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:

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

Edtech

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.

This video was a contribution to Alan Levine’s 2015 K12 Online Conference presentation ‘True Stories of Open Sharing

I often stop and wonder, how did I get here? It wasn’t one particular moment, rather a series of interconnected happenings which makes up my ‘unexpected adventure’. I first had a go at telling this fractured story on my blog. However, every time I think about it, other people and events seem to stand out.

Leading a Digital School 2015

My presentations for Leading a Digital School Conference held at Crown Casino on 20th, 21st and 22nd August, 2015.


Collaboration, Communication and Creativity – Exploring the Tools for Change

Blurb for the session:

How many fantastic ideas or initiatives have failed not because of the strength of the idea, but because it failed to be heard. Change need not be restricted to the lone nut. This session is about using the power of technology to transform ideas into movements. Whether you are trying to develop a team in a school or connect a network of people, Aaron will provide a great array of practical examples for how to build change from the ground on up and why technology is the leverage that every idea needs to go from being good to great.

Here is a link to my notes.


 

Ignite the Learning in Your Classroom by Leading the Way

Blurb for the session:

This session will provide you with another point of view on how to flip learning. Often we talk about changing our classrooms, putting students at the centre, connecting with authentic audiences and flipping instruction. However, the first thing that needs to be flipped is the role of the educator. Instead of focusing on being a teacher, we need to go back to the beginning and become learners once again. From using social bookmarking to connect with a community, to keeping a blog to share thoughts and reflections, this will be a hands on session focusing on taking the next step in and outside of the classroom. Throughout, Aaron will provide examples of how today more than ever technology allows us to be the drivers of our own learning.

Here is a link to my notes.

DigiCon15 Conference

My presentations from DigiCon15 Conference organised by DLTV held at Swinburne University, 24th and 25th July 2015

Digital Creating and Making (Fringe Festival)

Session Description

So often we come to conferences and see new applications flashed around, showing their possibilities and potential, only to discover that in practise they require more time and energy than was previously realised. What is often missing ingredient in all of this is constraint. This can be the time allocated or our particular knowledge and skillset, but it also exists within programs whether it be functionality or the focus of the task at hand. Too often such constraints go unseen, but by identifying them, it provides us with more clarity and allows us to get on with things in a more focused manner.

Quick Makes is about giving the chance to tinker with a range of applications and programs, each with their own constraints, to discover that creating, making and engaging with technology is not only easy but can be fun, especially when we are focused. From mashing up a website with Mozilla Thimble to creating your own visual with Google Draw, spend a few minutes exploring the potential for technology to make giving a voice to learning more doable.

Quickmakes Cover

Click here for the resources.

Becoming a More Connected Educator

Becoming a More Connected Educator (DIGICON15) – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Click here for my notes and resources.

Becoming a More Connected Educator (Spark Talk)

A Periscope video of my 12 minute Sparktalk for DigiCon15.