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

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Imagination exploration

Well what a week. For the first time this term I have found a work life balance and have managed to leave work at work. Yeah for me. I feel this week I am getting into my teaching groove. 

I had a bit of a reality check this week when some of my lessons didn't quite go to plan. I am finding that adjusting to teaching adults is taking some time. At times I have assumed that they have skills when in reality they haven't used those skills in quite some years and they are a little rusty. So adjusting lessons to allow extra time for these things has been important. Managed to get one of my classes onto Google Docs. Really glad there weren't too many log in problems. They were writing a creative writing piece for me and I can see they were really getting into it. Some of them had written pages and came back during extra time to keep working on it! I decided while they were writing I should have a go to. I just wrote a short section. The picture I gave them was.... 
She gasped with excitement and shouted over the noise of the helicopter. "The islands in the sky are real!" 
Here is my first crack at it. Still needs some work....

Through the grey mist the sun streaked through the haze and the trees glistened as though covered in jewels. Rocky outcrops covered the island and goats grazed on coarse grasses barely noticing her arrival. Fleeting shadows darted between the rocks and they quickly melted back to where they came. The vines covered the trees in the lower canopy of the island and the jungle below was green and dense. As the helicopter hovered she took in the strange surrounds.  After the helicopter had left she was alone, excited and yet full of wonder and intrigue at such beauty. In the quiet of the moment she listened to the strange and eerie birds calls, water falls and insects. The scent was sweet and damp reminding her of an early morning deep in the jungle. The floating island was steady and one would have easily thought they were on an island back home. Now the islands had been found the Legend of Hsi Shu Wu had to be true too and the treasure beyond compare was now in her reach.......

Have had some more interest in my business and may have some potential work running training session for TAFE teachers in the future. Hoping to get my logo in a few weeks and then I can really get things moving. I can then get the website going.  Can then start doing some consulting whilst I finish getting my courses accredited by the Teachers Institute. Have also had some primary school teachers approach me for training. Not sure about this one but will get back to them soon. 

This week I need to really find some strategies to help some of my students gain confidence in creative writing. I also need to work on my class websites and have them ready to go as I am hoping to get my login at TAFE this week. I feel as though I am detached from the umbilical chord having no access to the internet at work!

Some of my favorite sites for the week are:
Visual literacy and film techniques:
Nice Scoopit on Imagination exploration:
Some thought provoking ideas for critical thinking:

Hope you have a great week ahead. 

Until next week,

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Inequality and Technology

During the course of this week I have really had to come to terms with the inequality in access to technology afforded to some people in our community. So much of what drives and excites me about teaching is this new wave of technology and I have been challenged and frustrated by the lack of access that some people have. I have really had to be creative to make sure that my students have access to technology. I feel very supported in my work to allow students to access technology however sometimes computers are just not available. 

There has been much money poured into schools to ensure there are Smartboards or Interactive Whiteboards are in classrooms but the same cannot be said for adult education. I have discovered that up until this term there are people who have no computer skills or have any regular access to technology. I have had to adjust lessons to accommodate those who need a little more time to learn using technology. I have taken my access to technology for granted and have really only begun to see how much those who do not have regular access to computers or competent skills suffer for their lack of education and training. 

Access to computers and technology is everywhere we look. Each week there are specials in the junk mail, advertising on the tv and billboards when we drive around. There seems to be an assumption that we are all connected either through computers, mobile phones or tablets. I have discovered this is not the case. I'm not sure what to do with this realisation but there clearly needs to be more access and training for all adults. For some students computers had not been invented when they were at school but for others they were always too expensive and so there was never a need to learn. How excited they are when they discover what potential lies in their gaining new skills and knowledge to use technology.

Will really have to think on this some more........

Have not had time to surf this week. Only a few ideas to share:
Some great ideas for poetry

Some teaching ideas

Until next week,

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Living the dream

It has been a great week but an exhausting one. Have met my students and they are great. They are such a diverse group of people. I didn't know that teaching adults could be so much fun. I can't believe they pay me to have such a great time. 

Was conscious off the fact that I was going to try and have a work/ life balance. Didn't go so well. Brought home work two nights. (Worked until 11 and got up at 5). Finding lots of distraction at work but feel I need to be there. First week is always crazy so I am hoping this week will settle down a bit. My work colleagues have been so helpful and I even had the opportunity to share some of my techno ideas with them. They are quite open to learning new things which is great. I feel like I am really getting a handle on what I need to teach and not feeling so stressed things. (Except for Tuesday morning when I was about to throttle the photocopier!!)

Have been taking a few more steps towards getting my business underway. Have set up the PayPal option for my website (when I actually make it). I saw Tracy from LPF -Level Playing Field Graphic Design to help design my new logo for my company. I want to do this right so I seeking help from those in the know. Taking one step at a time. 

I have finished the week feeling very blessed. I feel very excited about my future. I am loving my new job at TAFE and yet I am still very excited about the prospect of training teachers to use technology in the classroom. I really have felt like this week I am one step closer to living my dream. 

Now for this week's favorite links:
Had a little time this morning to surf the net. I enjoyed a reading 'The Magic Carpet' from this collection of short stories.

Thought this clip was so touching.

Cybraryman has spent much time collating education sites on the internet. This is quite an amazing resource for teachers. (Thanks for the tweet @vivimat78)

Needing inspiration for creative writing. Devianart is a great place to start. (Thanks for the tweet 7Mrsjames)

Hope you are living your dreams,

Friday, 3 February 2012

What is a work / life balance?

For me to be a day late on my blog post is rather unusual. I just couldn't squeeze in any time or had the energy at 9:30pm when I got home. I guess my work life balance is something I have to work on. I really enjoy writing my blog now and it is a part of the week that forces me to reflect and look forward to my goals for the new week. I am going to try and leave work at work as much as possible and not bring too much home. I found at the end of the week I was very tired but I didn't bring home mountains of work and was able to wind down a bit at night. Sometimes I struggle to sleep because I have ideas racing around my head at 2am in the morning but this week I was so tired insomnia stayed away. Getting the balance right is one of my goals this week. 

It has become clearer to me that my learning styles have changed over the years. I always new I was a visual learner but it really only came to my attention off late that I am someone who does not intrinsically motivate myself. I need encouragement and clear goals before I venture into the unknown. I am not a learner who gets a task and internally motivates themselves to complete the task. As I have been writing my programs this week my awareness has been heightened to consider all different types of learners and I have been thinking about how I can support learners like myself who at times lack confidence to get started. Let me give you an example... I was reading on the English Teacher's Association website that they were asking for submissions to run workshops at the annual conference. As you all know by now I love using technology and I thought I would be able to run a workshop on blogging and tweeting. I emailed my good friend Sally for her advice as she is a guru on these two things and she advised me to jump in the deep end and apply. So I have. Now I wait and see. If I was intrinsically motivated I may not have bothered with this step. A little extra encouragement goes a long way. It's not to say that I am looking for someone to stroke my ego I just need a little push to get moving.

Had a great day on Thursday helping out with the HSC enrollments. Was really great to meet the students and hear some of their stories. Have finalised my program and feel like I'm ready for next week. Have to finish writing a few other programs but all will be ready for classes this week. 

I need to get onto the Teacher's Institute this week and see what date I need to have my courses in for accreditation. I have finished writing the courses now and hope by next week to get them in. Must get my logo organised this week too. Working Mon, Tue, Wed so that leaves Thur and Fri to get back to my business. Wonder if I can get the work/ life balance this week. We'll see. 

Haven't had much time to surf the net but here's a few things I found this week:
Interesting blog about student engagement.

Great assessment task on 'Belonging' for those doing NSW HSC (thanks BiancaH80 on twitter)

Those who are doing the Shoe Horn Sonata for NSW HSC there is a live production 

Keep finding the balance, until next week,