A Learner's Journey

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 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 6, 2012
by 34mk2012
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What I am looking forward to

As fourth term looms closer by the minute, I have been thinking about what it is I am looking forward to in the next few weeks. Here are a few things …

I am looking forward to sharing one of my favourite children’s books, Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman with my class of 3/4’s. I have read this aloud before and it is a real winner with the students. Gleitzman is a master at dealing with a serious situation with humour and emotion and I remember last time I read this to a class, the conversations it lead to were amazing.

I am looking forward to starting our fourth term favourite, Author Study. Although sceptical of this in my first year back to teaching, I now appreciate how much the students absolutely LOVE Author Study. Some came into my class in February asking about when we would be starting it! I enjoy seeing the students pursue an author that they love and I really look forward to seeing some of the creative and interesting ways I know they will come up with to express their learning from reading the author’s texts. 

 I am looking forward to our Inquiry Unit on Energy. This is not the easiest unit for me to lead as it is way out of my comfort zone. But I think that fact actually gives me a wonderful opportunity to be a genuine co-learner as we inquire together. I can’t wait to see what ideas the students have for choosing an aspect of energy to explore and ultimately present to the class. 

I am looking forward to completing my Masters in Religious Education – 2 assignments to go! The last two years of study have been wonderful and have led me to many unexpected places. I have learnt lots but I have also developed a curiosity about many aspects of leadership and spent much time ‘off the topic’ but following up an area of interest. I am actually looking forward to writing my next assignment which is a personal reflection on a spirituality text. I am enjoying the opportunity to express my learning in a form other than an essay and look forward to putting my photo reflection together. I also know that I will actually miss study next year!! In fairness to my family, I need to take a break but I will miss the structure of formal study. The flip side is I will have the opportunity to get stuck into the pile of Professional Reading I have that has been on hold for sometime (not to mention the MANY resources I have saved into my diigo account!)

I am looking forward to completing the Contemporary Teaching and Learning in Mathematics project this term. This PD has been a whole staff, two year commitment and has changed the way we understand and teach Maths. Having the opportunity to work with the Maths Advisors for planning and watching demonstration lessons from some inspiring ACU staff has been a great learning experience and led to many rich collegial discussions. The challenge now will be to maintain the impetus and enthusiasm and to continue to strive for richer, more open-ended Maths teaching and learning.

SO what are YOU looking forward to in the coming term?

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