Monthly Archives: March 2009

Spreading the word to stop the word.

Retarded.

It’s a word with strong connotations.

I used to hear that word a lot when I was a kid. At school you’d hear it bandied around. “You’re retarded”, was something I remember people flipantly directing at team members when playing sport.

I don’t hear it so much now, but I’m not ten or twelve and hooning around a school playground. The Special Olympics organisation don’t like the word and have designated March 31st as ‘Spread the word to stop the word’ day. You can visit the site they have set up for this purpose and pledge your support.     

I know that I have certainly impressed upon my children the importance of recognising difference and respecting the feelings of others. I do the same with the children I teach. If you write a blog, get a post up today in support of this cause and do something to help eliminate  the use of the ‘R’ word.  

Laura Stockman is running a blog carnival today in support of this cause. If you do write a post, visit her blog and leave a comment letting her know that you have helped out.

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Daraja Academy opens its doors

Mark Lukach edited this video showing the students from Daraja Academy in Kenya. He wanted to capture the energy of the school and i think he’s done a great job doing that. The school opened its doors three weeks ago to 26 girls from Kenya who otherwise would not have received an education. Congratulations go to Jason and Jennie Doherty who packed up everything in San Francisco and moved to Kenya to help realise this dream.

This is one of the reasons our Year 9 students are excited about starting planning for Sleepout for Schools, an idea they have cultivated to help raise money to support Girl’s education in Kenya and India. Watch the video and I’m sure you will see good reason for involvement in supporting such a cause. They are planning a sleepout at our school on May 22nd and participants will be seeking sponsorship with the aim of raising money to support a worthy cause like Daraja.

On that note, think about joining with us. We would love to see other schools collaborate with us, Mark Luckach’s school in San Francisco and Daraja Academy in Kenya. Daraja means bridge, and this is all about building bridges of support. Come and form part of that bridge with us.

more about “Daraja Academy opens its doors“, posted with vodpod

 

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Network Literacy – the next big thing

I said I’d get back here to reflect on my presentation at the Perspectives on Learning V.2 SLAV conference and our PLP (Powerful Learning Practice) face to face meeting at Toorak College on Tuesday. The week’s been a long one and the exhaustion factor has been high. Hence my slow return!

First up, I’m pretty sure my presentation went well. I received positive feedback and that’s the best you can hope to achieve really! I was really pleased with the slides and as is usual for me, once I start I find it hard to stop. I need to work out how to deliver a presentation in 50 mins rather than an hour so I can field questions at the end. I embedded the presentation here last Monday so  track back to then and you’ll find it if you want to see it.

Our PLP meeting was a wonderful opportunity to share our thinking, projects and ideas for how we continue to change practice in our schools. When you’re hosting the event it’s hard to get perspective on how it’s all going, but my feeling was that it was a positive day that had benefit for those attending. Will Richardson had timely advice for us all and it was a fantastic opportunity to gain from his experience.      

On the Monday night before the meeting we went out to dinner with some of the PLP teams. On arrival, one of the team members said to me something that went like this;

“So, Jenny, what’s the next big thing? It seems like we’ve been talking about these things for the last six months, what’s the next new thing coming along?”

My answer went something like this;

“I don’t think there is any ‘next big thing’. I think the next big thing is how we use these tools to get our students connected. It’s how we get them to start making the connections with others out there.”

What I’ve realised is what I’m talking about is what Will Richardson calls ‘Network Literacy’. This to me represents the biggest shift our schools need to take if we are going to make inroads for the students we teach. Will’s presentation on Monday struck many chords for me and reshaped my thinking about the next steps I need to take in my school.

Will defines Network Literacy as;

The ability to create, grow and navigate personal learning networks in safe, ethical and effective ways.”

He says we need to help students identify their passions and then immerse them in ‘passion based’ learning environments where they can then pursue their interests in Personal Learning Networks.  He references the work of John Seeley Brown when he discusses this.  

We have been learning the tools and have embedded some of them into practice, now we need to start assisting our students to reach out and create learning opportunities themselves. How they do is the tricky part for us as educators because we need to have a handle on it first if we are to guide them well.

Will asked educators to consider these questions in his presentation on Monday;

Am I “network literate”?

Am I “Googled well”?

Am I learning with others “out there”?

Am I a “mobile learner”?

Am I reading and writing differently?

Am I collaborating, co-constructing and collectively acting with others?

Am I a learner first, teacher second?

I can confidently answer ‘Yes’ to six of the seven questions. I’ve got to  master mobile technologies - this is an area I’m  not confident with yet.

The real question is ‘How many of our teachers can answer in the affirmative to the questions Will posed?’ And that is the dilemma facing our schools. How do we bring teachers with us and how do we do this on the scale that is necessary? I don’t know the answer to that question, I know that PLP goes someway towards it, but I do know that I have to start making inroads with the students I teach.

This means teaching them how to write in a hypertext environment. It means lobbying for an elective called Passion Based Learning where I help students understand how they can become self directed learners. It means working with my school and changing thinking about transparency for student writing and allowing our kids to connect with other teachers and learners outside the walls of our school.

It means lots of hard work and an understanding that change takes time. We can’t expect to see things happen overnight. Small steps are important ones and these may have to be the steps taken to have the shift take place.

Thanks Will for helping shape my thinking and helping me define the next steps.

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Sleepout for Schools

We had a great meeting with some of our Yr 9 students during the week to see if there was enough interest to get a fundraising activity organised to support Daraja Academy in Kenya (see Mark Lukach’s page here and blog posts as well as Jabiz Raisdana’s) and the Bal Ashram in India.

(View of the Daraja Academy campus)

Well support there is! Our students were enthusiastic and buzzing with ideas. What they’ve decided to do is to hold a Sleepout for Schools. The night will be Friday May 22nd. The idea is to sleep overnight at school and seek sponsorship for doing so. On the night it’s anticipated we will run some activities for both parents and students that will probably have a fundraising component too.

We’d love to see other school communities get involved. If they do, we would love to Skype with them so that we can gain an appreciation of what could be the global nature of this effort. If you want to get involved post a comment here and we’ll start making some connections. Join Working together 2 make a difference and you can post your experiences there.  This could be exciting for all of us.

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School’s out Friday

It’s been such a busy week I haven’t had time to get here and post anything about  the SLAV conference on Monday, or our face to face PLP meeting with Will Richardson that was held at my school on Tuesday.  But get here I will this weekend, when I can see light after the pile of correction that has occupied my thinking.

I like this. It’s one of those clever ads with the slow reveal and the aha moment at the end.

Enjoy the weekend and whatever comes your way.

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Perspectives on Learning v2 – SLAV conference

Here is the presentation I delivered today (or am about to anyway!) called ‘So you know Web 2.0, what next. I’ll get back here and let you know how it all went!

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Using Social Media to effect change

I presented today at a conference for students that was held at my school. My presentation was ‘Using Social Media to effect change’.  It’s embedded at the end of this post. I used SlideRocket to create the presentation and was once again impressed with this tool. Being able to search within the application for creative commons pictures from flickr made it easy to find the pictures I needed to create impact. (at least I hope I achieved that anyway) The theme for the gathering was ‘Global issues and women’ and students from Yr 11 were in attendance from my school and other schools in our vicinity.

I think it went well. I know the teachers accompanying the students were impressed. Probably the most powerful part of the session was being able to demonstrate the Twitter network. I presented twice and on both occasions put out a Tweet asking people to say hi and tell us where they were from. We received over 20 replies on each occasion and the students were able to see the array of locations where the tweets were coming from. They were really amazed that people in Beijing, Montana, Ho Chi Minh city, Bangkok, Maine, Nottingham, Sydney, New York, etc etc were replying to them. It certainly demonstrated what it means to be globally connected.

The other part that had impact related to building your digital footprint. Many of them had not considered the possibilities of being googled by employers with their only web presence being a myspace or facebook page. I think they left the day considering what it is they need to do to create a positive digital profile for themselves.

During the day they were presented with information about various causes they could get involved with and do something to support. I’m hopeful that some of them will join Working together 2 make a difference and chart their progress there. In doing so they’ll be helping to generate that positive digital profile!

more about “http://jennylu.wordpress.com/2009/03/…“, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

 

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