"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The pursuit of knowledge...

As I sit here at the end of this amazing year I feel like the roller coaster is slowly down nearing the end of the ride about I know it will pass through the finishing point, slow down, and then take off again. 

Just over a year ago when I started this blog. I wrote,
 "As with a new day....I am starting a blog to coincide with my decision to change my career. I know there are many people in cyber space and probably no one will read this but at least I will give myself a forum for my thoughts. "

I had never imagined my life could be completely changed in such a short space of time. True to my goal I have been blogging about how I have been using technology in the classroom but I have noticed as I have found an audience that the way I write has changed. One of the things that has surprised me greatly is that the unique things in my character have managed to be communicated in a way I never expected. I have been greatly encouraged by people who have commented on my enthusiasm, passion and honesty. This has touched me in a way I never expected and it has in turn made we want to strive to be the best I can be. 

What turned out as a gamble for me has turned out to be the best decision I ever made. When I turned my back on my past that was pulling me down and opened myself up for new opportunities they have come in like a flood. Next year I will be a course coordinator for one of our Workplace and Training Certificates at Tafe. I have loved teaching adults at Tafe and despite the bad press about funding cuts to Tafe they are the most dedicated teachers I have ever worked with.  Yesterday I received my accreditation to be an Endorsed Provider for the NSW Teacher's Institute to run training courses in schools to teach teachers how to use technology in the classroom. My business has a big green light and I will start to market some of these courses in the coming weeks. I am overflowing with gratefulness for this year. 

Another highlight for me this year was being part of #ozengchat and #histedchat on twitter. This rich sharing and communication with dedicated, creative, enthusiastic, hard working and totally genuine people has greatly enriched my life and teaching experience. 

My students have been the highlight of my year and I have watched them grow, develop and become confident in their pursuit of knowledge and understanding. My life is all the better for knowing them. Some of them have had terrible backgrounds and life experiences yet they have overcome terrible odds to succeed. They are amazing. 





My desire to learn, read, understand, question and reflect has been ignited and is burning brightly and I can't wait for what next year will bring.    

Favorite sites for the week:


  • A periodic table of visualisation methods

http://www.visual-literacy.org/periodic_table/periodic_table.html


  • Poetry Library
http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/


  • Language is a virus
http://www.languageisavirus.com/

Until next week,
K

Friday, 30 November 2012

Festive thinking

WOW! What a year I have had. It is almost too hard to look back at the year in short because it has been so massive. I have immensely enjoyed the last year and have found it stimulating and challenging. At times I have really struggled with the adjustment to teach adults but I must say I love it. This was the last week for the term and now there are no more classes until next year :(

I have already been spending time thinking about how I am going to change things for next year to improve what I have been doing. I am hoping to try to encourage the students to blog. Not sure how that will go. I really need to be more creative with them using technology and the gadgets they bring. Hopefully we will get some more laptops for the class to use.

This year I have discovered more about myself as a learner and this has helped me understand my learners in new and different ways. I hope to consider more the various learning styles and personality types so as to engage my students with rich and challenging texts that can be presented in a way that can meet their learning needs.

I have found twitter and social media enormously helpful this year and find that the community of sharing amongst teachers has massively taken off into new realms for me this year. I have thoroughly enjoyed #ozengchat and more recently #histedchat as the conversation has been wonderful and encouraging. 

I am no closer to finding a work/ life balance than I was at the start of the year. I think new business and new job perhaps was a  bit much on top of my stay and home mum duties as well. Had a few melt downs when everything all got a little too much. However I have made it and am enormously proud of my students,many of whom achieved excellent results.

I am really looking forward to the festive season and am looking forward to thinking time. 
I have  as I get older than I can't think on the fly all the time and I do need to take some time to reflect and think some things through. 

I am building a Moodle site for our section this week and am looking forward to learning the back end of this software more thoroughly.

Until next week,
K

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Anti-blog sentiments

As the end of term comes rushing towards me like a tidal wave I am running like hell up the hill. I have last minute marking and a major paper trail however taking time to smell the roses is important. However as I sit and write this blog I am somewhat distracted. This morning I put some popcorn on the stove in a pot with some oil to pop for their recess and then got distracted and went to have a shower and forgot about it. The kids alerted my to the fact that there was a lot of smoke coming from the stove and turned it off. Unfortunately the house is full of smokey burnt popcorn smell and I have come away from the kitchen to write to get away from the smell for a while. I clearly have too much on the brain. 

Anyway this week I tried to get some of my students to write a blog. What surprised me was the attitude of some of the students towards blogs. Some thought they were an outdated thing of the 90s and some thought they were full of people's ramblings that were a waste of time to try and read. Others had found that blogs had caused a lot of problems in friendships as their friends had used blogs to let of steam and said hurtful things. However my open minded students actually really enjoyed the experience.




I am finding more and more that as people put up their personal lives in social media they are not using clear judgement with what they are putting out there. I tried to explain to my students that I want them to compartmentalise this blog for their reflections about their learning journey. I wanted them to talk about the things they had improved upon in their learning in the last six months and the things they still needed to work on. Once they had been given a very specific goal they actually found it beneficial. Next year I want them to blog weekly and so I am wanting to set them up for life long reflection and learning and the discipline and thought process that goes into this activity. We'll see how that goes next year. I am completely aware that some students won't do it or like it but I do want to provide those learners who need time to think and reflect the opportunity to do so. 

I really enjoy reading blogs and find such richness in the shared experience. An open dialogue which allows discussion and thought can clear the way for new perspectives, information sharing and encourages positive attitudes and action in relation to ICT.

I am hoping next year to share the blogging love around. 

Until next week,
K


Friday, 16 November 2012

Learning Environments




I can't believe I have left my beloved blog to sit for so long. It is not that I haven't wanted to it is just that the last few weeks took over and before I know it a month has past. There has been many a poet to write about the passing of time.. Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey has some classic lines..  And passing even into my purer mind, With tranquil restoration: -- feelings too ... That time is past, And all its aching joys are now no more, ...

Creative+independenceOh to have the skill to write like this. Such an amazing poet. Anyway apart from illness I have been a coach in overload to my students. They are running to the end as they only have two weeks left and all their final assessments need to be handed in. Having marked a lot of them lately I have been so excited for many of them who have received an excellent result. There has been many a sleepless night trying to think of the best ways to teach and motivate them to succeed. I feel emotionally and physically exhausted and ready for a holiday but so very fulfilled at this incredible year I have had. 

Last Monday we had a staff development day. We all participated in the Myer Briggs Type Indicator Test. This test aims to understand your personality type and how you can use your preferences to enhance your work environment. It was so interesting. There are things that we think, do and say that come naturally to us and then there are things we need to work on.



Some of you may have guessed by now that I am a big fat extrovert! What was really interesting was all the extroverts got together to ask questions of the introverts and vice versa. The questions the introverts asked to the extroverts in the room was fascinating. It was like a penny dropped in my brain and I understand people who are introverted more clearly than ever before. I must learn to shut up sometimes to let the introverts think and not demand an answer straight away. I must seek their opinion and make sure they have been heard even if they don't offer. Just because they appear quiet doesn't mean they don't have a lot to offer. In our classroom we consider Gardiner's personality types but I have come to realise that there is much more to it than that. I have come to realise that some students will pace themsleves and work systematically whilst other will research and think and have a work explosion just before the deadline. For many this is a preference. It is hard to change a preference but it can be done. 

I really enjoy this type of learning as it forces me to think outside the box. I love to constantly challenge myself and I drive myself to learn however sometimes I realise this takes a toll on me. More than ever I need time to ponder. Time to reflect and file things away in my brain. One of the things that came out of the staff development day was that I work in a very dynamic team. It was a wonderful day and so rich in sharing and encouragement. That random day I walked into TAFE looking for a job was in hindsight one the best things I have ever done. I am feeling very grateful for being amongst such wonderful colleagues who support me as a teacher with all my failings and successes. This environment has caused me to flourish. Not just as a teacher but as a learner who is supported and encouraged on a regular basis. Modeling is a key factor in all this. Kindness, compassion, patience and consistency are all helpful attributes to create a good learning environment. I do hope I can strive to show these qualities to my students.

This TED talk got me really excited this week. Amazing where creativity and technology can 




I have not had time to net surf however here are a few ones I have stumbled across lately:

The Musuem of Me (looks awesome)
http://www.intel.com/museumofme/r/index.htm

Scribble Maps
http://vanweringh.visibli.com/share/TvsgK8

Think Link
Create rich images with music, video, sound, text and more.
Share and discover deeper stories through images
http://www.thinglink.com/

Qwiller - Online creative writing resources
http://www.qwiller.com.au/index.htm

Until next week (hopefully),
K


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Sometimes life is so random

So much of our schooling life concentrates around us being logical and rational when in reality human beings are anything but logical and rational at times. There appears to be be a great need to explain things and prove the world around us as though we are in some type of ever going lab experiment. At times we don't know what to do with our students when they appear irrational and do not appear to have a valid reason for not coming to class or completing work.

 We are not programmed to deal with the irrational and at times push it aside when in fact brilliance can come from a place that is unexplained, hidden and comes deep from within. We ask our students to show their unique voice in what they write and then place it within a marking criteria and judge this uniqueness within a scale we deem 'logical and rational' all the time undermining the purity in which is was delivered. 

I know there are some educationalists who see marks as being totally destructive to the development of a child and there are others who see the great importance of marks in driving success and change. The means of measuring success comes from the grade not necessarily the process or the work gone into it. A great debate around this topic has gone on for many years and will continue to do so. What I love about my students is the unique way they write and express themselves and whilst I can ask them to fix punctuation and spelling I don't want to tamper with the voice that is uniquely theirs. 

We ask our Scientists to think outside the box to fix problems in nature or with medicine,
we love art that at times can not be explained,
we hear music that is so beautiful it makes us cry. 

How can we teach our students logic and rationality when what we really want is a balance of the two? Emotion, spirituality, logic and ration are things we value in our society as they form our belief and understanding of the world we live. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that our students walk in the door everyday with these things on board in the way they have interpreted them that day. 


So can the complexities in life become irrelevant for that hour or two we are with our students that we must remove them as we walk into class and put on our professional selves? I think not. To deny our true selves and not to teach from the heart would be a great injustice to our students. We must show by example our love of learning, not just our knowledge of content. Passion, drive, empathy, understanding, and a great amount of heart is all that is required to teach the whole student not just the logical and rational. 




I hope this week there can be shared joy in the learning process. 

Until next week,
K


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Thinking time

Arhhh the school holidays. Time to break routine, put your feet up and spend time thinking and contemplating in the hammock. That is exactly what I plan to do next week! Have been busy doing other things but next week I need time to think. 

Had a really interesting conversation this week with a parent of one of my children about Building Learning Power. (http://www.buildinglearningpower.co.uk/) I am a huge fan of this learning theory and try to implement the great features of it in my classes. I realised that often because of time constraints I give my students lots to work on in class but don't really allow enough time for reflection. I guess my thinking was that they are adult learners and therefore would make time to process things they had learnt when in reality they are probably just as busy as I am and have little time to process. I guess I need to make more time in class to reflect and consider what it is that we are learning and consider what needs improving and what is the plan to improve learning. 


 In recent days I guess I have been thinking about how I put a lot of emphasis into certain types of activities that my students participate in and I really need to not only include more of Gardiner's Multiple Intelligence's in my lessons but consider the many learning muscles that are used and in turn use a greater range of them. I found Sarah Kaufmann's chat about authentic assessment really helpful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeTPaugDtP4&feature=colike Last term I spent much time talking about quality work that I want the students to hand in and spoke about raising their own personal bar and for them to hand in the best work possible. I have seen the quality of the students work improve but I really want this to equate to them improving a wide range of skills in their thinking and learning. 



Favorite sites for the week:

16 Virtual Field Trips
http://askatechteacher.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/5-great-virtual-field-trips/

The 20 most watched TED Talks
http://www.21stcenturyfluency.com/blogpost.cfm?blogID=2958

So touch presentations
http://www.so-touch.com/?id=software&content=presentation#/software/presentation
(Really want this technology!!) Out my my price range at the moment :(

Too all my NSW teacher pals I hope you have a really enjoyable and relaxing school holidays. 

Until next week,
K



Sunday, 9 September 2012

What's quality teaching?

Over the last few weeks there has been much debate in the media and in politics about how to measure quality teaching and then how to reward it. I am still in many minds about the idea the more I think about the more confused I become. I have been listening to the debate and have not really been convinced by the argument being put forward. I don't understand how quality can be measured by a mark on a test on a particular day to represent what has gone on in a child's life for a whole year. No matter how fantastic the teacher is if a child is going through trauma at home or school or stressed about something for 6 weeks or 6 months or a whole year how can that be the teachers fault if they don't achieve a high mark? There are so many variables to consider. Now please don't think I am excusing poor teaching because I'm not I'm just wondering how quality can be lumped together when all the people we teach whether old or young are all uniquely different and at different stages of learning and ability.

I have therefore been pondering what is a quality teacher? Who were the quality teachers in my life and how did they influence me? The teachers I most admired inspired me because they were passionate about the subjects they taught. They were walking encyclopedias in their chosen fields and could grabbed facts and figures and show them in a meaningful ways. They pushed me when they knew I could do better and they all had a great sense on humor. They allowed frank and honest discussion in class and sometimes we even veered off topic. They gave me feedback in a relative quick time and allowed me to fail and then gave me the opportunity to try again. They weren't afraid to use the word excellence. Praise was given when deserved and wasn't heaped on but always valued because you knew you truly earned it. Most of all they cared. I guess they are my personal bar and I hope I strive to be like them and trust in their good modelling. 


This week in class I have marked so many papers and after a really exhausting week I feel really proud of my classes. The majority of the students have not only completed the work but the work they are handing in is quality. They have greatly improved over the last few weeks and whist they whinge at times about having to go back and fix things up they doing in it and doing it in their own time. I feel I need to keep encouraging them and ask them to raise their own personal bar and then try to achieve it. 

I am thinking of going out on a limb somewhat this week and hoping the students will interested and engaged in their research projects. Have decided to try a little PBL and see where it takes me. 

Favorite sites for the week:
Cool device for those using ipads in class
http://www.techlearning.com/Default.aspx?tabid=67&EntryId=4814

Great curriculum ideas
http://clic.det.nsw.edu.au/clic/index.htm

10 tips for personalised learning
http://syded.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/the-ipad-and-your-soldiers-top-10-tips-for-personalised-learning/

Asus new Padfone- Great concept
http://www.asus.com/Mobile/PadFone/ 

Near Pod- Synchronize ipads in the classroom
http://www.nearpod.com/

Hope everyone has a great week. 

Until next week,
K

Friday, 31 August 2012

Winning the technology battle

This week has been filled with fabulous discussions about how people are using technology in their classrooms. I have realised that sweeping change is never a great way to convince people that using technology is a good idea. So I guess modelling is the way to go. During the course of the year I have been doing my own thing with technology with my students which has been fun. I love using technology and I probably wouldn't have it any other way. I'm woffling. However the students have been talking about how useful these technology tools are and ask their teachers in turn about it. It is causing discussion and a re-thinking to how we are doing things as a faculty. This culminated in a wonderful conversation with my boss about where we are going with technology and technology tools for the next year. So he has asked me to set up a Moodle site for the whole section that we can start to use from the start of term next year and I have to train all the staff to use it!! Totally blown away and didn't expect it. Whilst I an not a huge fan of Moodle it's a start and I have to work at some level with what I have got. I am really excited that staff are starting to see that technology can be a useful tool rather than just another thing they have to fit into their day. The staff have always been supportive of my ideas and have always taken to time to listen to my ramblings.

Was able to have a meeting with the eLearning consultant for our section from Newcastle and he is going to help. At times it is hard being the youngest teacher surrounded by really experienced and older staff however I am not wasting time and am learning from them at a fast pace. They in turn apparently enjoy my enthusiasm for what I do and it has turned out to be a very positive experience for me. I feel like I am a little bird taking off from the nest for the first time and I am allowed to fly with guidance and support. I don't think I have ever been in a work environment where I have been so encouraged to excel. I am loving it.

Just a few other exciting things for me this week. Was able to pull off a wonderful twitter chat with the lovely Felicity Plunkett. She is an award winning Australian poet and is speaking at the 12 Bells English Conference in October. I had attended one of her writing courses a few years ago and on a whim sent an email to her asking if she would like to join us on #ozengchat on Tueday night on Twitter. Thankfully she agreed. It was her first time on Twitter and her 10 year old son helped her get on. She provided richness to our discussion on poetry. (If you are interested her Twitter handle is Poetrix7).

Last Saturday night provided rich discussion and thought at Book Club over Andrew Nicholl's book If you're reading this, I'm already dead. Quirky, insightful and fun book. The author even Tweeted us before we started! Would be really cool to have a twitter chat with the author whilst book club is going. Have to work on that one.

All in all it has been a great week. Just happy to be alive and enjoying life.

Websites for the week:

  • Why twitter is such a powerful tool for teaching.

https://sites.google.com/site/crowdsourcedtwitterguide/home


  • The Future Skills Report

University of Phoenix research on where we are going with job skills in the next 8 years. Very interesting.
docs.google.com/file/d/0B5fdX7ht1r3NV0IxZjBSRmVQUjg/edit


  • Thinking of ways I can use Voice Thread in my lessons

http://voicethread.com/

Stephen Ritz's TED Talk is inspiring, amazing, energetic and candid. Loved it.



Wishing you all a great week ahead.

Until next time,
K


Sunday, 26 August 2012

10 top tech favorites

I have been very slack off late and got carried away with the Olympics and then I got snowed under at work. So there has been lots happening. Have managed to have a Google docs training session my boss and another colleague and I feel I am one step further to winning to tech war at work. As many of you are aware I am taking the slow and steady approach to winning over my colleagues to tech. They were of course suitably impressed with the tech and will start to incorporate it into their classrooms. Was really chuffed to have such great support.

I guess one of the questions that people ask is "What tech tools do you really use in the classroom?"

My top ten at the moment are (and believe me they change):
1. Google docs
2. Twitter
3. GoodReader App for iPad
4. Presenter Media .com
5. PowerPoint
6. Blogger
7. Vimeo
8. YouTube
9. Instagram 
10. Posterious

I guess this list will change with time but these are the tech tools I have been using with students this term. I really want to use QR codes but I don't have enough students yet with devices to use QR codes. Just a matter of time really.

I am continuing to work on my website and hope to launch my business soon. I am still waiting for the Teachers Institute to get back to me so I can get accredited for my courses. You are welcome to have a sneak peak at eles.com.au but I haven't finished it yet. A work in progress. Hopefully I will have it finished soon. For many of my students their dreams of gaining a good education means a ticket to a better life and this takes time. Sometimes I get frustrated that I haven't managed to get going further on my idea but I just can't rush into it or it will fail before I even start.

I have greatly missed my blog writing and will hope to post another soon. 

Hope this term is going great for all my readers. Thanks for taking the time to follow my learning journey this year. I have really appreciated the support. 

Until next week,
K




Sunday, 29 July 2012

The heart of writing

In the last few weeks I have felt a little intimidated to write. Over the holidays I spent some time reading some really inspiring blogs from some great teachers and educators and I guess my little blog seemed somewhat insignificant to so many other wonderful blogs. However I have come to the conclusion that like any book the writing reflects the unique character of the author and I can only be the unique person that I am and the process of blogging is good for my soul. The fact that I can share that is just a bonus. 


When writing to an unknown audience, unlike writing a letter to someone you know, there is a certain amount of vulnerability by the author as they reveal aspects of their imagination or displays characteristics of themselves that remains in the public sphere for comment and rebuke. You open yourself up to a range of criticism that can be good, bad or indifferent. The writing becomes and extension of who you are and raw honesty with your audience shows the authentic side to who you are. I find the idea of peer criticism freaks me out. My fear of failure is as real for me as a writer as it is for my students. When I first started blogging I didn't tell anyone for two months. I had no intention of telling anyone however I have found that since I have shared my blog I have found it to be a very helpful exercise and have now passed the baton onto my students. Sharing their writing and their work with their peers is one of the most difficult things for some students and who am I to lecture if I don't model this myself.


When I finished uni 13 years ago I was so sick of writing and assignments that I had no desire to write for pleasure. I have found in more recent times that my writing has improved as has my confidence in editing my own work. Having never spent much time writing anything much prior to the blog I have to say it has been as much part of my journey as the many things I have learnt with technology and in my new job. It has also given me a fresh perspective on the sort of problems that students face as they write and edit their work. 


I have also found that the criticism that I bring to a text is richer for my experience in writing and reading a wider variety of texts both for work and pleasure. I enjoy extending my knowledge in the variety of texts I read and write and enjoy engaging with others at work, in book club and online with different types of texts. It seems the more you read the more you seem to learn, relearn and become aware that the small amount of knowledge you know and understand is a mere drop in the ocean. 


The human desire to share, engage and connect with others pulses through my veins and I share my knowledge and heart to those who would share with me. I am looking forward to the many great stories that will come from the Olympic Games over the next few weeks and I hope I will not become too absorbed by them and forget to blog. One such story I heard was that of the Timor-Leste  weightlifter who had his weights stolen a few weeks prior to the games has been training with a pole and paint cans. Sheer pain, endurance and perseverance are timely reminders at this time to carry on when overwhelmed or faced with life's challenges to carry on and succeed. 


I pray this will be a wonderful term for all my colleagues and friends. 


Until next week,
K

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

One day can change your life.....

Not having the internet at home for half of the school holidays just about killed me. I admit I did duck into the local library to check emails and tweet after about 3 days! I realise now that connecting with others is important in maintaining my sanity however I have managed to read a few good books. 


I really enjoyed the opportunity to take a little time out in the holidays to reflect on my first 6 months in my new job. It has been a very rich and rewarding time. 


The new term has kicked off and I am once again reminded by my new students who have signed up for their course for the next six months that for some of them are leaving behind what happened yesterday and moving on to a new future and it can be daunting. For some students they are really excited at this new challenge in their lives and some are worried about how this study is going to effect their families and their responsibilities at home. This new day for some will change the rest of their lives. It's amazing in life how some days are so pivotal in our personal development that they are worth remembering.  


Have spent the last few days talking about learning strategies, the learning muscles we use when are learning something new, study skills and learning styles.  I find that Guy Claxton's Building Learning Power very helpful to make learner's aware of the learning muscles they are working on in class. 
Resilience, Resourcefulness, Reflectiveness and Reciprocity. 




I think this approach to learning is fantastic and I highly recommend it. I have used his book Building Learning Power often as a great resources to help students develop their understanding of how they learn and why knowing these things helps them to become life long learner. 

Ideas I'll be trailing in the next few weeks....
In the next few weeks I am planning on trying out the 99 page test http://page99test.com/ Interesting concept and great to get some good discussion happening. Have started using Pic monkey http://www.picmonkey.com/ since Picnik was closed down and finding it quite user friendly. I Rubric http://www.rcampus.com/indexrubric.cfm looks like a good place to gather some ideas and not have reinvent the wheel. 

I watched Dr Howie DeBlasi who was a keynote speaker at the ISTE conference and you can download his slides http://www.drhowie.com/Page_2.html to see where he thinks trends in education are going at the moment and great sites that teachers are using at the moment. Some of the above are links I gleaned from this presentation.

Looking forward to being connected once again. Will probably have a small melt down for a few moments from sheer utter frustration if the internet doesn't come back on at home tomorrow!

Until next week,




Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Time to play

Well I am so glad I made it to the holidays. Wow. What an amazing first semester I have had in my new TAFE job. There have been times when I was truly excited by my student's progress and other times was really frustrated by their lack of motivation and commitment. However I have discovered that I really enjoy teaching adults. It is very interesting teaching a class of adults with age ranges from 17-50. No matter how old the learner the need to extend and challenge students in their learning and thinking remains the same. Student's responded well to BLP (Building Learning Power). It was really effective when asking students to reflect on which learning muscles they had used during the lesson. Students became more aware of how they were learning and were able to become efficient at self reflection and questioning. I really enjoyed the lessons we had on creative writing. So did the students. Noticed that their writing in other text types improved as they became more confident writing in their own voice.

Finally after many months of hard work I can reveal my logo. Thanks to Tracey at On the Level Playing Field Graphic Design.  It has been a dream of mine to start a business as a consultant to train other teachers on how to use technology in the classroom. I am currently working on my website site. Apart from Google sites I've never built a website so I'm teaching myself from videoes on Youtube and using wordpress to put things together.


Have been having some interesting conversations with teachers in the last few days about the changes that are occuring in education and I've been interested to see the revolution taking place with the impact of technology on students. Some of the ways they communicate are morphing into the cyber world and for some these realities and conversation are as real to them as if they were talking face to face. A real challenge for parents and teachers to guide these young people through this brave new world of technology to develop well rounded individuals who can cope with the stresses and strains of life. Hoping to do some more reading on this. An interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the ipact of ipads in the classroom. 


The great thing about the holidays is it gives me time to play and find new ways of engaging students or catching up on some reading about the new changes and thinking in education. I might add that I do plan also on reading for pleasure and will be out and about spending time with the kids. Going on a bushwalk to Somersby Falls. Can't spend all my time on the computer.  

This week's favorite links:
Alice in Wonderland as a Subway map
http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/06/25/alice-in-wonderland-transit-map/

Really interesting Youtube about some of the new features in Google Docs


A few teacher friends have asked for the link for Essay Map. Great resource for planning essays.



Next week I must knuckle down and have a look at the new course I'm teaching this semester. Should be interesting.

Until next week,
K


Saturday, 23 June 2012

What to do when students fail?

This last week has been such a sobering week for me. There are have been great highs and some real lows and am feeling really emotionally exhausted at the end of this semester. During the week I was able to attend several celebrations for some of my students who had completed their certificate courses. For some it has been a life changing event for them. For those of you that have been following my blog you will know that I teach a class of older learners who are trying to re-enter the workforce. Quite a few of them were able to get jobs as a result of this course and others have decided to continue to re-train for a new career. The feedback from the students was so amazing and they were beaming with confidence and pride. I was really chuffed for them. 


There was however a small group of students who didn't hand in their last task so unfortunately they haven't completed the course. I felt that in some way I had failed them. I woke at 3am on Thursday morning with this sick feeling in my gut they I had failed them because they didn't complete. I had tried so many times to help them finish and encouraged them but when it came to pen and paper or just turning up to class for one reason or another they were unable to succeed. I know now that it was always their choice and not mine to put pen to paper but I was still sad they were not able to complete. Unfortunately the State Budget was announced this week and we have all had our hours cut. That has meant that I have lost my HSC class as the classes were combined. I have managed to get quite attached to these students and yet again I was feeling rather sad at my loss. However I have managed to pick up a new TPC (Tertiary Preparation Certificate) course instead next term. 


When you are in a job that is very relationship driven you can't not be affected by the lives of people you come across. As a teacher you are not a rescuer, perhaps a friend, coach, facilitator or trainer but the power of the people always remains in their decisions to succeed or fail. It is not to say that we wipe our hands and pretend those students who don't finish never existed in our lives but not to feel their loss in your class is what  makes us human. "No man is an island"- John Donne. This really sums it up. I do hope and pray that at some time in their lives these students who may appear to have failed on paper have gained skills and experiences that they can use in life. I do find this part of the job rather difficult. Perhaps it is because I care too much. However I am not about to change anytime soon as I know that this aspect of my personality also makes me a good teacher. 


I am really looking forward to the holidays so I can put my feet up and catch up on some blog reading. I really enjoy reading other blogs as much as I like writing my own. I have had some wonderful feedback from friends and fellow bloggers in the last week and I thank you for all you support. @Innovatemyschool has asked me to be a guest blogger and I am really chuffed. Thanks. Looking forward to sharing. 


Unfortunately I have had no time for surfing the net for good ideas. Was looking for some new apps for my ipad this week but nothing really grabbed my attention. Must get into it in the hols. 


Thanks for reading my musings for the week. 


Until next week,
K

Sunday, 17 June 2012

It's all in the detail

There are times in your life when it would be great to cut corners. Whilst I am sure we have all tried to from time to time it usually ends up badly. It has been hard at times to see students who are genuine in their attempt to finish something but lack the finishing touches. I remember when I was at uni and I couldn't understand why they were so nick picky about bibliographies but I can definitely see the value in the detail. It is in this detail that true recognition is given to the author for an idea,  or perhaps research that has been quoted that substantiates a belief or value.


 There are many times when educators harp on about plagerism but for some a quick copy and paste is worth the risk to get the job done. It really doesn't matter what type of technology is used if you know your students the voice in the writing is clearly not theirs and it sticks out like a sore thumb. For those students who write using correct technique and quotations their success lies in the good marks they receive. True power and dignity come to those who have overcome their battles with integrity and truth. It is only then that pride shines through as their success is well and truly earned. 


Had a bit of a shocker this week and dropped the ball a few times. Accidently sent the kids to school in mufti one day only to be emailed by their teachers informing me it was mufti next week. They were the only kids in school with mufti. Then I had booked the computers in the library and forgot to take the students there. Forgot to have lunch with friends. You know it was one of those days. So I guess my only option was to laugh, rather than cry in frustration and move on. Work /life balance crashed and burned this week. Thanks goodness I am only human and there is next week. At least the kids get a second chance at mufti this week!


This week am looking forward to some celebrations with students who have finished their 6 month courses. A time of reflection is also on the cards for the students and myself. I have already been talking with my colleagues about the things that worked well and things I am planning on changing in the next six months. I am running a training sessions for some teachers on Google Docs on Thursday and am looking forward to that. On Friday the Work Place training guys are visiting for the day at Wyong and I am planning on picking their brains for some Moodle suggestions. The week after next I am going to a Careers Expo with another colleague at Corronbong to represent TAFE and inform potential students of the courses that are available. 


All in all a busy few weeks. Am looking forward to the holidays. 
Favorite sites for this week:
A great way to video conference
http://meetings.io/


Participated in an online conference on how TAFE is using ipads. Very interesting
https://my.northcoast.tafensw.edu.au/public/includeme/Pages/default.aspx


A tool for making quizzes. Haven't tried but looks good. 
http://quizlet.com/




Until next week,
K

Monday, 28 May 2012

Perseverance... Making it to the end

For many students perseverance is a  life skill that is hard as they draw to the end of their course. In the faculty I teach in, Pathways, many of the students sign up for a 6 month or 12 month course. For two of my classes we are getting down to the final weeks of the course and some students are finding their motivation lacking as they near the end of their course. I remember when I was in my final weeks of uni after five years of study I had just about had it. I think the end stretch is what tests our character and fortitude to the max. For some students they like to get it an get it done but for others it's like pulling them over the line step by step. For many students they have left school some years ago and so are experiencing study as never before. Perseverance is definitely a study skill which is tested but developed over time. 


I really enjoy reading poetry in my spare time. This week I have been reflecting upon a poem by Felicity Plunkett entitled "A flake of life". The poem considers the idea that we leave a piece of ourselves where ever we go. Whether that be a flake of skin, hair, fingerprint, conversation etc.. Sometime you never quite know what impact you will have your students in years to come and I find this notion so strange. The idea that memory and feelings about a time in their life can so impact on the students that you become a frame in their mind. Stuck in time if you wish. I remember my school reunion and seeing how my teachers had aged. You never remember them like this. As I age I also see how memories can sometimes seem distorted and unclear over time. It's a rather interesting concept. Perhaps I should have a crack at writing a poem. I might just keep that one to myself. 


In the last week I had a wonderful opportunity to be a guest presenter for an online eFacilitation course. I presented to the group the wonderful world of Google docs and how they can be used in class. I am such a major fan and I use them all the time. I created a Google site, very plain but useful to run the hour long session.   If you are interested you can have a peak at https://sites.google.com/site/tafe2012elf/home. I'll leave this site going for the next month or two if you want to have a look.One of my favorite Google products is the 'Hangout' in Google plus. The majority of teachers had no knowledge of Google Docs so it was very plain and simple. I had wonderful feedback from the teachers who participated and the lovely Maria d'Angelo who gave me the opportunity. 






For me I am coming to the end of my first semester at TAFE and only have a few weeks to go. It has been such a fruitful time in my career and I realise I still have much to learn. 


All the best for the week ahead. 


Until next wek,
K

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Never underestimate 'confidence'

Over the past few years it would be fair to say that my self confidence has taken a bit of a battering. 


When I was a teenager I was involved in everything school could offer, I was confident and ready to face what life had to throw at me. Well as I look back over my life as the ripe old age of 35 I feel as though I am re-inventing myself again. Deciding to have children in my mid twenties was rewarding and I don't regret it but re-launching my career this year has been a real challenge.


I came to the year feeling like a first year out at TAFE but am discovering that remnants of my old confident self are bubbling to the surface. My self doubts are being replaced with the possibility that I am actually really good at what I do. I am not trying to put tickets on myself but merely reassuring myself from the feedback from students and staff that I have made connections with people that a few years ago I never thought were possible. As a result I have taken on board new possibilities and a new outlook of who I am as a teacher. This has largely come about through an awesome boss who believes in me and staff who are so supportive and honest, yet so professional and let me know when I am wrong. I have learnt so much from them all. 


This drive has further helped me encourage my own students to have confidence and belief in themselves. I have been so proud to watch them gain self confidence more than anything else. For many students who come to TAFE it is second chance education. For a variety of reasons the school system and life have let them down and they have picked themselves up again and are giving it a red hot go. I had never expected adult education to be so rewarding and I can now see that confidence in being a life long learner is crucial to the success of students not just for their education but for life. 


When one is faced with negative comments from bullies at work or those in your life over a long period of time you start to believe them. Slowly but surely they eat away at you until you forget who you are. Once they leave your life and you have the opportunity to rediscover what is right and true I am happy to say that I am a much happier self. I am more aware now of the challenges my students face than I was five years ago and I feel that God was really preparing me for this year. I guess I can empathise with students struggles in a different way than I would have a few years ago. 


I suppose reading this blog you may feel like you are listening to a therapy session but I want to highlight the importance of encouraging confidence in students and as teachers we will never know how far reaching that is. 


My fav sites for the week;
What is classroom jeopardy?
http://networkedblogs.com/xHrH2


Flipping Blooms Taxonomy
http://plpnetwork.com/2012/05/15/flipping-blooms-taxonomy/


Boxes and Language Garden
http://languagegarden.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/boxes/?utm_source=twitterfeed


Be confident and courageous. 


Until next week,
K

Friday, 11 May 2012

Small successes matter


Sophomore+Success+-+RED+RULES%21

A few months ago I was pondering over how the fear of failure can cripple your self esteem. I have found this week that some of my students have achieved baby steps or some small but significant achievements. I have found it very encouraging to that the students are starting to notice small improvements in their study and are becoming more aware for themselves about what it is they are doing to improve their learning skills. A little bit chuffed watching them gain confidence and self esteem.


I have been a strong advocate of Google Docs and this week there was great success in creating Feedback forms. They just love the professional look of the forms and will be using them after they serve everyone on the campus coffee or tea for the Biggest Morning Tea. These forms are extremely simple to use and I like to use them to create self marking quizzes and reflection forms. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHpWeGZORk1xV2h3MDFWSF9sdE9PbHc6MQ#gid=0 When I start a new course with new students one of the first things I do it get them to create a Google Account. Some of my classes are purely taught on Google Docs and I am finding I am dealing with tons less paper and losing papers is no longer a problem. It's wonderful that technology can support learning in such a meaningful way.


Those of you that have been following my learning journey I am quietly but surely overwhelmed by my future job prospects. I have not lost my dream of starting my own business as a consultant teaching teachers how to use technology in the classroom. I am hoping the logo will be done by next week and I really want to start by July. Have been thinking about how Google has a lot of success with their relaxed working environment. My good friend Sally and I have been thinking how this model could be used in training. Planning on developing this idea further. Watch this space.....Can't show all my cards.


Had a friend from one of my previous schools ask how I was enjoying my new job. My response was, "I love it" Life is never dull and over flowing with opportunity. Sometimes I just need time to breathe.


My favorite sites for the week are:
ifttt
Organise your social media.
https://ifttt.com/login


Moving image gateway
http://www.bufvc.ac.uk/gateway/
Ideas for short films


Digital storytelling (Photostory3)
 
Have been playing around with photostory3 (free download) with the kids
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a96pndIWTI (It's very corny!! 1st attempt)
My 6 year old's attempt too http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfXBB6c0HVA


Until next week,
K