Tag Archives: students

I believe this about learning…

‘map of Romania’ photo by ggrosseck on flickr

 

…students do not come in one-size-fits-all packages and should be treated as individuals who deserve to be stretched

…no matter what their level of learning, a student’s work is enhanced when their parents are involved in the learning process

…the experiences of students are important aspects of learning and should be incorporated in the classroom as possible

…students live up to the expectations given them by their parents, school and their community; if a student is expected to succeed he or she will

…every student has the capacity to reshape the world; they must be guided to making their impression a positive one

…students should learn by investigating the world and issues that surround them in fun and creative ways

…learning should be an  interesting and useful process

…what happens to students beyond the classroom is as important as what is contained in it

…every student deserves an opportunity to succeed

…the highest goal of education is to teach students to reason and think for themselves

...students should be taught and engaged in such a way that they fall in love with learning

 

Tonia Johnson posted her beliefs for learning on her wiki for Adams City High School. They gave me the opportunity to reflect on what initially may seem obvious and unoriginal, but at second glance are actually deep and essential aspects of learning. I started to think about how much of the teaching and learning at our school corresponds to these beliefs; how much my own practices support these beliefs.

Is there one introductory belief that forms a basis for further good teaching practices, or are they intertwined and shoot off each other?

I would really like some feedback from you about which of these beliefs you consider most important and why, and if you can add to this list.

Essential to good teaching practice, in my experience, is taking the time to reflect and critically evaluate what you are doing as an educator. Now that the new school year is starting, I can see how easy it will be to fall into the busy and relentless schedule of weeks and terms without taking time out to breathe or blink. I think we need to make a time to reflect, just as we deliberately schedule appointments to the dentist. Yes, it is sometimes an appointment we don’t feel like keeping.

Blogging (for those of you who continue to argue with me against it) is always a discipline that provides a regular time for reflection and evaluation. Amidst defensive cries of ‘haven’t got the time, too busy’, I stubbornly insist that time must be made. It’s worth it.

 

 

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Filed under 21st century learning, Education, learning, teachers, teaching

We connect students

Jo McLeay has written an excellent post about connected, or networked, students, following her participation in the Connectivism 08 online course. She got this video from Wendy on Twitter. When I have time, I’d like to read both Jo’s and Wendy’s blogs post to post.

One paragraph that did stand out for me in Wendy’s blog was this one:

What can we learn from voices of resistance?
Resistance is good. Any new theory, or idea for that matter, needs vetting to fully develop and improve. Open-minded skepticism is healthy because it encourages creativity. There will be those who never change. However, our response to their arguments adds to the foundation on which we build a solid learning network. Learning may look different in a connective environment, but some traditional learning principles may be valid in certain circumstances. Resistance will help us evaluate those pedagogies and how they apply.

It makes sense to use resistance to test ourselves and grow stronger, instead of staying in gathering negative energy and creating enemies. And, of course, we gain strength from our communities.

So much to learn every day, and never enough time to do it. How do you keep up with all the excellent online courses and groups? How do you prevent superficial absorption of too many things because you feel like a kid in a lolly shop?

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Filed under 21st century learning, Education, learning, Web 2.0

Making parents our partners in 21st century learning

If we want to shift learning and teaching into the 21st century, there are a number of people we need to take with us. Apart from teachers and school administrators, we can’t ignore parents in this move, and we really should be thinking about how we do this. The K12 Online Conference 2008: Kicking it up a notch tackles the subject of parents as partners – Parental Engagement in the 21st Century – Leveraging web 2.0 tools to engage parents in non-traditional ways – giving much food for thought, as well as practical suggestions of ways to move forward.

Lorna Constantini and Matt Montagna connect from afar online and ask how we can move forward from teachers’ and parents’ fear of the internet. They remind us that parents haven’t been brought up on the internet, so it’s natural for them to fear something that is foreign. The question is, what can we say to parents that will influence them in a positive way about their children’s online lives? I like the way Lorna and Matt have brought it back to what parents can understand – that we are all social beings, having an innate desire to connect with people and develop relationships, and that social networking is just a new form of traditional social connections.  As Matt points out,

 although online networks can be playful, they can also be powerful, enabling people to meet others with similar interests, solve problems together, create software programs together, participate in social and professional discussion with people we may not know in the physical world, etc. Our kids do this instinctively and fluently, posting content, interacting with content posted by others, learning from and teaching one another, having conversations with people all over the world – the opportunities to learn are tremendous. If we look at this new focus for young people, we should realise that they’ve moved away from what has long been the criticism of passive television viewing, and found new engagement in an interactive environment. If parents understand the positive aspects of social networking, they will realise that this shift is enormously powerful.

A major concern for parents is safety on the internet. Matt and Lorna talk about reassuring parents that young people are better at warding off potentially harmful situations than we give them credit for. They also ask a serious question, one that we need to discuss in schools: Who is guiding and mentoring our young people online now? Who is rolemodelling ethical and effective online interactions? And the answer is, apart from isolated individuals, nobody.

Schools may think they are by using filtering software, but it doesn’t encourage responsible use. All it does is encourage kids to find ways around filters, and it also blocks valuable and educational content. On the whole, parents don’t know what their kids are doing on the internet, so they are unable to provide guidance. This needs to change! Why? In every aspect of kids’ lives, parents provide key guidance that their kids need.

Here’s the best suggestion for parent PD that I’ve heard – why not get parents to set up Facebook accounts, blogs, and interact with some of the other Web 2.0 applications. This is a great way demystify their kids’ online socialising, enabling parents to shift from policing to mentoring their kids. Rather than lecture parents about the theory, we should just urge them to give it a shot.. give the example of email, which was new once, but we’re now used to it and depend on it.

And what a great idea to use new tools and platforms to reach out and connect to parents. Parents as partners is a Facebook group set up for parents – an online forum for questions and support which also models new technologies. I think modelling is the best way to teach someone. Just as important as modelling, transparency is a great way to let parents in on what their kids are up to. Have a look at the live video broadcast of kids away on an excursion, where parents can chat with their kids. Lastly, the NING network allows ongoing communication and collaboration between parents and teachers. Interestingly, the parents who were involved in the NING are the ones who were not involved in school in any other capacity – another example of the power of online tools.

We might feel isolated in our schools in advocating mindset change, and connecting with each other, either online or in person, is a powerful thing to do. But we’ll be banging our heads against the wall if we don’t find a way to effect a mindset change in all members of the school community. If we get parents on-side, they’ll be our partners in supporting students in 21st century learning. As it says on the Parents as partners blog, students achieve better when parents are involved in their child’s education.

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Filed under Education, parents, Teacher librarians, Web 2.0

Teachers today on Youtube – how do you rate?

Is the picture of teachers in this video fact or fiction?
Let’s have a look at some of ideas here.
Firstly, teachers today work in a world that is fast-paced and rapidly changing.
Do we realise this fully?

Teachers today work together to facilitate, innovate, coordinate, participate, investigate, advocate and illuminate.
How are you doing so far?

Teachers today may have limited autonomy, opportunities and resources…
Is that true? Does that make you feel uncomfortable?

but their possibilities are unlimited; they are leading, shaping, finding new approaches, new technologies and discoveries.
Sounds exciting.

Teachers today instil curiosity, extend possibilities, make connections, engage students, excite learners to solve problems of the new generation.
What are the problems of the new generation?

Teachers today overcome obstacles, embrace change, redefine education, are fluent in technological tools, are aware of global concerns.
This is a huge job and an amazing responsibility.

Teachers today are challenging students …
to find solutions;
to find their voices;
to change the world.

I’m interested to find out how teachers react to the messages in this video.

To quote a teacher recently:
‘Where does the academic fit into this?’

Isn’t it time we opened up our vision of what our role as teachers today is?

While you’re at it, have a look at Digital World: Kids today

Thanks to Judy O’Connell for putting me onto these videos.

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Filed under Education, teachers, Web 2.0

What are we telling our students?

I found this on Rob Jacobs’ blog.

What does this tell us as educators?

Think before you speak negatively or label a student. Try to find the best in the student. Encourage students to run with their passions, to have a go, to accept difficulties as challenges, to chill out.

We all ‘fail’ at something sometime. If we help students view their ‘failures’ as opportunities for growth, they’re learning the most important lessons in life. Learning from mistakes – you learn to think/approach things differently, to persist, to empathise with strugglers; you move forward, after a while you realise that’s the path we follow if we walk the path.

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Kids to tell schools what to teach

Calling all students! Edutopia has created a competition asking students to express their opinions about which skills they think their school should teach to help them succeed in life. Recognising young people’s expertise in technology, Edutopia has asked them to submit their opinions in the form of a 60 second video.

The competition closes October 15, and favourites will be published. There is no prescribed format for the answer to the question: ‘What do you think is the most important skill to learn for your future and why?’ – only that it is posted on YouTube and tagged ‘edutopiaskills’. Kids require proof of parental consent and must provide parental contact information. I’m puzzled about the choice to use YouTube, considering that YouTube is blocked by many schools.

I’d really like somebody to supplement this with adults’ guesses about what the kids would say. I’m not sure if I would be able say with any certainty how kids would answer this question, or how they would present it. Would it involve technology, social skills, financial know-how, health issues, emotional intelligence, practical knowledge, or??? I’m hoping that many kids would find transferrable skills and experiences the most valuable. I can’t wait to see the results.

What about learning that would be considered as a waste of time at school? Some might say that their whole school education was a waste of time. Most would isolate learning that they found unengaging or irrelevant. I could certainly make an extensive list of learning that screamed irrelevance: having to look up statistical facts about yawningly boring facts in a Victorian year book; sheep and sewerage; other things that I’ve successfully wiped out of my memory bank.

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Art Education 2.0

Art Education 2.0 is a global community of art educators exploring uses of new technology.

Art Education 2.0 is for art educators at all levels who are interested in using digital technologies to enhance and transform art teaching and learning experiences. The aim of Art Education 2.0 is to explore ways of using technology to promote effective art education practices, encourage cultural exchanges and joint creative work, and support artistic projects, curricular activities, and professional development opportunities deemed important by our members.

When you sign up, you can avail yourself of all the usual socialnetworking options, for example, you can invite friends, upload photos or videos, or start a discussion. At a glance from the homepage you can see current projects, forum discussions and recent blog posts. The format is well organised and easy to read, eg. the post ‘Sir Ken Robinson & creative thinking’ , a post about Ken Robinson’s well-known TED talk, ‘Are schools killing creativity?’, is followed by several clearly displayed comments. I suppose, what I’m trying to say, is that it’s all there, and it’s easy and enjoyable to browse. A late night for me recently while I explored the blogroll – always dangerous to jump into hyperlinks, branching out evermore into oblivion.

New Web 2.0 resources in the right-hand navigation offer such delicacies as Andrew Douch’s video on the benefits of podcasting; Vizu, an interactive poll that can be added to a website or blog; 12 seconds, where you can record and share short videos about what you’re doing or where you are, etc.

On the left, there’s a chat option, featured websites, an option to share photos or videos, a section with a blog called ‘educational paradigms’, which includes posts such as ‘Keeping your teaching experiences fresh’, ArtsJournal , where you can check out daily art news, and more. You can also join groups, such as ‘first year art teachers’, or ‘Voicethread in the artroom’.

Digital art is popular with students, and teachers can get support for this by joining ‘Digital design’ . ‘Teaching animation’ supports teachers in a discussion of ideas, strategies, and tools for teaching animation.

I’ll definitely be telling my art faculty about this supportive art community. Makes me want to be an art educator!

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Filed under art, Education, photos, Web 2.0