#WLPSict – Weeks 2 & 3


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Saad Faruque

While the past two weeks have passed by in a blur, I can honestly say that I look forward to my #WLPSict teaching days. I’m starting to build meaningful relationships with the teachers I’m working with, and my students eagerly anticipate my arrival in their classes.

It’s been tough knowing that my initial four weeks are nearly over, yet I’m starting to see some of the rewards of my paced, collaborative approach.

When I walk into my classes, I’m starting to see classroom teachers taking the initiative … actively preparing their students for their ICT time. For example, our Year 3 teachers have encouraged their students to develop story plans for their PuppetPals animations; and have been excitedly brainstorming ways to integrate the app into their Jungle theme.

I’ve learnt a few technical & management lessons the hard way (particularly in the Year 4 class), and have struggled somewhat working with the Year 1 students … but I feel that I’m getting there, slowly.

 

Weeks 2 & 3 looked something like this …

Years 1-3

I’ve introduced an ICT rotations scheme to ease management issues, and ensure easier access to mobile devices. I now take a cart of laptops, and as many iPad 1 & 2s as I can get my hands on (they are in hot demand!). Half the class does Mathletics / Reading Eggs, while I work with the students using the iPads. This has had the side benefit of allowing teachers to ask questions about how to manage their students’ tasks, and monitor their performance.

The Year 1 students in particular will benefit from this long term, for as indicated by one of the teachers, a number of ESL students were unable to keep up with the whole-class activities.


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Ευτυχία (Jim is Nice)

Two of the Year 2 classes are researching old fashioned toys and games, with a view to creating iMovies and an assembly item. One of the Year 2 teachers is an early adopter of iPads and ICT, and she basically plans the lessons, with my input as needed.

The Year 3s, and the other Year 2 class are continuing to work on PuppetPals. This past week, I introduced these students to the Character and Background import options in the Puppet Pals Directors’ Pass.

I have also showed them how to import / export photos via Dropbox, as we are using iPad 1s (without cameras) and iPad 2s. I have been warned that the use of Dropbox can put pressure on the school’s internet upload/download limits, but I think these skills are too important to ignore. I’ll see how we go 🙂

Next week, the Year 3s will be creating Jungle poetry / information reports using PuppetPals; importing custom backgrounds and characters that they have created in Art. This will be the culmination of several weeks work, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the final results. It seems that taking things slowly has paid dividends … 

Year 4

The technical problems I was having with a whole class Google Doc continued in Week 2 … I won’t be doing that again anytime soon. It seems too many users accessing a document from the same network is a big no-no. I did actually fix the problem last week, but the class had moved on to other things. Fair enough.

In Week 3, we introduced students to WordFoto, and dropboxed their creations – with the intention of printing them off next week. I am hoping to introduce this class to Aurasma, an augmented reality app, next week … not sure yet! I don’t want to overload the teacher…

Years 4/5

Sadly, I’ve only had two opportunities to work with the Year 4/5 class  … due to the Swimming Carnival, and their upcoming class excursion next week. We spent our second session completing their “Sculptures by the Sea” presentations, and exploring options for a future animation project.

These students deserve a special #WLPSict mention for being on the receiving end of Mr Graffin’s rant on effective presentation design in Week 1 … fluorescent colours and overblown animations were NOT on my wish list! lol.

Years 5/6

Last week was the first time my Year 5/6 class had their full allocation of ICT time, after missing out on most of the past two sessions due to catch up science lessons with the Year 6/7 class. We are making progress!

My students have all entered their questions into our Asia Inquiry Google Doc, and we’ve received responses from students and teachers in Cambodia, Nepal, India, Japan and Thailand! The challenge to connect with Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam is still ongoing! So if you happen to know someone in these countries, could you please send them a link? Thanks 🙂

The students are currently working on their project presentations, choosing to present their research using Pages, PowerPoint, or Comic Life.

While my students are very new to ‘learning with the world, not just about it’, I’m actually pretty happy with our attempt to connect with Asia. Yes, we’re barely scratching the surface, but its a positive start. And I’m working in a school environment which is open to these connections … and that’s more than I’d hoped for.

Year 6/7


cc licensed ( BY NC SA )  flickr photo shared by totallyradshow


While we missed last week’s session due to the Swimming Carnival, almost all our students are ready to film their green-screen movies. Did I mention that the green screen kit ARRIVED!!??? (Very excited!).

We’ve spent a total of two lessons on planning and experimentation, and students’ scripts and sound effects are practically ready to go. Unfortunately, it seems I’ve been dragged in as a character in one group’s movie … Not sure if I’ll be able to wiggle out of that one! We’ll be filming and editing over the coming week.

I am hoping to share students’ videos on the school blog / wiki, and invite warm and cool feedback from international viewers (via Google Docs). The idea is that students need to understand that they are creating work for an authentic, global audience – not just their teachers.

Notes – 

In Week 2, I had my first opportunity to meet the student ICT Angels, learning about their roles and responsibilities. They manage the charging of laptops & iPads (when they don’t forget!), and run the school blog. Having seen the blog, I’m looking forward to introducing the ICT Angels to some multimedia creation tools, such as Animoto, VoiceThread, PhotoPeach, etc. All in good time.

A key consideration, which I’ve noted for future reference, is the need to explicitly clarify when students are released for ICT Angel work, i.e. during silent reading time, and on Tuesday afternoons prior to Assembly. Also mentioned was the need for Angels to support teachers’ use of ICT, rather than doing the work for them.

The strict guidelines and rules for the ICT Angel program help to minimise the impact on students’ learning time; and the students’ know that they can be replaced if they don’t fulfill their responsibilities! The application process for these positions is EXTREMELY competitive at this school!

Other things on the agenda have included (finally) starting work on the #WLPSict Staff wiki, and starting to identify apps to remove from the school’s mobile devices. There are literally 120+ apps on the iPod Touches and iPads at the moment, and we need to sort out the mess before we start using Apple Configurator to manage our devices.

As far as I can tell, there’s one week to go. Here’s to a good one 🙂

An Important Milestone – #RSCON3

The third Reform Symposium e-Conference has broadened my horizons and expanded my PLN.

It is hard to describe the Reform Symposium e-Conference, but the words ‘inspiring’, ‘informative’, and ‘insightful’ come to mind.

#RSCON3 was a wonderful opportunity to connect, learn and share with new and experienced teachers around the world; and it will have tangible impacts on my teaching and professional learning practice in the months to come, particularly when we launch the Global Classroom 2011/12 project later this year.

And presenting at #RSCON3 was an important milestone in my teaching career, as it was my first ever professional presentation. I’m proud that I was able to share my experiences, and “make my voice heard” on a global stage; and I suspect there aren’t many 2nd year teachers who can say they’ve presented at an international conference! (Thanks Shelly!)


My Presentation: “What the heck is a PLN?”

I shared my personal ‘PLN story’ at #RSCON3; exploring how my “Personal Learning Network has reawakened my love of teaching, supported me in tough times, and broadened my horizons.”

With the help of my wonderful moderator (and friend) @JoHart, I was able to lead a lively, interactive online session, attended by 33 teachers from around the world (although, sadly few Western Australians). And I was pleasantly surprised at how well it was received.

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After exploring the gradual development of my PLN, and discussing some of the online tools / resources I’ve used to build it, I handed over the microphone and whiteboards to my audience, asking them to share how they “connect, learn, share, and collaborate”. They did so with gusto!

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Themes and Takeaways

Having a PLN is a rewarding and transformative learning experience, but actually getting “out there”, and building your network isn’t an easy or rapid process. It takes time, patience, and perseverance – but you don’t have to do it alone.

By sharing my story and experiences,  I hoped to demystify the “Personal Learning Network”, and give ‘newbies’ a few ideas about where to start, and who/where to go for help and advice. With the assistance of the my session participants, this message came across ‘loud and clear’.

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Thankyou

I hope my “What the heck is a PLN?” presentation will inspire and assist new and experienced teachers to take that critical first step on their own PLN journey. If I can make a difference for just one person, I will have succeeded in this goal.

So, thankyou to everyone who attended my presentation, and all those people who will listen to the recordings. I hope you find it helpful, and I look forward to reading your feedback.

Recording Links

Presentation Slides

I get this question a lot, so I’m attending the “What the heck is a PLN?” session with @mgraffin #rscon3” – @teacherjenny6

Following @mgrafin pressentation #rscon3. My first session. This is amazing!!” – @louvre2012

Great job presenting at #rscon3. So happy to be a part of your PLN and have you as part of mine” – @ncarroll24

Quite a warm wonderful mood in the text chat of @mgraffin’s “What the heck is a PLN?” in #rscon3. Could be I’m just a softie though 😉” – @harmonygritz

Could confirm in @mgraffin’s workshop the power of Personal / Professional Learning Network! Great workshop Michael!” – @SilvioCamposELT

Am I a ‘Techie Teacher’?

I’m a young teacher with a passion for ICT and modest technical skills; and I’m starting to question how my ideas are influencing my classroom teaching practice. 

 

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cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by austinevan: http://flickr.com/photos/austinevan/2296270551/



 

I’m a teacher.

ICT and Web 2.0 are part of what I do

  • I see myself as a classroom teacher using ICT to extend my teaching practice beyond my classroom walls.
  • I want to teach my students how to share, learn and communicate with a global audience.
  • And I’m more than happy to share my ideas and expertise with interested colleagues.
  • But, does this make me a ‘techie teacher’?


I’m not a ‘natural’ with ICT

  • I enjoy using technology, but I’m not a ‘digital native’ … I’m primarily self-taught.
  • I’m a learner too, drawing upon the collective wisdom and experience of the teachers and ‘techies’ in my PLN.
  • I’m taking significant professional risks, often stepping out into uncharted territory; and
  • I’m learning from my mistakes.


What I do is not “amazing”

  • ICT, Web 2.0, and global projects aren’t the exclusive realm of young, tech-savvy teachers.
  • Effective ICT integration is something that any teacher can do with the appropriate collegial support, mentoring, and training.
  • I’m learning how to encourage and support other teachers’ forays into ICT & global projects, and I believe this can only improve our students’ learning and engagement.  

 

I’m starting to define myself as a teacher, as a learner, as an inquirer.

And, I’m not alone …

What the heck is a PLN?

I’m a new teacher, returning to relief / substitute teaching after 3 months in (several) classrooms.

My PLN has changed the way I learn, and the way I teach, for the better. Yet, I am still to meet a new teacher in my part of the world who’s ever heard of, or has a PLN.

Perhaps this post will help to change that.

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Why you should begin your own PLNAshley Azzopardi (@ashleyazzopardi)

Defining the Personal Learning Network

As a quick Google search will show, there is a wealth of information already written and shared about Personal Learning Networks available online. So, in writing this post, I’ve drawn upon the collective expertise and thoughts of my own PLN. (A big thankyou goes to @mwedwards and @ashleyazzopardi in particular for your help with this post).

So, what does it mean to have a PLN?

Imagine being able to walk into a room filled with the very best education professionals, selected by YOU, and having a conversation with them!

It can be as long or as short as you want, and as in-depth as you have time for. Perhaps you might discuss ways to teach various concepts, learn about resources that others are using, or maybe even have conversations that challenge the way you think about education and teaching.

This is exactly what a Personal Learning Network (PLN) can bring to you!”

Ann Carnevale in Break Down Walls, Build Up A Community [italics added]


To me, this is the essence of my Personal Learning Network –

Connecting, Mentoring, Sharing and Learning

 



Building a PLN

People go about building or growing their PLN in different ways. I personally started by talking to my real-world colleagues; moved to blogging about my experiences; took the plunge with Twitter; met @clivesir and well, the rest is history!

Your PLN is shaped by YOUR interests, learning needs, technical skills, and ultimately, your contribution. Building a PLN doesn’t happen overnight, but in time, it can fundamentally change your teaching practice (see this excellent post from @InnovativeEdu). Truly, “from little things, big things grow”.

I’ve included a couple of useful videos which may make the PLN building process a little clearer; however, if you have some advice / experiences to share, please leave a comment! Your contributions are most welcome!

How to build a PLN? from Elena Elliniadou on Vimeo.


Ann Carnevale – Personal Learning Networks (shared by @mwedwards)

Sketchy Explanation: Starting a PLN (YouTube)

Coming Up: “The People of my PLN”

Seeking your Contributions!

Dear PLN: The concept of a Personal Learning Network / PLN is not well known in my part of Western Australia, and I’d like to create a PLN VoiceThread to share with prospective employers later this year.

I’m interested in learning more about the “real people” who make up my PLN, and exploring how PLNs influence us as people, and as educators. I’d also love to know if / how my inclusion in your PLN (via blogging and Twitter) has helped or inspired your own teaching and learning.

You can find the “The People of My PLN” Voicethread here (I plan to embed it in a subsequent post).

With your support, I hope to be able to better explain and share the benefits of having a PLN with my colleagues and prospective employers. Thankyou.

 


Further Reading

“Connecting Globally” (@clivesir)

 Casting an eye over my Twitter feeds this morning, I was mightily pleased to see an old ‘PLN  friend’ and mentor back online. 

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Clive Elsmore, or @clivesir as I’ve come to know him, has spent the past few years working in India and Sri Lanka as a volunteer teacher, training local teachers in the use of ICT technologies and Web 2.0 tools like Skype. (He’s now back in the United Kingdom.)

As a very special member of my PLN, and someone with whom I have many educational interests in common, I wanted to take a moment to share @clivesir’s thoughts on how global connections impact on teaching and learning in today’s world.

I first ‘met’ Clive as a newbie tweep around 6 months ago, when he literally took me ‘under his wing’; teaching me the Twitter basics and introducing me to some of the most integral members of my Personal Learning Network or PLN.

While Clive modestly puts this down to the ‘power of social networking’, his encouragement, feedback, and entertaining conversations mean a lot to me; and were a consolation and support as we journeyed through some very exciting, and very difficult times in our respective professional lives.

Today, I’d like to share Clive’s video in which he describes his work and ‘global educational connections’ in his own words. It was my first chance to virtually ‘meet’ this amazing educator, and it provides an excellent outside perspective on my own efforts to form global connections around the world.

 

 

 

Two Weeks after the “Phone call which changed everything”

They say life has its twists, turns, and setbacks; and it can certainly throw up a few surprises.

The last two weeks have been one wild ride, as I’ve embarked on my first full-time contract teaching position for the duration of Term 1, 2011.

100_4759Michael Graffin (2010)


An “Interesting” Start

To the lady who left a comment on my last post, saying that she was “praying for a phone call” like mine; may I suggest you fervently pray that it doesn’t come on the first day of school!

Blissfully preparing for another year of relief (substitute) teaching, I received my first contract teaching appointment at 8.55AM on Day 1, Term 1 ….          I literally threw my laptop and relief supplies into my bag, and arrived less than 1 1/2 hours later … without lunch!

I’d never dreamt that this experience would define my entry into full-time teaching, and I’m extremely grateful to my mentor and Admin for their ongoing support over these challenging few weeks. And let us not forget those wonderful canteen ladies who fed the hungry, shell-shocked teacher on his first day!


First Impressions

I’m working at a small metropolitan school in the Fremantle district, with around 260 students (K-7). Having become accustomed to relief teaching in schools with 600 – 800 students, my new school’s small student population came as somewhat of a shock. It still feels strange doing Lunch duty on the Oval – supervising a “mere” 40 students!

As I transition into a new specialist/support teaching role, I’m looking forward to two months to live, teach, learn and reflect. I’m been welcomed into a supportive school community, and I’m under the guidance of an honest and very experienced mentor. I have no idea what my future holds, but I believe this particular situation is a once in-a-lifetime opportunity – and I’ll be making the most of it.


The Future of A Relief Teacher’s Journey

A Relief Teacher’s Journey is here to stay. I’ve decided not to change the name of my blog or start a new one, as I’m comfortable with its focus, direction, and themes.

For the time being, I’ll complete the “Kick Start Your Blogging Challenge”, and return to my blogging reflections on my 2010 teaching experiences; with a particular emphasis on my work teaching Sport, Science, Health, and Art in Term 4 last year.

I’m going to need some time to put my recent and ongoing experiences into perspective, and I’ll reflect and blog about them in due course.


Something Different!

Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be attending the departure of the Queen Mary II from Fremantle, Western Australia. To celebrate her return, I’ve decided to publish some of my photos from her maiden visit last year – enjoy!

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Twitter™ for Teachers

A very informative video for Twitter™ newbies like myself – I wish I’d found this earlier, as I contains many of the lessons I learnt by trial and error … as usual …

 

Twitter for Teachers

Giving Something Back: Mentoring Student Teachers

I excelled in my academic studies at university; however, as a result of my youthful inexperience, I always felt vulnerable and unprepared during my practical teaching experiences. While I had some excellent mentor teachers, on several occasions I found myself working with unsupportive, and in one case, overly critical teachers. One almost drove me to quit my teaching degree.

image_thumb24Now, many years later, I have come to love working with student teachers at various stages of their teacher-preparation courses.

I may be “just” a graduate teacher, but my diverse relief experience and engagement in professional learning has enabled me to meaningfully mentor several future teachers in the areas of classroom management, planning and instructional strategies.

Working with “Terry”

While I’ve worked with many student teachers over the past two years, one really sticks in my mind. I met “Terry” (not his real name), earlier this year, when he was about halfway through his 10 week second year teaching experience. To be honest, he resembled me on my final year school experience. This was not a pleasant memory.

Through our discussions, it became clear that Terry lacked confidence in his teaching ability, and seriously struggled with lesson preparation and behaviour management. Watching him teach, I could understand his supervisor’s critical performance assessment; however, I was not particularly impressed that no-one had taken the time to teach him practical strategies for improvement.

Through the course of the day, I explained some behaviour management strategies for gaining student attention and managing the who, what and when of lesson transitions. I was pleased to see Terry experimenting with a few strategies, although he needed to work on his consistency.

I also went through the stages of effective lesson planning; stressing the need for an explicit learning purpose and observable assessment criteria. While I don’t bide much by the excessively prescriptive lesson planning preformats student teachers are expected to use, I have learnt, through painful experience, that a clear lesson purpose and explicit criteria are key to effective teaching.

After school, I spent an hour helping Terry plan a maths lesson on fractions, painstakingly persuading him to halt his rush into calculating improper fractions with numbers. I taught him how to plan using the First Steps Number resources, and suggested ways to introduce and conclude his lesson.

While Terry seemed much more prepared for his ‘model’ lesson, I was unable to return to the school to see how he went. I would have appreciated some feedback; however, this experience helped me to clarify and translate my First Steps professional learning into real-world practice.

Professional Learning: A Two Way Street

I find these informal mentoring experiences personally and professionally rewarding, as I find myself becoming more confident in my own abilities and instructional practice as a result of sharing my professional knowledge with other teachers.

I once read that learning is enhanced when we teach someone else, and this has certainly proved true in my case. Teaching and learning is a two-way street. I learn from my more experienced colleagues, swap teaching resources, and support student teachers in areas of need. Now, I benefit professionally from sharing my learning journey with my Australian and international audience via A Relief Teacher’s Journey. It has been a truly empowering experience.