Category Archives: Professional Development

Getting Creative with Computer Science

I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.

– STEVE JOBS, THE LOST INTERVIEW

photo 1Chances are, you have heard about coding. So what is all the fuss about? When thinking about Computer Science, people tend to think of boring and isolated jobs occupied by a stereotypical male working in front of the computer all day long. However, this is a misconception. Computer Science jobs are exciting, in demand, highly team orientated and constantly require creativity and imagination.

Computer Scientists find clever ways to tackle big problems so it is no surprise that there are so many new digital roles being created across all sorts of fields including media, science, business, sports, mining, defence, infrastructure and transport.

Computer Science provides you with good problem solving skills and practical skills that are applicable to not only many careers, but everyday life. From the car you drive to the phone you use and the games you play, computer science plays a key part. In fact, for practically any area you can think of there is an application of computer technology.

Still not convinced? Take a look at the great YouTube videos below that are also great to share with staff and students.

As a result, I have just completed a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course): CSER Digital Technologies F-6 which explained the fundamentals of digital technology and computational thinking specifically addressing learning objectives of the Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum (Foundation-6).

This course helps you to integrate digital technology into your classroom with specific and useful examples while also providing a community designed to share resources and support.

The course, supported by Google, is free for educators in Australia and I highly recommend it. Click here for more information.

Coding Resources

What are your thoughts and experiences regarding coding in and outside of the classroom?

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Filed under Coding, Computer Science, Professional Development

Book Recommendation #1: How To Talk So Kids Can Learn

How To Talk So Kids Can LearnI am writing a series of blog posts recommending quality books that I have read in order to energise and inform my teaching practise. Hopefully, I will inspire you to do the same.

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J Adler

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Joseph Addison

How To Talk So Kids Can Learn by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish is a very practical and helpful book for all teachers. The Washington Post stated ‘if you’re a teacher or parent, you simply can’t get along without this book’ and I couldn’t agree more. Each chapter provided me with a simple yet valuable tool that I could use the very next day with my students. I found myself immediately applying what I had learnt to so many interactions with my students and I saw the benefits instantly.  I became more aware of what I was saying to my students and the impact it had on the students was astounding.

The book provides very specific scenarios that teachers experience on a daily basis with very detailed examples of appropriate responses teachers can use with their students in order to truly solve the problem. The book not only provides detailed reasons as to why these responses are so effective and beneficial, but practical questions and stories from parents and teachers. Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish discuss scenarios involving the following;

  • Feelings that interfere with learning
  • Inviting kids to cooperate
  • Punishment and self-discipline
  • Solving problems
  • Praise
  • Children and roles
  • Parent-teacher partnership

You can purchase the book here.

Join in on the discussion! Have you read this book?

Do you have other books you would like to recommend?

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Recommendation, Goals, Professional Development

Web 2.0 Online Course

I have completed the WEB 2.0 Online Course offered by the CEO. Below are my reflections of each module.Google Plus

Module One

Module one was great revision for me. The YouTube videos really showcased the excitement WEB 2.0 tools can bring to the classroom. I have really enjoyed incorporating Google Apps into my teaching. I would highly recommend teachers to join Google Plus and join communities that interest them. Below are some of the communities that I belong to.

This year I am aiming to incorporate Google Hangouts into my classroom. I have established connections between other Year Five classes and we hope to connect soon. Our aim is to share our work (providing students with a real audience outside of the school community) and encourage the students to provide feedback in the form of three stars and a wish.

Module Two

I am currently using WordPress for my professional blog and my class blog. There are many fantastic blogs out there, take a look at the list on the side of my blog. This is the second year that I have used a blog in my classroom. The students really enjoy reading the posts and leaving quality comments. Their parents also enjoy seeing and reading about what is happening in the classroom. Click here to view my class blog.

I have joined Twitter and I am a big fan. It is a fantastic tool to share your thoughts as well as to gain great ideas and tools from others. I have recently began using Twitter in my classroom. The students have started by recording ‘tweets’ on the whiteboard in our classroom in preparation for signing up to Twitter. I would like students to tweet a reflection sentence at the end of a lesson. E.g. ‘An isosceles triangle has two equal angles and two equal sides #maths #yearfivestfelix.’ The hashtags (#) will allow students to view all of the tweets posted by students in their class and which subject it relates to.

Module Three

In Year Five, we are constantly using Google Docs. Below is a list of benefits I have observed as students have used Google Docs.

  • Collaboration – pairs, groups and whole class
  • Eliminates the hassle of saving files and loosing them
  • Students are motivated to work from home
  • Instant feedback from the teacher and students are able to quickly modify/edit their work
  • Documents can be easily shared to the students

The students enjoy using Google Docs to record their research and write a range of texts. They have also created their own Google Form to send to to other students to fill out in order to collect data as part of a Maths activity.

I am also interested to use Google Forms as an assessment tool using Flubaroo.

Module Four 

Animoto is a great tool for teachers and students to create videos to use in the classroom. It is simple to use – simply upload your photos to create a video. I also enjoy using YouTube to create videos as well as use the videos on YouTube as a ‘hook’ (introduction) to excite students about the lesson.

I am currently interested in using these tools to create videos in order to flip my classroom. I would like to start small and flip one of my Mathematics rotations.

Module Five

Bubbl.us and other mind map tools can be really useful for students to use in the classroom. There are also many Chrome extensions that allow students to easily create mind maps. Prezi is a great presentation tool which encourages students to present their information in a creative way. It is also a great tool for teachers when presenting to parents/staff etc.

Module Six 

I didn’t realise Picasa was connected to Google Plus and I have never used the web albums before. It would be useful for students and teachers to search creative commons images and easily create movies/collages. Students make take photos, upload them and add text. Then share them with others. Take a look at the collage I created below.

Picasa Collage

Module Seven 

I have never used Delicious or Diigo before. I chose to use Diigo (click here for the Chrome App). I can see many benefits, especially saving many useful websites. I think it is great that it allows you to share your bookmarks. I also save bookmarks to my Google Chrome account and on my links list on my professional blog.

I really enjoyed commenting on blogs from the blogs list. It’s great to make connections with other teachers and share our knowledge.

Module Eight 

I can see the benefits of an RSS feed and I now have a clearer understanding of what it is. I’m not sure if it would be useful in a primary classroom, I think it might be more suited to secondary classrooms. My students have access to everything they need via our class blog.

Module Nine 

Which of these social and professional networking tools could enhance learning, both in my classroom and beyond it, and how? 

  • Scootle can enhance learning in the classroom as it provides resources that are linked to the Australian Curriculum.
  • Facebook provides many pages that are related to teaching that provide useful information and resources.
  • Twitter is enormously beneficial for teachers to broaden their PLN as well as for students to share their learning very specifically due to the character limit.

Twitter

Module Ten

I have created a Wiki in the past which provided students with links they needed to complete a task. I now find it easier to provide the links via a Google Doc, QR code or bit.ly. An advantage a Wiki has is the commenting feature, however the students comment on our class blog.

This year is the first year that I have used a Google Site for my class. each student has their own page on the site. They use their page to upload homework, assessments and class work. I am also hoping to link their Drive to their page so their work in Google Drive can easily be seen. To do this, the students will create a folder titled ‘Year Five 2014’, share it within the CEO and then insert it into their page.

Final Reflection

Completing this course allowed me to gain an overview of my existing knowledge as well as introduce me to new tools. I am also now able to assist and encourage staff members in completing the course.

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Filed under Professional Development, Web 2.0 Applications

Inspire Change

Are there  teachers in your school who are afraid of technology?

People tend to be against change and believe that what they are doing is best. We are so lucky to be teaching during such exciting times where we have increasing access to iPads, computers, the internet, interactive whiteboards, digital cameras and more. When these resources are used in meaningful ways to deliver the content, the benefits are enormous. The best way to encourage people to embrace something new is to inspire change.

You can do this by:

  • Modelling by example; share stories and experiences regarding what you are doing in your classroom. Sell the benefit; share the benefits that you can see in your students as a result of the technology.
  • Invite them into your classroom to see how something works and how you are using it in your classroom.
  • Be available to help and support them along the way whenever they need help or are unsure of something – work together.
  • Encourage your colleagues to attend TeachMeets, sign up to Twitter and subscribe to blogs.
  • When encouraging teachers who may be resistant to embrace technology within their classroom, remind them that it is simply the delivery model that is changing to suit our 21st century students and the content is still the same (2 plus 2 still equals 4).

These points can be applied to so much more than the use of technology. As teachers, it is so important that we support each other and work together in order to be the best teachers that we can be.

Are there teachers in your school who are resistant to technology?

Are you resistant to technology?

Are you inspiring teachers to embrace technology?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Filed under ICT & Technology, Professional Development, Teaching

TeachMeets

A few weeks ago I didn’t even know what a TeachMeet was, now I have attended two and presented at one. I have become a huge fan and can’t wait to attend the next one!

TeachMeets are fast, entertaining, educational and they are open to everyone. They began in the UK and are now spreading all over the world.

TeachMeets are friendly meetings where teachers get together and present great ideas and what they are doing in their classrooms with technology. The whole idea is to network with other teachers and learn from each other – isn’t that a fantastic idea? (It’s definitely more exciting than the usual staff meeting!)

While you are at the TeachMeet, use the correct hash tag (e.g. #tmsydney) to comment on the presenters as they present and share their great ideas with your Twitter PLN.

So what are you waiting for? Jump on board and get ready to be excited about teaching with technology!

WARNING: the excitement is contagious.

Click here to find out when the next TeachMeet is being held near you!

Have you been to a TeachMeet? What did you enjoy most?

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2 Comments

May 19, 2012 · 8:39 PM

The Benefits of Twitter and Blogging

I had the privilege of attending and presenting at the TeachMeet held at Australian Catholic University last night. Not only were the presentations incredibly inspiring, but the energy and enthusiasm felt in the entire room was unbelievably motivational.

Take a look at #tmsydney for some inspiring people to follow and to read about some interesting points made in the presentations.

Below is a brief overview of my presentation about the benefits of Twitter and Blogging.

We are teaching in the 21st century, which means we need to teach in a way that suits our 21st century students. We need to ensure our students are learning the skills they need. After all, the top ten jobs in 2010, didn’t even exist in 2004. We need to prepare our students for jobs that don’t yet exist, to use technologies hat haven’t been invented yet in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.

So how do we do this? We need to keep moving forward. We need to be 21st century teachers. We need to demonstrate bold digital age leadership and unconstrained vision. What is your vision for your students in the 21st century?

This is where Twitter and Blogging come in. I have connected with teachers from all over the world, including; Australia, America, Ireland, England and India. Principals, teachers, members of the CEO, ICT specialists, experts in education – these people can be hand picked by you to be in your PLN. Their knowledge, thoughts and advice are literally at your finger tips.

Twitter and my blog have become part of my daily routine. Whenever I see a tweet that I find interesting or useful, I save it on a document for future reference. That document is now pages and pages long, full of useful ideas.

Twitter has provided me with tips for my first year of teaching, ideas for each KLA, fantastic websites, behaviour management strategies, web 2.0 tools, teaching strategies, classroom decorating ideas, useful books, links to education news, lesson plan ideas  from highly regarded teachers, new resources for the classroom … the prospects are endless.

Have you ever felt unmotivated?

  • There are countless blogs that are amazing which are written by teachers who are enthusiastic and encouraging.
  • There are millions of ideas and resources shared every day.

Have you ever needed advice?

  • There will be something or someone out there who can help and share their thoughts and experiences.

Have you ever felt inspired?

  • Inspire other teachers with your great ideas that you are implementing in your classroom.

Have you ever felt alone?

  • With Twitter and blogging, you never have to feel alone. Your PLN can support you, they are all teachers who can relate to you, who understand the frustrations and who can help and support you. We can all work together, no matter where we are in the world.

If there is a new idea that is working, people will be talking about it.  

Every time you log onto twitter or read a blog post,  you will;

  • learn something new
  • meet people you wouldn’t ordinarily meet
  • read about something you may never have heard of

So what are you waiting for?  Sign up to Twitter and follow me to get you started. If you already have Twitter, start being an active participant. Sign up to other blogs and receive an email each time they write a new post. Maybe even start your own blog. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

What dreams will you create for yourself?

What will you learn tomorrow?

Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Filed under ICT & Technology, Professional Development