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Showing posts from 2015

One Degree Makes A Significant Difference - The Educators Winning Edge

In the days when I was working full time coaching high performance gymsports and outdoor education I was exposed to a philosophy of success. At the time it felt a little airy fairy as it did not give specific details on the 'how' to be successful but it did help guide my goal to be a great educator.

It was known as the winners edge - based on the idea that the slightest edge creates remarkable rewards! For example, a horse that wins a race by a nose is a split second faster than the horse that is placed second yet the winning horse receives considerably more. Though I am not a gambling man, we saw this in the 2011 Melbourne Cup whenDunaden won $3.6 million the second place getter Red Cadeaux earned $900000. Similarly, small improvement or changes in what we do can make a significant impact on our lives and the lives of our students.

Let's be straight: the definition of insanity is doing the same things we have always done expecting a different result. Unfortunately, withou…

2015 Tech Year in Review

The following has been borrowed from my end of year post last year as it still remains appropriate. "The one guaranteed constant in educational technology is change, and the pace of that change is definitely accelerating. So as we approach the New Year I thought it a virtuous time to reflect on this year's development in the use of technology at my school."
The biggest shift I have seen with the use of technology had been a pedagogical one. I have begun to find teachers have moved away from asking about how to use specific programs, apps and hardware to focusing on this is what I want to teach what tools are out there to enhance the learning desired. This has included coding, makerspaces, video conferences and mystery locations. I have found a major shift towards teaching genres of programs eg word processing and presentation rather than 'word' and 'powerpoint'. I believe that this has been driven by a greater reliance on cloud based computing.
This year…

Good vs Great Education - The Difference is in the Personal Touch

I am currently in my second week of my Summer break and this morning I have been blessed with insightful pedagogical conversation.

The first came as a chance meeting with my daughter's school principal prompted by a forgotten outfit for a dress rehearsal. Immersed in end of year rehearsals, presentation preparation and school placements for next year I was given the gift of time to engage with her about the action research that the school had been conducting to promote best practice. As a professional I was encouraged to hear that many of the practices that are trending in current classrooms had been instilled in the culture of the school through teacher research. She added that due to the teachers action research they saw these classroom practices embedded well before they started trending in the mainstream. Examples she gave were Coding, Hattie's Mind Frames for Learning, Environmental Education, Instructional Rounds and Video Analysis. It was seen that this research informe…

Authenticity - A Tribute to a Friend

Disclosure 1: As you read this post you might think that it is not necessarily related to education but please read as I believe you will see the parallels.

Disclosure 2: This is written at a time when I should be report writing; however, as part of my grieving process I thought that it would be beneficial. 

Today I was privileged to share the celebration of life of Cathleen Cowie. I have known her as a close friend for the past 15 years to the date and on the 27.10.2015 she passed away at the age of 35. She left behind a beautiful five month old son Ryan and husband Brendon.

During today's service I reflected on all of the faces in the room. The auditorium was filled to capacity with over 2000 mourners all of which could testify as I the impact she had on their lives. As conversations and eulogies began the common theme was how positive, authentic and passionate she was. Even though Cat's schedule was probably the most full of anyone I knew she always had the time to share a w…

Moving Students Beyond Making Connections to Making an Impact - Empathy Connections

As I ponder global trends impacting global education I recognise the three major drivers. They are information technology, brain research around growth mindsets and neuroplasticity and cultural globalisation. With technology and globalisation I'm really excited to see how we can actually challenge some of the greatest issues in society. Currently we live in a world where communities and even nations are either coming together or pulling apart. The problem we have is a lot of the understanding children have around these issues are coming from a generational reasoning of stereotypical beliefs that are reinforcing the opinion that we are all so different from each other. As educators in not challenging these stereotypical beliefs we are allowing students to blindly accept this conclusion. In contrast as we intentionally get children to break down the walls and connect on an empathetic level they talk and engage, building understanding about culture and reconnect with humanity. By lev…

Guerrilla PD - The Rise of Social Media for Educators

I was recently asked by a group of preservice teachers what has been the most powerful professional development strategy that I had undertaken during my career? This was a profound question because they had give me permission to share with them a practice that had revolutionized my world as an educator. My response initially took them by shock but as I explained my reasoning and philosophy they discovered an untapped supply of experts, experience and resources.

Social media once was just thought of as a means to connect social stories, updates and status but in recent times there has been a professional revolution with many educators taking up Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest etc. as a means for quality professional development. It has become a form of "Guerrilla Professional Development" where educators have access to professional conversations happening around the world anytime, anywhere, without cost and restriction. For me my choice in social media has been Twitter…

What are some 21st Century Innovations every class can achieve?

Recently I have been challenged to look at pedagogy to discover some 21st Century Innovations that were not just based on technology and could be applied to a majority of classrooms.
Video The use of video in the context of a lesson has significant impacts on both content retention and student engagement with McInerney  and McInerney (1998, p.166-167) claiming that the technology provides students with ‘greater control over their own learning’ with benefits amounting to enhanced understanding resulting in ‘self-confidence, independence and autonomy’ within learning experiences. In the realm of language education, a key component across all key learning areas (KLA), Mejia (1999) extols the use of video as ‘valuable tool that can enhance a classroom experience’ through the acquisition and development of ‘listening, speaking and writing skills’ and using multiple ‘playbacks’, activities that include independent, group and whole class situations can elicit successful outcomes through ‘plann…

What are Mystery Locations & Why?

Mystery Locations is an educational game where your class uses GHO or Skype with another class somewhere else in the world. The goal is for each class to determine where the other is located using critical thinking, collaboration and geography skills.
Why Mystery Locations? According to Paul Solarz (2013) “Reasons to Do a Mystery Skype” are numerous: Geography Skills Critical Thinking Skills Listening & Speaking Skills Student Directed Student Resourcefulness Collaboration Global Community of Learners Future Partnerships Authentic Purpose for Research Supports and links to the Curriculum Connecting Classrooms around the World Whilst this video is promoted by Skype it gives educators a snapshot of the educational benefits of Mystery Locations.

Ways to Play Within my educational context I have used 3 particular styles to play. 20 questions - recommended for beginners and younger children. Students prepare 20 questions and 5-10 clues.

The Not Perfect Hat Club

Earlier this year I was blessed to connect with Jena Ball and Marty Keltz founders of Criterkin. Jena was an author of numerous children's books and Marty an Emmy award winning producer. As part of this conversation I was exposed to an initiative they they were working on. Their goal was to create a movement that taught emotional intelligence and shows the importance of relationships. This plan was well thought out and put together with the intention to engage a variety of younger audiences.

As the year went on I had multiple virtual visits with Jena and Marty. Jena while she was writing would come and meet my class, sharing the opening chapters of the Not Perfect Hat Club. As expected my class was delighted to meet a published author, which instantly improved their own creativity in writing but the surprising element was how quickly they took on the message Jena had to share. They were able to empathise with Newton, a well breed but abandoned golden retriever. They connected his …

Learning Spaces

The next paradigm shift that is going to take in education in Australia will be the ready adoption of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) taught in a holistic and blended way. As part of this shift, makerspaces are going to become more common to allow students ways to express understanding and knowledge in practical and physical ways. They will use cardboard and craft, electronics, computer based tech as well as robotics and blended learning to achieve this (Cooper 2013).

The Makerlab (an alternate name for the makerspace area) will be spaces or units where school budgets will be directed towards sparkfun kits, littlebits, makeymakeys and Ardinos. They will also provide students access to smart robotics for enrichment and reinforcement. These spaces are being designed to shift students understanding by moving to teach students about physical computing and how all things work in processes and systems. These understandings can be easily seen through active part…