A Learner's Journey

January 26, 2013
by 34mk2012
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A calm start …

 
At Holy Spirit Community School we are fortunate enough to begin every school day with meditation. This has been a whole school commitment for the past five years and I imagine most staff and students could now not imagine starting the day without it. There is many a morning where the sound of the soothing music that brings calm and quiet with it is like a balm, soothing, healing and relaxing. We all know how hectic that first part of the school day can be, greeting students, answering parent queries, helping to find the lost jumper, sorting out notices, before school duty – the list is endless. But once that 8.55am bell goes, the school is transformed and the whole tone is changed.
 
Working in a Catholic school brings a particular context to our meditation, that of Christian meditation. But inherent in this, is the notion of connection to our deepest selves. This connection can be nurtured and nourished regardless of a school’s faith tradition and can only benefit students, staff and the wider community. In the world as we experience it, there are many pressures, ideals and voices competing for our attention and taking regular time to stop, be still and listen to our inner selves can be an opportunity to make our meaning.
 
At Holy Spirit, daily meditation begins with an announcement over the PA and some words of wisdom, reminding everyone what we are about to do and some strategies that may be helpful (as I am the speaker of the words, I am hoping they are words of wisdom!) We then listen to meditative music for approximately 2 minutes. This time is invaluable for settling the students, moving on any straggling parents (or inviting them to stay) and creating the quiet and stillness. The music is generally instrumental and comes from a wide variety of different cultures. Sometimes it may link to a particular season/time of the year eg: indigenous music for NAIDOC week, Christmas music during Advent etc. Then comes the true meditation – the silence. It is recommended that students remain silent for 1 minute for each year of their age but in reality, most classes are probably silent for between 2-4 minutes. The silence is ended by the ringing of the chimes and daily prayer commences.
 
The practise of mediation is well embedded in our school and most students and staff are very comfortable with the process. However, this year, we are going to visit some elements of meditation, particularly the use of a mantra as a way to calm the thoughts and images that pop into our minds as we meditate.
 
There are some excellent resources available on the web for people wishing to know more. 
Christian Meditation for Children and Contemplative Life have great resources and information. I have prepared a PPT for our staff to revisit the important elements of our whole school meditation program (see below) and found the book A Child’s Way: How to teach and practice Christian meditation with children written by Jeannie Battagin very useful.
Do you see a place for meditation in your school or classroom? How might it work? What might the benefits be?
 
 
 
 

January 23, 2013
by 34mk2012
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Connected to who, or what?

Having participated in two more ETMOOC sessions this week, the conversation has returned often to the notion of  ‘connected learning’. We have talked about Personal Learning Networks, the place of social media, how much sharing is too much and accountability vs responsibility.

There is another essential element in the connected learning framework and that is our own connection to the learning itself. We all know how our students respond when they are working on something they are interested in or love. They are engaged, motivated, eager to learn and intrinsically rewarded by the learning itself. I think it is the same with teachers and experienced this keenly in the last semester of my Masters last year.

I had two subjects to complete during Semester Two last year. One subject, Leadership Spirituality was one I was innately interested in and the other, Culture and Religion was the ‘lesser of two evils’ that I had to select from. Obviously, I was pre-disposed to enjoying the Leadership subject more but I did go into both with an open mind. 

The lecturer for Leadership Spirituality was engaging and very knowledgeable. She was able to get through an amazing amount of content in 4 days, exposing us to many aspects of the subject and coaxing us into wanting to find out more. The classes were very interactive and the cohort was lively and keen to participate and try out ideas. Both assignments allowed us to follow up on particular areas of interest within the subject and for one assignment, the format was completely open to negotiation (a first for the entire course – I did a blog post!)

The Culture and Religion subject was online and part of it involved posting ideas online. This was a task that had to be completed rather than one students seemed to enjoy. There was little interaction and no useful feedback at all from the lecturer (not classifying ‘good’ as useful). The material had the potential to be interesting, particularly in the area of delving into indigenous spirituality and what it contributes to Australia’s religious landscape but the readings were extremely academic and not very accessible. The assignments all revolved around responses to quote from the articles or books read and took the form of three essays and a powerpoint. 

You may be able to guess which subject I did better in? Of course it was Leadership Spirituality and I got a HD! Why … because I felt completely connected to the cohort of students, the lecturer and the subject material.

Connected learning is about PLN’s and twitter and MOOC’s, but is also about finding your interests and loves, and being given the opportunity to learn with and be challenged by others who share them. The beauty of this is that this form of learning can take you to places you never dreamed of …

How do we make space for our students to be connected learners?

Students from my class of 2012 working on their Author Studies – do we have to stop now?

 

January 20, 2013
by 34mk2012
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Why I Blog

Tweeters in my PLN and in the ETMOOC community have been raving about Haiku Deck and how great it is to use and pleasant it is to watch. I had installed this app some time ago but never quite ‘got it’. So today’s project was to have a go and see what happened. As usual, the hardest thing is to decide what to create so I decided to collate and present some of the reasons why I blog, both personally and with my students. So here it is – nothing flash – just my thoughts – about the importance of blogging to me.

 

Haiku Deck is the best application for creating presentations on iPad

January 13, 2013
by 34mk2012
9 Comments

#etmooc Introduction Task

Our first task (other than getting organised!) for ETMOOC is to create a video/slideshow introduction to ourselves. I decided to use the app videoscribe to create mine with a tagxedo word cloud included as well. I have used this app to make clips for staff meetings and our 5/6 students have also used it – very simple and quite effective. Make up your own mind …

 

January 12, 2013
by 34mk2012
3 Comments

Twitter via Videoscribe

Last year, I came across a useful app called Videoscribe.  After introducing it to my 11 year old, he pretty quickly introduced it to his peers at school with great results. The app is easy to use and whilst not free, I think it is worth the $. It is yet another way students can communicate, share, explain, demonstrate and explore what they have learnt by creating something new. Here is my clip I created about the Power of Twitter for me as an Australian educator. Enjoy!

 

January 7, 2013
by 34mk2012
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Things to come …

Well a new year is here and it will no doubt bring with it many new challenges. I am moving to a new level, 5/6 having taught 3/4 for the past three years. I am ready for the change and looking forward to seeing ‘what comes next’ for the students I have handed on over previous years.

Here are some commitments I am making for this new year:

  • continue to explore the purposeful use of ICT as a tool within my classroom. I am most interested in the opportunities ICT can provide for students in terms of the ways they can express their learning. I am keen to pursue the use of desktop computers and mobile devices for the creation of knowledge and understandings that can be shared.
  • pursue the use of classroom blogging as a means to more connected learning for my students. My class signed up for quadblogging last year via www.quadblogging.net and this was a great experience in building connections with students in other countries and having an authentic audience to share with. I would also like to explore ways of getting parents more on board with blogging.
  •  I am commencing a MOOC in mid-January which will be a completely new learning experience for me. This MOOC explores the use of technology in education and you can follow on twitter using the following hashtag #etmooc OR sign up yourself at www.etmooc.org
  • As I have completed my Masters now, I am going to engage in professional reading around the topics of the collaborative classroom, creating a positive learning culture and leadership within schools. I already have a stack of books on my list and will add to it with recommendations from my PLN on twitter.

So, I will stick to four commitments that I think are achievable rather than adding the myriad of other options floating around my mind. Watch this space to see how I go …

 

 

October 21, 2012
by 34mk2012
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Collaborating via the twitterverse!

The week before last, I was scrolling through my twitter feed as I love to do, when I came across  one from @deputymitchell requesting a class that would be interested in making a video to inspire his class about problem solving. Although video is not my forte, I jumped at the chance to collaborate with another school across the oceans. Our brief was to make a video showing students struggling to solve a problem and deciding to consult the class blog of @deputymitchell for help. This is what the students came up with:

Problem Solving

They did this independently with minimal assistance from me. I gave them a problem to use but they found it hard to ‘fake’ not understanding it because it was too easy and they knew exactly how to solve it! I was so proud of the great job they did. I love it when students just ‘run with’ an idea and take it somewhere I have never imagined myself. I constantly marvel at how capable my students are! We are looking forward to further ‘conversation’ with Deputy Mitchell’s class via their class blog as they respond to our video.

We have also been the focus blog for quadblogging this week so have had lots of visitors from our partner schools in the UK. Having such a global audience is enormously rewarding for my students and highly motivating. They have enjoyed responding to comments made and are just as keen when it is our turn to visit one of the other blogs for the week. Follow @quadblogging on twitter.

I tweeted out a request for help earlier last week collecting data about favourite icecream flavours. We have had responses on our blog from all over the world  and have now some real data to use in our Data Maths unit. Students have delighted in seeing the variety of responses and places they have come from. Thanks to all the tweeting participants!

So over the past two weeks, my students and I have reaped great benefit from the support of my PLN … Time well spent investing in building  and participating in it!

October 10, 2012
by 34mk2012
3 Comments

Twitter and the REL Network

Why?

Twitter is a quick and easy way to share ideas, resources, successes and learning, and a great way to support each other in our role as educators. We can create connections with other REL’s and create a vibrant network in between meetings. Twitter is an easy way to stay in touch with one another, send a quick message of support, send out a request for help, celebrate a great learning experience or share a great new resource.

How?

Sign up for a twitter account at www.twitter.com. Create a profile briefly giving people an idea about who you are and what you do so that potential followers can easily see why they should follow you! It is a great idea to add a photo – others are much more likely to follow a person than an egg!  A photo also enables others to recognise you when you meet face to face. Download a twitter app for your mobile device so you can easily tweet when you are at PD, meetings or out and about. Start by following the REL’s listed below and see who they are following to get you started. Follow anyone whose profile matches your interests, skills or specialities. Keep your tweeting professional. Most of us are not that interested in where you are having coffee but we are very interested in a great new Web 2.0 tool you’ve used successfully.

@Mj0401Mary

@twursthorn

Hashtag#

Use #ERORE at the end of your tweet to alert your network to your message. You can search for this hashtag and quickly see anything that has been tweeted by the network. Save the search so it is easy to find.

Resources

Have a look at some of these links if you are keen to find out more …

http://www.diigo.com/list/mj0401mary/social-media

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1N0pSimJhevM6KEzE1ys4VhCzkSfcGoNW3jdq479A1Ng/edit

http://blog.web20classroom.org/2011/03/twitter-its-not-just-whats-for.html

Be warned … twitter is VERY addictive!

 

photo credit: babymellowdee via photopin cc

August 11, 2012
by 34mk2012
4 Comments

MYSA Travelling Scholars

During the week, I was fortunate enough to attend the workshop with George and Alec Couros organised through the MYSA Travelling Scholars program. I have been following George and Alec for a few months on twitter and knew this would be a fantastic learning opportunity –  and I wasn’t wrong. 

The day was titled “Anywhere, anytime, anyone: transitioning toward 21st Century learning.” It was a small intimate group and by the end of the session, many new connections had been made. Some of the things that stuck with me are:

Schools as centres for learning, not just for students but for all staff as well. Sounds obvious but I often feel the learning needs of staff can be easily overlooked. If our students see us trying new things and learning with them, that is extremely powerful and most likely liberating for both students and teacher. I have had many opportunities in the last couple of years to allow students to teach me something that they know and it certainly brings out the best in them. I have been blown away with what they are capable of when I am prepared to hand over to them and share the learning process.

Innovation – George spoke about the need to stop talking and start doing! Sometimes, you need to go out on a limb, take a chance and just give it a go. I have found value in this approach recently in my own classroom and some of the things I have tried have worked and some not so well. We so readily tell our students that making mistakes is how we learn but can often be reticent to face that in ourselves. I firmly believe that our schools need a clear pathway toward creating a school climate that allows for personalised, relevant and rigorous learning but it can be all too easy to get bogged down in the discussions and never get around to the action.

Connection – so important for all education stakeholders. We all crave it and how rewarding it is when it is achieved. George spoke passionately about how technology can actually work to personalise education and enable us to connect deeply with our students. This is a challenging idea for many teachers who feel very cautious about the ‘risks’ associated with social media.

One of the quotes of the day was “Put it out there and let the world decide!”  I guess in starting this blog, that is exactly what I am doing!

I have placed Geroge’s blog on the blogroll – it is well worth a regular look.

Thanks to George and Alec for inspiring Melbourne teachers and for being such innovative and engaging educators.

 

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