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

~Neale Donald Walsch~

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

The 20 most watched TED Talks

So touch presentations
(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,

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

Great curriculum ideas

10 tips for personalised learning

Asus new Padfone- Great concept

Near Pod- Synchronize ipads in the classroom

Hope everyone has a great week. 

Until next week,