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

~Neale Donald Walsch~

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,

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

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,