Tuesday, September 29, 2015

You could follow me and lose your mind (James Taylor)

Five more things on a sunny but soggy Tuesday:

1 Kid President has some awesome ideas. Yes he does. Don't believe me? Ha ha ha - that was me laughing, nay scoffing... try these 100 great ideas on for size!

2 I use quizzes with my Home Room from this site (TriviaPlaza) a lot. It's pretty comprehensive. The kids love it (especially when I have chocolates as prizes).

3 Pretty sure I've posted on this but it's worth a revisit before I delete the bookmark. It's a detailed look at blended learning.

4 My love for Jerry Seinfeld has been well documented. His riding around in cars with other comedians is another genius move from a...genius! This entertaining expose will have you detouring off a number of times - I promise!

5 Leadership Freak is a...yup - Freak. He posts EVERY DAY!! Dude - even the big guy rested from time to time. I bookmarked this post on seven steps to new leadership. It's worth a look again before you delete my post.

Friday, September 25, 2015

I want to live in the world (Jackson Browne)

A slight break from my bookmarks for this post (I'm starting to think I'll NEVER get control of that - I would have added twice as many as I deleted over the two recent blogposts).

As I've hinted at before, I'm keen on reading about trends in education.

I read this collection and did some thinking- largely positive thoughts too as I reflect on what has been achieved so far and then inspired - by what we could do next...

1.    The Need to Develop Cultures of Innovation

At my school (Woodford House in NZ) we are working to change how things are done in order to better accommodate new tech and to encourage innovation. Next steps: keep thinking about how to look to innovative ideas from the business world – creativity, risk-taking, collaboration, entrepreneurship – these things help make education both more meaningful to students in the moment, and more valuable to them in the future.

2.    Increasing Collaboration Between Educational Institutions

We live close to another smallish girls school. We are both fiercely independent. Silly when you think about it. Next steps: one school alone has limited power (particularly when it is small), but many schools working as one can make more of a difference.

3.    Possibilities of Assessment and Measurement

Thanks to Schoology, we can now collect extensive and detailed data on how students are learning, and what teaching methods work the best.

Data is playing a key role in adaptive learning, which empowers students to better understand their progress and take more control over their learning. Additionally, adaptive learning gives teachers insights into how students are doing and what they need most. Next steps: more informed curriculum decisions designed to help students perform better.

4.    Increase in Blended Learning

Blended learning combines the benefits of the technology of online learning with the accessibility of working with teachers face-to-face. I love it! Next steps (I hope): may involve freeing up the timetable, removing subject silos and therefore increasing the availability of teachers.

5.    Redesigning Learning Spaces

If we’re bringing more tech into the classroom, the classroom must change to accommodate. Next steps: classroom without walls!

Monday, September 21, 2015

I don't know why - throw it out and keep it in (Nirvana)

Welcome to the next edition of my bookmark cleanup. Five more for you to chew on:

1 Twenty one ideas to help students keep their momentum

This Te@chthought article is a useful run down of what it says on the tin. It's a site to dip into from time to time and I use it as a bit of a reminder.

2 and 3 Blended learning

A twofer: first an article from Mind/shift on blended learning. I'm a fan! I wrote a post using some key ideas from this but here it is again for your consideration.

Then one from eschoolnews, again looking at blended learning programmes.

4 Reinventing school

Another Mind/shift article - this one spoke to my strong desire to move away from industrial model education and embrace inquiry learning.

5 The science behind great teaching

I can't remember how or why I stumbled upon this one but an interesting article on what makes great teachers great is always going to hook me by the lapels!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Newspaper taxis appear on the shore (The Beatles)

Here are the next 5:

1 Multiple Intelligences

This one is from the mighty Edutopia people. It's a self assessment tool that I researched and used for my Homeroom mentors. 

I have my doubts about this as a thing but there is no denying how much fun these kinds of tools can be.

2 Bill Gates

A youtube clip of Bill extolling the virtues of online learning.

3 Newspaper clippings
The image at the top of the page was created by this nifty little newspaper generator. Confession time: I didn't delete this bookmark! Cos - it's rilly cool!

4 Teacher speak

This one is quite a cool dictionary of terms that 21st century teachers use. That may not sound terribly amazingly cool for cats but trust me - we are so keen to use jargon in education that we all forget what things actually mean from time to time. This site gives succinct run downs on the terms and language we use.

5 Snip

Not Snipping Tool - which is also awesome (thanks Toni for introducing me that) but Snip. This one allows teachers annotate and do all sorts of cool stuff (we are a simple bunch really - this sort of thing REALLY excites us).

BTW - this is another one I won't be deleting!

And that's it till next time.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Girls on fire, boys on fire, It's out of control (Jefferson Starship)

Help! My educational bookmarks are getting OUT OF CONTROL!!!!!!!

In an effort to wrestle a semblance of order from the chaos (you really have no idea) I have decided to list some of these and dispense with them over a few posts (and delete them from my bookmarks as I go).

Sorry to do this to you but I see no other way around it.

Awriight - strap in, here we go...

1 The curious incident of the novel chosen for study
This one is pretty funny - a study which indicates that NZ English teachers have no consensus about the novels that should be used!
Teachers have widely differing views about the appropriateness of various novels and the year level at which particular titles should be studied, which has lead to inconsistencies and inequity in the types and difficulty of novels studied in schools across New Zealand.
Genius - as if NZ teachers, better than that - ENGLISH TEACHERS - would ever agree on one text that everybody would use. Amazing.

Why students should take the lead in learning conferences
Mind/shift are responsible for a lot of my problem - they have such great articles! Here's one about, um - just read the title again...

3 Jigsaw
I like the jigsaw (cooperative learning technique) technique. I bookmarked this article to remind myself why.

4 Another mind/shift
This article is one I think I may have used in a post on inquiry learning. Some great video articles with American students.

5 Habits of mind
I bookmarked this from the Art Costa centre on the 16 habits of mind because I needed to attach the habits to pastoral care learning sessions.

I'm not sold on this, however. Why am I suspicious? I don't really know. I guess it feels a little new agey to me, putting these kinds of labels of things.

...and that will do it for this edition. Don't worry - I have more (a LOT more).

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage (Smashing Pumpkins)

We have entered the run up to external exams with the students doing their benchmark exams this week. 

By the time I retire from teaching I am hoping that we'll have evolved past putting students through external exams. I don't have a lot of hope, just a little.  
My problem with exams? They are fake fake fake!!! 

They remind me of an industrial model conveyor belt. At this time every year we push our students onto the conveyor belt that ultimately ends by cutting them into quality sorted sausages. 

Exams are a good example of a decision made long long ago that became a habit. This habit is a hard one to shake but in an era of personalised learning and flexible learning styles an old fashioned 3 hour writing exam seems more and more like a bad idea from the Jurassic period that needs to end.

This habit runs the risk of being increasingly counterproductive (and yes I know I'm now comparing my students to both sausages AND rats:
"As each rat learned how to navigate the maze, its mental activity decreased. As the route became more and more automatic, each rat started thinking less and less."
Exams (or more specifically NCEA English exams) have become more and more a game/ a maze that can be predicted and negotiated by students.

The wonderful work done in the internal standards - where students could explore their passions - is much reduced in the external exam so that students increasingly jump through hoops.

And then, there's the marking...

Saturday, September 5, 2015

I'm writing 'bout the book I read (Talking Heads)

I read every day. I don't mean I read signs and just general stuff. And I don't mean my phone and nor do I count any online content, like a newspaper - that's kind of skim reading.

I mean I read some of my current book or my current magazine (Mojo or Prog usually), every day. 

I need something to transport me and stimulate my creative brain on a daily basis.

Currently its Murakami's Colorless Tsukura Tazaki.

For me, it's part of my daily routine. I read for 15 minutes every morning while I'm having breakfast on a week day. Pancake Saturdays are different. Sundays I read more.

I eke out another 10 to 15 minutes a day by reading while having a bath.

At night I aim to read for another 10 to 15 minutes before bed but that's problematic because the current Mrs Purdzilla doesn't read so it's usually a conversation. If I'm really hooked into the book I'll wake up at 2 or 3am , get up and read for an hour before going back to bed.

I'm not unique, by any stretch, and I'd like to read more but I regard anything beyond these times as a bonus. 

A lot of people don't read every day. They should.

It's an important use of time and time must be found and then hung on to.

Here are some reasons why. Here are some more!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I took a speed reading course and we read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It concerns Russia (Woody Allen)

The Guardian is awesome.

I considered just having that as my post but I guess I should expand on that simple sentence.

From time to time they run a story about tablets and education.

Being The Guardian though, it's a balanced view and not an alarmist hand wringing exercise.

I particularly liked the suggestion that reading is increasing if anything but as I delved into these statistics I realised that there's nothing much conclusive there, one way or another.

Interesting article though, if you get a chance.

A student recently showed me a suggested reading list for Scholarship English. It was an interesting list with the usual suspects (Brontes, Austen, Dickens, Vonnegut and so on) but standing out like a beacon was the name Haruki Murakami.  

Definitely, he stretches boundaries. I'm currently reading Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. It's pretty straight forward compared to some of his other novels; these things are relative yunnerstan. And short too. Having finished the three books that make up 19Q4 recently this one is like a short story.

I do love his writing. Here's a pretty much random bit (which isn't meant to be taken literally btw):
At twilight birds with razor-sharp beaks came to relentlessly scoop out his flesh. But as darkness covered the land, the birds would fly off somewhere, and that land would silently fill in his flesh with something else, some other indeterminate material.
A master class of flair!