Thursday, August 04, 2011

Social networking: sharing and inspiring

It's amazing. There have to be perks in transition periods (not being in a class day-to-day) and attending the Speaks VOLumes online conference ( is so inspirational. When I was in the class every day, I just ran out of time to keep up-to-date with everything that was happening. This can lead to distorted information / perception of bigger issues or misinformation. It was leading to a sense of isolation for me (especially when I was based within a special character environment with a MOI of te reo Maori). The investment of time required in the creation and translation of resources just did not allow time for social networking outside the immediate and close circle of specialised practitioners.

Sorry, I squirrelled this years ago -
might be from
It's absolutely fabulous to have the time to hear about passionate and driven teachers who are blogging, writing and presenting about their experiences in their teaching and learning!  and 
  Then, listening to Dr. Bonk's presentation brought out my smiley face =)
See to find out about this very enthusiastic and passionate presenter! 

13 year old has been a teacher for over 1/2 of her life -
Adora Svitak is recognised for doing what I believe all
children are capable of. Fabulous!!
The R2D2 model (Read, Reflect, Display, Do) is a simple framework - in the presentation, focused on online pedagogy... But in my mind, the distinctions between online and F2F learning are becoming very blurred. It is hard to imagine 'the good old days' when I was at high school and I went to the library to do my research, looking for appropriate titles in the catalogue drawers, sending snail-mail letters to playwrights for a research project, phoning a company to try and interview an expert... The ways I live, learn and teach today can be summed up very simply:

That is why it is a little sad for me to say that, while I shared as much as I could F2F, I wasn't uploading resources to share online. That has changed and will continue to change.
Te Rito - aimed at pre-schoolers

- bilingual interactives with some basic vocabulary, for the body, for greetings and expressions, and for karakia.

Rehutai - some information literacy resources (in te reo Maori) and a database of school readers.

Wiggio - Not sure who else uses this, but would love to know how easy it is to share - has a social studies inquiry unit and some timetables, overviews and planners so far.

LearnCentral - - has a couple of documents in te reo (around SGML and the origins of HTML, along with a layout drafting handout)

Flickr photostream - EOTC camp shots are it so far

Youtube (;P) - 2 clips so far, but fully in te reo Maori and more will come.
On the other hand, as a casual teacher atm, integration of technology is limited. Not as a result of lack of experience, but by the fact that:
  • there may not be a functioning computer or smartboard in the room
    (sometimes a phone is as technological as it gets and I have seen blackboards recently)
  • casual staff don't have log-in access, let alone administrator rights
    (so you have problems if the students can't log you in under one of their accounts, or if you are trying to access a site that requires a plug-in or viewer update)
  • social networking and social media sites are quite often blocked
    (so it is a good idea to have a local backup of your delicious or diigo bookmarks and don't even try youtube or any web forums...)
  • any website may be blocked -it looks like the policy is to start by blocking everything and then to go through sites manually and decide whether the site should be unblocked. Make no assumptions that you will be able to access anything online...
In my current context, this adds up to one key result... I cannot integrate the technologies I would normally use or demonstrate problem-solving approaches that I would use when students are trying to trouble-shoot / research / answer questions.

What I have managed to do is to, at the very least, incorporate aspects of digital photography into lessons and (if the technology is both in the room and accessible to us) utilise a combination of the resources I have gathered/created over the years on my external HDD with those resources I would normally use online -- in the sessions that I have with that class.

I am really looking forward to having my own class again. It'll be much easier to integrate both my old favourites and those mentioned on:

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Teaching and Learning - a draft philosophy

I question my abilities in the classroom on a daily basis. Today is the start of Education Week. There were school groups that travelled to the mall. They sang, danced and performed beautifully. It made me think of last week when I returned some test booklets to a school I have done some casual work at. Walking into that school, seeing the students that I had taught: some for only one day, others for longer periods of time - but it made me happy. I smiled to just be walking in the grounds. I have seen so many places that make stories out of bad or incompetent teachers... It seems to drown out the good stories sometimes.

Take "Bad Teacher". Haven't seen it yet. Not too sure if I want to.
Has anyone seen this and enjoyed it?

So, I have finally figured out that I definitely want to teach. Despite the hours, the challenges, the hard work... I want to teach. I love teaching. 

My Developing / Draft Philosophy of Teaching and Learning
E minaka ana taku ngäkau ki te ako mö töku oranga katoa
My heart desires to teach / learn for my whole life.
To the right is a representation = Learning is relationships.
The outer koru indicates the world and its impacts on the classroom environment. The triangle has as its base the subject matter, what is being learnt, the sides represent the teacher and student, each bringing their own background, experiences, needs and desires to the classroom.
I believe that it is through inquiry, social interactions, the dialogue in the classroom (whether between student and teacher, or student and student) that learning happens. Posing an authentic and relevant question is the means through which engagement and motivation occurs. Facilitation and mediation by the teacher enables the students to engage with content that they find interesting and appealing.
I believe that learning is a life-long journey and that my job is to instill in students a passion for learning, for reading, for inquiring, for engaging in dialogue. If there is one thing that I manage to achieve in the classroom, I would hope that I can validate the belief that it is important to follow your heart and to provide students with the cognitive strategies through which they can reach for their goals.
I believe that the classroom should be a safe environment, where everyone feels okay about making mistakes – mistakes are how we learn. It is okay to find a problem or to raise a question.
We need to query to discover our place in the world: our relationships to others and to our environment. We need to be able to question the government, the workplace, and our communities and not just passively accept the situations we find ourselves in.
To be human is to inquire (Aulls & Shore, 2008:vii).