reaching enough of them now? Are we reaching them the best way possible? Are we reaching them in such a way as to encourage them to live up to their full potential? Hopefully that is impetus for change, and that’s what Littky’s quote is about for me.
Three little words
If you scroll down to Day 10, you’ll see that I thought about feedback, and wondered what students would say about me and my teaching in three words. OK, I may have rigged the survey a little by providing a Google Form of 13 choices, but I gave space to add your own choice. Results below:
I’m highly fascinated to see that no-one picked ‘strict’. That was a dead-cert as far as I was concerned! But super-reassuring to see that the kind of changes I’m implementing in my teaching this year are having an impact: being seen as ‘innovative’ and ‘creative’ are high, and ‘too much talking’ is low 🙂
I’m uber-excited by the innovative and unique N4L Pond. Not only does it look beautiful, have intuitive interface, access to amazing New Zealand-specific resources, but it is a real online community. In a way, it is this last aspect that particularly fills me with joy. Because teachers have a profile and add to the resources: commenting, adding teaching and learning ideas, uploading content, I think it has such connecting potential. I’m thinking of teachers who feel isolated, either geographically, or because they’re sole teachers of their subject or learning area in their school. I heartily congratulate those who have developed it to this point, and can’t wait to dive in myself – bring on the access code!
I love this blogpost I read this afternoon from Jen Hatmaker: “My Wish List for Teachers“. Please read it and thank a teacher you appreciate.
For me, I particularly hope this is true: “I wish you could hear all the good things our kids say about you at home.” I certainly pray that the good things outweigh the bad…
From me, I’d like to thank Mrs Heather Pope, formerly of Maeroa Intermediate, and Mrs Joan-Marie Kay and Mr Andrew Plant, formerly of Fraser High. You made me think. You made me feel like you knew me. You made me feel ‘seen’. You are awesome teachers.
This is week one of Claire Amos’ #hackyrclass challenge. The focus is on mindset – read the blogpost in full here – it explains the differences between a fixed and a growth mindset more eloquently than I could do.
I’m particularly interested in the connection between mindset and change. This fits well with the role I have in my school as ‘Future Learning Leader’ where my senior manager and I are tasked with shifting traditional pedagogy to future focused pedagogy, using technology as one means to help to do this. Change is hard. Change is a long time coming. I’m not so sure we’ve even taken half a baby step yet. But, the foot is lifted, and that’s positive!
This great blogpost by Anne Knock is helping me to feel much better about it all today. And this image in particular, taken from the blogpost hyperlinked above. It suggests that mindsets may not be shifting (much) amongst the staff yet as we’re still in a ‘building knowledge’ phase. That fits with what we’re doing, the feedback we’ve received and the plans we have in place. It helps me to feel more reassured about the path that we’re on, and more comfortable with the resistance we face at times. After all, I guess it’s a cliche for a reason: good things take time 😉
If you build it, they will come
Related to today’s earlier reflection blogpost on the staff professional learning I lead this afternoon, I have learned (once again) the amazing power of Twitter. What I really experienced today was such a feeling of being supported. Even if my session today wasn’t as flash as I had hoped, and didn’t inspire the way I wished, I asked for help from my PLN and the #edchatnz community today, and it came in droves. And that fills me with gratitude and hope.
Matt Nicoll (@mattynicoll) and I have answered Claire Amos’ call to #hackyrclass this term. We’ve just had a fruitful Google Hangout to plan our attack. Our overarching idea is to be an “agent of change”. We want to inspire change in the educators around us in our schools. To do this, this term, we are going to rustle up a small group of staff who want to grow their own PLN and work alongside them through this process. We then have ideas for Term 3 and 4 … but baby steps first! I’m excited to work with Matt not only because we’ve discovered through the mighty power of Twitter that we’re related (!), but also because he teaches in a similar context to me, so there are some rich seams of possibilities to tap into. This is a neat way to get inspired on a Sunday afternoon before Term 2 starts 🙂
At 2pm today I was eagerly anticipating viewing my first #TeachMeetNZ virtual conference (I think that’s an appropriate description?). What a neat experience: hearing six power-talks from innovative (mostly) NZ educators sharing the awesome practices and spaces they work in and explore. It’s all streamed live, but because it’s also recorded on YouTube a real benefit and hallmark of this kind of professional learning is that it’s “rewindable” – particularly fab for me ‘coz I randomly got booted out halfway through a session, but I went back and watched what I missed! Many thanks to the presenters, behind-the-scenes workers, and the host Sonya (@vanschaijik). And happy anniversary – #TeachMeetNZ is now one year old!
At 10am today I met the lovely @missmatich and @stephcamp1 at our inaugural #wellytweetmeet. While it wasn’t wildly well-attended by Wellington tweachers, all movements must start somewhere 😉
What I found most interesting, and heartening in a way, was that although we come from different contexts and may have different goals we can easily find common ground – particularly in the challenges we face convincing others to get onboard the e-learning train! It was also great to meet other Wellington teachers who are like-minded about the importance of future learning pedagogies and to put ‘real’ faces to names on Twitter. I look forward to meeting others as the opportunities arise.
OK, no quotes today
I’m continuing to read, enjoy, and be provoked by Littky’s book. The two ideas that really seem to be sticking with me are:
- The need to change schools as institutions. Integrating technology is important. Future-learning pedagogy is crucial. My worry is that schools will be able to claim they are ‘doing’ technology and encouraging the 3Cs (or 4, depending on how you count them) without the fundamental shifts that are required.
- That teachers are teachers of students first and teachers of subjects second (or maybe even third…fourth…). I love Shakespeare. I love English. But I want to make a difference first. I want to help students know how to think and not what to think first. If this means Shakespeare coming second, so be it. I want to work with passionate learners. Their passion may not be for some dead white playwright. And that might just be OK with me.
More Big Picture Stuff
Yup, I’ve continued to read and be inspired by Littky’s book. Here are the thoughts that struck me today:
- The key ingredients to big picture schools as Littky sees them are: advisories, integrated curricula, extended periods, and small schools.
- P. 66: “Those teachers, like too many, saw the concept of teaching as being strictly about subject matter, not about knowing who kids are, how they learn, what they want to learn, and how they feel.”
- We should focus on personalised schools, not personalised learning (p. 74)
- We could take a similar approach to staff learning: p. 77: “…approach professional development the same way we build our kids’ learning plans. Everyone has their own plan, and we look for things that the group as a whole needs.”
- P. 92: “Personalising education means not only personalising the support each student receives, but also greatly increasing the amount of responsibility each student has for his or her own learning.”
See Day Six
Inspired by Lea Vellenoweth’s blogpost (linked to on Day 6), I purchased The Big Picture: Education is Everyone’s Business by Dennis Littky with Samantha Grabelle (ASCD, 2004). Here are the quotes that resonated with me today:
- P5: “If we worked backward, and thought first about the kind of adult we admire, we would not name characteristics that could be measured on a multiple-choice test.”
- P20: “Our kids are dying, and we don’t even know who they are.”
- P28: “…if we care about kids more than we care about schools, then we must change schools.”
Walk like a Geographer
(With apologies to The Bangles…and actual geographers)
At the beginning of the year, @GeoMouldey thoroughly inspired me with the Guerilla Geography Project 2014 and the idea of exploration. He collaborates with Daniel Raven-Ellison who talks passionately about the importance of geography as a subject as well as the need for children to get outside, play and explore. In part, this sparked the idea my Shakespeare Club came up with to do ‘flash-mob’ Shakespeare (the opening of Romeo and Juliet in the school cafeteria at morning tea!). But I wanted to do more.
Today I watched this video of Daniel talking more about guerilla geography because I want to incorporate some of the concepts into a poetry unit I teach to my Year 8 classes called ‘Poetry of Place’. So, not only have I learned more about the relationship between people and places today, I have synthesised this with my existing unit of work and now I’m going to challenge my Year 8s next week to be poetic geographers! I can’t wait to see how it all turns out…
As I was collating some resources for a unit of work on formal writing for my Year 11 class, I came across this inspiring young woman. I have enjoyed learning about Tavi Gevinson today: blogger, editor, feminist. She’s exactly the kind of model I want to put in front of my class to epitomise the ‘find your voice’ theme we’re focusing on this year.
See some videos here
Read an article here
Her blog is here
Her online magazine, Rookie, is here
The professional reading continues
I’ve been continuing to read @kristenswanson’s Professional Learning in the Digital Age, and so today’s learning comes from this again (I know, three mentions of this already, but if the purpose of doing professional reading isn’t learning, what is?!). Today I read the chapter on contribution. This paragraph struck me: “There is a pronounced need for you to contribute to the learning spaces and people from which you learn. And while you might be asking ‘What do I have of value?’ the answer is simple: you have your experiences, your classroom, and your teaching to share. In essence, your voice is unique and it offers the network a different perspective.”
As someone who just dived into Twitter, #edchat, #edchatnz without the ‘lurking’ phase, but has subsequently wondered what on earth I know that thousands of much more innovative teachers don’t already know, I find Swanson’s words powerful. Thank you, Kristen.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Ataturk Memorial, Wellington. I’m embarrassed to admit I did not know this existed until the 6 o’clock news this evening, ANZAC Day.
I get by with a little help from my friends
Today I learned again how blessed I am to have good friends, and a wonderful husband, to look after me. Thanks, guys!
Not of an age but for all time
Today is Shakespeare’s birthday. He is 450 years old. I haven’t loved him for quite that long, but close enough 😉
In light of this special occasion, here’s something I learned about Shakespeare today: “At the time of his death, he was a much admired dramatist. But, Francis Beaumont, who died a few weeks before him, was equally admired, on the basis of far fewer plays.” – Jonathan Bate, “World’s a Stage for Shakespeare”, printed in The Dominion Post, Wednesday 23rd April, 2014
Mission: Mission Statement
In a good example of what my senior manager calls ‘doing double duty’, reading the Swanson text referenced below is useful for me us ‘Future Learning Leader’ at school, useful for my own professional learning and development, and useful for my 100 Days of Learning.
Today’s nugget comes from the chapter on reflection. In it, Swanson is giving an overview of how to integrate the learning gained from the ‘user-generated learning’ process into a classroom lesson, and then a ‘how to’ for reflecting on that lesson. In the midst of this, I was struck by this question: “Did the lesson support my personal mission statement as an educator?” (p. 53) I love this idea of a ‘personal mission statement’. I do recall writing jargon-filled, edu-babble paragraphs for CVs and covering letters when applying for jobs, but how can I distill this down into the essence of why I teach and what I hope for each of my students as they experience learning with me? Especially now I actually know a lot more.
I’ll keep mulling this one over. Do other teachers have personal mission statements they could share?
Following the recommendation of @GeoMouldey, I have started reading Kristen Swanson’s Professional Learning in the Digital Age (Eye on Education, 2013). What I have discovered so far is that I have spontaneously become a “user-generated” learner! User-generated learning is defined as “learning acquired through active curation, reflection, and contribution to a self-selected collaborative space” (p. 5). Because I: actively use of Twitter, store the ‘stuff’ that I find, reflect on my learning here at eodyssey.wordpress.com, and contribute both through this blog and through Twitter (yet another shout out to #edchatnz!), I meet this definition. Go me 🙂 What I have also discovered (which I kind of knew already but was putting off) is that I really need to tag all the nifty articles and resources I have been curating in Pocket.
I love these, but especially numbers 16, 17 and 18. Who wouldn’t want to teach or to learn in a school with these aims?!
Enjoying an Easter break in the Wairapapa at Summit Lodge, where, it turns out, they have alpacas and we got to feed them. So, here are some fun facts I have learned about alpacas today: they live as long as a horse, they only spit as a dominance thing (these ones only spit at each other), they only need shearing once a year, but their toe nails need a cut every few months. Plus: they’re cute and soft to pat – if you’re allowed to!
Good things come to those who wait
OK, I was beginning to worry about today’s learning. I was beginning to consider googling for ‘fun facts’. But then, yet again, Twitter comes to the rescue! I retweet an image from @mrkempnz and the next thing I know he’s offering to help me with a staff PL session. Just a few days ago the lovely @MissDtheTeacher did the same: offering to live Tweet me during my upcoming Twitter workshop (side note: so excited about this – it’s something I keep finding myself thinking about…at 3am). So here’s another reason to love Twitter: the professional learning, yes, but also the warm collegiality. Awesome.
Today I learned (on teacher-only day – who knew?!) that there are more like-minded teachers in my school than just my senior manager and I. I cannot overstate how much this means to me. More renegades to fight the good fight!
I also learned that I should hang out in the Lower School (Primary) way more. It’s cool down there 😉
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
I’m joining the education revolution – and you can too! Thanks, Claire Amos #hackyrclass.
We don’t know how lucky we are
Today was the Year 11 Speech Competition. Five slightly nervous speakers spoke passionately about a range of issues important to them. Ranging from gay marriage to girls’ ability to exclude others, the topics were thoughtfully selected, and relevant to an audience of peers. While I was certainly impressed by the speeches, what really struck me were the speakers themselves. They represented a real cross-section of the current Year 11 cohort. Which made me think. English is blessed in that it can reward students for their abilities across a range of skills. Because of the variety of Achievement Standards on offer through our National Certificate of Educational Achievement (our national qualification), students can demonstrate their understanding in a variety of ways, and have these officially recognised. And that’s pretty lucky.
Today we had our first mentoring session with the Year 10 students who have opted to complete their own 100 Day Challenge. I sat on the floor of the chapel listening to my group talk about their various projects. And I was so amazed and impressed with their creativity and imagination. These girls have set themselves awesome challenges: from the girl who’s creating origami every day, to the girl who is taking a selfie with another person everyday…and everything in between. It’s truly inspiring and heart-warming.
I’ve seen this image doing the rounds on Twitter before: FAIL = First attempt in learning, but seeing it again this morning, in conjunction with a series of ‘thought-dumping’ tweets from the ever-inspiring @GeoMouldey, snagged my brain. As a self-confessed perfectionist, it’s difficult to admit to having failed at something, or admit to failing to live up to my own (high) expectations. So, what have I failed at this term? I have failed to be invited to any department meetings by the HoDs (although one has met with me, and we do have a bit of a plan in place). Preliminary findings from a staff survey shows that I have failed to capture the interest of a key portion of our staff in future learning pedagogy. I’m quite confident that I have failed to meet the needs of every student in every one of my classes. Some of this hurts my heart a great deal. But, now I know what I’ve failed at, I know what to focus on. I have already thought of strategies to combat my first two failures. Game on.
Today I watched this TED talk by Christopher Emdin entitled “Teach teachers how to create magic”. While I don’t agree with everything he said, I definitely agreed with his view of teacher education. In conversation with the pre-service teachers we currently have in our school, it certainly seems as though it really hasn’t changed since I went through. Uninspiring, relatively removed from reality: mostly a necessary evil in order to get to where I wanted to be; my own classroom. Conversations are happening globally about shifting education. I can only hope that this will include not just tertiary education, but teacher education also. Soon.
That flash-mobbing is more nerve-wracking than conventional performances
Today the Shakespeare Club and I ‘flash-mobbed’ Shakespeare during morning tea at school. We’d had this planned for a while. The girls chose the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet as being fairly instantly recognisable, incorporating a number of characters, and familiar to staff and students at school. We’d learned our lines, blocked our movements, planned our entrances and exits. But the fundamental difference between a ‘random’ performance like this, and a conventionally staged piece is its inherent un-rehearsability. You can’t practice it in advance. For a control-freak like me, I found this challenging in the extreme. Hopefully I’ll get hold of some video soon and upload it here so that you can judge the results for yourself. From a director and co-actor’s point of view though…it was a rush!
Expanding my use of Edmodo
I especially love the idea of opening up my Edmodo class groups to parents. I’m definitely going to explore this at least with my Y11 parents, as I spend quite a lot of time communicating with them, when access to Edmodo will allow them to keep up-to-date themselves.
Fittingly, considering the staff professional learning session I led on Monday on authentic context, my Year 10 English class was today treated with two guest speakers. We are currently embarking on a study of the language of advertising, and the key outcome is for the girls to produce a print advertisement to promote the choice of English as a subject at Year 13. One guest speaker was a friend who works in marketing and PR, and the other was our ‘client’, the Head of the English Department. It was fascinating both to hear what these speakers had to say, but, more significantly for me, to sit back and observe the learning of the girls. They were engaged, motivated, and asked such thoughtful and insightful questions of our speakers. While it comes as no surprise intellectually that this would be so, there’s nothing like experiencing it first hand to make the learning for me concrete. It is clearly worth the time investment into organising such a project.
Scaffolds: a help or a hindrance?
Today I really enjoyed watching this TED talk by Dan Meyer on “Math class needs a makeover” – and it’s not because as an English teacher I like bagging Maths as a subject. The idea that perhaps giving students all the ‘help’ that text book problems do: visual cues, graphs and other mathematical structures, the question, steps to help solve the problem… may actually be part of the wider problem as to why students don’t retain mathematical knowledge and therefore perceive Maths as ‘hard’ and that they ‘can’t do it’.
We’re increasingly encouraged to give scaffolding structures to students to give them a sense of how to attack problems and to show them that by breaking the question down into parts, the whole can be achieved. But what if, rather than giving all this help and information at the beginning, we co-constructed it? This may well result in much more powerful learning which is engaging and therefore retained.
(Dan Meyer also had a lot of other nifty ideas about creating real world context and the integration of technology, but I’ll let you learn those for yourself!)
Again, this is less about learning something new, but about the realisation that dawns. When I think back, I realise this idea has been germinating for a while…
…but it wasn’t until I read Steve Wheeler this morning that it clicked.
It’s actually not enough to ‘just’ tinker with pedagogy – which is exactly where I’m at and what I’m in the process of exploring – but we must change schooling. Yes, our teaching practice must be shifted to better engage students and equip them for this ‘Knowledge Age’, but our schooling institutions must also change. What’s happening inside classrooms will be physically and literally constrained by the buildings, but also the structures such as the timetable. Lightbulb: change on both a micro and a macro level is needed.
The truth shall set you free?
In conjunction with the conversations I’ve been having with my Y13s on George Orwell’s 1984, and a general interest in thorny questions, today we watched The Fifth Estate.
“Man is least himself when he talks with his own person. But if you give him a mask, he will tell you the truth. Two people, and a secret: the beginning of all conspiracies. More people, and, more secrets. But if we could find one moral man, one whistle-blower. Someone willing to expose those secrets, that man can topple the most powerful and most repressive of regimes.”
Such interesting things to ponder. Transparency. The fine line between secrets and lies and truth and justice and social conscience. So, today, less about learning, and more about thinking and my infinite capacity to see grey rather than absolutes.
The power of one
Today I finished my book club read: Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup. While I can’t say I loved it, I was moved by the means by which Northup finally managed to escape slavery. Through the help of one man who listened to his story, believed it, and committed himself to enact change even at personal risk. One person can make a difference.
The value of conferences
I’m a sceptical attender of conferences. Last year’s ULearn conference (which I’ve raved about already!) was the best conference experience of my career. This was because I went with really specific questions in mind. I’m slowly starting to see that conferences might just be about more than sitting and learning from experts. They might also be about networking and meeting like-minded (or non-like-minded) people who push your thinking and offer collaboration opportunities. I’m not into small talk, don’t do it very well, have a tendency to ask dumb, closed questions. But, meeting passionate educators face to face who must be interested in similar things to me, because, after all, they’ve chosen to come to this conference…now there’s potential. #Edchatnz conference 2014: tweeting face 2 face 😉
Feedback is fantastic
Sparked by this blogpost this morning and all the lovely comments I’ve been getting on my blog recently, I’ve learned another benefit of being connected: that you can get useful, thoughtful, provocative feedback. Being a teacher can actually be quite an isolating experience. In a way, the school has no idea what you get up to in your classroom. But blogging and twittering is a great way to get supportive, professional advice. Thanks especially to #edchatnz for encouraging fellow tweachers to comment on each others’ blogs.
(Side note: I love the idea in the blogpost linked to above about the three words my students would say about me. I think I’ll ask. They’re the only ones who really know what happens in Room 17!)
In a hyper-connected world, there is value in silence
This struck me this morning as I finally managed to attend our school’s regular Wednesday morning reflection time in the Chapel. We need to ensure that we actually disconnect in order to value our own private thoughts, and the serenity that comes from stillness. All learners need this: not to fear missing out, but a love of quietness.
Today I saw the power of a truly engaged classroom. It certainly takes quite a lot of ‘front-ending’, and I can already see ways in which I’d improve on the activity next time, but seeing my Year 8 students self-motivated, enthusiastic and independently on-task creating our class website on our novel study was heart-warming. Collaboration, choice, authentic audience, and the right tools for the job = engagement.
A Tipping Point is reached
OK, you may not be able to read this, but it is (blurry) evidence that my Year 13 students are starting to independently post links to material relevant to what’s happening inside the classroom on our Edmodo page. I am stoked. For me this means that the students don’t just see it as ‘teacher space’, but rather that there is co-ownership. It also means we see learning as something that doesn’t just happen 9am-3:30pm in Room 17 of our building, rather it is ubiquitous. I also hope that it is evidence that the girls are engaged by what we’re studying 😉
Big Picture is Little Picture
This morning I read this thought-provoking blogpost from Hobsonville Point Secondary School DP Lea Vellenoweth (@leavellenoweth). She has really got my brain spinning. What if big picture is little picture? If we start designing learning for the one unique learner in front of us how can it not be powerful? (I know others like Karen Meluish-Spencer @virtuallykaren) has been saying this for a while, but today it’s been a lightbulb moment for me. This is the response to those who predict the replacement of teachers with MOOCs or suchlike. Relationships. A thought only becomes an idea when it is shared. Learning is a fundamentally social activity. Start with the individual in front of you and build from there. Big picture is really little picture.
Even though my parents are up for the weekend, I managed to get to two sessions: John Hattie and Karen Meluish-Spencer. I’m not sure I can select my fave quote of the day, so here’s two (one from each speaker!): from John: (@VisibleLearning):”know thy impact”, and from Karen (@virtuallykaren): “Technology is far less important than the kind of education that it enables”.
Unconferences and Smackdowns
Still buzzing about #edchatnz last night and being asked by the inspirational @MissDtheTeacher to help organise the first ever #edchatnz conference! During the Twitter chat last night there were terms being bandied about that I wasn’t familiar with. Thanks to @mrs_hyde and @melulater for their links to help me understand. The best definition is provided at the beginning of Melanie’s blogpost.
The power of Twitter to connect
Ok, so technically this isn’t something ‘new’ per se, but every fortnight as I participate in #edchatnz (@edchatnz) I’m blown away at the powerful learning that can transpire in a flurry of 140 character tweets. It truly is the most awe-inspiring, provocative PD/PL I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. And now, next stop (here’s the new bit) – be on the lookout for the first #edchatnz conference. I’m so excited – coming to an Auckland near you – in June!
I really enjoyed reading this blogpost this morning. While it echoes some of the ideas I already held about digital citizenship (and have blogged about before), the extra resources and the clear examples of positive contributions of digital citizens that are particularly pertinent to young adults are excellent.
Because my job title is ‘Future Learning Leader’ I’m constantly on the look out for anything that will help me in my job. I particularly like the suggestion here of creating a PLC. I wonder how this might be possible.