Sep 30, 2016

Using social online networks in teaching and professional development


I have been an active user of social media in my classroom programme for nearly 10 years, or maybe longer. Although it has evolved over the years the initial premise is still there. The ability to connect with learners and educators outside of my classroom, my area, my city and my country…the world as they say is your oyster. As Whitby stated in Connected Educators (2013)  ‘We have to realize that as educators we’re always telling our students to be lifelong learners, well, education doesn't stop when you get your teacher’s license. You have to be a life-long learner” (4.12). Obviously as an early adopter I had to learn myself before I took it into the classroom so my learning started online. Enter my learning network of folk on Twitter. Through my life on Twitter I have gained close contact with a number of educators from around the world and this was invaluable in supporting my set-up of class-blogs safely (so locating other blogs was selected by me not by student accidental clicking – top bar removable was a must for the class blog set-up). Being able to access educational gurus knowledge and expertise in certain areas saved me hours of work and reinvention of the proverbial wheel. Melhuish (2013) pointed out that “The privileging of the individual voice saw a shift in the locus of control, from ‘expert-driven’ learning modes to a more collaborative, participatory model” (p.40) this is how the advent of using social networking in the classroom has evolved an moved.
http://aoife-girl.blogspot.co.nz/
EdChatNZ has been my most resent collaboration tool over the last few years. As Melhuish (2013) quoted “While collaboration and networking do not, of themselves, enhance professional practice, they can be precursors for meaningful dialogue to occur (Bolstad, Gilbert, McDowall, Bull, Boyd & Hipkins, 2012; Timperley et al., 2007) and EdChatNZ is this to an absolute T! Conversation every fortnight with like minded and passionate educators is interesting from many perspectives and often a source of on the spot PD as well.
Our class blog has been utilized for a number of years (although a name change has been incurred due to school movement). This particular social media has worked very well with the class although I haven’t ventured into children having their own personal blogs yet due to lack of technology here and the class enjoys sharing their own posts. It has also become a great source of history over the years and the ability to show past examples is a real lifesaver sometimes. For example, the years of posts on the NZ Post MailBox designs has been great to demonstrate and see past successes. The blog has almost become an archive of my teaching career in some ways. The ability to communicate and collaborate with other schools is educational on so many levels.  The rise of QuadBlogging has been an invaluable and rich experience for the children and my classes have enjoyed this practice over a number of years within NZ and then QuadBlogging in the wider world. The beauty of blogging is also the ability to approve or deny comments, this outwits the phishers and trolls that are around.
I have a class twitter account for numerous years. This has allowed children to access experts and other classes in other lands. This has been less successful on the class front, again due to lack of technology in the classroom, and really only gets used when we have something to comment on, a particular person we need to speak to or something exciting has happened. I would love to use it more frequently with the children. Using ‘fake’ tweets has been great at inspiring the reluctant writer too. The limitation of 140-character writing is always a fun writing exercise – can you write a short story using only 140 characters? Hopefully with the onset of possible BYOD next year in my class and another class we will support the twittersphere will become a much higher success rate and utilized in an improved and productive manner.
https://twitter.com/laingholmcheese

Joosten (2013) stated we should “engage students through rich current media” (s.25). With the evolution of the internet, rich media and other apps and products out there we have over the years utilized other aspects of social networks. Google hangouts and skype have been invaluable to connect and chat to and SEE classes in other countries – the time difference can always be a problem but this has been invaluable for children learning about others and how education changes from country to country. Instant gratification is the name of the game – such an improvement on the old pen pal letter. Instagram has been a great introduction to the class and they LOVE adding pictures on almost a daily basis (cheesyclass), the Daily Ducky is their most loved posting each day. It’s allowed us to keep in contact with students who have moved down the line and see how they are progressing. It also recently became a great reminder/learning tool for discussing cyber bullying when another group of students were writing nasty comments about another student – great digital citizenship reminder.
Our Class YouTube channel and our School YouTube channel has been a roaring success also. I particularly like to ability to approve or deny comment postings but the public – keeping the riffraff to a minimum. The students love sharing their videos and relatives aboard have enjoyed this aspect as well as the blog. Again sharing across the world is invaluable learning experiences.
https://www.youtube.com/user/ClassCheeseman

 A current favourite connection, which has been invaluable for students, teachers and parents, has been using Class Dojo in school. Their new element of adding student stories, class story and class video has been an absolute hit with all concerned. Parents are loving the snippets of connectivity about what children are doing at school, students are loving sharing their photos of what accomplishments and work they are doing at school – it’s easy it’s monitored and it’s a safe environment. Again, this will be better utilized with more devices in class but having some devices connected is a fun way for children to share their learning. It’s been great for school wide communications and I haven’t had anything but positive feedback from parents that can keep up-to-date with the school/class/student goings on right from their phones – anytime, anyplace, anywhere!
Social Networking in the classroom has made the world accessible from the classroom. It has opened my students up to a world of possibilities and wealth of instant information. It has made learning fun and appropriate to my learners who are digitally connected at home, why would I get them to disconnect and write everything with pens and paper? This is their world and we as educators in the 21st Century have to embrace it, with all the challenges it entails but also the endless possibilities it also offers.

References:
Joosten, P. T. (2013). Pearson: Social Media for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/tjoosten/social-media-for-teaching-and-learning-27456257?from_action=save
Melhuish, K. (2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning.

Office of Ed Tech. (2013). Connected Educators.

Sep 28, 2016

Legal and Ethical contexts in my digital practice.

According to Metcalf [2016] there were 2.307 billion social media users as of January this year with the prediction from Statista of this number growing to 2.95 billion users by 2020 – 4 years time! The internet and social media is the world our students are born into. Is not our ethical duty as educators to teach social online citizenship skills? I do not believe that we can rely on communities and parents to do this effectively.

https://curemd.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/social-media-in-healthcare/


https://politicalviolenceataglance.org/2013/09/10/ostrich-or-quixote-intervention-in-syria-et-moi/I am reminded on an incident nearly 10 years ago now….when I first decided to have a Teacher profile on Facebook as well as a private Facebook account.  So many children [even though they shouldn't be on Facebook, they are] want to keep in touch with teachers – my decision rested on using it for educational purposes and continuing to educate students even after they’d left my classroom. It also opened up the conversation with students within my class to feel comfortable discussing issues with me. Now I am fully aware that they shouldn't have been on Facebook as the requirement is being 13 years or over, however, I am also not going to be an ostrich and stick my head in the sand and think it’s not happening when it clearly is. An incident arose in quiet conversation where a female student asked me how to stop someone from requesting friendship via Facebook. She had been approached a number of times by the same male whom she did not know. Am I pleased she felt comfortable enough to talk to me YES! Am I grateful she knew I had a Facebook page and knowledge of the Privacy settings YES! Should she have been able to discuss it with her family YES! But she didn’t……too often students feel more comfortable discussing personal things with unrelated people – in this case I am relieved she could ask for help and that I could help her deal with the situation and stop it happening again. Henderson, Auld & Johnson (2014) stated that “the ethical issues are largely founded on the understanding that both students and teachers have lifeworlds outside of school that are characterized by complex identities, social practices, and discourse that influence how they engage or disengage with each other and with social media texts such as Facebook” (p.2)

https://ellismetcalf.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/social-media-ethics/


There is a real chance of opening oneself up to cyber attacks from parents and or students by having a Teacher Facebook page – but the odds are already there regardless. A website called ‘Rate my teacher’ came into action some 10 or so years ago – actively promoting rating education institutions and staff on a scale. Thankfully this particular site seems to have been revamped to give a more positive spin on teachers, it certainly wasn’t the case then. With the rise of social media platforms that give people a ‘faceless’ voice there will always be the possibility of cyber-bullying. Look at the amount of trolling that goes on with our own NZ celebrities. Polly Gillespie seems to put up with an awful lot of cyber attacks. So my ethics are firmly planted in the – we must educate our students arena. They need to know and understand that cyber bullying is just as bad as face-to-face. They need to know that there are REAL people on the other end of blogs, Twitter feeds, Instagram accounts, Facebook accounts, Snapchats etc. Bullying should not be tolerated anywhere – not even in cyber space! Henderson et al (2014) stated that “when students are encouraged to examine and critique their use of social media, such as Facebook, when interacting with the teacher or with fellow students, they are being asked to behave, converse, share, and self-regulate in ways that are different to their already established practices” (p.6).
With the continuing rise of online gaming forums, which allow ‘conversations’ between strangers and the continuing, rise of social networks such as Snapchat and Instagram there is a real need to discuss ethics and cyber safety with our students. We have a duty to keep our students safe in school…why not in cyber space too. They need to learn the protocols of cyber safety as many of them are already online. We had an incident recently of a student being verbally abused by a number of other students on Instagram. According to the Ministry of Education & Netsafe (2015) nearly 45% of youth have been attacked online (p.11), I am guessing this number has probably grown, and this is only the percentage we KNOW ABOUT – what about the youth that say nothing, that tell no one, what’s that percentage?  

Should this be up to parents to monitor? Yes! Are we going to rely on all parents doing that? No. We are living in an age where students have devices everywhere – they WILL find a way to be online! It’s in their DNA! We need to teach the basics if nothing else, especially as devices are being used in the classroom – regardless of whether they are on social media sites or a locked in school hub…the option to be unsafe is still there. Our students ARE online. They ARE communicating in digital form. It’s the 21st Century. 
A great source of information for your classroom on Digital Citizenship is:
https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/resources - Lee Crockett & Andrew Churches - Education speakers and authors
 
References

Chaffey, D. (2016). Global Social Media Research Summary 2016. Retrieved from http://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/
 
Crockett, L., Churches, A., & Global Digital Citizen Team. (2016). The Global Digital Citizen. Retrieved from http://globaldigitalcitizen.org/
 
Henderson, M., Auld, G., & Johnson, N. F. (2014). Ethics of teaching with social media, 1–7.

Metcalf, E. (2016). Social Media Ethics. Retrieved from https://ellismetcalf.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/social-media-ethics/
 
Ministry of Education, & Netsafe. (2015). Digital Technology Safe and responsible Use in Schools.

Sep 25, 2016

Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness in my practice

http://empiregroup.careers/keeping-your-staff-happy/cultural-diversity-in-the-workplace/


In the past I have worked in some very culturally diverse schools. However, my current school is almost rural in location and as such we have very few students from other cultures in our school. Wilson (2013) states "Culture is the beliefs and priorities that drives the thoughts and actions of the people in the school” (0.54). The culture of our school is lead from the top tier of management and then the leadership team. For the most part is a collegial set up and works well with staff and students. I would like to see more ownership from the students about how they learn and what they learn, but at the moment this is contained to certain classes and teachers. We have a student council group that meets weekly with the Principal and reports back to classes. Our school also runs a values programme that supports positive behaviours (honesty, excellence, aroha, respect and trustworthy), the children do respond to this quite well and the HEART values are frequently discussed and promoted. However, I do have reservations about the way this is rewarded and how much it is related to the specific teachers opinions and attitudes to certain children. I am not convinced it is effective in the right way.
In my classroom I have 3 of the 8 Maori students in school. I have high expectations of all my students regardless of their cultural background. Bishop (2012) states that “Maori are an incredible educable population, just as easily educable as any other group in society” (3.19). I am inclined to agree with Bishop in a lot of respects, however I do feel that there appears to be a vicious circle of ‘it’s someone else’s fault’ coming from some of the students families. Which means regardless of the work we do in school it gets unraveled fast at home with no effort or support given to learning and getting to school on time, if at all. Some students are hindered by their backgrounds and a whole different family dynamics while others are encouraged by a positive mindset and supportive family life. However, I will also state this is not a cultural thing, this is across many cultures and backgrounds, not just Maori. I encourage students to share their own personal learning and we have a weekly section called Genius Hour – students can research and study their own chosen learning and share with the class. I also let go of setting ‘homework’ some years back and set ‘home learning’ suggestions with free choices added so that students have some guidance but are free to make their own choices of study also. I have also encouraged parents with certain skills that we need to support the class. Just this term we have had two parents coming in to teach the class and share their knowledge from the film and advertising world to support our film focus. It’s great when the community can gets involved in the students learning. Cowie et al states that “Teachers seeking out, affirming and incorporating student and community funds of knowledge into the curriculum sometimes challenged traditional classroom power−knowledge relationships” (p.3), this is where some teachers have difficulty in becoming the learners rather than the educators and fountains of knowledge.
We have a strong Kapa Haka and Te Reo teacher who presently revolves around all the classes doing CRT. I feel that this is the first school where Maori has had a sense of belonging and involvement and yet it's one of the schools with the least Maori in it! We are always encouraged to participate in Matariki, Maori language week, Whakamahi and termly Powhiri’s where the Kapa Haka perform and speak. Often we have morning notices that encourage to the use of specific Maori words for the day. There are also frequent Hui’s organized for whanau which celebrates community. 

Pitama, Robertson and Cram (2007) suggest that it is important to ensure all assessment tools and practices are “placed within the appropriate cultural context to ensure valid hypotheses are drawn and that potential interventions sit within appropriate cultural norms” (p.5). This is where I think a number of schools in this country are suffering greatly. Just throwing in a Maori name for a student into an assessment question doesn’t make it cultural representational or appropriate to our students and neither does it include the cultural diversity of our increasing diverse population. I would personally like to questions/assessments written by a Pacific Islander, by an Indian or even a Korean. We need to see more education in the different cultures and space in our timetables to be able to include other cultures and beliefs other than just in off hand discussions. 
Bishop (2012) “there needs to be support from the school, there needs to be tremendous support in terms of time and energy provided for teachers and most importantly very highly qualified and proficient professional development needs to be provided for teachers” (5.37). He goes on to say that wrapped around the education institution needs to be a robust education system that provides “sufficient funding and support for ongoing change” (6.06). Our school is one of the best (in my humble opinion) at providing just in time learning and Professional Development for staff. It is positively encouraged and rarely is PD turned down. Staff are always sent on courses to learn about new students with asperger’s or dyslexia etc Anything we deem as important is always supported. As Bishop stated though (and I commented in my previous post) there needs to be more funding and support given to schools to effectively promote change and provide resources that are culturally diverse and support children with different beliefs and backgrounds. This also allows for awareness within Pakeha to understand, celebrate and appreciate other cultures, particularly given the quite clouded media coverage of certain cultures in our ever changing diverse society.
References:
Bishop, R. (2012). A Culturally Responsive Pedagogy of Relations. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/49992994
 
Cowie, B., Otrel-cass, K., Glynn, T., Kara, H., Anderson, M., Doyle, J., … Kiri, C. Te. (2011). Culturally responsive pedagogy and assessment in primary science classrooms: Whakamana tamariki. Retrieved from http://www.tlri.org.nz/sites/default/files/projects/9268_cowie-summaryreport.pdf
 
 Pitama, S., Robertson, P., & Cram, F. (2007). Meihana model: A clinical assessment framework. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 36(3), 118–125. Retrieved from http://www.biomedsearch.com/article/Meihana-model-clinical-assessment-framework/173643516.html
 
Wilson, M. (2013). Building a Culture of Success. Retrieved from https;//www.youtube.com/watch?=n_8Bjz-OCD8 

Sep 22, 2016

Contemporary Trend in NZ - BYOD


The trend that interests me the most at the moment is that of BYOD in schools. Having been a high user of technologies in my classroom for many years and more recently trying to encourage a school of teachers to use technology to enhance their teaching and programmes, this trend is the one that is forefront in our school and my classroom.
While I have a number of varieties of technology in my class we still have not yet gone BYOD. Only recently with the SNUP upgrade has our infrastructure been robust enough to possibly support a BYOD plan. Now….plans are being developed and discussed with myself as the eLearning teacher and my Principal. We have an idea and plans are beginning to be formulated, in the hopes that this will come into our practice in 2017.

http://blog.bizzdesign.com/byod-the-good-the-bad-the-ugly


According to the Horizon Report 2015, “The use of mobile and other technologies, combined with new instructional approaches and the ubiquity of the Internet, have led to more student-centered learning where students have autonomy over the tools and materials they use” (p.28). To my mind using their own devices develops more of the child’s 21st Century skills necessary for their life outside of the classroom and beyond the classroom. The skills needed today are very different from the skills we needed when we left school [too long ago to mention]. Students need to be able to communicate in person but safely and clearly online too. It has for many years been hard to manage online interactions and make sure all get a fair crack of the whip when there are limited devices in the class. I imagine much more scope and creativity in my class if each child had their own device, their learning would be more about them than me directing and delivering. My role would invariably change as it has over the last 10 years, it should evolve and develop as times change and I want to bring this change to other teachers in the school that are just beginning to see the possibilities available to them by using technology in the class. 
In the priority learners report 2012 “ ERO encourages schools to develop systems, processes and connections that put students at the heart of learning and teaching, rather than on the periphery of school decision-making and the curriculum” (p. 6), why should our students not have a say in how they learn? The only problem with this in our school at the present time is the funding to support it, therefore BYOD is the only logical progression. 
Of course for our unique situation this does pose problems. We have a small community that is the only means for fundraising. The same people are required to pay all the time – at present our situation is that we have lost a playground and are trying to raise funds to rebuild…with the vast expense of 240K to do this hanging over us it is difficult to ask parents/community for more funds to buy personal devices. Although I agree with Future- Focused Learning (2014) that “taking devices home also has consequential benefits” (p.11) it does become problematical when the same peoples finances are being stretched. Future-focused learning also stated that “schools and their funding and hardware partners could provide back-up devices in case of technology failure and breakage, and ensure no student misses out” (p.11) again this becomes problematical with insufficient funding to support this.

It is important for my role as eLearning director to facilitate the use and implementation of technologies in our school. Future-Focused Learning indicated that “every student and educator is to be a confident, competent user of digital technologies, we will need to provide curriculum resources and professional development opportunities for teachers” (p.9), my question again is who funds this? It has worked really well this term me being released to support staff, model and encourage in their classrooms with the technology, but this release time is unsustainable due to financial limitations. It’s a grave shame as some staff have really begun to gain traction in our focus on Film Making – it’s a worrying to think that this will dwindle if it’s not a focus and that support is not at their fingertips. Staff need to be comfortable and confident in the use of ICT’s in their class and this is/was beginning to improve with my support and guidance within their classes. In the European Survey of schools they also indicated that teacher confidence and ability were some of the biggest obstacles in implementing successful technology programmes in schools and BYOD.
The Ministry of Education’s draft outline vision for education in 2025 (2015) stipulates that education institutions should change and that all educators and students become the teachers and the learners (p.2). This IS what we want for our school, this IS our aim and our focus….the only problem will be when can it feasibly be implemented in our current situation. 

References:
 
21st Century Learning Reference Group. (2014). Future-focused learning in connected communities, (May), 1–37. Retrieved from http://www.education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Ministry/Initiatives/FutureFocusedLearning30May2014.pdf
 
Baas Ton. (2013). BYOD - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. Retrieved from http://blog.bizzdesign.com/byod-the-good-the-bad-the-ugly
 
Johnson, L., Krueger, K., Adams Becker, S., & Cummins, M. (2015). NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition. Retrieved from http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2015-nmc-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf
 
Stoop, G. (2012). Evaluation at a Glance : Priority Learners in New Zealand Schools August 2012, (August). Retrieved from http://www.ero.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Evaluation-at-a-Glance-Priority-Learners-in-New-Zealand-Schools-August-2012.pdf
 
Ministry of Education. (2015). NEW ZEALAND EDUCATION IN 2025 : Lifelong Learners in a Connected World. Retrieved from http://www.education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Ministry/Initiatives/Lifelonglearners.pdf

Sep 11, 2016

Current issues in my professional context

When I first arrived at my current school a few years back I had the distinct worry that things were not as they should be. While the general ambience of the school was welcoming and warm, there was a distinct buzz with the children and most of the staff, there was also a distinct cold front. I was quickly told in no uncertain terms that things were done this way for a reason [the reason was never given] and that that’s the way we do it here. Stoll states the same thing, “Each school has a different reality or mindset of school life, often captured in the simple phrase “it’s the way we do things around here” (p.9, 1998). So trying to suggest new ways of running some programmes [such as maths] were met with very frosty responses. Thankfully the cold front was short lived and moved onto a different area of Auckland and the general culture and feel of the school warmed up considerably. School culture for me needs to be one where staff are valued for their ideas and input regardless of whether they are on the management team or not. Professional development should be shared and utilised and ideas welcomed. We as educators expect this to happen in our classrooms with our students so why not in the staffroom or meeting?

Stoll (1998) defines school culture along three dimensions, the relationship among its members; the organisational structure including the physical environment and management system; and the learning nature. Some internal and external factors that shape a school's culture include the school's history, the students' socio-economic background, external contexts such as national educational policies, and societal changes. 

Stoll and Fink identified the 10 cultural norms that influence school improvement. Our school definitely seems to have most of them pretty nailed. Although the first two maybe need some work. One of the things I love about some of the staff I work with is the collaboration we have. Frequently we spontaneously and voluntarily work together on different programmes and ideas, we share activities and we join forces on activities too – it certainly improves the general feel of positivity and alleviates the stresses of the job. I have found the yearly challenges laid down to us quite taxing sometimes but I love that there is always someone there to help. I love that staff offer support and guidance in their areas of expertise frequently, willingly and often without prompting. 

  

There is an openness and mutual respect amongst staff and this makes the school environment a pleasant place to work in. The areas we need to work on as a school I feel are definitely the first two. I’m not sure that the shared goals are often decided on together as much as laid down in a ‘you shalt’ manner, this makes for a divisive staff attitude and therefor success is often not strived towards with the right attitude – it is rather dragged along kicking and screaming in some cases; depending on the goal structure and discussions that led to it.

I do sometimes feel that the socioeconomic area of our school promotes a culture of judgment and criticism; however, I have also experienced this in other areas in schools also – it’s not just this school. I think a great deal of this attitude comes from the constant media bashing of schools. ‘Schools failing in core subjects’, ‘Parata fires shot at teachers’, ‘Schools under pressure’ etc etc. It is a struggle to rise above the onslaught of negativity but as educators we do need to hold a growth mindset on a daily basis. As Silns, Mulford, Waters et al (2003) state “If we want to nurture a growth mindset, we need classroom, school, and community cultures that reflect the language and expectations that come with it.” (p.2). Our school and culture must be positive even in a sea of negativity otherwise we will all drown. Promoting and using mindfulness on a daily basis has become a useful tool for myself as well as my students. It helps to take stock of the pressures of the world around us it actually helps to refocus the brain on the things that matter. It’s a new strategy I have implemented lately and will continue to implement as the year continues. As Mrnjaus & Kmeta (2014) suggest “maintenance of concentration, social problems resolution skills, how we manage frustration, negative and positive feelings (this is connected with frontal lobe) is extremely important for school, social and personal results”. (p.1046)

  References:

Deal, T.E., & Kennedy, A. (1983). Culture and school performance, Educational Leadership, 40 (5), pp.140–141.

Mrnjaus, K., & Krneta, M. (2014). Mindfulness, Concentration and Student Achievement – Challenges and Solutions. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116, 1044–1049. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.343

Silins, H., Mulford, B., Waters, T., Marzano, D. R. J., McNulty, B., & Blackwell, L. (2003). Growth Mindset in Context Content and Culture Matter Too. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 15(3–4), 43–466. http://doi.org/10.1080/09243450512331383272

Stoll, L., & Fink, D. (1996). Changing our schools: Linking school effectiveness and school improvement. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Stoll, L. (1998). School Culture. School Culture, (9), 9–14. Retrieved from http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/content/download/483/3690/stoll_article_set3_2000.pdf



Sep 4, 2016

My Community Of Practice

As an educator in a senior class my closest community of practice is the team members I work with most directly. However, it also overlaps into the wider community of colleagues, as I am also the eLearning director in our school; this position affords me the co-ordinator role and therefore has me directly interacting with, supporting and guiding teachers in other areas of the school. Wenger (2009) says "we define with each other what constitutes competence in a given context." My team of four senior teachers is the community I most interact with through meetings, professional development and our weekly breakfasts together – a much-needed source of support and relaxing fun thrown in for good measure. The team is a secure one and a supportive one as we all have skills in differing areas of expertise and therefore we are frequently guiding and supporting each other in different areas. Communications with the team are often casual, in passing, or via emails sharing ideas and thoughts. It is the team I value the most as we frequently have ‘parental’ issues that require support from each other in the ‘where to next’ category and the ‘how do I deal with that one’ category. I see our team as equals because we have skills in differing areas: ICT’s, mindfulness, literacy, numeracy, science and sport. We all offer skills for each other to learn from and I feel that this team works symbiotically together because of our skill base and natural nature to support. 

Given previous assignments my reflections on my own practice have grown over the period of working with Mindlab. Wenger (2009) states "communities of practice grow out of a convergent interplay of competence and experience that involves mutual engagement".  On a previous assignment I reflected that my role as eLearning director took a mostly 'fix it', 'sort it' role rather than a supportive and guiding role. Therefore over the last term as we have focused on filming and photography in school I have directed two of my ICT blocks a week to support in the classroom. This has then afforded me time to support and guide teachers in their learning using ICT's in the classroom. I have felt like I am supporting and guiding teachers, I have had a sense of belonging to other parts of the school where once I was I felt disconnected from [most specifically the juniors], I have also felt that I am valued and needed within the school not just as a  'fix it' lady. It has been enlightening for myself as well as the other teachers in the school whom I am supporting with my skill base. This is what the role SHOULD have been all along. Even when the filming project for school as finished it is my intention to keep the two blocks weekly for support in classes or modelling – whatever colleagues require. The excitement I have seen generated by staff who once thought it was ‘too hard’ to integrate ICT’s in the classroom with all the other demands on our class time has been so very rewarding for them and me. 

New connections have been forged with the teacher enquiry into including growth mindset and mindfulness into my daily/weekly programmes. I now have a new community of practice where we will implement the programme I set out to do, I seem to have energised a few staff into practicing mindfulness after our professional development over a year ago, just through my ideas of how I would monitor and implement it in the classroom. This has extended through to other year groups of teachers and has been quite energising and future focused for our school community of learners as well as parents, colleagues and students. Wenger (2000) stated that communities of practice “can evolve naturally because of the members' common interest in a particular domain or area”

The community of practice continues to grow and evolve…

https://convcme.wordpress.com/tag/communities-of-practice/

References:

Finlay, B. L. (2008). Reflecting on “ Reflective practice .” PBPL Paper 52, (January), 1–27. http://doi.org/10.1016/0260-4779(91)90031-R

Pennington, F. (2011). Communities of Practice - A Framework for Learning and Improvement. Retrieved from https://convcme.wordpress.com/tag/communities-of-practice/ 

Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Wenger, E.(2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization,7 (2), 225-246 (Available in Unitec Library).

Jul 17, 2016

Mindlab - literature review/discussion

Lots reading on mindfulness and growth mindset over the last few days relating to our research question:


What impact does growth mindset have on students achievement?
 
I think over the last bit of reading we need to add mindfulness to our research question. there seems to be a direct correlation between the two and thinking forward to my teacher inquiry it would be good to include mindfulness into this research. 

What impact does growth mindset and mindfulness have on students achievement?
 
I am not convinced that all mindsets can be changed if they are deep seated over many years but i may be persuaded to consider that teaching mindfulness could create a growth mindset in young people that they may carry on into their future lives.
 
I, myself have a fixed mindset with regard to teaching maths.  This is deep seated from a young age [refer to DCL1 and DCL2], while it has improved over the years and the mindset occasionally relaxes the fixed mindset overrides it often as it is so deep seated. The moment i am questioned on my teaching on maths, the moment someone comes in on a maths lesson, the moment someone questions my planning or teaching or grading in maths the fixed mindset comes right back and the stress and chip is retained. I don't believe this will ever change; we as teachers are constantly being judged by communities, by students, by parents, by management, by colleagues by media....therefore if our mindset is tentatively fixed we will always revert back to this as a coping mechanism. We all drop back to most learned behaviour.



 

Jun 5, 2016

Mindlab Session 13 - Inquiry Learning

e-Learning tools and implementation strategies are there to support our teaching and learning not to replace it

Laingholm's Inquiry model - workable for the independent inquirers as well as the students who still require guided and modeled learning

Inquiry moving from Knowledge to Understanding
needs to be:
  • relevant to them and their world
  • hook them in from the get go
  • could be an event that needs to happen
  • provocative statement
  • or a real-life challenge that effects them
  • Observe
  • Wonder & Ponder
  • Investigate
  • Conclude
 Involve me and I will understand...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u84ZsS6niPc

Constructivist: ask questions, investigate solutions,  gather information and create new knowledge, discuss discoveries and experiences, reflect on new knowledge - not teacher directed
evaluate information


Teacher is the facilitator not the provider
open ended questions
activate prior knowledge
discuss questions and research knowledge gathering
present and reflect





May 29, 2016

Mindlab Session 12 -Design Thinking

Design Thinking:
Research, finding patterns and connections, design principles, make tangible, test and evaluate, iterate relentlessly eg fitness trackers in USA for children - https://vimeo.com/90355541

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXndL3TNCmo 

Defining the problem would be beneficial for understanding what the specific problem is. By defining the problem you are able to identify the underlying issue. If you are unable to define the specific problem, the ideating/prototype stages will not help to solve the problem. You need to define who the stakeholders are; ie know who the problem/solution will affect.

Defining is an important part of Teaching as Inquiry process.

Ideating : Is there enough time spent on this phase?

- Variety of solutions
- Can be as crazy as you want
- Team = finding a solution
- Opens your mind
- An idea may be a solution for something else later
- Takes out the leader (issue?)

Austin's Butterfly - try and try and again, careful advice to make it better, perseverance  https://vimeo.com/38247060 the eyes of a scientist
a great one to share with children - for learning from constructive criticism and trying again






Mindlab Session 11 - Agile Functionality

Agile Manifesto rewritten for schools:
Learner/facilitator collaboration over assessment requirements
Responding to change over following a plan
Teaching practices over curriculum documentation
Meaningful learning over measurement of learning

Agile Leadership - the best can get better
What can stay the same?
What needs to be removed?
What can be tweaked?
What needs to be radically redesigned?
get better all the time is the sign of an AGILE leader

Is our school working in an AGILE fashion??? No I don't think so - we are always pushing and pulling  in different directions prime example being our current situation the school playground replacement.
Committee of parents - no communication to staff
Community Facebook page - no actual targets
school staff and children wanting to do something but not being allowed to with consultation

Trello - I can definitely see the benefits for using Trello in the classroom and in meetings to help make work smarter smarter.... already started one for our inquiry projects into developing ideas for getting money for our school playground








May 22, 2016

Mindlab Session 10 - crowd sourcing and entrepreneurship

Market Share - board game - played for an hour and half with group http://www.marketshare.co.nz/
great game of purchasing small businesses and working up the ladder
uses money, percentages, bonuses, accounting etc
not sure how it would work with 9 - 11 year olds - quite complex and needs lots of math knowledge such as working our percentages of money, also lots of looking at different things - booklet to sheet to board.
however we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and didn't want it to stop

Crowd sourcing - lots of benefits here for children to work with - giving something for something is a focus. although our video was for the givealittle page I need to look into crowd sourcing for gaining some momentum for raising funds for our school playground


Pledge me - what reward? Advertise your business on our Facebook page?

Innocentive.com solve our problem for us

Zooinverse - people powered research