Connecting, Networking and Blogging.

When applying for a position at St Luke’s prospective applicants are invited to read a role description. The second line usually reads… As connected and networked learners teachers are required to nurture faith filled, curious children to become creative contributors and innovative problems solvers for a changing world.” Notice the first part of this sentence,

As connected and networked learners”

One way to ‘connect’ and ‘network’ is through blogging. Teachers at St Luke’s have recently undertaken the commitment to blog. Most teachers at St Luke’s have not blogged and are therefore understandably a little nervous about venturing into the unknown world of blogging.

As a means of support, our first step was to gather as a collegial group to reflect on the purpose of blogging. We referred to:

The resulting discussion confirmed…

“… our purpose for blogging is to reflect on our learning and growth by documenting our professional work.”

Our next step was to start a blog. WordPress was deemed the starting platform of choice but with the understanding teachers could choose their own platform. As such, working through the WordPress options teachers chose a name for their blog, used a simple theme to design their blog and selected plugin options. Teachers are now ready to honour the “Sharing Our Work” edict of Austin Kleon.

We anticipate the benefits of blogging will be that each one of us will:

  • Think and write more clearly
  • Connect with thought leaders
  • Teach more purposefully
  • Respond to positive and constructive feedback

Two interesting developments within 24 hours of this collective commitment to blog have been:

  1. one teacher deciding to use Instagram as their platform of choice. This immediately challenged the few experienced bloggers in the room who see Instagram as a microblogging platform at best. No doubt there will be learning for all seeing how ‘Insta’ can support reflection through documentation of professional work.
  2. Our first blog, In the Beginning, was written by Meg Stone and appeared within 6 hours of our workshop. Meg gets the prize for first post!

The remainder of the teachers have until 6 April. 

Next steps? To see support staff blog as well so we can Put it in the Soup!

Regards

Greg

“TED” – A Term One Reflection

I am fortunate to work with teachers who continually challenge themselves to facilitate learning which has the interests of students at the forefront of their considerations. One concrete example is the “TED” learning initiative for Year 7 students in 2013. “TED” is the integrated approach to learning for Religion, English and Human Society and its Environment (HSIE) for Year 7 students in 2013 @materdeiwagga. “TED” is short for ConnecTED Learning and “connects” both subjects and learners, and also provides students with CHOICE of:

  • Technology which will best support their learning;
  • Area(s) of interest they may wish to Explore; and,
  • How (in pairs or groups?) and with whom (teachers or students?) they Discover new knowledge and understanding.

Early signs are very promising indeed! Since the start of the year we have had Prime News produce a story for their nightly news. Also, we have had two visiting principals as well as two visiting academics, one of them a visiting educational professor  from Finland. In both instances, students were chosen without notice to answer their questions about “TED”. I listened to these students speak about the program. In summary, they:

  • Identified they were offered opportunities to choose their subject matter;
  • Developed their ability to determine their own pace of study (within reason);
  • Welcomed the opportunity to make decisions about who they work with and when;
  • Were empowered to use available Web 2.0 technologies to demonstrate their learning; and,
  • Enjoyed the agile learning space known as “The Glasshouse”.

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Reflecting upon the above, at this stage they are qualitative reflections of just one individual, me. Within the next few weeks, the “TED” team of teachers will evaluate the first term of work with a specific focus about how students experienced the unit of work called “Dig Deeply”. I have little doubt that the feedback gained from the evaluation will inform teachers how to improve delivery of the unit of work, but is that all we are looking for?

To complement the evaluation of the “Dig Deeply” unit of work, there will also be the implementation of an action research process. This will take place in Term 2. The reason for this will be to commence a valid and trustworthy process that provides information about student learning gain. It may take months or even years to effectively measure the worth of TED and its impact on learning gain for students; however, the commitment to action research will provide data that will assist the College to make informed decisions about the validity of TED and its contribution to student learning gain. With that said, it may or may not use data associated with traditional measures of learning gain; that being HSC achievements, DeCourcy reviews, NAPLAN analysis, or feedback from ICAS tests. It may be that we explore learning gain in areas that will assist students to live and work in the world which awaits them; that is, explore the learning gain of students with the General Capabilities in the emerging Australian Curriculum.

General Capabilities

“General capabilities are a key dimension of the Australian Curriculum. They encompass the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that, together with curriculum content in each learning area and the cross-curriculum priorities, will assist students to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century” (ACARA 2013).

“They play a significant role in realising the goals set out in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEECDYA 2008) that all young people in Australia should be supported to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens” (ACARA 2013).

The action research process will be a trustworthy approach which ensures the data is primarily about student learning gain not just the pedagogy adopted by teachers. Furthermore, it may inform us about our stated aim of developing self-directed learners, by having students reflect on questions such as:

  • What do I know? How do I know it?
  • What do I need to know?
  • How do I learn best?

Regards,

Greg Miller

5 April, 2013.

REFERENCES

ACARA (2013). “Australian National Curriculum.” Retrieved 5 April 2013, 2013, from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/general_capabilities.html

MCEECDYA (2008). National Declaration on the Educational Goals for Young Australians.