School’s out Friday

Thanks this week go to Kathy Schrock, who tweeted about this Christmas Flash Mob at The Carlson School of Management. The saxophonist was joined by 300 of his friends from the University of Minnesota’s School of Music this November, and they are here tonight for your enjoyment. Do watch and enjoy.

I recently got an iphone 4S, and have really enjoyed getting to use Siri, the inbuilt office assistant that you talk to and it retrieves the information you have requested. I’ve done the obvious things like asking what the weather will be like, but have also asked it to phone my husband and send a text message. It performs really well, and I can already envision how I will be using it in my workplace next year. I’m not great at using the calendar on my computer for appointments. I know, I can already hear you gasping as you contemplate how a tech savvy person like me still relies more heavily on hand written diary entries for remembering appointments! I’m finding my system is flawed now as I take my computer or iPad with me everywhere (and the phone too!) and don’t always have the diary. I figure if I ask Siri to send me reminders, and use the calendar on my computer more effectively, then I’m not going to strike any embarrassing moments like double booking appointments. The following Apple ad featuring a jolly fat man has me convinced I can be organising my time more effectively!

Merry Christmas to you all, dear readers. Happy holidays to those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas. I hope you get the opportunity to share moments of fun, frivolity and merriment. Hopefully you’ll get a little quiet time for yourself in there too along the way.

Whatever you’re doing, enjoy it. The healthy eating regime can start in the New Year : )

School’s out Friday

I knew the good folks at Improv Everywhere would create a little something special for the festive season and give me a little something to share with you all this week. Here’s their Mall Santa Musical for you to enjoy.

School holidays have found me, and I very happy to be held captive. It was a full frontal attack on the shops today as I attempted my first spot of Christmas shopping. I can see I am destined to engage further with retailers in the coming days. Wish me luck.

I was excited today to receive the news that my proposal for the ISTE 2012 Conference was accepted. My presentation is about the work I have been involved with this year at my school, much of which I outlined in yesterday’s post as chance has it. It’s validation for a year where my head was down doing my damnedest to make change happen in a systemic sense in my school. I’m proud of what we have been able to achieve, and will be very happy getting the opportunity to travel to San Diego to share our experience with others from around the globe.

A big clean up this weekend awaits me in preparation for Christmas festivities at my house. We have a skip in our driveway right now, and we’ll be filling it to the brim in an attempt to clean up what’s lying around from our back room renovations (that have yet to be completed, but that’s another story!). I hope your weekend sounds more exciting than mine!

Enjoy. : )

Moving to a Networked School Community using ISTE Standards, Australian Curriculum and an Edublogs platform.

It’s been a busy year. Really busy. Not only have we opened a new library, and dealt with moving and fitting out new learning spaces, but we have been leading change in our school around information fluency understandings and enabling our students’ growth as digital citizens.

What’s become apparent to my staff and I, is the pressing need for our students to become information fluent for the age they are living in. This means addressing all of the traditional information literacy understandings we have always concentrated on, but also helping our students have an understanding of new technologies and how to use them effectively, understanding the ethical use of digital resources, and knowledge of the importance of creating and maintaining a positive digital footprint. It’s not only the students who need this knowledge base; our teachers need to be well versed too.

So, what are we doing about this?

At the end of last year, with the support of our Head of Learning, we presented what we called an Information Fluency Initiative to our Heads of Faculties and proposed we begin the introduction of this for 2011. First up, we introduced to staff the idea of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge – the TPACK model, developed by Koehler & Mishra.

Source: http://tpack.org/

When using this with staff, I see a lot of nodding heads. They understand the need to integrate technology to support their content knowledge and pedagogical practice. They don’t always know how to do this using new technology tools that support meaningful learning, and aren’t just gimmicky add-ons. As Teacher-Librarians, we work hard at staying on top of new ideas in this arena. We have committed to work closely with our staff, both in the library and in classrooms, to help staff and students come to grips with new ideas using technology to support their learning.

When looking at existing and new ideas for curriculum offerings, we are encouraging our staff to use the SAMR model to inform their planning. I first saw this last year at the AIS Conference, where Martin Levins was leading a sandpit group talking about how to use it to modify learning tasks.

Again, when explaining this model, I see heads nodding in agreement.  Teachers ‘get it’ when you use models like this, and they pay attention to models that have a research base. SAMR was developed by Ruben Puentedura, and from my perspective, it, along with TPACK, should be the basis of any discussion in schools about the use of technology in the development of learning tasks.

The next layer of our Information Fluency initiative was the development of Information Fluency certificates for Year 7, 8 and 9. These have been created using the ISTE NETS for Students as the basis. Key understandings and skills they introduce as critical for today’s students are the following:

  • Demonstrate creativity and innovation
  • Communicate and collaborate
  • Conduct research and use information
  • Think critically, solve problems, and make decisions
  • Use technology effectively and productively

We have used ISTE’s NETS.S curriculum planning tool to help us identify skills we think students should have acquired by the end of  each year.  We were looking to develop an identifiable skill set that we could measure in terms of acquisition. I’m not a strict proponent of a ‘tick the box’ measuring scale by any stretch of the imagination, but I did want something concrete that we could use with our students and staff.  We recognise the need to address the upcoming Australian Curriculum and looked to ACARA to see what was being developed there. What is contained within the General Capabilities underpins meaningful teaching and learning, and is really quite closely aligned with the ISTE NETS for Students. What we have done is to tag each skill within our Information Fluency Certificates with the appropriate General Capability it addresses.  As our staff plan curriculum, we feel these certificates will help them to identify how they can embed new technologies and practice into their delivery of curriculum, knowing that they are addressing aspects of the General Capabilities that ACARA have identified as necessary.

What has taken up considerable time this year, has been the introduction of an Edublogs platform to enable all students from Years 7 – 10 to have an ePortfolio as a means of documenting and demonstrating their learning. In the early stages of planning this Information Fluency initiative, I could see we were going to need some means of sharing the learning that was happening in classrooms. We investigated a WordPress Multi user setup, but felt that the management of this would fall on individuals already tied up with full loads, and our under the pump IT team who already work tirelessly to maintain a robust network. An Edublogs platform that costs, but allows for blogs to be set up with our school’s domain name and comes with support, was decided to be a more workable option. The initial creation and linking of blogs to home page class blogs took some time at the start of the year, as did the work that took place in classrooms teaching students how they managed their blogs/ePortfolios. We have allowed students to select their own themes and customise sidebars with widgets. One of the critical elements of the set up was having students create categories within their blogs/ePortfolios. We recommended they set up a category for every subject they were studying, and other categories that reflected key school directions and co-curricular involvement. Students were taught how to write their posts and add a category or multiple categories to each post. This has made it easy for subject teachers to check into student blogs and click on their subject category, seeing all of the posts written by that student for their subject area.

We have encouraged our teachers to use these these blogs/eportfolios for formative assessment, and students have been encouraged to use them on their own initiative to write about what they have been doing in their classrooms and in co-curricular activities. Over the course of the year we have seen some wonderful ePortfolios created, supported by teachers who can see the positive benefits for our students as they create their own digital footprint. When you see a student’s blog as Google’s top result for a search for Yr 7 Unit of Inquiry, it’s pretty impressive. (One of our staff members was conducting just such a search, and sent me an email excitedly relaying what she’d found!) Students have embedded Clustrmaps in their sidebars, and have seen the reach they have by writing in public spaces. We’ve even recently had the author Susanne Gervay leave a comment on a student’s post that was discussing her novel, ‘Butterflies’. Not every student ePortfolio is brilliant, and some year levels are working much better than others, but we are in our infancy still. It’s accepted that this is part and parcel of the pedagogy now, and we will continue to develop the platform in 2012 and onwards. What these blogs do is provide terrific feedback for students, something that has been a key focus area for our staff as we explore elements of John Hattie’s research. It’s also really encouraging to see students providing feedback to one another  – they are remarkably supportive of one another. We’ve also seen parents and grandparents leave comments. It’s this critical school/home nexus that is seeing our school move closer to a Networked School Community, the type proposed by Associate Professor Glenn Finger and Mal Lee.

Our Edublogs platform has seen many of our students develop skills identified on the Information Fluency Certificates we created. We do recognise the need for the certificates to be fluid documents responding to new technologies as they arise and present our students with new opportunities and challenges. 2011 has been a year of development, and 2012 will be a year of  implementation. We need to map our curriculum to ensure all faculty areas take on board the skill set and understandings we have identified as being critical for the development of effective citizens in our world today. This is not easy work, particularly as it often means teachers need to accept the idea of working in a co-teaching capacity when they themselves don’t have the necessary skill set.

Something I would like to look closely at next year is the AITSL (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership) National Professional Standards for Teachers and see how the work we are doing aligns with these standards. Helping teachers see the connectedness between school initiatives and their professional development is an important part of this process.

As a Teacher-Librarian, this is critical work. We are working as change agents in our school, and in the process, doing the best kind of advocacy we can for our profession. This is the work of a Teacher-Librarian today, if you are prepared to stay abreast of change and develop the skill set that can move your school and student population where they need to be.

School’s out Friday

The festive time is upon us. This light show from Saks in New York should start to put you in the holiday mood. A good Christmas light show is a winner for me. It makes me smile and reminds me of the joy that comes from shared experiences. Let’s face it, this is something you want to share with others. Well, I do anyway.

School finishes for me this coming Tuesday. It’s been a big year, and I’m ready for a well earned break. I’m looking forward to lazy days spent lolling in the sun, with no school lunches to make and no set routine dictating the course of my day. Apologies to State School teachers in Victoria who are working right up until the 23rd I think. That’s a pretty raw deal this year.

Enjoy the weekend ahead. Make the most of good weather, friends, family, and excellent wine.  That’s an order!

School’s out Friday

There’s a funny hashtag doing the rounds of Twitter today – #pencilchat . It’s well worth a visit for gems like this,

johntspencer John T. Spencer

How is an assessment ever going to be permanent if a child can erase it and master the content at a later time? #pencilchat
mcleod Scott McLeod

If kids can write information down on paper, soon they won’t be able to remember anything in their heads anymore #pencilchat
cogdog Alan Levine

@
@timbuckteeth Many schools will be re-inventing education via a one to one pencil program. #pencilchat
I thought I’d help it along with the above video, a scene from a movie that I don’t think has made it into production.
I’m hoping for a relaxing weekend after last weekend that saw me consumed by slide preparation for the presentation I delivered Monday. A bit of R & R will do me the world of good!
I hope you get some of the same this weekend. Enjoy whatever comes your way. : )

Is community the new business model? – Comview presentation

Earlier this week,  I presented at the Comview conference here in Victoria. It’s run by the VCTA, (the Victorian Commercial Teacher’s Association) and my presentation was about the impact of social media on business today. The presentation is the culmination of a lot of what has been occupying my thinking this year about the changing nature of our world and our pressing need to respond as educators. In my view, we need to prepare our students for the here and now, and future scenarios awaiting them when they enter the world of work.

I’ve had educators push back at me in tweets when I’ve expressed this kind of thinking, suggesting that we are preparing students for many things, not just the workforce. While that’s obviously true, when I look at the amount of time I spend at my workplace, and then the time I devote to it out of school hours, I’m pretty convinced that a large part of our role does connect with preparedness for places where you spend a large proportion of your time. And that, my friends, would be your place of work.

Of course, quite a bit of this presentation was discussing the scenarios of the workplaces of the future. The distinct possibility that many of our students today will be remote workers, people working in a flexible arrangement from home, where the lines are blurred between what is working hours and what is downtime. What was also discussed was the challenge this places on employers, who will need to ensure a sense of workplace community even though their workplace may be distributed to places far and wide.

Leveraging social media for your own good was another feature of my presentation. I so admire Jesse Desjardins and the way he has utilised social media to propel his career. You must visit Jesse’s Slideshare page to see how his creative presentations and advice have helped to secure him a position as the Social Media & Advocacy Manager at Tourism Australia. (and he’s not an Australian- fancy that!)

Very frustratingly, once again, I am unable to embed my presentation on this WordPress blog. Something to do with Flash not being supported by WordPress according to a forum discussion I found. You can find the presentation by visiting http://jennyluca.wikispaces.com/Presentations, or by clicking this link. Like I said, It’s the culmination of a lot of reading, a lot of thinking, and a lot of hours putting it together. I did use a few slides from a presentation available on Sliderocket that is free for users to use. It just happened to fit nicely with my subject matter. The majority of the slides are my own creation, using screenshots of sites and CC pictures from Flickr. Some feedback would be nice, so feel free to leave a comment telling me what you think.

 

School’s out Friday

He’s a clever man, that Rives. I love how he makes poetry cool. Next year, I’m teaching Year 10 English, and I’ll be trying very hard to find a way to weave some of Rive’s work into our course. This year, we had a slam poetry event during Book Week, and I was blown away by some of the poetry created by individuals and groups of students. I strongly believe that poetry surrounds us every day, in the lyrics of songs, in the word pictures we paint every day in conversation. It’s about active listening and appreciation of the beauty in our everyday lives.

Seek some beauty in your everyday life this weekend. When you find it, savour it. If you can, spread it around. I saw something beautiful tonight. My god-daughter’s dance concert, made all the more special by the presence of the lone little boy dancing his heart out. Even though at one stage he was wearing a puffy shirt reminiscent of that Seinfeld episode, he rose above it and exuded sheer beauty as he gave it his all. I clapped with extra enthusiasm at the end of each performance; I was applauding his bravery, his willingness to embrace what he loves doing, even if he is the solitary male in a troupe of female dancers. He was poetry in motion.

Enjoy your weekend everyone. I hope it’s filled with moments to savour. : )

Connected, and conflicted

Last night, I went to a free screening of Connected, An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology. Thanks Hamish Curry for organising the event. The film’s creator is Tiffany Shlaine, and she is someone well versed in the workings of the web. Tiffany founded the Webby awards fifteen years ago, but today concentrates her efforts on film-making. Interestingly, for me anyway, her film echoed a lot of my thinking about the nature of being connected.

I’ve mentioned, more than a few times here, the transformational effect being connected has had on my life. There is little doubt in my mind that I am richer for it, in a soulful sense, certainly not monetary! I feel energised when I’m learning new things from all the network nodes I’m connected to. I know how easy it is to lose yourself in the Twitter stream, but also how enriched you can feel when your brain is firing and possibilities are stretching out before you. What comes with this is the desire to stay on top of things, to be ahead of change. You quickly realise this is impossible, that you would need to be looking at a device 24/7 and even then you wouldn’t have a hope of covering everything that is happening.

Tiffany begins the film with an anecdote, featured at the beginning of this trailer.

Hey, I’ve been there. Some would stay I’ve never left that state. But I know better. In my early days of immersion, I’d sit amongst friends in conversation and find my mind wandering. The desire to switch on my phone and check my networks was intense, almost like a primal need. I found myself connected to the network, and disconnected from long term friends, even family. It seemed that they didn’t understand, they weren’t part of what was in my immediate field of interest. None of them grasped the magnitude of my new discovery.

In that state, I longed for opportunities to find real time face to face meet ups with the people in my network, and I thought I would find myself content in their presence. While that was true with some people, what I also discovered was that many of the people I met were distant, introspective, or even people who just weren’t all that friendly face to face. What is obvious to me now but wasn’t then is that my network mirrored real life. It is a human network, populated with all variants of the human condition.

This year, I have been conflicted. I made a conscious decision to back off with my immersion. I still truly value my network, and continue to find it the place where I am energised and excited about possibilities. But what I have found is that I have reconnected with those in my immediate sphere, my close friends and family. I value the time I spend with them, and remain present for longer periods than I did in the past. The sky hasn’t fallen, my connection with an already established network is still strong, and I feel more at peace with my world.

Like Tiffany’s tale, it was a watershed moment that led to me resetting priorities. When you face adversity, true friends and connections come to the fore, and some leave you hanging. I am so grateful to my immediate close friends and family who rallied and made sure my family and I were OK. The same can be said of true friends in my network, people who have taken time to look beneath the surface and see what lies there.

Although I can say I am more at peace with myself, I remain conflicted to some degree about backing off the network. I haven’t put my hand up this year to present at conferences, and I have to admit to feeling a degree of performance anxiety when I see others pushing themselves out there. It is my dream to live this work, to find a way to do it all the time, not just part of my time.

So, I will remain connected, and to some extent, conflicted. But I will do so knowing that it is not at the expense of the relationships that matter most.

Data visualisation – it’s here and wow!

I’m presenting at a Commerce teacher’s conference (Comview) next week, about social media and its impact on business today. Whenever I plan a presentation, it never ceases to amaze me how you seem to constantly find yourself immersed in terrific content that is so pertinent to your subject matter. This presentation from Leslie Bradshaw, one of the new wunderkinds of Data Visualisation, and co-founder of  JESS3, is just such an example. I am certainly going to be mining this data for my presentation next week.

Be sure to view this presentation, and perhaps share the following quote with your Math’s teachers;

“Math majors, rejoice. Businesses are going to need tens of thousands of you in the coming years as companies grapple with a growing mountain of data.”

Steve Lohr  – New York Times.

Data mining and the art of data visualisation are proving to be key jobs that will be in increasingly high demand in our socially connected and evolving world. The founders of JESS3, Jesse Thomas and Leslie Bradshaw are onto a good thing. (Got any openings for a highly enthusiastic teacher from Australia who loves what you do. ; )  )

 

School’s out Friday

Now this made me smile. Charlie Todd, who heads up Improveverywhere, was married recently. In true Improveverywhere form, his wedding ceremony became part of his ‘we cause scenes’ movement. His bride was in on the act, being an improveverywhere member too. What a lovely way to make your wedding just that bit more memorable!

I’ve travelled a bit in the last few years, and have never really felt the effects of jetlag. Most of the time I’ve been able to correct my sleep patterns within a couple of days and get back on track. Not this week. After returning home from Italy early last Saturday morning (hence the no School’s out Friday last week – first time ever!), I’ve been struggling to get back to feeling like a normal person. It’s been compounded by a head cold I picked up while in Assisi, and a bit of a trying time on the work front. Hopefully I can get myself back into the swing of things this weekend. I’m supposed to submit slides for a conference I’m presenting at the week after next, so things better improve otherwise those conference organisers are going to be a tad unhappy with me!

I hope your weekend sees you relaxing and making the most of time spent with family and friends. I best head to bed to attempt to get myself back to the time zone I live in!