Posted in Australian Curriculum, Kids Matter, NAPLAN

Naplan, The Australian Curriculum and Kids Matter ~ Now that’s a Trifecta!

Our school had a Student Free Day today and while the program planned for the day would make most teachers groan and go searching for the caffeine – in reality it was an interesting and productive day!

The theme for the day was the Melbourne Cup! – albeit a day early and while the persistent references were at times corny, it made for a fun day! Whilst most staff chose to wear a dress and adorn their hair with a fancier -there is always someone that pulls out all stops!

And they're racing! Some staff took the dress up theme a little too seriously!
And they’re racing!
One staff member took the dress up theme a little too seriously!

All frivolity was quickly pushed aside when the bell went and our NAPLAN data was pulled out. We were given the time to deeply analysis our 2014 NAPLAN results at a individual question level, student, year and gender level and compare these to previous years. This lead to interesting discussion and at times debate, as to what the data showed us and the trends that were occurring compared to the National results. This is where NAPLAN data is most effective and there really needs to be improvements in getting this data back to schools before the end of the year, so that current teachers can analysis them.

We have done a lot of work on The Australian curriculum at our school and it was timely then to take a step back and look at the big picture. The biggest concern many teachers have when looking at how many instructional hours each subject has, is ‘how do I fit it all in?’. The reality is that we need to do things smarter. We also need to be aware that “For any year of schooling, R-10, the Australian Curriculum is written so that it should not take up more than 80% of total teaching time available in schools.” (see DECD Guidelines Attachment 3) This leaves room for schools to run localised programs and class based activities such as class meetings, etc. The recommended timeline for familiarisation and implementation of the F(R) – 10 Australian Curriculum means that we will be programming, assessing and reporting in all Learning Areas in 2016, so we can expect a lot of development of our professional knowledge of this resource over the next three years.

One great resource recently developed to support teachers in the development of the Australian Curriculum is the Leading Learning Website. This website has a broad range of stimulus materials, posters, and workshop materials including short videos to support teachers in implementing the Australian Curriculum in a way that enables our students to become engaged, independent learners. I particularly like the Bringing It To Life (BITL) section, that includes a tool to support teachers in engaging their students to become powerful learners.  I think the one statement from this website that had the biggest impact on me today was this one taken from the “Into The Classroom” section;

In South Australia our primary years research shows us that there is an unintended outcome from our strong support of learners. We can be so supportive of our learners, that we inhibit their intellectual struggle with the unfamiliar and the complex. In other words, we rescue them from thinking. Learning about what to do when you don’t know something and not being thrown by new contexts is at the heart of learner resilience needed for academic and future life success.

Our school recently launched the Kids Matter Framework at our school and this was a chance to celebrate our movement into the program with our wider school community. My students wrote a recount of this launch on our class blog.

As teachers we have been training in The Kids Matter modules throughout the year and this training continued today as we developed our understanding of the skills students need to be socially and emotionally strong. We explored the five micro-skills of Self-awareness, Self-management, Social awareness, Relationship skills and Responsible decision making. I am quite excited to be involved in this program and can already see the positive benefits for our school as a staff we are beginning to have a a better understanding of why mental health and well being for everyone in our school community, especially our students, are so important. The program is giving us both the tools and language to talk about the mental health of our students and how we can better equip them to become positive, emotionally strong and responsible people. I am looking forward to implementing the framework more formally within my class program next year.

Throughout the day we were encouraged to write our thoughts, ideas and questions on our brightly colored plastic tablecloths – a great way to record our day and I think we did a great job! (see below)

Mind Mapping by Kate, Trina, Kathy & Sandy Doodling Art By Kate!
Mind Mapping by Kate, Trina, Kathy & Sandy
Doodling Art By Kate!
Posted in Web 2.0 tools

What is Web 2.0 and why does it matter?

Screen shot 2013-09-08 at 3.20.00 PM

Recently I started an online professional development course on Web 2.0 tools. I am embarrassed to admit that although I had heard the term bantered around in educational settings, I was really quite ignorant as to what it actually meant, even though I was already using these very tools in my classroom.  I am glad to say I now understand that web 2.0 refers to the read/ write web in which the consumer of information from the past is now the pro-sumer of information – that is they have a much more participatory role in the information they locate and use in the online world, This is clearly demonstrated in the image below.

web 1 v web 2

As you can see, information in the past has been fixed, provided by a few only. Digital text is now more flexible and fluid. Consumers of this information now have more control over that information and are able to edit, collaboratively share and exchange information in a much more social way. It is said that a blog is created every ½ a second. People are much more willing to take information and comment on it. Digital text, including visual text, is not only more accessible, it is easier to control, change and share.

The world is changing…..

This digital text is fast outgrowing the use of print text at a rapid rate of knots. Traditional print media sales (including televised news) have rapidly dropped in recent years whilst online media and social networking use including twitter, youtube and facebook have skyrocketed. Why would someone wait for the news to come on tv that night or the paper to be printed the next day to find out if a lost boy has been found, when you can follow what’s happening on twitter or look at the police facebook page to get updates instantaneously?

This convergence of information means that it is easier to connect with more people and be more accessible to a worldwide community than ever before. Ironically personal connections are becoming harder. There has been a significant move from the web in the past as one way deliverance of information to individuals to a more two way web where individuals not only read information but contribute to it, create it and collaborate this information. This is done whenever blogs, wikis, podcasting, video/photo sharing, social networking, etc is done. There is now an explosion of digital information available and as more and more people engage with web 2.0, this explosion is exponential as more and more sites become participative.

There is a lot of the research on the implications of Web 2.0 in education. This is based on students in secondary and higher education, usually in America. As an Australian educator of primary students, whilst the impact of Web 2.0 is yet to be researched extensively, it is potentially enormous. Junior primary teachers are now faced with students that are not only more connected than their teachers but are more connected that their older peers or siblings – the very group that most research has been done on. These  students today are switched on and they are use to multitasking. They do not know what life was like before FB and similar social media or digital text.

We now live in a world where geographical barriers no longer exists. Students in Australia can do online courses in some of America’s more renown universities and whilst these courses do not attach any credit yet, it is only a matter of time. The concept that anyone can study anything, anywhere is today’s reality. At a recent conference, I expressed my frustration at how a presenter had not shown me how to create a podcast, only to have a much younger colleague reply why should he when you can just go home and find the information on youtube! Of course she is right.

Differentiated learning can happen when any student can go online and learn anything they are passionate about and gain the skills they need to do it themselves. They can then contribute what they have learnt back into the digital world.

The implications on education does create some issues. We need to rethink concepts of copyright, censorship, authorship, credibility, privacy and our digital online presence. Current government enforced restrictions on what students can see online at schools are prohibitive and outdated, especially when these sites are accessible at home. Instead we need to be teaching students about how to manage their internet surfing, what are safe sites and what are not. Educational settings need to ensure that there is equal access for all their students. Despite the infiltration of the internet in most homes, we still have students that do not have access outside of school. Not only that but how do they keep up to date with technology and infrastructure which are costly and continually evolving?

Teachers need to rethink how they teach in the classroom and what their role is.  They need to embrace Web 2.0 – learn what it is, how to use it and develop their skills in using it. It is by this participation that they can help their students to engage with and contribute to web 2.0.  By teaching students about content production and sharing, teachers can facilitate their learning. Teachers need to not only help students understand how to sort reliable information from the deluge of overabundance of information but also teach them how to be good digital citizens. Teachers need to help them to develop real thinking skills. Students need to learn how to be connected. They need to build their own PLP’s and develop skills to access and validate information to ensure its credibility. They need to know that blogs reflect the opinions of the author rather than facts.They need to understand creative commons licensing.

In my classroom, the use of web 2.0 has slowly increased. Students have used the internet to research inquiry based projects for quite a while now but increasingly my students have started to publish what they have learnt on the web on our class blog. They are also using youtube to learn and they have skyped teachers in other countries. In the past they have used Storybird to publish their stories and collaboratively get feedback from their peers. We are currently using Book Creator to produce their own narratives, during this they are working collaboratively on their character development and plot complication and helping each other improve, getting valuable feedback from each other and their teacher, as well as their parents and other teachers. We are in the process of setting up our class youtube channel where the students can produce videos on anything from creating imovies to demonstrating knowledge about what they have learnt by creating a short video explaining it to a much wider audience and then getting global feedback on these. In the future, I would also like to set up for my students their own e-portfolios, so that they can start to share their own ideas and celebrate their successes as well as be a digital collection of  their work that illustrates progress and achievements in their learning journeys that they can share globally and receive input from a much more broader audience.  I am currently experimenting with tools that allow students to develop skills in computer programming through tools such as Scratch (older children might like to use Greenfoot). I am also trialling tools based on Augemented reality, such as coLAR Mix – 3D below.  I am curiously excited as to where these web tools may take my students in their learning.

coLAR Mix

In my own professional practice the use of Web 2.0 tools and social media has enabled me to develop a much broader PLP. I am able to connect with teachers and leaders from around the world, have access to current research in educational settings and can get professional feedback and advice on anything. My use of a professional blog not only enables me to reflect on my current teaching practice, sharing of ideas and resources, recent professional development and sharing matters of professional concern but also receive input and digital dialogue from a much broader spectrum of educational professionals.

Peter Albion wrote an interesting report on the use of Web 2.0 in Teacher Education in which he states; “The classroom of the Read/Write Web is one of seamless transfer of information; of collaborative, individualised learning; and of active participation by all members of the class” (Richardson, 2006, p. 127). In his view, the technologies are driving ten major shifts in education which he describes as open content, multiple teachers & 24/7 learning, social and collaborative construction of knowledge, conversation rather than lecture, know “where” learning, more active readers, web as notebook, writing beyond simple text, working towards mastery rather than the test, and striving for contribution rather than completion. 

The impact on Web 2.0 tools in education is only just beginning and it is a very exciting time to be teaching. I wonder how other teachers are using these tools in their classrooms and what successes they have had?

Internet References:-

Posted in engagement, Face Time, students, technology

Face Timing Indonesia with my Students!

Rina and Siska Talking to us from Indonesia Photo courtesy of Bu Cathy

This term, my class has been researching aspects of Indonesian Culture in small groups. As part of this project, my students were able to use face timing to talk to Bu Cathy (- our Indonesian teacher currently in Indonesia on long service leave.) and several Indonesian teachers as well as students in Jakarta. My class used this time to ask questions that they were finding difficult to locate answers for in books or on the internet. This has been a wonderful success and you can read more about the experience on our class blog.

Some feedback that I have received from Bu Cathy has included;

“I loved that Sandy had asked each of her students to say, “Selamat pagi. Nama saya…..) before they spoke and then “Terima kasih.” afterwards. They said it so smoothly, i was so proud of them. They also spoke really clearly and on the whole we could understand them easily.”

As well as being successful for my students, Bu Cathy has also been able to effectively demonstrate to school leaders in Jakarta how effective face timing is in supporting Indonesian students in learning English. we were delighted to read her post which included the following quote…

A huge thank you to the year 5′s from Mrs Roberts class and also to Mrs Warner’s class from PEPS. You were great ambassadors not only for for our school, but also for Australia! Both classes asked terrific questions and the way you all politely and fluently greeted each visitor before introducing yourself in Indonesian impressed them all enormously! Our sister schools are both thrilled to have met you and you have confirmed for them the image of Australians as being friendly, well mannered and confident, all important values for Indonesians as well!
Bagus sekali”

I am so proud of my students as well as being grateful to Bu Cathy for creating this amazing opportunity for our class.

Posted in National Certification of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers, Sandy Warner

Lead Teachers Group ~ A Beginning!

On Monday, I hosted our first Lead Teachers Group meeting. It was great to see six teachers from our school and one teacher from a neighbouring school participate, with apologies from two other teachers.  To begin the meeting, I spoke about the AITSL website and how teachers can subscribe to the website to get regular updates and news from AITSL. We also looked at how to access the Self Assessment Tool (will need to register first) and where to find the Professional Standards on the website.

There was a general discussion around what people wanted to get out of the group and what direction it would go. The key points from this discussion were;

o Being able to engage in professional dialogue around the standards

o Helping develop a common understanding of what they mean

o Identifying ways in which we may already be doing this

o Supporting each other in collecting evidence

o Buddying up with a peer (that you may like to observe/support/ mentor you & vice versa)

Another teacher moved that we start looking at the Professional Standards to get us started and we decided to start with the domain of Professional Knowledge and looked at Standard 1: Know students and how they learn. Some key points were; Continue reading “Lead Teachers Group ~ A Beginning!”