For me, MLP/ILE/OTJ/BYOD and other acronyms just got personal! My grandson Harry will be starting school in 2019, that's only 4 years away and I'm starting to think about what his school will look like. I imagine it might be something like the new primary school just down the road from Harry’s house which has been built on Modern Learning principles. I've been to visit the school twice and I've loved it both times. In fact I should probably email the principal and say I was considering enrolling my grandson there! So what did I like about the school, what was it that made me think, “I would love Harry to be at this type of school”
Well, it was lots of things really. It was the modern design, happy, engaged students, interesting and useful spaces, the nature and purpose of furniture, it was the great feeling I got from the school environment, the library with doors that opened to the playground, cool places to sit and read, the drama room and multipurpose space for PE/concerts and the school production. Enthusiastic teachers who work and plan collaboratively, students whose learning was self-directed learning... When I talked to children and said “tell me what you doing” they had no hesitation in telling me about their learning, what they were learning, why they were learning it and how they were showing what they had learnt. There was a real buzz in the school, and in some classes that “hum” of engaged students, focused on something interesting to them.
Now to be honest when my own children were at primary school, I didn't really think about modern learning environments or modern learning pedagogy. 25 years ago when Harry's dad started Primary school, school was pretty much the same as when I had been at school. My children walked, and then later scootered to school, they were in the choir, the rugby team, the netball team, the cricket team and the school production. They brought home their classwork in books and I remember the little spelling notebook, which for one of my children became his biggest challenge. We made posters for projects which went off to school rolled up, never to be seen again. And don’t start me on the worksheets!! We had the school journals and other books to read, current events, times tables lists, endless school trips, fundraising, the school fair, family pizza nights...
We had a 10 minute interview with the teacher after the report and if I was lucky enough to be mother help or my children forgot their lunch, I would pop into school. However, we just trusted that what was happening at the school, was what should be happening at the school. The primary school was the local school, it was two blocks away, people in the area felt/said it was a good school with competent teachers and we lived in a leafy middle class suburb. The school had a good ERO report so we felt quite comfortable that our children would be getting a good education.
So what kind of school would I like Harry to go to?
I’ve also been to visit another school that isn't purpose-built with beautiful modern learning environments. It’s a school that although it is going to be rebuilt, has really re-invented itself and tried to implement a climate of change in the teaching and learning. By re-purposing and ‘hacking” the existing school hall they have created new spaces for three classes. In the Senior school, classrooms have been changed around to allow for a different kind of learning in different spaces.
Self -directed learning, collaboration, agency, communication, personalised learning, connectedness are all elements associated with Modern Learning Pedagogy and 21st Century Education. Last year at the Edutech Conference I was fortunate to hear Sir Ken Robinson speak about creativity and Sugata Mitra talk about his experiment with computers in a hole in the wall. This year at the same conference I heard Eric Mazur share his ideas about changing assessment in his University Physics classes and Eric Sheningertalk about how he transformed his school. Larry Rosenstock shared how students at HighTech High created authentic projects which were shared with family and friends, they created an online portfolio documenting their learning and completed internships in areas of interest. Yesterday at ULearn15, I heard Grant Lichtman talk about his "Ed journey" where he visited over 60 schools to look at innovation. There is no doubt that education for Harry will be vastly different to his dad’s.
As for me, I can’t wait to view the live blog of the school trip, read Harry’s latest story online
and see what questions he is asking on the live Twitter feed from his class.
Day One, Term 3 School Holidays - This has traditionally been my "stay in my PJ's to lunchtime day" However, last year and this year, a change in jobs has meant I am not on holiday at this time.
However, I am thinking about education and learning as I prepare my presentation for ULearn15.
I came across this great TED talk by Eric Sheninger from TEDxBurnsvilleED. I was able to hear him speak at Edutech15 in Brisbane this year and I am currently reading his book "Digital Leadership - changing paradigms for Changing Times" One of his innovative practices is how he has used Twitter as a way to engage the community and to promote his school.
This video looks at how we can make changes to how schools operate to create better learni opportunities for our students.
I have been thinking a lot lately about how we as teachers can make a difference in our classes. Often it is not the whole class, but a small group of students who are not achieving. The classroom challenge that wakes me up at 4.00am! Am I the only one?...
I came across these two videos recently, one of John Hattie and the other by Carol Dweck. Both Carol Dweck and John Hattie have looked at a large body of research into learning. Carol Dweck's research focus is on a Growth vs Fixed Mindset for students in our classes, where some students believe their ability is fixed and there can be no improvement. Students with a Growth Mindset believe that with a focus on the process, working to achieve success, even with some failure along the way, they will be grow as learners. Carol Dweck talks about the concept
of "Not Yet", which means students haven't been successful "yet", but they
are working towards it. There are many videos of Carol Dweck explaining more about her work and also her book "Mindset - How you can reach your full potential" is very good. I have this on my iPad, I ordered it as an ebook and it was delivered in a micro-second - ah the power of the internet!
John Hattie is well-known for his work on Visible Learning and looking at the factors that make a difference to learning. If you want to learn more these two links John Hattie Part1 and John Hattie Part2 are edited highlights of a 2011 lecture explaining his research. The video below talks about his own time as a learner and the relationship with his favourite teacher which comes in at spot 11 on the best influence on learning with an effect size of .72. Professional Development sits at
19 with an effect size of .62. Two good ways to make a difference to the learners in our classes!
On Saturday, like many thousands of New Zealanders and Australians, I attended an ANZAC day memorial service. I went with my family to Cranmer Square in Christchurch for the Anzac Dawn Service. As we walked to the Square, there were hundreds of people also making their way to commemorate 100 years since the first landing of NZ troops at Gallipoli. ANZAC day continues to be an important and symbolic day in the history of our country. Every small town you drive through has a war memorial to the fallen. Young men who were prepared to go to war, "for King and Country" and for the 18,000 NZ soldiers who died in foreign lands, killed in action during WW1.
I have always taught WWI poetry at this time of the year to my classes, hoping to use ANZAC day as a way to given some authentic context to what we were learning. One year we even sent "Tweets from the Trenches" as young soldiers from the Papanui area. (See future blog post about this)
A phone call on Saturday from a cousin informed me that recent family research had revealed an unknown great uncle had died at Gallipoli.
Within a week of arriving with the Otago Infantry Battalion, 14th (South Otago) Company, he was killed, missing in action. For me, ANZAC day has become just that more personal.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult. – Seneca
I am looking forward to 2015. I have an exciting new job, a new grandson and I have made a start on all the boxes still sitting in my garage after moving back into my house after earthquake repairs. (Okay, a small start, but a start). There is the Cricket World Cup here in Christchurch at the new Hagley Oval, exciting buildings are going up in Christchurch, there is the Rugby World Cup, I am back riding my bike, there are lots of exciting things to find out in the elearning world, interesting people to follow on Twitter, fabulous family and friends to hang out with, fish to catch (husband's job), interesting people to follow on Twitter, CORE's ten trends for 2014 to reflect on, blogs and books to read, gardens to weed... So what do you have planned in 2015. I am sure that every teacher has spent some time thinking about their plans for 2015 during the holidays. As a last blog post to the staff at previous school, I wrote a letter with these "twelve days of eChristmas" suggestions. Hello All
Below are twelve tips,tools or links that might be useful as you move forward on your
“e” journeys in 2015. They are in no particular order of importance and not all my own ideas.
As always, there are many, many people smarter than me, which is why I have borrowed their ideas.
1) Join Twitter - greatest free PD there is.
2) If you did join Twitter then try joining or following these types of weekly or fortnightly twitter chats
and of course there are amazing educators to follow. Here’s one @teachertoolkit - Ross Morrison McGill is the most followed teacher on Twitter in the UK ( he’s the guy with the 5 minute lesson plan shared by Warren)