I was handed my writer’s notebook at a meeting the other night and was left feeling a little bit empty. I wondered in which space students were able to collect and create digital artefacts? Is there something about the handwritten text or is this something that harks back to another time? What would be lost in having a digital workbook? One that allowed the collection of a range of text-types and transliteracy?
At the moment, each year level is addressing persuasive texts, from letters to the editor in Year 5 to feature articles in Year 9. This could all be done through a blog, with categories used to differentiate between the different text-types and tags used to organise the particular content. Doing it this way would not only allow an authentic audience, but the opportunity for meaningful feedback and engagement with a wider audience.
What if instead of dreaming and then waking up later grasping at those visions, we recorded them, gave them flesh, let them breathe, maybe only for a fleeting second. I have started this space for that reason. Inspired in part by Ian O’Bryne’s IMHO Blog. It is a space dedicated more to ideas than ideals.
At the end of last year I wrote a post celebrating some of the ideas that inspired me in 2015. It got me thinking that it might be an interesting exercise to go back and reflect on those ideas and inspirations on a more regular basis. So after some guidance from Doug Belshaw and Ian O’Byrne, so here is the first instalment:
My month of January:
As it has been the summer break, I have spent my time with my family. Balancing between cuddles with our newborn and going here and there with my older daughter before she started Prep the other day.
In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:
- Voices in the Village (2015)
- REVIEW: The Thinking Teacher by Oliver Quinlan
- Using Technology to Document Learning
- Balancing Between Inspiration and Achievement in the Search for New Ideas
- REVIEW: Counting What Counts
- What’s Possible with Open Badges?
- Why Use Open Badges?
- REVIEW: Now You See It by Cathy Davidson
- Going Beyond 1:1 Devices
- #WalkMyWorld – Where Do I Begin?
- Program or be Programmed?
Here are some of the ideas that have left me thinking …
Learning and Teaching
Question-Centred Classrooms – A collection of questioning strategies from Cameron Paterson designed the place the student at the heart of the classroom.
It must be pointed out, that question-centred classrooms are unlikely to eventuate for students until we have more question-centred professional learning for educators. Coaching models, collaborative inquiry groups, action inquiry projects, and instructional rounds are the future of adult learning in schools.
Thinking Hard…and Why We Avoid It – Alex Quigley tackles the notion of thinking hard and cognitive load. This is the first post in a series exploring such influences as motivation and memory.
It is quite clear, our brilliant brains, and particularly those of our students, are riddled with flaws that inhibit thinking hard. If you catalogue our evolutionary heritage: the attentional blindness, our lack of focus, our legion of biases, the limitations of our working memory, the dangers of cognitive overload…you recognise the challenges faced by our novice students.
Three Activities to Help Your Team: Generate, Develop and Judge Ideas – Tom Barrett wrote some great posts over Christmas. In this one he provides some activities to support the developing more ideas.
Remember that these three tools are three of many and you should do everything you can to expand the choices you have in your toolset. When you have more choices you can make better combinations of activities such as this trifecta.
The Three Stages of Documentation Of/For/As Learning – Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano explores the different stages of documentation. She splits it up into before where teachers decide focus, during where the work is documented and after where you act on the work captured.
My work is concentrating on making pedagogical documentation visible and shareable to amplify teaching and learning. I believe that using technology, as a tool, to be able to share best practices, to make thinking and learning visible to ourselves and others, is the key to transform teaching and learning.
Participatory Learning Materials – Laura Hilliger provides a collection of resources to support the creation of learning environments focused on participation.
Participatory” means that a workshop invites input from participants. Instead of “presenting” information, the facilitator asks participants to help solve problems. These methods will help you collaborate, teach, learn and produce anything you need to.
Collaboration by Difference – Just as Alma Harris asserts that collaboration needs to be disciplined, so to can it be argued that it also needs to intentionally incorporate difference. Cathy Davidson outlines three guiding principles for fostering difference.
1, Air out differences democratically
2. Let non-experts talk first
3. Ask what you’re missing
Why coding is the vanguard for modern learning – Richard Olsen connects coding with pedagogy and learning environments in his argument for its place within modern learning.
If teachers saw themselves as pedagogues rather than soothsayers, they’d stop making predictions of the future, such as “everyone doesn’t need to code,” but instead start to understand how technologies create new pedagogies and change exisiting ones. They’d read Papert’s Mindstorms, and seek to understand constructionism, the learning theory he developed and promoted. They’d also investigate Siemens’ Connectivism, a second learning theory that is inspired by technology… they might even start creating their own (opinionated) tools!
Coalescent Spaces – A post from David White investigating presence in regards to physical and digital learning spaces.
My response to this in teaching and learning terms is to design pedagogy which coalesces physical and digital spaces. Accept that students can, and will, be present in multiple spaces if they have a screen with them and find ways to create presence overlaps. This is different from simply attempting to manage their attention between room to screen.
Affordances … just one little word! – Ian Guest investigates the notion of affordances in regards to technology and how it can be problematic.
Features are aspects of an object designed to serve a specific purpose. They are hard-wired for that purpose, yet that may be closed, having a single intention, or open and offer multiple possibilities. An affordance however is what the object, property or feature allows you to do. They involve action, are open to interpretation and depend on the user. A single property or feature may provide multiple affordances, whilst a single affordance may require the assembly of several properties or features.
The Future of Blogging is Blogging – Martin Weller reflects on blogging discussing what it was, is and might be in the future.
I know blogging isn’t like it used to be. It isn’t 2005 anymore, and those early years were very exciting, full of possibility and novelty. But just because it isn’t what it was, doesn’t mean it isn’t what it is. And that is interesting in its own way, some of the old flush is still there, plus a new set of possibilities. Blogging is both like it used to be, and a completely different thing.
Five Tips to Twitter – Graham Brown-Martin outlines five strategies to survive the EduTwitterati. An interesting post in regards to online debate.
Here’s my light-hearted guide to what appears to be the standard arsenal of indignant Twitter attack dogs and avenging angels. Feel free to use this in your exchanges like Twitter bingo.
Storytelling and Reflection
State of Innovation 2015 – Grant Lichtman summarises a report into innovation best practises over several posts.
If your school is gearing up for a next round of strategic planning using essentially the same worn-out process you did five, ten, and fifteen years ago, you are missing an incredible opportunity to shift the culture of your school from “it will be OK because it always has been” to “how might our customers see us as the greatest school for their child?”
On Ideology – Greg Thompson explores the topic of ideology and explains how we are all ideological.
As I read it, everything we believe is already ideological because we are necessarily social (for example, through language). Saying this, however, does not imply that any position held is necessarily right or wrong, rather that within the ontological and epistemological assumptions of any belief system ideology invariable precedes consciousness. For this reason, I don’t mind being called ideological (of course I am) or suggesting that others are ideological (of course they are).
Twelve Ways I Got My Life Back in Balance as a Teacher – Pernille Ripp discusses different things that she does to find balance in her teaching.
The truth is; being a teacher is a never-ending job. Your to-do list is never done. There will always be one more thing that should get done, one more idea to try. Knowing that, I knew I needed to change a few things, in and out of the classroom in order to save my sanity and have a life.
Alternate Endings – Emilie Garwitz reflected on her use of mobile makerspaces in a literacy session to support students in creating alternate endings to the story of the Gingerbread Man.
“We’re engineering!” one student exclaimed. This was the moment when I started thinking about the possibilities for their future. I was not just teaching a skill, I was imparting on kids a new mindset – an engineering mindset. Building their alternate endings was cross-curricular. During the planning stages, I looked up how many standards connected to this objective and was blown away.
Until next month …
So that is my first newsletter. If you have any thoughts and suggestions, feel free to let me know. As always comments welcome.