Saturday, 7 January 2017

30 Day blogging Challenge

Growth Mindset.....thoughts?

I know you have all faced it.  You walk into a classroom positive with a great learning experience planned. Then you get hit with the "wall of negativity". It feels like Year 10 are determined to have a miserable time and their only joy is to undermine. Oh the temptation to give them a text book and an exercise. ambition to support a positive mindset in the classroom. The strategy?  Making sure the students know what I am doing and why. Posters showing a negative mindset response and the corresponding positive mindset  examples.  These examples have been collected using Pinterest ... (@jillyharry) and checking out other great sites such as MindShift. Links will follow when I'm back from holidays and not on an iPad only.
I would love to hear from anyone else who has made an map to in this area with their middle school students.

New Year..New Goals..New challenges

Blogging is something I have wanted to do regularly, but it seems to get sidetracked aside by all the other bits of 'stuff' that invade life.  A.J Juliani's 30 day blogging challenge came at just the right moment. 

For 30 days I will write 200 words and publish at least 3 posts per week.
Topics I am engaging with and will be muttering about are...
Flipped Learning: Making it work in 2017
Growth Mindset: How to encourage one in my students.
Personalised Learning:  especially relevant for a challenging Low level Mathematics Class.
Team building in the classroom..something that I believe can be underestimated..but so hard to maintain through the year.
Problem Based Learning:  Balancing what I want to do with the curriculum demands and then linking this to STEM and Coding within the school.

What amazed me was the number of bloggers who have joined this challenge.  So many of us are keen to throw out our ideas onto the global stage.  This can only be a good thing.  Teachers across the world are facing similar challenges, yet now we have massive audience of experienced practitioners that we can draw inspiration from. 

I find Twitter to be an amazing resource that provides instant feedback to any question.  My favourite bloggers are only a few characters away and ready to help out. that would have been unheard of only a few years ago.

So please, comment, feedback, question, challenge..I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Mini Maker Spaces

I love reading posts about Maker Spaces.  Image a room of students industrially making models and working replicas of science concepts.  All working using TAS, ICT, Maths, Science and Art skills, blended so that no one discipline stands alone.

In a busy, large Catholic College in Western Sydney we are doing great things, but it will be a while before my dream comes true.  So in the mean time, I've developed my own mini maker space.

Ok, so it a cupboard in one of the classrooms I teach in, but I needed to start somewhere.  Inside are things..recycled containers, straws, dead computer parts, craft stuff, bling stuff, string, glue and pencils.

My first challenges are going to be
Year 7: Research and create an animal cell and a plant cell using materials that reflect each components function.
Year 8:  Create a working hand that can pick up small objects using a tube, straws and string.

I will let you know how it goes!  And yes, that is a pig on the top shelf.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Developing Student-Centred Learning

Over the term holidays I graded my Year 10 essays on genetics and genetic engineering.  Imagine my horror when the students showed the greatest understanding of content covered when I was away.  I left them with good old 'read the text and answer the questions'.  What was happening here?  The class is cooperative, well behaved, mixed ability and willing to try new ideas.  Questions I came up with were..

  • Am I getting in the way of their learning?
  • Is my use of technology taking away the 'hard' work where deeper understanding begins?
  • Are my students becoming passive learners, tourists instead of living their education?'
  • What can I do to fix this?   How can I tell it is working?
My start is to make the learning more student centred, pull back and put responsibility on them.  Relinquishing control is really hard and I actually thought I was doing that, but maybe I wasn't.  What was I scared of?
  • The students would procrastinate and nothing would be learnt.
  • The students wouldn't learn what was on the program.
  • The students would be unprepared for assessment tasks.
  • Students would be distracted and off task  if they just used the internet for research and learning.
  • I would lose control.
I decided to start small, take sections of our topics and focus on making them student-centred.  Push out of my comfort zone but not take an enormous leap.

Stage 5: Year 10  (Since this was the group that got me thinking.)

Students had to summarise an infectious and a noninfectious disease.  Instead of handing them a textbook or a list of easily summarised diseases, I handed the choice over to them.  In deciding the technology used, I looked at the SAMR model.  

Using the school's Learning Management System, Moodle, I set up a separate forum for both types of disease.  They had 100 words to describe their chosen diseases, broken into key bits of information required by the program.  They could not choose one that had already been written about.
To deal with the procrastination area we watched a really witty TED video on procrastination.  This stimulated much talk and when set the forum task, all students got down to work.  Every student completed the task in the 20 minutes left of the lesson.  Many used illnesses they had experienced or were in their family.  One boy has a sex linked inheritance disease that he researched.  Not once did he make the link when we actually talked about this in genetics last term.

They have time next lesson to complete the task.  I am gong to ask them to brainstorm some code of conduct ideas then comment on some ones else's post. Taking technology beyond the substitution phase, and giving students time to complete a task made a huge difference.  I am keen to follow up on this.

Next blog:  Creating a mini maker space for Stage 4 in my classroom.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Welcome to Love of e-learning

What do you do when it is last period on a hot Wednesday, you have 30 year nine students in front of you and your job is to instruct them on the theory of ionic bonding.
I survey the impact my words and power point  are having Australia's future:

  • one  is writing 'You are Poo' on a sponge, 
  • one blank eyed with dribble sliding down the side of his mouth and 
  • one who appears to be writing down everything, but is really sorting out his footy team for the match that night?
The sponge is shown to an attractive girl and the immediate retaliation begins.  Sigh.

At this point, I decide to change my life.  Do I want the next 10 years of my career to develop this way? NO.

Fast forward six months later.  I have approval to work for 3 days a week next year whilst studying a Graduate Certificate in e-learning through Open Learning and the University of New England.

This blog is to chart a journey of an experienced teacher reclaiming her career, taking control in a time where what we do becomes more prescribed and accountable.  

I intend to reflect on the readings I do and  chart the changes I make in my classroom and in my life.

This is a blog to give hope to all us middle-aged, menopausal mothers still balancing life, work and hormones.