Thursday, April 30, 2009

entry stage of teacher development!!

Sketch Swap - wow.

How did this happen? Is it a robot somewhere on the other side of the world? This process is similar to when Ginny found Tom Riddle's diary in Harry Potter - Chamber of Secrets. Tom, of course, turned out to be Voldemort. There's an integrated literacy unit for Grade 5-6 waiting to happen!

I've approached this subject all wrong - I used a traditional 'factory model of education' (Kurt Squire) approach, whereby I studied everything and tried to master a set of predefined objectives to come up with a hypothesis. I've created posts, edited, deleted, and basically tried to make this fit a narative structure with a beginning, middle and end. Of course, that's not how it works any more.

I've worked in a Steiner school, and my kids spent early primary years there. I sent them to a "normal" school in Grade 3; as the daughter of primary school teacher, and someone who's always been studying, I just couldn't get my head around some of the philosophies. Educational pedagogy is something that's always bothered me - I definitely take a holistic approach, as I love learning, and I hope I've fostered it in my kids.

Having said that, things go wrong. One child is doing VCE sciences, maths and Japanese (by distance ed) at a private school; the other child had a breakdown after being bullied at the local high school last year (Year 9). He's just started a program run by Maroondah Hospital, and things are looking up for the first time in 8 months. Consequently, I've been doing a lot of soul searching about both my own ideas, and various teaching pedagogies. I know from personal experience that one size doesn't fit all.

Week 5 readings really struck a chord. Piaget's ideas about play ( I learnt them when studying secondary school teaching many years ago) definitely shape how I approach learning. Building on this, I liked the quote from James Gee:

"... a teenage student who plays Civilization outside of school ought to be able to integrate this into his or her formal learning of social studies through building simulations or some similar activity."

Students won't learn if they aren't motivated; like all of us, they need to understand how what they're doing fits into the grand scheme of things. If I get an 'F' on an exam, what have I learnt? I'm useless? I definitely haven't learnt any metacognitive skills, just traditional cause/effect.

"I can't learn, I'm an idiot." I recently heard my 7 year old niece say this, and it nearly broke my heart. She's just swapped schools, and is having a rough transition period. The learning pedagogies are very different, and what she is used to doing isn't working this year. My niece is very creative - she loves drawing, doing jigsaws and making things. The parallels between the way she learns and the way my younger son learns are so similar, it's very weird. They both have strong problem-solving skills when they are motivated. I just hope that a teacher recognizes this, and can create appropriate learning opportunities.

As teachers, we need to know our students - our lecturers have been drumming this in for weeks now. Only then can we understand how prior knowledge shapes the way our students learn.

I can totally see the benefits of ICT for integrated learning, and recognizing multiple intelligences.

When using multimedia, the design process of a student's work is really important, as it is a visual representation of understanding the learning focus, as is being able to tie it all together in a format that other people can understand.

I have so much anxiety over this assignment, but I guess it's because my proximal learning issues are so apparent to me. There is a huge divide between what I know, and what I need to know. However, what I have learnt through doing this topic is the absolute importance of using ICT to analyze, synthesize and evaluate (Bloom's higher-order thinking skills) learning outcomes. ICT develops skills that our kids are going to need in order to adapt to new technologies, much faster than their parents!

I just need more practice!!

wow, you can make movies too!

Week 4 -
I've had a late start to the year, and it's been really hard catching up in this subject. Looking at dvolver and other movie-making websites was unlike things I've done before. Initially I thought ' What a wank' -my own defensiveness about this subject. But, then I thought about the processes involved -brainstorming, storyboards, rewrites...

My reaction to the M&M websites was similar - I live in the country because I wanted a simple life for my boys, without extra influences from multi-national companies etc. I didn't want Mclearning, with free fries for reading. However, if it inspireds children to learn, it can't be all bad.

I was babysitting my nieces and nephews the other night, and used them as experimental guinea pigs. They loved the games sites and actually came up with suggestions to build on the learning outcomes of the games. And here's me thinking it was all bad.

I watched my niece play a Bratz game - it involved collecting stuff and getting to the exit before the bully got you. I hated the whole premise, but my niece loves it, so I had to keep watching. Surprise, surprise, it's actually very strategic. My niece saw the outcome; I was shitty with the details of the process. She was thinking much more strategically than me.

To successfully complete games, you need to be able to use higher order thinking skills - I seriously did't realize this. I'm sure I've said this before, but the opportunities for learning with ICT just blow my mind..

It changes so fast!

My bells are meant to be jingling - they did in class on the Z drive, but they aren't here. Not sure why. My line wiggled too.
Reflection is central to learning, so this is a good exercise for me. Even my kids didn't have this stuff when they were at primary school, and that was only 4 years ago.

Things You Can Use

Kidspiration is easy to use, and I bet kids would love doing them. Education by stealth? I like the way the activities and other appropriate learning sites are designed with specific pedagogical purposes.

I feel like a very bad mother, as I actively discouraged computer use when my kids were younger. Now they have lots of hobbies, and really aren't interested in computers, except to learn new juggling tricks, or where to find interesting graffitti around Melbourne.I don't have a mind-map demo, as I must have saved it wrong on the z drive.


When I was A Girl...

WEEK 1 - When I went to school, we didn't have computers. My best friend did Form 5 Leaving (no HSC for her!) so she typed all day and learnt shorthand and how to use a dictaphone. That was 1982.

When I first started tertiary studies, there were no computers at Melbourne State College - everything was typed, and information came from microfiches at Melbourne Uni library. That was 1984.

When I dropped out and went overseas, my mum was very worried as she hadn't heard from me for a while. I'd been sending letters, but I was doing aid work in Romania, and there were no phones. Mum never did get the letters. However, Jana Wendt from 60 Minutes did a story on Romaninan orphanges, and someone told my mum I was on tv. So at least she knew what country I was in. That was 1990.

I finished my BA and did Honours here at Latrobe about twelve years ago. My lecturer gave me her old computer, because i didn't have one; in fact, had never used one. I ended up using my electric typewriter for my Honours thesis, because I kept losing my work on that new-fangled computer! That was 1997.

So now I'm trying to learn ICT - I'm being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. And yes, after all this study ansd research, I'm amazed by the range of teaching and learning tools available at the click of a mouse. I also have come to realize how technology in the classroom can really clarify what and how students are learning. This is 2009.

That's 27 years; I was sure by now we'd all be living like The Jetsons. Unfortunately, I don't have Rosie to clean my house. The advances in IT are phenomenol, and I can't even begin to think how different they'll be in another 27 years.

Classroom learning is now constructivist - I need to know how to use this stuff so as to model learning behaviours to my potential students. Already kids know way more than me, so it's going to be a challenge...