Saturday, May 16, 2015

Interface Expo - May 2015

Spent Thursday at the Christchurch InterfaceExpo. These expo days are often about selling a product - BUT there were some great learning tools on display and demonstration.

1 ) Mind Lab - were one of the main sponsors. Their philosophy includes the statement 'Technology takes the classroom out into the world.' 

Image result for mindlab

Frances Valentine - Founder MindLab - NZ Tech Board - was one of the opening speakers. The aim of Mind Lab is to create innovative kids of the future. Last year 12,000 students went through each of their 3 'workshops'. This year they are hoping for 30,000. 

One key message was that we have a fantastic primary school system. A system that 'does' learning well - student focussed, contextualised, project based - then they hit secondary!! Secondary teachers are having to cope with the 'tsunami' effect of these primary students flowing into the secondary system! 

She noted that even traditional careers are being  influenced by new changes - eg 'big data' - medical outsourcing ?

Mind Lab - is partnered  with Unitec to deliver a  PostGraduate Programme - philanthropic support to keep costs down - $750 for post grad programme. Looks good to me!

Excitingly - won $1000 staff PD voucher! Checkl out The MindLab - here

2) The GAFE team - clearly reminded us that online /blended / elearning focusses on the 5Cs- 

Image result for gafe

And that teachers need to ensure that they are making best use of GAFE by making sure that students have - 
  1.  customised chrome experience 
  2.  automatic web pages 
  3.  enforce bookmarks URLs 
  4.  chrome web store - apps and extensions 

At RHS we use Google Sites for teacher portfolios and appraisal - this presentation was a good reminder to me that Sites can be key for- 
- developing digital communities of practice 
- increase student agency 

Clearly we need to use Sites for more than just teacher inquiry in fact any opportunity for  divergent thinking via individual creating - could be Site based
Learn Create Share 

As school leaders we also need to remember that the 'pedagogical experts may not be the technological experts' - pedagogy 2.0 and 3.0 - new pedagogies need to be taught 

Google Classroom and Blogger 
Blogger as a portfolio - teacher, student, class 
Importance of linking to RTCs 
Student blogging - authentic digital footprint, student led conferences

3) ETV - while I have delved in to ETV and 'archived' a few really useful clips, I have not used them in the classroom yet!! 

I liked ETV's 'tagline' of  'real time, real life, learning resources'
Image result for etv
- live TV - only live TV service in NZ 
- in the cloud - no software, no boxes
- biggest supplier of video content in NZ 
The fact they when contacted, they will search for ANY resource to assist you with ANY topic you want to work on.

BUT - what we do need to get onto using is their ZAPTION app
- research simply pointing students to a piece of video does not work 
- students bombarded by 'noise' - they need to interact with content 
- Bill Gates education award winner - 
- wrap learning around the video content - easy to use and many ways to engage students

Image result for zaption

4) N4L - making our schools safe online....
Image result for the pond nz- the education system is becoming digitised - exams, moderation
- we need to know that it will work and work safely
- apparently our schools are under attack from overseas locations - thousands of times a day...who knew???
So I have bitten the bullet and signed up to the Pond, which seems to me to be another aggregator - I already use Delicious and Twitter and Google alerts ......

Image result for swivl nz
5) By 3.00pm my brain was starting to hurt - but not enough to stop me buying (well Josh actually buying) a  SWIVL robot controlled camera - track as you move, insert content during the lesson, 360degree, tracking, can be paused, stored in the swivl cloud, can include slides and still record lesson in action. I have it on very good authority that it is excellent for tracking evidence in the PE clasroom - but for me the most useful use, would be for teachers to view their own practice. 
You can see more about how it works here

OK - enough new things to be think about ....and try out....and find the time to ......

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A timely reminder - why teaching's FAB

This post that popped up on my my Facebook feed today -
- and was a timely reminder for me, that despite all of the issues in teaching (and not just confined to NZ), teaching is still one of, if not the, best and most important jobs in the world.

We continually read of the wide world issues facing teachers and teaching - new teachers leaving in droveshead teachers / principals stress load, unreasonable overtesting of students .....and it goes on.

My own current stress levels are somewhat elevated around specific site based issues at my school - but I'm a reasonably chilled person, so having an elevated stress levels is not too much of a problem!

Teaching today is about continual improvement - the cycle of inquiry is essential in this process. All teachers at our school carry out an inquiry - as always there is a spectrum of engagement from simple low level compliance through to those who actively and passionately want to do better, who realise that the students in front of them are individuals and that delivering the 'same old, same old' from year to year is just not going to do it for the students. These are the ones who are a pleasure to have a learning conversation with; who willingly share in cross-curricular meetings and are excited to tell you when things do (or more likely, do not) work as expected.

We hear about student creativity all the time from educational superstars such as  Sir Ken and Stephen Heppell, but how often do we think about creativity in ourselves as teachers and in the facilitation of learning in our classrooms? How creative are our lessons? Our timetables? Our curriculums? These are questions that we are grappling with as we go through a major rebuild. I'm looking forward to the conversations around this. Creativity will be a challenge for some - creativity may well be a synonym for change! The 21st century is well and truly here, and has been for 15 years! We need to make the changes that will allow for the delivery of engaging and authenic curriculum.

So many parts of the work are satisfying. Self improvement is satisfying. It might also be hard and time consuming. Using the 'teaching is inquiry cycle', self improvement is linked to improving student outcomes. That is satisfying. Focussing on 'growth mindset' (one of my goals for this year) is satisfying. Seeing students improve is satisfying.

So the post 'Why teaching is the best job in the world' was a timely reminder. Not the easiest. Not the least time consuming, Not the best paid. Just simply the best!

It reminds me of the quote that has a prominent place on my office door and features in my CV - the words are from Christa McAuliffe, the civilian teacher who died in the US Challenger disaster - 'I touch the future. I teach' 

Simply the best!