Tagged: challenge

Global2 Challenge – Collective Knowledge Construction

The final activity in the Global2 Blogging Challenge is to reflect and rethink our expectations of online teaching and learning activities. I have created the slideshow above to demonstrate some of the activities our students at Hawkesdale P12 College participate in. As we are a 1:1 learning environment, all our students from Grade 5 to Year 12 have nearly constant access to a netbook or desktop computer. This has been a steep learning curve for both students and teachers – in terms of classroom management, wireless access challenges, social networking opportunties, which sites should or should not be blocked, web2.0 tools available and changing expectations of students, teachers and parents.

I think that our staff and students have been learning collectively about how technology can impact on learning – just putting a computer in a child’s hands doesn’t necessarily improve their learning. Most students like using technology, but they prefer to use it different ways. Many teachers have discovered that netbooks allow learning to be more personalised – we can give students a greater variety of choices in their learning. Students can access, store and synthesise information quickly, allowing more time for evaluation and creation. Teachers are also learning to model appropriate use – from email and file storage to creating teaching tools using videos and screencasts.

We know that we need an appropriate use policy to be signed by students and parents at the beginning of each year, but we also need to remind students constantly about what appropriate use entails. We know that it is helpful if all students have agreed to have their images posted online and that it is helpful if parents have a good understanding of the benefits and risks of on online presence. We have found that it is easier for all teachers if we are open to learning from our students – often they can demonstrate better ways to achieve the same goals, rather than being restricted to the teacher’s method. We know that students and teachers need time to explore and practise with tools to be proficient in their use and that we can improve with reflection and feedback. It has been an interesting e-journey for the whole school and we hope that our students are developing 21st century skills that will enable them to be successful global citizens.

Global2 Challenge: Learning Collectively

Image created using WordFoto app for iPad

In a small, rural school, such as Hawkesdale P12 College, the ability to access resources from outside our remote location has been hugely beneficial. As well as communicating with students in all parts of the globe, teachers are able to form personal learning networks across continents and oceans. Teachers, students and community members can feel somewhat isolated from city life, without the great range of choice (shops, libraries, learning options, hobbies, medical and sporting opportunities) that are available in metropolitan areas. Through blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other online social networking platforms our community members have the ability to seek out others with similar interests, that they would otherwise never have the opportunity to contact.

In my school we have a Maths and Science faculty of just five teachers. We get on well and very quickly get to know each others preferred strategies and teaching philosophies. By joining online education communities (such as #vicpln on Twitter or the “Guide to Innovation” Ning) I am able to draw on – and contribute to – a much greater diversity of teaching experience. I certainly believe that effective professional development can occur as collective online learning – this has been consistently demonstrated by the Classroom2.0 forum, Anne Mirtschin’s “Tech Talk Tuesday” and “eLe@rning” on Wednesdays, as well as the Ultranet “Share and Tell” sessions. Each of these platforms operates on the premise that we all have something to contribute – everyone has different skills and experiences that others can learn from. By allowing different guests to present their own ideas and reflections, participants gain a wide range of perspectives.

Time and distance can prevent students from visiting museums, galleries, gardens, zoos and other places of interest. Many rarely have the opportunity for attending live theatre, dance or concerts. However, they can connect with like-minded people through gaming and other various special-interest forums. An example is the 365 project, which is a site where participants upload a photo each day for every day of the year and comment on photos of others. Several teachers at our school started the project this year and encouraged some of our students to join. As keen photographers they are able to share their work with others, view images from other beginners and experts, critique photos, ask for advice and contribute to discussions. This experience has allowed them to explore an interest and improve their skills outside school. Together the 365 community have built a resource of incredible images, together with information about cameras and how to create amazing photographs. These students have been able to take photos for the school magazine and enter photography competitions.

Another example of online collective learning has been the VCE Environmental Science Online course. This course has enabled students from four different schools to enroll in the subject, who would not otherwise been able to, due to lack of a willing and/or experienced teacher or due to too few students wishing to study the subject. We spend 90 minutes each week on Blackboard Collaborate (formerly Elluminate) and communicate via my blog, email, Facebook and Skype. These students are passionate about the subject – willing to take the risk on a trial in 2011 – and contacted me through my blog to request an online course. Ubiquitous access to technology has enabled them to connect with students of similar interests and support each other throughout the course.

Other students have taught themselves to play guitar using YouTube clips, create and upload animations and identify invertebrates, frogs and birds found on their farms. This ability to personalize their learning is motivating and increases the opportunities for students to develop skills for life-long learning. They are able to ask their own questions, contact experts and investigate answers. They can, as Sir Ken Robinson would say, find their “Element”. Teachers need to be very strategic and imaginative to be able to incorporate these types of learning within the scope of the VELS framework. I only hope that the new Australian curriculum will be flexible and open enough to allow teachers to facilitate online collective learning that matches the passions of our students.

Reflections on the Teacher’s Blogging Challenge

Well, the Blogging Challenge is over and it has been a busy time reflecting on ways to improve my blog, completing the challenges and reading and commenting on new blogs. To keep tabs on all the new members of my personal learning network, I am dedicating this post to them:

Penny Bently – Cloud 9  – Penny is a fellow maths and science teacher active on Twitter, Flickr and Facebook.

Lois Smethurst – My ICT Journey – Primary Teacher Leading Teacher for ICT, Masters of Information Technology in Education, Teacher Professional Leave investigating IWBs, pedagogy and coaching, Intel Master Trainer, host of R U Connected and much more….

Yvonne Osborne – Visual Arts at Taylor’s Lakes Primary School – Creative and artistic blogger from Melbourne, Victoria.

Jeff Trevaskis (Mr T.)  – Webmaths – where Mathematics is tastier than pavlova (in northern Victoria).

Kay McGriff – Mrs. McGriff’s Reading Blog – Language, poetry and reading.

Theresa Allen – CSRN Technology – Technology teacher and coordinator for the Cathedral of St. Raymond School in Joliet, IL.

Miss Kay Tea – Miss T’s Reflections – A primary teacher from New Zealand with 36 years experience.

Christy Berry – BerryArt – A creative and connected art teacher who mixes art and reading.

Malyn Mawby  – Love2Learn – An active and engaging writer also on Twitter at @malynmawby

Laurie Fowler – Fresh Fowlers – An  asst professor at the University of West Alabama who teaches technology to pre-service and in-service teachers.

Jodi Woodward – I’m Still Learning – Great blog for tools in primary classes @Jodiwoo on Twitter

Lydia Schultz – Book Frontiers – An active school librarian and past English teacher on Twitter at @librarylady90

Tracey – Mrs S Online – Active and creative blogger with great “how-to’s”.

Jee Young – Teach to Inspire – An international educator teaching in Seoul

Anna Bring – Teaching Swedish – A swedish/maths/special needs teacher working in Norway (@anna_bring)

Mr. Carson – Learning With Mr D Carson – A thoughtful writer with links to all his Year 7 student blogs

Janelle Wilson – Stretching Forward – A middle years science teacher with a special interest in Space

Glenda Morris – The Groovy Librarian  – A teacher/librarian at an all-girls school in Melbourne, Victoria.

Nancy C. – Teaching is Elementary – A blog for teachers, parents and those interested in using technology in education.

Mrs D. Krebs – Dare to Care – A conversation about 21st century skills

Carol Satta – WCS Library – Library blog to encourage reading at Webster Bible Church and Webster Christian School

Michael – A Relief Teacher’s Journey – West Australian primary teacher with great enthusiasm for blogging.

Kim Lepre – Edquests – Great new blogger with lots of excellent links to tools and prestigous blogroll

These are the dedicated teachers who participated in the blogging challenge, wrote wonderful reflective posts and who I visited and left comments to. I hope I can continue to connect with passionate educators like this, who go the extra distance to improve their practise and share their work, their thinking and their learning. I’ve tried to mention you all, but I will keep adding as I find you all again!

Two International Science Projects


The International Paper Airplane Challenge

To finish off term 3, year 6/7 students will be learning about the scientific method, while they research, make and fly paper planes. Students from three  other schools, in Philadelphia, New York and Tasmania, will be doing the same experiments and we will compare our results. Ms Catherine Laguna from Philadelphia, Dr Gerald Ardito, from PVC Middle School (NY) and Mr Deon Scanlon from St Aloysius Catholic College (Tas.) all teach 12-13 year old students science.

Students decide what defines the “best” paper plane for them – is it the one that flies the furtherest, most accurately, highest in the air or looks the best? They research different styles of planes and develop a hypothesis – a statement about a measurable factor of the plane (length, width, angle of wings, mass etc) that impacts on the best performance. They then write up the procedure accurately, so the experiment can be repeated anywhere, anytime, with the same results. Students choose three planes to trial and collect the data to graph and compare with international students.  Students will use The International Paper Airplane Challenge wiki to document their progress and post their videos and Google Docs to compare their results.

International Energy Challenge

This project, for year 6/7 and 8 students, will involve Terri Johnson (Bode Middle School, St, Joseph, Missouri) and Kristy Lathrop (Messa Middle School, Castle Rock, Colorado) and Gerardo Lazaro (Lima, Peru)  in a Siemens – STEM – Institute facilitated collaboration. We will use the Energy Challenge wiki, Google docs, Skype and other tools to allow communication with students across the Pacific Ocean.

Terri and Kristy have already done some great brainstorming and planning during their school holidays, with the ideal aim of the collaboration being that students will:

  • see different viewpoints
  • be able to suspend judgment
  • be able to make informed decisions
  • be risk takers
  • understand that “energy cannot be created or destroyed…” and that
  • there are costs/benefits to all technology decisions