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.

Are we moving our students backwards?

My son’s kindergarten captures his learning through photos and stories on Storypark. A new story was published the other day about him publishing his first book. He drew pictures and told the story to the teacher. They then put a cover on the 7 pages and bound it with a binding machine. The teacher didn’t do it. My son did it. He learnt about the binding machine, how it worked and then he bound his story, guided by the teacher.

A few weeks ago he worked with his teacher to make a hat for kindy. I don’t know all the details, but he chose the fabric and helped the teacher operate the sewing machine to stitch it together.

He was given some responsibility in making his hat. He was given responsibility for putting his story book together. I also know that he gets to use a hammer and nails to build things. He gets to use scissors to cut things up. He’s 4.

When I was teaching in a face to face high school a few years ago, I was told that I need to store the exercise books of the Year 9 and 10 students. These are mostly 13-14 year olds. Has something happened between kindergarten and high school that has suddenly made these children less responsible? Or perhaps they are not actually less responsible? Could it just be a perception by some people? Do our students simply live up to the expectations we have of them? If we think they cannot be responsible for their own equipment, then perhaps they will stop being responsible.

I wonder if it’s the system? In kindergarten they are given some freedom, choice and guidance. In school (not all schools/classrooms) they are taught. I don’t think this is happening as much any more (but I may be wrong) but I believe there was a stage where before you got to do any of the interesting stuff, you had to do things like copy the instructions off the board. Why? Did it really matter if the instructions were written in your neatest handwriting in your exercise book? Did it affect what they were supposed to be learning? Why don’t we let our students learn by doing without having the mundane stuff get in the way?

We need to give responsibility back to our students. We need to encourage them to think, to question, to use their brain! We need to encourage them to be creative and if they come up with ideas, try to help them to bring those ideas to life!

Early Childhood Education & Technology

It was very interesting to read this article from today about early childhood education providers using Nintendo Wii and Skype in their centres. This was especially interesting after reading a blog post from Educational Origami about what age was appropriate for children to be using social networking.

In the article we are seeing technology being used in early childhood centres in a way that promotes both education and exercise. The Nintendo Wii is a very useful piece of technology that can get kids moving, especially in the wet winter days that we are getting at the moment. My sister, who lives in Australia, bought a Nintendo Wii for her children for this reason – keeping her kids active during the very hot summer days where it is sometimes better to stay inside an air-conditioned room. I must admit, that right now I would love for our family to have a Wii, as our kids are getting a bit crazy with all this rain! Of course the other good aspect of the Nintendo Wii at this age is that it helps build motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

The kids were using Skype also to video call other kindergarten children around the world! Well, in my view that is absolutely fantastic! The kids are getting a grasp of technology, able to learn about other cultures, countries and possibly languages. They get to meet new and different people and getting to make at least a little sense of the world!

All of this interaction is being closely monitored and it needs to be. As the article suggests there are critics of these schemes however we really do need to look at both sides of the situation. There is some good teaching and learning to be done with this technology. I would certainly be happy for my children to be experiencing this sort of learning at kindergarten or school. And just like everything, it needs to be balanced. It should not totally replace other activities.

One bonus for educators in primary and secondary schools is that the students themselves will already have started to learn about cyber safety and privacy.