Monthly Archives: September 2012

School’s out Friday

Take a look at this and think seriously about the information you’re posting in online spaces. We can all do with some timely reminders about being conscious of what you’re sharing out there, and this video is a fun way of doing just that with the people in your circle of friends.

It’s been a somber day here in Melbourne and it doesn’t feel right trying to post something humorous tonight. The tragic news about Jill Meagher, a 29 yr old woman who went missing a week ago after a night out with friends while only 500 or so metres from her front door, has really shaken many people in our city. You like to think people are inherently good, but when you hear of incidents like this, where people are abducted, then raped and murdered, it shakes confidence levels. The outpouring of grief and support for Jill’s husband and family in social media circles has been overwhelming, but there has also been sharing of information about the perpetrator, and that has far more serious consequences for the proper carriage of justice. Tania Sheko has written an excellent post today synthesising the issues coming from people sharing information in online spaces. I’d recommend you visit and take a read. She questions when we are going to start addressing issues like this in our school curriculum to ensure we help our students to become mindful digital citizens. I’m already thinking that this is a discussion we could be having in my English class when we return from the holiday break. We really do need to find timely opportunities to help our students navigate what is new terrain and help them understand how oversharing can be both an issue for you on a personal level, but possibly one with legal implications as well as has been borne out today.

Tomorrow is AFL Grand Final day here in Australia. It’s a national event, but the core fan base is seeded here in Victoria where the game originated. I’m a Hawthorn supporter, so I’ll be glued to the television screen tomorrow afternoon as we indulge in a good old fashioned Aussie barbeque at a friend’s house. Here’s hoping the Hawks can pull off the win!

Enjoy your weekend. Stay safe. :)

 

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Why challenging our students matters.

Watch this and be inspired.

If you’re a teacher and you’re not moved by the words of Eleanor Duckworth here, then leave the profession now so that other people who are inspired by these words and who can find ways to make this kind of learning happen in their classrooms can take your place.

I’ve spent the past two weeks using Project Based Learning methods in my English classroom to do the kinds of things that Eleanor suggests we need to do in our classrooms. My kids have been thinking. They’ve been challenged by the task. Some were struggling finding a way to work collaboratively and some were struggling with what they perceived as the ‘looseness’ of the task. They were looking for defined parameters and were finding it hard to move out of the regular classroom model of ‘here’s what we’re doing’. Some were relishing the freedom to think, to challenge themselves, to set their own parameters.

It’s been fantastic. I’ve been energised watching and guiding them through their excitement and their struggles. I’m working in a team with two other teachers who have embraced PBL and are trying to make it happen in their classroom too. One of these teachers is a young graduate, and to see her come and find me out so that she could share with me the wonderful experience she had when she launched the task was a moment I will savour always. She’s a fine young teacher and she’s going to be an even better one by the end of this project, I’m convinced of it.

A longer post will follow where I’ll outline the process we followed. It might help others who are thinking of using PBL approaches in their classrooms. My sincere thanks go to Bianca Hewes who provided help through her frequent blog posts about her practice and a very generous phone call where she answered many of my queries in our planning stages.

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School’s out Friday

Alec Couras shared this on Twitter, just as I was about to give up on finding anything that might raise a smile for this week’s School’s out Friday post. It’s a really fabulous political mashup, and the synchronisation is pretty darn impressive. Even our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, gets a mention with her infamous ‘there are nutjobs on the Internet’ comment. I wonder how many more mashups we’ll see in the lead up to the US Presidential election? A fair few I’d be guessing, along with a heavy dose of social media saturation from both parties. I wonder if it will feel natural or forced? I’m guessing the latter.

School holidays have just begun for Victorian teachers. I really am glad of the opportunity to slow down for a couple of weeks and refresh some very tired batteries. I may even have enough time to pen something other than a School’s out Friday post. I’ve got half a post written about my foray into Project Based Learning so I may try and find a couple of hours this weekend to write about what has been a wonderful teaching experience this last couple of weeks.

Right now, it’s time for bed. The electric blanket has warmed up and my tired limbs are ready to succumb to the sanctity of sleep. Have a great weekend – I know I will. With the weight of expectation lifted and 23 warm degrees forecast for tomorrow, life is looking pretty good. :)

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School’s out Friday

21 Balançoires (21 Swings) from <

I love this video. Really love it. I love it because it makes me believe that at our core, people are all the same, and we delight in small things that are made better because they are a shared experience. I find it comforting.

I've just returned home from just such an experience. A colleague and I ran a trivia night as a fundraiser for two school trips to Fiji and Thailand. In November, I will be travelling to Thailand and Laos with students from my school and while there, we will be visiting a remote village and helping to build the infrastructure of what will be a school for that community. Our trivia night was a bit of a rushed event, but we had 50-60 teachers and parents come together to have fun whilst raising money to go towards the cost of building materials for the projects we will be undertaking. I was feeling a little anxious about it today, worrying that people would find it a bit boring, but it was a resounding success, with laughter and a feeling of community bringing us together. I'm so glad we made the effort to organise it.

Not sure what the weekend will bring just yet, but I'm hoping I can catch up on much needed sleep and maybe even get my house clean. Now that's a tall order- maybe I should just aim for the sleep side of the equation.

Enjoy your weekend. Find a way to connect with others and share the spirit of community. :)

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School’s out Friday

Now, I’m none too impressed with the weather this week in Melbourne, but this timelapse video, created by Filip Laureys for a project at Deakin University, makes me appreciate the city I live in. Melbourne really is quite beautiful, even more so when it’s a few degrees warmer and the wind and rain isn’t messing up your hair!

It’s been a busy week at school and I’ve got a bag load of essays to correct this weekend. Lucky me. I’ve also convinced the two other Year 10 teachers of English that we can try out Project Based Learning for our next unit beginning next week. This means translating my understanding of PBL to them, ensuring that we’re all on the same page, and that we have useful support material to do our best to make it work. We’re all trying out Edmodo for the first time to assist with collaboration for small groups and I’m interested to see how the kids take to it.

Sometimes I wonder what it is that drives me to create more work for myself, but I think I know the answer to that one. I want to make learning relevant, and I want to see the kids I teach develop skills that will be the expected norm in their future working lives. I do have to thank Bianca Hewes from Sydney, who very generously spoke with me this week and answered the stream of questions I had for her about PBL. Bianca has been sharing her experiences with PBL in her English classroom over the last year or so and I would encourage you to take a read of her blog and start following her on Twitter. She shares her practice freely, both the successful and not so successful PBL experiences. I have very much appreciated the guidance she provides through her sharing and feel more confident about the next two weeks thanks to the lessons she imparts.

Enjoy your weekend everyone. I hope to, despite the millstone that comes with a bag of marking. I’ll have find something to temper that! :)

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My TEDxMelbourne talk: Education Leadership

Well, my TEDxMelbourne talk is up. See, there it is, right above these words.

My husband and I just watched it through and I was doing that involuntary shaking thing while I viewed myself talking. It’s a tad confronting seeing yourself onscreen, exposing your thinking for others to judge. It’s 21 minutes long, so I’ve gone way over my 18 minute time limit. I kind of suspected that was the case, largely because it was more difficult maintaining my train of thought in front of a live audience than it was in my lounge-room. Regardless, I’m happy with the outcome. I said everything I wanted to say, and I think the message I was intending to impart came across quite well.

I’ll let you be the judge of that. That’s the reality of formats like this – you give yourself and your opinions up for others to make of it what they will. And there’s beauty in that. Part of that beauty is what I was trying to convey in this talk – that we have mediums for expression now that can allow us to find our voices and our purpose. We need a teaching profession that understands this and allows for it to happen for students through learning experiences within our education systems. We can’t lose sight of the importance of teachers in this equation. It’s networked teachers who have real world experiences with connected learning that enable them to see possibilities and look beyond the tools, to see how you design learning experiences for students that help them become mindful digital citizens who make the most of what the web can offer them.

Time to let it go and see what’s said about it. That, in itself, will be an interesting experience. Part of my journey as a mindful digital citizen.

 

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