Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Aiming Higher

Yesterday I began implementing my plan to ensure all of my students experienced success.  The morning began by asking a child to show us how good he was at making paper planes.  (I'd seen him make a great one the previous week).  He did an excellent job and we clapped him and told him how amazing he was.  He sat down, absolutely thrilled at what he'd done, and at the response to his work.  He felt fabulous!  In my mind I gave myself a pat on the back for a job well done.  I turned my back for a few seconds and, next thing you know he’s in tears!!  Apparently there was a bit of tongue poking and retaliation going on between him and another child.  So then, not only him, but the other child are both crying!!  There goes my perfect start to a great day!  Oh well – thankfully the success of the plan does not rest on a one-day situation.  There are plenty more days for success to be achieved. 😀 

Friday, 26 May 2017

Digital Immersion No. 4   26 May 2017

Here we are, back at Manaiakalani Head Office, Panmure, Auckland, for our fourth get-together.                                              

The session began with Dorothy talking about teaching 'back in the day'. When a child finished their set task they showed the teacher, and, if it was good enough, they could possibly go and show the Principal, who would put a sticker on their book - and that was it.  Book closed.  Move on!  The sharing of your work was evidence you'd finished.  Good job!  This type of 'finished evidence' is not confined to memories from past experiences alone.  In schools around the world it is common practise.   Kids love the stickers, and the learning is done!  Next!!

But now, with the benefit of digital devices, sharing work, with not just the Principal, but the whole world is a sign to everyone - look what I'm learning (not what I've learnt per se, but what I'm in the process of getting 'better' at).  The learning cycle, when shared digitally, is never-ending.  Learning is continual, rewindable, and shareable (is that even a word??) with anyone who takes the time to look.  It can be referred to - days, weeks, or even years later, because it's always 'there'.    

Of course, with the ability for all to 'see' one's learning, comes the ability for the reader or observer to make thoughtful comments.  Feedback (and feedforward) are amazing opportunities to lift a child's learning.  As the learner sees the power their written word or the images they've created has on others, it encourages them to do more, to do better, and also to expect further responses to their work.  How fantastic it must be to realise your words have been read by people who you'll never see - but even greater to have a comment from a perfect stranger who may be moved enough by your work that they feel compelled to comment.  

It was a great start to another learning session.

Now – I could continue giving you a recount of what we did, but you can read another
blog to find that out.  And I did pick up a couple of great gems to use with our i-pads - thanks James and Khismira.  But what I’d really like to tell you is what I learnt.  A personal light-bulb moment.

If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll know that when it comes to digital devices I’m a bit behind the other ‘kids’.  In lots of things I'm a quick learner, but in others I just take a bit more time.  It’s not that I don’t want to learn – I really do.  I listen, and I give everything a go, and I eventually get there.  But…some things are just a bit more difficult for me to follow.  Sometimes it’s too fast, and I begin to lag behind.  At those times I begin to feel a bit useless.  In fact, I could easily just give up.  No-one is yelling at me.  No-one is sighing in frustration at my inability.  Everyone is really supportive, but still the feeling of being ‘less than’ the others is lurking in the corners of my mind.  But I’m an adult, and I can make good choices for myself so I call out for James to come and help.  And he comes - again, and again….and again!  Thankfully James is a patient man who does not complain about having to return often to the spot where I am working.

As I struggled (once again) to master skills that seemed to come so easily to others, I became very aware of the five year olds in my class who daily struggle with things that others find easy.  I empathise with their feelings of inadequacy.  Perhaps they also feel panic, and anxiety as they daily faced with their inability to fulfil the task they've been given - it may be as simple (?) as reading or counting.   

In my class of 18 five-year-olds, there are a few for whom learning is ‘easy’.  They’re always getting the work completed, the answers, 'right'.  The words ‘Great job’ and ‘You’re amazing’ are often in their ears.  But, for the majority of my students, the sense of accomplishment is something they feel far less often.  I'm always looking for opportunities to tell them how great they are, but I think, when compared to the more able children, it’s a lot less often.  Plus, the internal feeling of 'I can do it' isn't intrinsic to them.

So, I have been thinking of how I could give those who struggle with learning, a chance to feel successful at something.  I realise I'll need to find the thing that each student is good at (and everyone's good a something, right?), and then I'll need to give them the opportunity to show me, the rest of the class, and anyone else who's keen to
watch/listen/applaud, how amazing they are.  And perhaps, the feeling of pride in what they do well, will cascade hope, optimism and, eventually, success in the more difficult tasks they face. 

I have a plan.  I’ll report back on the impact it has.  Watch this space! 

Oh - and here's one of the tasks we had to do.  Use Screencastify on a chromebook to record our response to one of three different tasks.  I chose to respond to giving focussed feedback.  Note - this was not about what we said (cos my response is pretty lame) it was about the task.  

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Digital Immersion  3  19.5.17(I didn't attend number 2)

Whew!!  What a log of new learning we (well, I) had today.

It began with a look a reminder that creativity is one of the six 'C's of education in the 21st Century

Critical Thinking  

It is through creativity that students will gain purpose for their learning. I have been challenged to make sure I plan for creativity, and not simply have children 'working'. Sounds like they might have more fun!! 😃

Mail. It's something I go into umpteen times a day, and yet I'd never every realised that there was so much I was missing. Today I got to change the look of my gmail page, make labels, and...oh - instead of writing it all out - here's what was covered -

Mail in your Browser
  • Undo Send and the settings menu
  • Hide/Mute/Delete and the outcomes
  • Searching and organising
  • From: To: Sent:
  • Labels and filters
  • Configure inbox view (settings/inbox)
  • Labs- reading pane options
  • Labs- Mail notification
  • Chat
Mail App
  • Layout and differences
  • Moving between inboxes in one app
  • Searching, sending and attaching.
  • Starring- why?
  • Hamburgers or Sausages

  • Simple event creation
  • Inviting others
  • Link creation
  • Adding notes
  • Send to calendar App
  • Changing the view
  • Repeating events
  • Connecting to apple mail
  • Sharing and accessing the calendars’ of colleagues
Calendar App
  • Views
  • Alerts
  • Accessing others’ calendars

After this, we were introduced to Google Keep - another great app.  There are a lot of nifty uses for this amazing app, and I can see that I'm going to have to spend some quality time looking back at what we did today to ensure that I use the new learning I'm getting.

It was a challenging (for me) day, but I love being exposed to new things.  This 'Learn' part of our pedagogy is great, and will do my best to see the 'Create, Share' aspects become a visible part of my own teaching (and learning) practise. Thanks Dorothy and James for sharing your expertise, and for patiently helping the more digitally-challenged of us!  Roll on Week 4!