Monthly Archives: July 2010

It helps to have a hand from the top

I think I have mentioned that I’ve been working at Kew High School one day a week. It’s been 9 weeks now, and I’m happy and excited to play a small part in connecting the school community with transformative aspects of new technologies . It’s the ideal role for me – introducing Web 2.0 tools, creating and sharing blogs and wikis, helping teachers integrate connective technologies into their curriculum.

This could have been a frustrating experience, considering I’m only at Kew one day a week – trying to catch people throughout a very busy day which happens NOT to be their day for professional development. It could have been, but it wasn’t thanks to the brilliantly supportive and proactive deputy principal, Bernie Lloyd, who organised a lunch in the library (my ‘office’) and lured staff with free lunch. Not only did she bring the sandwiches but she also cut up the fruit and washed the dishes afterwards! How many DPs would do that? She is definitely a linchpin.

That lunchtime session made all the difference. I was introduced to teachers, I pulled out my bag of tricks, gave them a whirlwind tour of Web 2.0 projects and possibilities, and answered questions. I wasn’t sure how much of an impact this would have – although Bernie had assured me that Kew teachers were open to new things – my past experiences had made me somewhat sceptical. Not so at Kew. Teachers gave positive feedback and some immediately arranged meetings to get started. Wow.

I’d started a blog for Kew which Kevin Whitney, Head of Library, named I get to say what’s culture. Just as in my Whitefriars blog, Fiction is like a box of chocolates, I wanted to bring the school community in to assume ownership. Kew’s blog, though, will have a broader base, since it’s not  library-centred, and will showcase people’s talents and passions. That’s why I’ve only thrown a few posts in, just to populate it a little, but have stopped posting with the intention of handing it over to the Kew school community. In order to do this I need the collaboration of teachers and their knowledge of the students.

Collaboration with the deputy principal, collaboration with the staff, eventually collaboration with the students. I can’t wait to see the blog in the hands of the Kew High School community.

Thanks, Bernie.

4 Comments

Filed under Collaboration, Web 2.0

Who are you online?

Photo by Will Lion on Flickr

The first time I heard this was when Will Richardson spoke at a conference in Melbourne. I thought…. yeah, I suppose… but who looks anyway? I dunno…

But then I looked at  what a Google search said about me, and used links to my online stuff when applying for a job, and I realised this…

Photo by Will Lion on Flickr

So if this makes us feel uncomfortable, we could – let’s say – stay offline. At my age I could, easily. But I don’t. Our students (largely), on the other hand, will never get offline. Their future world of work and socialising will definitely be online.

I found Lisa Nielson’s excellent and comprehensive blog post on this topic which, amongst many other resources, includes this slideshare presentation by Dean ShareskiYou or Google? Who controls your identity?

What about you? Are you actively creating your digital identity? Or is it creating itself? Have you checked out who you are?

Leave a comment

Filed under 21st century learning, Digital citizenship

Steve Wheeler explains Web 3.0 : The way forward?

I don’t know about you, but if someone asks me to explain the difference between Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0, I’m not sure if I do a great job. But this is brilliant –

Well done, Steve Wheeler, for explaining the evolution of Web 3.0. Here’s the source of this presentation in Steve’s blog post.

1 Comment

Filed under 21st century learning, Web 3.0

Steampunk

Steampunk – the genre – has been around for a while, but has recently enjoyed a rebirth.

What is Steampunk?

In preparation for a class talk about Steampunk, I wrote this post.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

New tools for traditional skills

I found this video in a blog post on Art in the real world.

An Apple ipad live fingerpainting demo that David Kassan streamed live from my Brooklyn studio on Monday June 21st. 2010, The model sat for 3 hours as David painted and answered questions on how I use the iPad and the Brushes app.

This is an amazing example of how the latest technology can still be used in a traditional way, so to speak. I love the sped-up version at the end which makes transparent the pattern of layering in the creation of the portrait.

Leave a comment

Filed under art, technology

Reading in a whole new way

Photo courtesy of Darren Kuropatwa on Flickr in the group Great quotes about learning and change

Debates about whether reading and writing are going to suffer in the digital age open up opportunities for reflection and discussion.  I was interested to read the Smithsonian article Reading in a whole new way about the way that reading and writing have changed and how they will continue to change.

Today some 4.5 billion digital screens illuminate our lives. Words have migrated from wood pulp to pixels on computers, phones, laptops, game consoles, televisions, billboards and tablets. Letters are no longer fixed in black ink on paper, but flitter on a glass surface in a rainbow of colors as fast as our eyes can blink. Screens fill our pockets, briefcases, dashboards, living room walls and the sides of buildings. They sit in front of us when we work—regardless of what we do. We are now people of the screen. And of course, these newly ubiquitous screens have changed how we read and write.

What really interests me is the change in the way the mind works with online reading, and I think it’s very well expressed here:

Books were good at developing a contemplative mind. Screens encourage more utilitarian thinking. A new idea or unfamiliar fact will provoke a reflex to do something: to research the term, to query your screen “friends” for their opinions, to find alternative views, to create a bookmark, to interact with or tweet the thing rather than simply contemplate it. Book reading strengthened our analytical skills, encouraging us to pursue an observation all the way down to the footnote. Screen reading encourages rapid pattern-making, associating this idea with another, equipping us to deal with the thousands of new thoughts expressed every day. The screen rewards, and nurtures, thinking in real time. We review a movie while we watch it, we come up with an obscure fact in the middle of an argument, we read the owner’s manual of a gadget we spy in a store before we purchase it rather than after we get home and discover that it can’t do what we need it to do.

It’s important to understand the positive changes in the way we read so that we don’t get stuck in lamenting the loss of old ways of reading. Certainly I can identify with the reflex to do something while reading online. Interrupting reading to look up a definition, investigate something for deeper understanding or find others’ opinions may be mistaken for a lack of focus. Is this kind of reading really a lack of concentration or is it actually a new and different way of understanding information?

Some people never read news anywhere but online. When you read news online you can fine-tune your control of what you want to read. Hyperlinks take you straight to the source; tags and keywords make searching and finding easy. But even this kind of reading would be enriched by some form of teaching.

I think that in many ways it’s more demanding than traditional reading, and I also expect that future generations will adapt as people have always adapted to new challenges. I believe that we have the opportunity to become less passive as readers and more discerning, more willing to seek out others’ understandings and views. Again, a great teaching opportunity.

How do we as teachers help students to read fluently, thoughtfully and informatively? I hope to encourage students to use the collaborative annotation facility on Diigo to annotate and share their understandings and questions of texts. What other ways can you think of which push reading into a more connected experience?

Yes, things are changing. We’d better start thinking about the implications and reflect on what’s most important in our role as teachers.

Photo courtesy of Langwitches on Flickr

5 Comments

Filed under 21st century learning, internet, teaching, technology

Rest, recharge, and ready for another term!

National Gallery of Victoria (Städel exhibition)

I don’t know how non-teachers survive with so few holidays.  I’m not feeling guilty about teaching holidays though because that’s what I do, and I work hard, so if you’re not a teacher and feeling resentful, why don’t you do a teaching degree?

Seriously.

Teaching is one of the most satisfying careers. Yes, it can be frustrating, infuriating, depressing, tiring, all-consuming – but it’s definitely a privilege to have a hand in shaping young minds, the shapers of our future.

For me, working with people who love shaping those young minds is more than satisfying. Some of these educators are at my school, and many are elsewhere, and I’m grateful to them wherever they are.

Photo courtesy of Jane Hewitt on Flickr (Great quotes about learning and change)

I’ve really enjoyed these two weeks of holiday, and  balanced a nice mix of everything I need to recharge – enjoying the company of good friends, catching up with news and exchanging stories and ideas; going out into various parts of Melbourne in the winter (Melbourne has its own Winter style which I really like); appointments(!); domestic chores (not fun, but inevitable); reading and thinking, reflection and re-evaluating, shifting perspective, gathering strength and resolve, making plans for the new term ….

Amazing that I managed to pack in so much in the two weeks, including (possibly too many) musical concerts, for example, the Goodbye Hamer Hall concert in which my younger son played in the Melbourne Youth Music orchestra, the Tim Burton exhibition at ACMI, and I also went to see the European Masters from the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. AND I still had a lot of me-alone-time.

I finished reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson – a young adult novel written by John Green and David Levithan about two separate Will Graysons whose chance meeting changes their lives – and I’ve also started Seth Godin’s Linchpin (incidentally, Seth has just shared a free e-book) and Ali Shaw’s The girl with glass feet. I hope the reading doesn’t stop but somehow school projects always spill into the evenings and reading only begins just before my eyelids glue themselves shut.

The Tim Burton exhibition made me want to drag all the students out so they could be inspired by Tim’s prolific and imaginative illustrations. I could see so much potential for students writing, drawing, animation, sculpture, photostory, film-making – so many possibilities. I think the exhibition inspires because it shows early work back as far as school, and makes you want to have a go at all that zany creativity yourself.

So, what is my direction for third term? Well, apart from existing partnerships with classes, I want to trial more of my Writing Prompts. I want to give Howard Rheingold’s expert crap detection program a go, as well as teach some serious critical thinking.

Apart from stuffing my literature blog with new reviews by different members of my community, I’d like to take some of the ideas from Joyce Valenza’s Reading Wiki and run with them. There’s so much in this reading wiki too, and this one is bursting at the seams with resources for teacher librarians.

Plenty to do, and I’m even starting to get a little excited. I hope that you all have a great term, and for those of you in the middle of things, be inspired and re-inspired!

1 Comment

Filed under Collaboration, creativity, Musing, reading, Teacher librarians, teaching