10 Ways to Transform Your Teaching

1619648_10152989218839268_1464629793034054793_nI recently wrote an article for ACEL e-Publications about the importance of authentic learning. In the article, I discuss authentic learning being overused in many blog posts, tweets, articles and staff meetings; however, it is often presented very vaguely with little to no specific examples of what it actually looks like in a classroom.

Therefore, in the article I go into detail about ten practical and achievable examples of how you can ensure your students are immersed in meaningful authentic learning experiences. The ten examples are listed below.

  • Google Hangouts and Skype
  • Twitter in Education
  • Design Thinking
  • Valuable Opportunities
  • Start an ICT Club
  • Blogging
  • Student Voice
  • Digital Technologies
  • Timetabling
  • Physical Space

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 What do you believe is essential if learning is to be authentic?

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Filed under Classroom, Practical Ideas, Teaching Strategies

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?

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Filed under Book Recommendation, Goals, Professional Development

Teaching With a Vision

photo 2I recently wrote an article for ACEL e-Publications about the importance of teachers having a vision and 10 questions teachers should ask themselves in order to continually reflect on themselves as teachers.

Click here to subscribe ACEL e-Publications.

Teachers should have their own vision statement in order to continue working towards their main purpose and to stay present in each moment. I came up with the following vision statement for myself.

“As a teacher, I aim to create an atmosphere that encourages curiosity and sheer determination. Our classroom is a place where students feel important, respected, cared for and believed in. I am a teacher who makes it possible for her students to reach their full potential, ask questions, learn from their mistakes, give and receive feedback, create and try their best. In our classroom, real world problems are solved and each student believes that they can make a difference in this world. Together, we celebrate each other’s success and inspire each other to be the best person that we can be.”

Take the time to come up with your own vision statement and feel free to share it below.

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Technology Integration in Education #1: Twitter

BirdI am writing a series of blog posts related to the integration of technology in the classroom. Each blog post will include practical examples of how to use a specific tool and integrate it into your teaching.

We are living in revolutionary times. It is urgent that we think of education, children and teaching differently from the past. The classroom needs to be a place of innovation where students are able to connect with others, feel empowered and curious and have a say in their learning. Technology provides us with tools to expand our minds and extend our reach (Sir Ken Robinson, 2014).  

The first post of the series is: Technology Integration in Education #1: Twitter.

Twitter has 255 million monthly active users and 500 million Tweets are sent each day. It is used by people from all over the world to share and create ideas instantly. Our students aren’t growing up in the dark anymore; this is the world they live in. Hashtags are inescapable, they can be seen on advertisements, your favourite TV show and even the news! They will grow up to use Twitter for social purposes and more than likely, professional reasons as well, that’s if they don’t have an account already. As teachers, it is important that we plan to bring in the skills students are using at home. 

More than sharing what you had for dinner, Twitter can be highly beneficial for not only your students and their learning, but for your whole school community.

Twitter in the Classroom

  • Ask students a question and have them respond via a Tweet
  • All students are able to participate (even the quiet students) and they need to think carefully about what their answer will be.
  • Students can work together to create Tweets.
  • All students can be heard and are able to share their ideas.IMG_5791
  • It encourages them to reflect succinctly (140 characters).
  • Students are able to feel important as they can contribute and share links.
  • It allows students to build a positive digital footprint.
  • The teacher is a positive role model on social media.
  • Students are able to learn from each other – their learning isn’t hidden in their books.
  • Students need to think about their spelling.
  • As students tweet about their learning, they are encouraged to feel proud of themselves.
  • Begin slowly by creating a simple Twitter feed on a whiteboard to establish expectations.

Twitter and the Staff

  • Teachers could be encouraged to tweet during staff meetings and professional development courses.
  • Teachers are encouraged to share and collaborate.
  • Teachers are able to build their PLN (personal learning network).
  • Teachers are learning.
  • Teachers are able to share what is happening in their classroom using grade hashtags.

Twitter and Parents

  • Parents are able to follow the school account to receive important updates.
  • Parents gain an insight into what is happening in the classroom.
  • The school is able to share links to useful websites.
  • Parents are educated about social media.
  • Create a competition which encourages parents to sign up and follow the school Twitter account.

Twitter in Education

Take a look at the useful websites below for more information and ideas!

How do you use Twitter in your school?

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Filed under Technology Integration

Making a Difference

Capture“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou.

Above is a quote that you have probably heard many times before, but have you ever really thought about it?

 

 

Have you ever applied it to your daily life? Your family members? Your work colleagues? Your students?

Do you make your students (although this could be applied to anyone in your life) feel:

  • Inspired?
  • Motivated?
  • Supported?
  • Welcome?
  • Empowered?
  • Valued?
  • Loved?
  • Responsible?
  • Positive?
  • Happy?

This list could go on forever and each item means something different to each individual. They don’t necessarily require grand gestures, it could simply be getting to know a student and asking them about a sick pet, greeting the students with a warm ‘good morning’, complimenting them on their hard work, having a go or for a kind gesture you witnessed them perform, laughing with them or giving them a genuine smile.

Truly think about it – how do you make your students feel?

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Filed under Happiness, Teaching, Wellbeing

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