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

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Friday, 23 March 2012

Pushing boundaries

I can't believe the last two weeks have gone so fast. We are nearly at the end of term one and I'm holding on by my fingernails. Last week was so crazy I didn't get to blog however I am back on track this week. 

Have had some small wins with all of my classes this week and I am taking them. Had a wonderful time with my older learners who were totally engaged in creating a Podcast. They worked wonderfully as a big team and they were really happy with the end result. This week saw them tackling Twitter and really having a go at understanding this new wave of technology. They really are a very inspiring bunch and I learn so many things from them also. 

Happy+Bokeh+Christmas+Eve%21++Add+your+favorite+Christmas+Quotes%21Have been thinking about pushing boundaries for all my students. Have seen a real improvement in motivation with several of my classes and I have been reflecting on what I have changed. When teaching adult learners there is certainly more to consider than school students. They have less time as many of them have home responsibilities. However a few weeks ago I gave them all a motivational talk. I asked them to write down all the things in their past that had held them back from learning and succeeding. After about 15 min they scrunched it up or tore it up and chucked it in the bin. From this point on there has been a shift in attitude and motivation. 

In the last few weeks I have been pondering on this change. It has enabled me to set the bar a little higher in class because they are getting through the work. The discussion is improving, the group work and collaboration has been very beneficial and their marks are improving too. I was having a chat with one of my good friends and she pointed out to me that they had given themselves permission to succeed and so had I. The past is behind them and they are on this new journey. 

How wonderfully freeing it can be when we can put the past behind and enjoy the present.  
Adobe Captivate

Had a great day today learning about Adobe Captivate. I can see it has many good points but it is a very complicated piece of software. Would take a fair amount of playing to really get to know how it works. Time unfortunately I don't have at the moment. 

Tracey has come back with her first logo idea for the business but I am still thinking on it. I will share as soon as I have decided. I must make up my mind soon or else things will never get going. 

I have had a lovely time surfing the net off late and have come across a few interesting sites:-

27 Twitter Tools To Help You Find And Manage Followers


Essay Map

Protagonize lets you explore your hidden writing talent.

(If you click on the image and the link doesn't work please let me know.)

Until next week,

Friday, 9 March 2012

So many questions????

Ever since you can talk you are questioning what goes on in the world. It is a skill that is honed and developed over many years. Some questions are simple and require little explanation but others provoke deep, thoughtful and long term changes in people's lives. So can you teach critical thinking? Where and when is it appropriate to ask questions and ponder what might be? There have been great people in our history who have dared challenge the status quo and bring humanity to its knees before real positive change can affect the many. William Wilberforce sort to abolish the slave trade, Alexander Fleming examined and questioned the use of penicillin to save people's lives and Eddy Mabo challenged land rights for Australian Aboriginals. These people were driven by conviction and passion to provide alternative answers and to the right the wrongs for many.

Not all our students will become famous for their leadership of a generation but influence begins with asking the right questions. Critical thinking asks the student to 'take it up a notch' and go beyond what they can basically see. Inference and judgments can be used when they are exploring texts and images. Students must be allowed to ask the hard questions. Many students struggle to ask questions because of a fear of failure but this fear can be funneled to good purpose to allow the student to grow. True growth may be stifled and their answers become generic and familiar without the chance to take a risk. Creating platforms for students to engage in discussion has been taking place in schools since they began however it is not until life is lived that one realises how important these skills are in the adult world. Learning to walk and talk it fundamental to our growth but our ability to question and articulate our arguments are equally important. To have a voice that can be expressed clearly is one skill we hold onto for the rest of our lives. Confidence in asking good questions begins with trust in the classroom, with parents, friends and colleagues. A class that begins to debate and engage in critical thinking will benefit well beyond the school years. 

Such are my ramblings and thoughts for this week.

This week all the assessments were handed in and so I have spent much extra time marking and not as much time tweeting and blogging. I have begun to talk to some teachers about hosting a Teach Meet and there seems to be a good reaction so far. I am hoping this week find a venue for it and then a date. Must talk to Mesterman on Twitter who assisted organising  Teach Meet Sydney.

Here are my favorite links for the week,
Thinking tools:

Teaching resources:

Blended learning:

Keep asking questions and seeking answer. 

Until next week,

Saturday, 3 March 2012

You are what you share

What a great week. So many highlights. I am finding myself reflecting that God has been really good to me. 

Had the most wonderful lesson my with mature adult learners this week. I introduced them to the joys of Google Docs. All of them were able to make an account and create a document which they shared with me. I was able to comment on the their docs and then they were able to fix what needed correction. They had a real sense of achievement of not only completing a task by themselves but also in gaining a skill in using Google Docs. Many of them were going home to share with their families what they had learnt and had a real sense of pride about what they had achieved. I love to see the spark that pride gives learners and a sense of worth and achievement.

The highlight of the week was definitely Teach Meet. Twitter went crazy on Friday night with 300 teachers in Sydney. I had spoken on Twitter with many of these teachers in the past but were meeting them for the first time in person. Was so pleased to meet up with Vivien (@vivmat78) who started #ozengchat. So many other fabulous teachers to mention them all.  I am sure there will be many a blog this week commenting on what a wonderful night it was. 

The concept of Teach Meet arose from an Edinburgh pub. Teachers meeting together informally to share what was happening in their classes. The ideology of sharing knowledge free for the sole benefit of improving teaching and student learning is powerful and highly contagious. The basic format of the evening was listening to a series of presenters who spoke for either 7 min or 2 min about a range of topics. This went for about 3/4 hour and then there was a 15 minute break to chat and then on with the next lot talks. The range of topics was great; Google Docs, technology in the classroom, ipads, mobile phones for learning, twitter,  learning through gaming, fear of failure, resilience, motivation, enthusiasm, creativity... and the list goes on. My brain was buzzing with ideas at the end of the night and I am still processing all that went on. I am absolutely determined to get one going on the Coast. It won't be that huge but I will start with some of my teaching colleagues. 

Reflecting on the last week and the many conversation that were had I see that respect from students and staff comes not from your credentials but rather what is shared. Knowledge and life experience are both equally valuable in ones journey through life. The richness of this sharing determines both the quality outcome for both the teacher and the learner. Passion, heart and vulnerability can drive change that benefits all. Sharing with no strings attached allows freedom of thought and drives change. Keeping knowledge and experience to yourself can only impact the students that you see. How rich our teaching can be when we share with each other. Two heads are better than one is a good place to start. 

You are what you share. 

So talking about sharing here are my sites for the week:
Fabulous story for those who are studying Belonging for HSC
Have revisited Storify this week to show students web based media
Some excellent links from #ozengchat
Some writing prompts for creative writing

Keep sharing your passion and ideas. Until next week,