Monday, 29 June 2015

Reflection #2 - Chromebook Introduction


There have been some great new initiatives that I have been a part of too. One of those is the Stage 2 chromebook program. We received the devices to be implemented into the classroom during Term 1 Week 5 of this year. Since that time the stage has utilised them in a multitude of ways.
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The devices are one to one and each student has their own personal device for class use only. At this point they are not able to be loaned out for home use. The students have taken to the new technology like a duck to water. They have no fear of failure, as a whole, and we as staff have instilled that they cannot break them by using them. Each student has a Google login and account that is maintained and monitored by the team of technical geniuses on the ground. Without the ICT support staff none of the technological programs in our school could run.

They are used daily and some days the students may have them on their desk all day. Year 4 has moved much of our ‘written’ work; narrative writing, collaborative written tasks for HSIE and Science, over to the cloud devices.

While I have my own ideas about the concept of ‘digital natives’ over the past 15 weeks I have seen a spectrum of what researchers may be talking about. As I said earlier, the student has jumped at the chance to use the technology in the classroom. There are those who desire to be led step by step through the technical use of the device, however, on the most part when we have set a task and permitted or encouraged the use of the chromebook as a collaborative or presentation tool most students have blown us away with their adaptability and creativity within their work.

I am continually excited by the power that technology has to open the door for many students to explore their love of learning. The joy they have for discovering something new to them and then the availability of information and experts through the internet. Children are naturally curious and want to understand how their world works. Their world is very different to the one that I grew up in, and I am not that old.

Of course I am not advocating for all children to spend their time on the internet instead of with their parents. As a parent, I love the chances that I get to spend with my five year old and 16 month old, seeing the world through their eyes and giving them experiences that I had. Walking on the rocks at the beach and looking at the life that is in the pools. Exploring and observing the power of the ocean, explaining what impact it has on our earth to my son. Or playing baseball and cricket in the backyard, or playing at the park.

In each of these times I have the chance to come along side my son and he asks question after question, he creates stories about how things have become they way they are. We visit other planets on the ‘rope rocket’. He just loves learning. My daughter has just learnt to walk and is now learning to talk.

I consider myself very privileged to be an important part of their journey. I highly recommend getting alongside your kids and seeing this world through their eyes, it is refreshing.

However, technology has its place in students investigations. When safe on the Internet, students can become the facilitators of their own learning. They investigate what they find fascinating and naturally learn in their optimum learning style, they are choosing it, and they find the resources that scaffold their learning.

This is where I could give a rundown of all the apps and online programs that we have used to make this successful. However, these will change, our students found what was relevant to them. We as educators guided them through the basics, gave them the Google suite as the basis and them let them go. To make them relevant for your class they need to be personalised for your students.

As a stage we have ensured that the device is not the focus of the lessons, rather they are just another resource at the students disposal. It has not taken over from the sound pedagogy that we strive for. Rather the students think little of the ‘novelty’ of the technology as it is simply part of their learning landscape.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Reflections #1

I have made it! Well six months anyway.

I have met the students, learnt many names, met the staff, learnt about them; their history and educational passions and gained a new family. I have become known around the parent community. I have been part of the ‘open day’ setting up and packing up and getting to laugh with the dedicated parent community. I have written new programs, learnt new strategies for spelling, sat through hours of PD for the multitude of differences between here and there. I have had introduced to me and then I have introduced to the students the ‘chromebook’. I have participated and run meetings and am learning how to be succinct in what I do so not to waste others time. I have had the privilege to teach a group of students who are interested and motivated. I have had impromptu meetings in the isle of woolies and phone conversations that even surprised me. I have written reports, read reports, met with parents about reports. I have created my first set of portfolios. However, my most vivid memories are the high level of academic and educational conversation that I have had with new colleagues on a daily basis.

As stated earlier, I am now six months into a new job.

Reflecting on my first six months in a new job brings to the floor so many things. I am so grateful for the opportunity to become part of a progressive, vibrant and vision lead school that is founded on its Christian values without apology. Everything that is done is lead back to the question; how is this benefiting the students? How is this helping our students to achieve the ‘Learner Profile’?

These is not a line that is brought out to just to keep our parent body happy. These are questions that the Head of Junior School, the executive and Principal hold as a measuring stick for all to see and stand beside. To use as a light to guide our way through the exciting shifts in education.

As a staff member I feel challenged to maintain my ‘sharpness’ as an effective educator. To align myself with the ‘Learner Profile’ of which is the Christian shaping version of the 21st Century skills that all students will need as they leave school. I have been challenged to better myself. To take education very seriously and not just to say ‘I am a teacher’ but to be clear on what type of teacher I am. To engage with some of the true innovators within education through PD, talking with them and having them as colleagues, not just to read their book.

I have discovered a world of free PD online that I never knew existed. Social media sites; Twitter, Blogs, Facebook and Linked In have been the keys that I have opened up this world with. There are educators on Twitter who have opened my world of understanding about what education and being an educator is all about. Some include; @ShiftParadigm, @MRsalakas, @TeachMissSutton, @JenaiaMorane, @martysnowpaw and @HostBrian just as a start.