Sunday, 18 September 2005

ED Comes to Town!

Don't miss the ED (combined schools of Douglas, Huiakama, Marco, Matau & Makahu) Production, 'Dancing Through the Ages', at the TET Kings Theatre, Stratford this Wednesday 21st September - entry gold coin donation. It will be a great show! Get down there & support our ED schools.
I was lucky enough to have a preview out at Huiakama last week - lots of energy & enthusiam :-) Some ICT integration too with the routing of the music playlist through the laptop, through the sound system & some to come with some visual images being worked on to add to the storyline - have to wait & see for that one. If we had the webcams up & running they could be learning their lines together too (but maybe next time).

McLuhan - the medium is the message

"At the speed of light, policies and political parties yield place to charismatic images."
Marshall McLuhan 1911-1980

This may be a very apt quote in the days to come after last nights events (deja vu)
But i don't want to focus on the politics - would like to know more about McLuhan - his name keeps popping up all over the place though he has been gone for quite some time. It seems he is an influential thinker in the area of Communication & was the one to coin the phrase 'the medium is the message' A whole host of his quotes some of them so well known can be found here. I am looking to read some of his work though wouldn't know what to start with - any suggestions would be appreciated. Maybe I'll just take a trip over to the Massey Library & order a selection :-)

Saturday, 17 September 2005

Education Prepares our Kids for the Present not just the Future

Just been listening to David Warlick's last podcast where he gives the soapbox to Dr Tim Tyson from Mabry Middle School who speaks passionately about the difference between schooling then (for us) & schooling now (or for some of us the potential). Warlick advises that for most listeners this is preaching to the converted but this is a message we should be taking out to our school communities. Tim is awesome to listen to though I think he focuses strongly on technology as an enabler when we know there are lots of other factors enabling our kids learning - but maybe that comes in podcast part 2... One of the main things that made me think about this podcast was when Tim talks about the huge untapped potential in our children as builders of knowledge. 'Knowledge is the seed for change and action.' That for some time we have thought of education as preparing our children for the future when really they have a lot to contribute in the present. I won't review this any further - it is really worth a listen to & not too long & not at all boring. Jump over to the Mabry website too - very slick but lots going on there too with their own Podcast Central.
And if you think i would spend this beautiful day sitting at my computer - you're wrong - (except for this 10 minutes to make my post) I have been busy around the garden with my new little toy in my pocket & my earphones on!!!!

Monday, 12 September 2005

Flickr Flickr

Just been listening to Steve @ Teach 42 podcasting about all the cool things you can do on Flickr. I started using Flickr out at Matau when we were working out how to get pictures on our blogs - way back then (say 3 months ago - long time at today's pace :-) it was the only way we could get photos up & make our blogs hopefully more interesting... Now of course you just click the little picture button on your blogspot webediting page & can put a photo up with a simple browse & click.
OK so Flickr - still using it for all my extra photos that don't make my blog page and also another account for sharing family photos. Steve's podcast opened up a whole lot of awesome ideas about how you can use Flickr. I don't need to repeat his ideas here - just go to his blog post Flickr-fy your life
Hey, here might be another workshop for Learning@School 90 minutes playing with Flickr - i know it can be done :-)

Monday, 5 September 2005

Builders’ Houses, Mechanics’ Cars, Teachers’ Children.

Just been to a Parent’s Evening @ the local highschool “Tips for Parents” from a company called ‘The Art of Learning.’ The pitch was developing accelerated learning techniques, hooking into our Emotional Intelligence & the senior students have been taking a series of workshops with this company. The blurb sounded a lot like Karen Boyes Spectrum Learning workshops so I thought I’d go for a nosey. A big focus on setting up our kids for success within the school system – studying, passing exams… Well, I know all that stuff of course but you know it’s the story of the builders’ house being the worst kept in the street. What do I do to encourage ‘school’ success in my children – do I turn off the TV, playstation, hound them to do their homework (even though they say they don’t have any). Well actually, none of the above. Why? Of course I want my kids to succeed but I feel in a sense I’m still bucking the system myself – do I value ‘school’ success? Only for the pathways it can lead you when you get good grades, pass exams, get accepted for scholarships, uni. courses, great careers. So somewhere along the line the intrinsic love of learning that I believe is innate in all of us turns into an external drive for success & who sets the benchmarks for this? & is this when some of our kids lose their motivation because they have to do things rather than want to?
It seems a bit contradictory to me that secondary schools need to bring in external facilitators to motivate our kids & introduce them to learning strategies. If the core business of our schools is learning then why are we not driving this within our schools – why is it an add-on & not an integrated part of our school cultures everyday and not just once a year around exam time? The no. 9 tip for parents was ‘develop a family learning culture’ – how do our schools develop learning cultures & extend this into our school whanau? Instead of helping our kids adapt to the existing system so they can taste success what are we doing to make our school system more adaptive to our kids learning needs? Any courses for our teachers to be reinforcing and supporting this with our kids within the classroom? Short answer – teachers are too busy for all that. Well, hello! What are teachers doing that they are so busy to help our children learn? Trying to cover curriculum content, coming to grips with NCEA, setting & marking ‘work’, trying to figure out how to turn their new laptops on & then use them to record grades on…
OK so what did I learn as a parent? I need to spend more time talking to my kids, taking an interest in their learning, encouraging them to extend their thinking, finding out what sparks their passions & talking, talking more talking. So worth going tonight just for that – I don’t do enough of it.

Sunday, 4 September 2005

Mahoe High Flyers

Mahoe School may be gone but not forgotten.

Need some images to brighten up this page - there has been too many words!!

Teaching vs Learning

OK maybe i've been reading too much - but got to study - Assignment 3 not far away. (Groan)
Some ideas from Etienne Wenger "Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning & Identity."

"A focus on teaching is not equivalent to a focus on learning. The two are not even mirror images. In an instructional context, such as a school classroom or a training session, the reification of learning (a focus on content) combined with institutional authority can easily create the impression that it is teaching that causes learning.... Instruction does not cause learning; it creates a context in which learning takes place, as do other contexts.
- Learning and teaching are not inherently linked. Much learning takes place without teaching, and indeed much teaching takes place without learning.
- To the extent that teaching and learning are linked in practice, the linkage is one not of cause and effect but of resources and negotiation
...Learning is an emergent ongoing process, which may use teaching as one of its many structuring resources"
Wenger contends that too much emphasis is put on pedagogical debate (eg transmission vs discovery learning) when at the heart of the matter is the ability of 'teaching' & 'learning' to interact around negotiated meaning and the structuring of resources for planned & emergent learning.
He discusses education as a tranformative process where the primary focus is on making meaning. He contends that students need places of engagement (activities with others, challenges & responsibilities, continuity to develop practices & commitment); materials and experiences with which to build an image of the world and themselves (developing our identity is important & can get lost in the institutionalised school); and ways of having an effect on the world and making their actions matter.
Phew - i think there's a quote below about an ounce of action being worth a ton of theory! I've been reading a ton of theory today... what can i do to take action??

Friday, 2 September 2005

SPS Shining the Light

Lighthouse or Navigator classrooms to show the way? What is a digital classroom? Well its not just the gear - but that helps shape the learning landscape. All teachers have their own laptops now, some will be putting their hands up to have fixed data display units in their rooms. This combined with access to a pod of wireless laptops. Show us what u can do!? :-) It's one thing for me to spend time modelling in classrooms - that is just a taste & very transient in the bigger scheme of things for the average classroom teacher. How often have I hoped to spark the flame, sometimes yes, but often no. The real multiplier effect will happen when teachers see it happening in each other's classrooms. Teachers often say 'If I could just see it in action'. Here may be the opportunity. Here may also be the threat - anything we do always has the potential to be a double edged sword. With Navigator classrooms there is the possibility of creating balkanism of the digital elite vs the resistors (though as Kelvin says we need the resistors to help us gain a balanced perspective). Jamie McKenzie (Learning @ School 2004) was very critical of the Navigator schools as being well resourced islands surrounded by a sea of schools who without. Julia Atkins countered this with her opinions that the Navigator Schools were influential in showing others the way (we know that from our own experience of Kim & Pat's visit there). So we need to focus on establishing good practise through resourcing, time to try things out & take risks, professional support, evaluation & reflection (some action research here?) and sharing it - again resourcing - support structures and time. Watch this space! :-)