Saturday, July 13, 2013

Reflection on Semester 1 2013

Created with the 3D Postcard Generator
Edmodo is becoming more and more an integral part of my teaching.

Year 9 English
**Edmodo proved a fine base for submitting small regular assignments.
Students could see immediate progress and could easily check on missed work.
*Students enjoyed practising their media response skills on Edmodo
*Creating haiku for board display + masks for the play Romeo and Juliet were highlights.

Students enjoyed being photographed with their masks.
*Essay writing skills improved significantly because, as a class, we created an essay response to a topic by screening the stages of preparation and essay craft.
I feel that the students at least understand what they should be doing,
even if they have not quite perfected the art.
More practice needed regularly.
**Many students were willing to try extra writing challenges to improve their skills.

Year 10 English
**A challenging semester - students involved in many other activities
- Drama + Outdoor Ed + rally days, so they missed classes, often a series of classes.
** Edmodo proved a vital ingredient in this class.
Successfully managed to keep students connected with their work, but found that most lessons needed to be "self-contained" and all work required was recorded on Edmodo.
*Many prepared lessons required re-adjustment when surprise absences were involved.
*Most lessons were after lunch, (students less fresh, less motivated) so that was an additional challenge.
I tried to avoid introducing new work at this time.
*Last week of term was Discovery Week, so all work needed to be finalised by this time.
*The more able students met the challenges of the course well - recording fine results in the examination.
*On days of significant absences, I tried to give remaining students more individual tuition.
*The King's Speech was received well - once the students empathised with the King's disability and they often initiated discussions about it.
*Most popular was the theme study - conflict - associated with Destroying Avalon.
**Trialled peer-marking of a text extract response.
Students loved the experience - especially setting some of the criteria themselves.
Must trial run more of this activity.
*Last period one afternoon, we sat in a circle and shared bullying experiences.
Somehow I felt that lesson in particular drew the members of the class closer together,
appreciating one another.

Year 9 Programme
Enjoyed exploring the dreams of the students and sharing their experiences.

VCE studies
** Edmodo was used significantly in both classes as a means of keeping individual contact - a help line.
Year 11 English - wide range of abilities and motivation levels in this class.
The writing folio unit inspired many students to write captivating short stories, but most were hesitant to experiment with other writing styles.
The media unit surprised many students because they found that they enjoyed annotating newspaper articles.
In particular, those Maths/Science students in the class who were not creative writers, tended to excel in this.
Most successful were discussion lessons where some  mature, challenging thoughts were shared.
Year 12 Revolutions -  3 students with significantly different history experiences.
Mainly needed to work on individual tuition after class discussion to upgrade and polish their skills.
Slowly the students are realising how much research time is needed for this subject.

**In the classroom, I felt that I met the wide range of challenges.
*Perhaps I should consider having more lessons - not just tasks
- outlined online to cover long-term absent students.
*I need to keep comments on students' work updated in OneNote
to reduce time spent writing comments on final reports.
* Should students have a copy of a term's weekly topics???

**I am integrating Edmodo and Diigo for my new Photography elective in Semester 2 Term 3.
Edmodo will be for students to connect me with their Picasa web album and to ensure that they are aware of the weekly changing topics.
Diigo will be for their folios of  "found" photos + sticky notes.
I am hoping that this does not become too complicated and is a means of keeping photos online
- no "I lost my USB" excuses.
Picasa + Diigo will represent students' final assessment work.

To teach is to keep learning

Saturday, October 27, 2012

English in the 21st Century

21st century learning is evolving as an ecosystem of learning driven by the advent of global, internet connections.

English is fast becoming the personal and public webmaster of 21st century learning.

English could be "the stargate" to higher order thinking.

And so the whole "texture" of English as a teaching subject is changing.
The boundaries are moving, even dissolving.
English may/could/can integrate and connect subjects AND shape that inter-curricular ideal we crave in the 21st century.

If we spend our whole lives in the silo of a single discipline, we cannot develop the imaginative skills to connect the dots or to anticipate where the next invention, and probable source of economic value, will come from. 
- OECD The Case for 21st Century Learning - Andreas Schleicher

Profile of English Years 7-12 
*developing personal micro skills (appreciating and practising quality techniques) as a reader, writer, listener, speaker and viewer
NOTE: Those who bewail students' declining grammar skills can be accommodated here.
Demoted rote learning practices can metamorphose into more dignified "recognition" learning.
I find that comparing writing styles (poor and quality esp in media articles) cultivates the students' understanding of what works well and what doesn't.
Hopefully they would like to mirror the quality version.
*developing personal macro skills (appreciating and practising associations and connotations) as a reader, writer, listener, speaker and viewer

*developing imaginative, expository, communicative and evaluative capabilities and skills
*developing the ability to use language to shape and represent both personal growth and a world understanding
*developing the ability to apply language to cross-curricular learnings and to shape inter-curricular understandings

* developing problem-solving and predicting skills

*developing a knowledge of cultural heritage and a vision for cultural future

- My ideas developed from English Teachers Association NSW (ETA) On Learning in English

English in the Senior Years
In Australia, senior high school years identify Literature as a "sub-heading" of the subject English.
While English broadly embraces the study of:
*media - including newspapers and online texts + includes practising the skills of annotation
*modern novels + drama + poetry - character and theme studies
*non-fiction texts
*creative responses to prompts

To continue quoting Andreas Schleicher of the OECD Education Directorate:
The knowledge world is no longer divided between specialists and generalists. A new group-let's call them “versatilists”-has emerged. They apply depth of skill to a progressively widening scope of situations and experiences, gaining new competencies, building relationships and assuming new roles.

NOTE - 26.4.13

  Is English leading the way to meet this "inter-connecting", "shapeshifting" challenge of the 21st century?

To teach is to keep learning

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Brainstorming Tool

I have discovered the free website 
This website lets you brainstorm and create mind maps online and they can be saved on your own computer as a jpg or saved on the website for later editing.

Of course, this versatile tool could be utilised for any brainstorm of any topic in any subject.

But it is particularly useful for encouraging students to develop a higher order of thinking - moving from concrete concepts through an awareness of the senses to abstract concepts.

Using the contrasting ideas of dark and light, I have demonstrated above what can be developed.
The design is very adaptable.
*The bubbles can be moved around.
*Connecting lines (labelled) can be placed where needed.
"Colours may add a new dimension of association of ideas.

And the final result could be part of a powerpoint revision summary of a topic.

To teach is to keep learning

Saturday, October 6, 2012

3D Postcard Generator

Made with the 3D Postcard Generator
(Click the link above to try it out! And it's free!)
The bird is one of many that flocks to the Coolart wetlands at Somers on the Mornington Peninsu;la.

In my teaching career, I have noticed that some high school students, in particular, claim that they are not creative.
This particularly applies to students who excel in Mathematics and Science.

But when they are offered the opportunity to respond to a visual image, with a nifty caption or message,
often the result belies their claims.

This postcard generator is easy to use for all age ranges.

10 photos are available on the website, but there's the opportunity for students to convert their own photos into these postcard beauties.
A wide range of colour schemes are available and the message is formatted for premium presentation. Students just need to fill in the blank lines.

How could the generator be used in the classroom?

- message to a character in a novel or play
- Christmas or birthday message to another student
- introduction to analysis of ideas - what is significant in the photo 

- message to a historical character

Social Studies
- environmental message

What would the generator identify?
- association of ideas
- analysis of an image
- higher order thinking beyond description

To teach is to keep learning

Friday, October 5, 2012

Celebrate World Teachers' Day With a Ball!

World Teachers' Day is today.

Internationally, World Teachers' Day is celebrated on the first Friday in October.
However, as this is usually during the Australian school holidays, Australia celebrates the day on the last Friday in October of each year.
This year it will be celebrated on Friday 26th October in Australia.

 So if you blog,
take some time out,
let your imagination run free from lessons and reports
and prepare for the great annual Willow Manor Ball on Sunday October 28.
Tess Kincaid's post details are HERE!
It's so much fun!

Tess Kincaid orchestrates the virtual Willow Manor Ball each year.
(My post example on the Willow Manor Ball 2010.)
It has been a major internet event for 4 years.

Extract from John Hayes' interview with Tess Kincaid:
 Tess Kincaid aka “Willow” is a self-proclaimed magpie, poet, Hoosier by birth, who lives in small town Ohio at Willow Manor, a ramshackle limestone house on the banks of the Scioto River, with her husband and resident ghosts.

Students can't have all the fun.
Sometimes teachers need to do a little role playing and dreaming too.
Great for the spirit!

Try it!

P.S. If you are anything like me, you are probably thinking how you could orchestrate a virtual, annual ball for the students too.
A great way to explore a different perspective of role playing.
Fakebook comes to mind as a possible platform!

To teach is to keep learning

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Let students be teachers?

Last semester, I informed Year 9 Geography students that the next topic would be "pollution.".
The response was GROAN!... MOAN!... CONTORTED FACES!
They complained that this topic had been visited in primary school.
But we had a surprise for them!

THEY would be doing the teaching!

Their task required research of a pollution topic + filming.
The criteria appears below, but we allowed a little creative flair - because that could demonstrate an understanding of the research.

Identified elements of a healthy Australian ecosystem
Clearly showed the effects of pollutants on an Australian ecosystem
Explained in detail what can be done to remedy a polluted ecosystem
Presentation is detailed, demonstrating a clear understanding of research
Documentary/short film is appropriately edited containing only important/relevant  information
Evidence of relevant note-taking and appropriate planning
Used variety of resources and inclusion of bibliography

The groans transformed into enthusiasm. 
Many of the class extroverts took the opportunity to add a little personal drama - such as Nicole's above.

Each video required presentation to the class.
In the preparation stage, I ensured that each student covered a different perspective of pollution.

Was the pollution topic successful?

At the end of each video screening, the creator faced class questions.
Some meaty discussion followed.
(Criteria - Explained in detail what can be done to remedy a polluted ecosystem)

I believe the task was very successful.
The students were involved and interested in each video.

And I learnt a fact or two too!

Such fun!

Let students be teachers?
I think that it's a very good idea...once in a while!

To teach is to keep learning

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fun With Fakebook

Fakebook lets you enjoy creating a character - any character - complete with all the Facebook style presence.
Above is my spin on a character called FutureSeeker.
The full screen version of my FutureSeeker may be found HERE!

A great tool for English, History and Drama teachers because:
1. It can adapt to any lesson involving characterisation - a character from a novel or short story OR a historical character OR a future character.
2. Suitable for a wide range of learning levels.

3. It extends students so they can imagine the reality of different voices and language of characters in interaction.
A great way to practise and retain characterisation in preparation for a play.
* Imagine mixing real and fictional characters
* Imagine the wind, trees, mountains or seas turned into characters
*Imagine numbers turned into characters

4. Differentiation is built into this activity -  represented by the opportunity for all students to respond to this activity in different ways.

5. Bonus - Fakebook offers a generic marking scheme on the right sidebar!!!

To teach is to keep learning