Category: Professional Development

Learning 2.013 – Making Change!

“Learning 2.0 is a transformative, challenging experience for all participants; it is the conference that leads the change in education. Every year the goals of the conference are to connect  educators from around Asia and the world as well as to create an active learning experience that pushes their thinking about learning and technology.”

What an amazing experience – more than just another educational technology conference! Learning 2.013 is the eighth (?) in a series of unique conferences for teachers, organised and presented by teachers. Although I may have been the only teacher from a small, rural, government school, and certainly one of only about half a dozen teachers from Australia, I was one of four hundred delegates that were inspired by the whole event. Coming from Hawkesdale P12 College (230 students from prep to Year 12) I was amazed by the scale of the conference itself and the resources and infrastructure of the school. United World College South East Asia (East Campus) is a new school, building up to 3000 students from kindergarten to Year 12. It aims to be one of the most environmentally sustainable schools in the world, with passive solar design, air-conditioning powered by solar panels and an extensive recycling system.

Another great part of the conference was the overall structure and the Learning 2.103 app, which allowed users to choose their sessions and have an up-to-the-minute individual schedule at their fingertips. The conference was a combination of learning 2.0 talks (punchy presentations from the stage in the main hall, TEDx-style), extended sessions and ‘in a nutshell’ sessions from the same presenter, student sessions, hands-on workshops, un-conference sessions and cohort meetings. This allowed participants to choose some sessions based on feedback from others. There were three Science cohort meetings, which myself and John Gaskill facilitated.

Thursday 10th October

I attended the pre-conference day, participating in Heather Dowd’s (@heza) “Google Apps Bootcamp” workshop. Heather works at the Singapore American School and started the day by creating a collaborative slideshow using Google Presentation: Learning 2.013 GApps Bootcamp Introductions. Although I knew this was possible, and have seen Tom Barret’s “Interesting Ways” series use it with great success, I was surprised how well it worked with multiple users collaborating simultaneously. Other activities included:

I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend an extended period delving into the more intricate functions of Google Apps and especially ‘Flubaroo’ – a ‘script’ that allows you to automatically correct tests created in Google forms. Thanks Heather, for the huge amount of time and effort you put in to preparing and delivering this six hour pre-conference session (9.00am to 4.00pm).

Friday 11th October

On Friday, I attended Rebekah Madrid’s (@ndbekah) “Everything is a Remix – Learning 2.0 Edition”. Rebekah opened the session by sharing some YouTube videos by Kirby Ferguson, where he demonstrates how popular musicians and film makers have re-used melodies, lyrics and scenes over time. His argument is that there are no truly unique creations and that everything is copied, transformed and combined, so that new ideas evolve from the old ones. His brilliant TED talk is here:

Following the extended session were student presentations in the library, which included “Design teaching”, photography and robotics. These students were very capable, confident and enthusiastic about sharing their ideas, as well as demonstrating excellent technology skills. In the afternoon, Diana Beabout (@dianabeabout) from the Shekou International School, presented  “Asessing Learning with Digital Resources”.

Saturday 12th October

I was lucky enough to attend Adam Clark’s (@AdamClark71) extended session – “Balancing the See-Saw – Living Deeply with Technology”, which was all about  keeping the balance between work and family life in a digital age. He encouraged technology users to take breaks, using various techniques such as colouring mandalas, stretching towards an upturned cup on the floor and Pomodoros.

After lunch I presented my own workshop “Improving Student Outcomes in Blended Learning Environments”, which morphed into a “Digital Toolbox for Blended Learning”, after I discovered that the participants were probably less experienced with online learning than I had anticipated. it was well received, with some good feedback from participants, whose only suggestions were that we needed more time.

One of the most enjoyable sessions was Paula Guinto’s (@paulaguinto) ‘in a nutshell’Creating collaborative conversations in the classroom and beyond”. Paula is a dynamic primary teacher at UWCSEA (East Campus) and encourages respectful relationships between students by building trust. She is an energetic and thoughtful learning leader who cultivates complementary learning spaces, both physically (classroom set up to allow small group work, including a variation of the ‘harkness’ table) and virtually (teacher and student blogs). She facilitated a ‘fishbowl’ discussion, in which half the group were seated around the table and the other half were observers, recording aspects of each individual’s role in the discussion.

“What’s Web2.0?” at Apollo Bay

Image created with ThingLink

Thank you for inviting me to your lovely, country P12 college today! As a small, rural school in SW Victoria, Hawkesdale P12 College is a very similar school to this. We have about 250 students, mostly from farming families, arriving by bus each school day. I imagine you have similar concerns with isolation from major centres, distance to services and lack of multicultural awareness that comes from living in small, rural and regional communities. Today we are going to look at some tools that we have used at Hawkesdale P12 College for connecting, communicating and collaborating with the world.

Wallwisher is a free, easy-to-use site where you can post digital sticky notes. It can be used for exit slips, brainstorming, reflection and sharing ideas.

Wordle is a site that allows you to create beautiful word clouds from text. Tagxedo is similar, but allows you to choose the shape of your word cloud. Use it for introducing a unit or finding out how much students know about a topic.

Bubbl.us is another fee site where you can create concept maps. Students need to register to save their work.

Voicethread allows students to add text, voice and annotations to images. You can create multimedia presentations using your own images or upload creative commons images from Flickr.

Blackboard Collaborate is free for DEECD teachers and enables virtual classes, meetings and professional development. You can be teaching a class and within 10 minutes be participating in a education conference with teachers from around the globe, without leaving the staffroom. You and your students can link up with experts, such as Scientist in Schools partners or Melbourne Zoo staff, without hiring a bus or organizing permission forms. Please click on this link to access the Blackboard Collaborate Virtual Room.

National Curriculum for Senior Science: “Earth and Environmental Science”

I write to you having just returned from the Australian Science Teachers Association annual conference, held in Canberra over four days. This was a fantastic opportunity to hear about contemporary science in action from experts in a variety of fields. However, my observations and discussions over the past few days have been of great concern with respect to the state of education for sustainability in Australia.

I have been the member of several expert panels to provide feedback to ACARA regarding the national senior science curriculum for “Earth and Environmental Science“. Only one of these meetings was attended by equal numbers of stakeholders with experience in contemporary Environmental Science teaching – all other meetings have been dominated by geologists, earth science advocates and others with very little understanding of contemporary education for sustainability. ACARA’s framework is that there should be four senior secondary science courses, of equal cognitive demand. However, I believe that Earth and Environmental Science, although they have been taught together historically, cannot be deemed equivalent to the major sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics).This belief is detailed by Prof. Annette Gough who writes as follows: “Environmental education cannot and should not be confined by the conventional curriculum jigsaw frame – the jigsaw needs to evolve as the field continues to evolve and our understandings about the environment and sustainability evolve.” (Gough, 2011)

One of the arguments against a separate Environmental Science course is that education for sustainability is a cross-curricula priority, as demonstrated in the Foundation to 10 national curriculums. However, until the ideal of an environmental ethic underpins the “whole curriculum and indeed the life and practice of the school and educational system…. environmental subjects need to exist to exemplify what environmental education is” (Fensham, 1990 p.18). In addition, until students with sufficient understanding become teachers, or those teachers are supported by free and convenient professional development, the enacted curriculum will be quite different to the written curriculum, as teachers will teach what they know best from an overcrowded, content-heavy document.

The EES course arose through ACARA and the Federal Government from lobbying by principally NSW and WA, the mining industry and environmental groups that a course in addition to physics, chemistry and biology should exist to cater for the “fourth” traditional science of Earth Science. It was thought this would satisfy everyones needs as the 4 “science disciplines” were covered. Therein lies a major concern, teaching authorities and schools grab whomever is available to teach courses such as EES, that requires a multi disciplinary approach, a broad understanding of the systems involved and whom are missing part of that knowledge base, so teach to their respective strengths and in so doing do not give a full account of the course material.

To clarify, this is my understanding of a contemporary education for sustainability:
“Education for sustainability is a critical component of 21st century learning, to allow our future leaders to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes that will allow human society to develop in ways that meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations to meet their needs. In addition to the content knowledge of the way that the earth’s systems work, students also need opportunities to engage with the issues of how humans impact on their environment and how these impacts can be reduced. They need to be able to think critically, be ethically and environmental aware and have the knowledge and ability to participate effectively in decision making. Contemporary education for sustainability should prepare students to live and work in ways that minimize their impact on the planet that sustains us – they will need to be able to engage in the debate about carbon emissions, understand the life cycle of products they consume and make choices about the energy and water they use and the waste they produce. An Environmental Science course should include aspects of all the other sciences and Maths, including evaluating evidence and developing communication skills.”

Due to global scientific research into climate change over the past few decades, we have a vast amount of information and the development of new techniques to investigate issues such as the greenhouse effect, ocean temperatures, currents and acidification, measurement of biodiversity and changes in biotic distribution, renewable energy technologies, carbon sequestration, the effects of land use changes etc. It is crucial that we provide students with the opportunity to investigate these issues so they can be informed and aware global citizens. These issues, and more mentioned at “Science Teachers for Climate Change Awareness“, are vitally important to the understanding of climate change. They are very appropriate, if not indispensable, for a senior secondary science curriculum. By attempting to combine the traditional earth science course with these new areas of environmental science, we have a very content-heavy curriculum that cannot be taught in sufficient depth to engage students. Teachers attempting to balance the two will have great difficulty providing opportunities for students to investigate, analyse, synthesize and evaluate the key concepts in a two year course. Hence, parts that teachers have less understanding of will be omitted, in favour of areas that teachers have current experience with.

In addition, I believe there is a conflict between the philosophy and values of advocates of these two sciences. Students selecting an Earth Science course may be primarily interested in careers such as geology, engineering and mining – of course they should also have an understanding of erosion, pollution sinks and sources and land rehabilitation. Students selecting an Environmental Science course, in my ten year experience (confirmed by the Victorian Association of Environmental Education VCE Teacher’s network) are passionate about conservation, wildlife, renewable energy, effects of pollution and sustainability issues. These students are interested in careers in the emerging “green collar” sector. It is time that we put students at the centre and give them opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills to realize their goals of working towards a sustainable future.

It seems to me that the majority of teachers in all other states, apart from Victoria and Tasmania, have a strong bias towards Earth Science, due to the prevalence of mining industries in those states. Extensive free professional development opportunities have been provided by the mining sector in those states, enabling a high level of expertise in the earth sciences and consequently a focus on earth science and the search for and extraction of finite resources. My deep concern is that these same stakeholders do not have the same knowledge of sustainability issues that enable them to provide a balanced and contemporary education to our future leaders. In addition, many of the stakeholders have a vested interest in the status quo, in terms of textbooks, employability and convenience. For example, the textbook for “Earth and Environmental Science” in WA is sponsored by Woodside Petroleum and the ESWA (Earth Science Western Australia). This text has 19 chapters – 16 of which are traditional earth science topics and 3 that include climate change, ecosystems, human activity and biodiversity. In addition, the Minerals Council of Australia and Teacher Earth Science Education Program (sponsored by Exxon Mobil, Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia, Australian Institute of Geoscientists and the Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists, amongst others) provide free or low-cost professional development.

Popular media has also influenced attitudes of the vast majority of Australians, ranging from the dismissive to the blatantly skeptical of the dangers of human induced climate change, biodiversity loss, human population issues, salinity, waste, an economy based on finite resources and more. This destructive influence is documented by Keith Burrows in his presentations at VicPhysics. It is the responsibility of science teachers, who have the knowledge base to understand climate change and the communication skills to explain it, to increase community understanding of this most crucial issue.

If these concerns are of interest to you, you may like to give feedback to ACARA, either by registering and completing a survey or by email, with a cover sheet. More information at the National Curriculum Consultation site.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this lengthy appeal. I hope I have made my concerns clear and that you can offer some advice as to what actions can be taken to inform ACARA, the State Science Associations and relevant Curriculum Authorities of these important issues. I look forward to discussing this with you, if you have the time and the willingness to engage in what may be a battle against the odds, but with morality on our side.

Reflecting on Effective Feedback to Students

This year I am participating in the “Leaders in the Making” professional development opportunity offered by the BSW region to interested teachers who have been in the profession between 6 and 10 years. It involves four days over four terms of full-day sessions, discussing educational leadership. In addition, our group of Warrnambool network schools are participating in a research project embedded in the leadership development course, focussing on effective feedback. Our network meetings consist of teachers from primary, secondary, P12 and special schools of various ages, subject areas and expertise. Such a diverse group has made for interesting discussion and has provided an excellent opportunity to share a great variety of examples of effective practise and issues that impact on student learning. To assist me to digest the ideas that have flowed across the table and to share some of my own readings, I have decided to write this post.

Here is what students (Year 7) say about feedback on Wallwisher.

Projects that Warrnambool Network Schools are doing at

Principles of Effective Feedback (from Curriculum Corporation)

  • Is specific and avoids vague comments
  • Is varied in its method of application
  • Uses models showing desired outcomes
  • Shows a valuing of student work
  • Uses marks or grades only some of the time
  • Provides time for students to act on advice
  • Enables students to know how they will benefit

Methods of Feedback to Students

The method of feedback will depend on the age and ability of the student as well as the skill, product or task  being assessed. No one method will suit all contexts, students or tasks and to be most effective, the method used should vary over time.

Written Feedback in Practice

  • Written reports to parents.
  • Notes on work – positive comments, notes for improvement, corrections, questions.
  • Sticky notes attached to student work.
  • Comments to posts on student blogs, wikis or websites.
  • Google Docs – edits in margins, different colours.
  • Word documents can be edited using “track changes”.
  • Ultranet

Verbal feedback in Practice

  • Parent teacher interviews
  • Three-way interviews (student-led conferences)
  • Peer feedback
  • Comments on oral presentations
  • Blackboard Collaborate, Voicethread, Voki, podcasting.
  • “SpeakPipe” can be added to any site, including blogs, and enables the user to leave a voice message.

Pictorial Feedback in Practice

  • Useful for younger students or students with disabilities.
  • “Thumbs up!”, stickers, stamps and smiley faces.
  • Quickly drawn cartoons, similar to “social stories”.
  • Using colours – Rainbow assessment with highlighters (for example, green = great!,  Yellow = slow down and think can this be improved?, Pink = check your grammar or spelling)

Self-Assessment using Rubrics

  • Useful for older students to assist the transition to independent learning.
  • Requires clear criteria and very specific expectations.
  • Can be negotiated by the class prior to the project.

Resources

Ramblings of an Australian Teacher- Giving Valuable Feedback to Students” a blog post (September 2010)

Another blog post with ten different methods of “Effective feedback to students” (November 2009)

Chapter from a book by Susan M. Brookhart “How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students”

“Enhancing student feedback through effective formative feedback” The Higher Education Academy

https://docs.google.com/document/m?id=1fCOe8Ctn63mcA6osNb7at2aL8w7TaK6Xal9GkqC1CnI&pli=1
https://docs.google.com/document/m?id=1fCOe8Ctn63mcA6osNb7at2aL8w7TaK6Xal9GkqC1CnI&pli=1

Differentiation using Technology

differentiation_wordle3
Image created in Tagxedo

Another highlight of the ATEA conference I mentioned in a previous post, was meeting Jennifer Elsden-Clifton, who is the Lecturer for New Learning at RMIT University’s School of Education. She uses Blackboard Collaborate to support graduate teachers in their first year out. It will be my great privilege to participate in one of her sessions on Differentiation on 28th July. In addition to recommending the list of sites below, my tips to the graduate teachers with regards to differentiation will be:

1. Know your students well.
An effective teacher should be able to list a dozen points about each individual in their class – their abilities, interests and goals. I like to use a “letter to my teacher” at the beginning of the year, to get to know my students better. You could also use one of the many multiple intelligences surveys available to get to know how your students learn best. Tom Barrett has produced an excellent series of crowd-sourced slideshows, including “Interesting Ways to Get to Know your New Class”, which, at the time of writing, had 24 strategies from educators around the world. I often find that I get to know my students best during extra-curricula activities – camps, excursions and sporting events – so I try to be involved in as many of those opportunities as I can be.

2. Take the time at the beginning of a unit of work to find out what students already know about a topic.
I often have a class discussion, in which I draw a mindmap (or display a Bubbl.us concept map) which gives an idea of the scope of the unit. As we mention examples and ideas, these are added to the concept map. You could also ask students to create a Web Doc (mash up of text, images, drawings etc) about what they know about a topic. You might want to emphasize the literacy in a topic, and ask students to create a Wordle or Tagxedo word cloud, or a crossword or word search using key words from the topic. Educaplay is a site to create word puzzles, quizzes, maps and other educational games from keywords.

3. Give students a choice (especially in the middle years) of tools to use or ways of presenting their work.
Encourage students to use a variety, not just the easiest or most favorite each time. Open-ended tasks, that allow students to use their creativity and draw in their own experiences and interests are usually the most successful. For example, the 60second science video competition, in which students were asked to work in a group to produce a one minute movie that demonstrated their understanding of how forces act on an object. Some students used bicycles, skateboards, model boats, paper planes, insects on water, balls and trampolines. You could use Glogster for e-posters, which Kery Obradovich wrote about at “Using Glogster for Differentiation”, create digital stories (slideshows, photostories, videos or ebooks) or any of the online publishing tools (blogs, wikis, podcasts) to share student work. My “Digital Toolbox for 21st Century Learners” has lots of examples of how different web2.0 tools can be used for differentiation.

4. Agree on some criteria that match your learning intentions and make the goals specific.
You may like to show some examples of student work (or your own if you don’t have student examples) and discuss what is good, what is interesting and what might be improved. Develop a rubric with students so they know what is expected. Continue reading

WEEC (Brisbane) and ATEA (Melbourne) Conferences

Degraveslane
Lunch after the ATEA conference with Maxine, Michelle and myself in DeGraves Lane.

I won’t be back for school after the mid-year break at Hawkesdale P12 College – not because I don’t want to be there, but because I will be attending the 6th World Environmental Education Conference in Brisbane. I attended the same conference four years ago, in Durban, South Africa, but this time I will be presenting with researchers from RMIT University, about School Community Learning Partnerships for Sustainability. The title of our workshop will be “Stories to Evaluate and Facilitate Learning for Change: Different Perspectives”. This will be an exciting opportunity to share the great education for sustainability work that we do at Hawkesdale.

Last week I attended the Australian Teacher Education Association conference in Melbourne, with Maxine Cooper (University of Ballarat), Abby Schultz and Michelle Iro (beginning teachers who did teaching rounds at Hawkesdale P12 College last year.) We presented on the Virtual Teaching Program that was supported by Country Education Project, UB and DEECD, that involved three pre-service teachers spending six weeks working with Hawkesdale teachers and students to learn new web2.0 tools and practise new ways of teaching using Elluminate (now called Blackboard Collaborate), Skype, Wallwisher, Google Docs and other innovative teaching and learning platforms.

ideasLAB

Following on from our presentation was the ideasLAB presentation from Brian Dixon and Richard Olsen. The ideasLAB is an innovative, advocacy and thought leadership company with high profile sponsors including Intel and DEECD. I was very interested in their approach to technology in education, although it does assume ubiquitous access to internet-connected devices. Although the data given showed increasing numbers of people in Australia and other countries having this access, it wasn’t explained as a proportion of the population. My concern is for equity – we may have already passed the point of environmentally sustainable computer and internet use, so again, communities in less developed countries will be excluded from the benefits. However, Brian and Richard presented a very interesting “big ideas” perspective on technology in education. Through two free, creative commons publications, ideasLAB provide the language and framework for moving towards contemporary teaching and learning that embraces the ‘collective knowledge constructive model’. Richard Olsen’s showcase publication, “Understanding Virtual Pedagogies for Contemporary Teaching and Learning” uses a theoretical model to enable us to better understand our student’s use of technology, with the main framework as follows:

1. Connecting (Archiving, Exposure to ideas, Seeking answers)

2. Communicating (Adding value, Responding, Presenting)

3. Collaborating (Remixing, Contrasting, Personal sense-making)

4. Learning Collectively (Curation, Synthesis, Collective meaning making)

Performance and Development Review

brittgowx450

This is the time of year when teachers at our school are required to write our performance and development review document that consists of our goals for the year and our plans for professional development and improved performance.  As an ‘accomplished’ teacher, with nine years of experience, I am required to demonstrate high levels of the following:

  • Knowledge of relevant curriculum areas, student learning processes and resources
  • Classroom teaching skills and constructive strategies that allow students to reach their full potential. 
  • Effective assessment and reporting strategies
  • Effective responses to emerging educational initiatives and priorities.
  • Communication skills and professional behaviour
  • Organisation and management of aspects of the wider school program.
  • Improved teaching and performance skills through critically evaluating professional practices.
  • Professional assistance to other teachers in classroom related areas.

 Over the past 12 months I have been a part of the literacy coaching program, designed to improve the literacy of students across the school in all their subject areas. This program allows me to spend time with my coach and mentor, discussing teaching strategies that can improve comprehension of scientific terminology and understanding of science concepts. We have employed several strategies that have been effective in both middle years and VCE classes. These include:

  •  Exit slips
  • Cornel notes
  •  Reciprocal teaching
  • Explicit learning intentions and success criteria
  • Collection and use of student data to inform teaching
  • Catering for individual difference.

All my efforts with integrating technology into the maths and science curriculum and providing online VCE Environmental Science classes to students across the state may not be fully recognised without data to show that these strategies have been successful in improving student learning. So, I think my goal for this year is to try to provide the evidence for improved learning using ICT in my maths and science classes. I have anecdotal evidence, from the students themselves, that they enjoy using netbooks and find it easy to access information as well as organise and retrieve their work. They enjoy having ownership of their personal device and like the ability to personalise their netbooks to suit their own styles of learning.

Blogging Challenge #8: Building your Personal Learning Network – not just your readership

personal_learning_network

Although I have been blogging for a few years now, it is probably only in the last twelve months that I have been getting significant numbers of visitors from outside my own school. “Technoscience” was originally intended as a class blog, for storing links to resources, lesson planning, reflecting on practise and gaining feedback from students. It has developed a “split personality” now, with some posts directed towards my students and some towards my colleagues and peers. The Teacher’s Blogging Challenge has helped me to recognise this and decide to make the split. I will leave this site as my professional blog, for reflecting on my practise of teaching and for communicating with colleagues and I will start a new blog for my middle years Science students (link to follow!). As we are just starting a new school year, this is the best time to set up a new class blog for my Year 7 and 8 students. Hopefully, I can maintain my exisiting readership and build on my PLN (personal learning network) using the following strategies:

  1. Writing regular, informative and interesting posts, targeted towards teachers using technology, mainly with middle years Maths and Science students. Use these posts to encourage reader interaction with questions, polls, surveys, offers of assistance and requests.
  2. Using Twitter (@brittgow) often, to notify followers of new blog posts, good links and resources and to assist people I follow with answers to questions, requests for help and general feedback.
  3. Attend virtual and face-to-face conferences, as a presenter, moderator, assistant or participant, regularly throughout the year. I already plan to attend the “Toolbox for Environmental Change“(Melbourne), “World Environmental Education Conference“(Brisbane) and “Slide to Learn” (Gold Coast), as well as several online conferences.
  4. Frequently visit other bloggers and leave comments on posts that I  find relevant, well-informed and interesting. Make connections beyond blogging.
  5. Attend Professional Development opportunities via “Elluminate”, an on-line conferencing platform that allows participants to communicate via text chat, audio, video and an interactive whiteboard. The Victorian Education Department (DEECD) has an excellent program of PD at the “Educator’s Guide to Innovation Ning” and the virtual sessions can be booked for class use as well.

Even though I really like my clustrmap with lots of red dots showing visitors to my blog, building a personal learning network is far more important to me. These are the people I have met at meetings and conferences and then kept in contact with online, or the ones I have met online that I have connected with in some way – because we share the same interests, teach the same subjects, have similar opinions or ask the same questions. My personal learning network are the people behind the avatars, who respond when I send out a tweet asking for help, who comment on my photos and posts, share their resources with me and make me feel that I am part of a community. These are the readers and online friends I value. Sue Waters has created an excellent wiki, “PLN Youself”  about gaining the skills to build your PLN.

Many, many posts have been written on the subject of building your blog readership (different to building a PLN), and if that is important to you, here are some of the better ones, in my humble opinion:

Would you rather have lots of readers or a supportive PLN? What do you think is the difference?

P.S. I created the image above by copying and pasting the images and arrows into a Powerpoint slide, saving as a JPEG file (use the drop down box “save as”) then using Irfanview to resize to 450pixels wide.

Blogging Challenge #3: Add some Muscle to your Blog!

da_vinci_muscles

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Study of Human Shoulders and Arms” – Try this picture as a “Jigzone” puzzle here (and see if you can beat my time!)

 Today’s challenge is all about how pages can add “power, flexibility and weight” to your blog. New blogs tend to have just two pages (the “Journal” and “About Me”) while some others, like  Anne Mirtschin’s class blog “E-Journeys with Technokids”, have over twenty different pages. As you can see, my blog is somewhere in between, currently with six pages.  

Mrs Yollis  won a “Lifetime Achievement” award and was runner up in the best class blog in the 2010 Edublogs awards. I really liked Mrs. Yollis’ “Meet Mrs. Yollis” page, which included a photo of her as a child as well as some professional and personal information about what she enjoys and her achievements. As well as some contact details and professional achievements, Anne Mirtschin’s “About Me” page has some great multimedia, including a slideshow and Voicethread. 

After browsing around some of the blogs mentioned in my previous post, I have decided to do a little page maintenance with my blog, here at Technoscience. I plan to:

  •  Add a childhood photo or slideshow to my “About me” page
  • Add a “Professional Development” page, listing courses completed and achievements
  • Combine the “1:1 program” and “21st C Learning” into one page
  • Delete the “Year 7” and “Year 8” pages (this information can be found by selecting the appropriate category)
  • Add a “Survey” page, with a Google form embedded to find out more about my students at the beginning of the new school year. What are their strengths, interests, fears and abilities? What do they hope to achieve this year and what equipment and resources do they have available to them?

I have been reluctant to delete pages prior to now, because I will lose some of the valuable comments that have been contributed. However, I may be able to re-name the pages and maintain those comments. That should keep me busy until Challenge Activity 4 is released!

Great Educational Bloggers to Follow

12345-678910 Made with My Cool Signs.Net

During the Teacher Blogging Challenge for Activity 2, I read many posts about effective writing and followed links to some outstanding educational blogs. Where can a beginner blogger find great blogs to follow? I compiled the following list, at the risk of leaving out some very important people’s blogs; but these are ten of the most popular and influential blogs in education, that I find myself returning to frequently for great information. These writers are leading the way in education, bloggers who have a vision for improved learning using technology and are willing to share their knowledge and experience. In no particular order, these ten blogs are a great place to start:

  1. Richard Byrne – “Free technology for Teachers” @rmbyrne
  2. Tom Barrett’s Blog at “edte.ch”   @tombarrett
  3. Frank Noschese’s blog at “Action-Reaction” @fnoschese
  4. Dan Meyer’s blog at  “dy/dan”  @ddmeyer
  5. Dean Shareski’s blog “Ideas and Thoughts” @shareski
  6. Kelly Tenkeley’s blog “iLearn Technology” @ktenkely
  7. Mr. Robbo, “The P.E. Geek” @mrrobbo
  8. Langwitches’ Blog @langwitches
  9. Tony Vincent’s blog “Learning in Hand” @tonyvincent
  10. Chris Betcher’s blog at “Betchablog” @betchaboy
  11. Edna Sackson’s blog at “What Ed Said” @whatedsaid

I know I have left out some great educational bloggers! Please leave your own recommendations in the comment section below.