A delightful way to teach kids about computers

I really enjoyed this TEDx talk by Linda Liukas. In it she shares her passion for coding, including how she realised she has been coding her whole life through, for example, learning the patterns of a language or learning to knit.

She says that we need…

to not see computers as mechanical and lonely and boring and magic, to see them as things that they can tinker and turn around and twist, and so forth.

 [ted id=2417 lang=en]

The kids of today, they tap, swipe and pinch their way through the world. But unless we give them tools to build with computers, we are raising only consumers instead of creators.

We often hear in education that we need to be creators and not consumers of technology. That means that we need to give our students opportunities to be creative and not just do the same kind of stuff all the time. Our students need the chance to think. They need to be questioned to help stretch their thinking. They need to be given the tools and support to make some of their dreams and ideas become a reality.

Programming gives me this amazing power to build my whole little universe with its own rules and paradigms and practices. Create something out of nothing with the pure power of logic.

Can you read deeply on screen?

How do you read on screen? Do you skim more than you would on paper?

The article, Your paper brain and your Kindle brain aren’t the same thing, suggests that we read more deeply if reading from paper than we do on a device.

I’m more likely to read a novel on my iPad than in hardcopy, and do most of my reading on screen. However, I found when I was having to do a large amount of reading for my research that I went through stages of reading printed articles and other stages of reading on screen. I’m not sure whether one was particularly better than the other. I also know that I’m not very good at skimming anything—so this might be a factor also.

I would be interested to know whether they’ve researched this in children. Perhaps there would be a different result if children are taught to read on screen?

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.

Smarter Everyday

I’ve recently come across this YouTube channel: Smarter Every Day.

I’m not going to write much about it because I think the videos speak for themselves, however in a nutshell, the host has a question to answer and heads out to answer it through videos (including high-speed), interviews etc.

These are the two videos that first grabbed my attention.

How Fish Eat (Parts 1 & 2)

And just to whet your appetite a bit more, a cat video (that’s why we use the internet isn’t it?)—yeah, I know some won’t like that he’s experimenting on animals, but we know they land on their feet. The question is… Why? Lots of physics learning in this video!

There are a huge number of videos on his channel and he has over 1.7 million subscribers! The videos can be used in a wide range of educational contexts or even just to inspire kids to question and investigate more!

VPLD/FFI Hui

I’ve been lucky enough to attend the Virtual Professional Learning and Development/Future Focused Inquiry two-day hui in Auckland over the last couple of days as an observer (I say observer but as much as was possible I was an active “observer”. It was a privileged to be able to attend and meet a lot of awesome people, grow my network and learn heaps of what VPLD and FFI is! To be able to finish the second week of my new job at a hui such as this was awesome!

Anyway… there were a lot of great presentations and many amazing stories shared throughout the two days. I’m just going to pick the 5 things that really stood out to me.

  1. Probably the biggest thing that stood out to me was Suzi Gould summing up the somewhat complicated teaching as inquiry model into three words that somehow ended up with becoming four: ask — seek — change — reimagine. Ask and keep asking. Inquiry starts from questioning. Seek information from students, whanau, colleagues etc. Change, and to change you must take action. And as part of this, reimagine. It’s important to imagine and be creative and to continue to do so.
  2. Heather Eccles talked about needing to go outside of our comfort zone and our perspectives to get answers/solve problems we may have. As educators, this means we sometimes might need to not only talk with other educators/teachers to find solutions but talk to those outside of education. Outsiders can often have a very different perspective and bring new ideas to a situation.
  3. Catriona Pene shared about digital mihi. She talked about why you would share your mini, and that is in order to make connections with those you are with or presenting to, give a sense of identity and also credibility. She stated that sharing a digital mihi allows a bit more information to be shared in the form of pictures, videos or animations. Creating a digital mini is something that I have planned to do this year, but have not quite gotten myself organised with. We were given the opportunity to work on these during the session, so I’ve made a little progress and aim to be finished early next week. Watch this space!!!
  4. We heard about the 3 brains of leadership from Margaret Lamont who reminded us that following our heart and having those gut feelings/hunches can be just as valid as well thought through ideas.
  5. The final thing that really stuck with me was from Afoa? (please if I have this incorrect, tell me!) who talked about the idea of it ‘taking a village to raise a child’. He described how the Samoan chiefs in the Matai system when meeting each sit at a pillar. This is representative of the chiefs all being required to support, hold up and lead the village. What this means though is that the historically the chiefs are required to think and the others to do what is required. We need to encourage Pasifika students and families that it is okay to think for themselves. Afoa left us with learning the word, lotogatasi and broke it down into it’s parts to define it: loto=heart; lalaga=weave; tasi=together.

lotogatasi = hearts woven into one

Finally, I must share this video reminding us all to BE MORE DOG. Sounds a bit odd, but have a watch and think about the meaning behind it.

Enjoy!

Modern learning spaces & collaboration

Albany Senior High School (1)

I read this blog post from the CORE Education blog Modern Learning Environments: Not ‘any colour as long as it’s black’ and the second part of it headed up Teacher learning really got me thinking.

Firstly, a disclaimer: I have never taught in a modern learning space. These are simply my thoughts and observations from what I have seen, read and heard.

I imagine, although I cannot be certain that probably 95% or more of schools in New Zealand do not have modern learning spaces (I would love someone to tell me that I’m very wrong about this!). There could be a number of reasons for this, but I imagine that the most likely is that most of our schools are aging, and the funding that they receive for building and maintenance does not enable them to modernise across the school very quickly – they either have to do one or two classrooms or a block at a time, or try to do a little bit across all/many classrooms. I have a little bit of experience as a Board of Trustees member and when it comes to buildings there seems to be a balancing act between these classrooms must be replaced now and let’s be fair across everyone and upgrade a part of every classroom so that it’s consistent across the school. I believe many of our schools simply haven’t been given a real opportunity to update themselves, so unless you’re in a brand new school, chances are high that you’re teaching or learning in silos – in individual classrooms separated from one another by four walls.

It has been my observation that sometimes (certainly not always the case) these classrooms become a certain teachers domain, and although some are willing to collaborate, often collaboration does not occur at the level perhaps needed/desired.

Interestingly, I have also observed in online “classrooms”, in what could be considered a modern learning space, that we talk a lot about how collaboration and interaction can occur with students but seem to do little of it with teachers. The technology we are using to run these online classes is set up for communication and interaction but it appears often that only goes as far as our students. Yes, I am generalising, and I’m sure those that are reading this blog are collaborating with other teachers in a variety of ways, however I know this is not always the case.

I strongly believe that if we have these expectations of our students, then we as teachers need to be doing it too. We need to collaborate with teachers in our schools and build professional networks to learn, to grow and to inspire us. We need to do what we can to move out of the comfortable silos that we we have grown accustomed to and share our experiences with our colleagues.

This year I have started team-teaching online with two other teachers. It’s going to be an interesting journey as we bare all in how we teach and interact online. I think it will be good for all of us because we are having to be open and because we are able to learn from each other. We have no choice but to work together.

 

BTW: The CORE Ed blog is well worth following if you don’t already.

Image: Albany Senior High School By 4nitsirkKristina D.C. Hoeppner – flickr.com

E-learning or learning?

I’ve heard quite a few people say that there is, or should not be, e-learning. It is just learning. While I agree with them in principle I believe it is important at this stage that we keep the ‘e’. Yes, while our job as educators is to teach / facilitate / guide (whatever term you prefer) students in their learning, and no, it’s not – or shouldn’t be – about the tools that we use, I believe that technology should be integrated into teaching and learning. The problem I see, is that although there are some teachers and schools doing this well, there are many others that have not even begun this journey.

There are probably many reasons why some have not taken up integrating technology into their teaching. Perhaps they are scared of it, or scared of doing something wrong/breaking it. Perhaps they don’t have time to learn it. Maybe they don’t believe it is necessary. It could be that getting through ‘the curriculum’ is most important to them. Personally, I believe (and I mentioned this in a recent post) if we don’t integrate technology, we’re disadvantaging our students.

Until it’s the norm for teachers to integrate technology into their teaching, then the ‘e’ needs to stay there. We need to show teachers that integrating e-learning/technology into their teaching is just a standard part of the job now. I think we also need to demonstrate to our wider school communities that e-learning does not mean our students, our children will be sitting in front of a screen all day, effectively cut off from the rest of the world. I believe this is a common misconception about e-learning (although it’s possibly legitimate in some circumstances). It’s about using technology to enhance the learning experience. It’s about using the tools we now have to expand our students creativity, their imagination. It’s about showing our students that with some of these tools that can do and be things they never imagined.

Yes, we need to drop the ‘e’ from e-learning. But not yet. For a while longer it needs to be separated to show what can be done with technology and to encourage more to jump in.

Angry Birds & Education – it doesn’t have to be about Math!

This is going to be short and sweet. Angry Birds is often discussed in terms of mathematics and projectile motion, however in this blog post Dan Meyer takes a different view. This post is well worth a read if you want some good, quick and simple tips about teaching and instructional design.

Check it out: Five Lessons On Teaching From Angry Birds That Have Nothing Whatsoever To Do With Parabolas

Ulearn presentation: Effective online teaching and learning

Sandy Dougherty and I presented at breakout 4 at ulearn on effective online teaching and learning. It was the first time I had presented outside of my school. I think it went well and have had some positive feedback. We looked at some online tools that we had used in online teaching. I’ve embedded the presentation below (done on Prezi), but as it was an interactive session, I’m not sure how useful they will be.

[vodpod id=Video.4611203&w=425&h=350&fv=prezi_id%3Dxkgwtusffcmt%26amp%3Block_to_path%3D0%26amp%3Bcolor%3Dffffff%26amp%3Bautoplay%3Dno%26amp%3Bautohide_ctrls%3D0]

 

Tsunami – Instructional Design Project

wikied

About the project

Throughout this year I’ve been working on a post-graduate paper in Instructional Design for e-Learning through Massey University. This has taken up a fair bit of my time (and part of the reason that my posting on this blog has been a bit irregular recently).

As part of the paper, I’ve been working with a group of 4 others from around the country on an instructional design project. We had to follow instructional design processes to plan, develop and implement an e-learning resource for students and teachers globally to use. We had to present the resource on WikiEducator – an online resource for e-learning content. It’s a wiki so anyone can add to, delete and edit any of the content. It’s similar in design to Wikipedia.

Other tools we have used in our design project are Skype and Google Docs. Skype was used for regular online meetings. We decided to use a text chat in Skype for two reasons. Firstly, not everyone was able to voice chat – lack of headsets. Secondly, a text chat meeting allows a history to be kept, so we can go back through the log of the meeting and see what was discussed etc.

Tsunami

The context of our project is about understanding, preparing and planning for tsunami. We decided to make it slightly interactive with students taking the role of a survival agent. They are to be the experts in their area. As the expert they have to learn about what tsunami are, how they form and the impacts they can have. They also have to learn what is required to prepare for a tsunami and how to recognise the signs that one is on the way. Planning escape routes and putting together getaway kits is vital for their success. At the end of the learning resource students play an online survival game, where they have to get a town ready for an emergency.

Have a look at the resource. Feel free to use it and please post comments/feedback here.

http://wikieducator.org/Tsunami