Term 2 Reflections

I have been inspired today to write another reflection post. But this time, rather than reflecting on my classroom teaching this term (although that may well still come), I thought I’d reflect on my position as ‘Future Learning Leader‘. I got to write my own job description, so how am I doing if I measure myself against my own criteria?!

So, here are each of my ‘key tasks’, and the work I’ve done towards each one:

1. Lead professional learning in staff meetings to develop future learning pedagogies.

2. Attend HOD meetings to promote FL and blended learning approaches and inquiry practices.

  • I’ve put myself on the agenda twice so far: once to talk about my job description, and how I’d like to work with departments, and, more recently, about the potential of the Pond as a resource for staff.

3. Assist departments and individual staff with FL inquiry and skill-building.

  • I’ve attended meetings with five different departments, and have directly assisted three departments so far.
  • I have ongoing discussions with the Science Department, where we have been focusing on ways in which we can address concerns around students’ mis/pre-conceptions.
  • I have worked with the Languages Department around ideas of feedback, and looking at Kaizena as a tool to help address this concern.
  • I have worked with the PE/Health Department looking at offering more choice and investigating LiveBinders.
  • I’ve worked alongside several individuals also, investigating the possibilities of Twitter, blogging and Project/Problem Based Learning

4. Model or promote best practice examples of FL pedagogies.

  • I hope I’ve been using this blog as a forum to do some of this, reflecting on things like my Y8 website, using rosebud feedback, and the other tasks my classes have been up to.
  • I’ve also been tweeting useful links and resources using #MarsdenPL14

5. Encourage and support the development of personal/professional learning communities.

  • The #hackyrclass project that I’ve embarked upon with the amazing support and collaboration with Matt Nicoll from St Andrews’ College in Christchurch is a great example of my work towards this goal. We have offered staff the opportunity to be a part of a PLN and have been using the #edSMAC to build these connections and opportunities for professional learning.
  • Another connection that has been forged through this blog and through Twitter has been with Catherine Wooller of Westlake Girls’ High School, and between us we facilitated an interesting and useful Skype chat between our respective Science Departments.

6. Contribute to online library of workshops and instructional videos.

  • Okay, this might be the area I haven’t been so flash on. I haven’t made anything specific for staff, but, obviously, all the workshops I offer for Professional Learning sessions are easily accessible to staff. In addition, I’ve added other links to our Professional Learning page on Ultranet:

Ultranet

And finally…

7. Work on other related and relevant tasks as negotiated.

  • Here’s where I’m feeling particularly proud. I feel as though I’ve really been raising the profile of Marsden as a school who is actively committed to implementing future focused pedagogy for the benefit of students.
  • I’m a Pond Pioneer educator
  • I’m exceptionally proud to be a small part of the #edchatNZ conference steering committee.
  • I attended the inaugural #WellyPLG meeting at Amesbury School
  • I have two conference presentations coming up: one for TeachMeetNZ and CLESOL, and the other for ULearn14 – where I’m co-presenting with my wonderful senior manager
  • And this very week I’m the ‘keynote presenter’ for our Y9 Creative Inquiry Symposium

And, you know, when I look back at six months’ work laid out like this, I feel pretty chuffed with what I’ve accomplished, the progress I have helped to promote, and the amazing opportunities that have come my way.

 

 

Marsden Professional Learning Session 8

If this afternoon’s session was at all coherent or useful, I really owe it to my PLN. I was presenting on ‘UDL’ (Universal Design for Learning), which I have been growing in understanding of over the past six months or so. Nevertheless, I was struggling to know how to do the concept justice in a 20 minute slot. Luckily though, Claire Amos had covered UDL in a #hackyrclass blogpost earlier this term, which also led me to Chrissie Butler’s blogpost. This latter post in particular I found invaluable. My own presentation shamelessly plunders her links and ideas.

My own ‘spin’ was that I attempted to follow UDL principles in putting my presentation together. For the ‘Engagement’ phase I started with the opening minute of the ‘Failing Superman‘ YouTube clip and then posed a question which groups could discuss, or jot ideas down on post-it notes. For the ‘Representation’ phase I gave an overview of UDL, and then gave various options as to how people might like to access more information on the topic. Choices included watching a video, reading blogposts or discussing a document with a partner. Finally, for the ‘Action and Expression’ phase, staff had the choice of three workshops to attend based on their needs and interests (which is standard for our professional learning sessions). Sessions also end with reflection time, which staff can complete in a way that suits them.

Furthermore, I made explicit my intention in using UDL guidelines in framing the presentation. I hope that this allowed staff to both understand UDL better, having realised they had seen it in practice, as well as demonstrated that technology is a powerful tool to allow for a range of supports to be offered. Overall I feel pleased with how the presentation worked.

Image credit: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/advice/services
Image credit: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/advice/services

My ‘Thing’

Since I began this future learning journey, I’ve been wondering what my ‘thing’ is. What would be the particular aspect of future learning that would really capture my imagination, and seem to offer the best possibilities to move forward with future focused pedagogy? It was never going to be just about integrating technology. Jumping on the bandwagon of the shiny new app strikes me as both short-sighted and not big picture enough. I wondered if PBL (project- or problem-based learning) might be the thing. But as interesting as it seemed, it didn’t seem to gain traction in my mind. Ditto SOLE (self-organised learning environments). Linked to both of these was the inquiry process. And I do think this is important, but didn’t seem to go quite far enough for me. It wasn’t going to be maker-ed, although I acknowledge the potential in this.

And then, today, it hit me.

Design Thinking might just be my thing.

Why Design Thinking? Because inherent in this process are the 3 (or 4) Cs of critical thinking, creativity, communication – and collaboration. Because the process requires an inter-disciplinary approach. Because, as the Hobsonville Point team have convinced me, the New Zealand Curriculum aligns beautifully with it. Because it seems to offer the best of what PBL/inquiry/maker-ed calls for. And because I believe it has the potential to dovetail with the values of our school, such as aiming for the highest, service, resilience.

And, crucially, because Design Thinking fits with me.

I’ve always held that I teach because I want to teach not what to think, but how to think. And I believed that English as a subject really had this potential. We read literature in order to be confronted with ideas of what it means to be human. To think about moral, ethics, how to live. But, upon reflection, I think I haven’t really aligned well with my educational philosophy. I have been teaching ‘not what to think’, but not the ‘how to think’ part of the statement. I feel it’s been more like ‘not what to think; but to think’. Which, I now think, is insufficient. However, Design Thinking does offer a concrete solution because it is a process. It is ‘not what to think; but how to think.’

So, I think, I’ve found ‘my thing’.

 

 

Marsden Professional Learning Session 7

Today the focus was on tapping into student voice to engage learners and allow for learning to be personalised. To run alongside the session I created a ‘TodaysMeet‘ backchannel. I invited staff in, get them multiple ways to access the Meet, and gave them time during the session to use the backchannel to suggest ideas or give answers. This seemed engaging, and people were interested in it as a tool.

Here’s a snapshot of it in action:

TodaysMeet

It goes to show that having something interactive is a winner!

I also offered a repeat of the Google Drive/Google Docs workshop. I enjoy these when there is a help sheet for staff to follow along and then I can just respond on the fly to what people need. This was my experience this afternoon. Today’s workshop also reminded me that people do not learn new skills by osmosis. They need time to learn, to play, and to have questions answered. As always, it is dangerous to assume a base-level of knowledge.

 

Blossoming

As part of my current unit on ‘poetic geography’, I wanted my students to reflect on their poetry drafts, and to get feedback from their peers. I’ve used the whole ‘PMI’ (plus, minus, interesting) chart in the past, and also a modification of it: ‘smiley face, sad face, question mark’, to varying degrees of success. Then, in a tweet from Steve Mouldey (@GeoMouldey – where so many of ‘my’ ideas seem to come from…), I learned about ‘rosebud’ feedback.

Watch the YouTube video about it here – courtesy of Lisa Palmieri (@Learn21Tech).

And here’s the Google Presentation with the instructions I made for my class. I added the ‘helpful, kind, specific’ criteria after reading Andrea Henson’s blogpost trialling the same rosebud feedback activity (@AndreaHenson_nz).

Here are my students in action:

rosebud

I was very impressed by how engaged the girls were. They really worked with focus for far longer than I anticipated.

At the conclusion of the lesson, I wanted to know how the girls found the activity. They commented that they enjoyed it, but wanted less repetition in the feedback they were given by their peers. They also wanted more specific feedback, so that they really had a direction to move in to improve. It is clear that giving feedback is a skill that the girls will need more practice with, but this activity definitely showed me the benefit of a structured peer-feedback activity like this.

Three things really stood out to me to highlight the worthiness of the rosebud task:

  1. The student who wanted more bud/green feedback so that she could improve her poem further (“just one post-it note isn’t enough, Ms Nicoll, I’ll finish that too quickly!”)
  2. The student who realised that her poem wasn’t the best she could do and wanted to continue to craft rather than produce her final copy. (Especially when she’s normally the student who rushes to finish and is satisfied with her first attempt.)
  3. The day before, I had a queue of students behind me, all wanting feedback from me. The next day, they wanted feedback from each other.

The rosebud bloomed!