The quiet learner

This post is part of the #EdBlogNZ 2016 Challenge for the bonus Leap Day challenge. The challenge was to “stretch yourself and create an audio or video post about a passion of yours”.

I have focused on being an introvert and a learner. My audio recording is below and beneath this is a transcript of the recording.

Transcript

 

introverts uniteIn a group I can feel isolated. I can feel alone.

Sometimes I can feel more alone in a group than when I’m on my own.

Words wash around me, over me, through me.

I might have something good to say. Something relevant to the conversation. But it’s too late. I didn’t speak up in time. The time has passed. The conversation has moved on.

I might be questioned on the topic. I had something to say, but now I’ve been put on the spot. My mind is blank. My thought has gone. And now I feel even more alone. People are waiting for a response and I have no words to speak.

Talk with me one on one. Give me time to think and to process and we can have an in-depth conversation. Don’t bother with small talk though, I can’t keep that up. I’ll answer your questions about the weather or about what I do. But they will be short and to the point.

Engage me with my passions and I can talk with you. In fact, I might not shut up.

You see, I’m an introvert. I value my own thoughts and my own space. I don’t need to be alone, but I don’t need constant attention.

When I was at school, I hated being put on the spot by my teachers. I might know the answer or be able to respond, but as soon as my name was called, it was gone. My stomach would start to churn. My face would go red. I appeared as if I didn’t know anything. It was unfair.

Yet, I found myself doing this as a teacher.

Why?

Because I hadn’t understood my own personality. I hadn’t understood my introversion.

I despised group activities as a student. If it was only with one other person, I could manage. But with a larger group I felt my voice could not be heard.

However, I found my way with working online. Put me in a collaborative doc, and I can contribute. My voice can be heard. Throw me into a fast-paced Twitter stream and I will love every moment. I’m in a crowded online space yet physically I’m on my own. I am happy, I am learning, I am contributing and I’m engaged.

 

Image source: Joe Wolf, Flickr – CC BY-ND 2.0

Breaking down the walls

2016-02-27 12.18.40I spent today at EducampWelly. It was about 5 hours of educators having the opportunity to share and discuss all things education – what’s on top for them. I always love these events because you see the real passion of teachers come out, especially since they have made the decision themselves to use up one day in their weekend to continue to grow and develop for the benefit of their students… our children!

The thing that stood out to me is how in so many ways at the moment, schools are trying to break down walls.

  • Breaking down walls of their classroom (sometimes literally) and reimagining what learning is, how, where and when it can take place.
  • Breaking down the school fence/gate and getting out into the community; encouraging two-way communication and engagement between what goes on inside the school and outside it.
  • Breaking down the silos of subject teaching – integrating more across subjects (particularly at secondary) and reimagining assessment.
  • Breaking down the barriers between the various sectors; realising that all sectors can have something to offer to all others – early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary.

That last one was the big one for me today. It was so good to see a range of educators from across the sectors.

Let’s keep breaking down the walls and continue to engage, discuss and learn from one another.

SAMR & Google Apps – an infographic

SAMRJust on-sharing this infographic below based on SAMR and Google Apps for Education.

The jump between modification and redefinition is very big in my opinion. In some ways I think it should be, but there really is nothing much going on between substitution to modification (ie. I don’t see “significant task redesign” in the modification part).

 

Google Apps and the SAMR Framework Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

 

SAMR Image source: Dr Ruben R. Puentedura http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/ CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0

What will learning look like this year?

learn
I’ve been reading through the report, Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching – a New Zealand perspective by Bolstad et al (2012). I actually thought I’d already read this report but it turns out I’d only read the executive summary and skimmed through it. There is a lot of good stuff in here!

One of the things that stood out to me was in Table 3, entitled What we know about learning (p 15). We are aware that learning has and is changing. It’s no longer just about consuming information/knowledge that is fed to us by an expert in that area. There is much more to it than that (and probably always has been to some degree but our model of school has been like this).

It’s almost cliche now. The industrial model of education is so last century! 

However, it’s so easy to fall back on this tried and true method of imparting knowledge, particularly when things aren’t working well, or time is getting tight (eg. close to exams). 

The summarised list from Table 3 (p 15) is here:

  • Learning is much more than simply adding new concepts (or knowledge) to one’s existing repertoire.
  • Learning involves thinking.
  • Experiences are critical to learning.
  • Learners need to develop in-depth knowledge in some areas if they are to go on learning.
  • To learn, people need to be actively engaged—they need to be doing something, thinking something and/or saying something that requires them to actively process, interpret and adapt an experience to a new context or use.
  • Learners have to want to learn the material.
  • Learning has to be a personalised experience.
  • Learning (usually) needs structure.
  • Learning involves interaction.
  • Learning needs to take place in a wide variety of settings.
  • Intelligence—or intellectual capacity—is not fixed, but is expandable (through the right kinds of experiences).

Being the beginning of a (school) year, I’m finding it a good chance to consider what learning will look like this year for me and for those I’m working alongside, whether they be children or adults.

A lot of my own learning takes place on line through reading blog posts or articles. I’m not a big reader so I find it quite difficult at times to focus and find I drift off (occasionallly to sleep!). So one thing I need to work on this year is ensureing that my learning involves thinking. That I stop after a section or chapter and think back and reflect on what it said and how it might relate to me and my work. This highlights the second and fifth points in the list above.

Even thinking about this now, I realise that when I’m learning for me I’m not always engaged! How much more is this likely if I’m pushing things on to my learners!

Thinking about my learners (who are mostly adults), how will I ensure I’m doing the best job for them? I will I know that learners what to learn the material? One way is to ensure they have a voice into what they are learning. Adult learners in particular need to be involved in deciding what they learn as they don’t like things forced on to them (this is not to say we should do it to children!). By working alongside side the learners to help them to voice their needs appropriately, ensuring that they have a voice in to any learning that I’m involved with, I can support them with learning that is relevant, useful and desired by them.

These are very much just my initial thoughts. I’m continuing to reflect on this list and what it means to learning in 2015.

I wonder what learning will look like for you and your students this year?



Bolstad, R., Gilbert, J., McDowall, S., Bull, A., Boyd, S., & Hipkins, R. (2012). Supporting Future-oriented Learning & Teaching: A New Zealand Perspective. Ministry of Education.

Monday Mentions: 28 July 2014

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Monday Mentions blog post. I decided last week I need to reinstate it.

Monday Mentions is when I pick my favourite blog posts to share from the past week. Usually 3-5 of them.

So here they are for this week:

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!

Relevance in learning

Learning to Walk

I’ve recently been taking a lot of notice as to what my own children are being asked to do for homework and what various teachers are expecting of their students and I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps we’re not really helping our kids to learn.

I’m not teacher-bashing here. I see that I’ve done this before too. And I know this is definitely not every teacher/class. But in my observations recently – reflecting also on what I’ve done – I realise that many children are asked to research this or that and present what they find out. I don’t know about you, but I can go and get information about a certain topic, present it in a way that satisfies the criteria given, and I will not have learnt a thing. I’ve engaged in a superficial way on a task that I can do pretty easily. I haven’t been challenged, however. I haven’t needed to think. I could-and many students/children do-copy and paste from the internet into my own presentation.

Ignoring the copyright issue for a moment, one could argue that this is okay as the student has shown enough understanding to pick the right information to present out of the screeds available online. However is this all we are really looking for?

I’m sure most teachers would ask questions that encourage higher-order thinking, but are these questions getting the answers you would hope by just asking for a presentation (which in my observations is usually a poster or a PowerPoint – don’t get me started on PowerPoint, but it is usually not an appropriate technology for children to use to present information in my opinion).

What many of these tasks are missing is the authentic context, the real life situation that makes the task/topic relevant to the students. They seem to be missing the group discussion/interactions to ask the questions that students actually need answers to. Although they are set up under the guise of inquiry learning, they are still teacher-centered with an expectation that students will carry it out in a certain way and present something to the teacher that satisfies their (the teacher) needs/requirements rather than giving the student ownership of their learning.

One of the key points about inquiry learning is that it is collaborative. Students “co-construct their learning in an authentic context” (Team Solutions). However, I have seen a number of inquiries given to students to work on individually.

I would love to hear about really positive learning experiences that are going on. I know they are happening as I read about many in blogs, on twitter and elsewhere, however I’m not convinced this is the norm.

Personally, I’m going to work at making sure what I ask my students to do is relevant to them somehow. I imagine with some things it could be particularly difficult. Also at the higher levels of school I know that qualifications can get in the way sometimes with students motivated by gaining credits. But hopefully I can help make learning more relevant to them.

 

Image: Flickr.com Tela Chhe / CC-BY-2.0

Monday Mentions–19 November 2012

It’s been a while, but I thought I’d try out getting some Monday Mentions going again. These are my favourite blog posts and articles from the past week in no particular order. Enjoy.

Skills for Learning 2.0 – by Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth) from Learning with e’s.
In this post Steve discusses the shift from the 3 R’s, to the 4 C’s – Connection, Context, Complexity and Connotation.

8 Tips to remember what you read  by Ross Crockett from the committed sardine blog.
As the title suggests, this post gives 8 tips to remember what you read. It starts off stating that many people don’t read particularly well, possibly due to all the screen time and then continues into 8 tips.

Great Teaching in Preschool – by Josh Stumpenhorst from Stump the teacher.

Josh outlines some great lessons all teachers can learn from the early childhood sector. Early childhood educators are fantastic!

Principles of the tweeting Principals – by Ainslie MacGibbon from The Sydney Morning Herald.
This is an article about how Australian Principals are using Twitter to continue learning and to collaborate.

Are you really engaging your students? –  by Cherra-Lynne Olthof from Teaching on Purpose.
In this post Cherra-Lynne explains what engagement is. This is a topic I’m quite passionate about as I don’t believe student engagement is well understood by educators. Many people have different views as to what student engagement is. It’s more complex than you might think!

“Label the parts of a microscope…” – by Doyle from Science teacher.
This is a very good blog post that makes you question why we’ve always done certain things. Why do we get students to label the parts of a microscope
 
Is it time to drop the Digital? – by Chris Betcher from Betchablog.
Chris suggests we can drop the word ‘digital’ from a number of terms in our vocabulary. What do you think?

Has twitter killed the art of blog commenting? – by Stephanie (@traintheteacher) from Teaching the teacher.
Stephanie discusses how commenting on blog posts seems to be changing.

Tinkering School

This TED talk by Gever Tulley entitled, “Life lessons through tinkering” really is a breath of fresh air. It’s exciting to see the amazing creations and problem-solving going on by these children. Watch through to the end to see the roller coaster made by 7 year olds!

Should we be doing more of this real-life learning? Can we take our children out of the constraints of the 4-walled classroom and into the world of creativity, innovation and experimentation? Should we? – I certainly think we can and we should!

What are your thoughts on this? Are you already doing something like this or a bit different? Please share your ideas and experiences by leaving a comment below.