Category Archives: Collaboration

When are students leaders and experts? Listen2Learners @ State Library of Victoria

When are students leaders and experts?

When we hand over the stage to them to play in.

When we give them more to do than listen to us.

When we trust them to be responsible and capable.

Yesterday I saw evidence of this at The State Library of Victoria’s Listen2Learners. Thirteen school teams, some collaborative, presented their learning to adults. They were articulate, intelligent, knowledgeable and impressive. The buzz in the room was palpable.

Young people may be learners today, but tomorrow they are employees, employers, citizens, CEOs and community leaders so decision makers in government, business, industry and the social arena are taking notice of how young people learn with technology.

What young people think and have to say is helping to shape decisions and inform policies.

I was impressed and excited by the showcase of what kids – many of them primary – can do given meaningful, collaborative, real-life projects and connected through technologies to learn from and with real people. My excitement was tempered by the thought of them entering secondary school, the fear that this freedom to learn would be taken away from them due to a fear of technology and the restrictive nature of a score-centred curriculum.

The groups showcased a variety of focus, approach and location. Sacred Heart School, Tasmania collaborated with Pularumpi School, Northern Territory. A student from the Tasmanian school said that the best part of the project was meeting the other students, learning about how different people and places can be in your own country. They worked in Google docs, online social networks, and used Skype to communicate and collaborate.

Students from Prospect Primary School, South Australia, became teachers when they reversed roles to show more than 70 teachers and school leaders how to produce a movie.

Their work had all the hallmarks of good teaching and learning; planning and storyboarding, brainstorming an authentic enquiry question, setting assessment criteria, modelling and coaching.

Students ran an online radio station, they demonstrated how rural schools connect for the best science education, created video games, prepared a cybersafety program for incoming primary students for orientation day, created applications to help users develop numeracy skills, used technology to learn instruments and play in online bands, designed a Multi-user Virtual Environment (MUVE), connected with students from around the world in virtual classrooms, and more.

It was extraordinary to see what these young students were capable of doing, and inspiring to witness their passion, engagement and enjoyment.

These kids really knew what they were talking about. They had to ask the hard questions throughout the process, and in many cases they had to provide written applications for a place on the team. They knew what they were talking about because they worked through the process and were engaged, not because they had listened to what they teacher had told them or studied a text. When I listened to these kids it was obvious that they had worked through the what/how/why and understood the thinking around and inside their project and process.

This was by far the most inspiring learning opportunity for me this year. And, to boot, I got the opportunity to chat with Stephen Heppell.

Read about the schools taking part in this event.

 

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Filed under 21st century learning, Collaboration, creativity, Digital citizenship, Education, network literacy, networking, Web 2.0

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.

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Filed under Collaboration, Web 2.0

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!

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

Collaborate with an artist to write an online story – Storybird

This has been cross-posted from Storyteller.

Thanks to Judith @brightideasblog for the Storybird tip.

Storybird is a very easy way of creating an e-story using picture sets shared by various artists. It’s easy and it’s cool.

This would be an enjoyable writing exercise in the English, LOTE or ESL classroom.

Once you have an account, you can browse existing stories or just click createand write your own.

I whipped one up in a matter of minutes (so it’s not great) but it looks good! You can read my story here. Once you choose an artist, you just drag the pictures you like onto your page, then keep creating (or deleting) pages until you’ve finished.

You can write your own story or collaborate with a friend.

If you scroll down this page, you can search images by theme.

I like the way you can use somebody’s shared art. The artist I chose is Dwell Deep (Sam) and you can read a little about her here. She has a website and a blog. It’s a good feeling to have created a story in collaboration with an artist.

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Filed under Collaboration, creativity, technology, Web 2.0, writing