Saturday, June 2, 2012

So I begin...

Having grown up with a brother (and to some extent a father) who were obsessed with computers ~ I never thought this would (or could be) a world that would interest me.  The thought of locking myself in a room and staring at a screen instead of being in the great outdoors, repulsed me.  The smell, the translucent skin of his 'computer geek' friends, the lack of social skills...was not for me!

Fast forward 15 years and I find myself easily absorbed in an online world where I am constantly learning and changing my own views on the world (more specifically my teaching pedagogy)...HOW did this happen?

I have been teaching for coming up 10 years and I love the evolving nature that is teaching.  I can see the benefit of this new digital age.  

Since coming back (2010) from my stint in London, I was fortunate to join a team of like-minded teachers at a school on Auckland's North Shore.  We seemed to be in-sync with each other and have constantly evaluated and changed our programmes to try and get the most out of our students and foster a feeling of confidence and independence in each individual.  Being someone who can't sit still for longer than half an hour, helps to ensure that constant change is mandatory for sanity (the thought of doing the same topic, same time, every year ~ YUCK!)

So I found myself in this year 5 team (with 2 other amazing teachers), who had already implemented some great ideas.  They had started a different system for their learning in class.  Beginning with Literacy.  Reading, writing, spelling and other literacy based activities were put together and the 'Literacy Tumble' was created.  This meant for the middle part of our day (11 - 12.30) students moved through 3 activities - by the end of the week, the students would have rotated through individual and teacher activities.  Per week, students would see the teacher 3 times (reading, writing and spelling), then the rest of the time they would work independently.  

We also purchased (through a market day where students made products and sold them) 8 ipod touches.  This allowed us greater activities to offer our students.  

This worked well for a year, but could we take this idea further?  We also had technological devices in our classroom which weren't always being used.  Enter the notion of ILP's ~ Individual Learning Programmes.  This allowed students to control their own timetables.   They would be in greater control of their own learning.  It enabled students with busy schedules outside of the classroom (e.g. support lessons with learning assistance, ESOL, etc) to timetable this in.  Within this ILP, students attend 'workshops', group lessons to teach/ reinforce new skills.   There are certain events during the week that all students must attend (e.g. assemblies) and these are put in the plan.   Students are doing tasks at different times of the day meaning the classroom resources are used throughout the day.  Students when setting up their programme for the week also look at the activities and book in computers on timetables.  

We have now (in the last month) begun to introduce iPads into the classroom.  We have two in our class and this is allowing students greater creativity and platforms to produce and display their work.  

After attending the ULearn conference in 2011, I was introduced to wikispaces.  Students were now able to have their own online learning space, where the audience was potentially world-wide.  They love it!  Students often (daily) go home and continue their work from the day.

I should have started this along time ago...bugga! 

So this will be my learning journey...road blocks, bright ideas, evolution...all the good, the bad and the ugly...