No comment

monkey-987886_640I’ve just read a post on a blog that has comments switched off. I noticed this particularly because the topic was one that could cause some questions, debate or discussion.

This made me wonder why someone wouldn’t want comments on their blog posts. I came up with these:

  1. I’m worried that comments could be offensive or cause arguments.
  2. What I’ve said is final/right. It shouldn’t be questioned; there is no room for debate.
  3. I want to tell you what I think but I don’t want to hear your opinion.
  4. I’m too scared that someone might disagree with me.

To me, out of these, the first one is a fair concern, however, you’ve always got the option of moderating comments.

If numbers 2-4 are the reasons, then you’re not willing to be questioned, challenged, or to learn.

If you want to speak with authority, then you need to show you’re willing to back up your argument by allowing for questions and discussion, and be willing to hear alternative points of view.

Image in the public domain

Professional blogging for beginners

As part of the #EdBlogNZ week 2 challenges, Alex Le Long and Nathaniel Louwrens have paired up to collaborate on this blog post.

The challenge is to collaborate with another blogger to discuss an important issue in education. Post must be shared on both blogs, tagged with #edblognz on Twitter and include at least one media tool in the post (video, photo, embed something else).

So our important issue focuses on something that we have been pushing and driving for the past few months – Professional blogging. Well, blogging may not necessarily be the issue, perhaps more so, it is reflecting on our practice. Of course, we like to encourage teachers to do this through blogs. And since we co-presented during this week at #ulearn15 on Professional Blogging for Beginners, we thought we’d continue this theme.

Why should we reflect on our practice through blogs? As Steve Wheeler puts it in his post, 3 things you should know about blogging, blogging is public. Yes, you can make them private, but then you don’t have the opportunity for others to think about and consider what’s going on for you and add their point of view. You also don’t give them the opportunity to question their own practice. Remember… it’s for our students!

blog1

This statement above, attributed to Karen Melhuish-Spencer, appeared on Steve Mouldey’s blog, is challenging. We are doing it for our students. We want our students to succeed. If we don’t share what’s going on we can’t learn from each other.

If you’re looking for other reasons to blog, other than to reflect, then check out this Padlet that #edblognz people contributed to recently: Why do you blog?

Blogging gives us an opportunity also to gather evidence for the Practising Teacher Criteria (what was the Registered Teacher Criteria). You can use your blog to write posts relevant to your learning, practise, questions etc and tag/label them with the PTC number. They then become easy to find, use, and share as necessary.

As we progress on our learning and teaching journey, no matter how long or how little we have been teaching, our practice continually evolves to best suit the students we have in front of us. By sharing our learning and developing understanding of this evolution in our practice, we’re then able to portray a sense of thoughtful reflection.

By using our blogs as a way to show this development we can quickly identify the different aspects of our practice by using tags or labels.

Building on our collaborative and sharing natures as teachers, we can learn more about the changes in education and the need to keep reflecting to enhance our own practices for our students.

To boldly go where no man has gone before

Spock & Kirk

One of the #EdBlogNZ challenges for week 1 is to write a blog post about your favourite movie/song/piece of art including how it relates to your life as an educator. So I’m going to write about my favourite TV series / movies – Star Trek.

I’m a doctor, not a…


Wow – this quote, said regularly by Dr McCoy really resonates with me. Let’s rephrase it…

I’m a teacher, not a… doctor, nurse, parent (well I might be, but I’ve not actually taught my own children), social worker, … you name it, we’ve probably had to do it as a teacher!

It’s dead, Jim

We’ve all had to let go of something at some point. That amazing lesson I planned that just didn’t work. That great idea that no one else got or agreed with.

And being a Science/Biology teacher… there can be a few other dead things in my class…

Make it so

Get out there and go for it! Ever had an idea, or come across someone who has done something that sounds amazing? Just get out there and go for it! Make it so! I probably haven’t done this enough as a teacher. It’s about stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something that may work perfectly or might flop.

Of course, we’ve always been told to have that back-up plan in case we need it!

Engage

This seems like an obvious connection to teaching. Engage! Student engagement. But actually, for me this is also about teacher engagement. Not only do we need to encourage student engagement and student ownership of their learning, but we need to own our teaching! We need to be engaged in what we’re doing. If it’s not engaging to us, I can just about guarantee that it’s not engaging to our students. If we’re not engaged in what we’re teaching, then why would our students be engaged in it?

This is an area that was quite clear in my MEd research as well!

Tea, Earl Grey, Hot (Captain Picard) … Coffee, black (Captain Janeway)

 

We’ve all got our drink of choice after a long day, or just to get through the day! Mine was Coke (of course I’m currently celebrating 9 months without it so far this year!) Many teachers always have a coffee or cup of tea to drink. Others stick to water.

Live long and prosperLeonard Nimoy Spock Dies - President Obama Statement

Finally, probably the most well known Star Trek quote, and a tribute to the great Leonard Nimoy. Live long and prosper.

As a teacher we need to look after ourselves. Don’t burn ourselves out. Take time out and relax without thinking of your students (if that’s ever possible). It’s so easy to focus on the job always, but it’s not necessarily a wise thing to do.

Yes, enjoy your job. Be passionate! Have fun with your students.

But… enjoy yourself. Spend quality time with your family. Have some “me” time.

I don’t have anything worth sharing! YES YOU DO!!!

So often when we’re wanting to blog we have a block. We feel like we don’t have anything worth sharing, or we think that all we’ve done is really obvious.

Well… Have a watch of this video (about 2 minutes)

Now what do you think? What’s obvious to you might be amazing to someone else!

I remember when I first presented at Ulearn back in 2010. My colleague and I shared some stuff that was based around web tools that we had been using for ages and were kind of assuming that everyone already knew about them. Boy were we wrong! There was so much opportunity for new learning to go on during that workshop! It was exciting!

So get writing! Share what you’re doing and don’t worry what others think or do. You never know… What you share might change the life (or perhaps teaching practice) of someone else!

Blogging – What’s in it for me?

LOGO - heads only (1)One of the challenges of the 2015 Connected Educator NZ #EdBlogNZ challenge is to write a post about why I blog professionally and what I blog about.

Many bloggers blog for hits, comments and an audience. While I do like those things, I blog first and foremost for me. Blogging gives me an opportunity to think about many facets of education, whether it be what’s going on in the news, what I’ve seen/heard at a conference or in a video, or reflecting on my own practice. Blogging helps me to clarify my own thoughts. Sometimes I can think about something for several days before I start writing. Other times I just jump straight in.

Blogging for me allows me to think and reflect on my practice and consider next steps. Sometimes the post might end up leaving me with more questions than answers—and this is fine. What I’ve learnt is that there is no right or wrong way to write a blog. Sometimes I feel like my blog posts come together nicely, and are worded well. Other times they feel like a jumble of random thoughts. All is okay.

I think that if I try writing for others, my blog will be less successful and useful to myself and my practice.

This quote from Steve Mouldey’s blog, that he noted from a ICOT session by Karen Melhuish Spencer has challenged me a lot with my blogging (and in fact in a lot of the work I do),

As educators we are morally obliged to share our practice for the good of all students.

Blogging gives me a way to share my practice, thoughts and questions with the ultimate goal to question and/or improve my practice (and perhaps that of others) to benefit our students.

The other part of blogging for me is the reading of other educator’s blogs. I have learnt so much and continue to do so. I’m often challenged by what I read, making me think further and sometimes another blog post comes from this also.

The rise of #EdBlogNZ

Blog

Many of you will have noticed the hashtag #EdBlogNZ starting to gain a bit of momentum recently due to some great promotion from the likes of amazing connected educators such as Sonya van Schaijik (@vanschaijik) and Alex Le Long (@ariaporo22), but perhaps you’re wondering how it started.

I enjoy reading teacher blogs and have done for over 5 years now. I’ve used in the past my trusty Google Reader, Flipboard, Feedly, Blogtrottr and now I use Inoreader (RSS reader). However, as new and different edubloggers come along, they don’t get automatically added to my RSS reader, so I miss them.

I was using the edchatNZ hashtag to try to capture these new blogs, however some days that twitter stream runs hot and the blog posts are easily missed in the constant chatter. Fantastic that the chat is going on, but I wanted to capture those blog posts.

So I thought – we need a way to identify what is a blog in twitter, and hence the EdBlogNZ hashtag was born. I started it quietly, at the end of July 2014, tagging my own blog posts with it.

It didn’t really catch on. For over a month I tweeted using the hashtag. Had a couple of retweets but no one else noticed until…

Woohoo! Someone noticed! Not surprisingly it was Annemarie!!!

On that same day, September 6 2014, we saw two others share blogs with #EdBlogNZ!!! And it has started to grow from there with more and more people slowly picking up on the hashtag. Connected Educators Month NZ 2014 helped a bit, as well as quite a few tweets like this one:

Recently, thanks to awesome support from Sonya and Alex, we have expanded EdBlogNZ into a blog site that currently links to anyone who shares a blog post using the hashtag. Check out the blog: EdBlogNZ. Sonya has been compiling a spreadsheet of NZ educator bloggers for some time and this has been included in the blog.

EdBlogNZ also now has a twitter account: @EdBlogNZ. We plan on using this and the blog to set up some blogging challenges, likely to start off during the upcoming Connected Educators NZ. Look out for the challenges and follow us!

I’m really looking forward to where this takes us and am excited that #EdBlogNZ has finally really started to take off! Now I just have to keep up with all these awesome professional teacher blogs and bloggers!

Professional blogging for beginners—a reflection

For Connected Educator Month this year I thought it would be good to step out of my comfort zone a little and present a short webinar with someone I’ve never met before! So I contacted Alex Le Long (@ariaporo22) a few weeks ago and asked if she was interested to present on blogging. She was! Step one complete.

We had a quick Google Hangout where we talked for the first time ever virtually (other than through Twitter) and semi-planned out the session. There might have been a slight “wing it” attitude from both of us but we were a bit more prepared than that. Step two complete.

Stepping out a bit further we decided to run a Hangout on Air. I’ve used Adobe Connect a lot to run training sessions etc, but hadn’t actually used Hangouts on Air, so whether this was a good idea or not we were going to find out! In the end it seemed to work okay except that it seemed that the audience that we knew were there weren’t really a part of the session except through the odd question in the Q&A panel.

All in all it was an interesting experience and the recording of the session is available on YouTube (and embedded at the end of this blog post).

What did I learn? It’s good to try something new and once again step out of our comfort zone. Google Hangouts might not be the best “webinar” tool but it is definitely usable. And it’s fun to do something with someone you’ve only met through Twitter!

I’m looking forward to meeting Alex during the next few days at Ulearn in Rotorua!

If you want to watch the webinar, here it is.

Monday Mentions: 11 August 2014

BlogCheck out my favourite blog posts from the past week.

  1. Managing change in your school – What is missing? by Leigh Hynes from the blog Hynessight. This post highlights some of the challenges that come about due to change in a school (or anywhere). If you haven’t considered each of the five parts of change management then stress can easily build amongst staff.
  2. Pond and Copyright: negotiating the waters by Chris South from the N4L Blog. I’m sharing this post for a couple of reasons. Firstly, as Pond continues to develop, it’s useful to know how N4L/Pond is dealing with copyright infringements and what our responsibility as educators is. Secondly, the N4L blog is a useful one to follow to keep up-to-date with what is going on with N4L, the Managed Network and of course Pond.
  3. Five Good Resources for Teaching Digital Safety and Citizenship to Elementary School Students by Richard Byrne from the blog Free Technology for Teachers. Richard shares a range of useful digital citizenship resources for you to use with your students.

Me me me! It’s all about me! A blogging meme.

A long time ago, in a twitterverse far far away… I was nominated challenged by @fivefoot3 to carry out this blogging task. Here’s the task…


The blogging task
Acknowledge the nominating blogger. Share 11 random facts about yourself. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you. List 11 bloggers. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated.  Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.


Now that I’ve completed and submitted my thesis, and had a bit of a break from doing anything (apart from work), I’m ready to give it a go. I’m not sure I’ll get to the posting of 11 new questions and nominating 11 bloggers yet, but I do want to make sure I complete the other parts of the task. So here goes…   (I apologise as this got a little long…)

11 random facts about the one and only ME!

  1. I’m married with 5 kids. For those who know me this won’t come as any surprise, but usually when I mention this people think I’m a little crazy and think we must have a busy household etc. Both of these may be true, and… yes I do know what causes them!
  2. I never wanted to be a teacher. My parents are both teachers. I wanted to do a science degree but I didn’t want to work in a lab. So… what to do… I applied for a conjoint BSc/BTchg course and got accepted. Even when I finished it I wasn’t overly excited, however, education and my love/passion for learning has grown on me since then. Maybe I just grew up! Now I love education. I completed a PGDipEd. I’ve just submitted my thesis for my MEd (I’m very nervous about that!), and I’m very passionate about teaching and learning, e-learning, education and helping people succeed!
  3. I attended state schools, private schools, state-integrated schools and I’ve been homeschooled. Yep, I’ve done the lot (although I’ve never been unschooled). Ups and downs with all of them.
  4. I gave my wife a 52 week anniversary in 2013-2014 to celebrate our 10th year of marriage. In January this year, my wife and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. Each Sunday of the preceding year I gave my wife a gift to celebrate. It was a lot of fun!
  5. I played cricket in primary school and high school. And I love watching cricket. I’m able to sit through an entire 5 day test. Love it!!!
  6. I’ve learnt how to make good coffee but can’t stand it myself! I try to make my wife a coffee every day. She has an espresso machine and so I make real coffee. Her favourite is a long black but she goes for a mocha occasionally too (oops, this is supposed to be about me not her…).
  7. I delivered my youngest child… at home… no help present. This was an interesting experience. When we only just made it into the ward with number four, we figured we’d better call an ambulance for number five. 12:40 am my wife wakes me and says to call an ambulance. I call 111, ambulance is on its way. My wife is definitely in labour… oh… actually she’s pushing. 111 operator guides me through delivering my baby girl. She’s wrapped in a towel having snuggles with Mum by the time the ambulance arrives. Paramedics tell us that usually when they get a “woman in labour” call they have about 8 hours. Not this time.
  8. I love Twitter! This probably isn’t surprising if you’re reading this blog post. I used to wonder why anyone would use twitter. Who cares if someone is having a cup of coffee or gone for a walk. Then I discovered at a conference the power of twitter and have made a number of great connections online and it’s great PD!
  9. I own a Pebble watch. Makes me feel a little geekier than I probably really am. It was a 10th anniversary gift from my wife. She thinks it makes her a bigger geek than me because she bought if for me. If you don’t know what a Pebble watch is then click here.
  10. I love travelling but have not travelled much. I’ve not done anywhere near as much travelling as I would’ve liked. Australia a few times, and was lucky enough to get to the US (LA, Chicago and Atlanta) and down to Rio De Janeiro in Brazil when I was 14. That was quite an experience!
  11. I’m awesome. I was going to write this first, and then decided not to. Then I needed one more fact and asked my daughter (12) for one more. She said, “You’re awesome” straight away. I promise there was no prompting. You can even ask my wife (@daikininz)! One reason I was going to write it is that I think in New Zealand we are really good at talking ourselves down and also shooting down the tall poppies. I really want to change that. I think it’s great if people are confident about themselves and if people encourage, praise and support others in feeling good about themselves.

 

Answers to the questions from @fivefoot3

  • Who was your first teacher and what did you think of them?

I think my first teacher was called Miss Colby (it was something like that). I don’t remember her very well, but I recollect thinking she was old. I’m sure she was nice-new entrant teachers always are.

  • When you escape everyone where do you go?myspot

I’ve got a couple of places I go. I like to head out and wander the shops sometimes. Usually I’ll walk around a few shops and then grab something to eat and drink. I also have a spot that I like to drive to and park at the mouth of the Hutt River. It looks out towards Matiu/Somes Island and Wellington city. I find it really peaceful and relaxing.

  • Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Truthfully, I’m probably neither at the moment, but generally I’m more of a morning person.

  • What is your number one tried and tested “Grandma’s remedy” for illness?

I honestly don’t really have one. Rest and have someone else look after me.

  • If you could name 1 education book that a beginning teacher should buy, what would it be?

I don’t/haven’t read a lot of education books, but I do read a lot of blogs, so this book might not strictly be for beginning teachers, but a book I found really good was, “Making the move to e-learning: Putting your course online” by Kay Lehmann and Lisa Chamberlin.

  • When the going gets tough who or what is your rock?

This would have to be my wife. And still, sometimes my Dad.

  • If you could be a rock/pop star who would you be?

I have no idea.

  • Touch type or finger poke?

Definitely touch type. I learnt at high school during Year 9-11. Got up to about 60wpm then. Can do over 90wpm now. Would not have managed to get through postgraduate study, especially writing a thesis if I was a finger poker. I also strongly believe that all children should learn to touch type.

  • What is one thing that you will do this year to make the world a better place?

Keep breathing. Seriously though, I want to help make changes in my workplace that will benefit the lives of the thousands of students that we serve each year. My aim is to help the school make the shift from a correspondence mode of delivery to more fully online ensuring good pedagogies are considered along the way.

  • Why did you first join twitter?

I think I kind of answered this already in my random facts. It was to make connections with other educators and learn what they’re doing. To share with them and also to get my blog seen.

  • What is one thing you’re going to read lots about this year?

E-learning and Education 3.0. I’m always reading about e-learning, online learning, blended learning etc. Our school has also decided to ensure we are heading towards teaching and learning using Education 3.0 methods and pedagogies, so I’ll be reading a fair bit about this also. It’s all pretty much related though!

 

11 bloggers

well… 1 for now… getting tricky to find people who haven’t already done it! @sandydougherty,

 

11 questions for the bloggers

  1. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
  2. What age group do you prefer to teach?
  3. Intermediate or middle schools?
  4. What are you most passionate about in regards to education?
  5. What’s your dream car and what colour?
  6. Why do you blog?
  7. If you were to get a new pet, what would it be and what would you name it?
  8. Summer or winter?
  9. What is one thing you would like to change/work on in your teaching practice this year?
  10. If you were to choose a different career, what would it be?
  11. Apple, Android, PC or a mix?

Why should I get my kids to blog?

This article in the NZ Herald talks about a school in Britain who has 11 year old boys engaged in writing blogs. Some of them are writing 5000 word stories in their blogs. It all started during a period of heavy snowfall where the school was continually closed. The principal decided that students would still get taught during this time – online. And it’s exploded from there. Read the article for the full story.

I think this is a fantastic story about the possibilities of technology. Not only did the students continue to be taught, but their writing scores were increasing also. Many have clearly become engaged, and passionate about writing.

As a secondary science teacher, I’m certainly not an expert in writing stats and facts but I believe that here in New Zealand many boys are not engaged in writing and really have no interest in it. Perhaps they need something like this to get them started. Start them off with a small activity they can do (the British school got the students to blog about the amount of snow outside their house) and try to build it from there. What if you can increase engagement and achievement from this simple idea?

I might actually get my own children to start blogging, and see what happens. They love using the computer, and this might build an interest/passion in writing.