From dipping the toes in…to ensuring relevance, a progression.

Dipping our toes in…

The photo to the left is the original image I uploaded in when I had commenced my Masters Degree. This image was symbolic of the philosophy of teaching and learning.  Below is what I wrote back then….
 
The  picture to the right I found on National Geographic’s website and it immediately resonated with me. As a teacher I think it is important that we allow kids to explore their world and learn by trying new things, exploring their own interests and passions, being creative and taking risks. As teachers we need to let them explore their own worlds and give them every opportunity to find their passion. Of course we need to guide them and share our own experiences in that will give them the best opportunity for them to be at their best.

 

This picture shows a lion cub venturing out into the water, with the parent and siblings (or peers) right behind. Despite the potential dangers the adult lion is giving the cub space to explore and learn on its own. I think this picture embodies some of my thoughts about teaching. At times we will be side by side with our students as we both learn and explore and at other times we must let students find and develop skills that align closely with their own interests.

Upon reflection about my initial choice of image, I think the image of the lion cub dipping their toes in was a reflection on my current thinking at the time. I was primarily focused on the teaching and learning process at the classroom and individual level. My thinking was dominated by work like John Hattie’s (Hattie, 2010) work around visible learning and ensuring that desired learning outcomes are known by learners or Kathy Walker’s (Walker, & Bass, 2011) &(Walker, 2007) teaching and learning philosophy based on the assertion that learners need a broad range of experiences to develop skills for life.  (“Walker Learning | Early Life Foundations – Kathy Walker”, 2017)  

 

While my personal philosophy of teaching and learning hasn’t changed too much in the last four years while I have been completing my Masters of Education journey my thinking has probably evolved from a focus that was primarily centered on classroom and individual learner focus to a more broaders existential questions around education. My perspective has definitely broadened and thoughts about the future and purpose of education have become more prevalent in my thinking. Texts like the one prescribed in this subject, New Learning (Kalantzis, & Cope, 2012) and Ken Robinsons ‘Finding your Element’ (Robinson, & Aronica, 2014) have introduced more holistic broad thoughts about education, technology, culture and the future of schools into my current perspective. The changing world and the need for schools to act with reflexivity to stay relevant has been a personal theme.  With this in mind, here is a new image I have selected to represent my thoughts. I will leave its interpretation up to the reader…

Mindfulness at BSPS

 

Layout 1

Recently the staff at BSPS had the privilege of spending a full day workshop with Dr Richard Chambers who is an expert on mindfulness. There is a plethora of research available that has suggested that practising mindfulness has a number of benefits in learnning, happiness and general wellbeing.richard-in-the-garden

It was a riveting day and the staff have had vey positive things to say about the day. Dr Chambers has also written a great book called Mindful Learning. Check it out if you would like to learn more. Additionally you could listen to this great ten minute talk on Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe

Reshaping a classroom for Junior School

I am very excited about my upcoming transition into junior school. After five years of teaching year 5’s I will be moving done (or should I say up?) to year ones. I know that there will be a big difference in the students and therefore a steep learning curve awaits me and it is one that I am very excited about.

One part of the transition also involves moving classrooms after three years of being comfortable in the same space I am moving from the newest area of the school to one of the older buildings. Setting up my classroom for year ones and the developmental play aspect of teaching in Junior school is also something new to me. Taking advice from collegues and using some of Kathy Walker’s ideas I have tried to setup up particular areas in and around my classroom to engage and allow the students to explore whatever their hearts desire.

Is till have a long way to go but here are my attempts so far…

 

Making our mind smile…

At this afternoon’s staff meeting we had a discussion about mental and physical health. While most of us in general think we are ok mentally it was good to have a reminder that we need to regularly check ourselves for our own mental wellbeing.

It is easy to get overwhelmed as a teacher at this time of year, end of year assessments, reports, transitions and preparations for next year are all pressing issues. We talked about some cues that we should look for that might signal we need to take a little time out for ourselves. Everyone might have different signals and also might like to deal with these signals in different ways. Some people thought that exercise, eating healthy, being in friends, family and being in nature are great ways to de-stress and feel better about yourself.

We were also introduced to a great website with some excellent relaxation techniques and strategies that allow ourslef to really aprreciate the moment.  One of which was the deliberate slow, touching, smelling and tasting of a mintie to really appreciate the moment. We also did a 5-minute relaxation session from the http://smilingmind.com.au/  It was a good session and something that you might be able to use with your students as well.

Here are some positive words for you to consider…

What are your favourite things to do to relax?

Check it out!

Hume Article

This post includes my reflections an article on reflective journal writing and the benefits that this writing can bring to learning. You can access the article here: Hume

 

Reflecting on Reflecting:
I thought of a couple of different things whilst reading this article. Firstly that it linked with other things I have read about good teaching and learning and namely that is that the best teachers often think about the impact that they are having on their students. This can only happen upon careful purposeful reflection.  I also am starting to see that the ability to be able to carefully and effectively reflect on my own practice is something that is going to form a big part of this module, subject and indeed course.
I appreciated the Shulman diagram as this might give me more purposeful, directed reflection in the future.  I believe I am probably going to have be a little more disciplined when it comes my reflections. I think that the majority of the reflection I do currently happens in my head and is not necessarily written down. Recording it probably gives me a chance to get a little more purpose to it and directs my practice in the future.
I will have to disciplined and allocate time to record my reflections, I think 10 minutes a day is doable. I guess as Hume suggests though quality reflection is important and more important than quantity. As they became more competent with reflective writing they started to be less frequent but more in depth, quality reflections. Hopefully I can develop my own ability to effectively reflect and start to pump out some quality work.

Loughan Article: My Reflections

This is my response to an article written by John Loughlan . You can access the article here: Loughlan

I think a lot of what was written in the article made sense to me. I think that effective reflective practice is an essential part of learning as much as I can from my own practice.

It is true that we need to be aware of and question our own underlying assumptions or the assumptions of our students that may be in play in the teaching and learning environment. As I was reading the aritcle the article it made me think of a quote “we dont see the world as it really is, we see it as we are. At times we need see ourselves, our classrooms and our practice through another lens (frrame and reframe) and anaylse and adapt our practice accordingly to new light that these alternative lens shine on a situation. Wow I feel like that is a bit wordy, but it makes sense to me.

 

Reading this aritcle also made me think of the power of reflection to the actual learners themselves, not student teachers but the students I teach. While we consistently engage in ‘reflection’ activities with students, perhaps the power and effectiveness of this may have gone understated in the past.

Digital Learning Day!

Very much looking forward to Thursday’s Digital Learning Day. It should be an excellent opportunity for us to get together and discuss many ideas relating to tech use in our school and come up with  concrete plans for our future direction. I am starting to compile just a few resources for the day. A few people have asked about what we will need to bring.  You will need your laptop and iPad (Hopefully all of our stuff connects OK! ) and most importantly a very open mind. I will add ideas to this post as they develop and perhaps we can even add stuff to this post on the day. A way of keeping all of the information together. I have an interactive picture of Flori below with a few important links. Just hover over his fingers to find out info about the link we will be talking about some of them on the day.

 

 

 

We will start at 8:45am have breaks when we need to and hopefully get a fair bit done. We will not be following a strict agenda but it will be more of a participant driven affair, with each of us sharing ideas and compiling them together into a coherent plan. We do have a rough outline of where we will be going throughout the day though:

  • Why are we here?
  • Taking the E out of E learning
  • Aims for the day?
  • PD Document, Skills checklist for teachers
  • Skills for students plan
  • BYOD Future direction= Happy with device selection? documentation, essential apps list.
  • Detailed look at class and student blogs.
  • “Leveraging digital” audit document.
  • Detailed look at a few “key apps”-Try to focus on creation apps (vs content apps) What can we introduce to our section?
  • Web tools exploration- Edustar Cards, edustar image.

From Surface to Deep Learning…

Our school is very excited to be involved in the new pedagogies for deep learning project that 1000 schools worldwide are participating in. In an nutshell the project is aiming to find a way a diffrent approach to teavhing and learning that raises achievement by ensuring that students are engaged in authentic purooseful learning projects. The website is here if you would like to more. http://www.newpedagogies.info/

I came across this video form Scott Macould presentation at TED event that summarises how technology can provide an avenue to deep learning opportunities. Check it out:


Here is a collection of the resources that we picked up for from the New Pedagogies for Deep learning conference on Monday.

NDDP


A self assessment form for us to fill in and consider….


 

Our E-Smart Journey

A couple of years ago our school signed up the E-Smart Schools program overseen by the Madeline and Alannah foundation. The program has involved us following a process that has been really great for our school to follow, We started the journey with a thorough audit of our current practices and from this audit we worked out the areas we needed to improve on. Following the audit way back then we established a bit of a to-do list. Included in that initial list were:

  • Forming an E-Smart committee
  • Conducting regular E-Smart meetings
  • Including E-Smart updates in our sections and while staff meetings.

We have come along way since the initial planning stage of the program. Two years on and we feel as a whole school we have a much better direction in terms of a coherent whole school approach to teaching kids (and the community) about staying safe online. As a result of the program we now have a number of initiatives in practice in our school. Some of the items that have been implemented as a result of our E-Smart program include:

  • Establishment of an E-Smart policy
  • Updated Internet and email policy
  • Updated enrollment forms-to include sections about the responsible use of technology
  • New whole school behavior/incident tracking system.
  • The introduction of ‘Cyber Safety’ Shows for our student shows.
  • A P-6 curriculum document that outlines the explicit teaching of cyber safety behaviours
  • Regular professional development for teachers (from both internal and external providers)
  • Information sessions for parents and students from the same providers.
  • Regular presentations not just from ACMA’s outreach program but also from local police (cyber crime unit) to share information with our students.
  • Regular E-Smart meetings and updates
  • A parent communication program where they get regular cyber safety tips and updates via email and the school newsletter.

We are very proud of how far we have come as a school but we are also aware that the technology is changing rapidly and will continue to do so. We know that we have to continue to learn about new online technologies and more importantly how people use these technologies. Overall, we know that the internet is a fantastic tool and we want to encourage our students to use it for the many positive things it has going for it .

Grammar does matter!

Fresh off the heels of a regional PD our schools literacy team returned with lots of information about the teaching of grammar in a primary classroom.

At first we closely looked at the Ausvels curriculum to familiarize ourselves with all the grammar components of the curriculum. In teams we had a healthy discussion on what needed to be taught at each level.

The team also showed us a few ideas for introducing grammar realted topics to our classes and ways to improve their sentence writing.

We talked about subjects, verbs, simple sentences, complex sentences. Please check out the presentation below for details on what was covered in the session.

Shepparton Grammar PPT by gjdarma

 

The team showed us quite a few classroom games and activities that re-inforce the teaching of grammar in the primary classroom. Some of these included the (Break- sentence) down language experience where you think of a thing like a person or an animal then write a small list of adjectives, places or settings and actions. The students can then play around with these words to create sentences. The example we used in the staff room was frogs.

Adjectives- Croaky, jumpy, smelly, large

Settings- Swamp, pond, lilypad

Actions- Vigorously,

Obviously your list you create would be dependent on the age group of your students and their abilities. This activity could be varied in a number of ways.

Another activity we had was ABC writing. This is to get students thinking about different ways of starting their sentences. We took a familiar fairy tale, like Cinderella and had to then re-write the fairy tale starting each sentence with a new letter of the alphabet. For example the first word of the first sentence started with an a, nest sentence b and so on. I think this a clever idea and something I will be using in my classroom.

A lot of the ideas in the PD came from this document a language strategies document. Check it out below: