Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I will stay with you if you'll stay with me, said the fiddler to the drum (Neil Young)

Recently, as part of a professional development session, one of my awesome colleagues, let's call him Greg, did a nifty Prezi on the technological transformation in teaching from when he started in 1992 up to right here, right now.

It resonated with everyone in the room at Woodford House because we've all experienced the same feeling of being happy slapped by a technological jellyfish (I could have said 'teaching journey' but then I'd have needed to slap myself). 

There was quite a range. Mine started in 1983 (hello blackboards, chalk in my contacts - fun, Gestetners , banda machines and, eventually, putting marks into the Apple 2E) , one person in the room is a student teacher (so ipads, Turnitin, smart phones, laptops, smartboards and so on). 

Doesn't matter when you got on board this speeding train - teaching and learning continues to change.

Now would be the most exciting time for change in my time as a teacher!

Here's a quick video primer to get you up to speed with what Greg was on about: 

For me, the biggest part of that change, so far, has been learning to use a student learning system to the students' advantage. We use Schoology and it is transforming my teaching.

It really is. 

Learning is breaking out all over the place, literally! Anywhere, anytime. My students 'talk' to me from anywhere, at any time they like. And I can respond in kind.

Friday night last week, Jacky was working and I had a sugar load of marking to do. One of my students started a dialogue with me on Schoology that lasted for about 3 hours on and off as she aimed to conquer her connections standard (appropriate standard huh). It was quite a buzz to be privy to her thinking and discoveries. In between marking, I kept up my part of the deal by making suggestions and listening to her concerns and problems until she had resolved them to her satisfaction. 

It was the sort of thing that would be impossible to do in a class of 20 vivacious, effervescent, demanding Year 13 girls that lasts about 50 minutes on a wet Friday afternoon.

Clearly, course design and timetabling will be affected to a increasing degree in the future because of this new technology. The genie is well and truly out of the bottle.

I want to adjust to these changes now. I'm impatient, yes, but I think it's doable.

I want to design our English courses so that we cater much more for student diversity, creativity, and their need for collaboration. Starting with fostering and rewarding student curiosity.

I've made some proposals to my English colleagues that are exciting me. They build on those things I mentioned in that last paragraph.

The basic idea is simple: to tie a number of internal Achievement Standards into a student driven inquiry in terms 1 and 2. Then spend terms 3 and 4 preparing for a reduced number of external standards. I'm keen to include a lot of student choice in those external standards as well.

When I suggested these things to my colleagues they had the same reaction my Year 13 students had - affirmative noises and head nodding. I'm encouraged enough to see if it's going to fly. 

Today I worked out my 'breakouts' for the ulearn conference that I'm heading off to in my October study break. I focused on the kinds of people who were giving voice to these matters.

Should be fun. And I get to share the experience with some bright young things from school. 

Clapclapclapclapclapclap YEAH ALRIGHT WAHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

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