Monday, June 30, 2014

Hack Your Classroom: Week Nine - Making future-focused innovative teaching infectious!

Welcome to the last official post for Hack Your Classroom!

First up, a great big thank you to everyone who participated either by blogging and sharing or by simply joining the conversation via Twitter. It has been heartening to see so many teachers willing to reflect so openly and publicly whilst sharing and inspiring lots of folk along the way. It's impossible to say exactly how many people have participated, but the number of people I have encountered on and offline up and down the country (and across the world) suggests the reach may have been greater than one might suspect.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hack your classroom: Week Eight - Going free-range and developing robust self-direction

I believe self-direction and developing student agency and efficacy is the fundamental shift all educators need to make to become more futur-focused in their practice. In a sense we want step away from our 'caged' classrooms to develop increasingly 'free range learners'.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hack Your Classroom - Week Seven: Handing the power over to the learners


Interestingly, when it comes to teachers not really adopting and embracing technology it often isn't technical skill or lack thereof that is the problem, it is the teachers need to maintain power and control in the classroom. You hear the panic, the running joke that BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Distraction. Well I hate to break it to you, but if the students are distracted by the technology (particularly after the novelty of access to the Internet has worn off) the problem ain't the technology - quite possibly your/their teaching and the students lack of ownership of their learning is. *lobs grenade and ducks for cover*

Monday, June 9, 2014

Hack Your Classroom: Week 6 - Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners

This is a topic that has long been close to my heart. It really began with a two day conference with Carol Ann-Tomlinson, the woman I consider to be the guru of differentiation. It was her analogy of likening teaching through one mode or strategy as being akin to playing Ten Pin Bowling with just one ball - some days you were lucky a pulled off a strike, but more often you than not,  you only knocked down one or two or more likely achieved a gutter ball. It was this analogy that caused a light bulb moment where I realised by having a singular approach I was quite possibly robbing many of my students of the opportunity of being engaged and learning the best they could.

Tomlinson's approach to differentiation has three layers. She argues that we should be differentiating for student readiness (not the same as ability), student interest and/or student learning style. Learning can then be differentiated by Content (or context), process, product or learning environment.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

EduTECH - Ian Jukes on the Education in the Age of Disruptive Innovation

Change and what it means about you personally and professionally.

He wants to talk about change.

Disruptive innovation changes the we way see things and the way we do things.

Economy and our education - in Australia (and the West) there has been nearly a complete disappearance of the factory worker and the factory mindset. It is cheaper to make things elsewhere which has meant a vast loss of manufacturing jobs. This is a stealth trend. This is disruptive innovation. Blue collar jobs are location dependent. White collar jobs are not. They can be outsourced. Routine cognitive work can and will be outsourced to cheaper countries. ODesk coordinates these workers from around the world. ODesk takes screen shots every 5 minutes and keystrokes reporting on productivity from across the globe. This is the work market our young people are entering into. We are now seeing the company of one, the work goes to the worker. Part time and temporary work had become the new normal. Whether you are comfortable with it or not this is the new global workspace. Work can not only be outsourced it can be automated. Legal software, tax preparation is an example of automated software replacing a person and a job. If we look at current trends, people who need to be managed constantly will be unemployable. 

EduTECH - Ewan McIntosh: Agile Leadership of Learning



What is agile leadership?

Some people think agile means dancing all over place. 

For every 1000 ideas developed only one got investment.

Leadership takes all forms. Self nominated leaders are all around us. Ewan gave the example of TeachMeet. I would add to that #edchatnz, #hackyrclass and more. Personal insight - we live in a time where social media has changed the way we can mobilise people and lead. It reminds me of the student army in Christcurch. Leadership has never actually been easier to do.

Ewan then talked about the five year plan. He did highlight Stalin was all about five year plan. Students work to an annual plan, working towards an annual exam.when you are making a plan - what question are we answering? How many actions could you do or undertake after hearing someone or attending something like EduTECH. Ewan is right. It is actually overwhelming. So what do you do? What question are we attempting to answer in meeting meeting and attending these conferences? 

McDonalds is an example of universal design - terrifying thought. Standardisation means people will know what they will get. You do one thing well. What's the one thing we could standardise in education and do it well, what would it be? For the most part we don't know what we don't know. What's the algorithm of great learning? 

Contradictions, tensions, surprises - agile leadership is about taking these and using them. 

We have to work out we know and why we believe what we believe. I.e. How do you feel about homework? Good or bad? Why do you think that? How. Do you know you are right. For me personally this raises the need for us to challenge our assumptions. One of the things I enjoyed most about beginning my masters is having to challenge my assumptions on many levels. For example 20% time. 20% time is a myth - it isn't time to just do what you want, Google employees can't just swan about, they are working on projects in line with the company goals. 

Do students see their learning as we do? Do they see all of the elements and understand why they learning what they are doing. A tension is like when you are presented with an idea, but no strategies about how to achieve that idea. 

I like Ewan's idea that we actually need to help students less. We need to give them time and space to redraft and quite often get worse before we get better. I also like his point is that it not a question of teachers giving the feedback and teachers having to do the teaching of each student. Teachers simply need to facilitate students giving each other feedback and teaching. We provide the time, the strategies and the processes for students to help themselves and one another. 

Grading adds nothing to education. What happens if we take away grades all together. Without grades students can take risks. Good feedback is powerful and something that needs to be worked on. 

Take your vision of future learning and then think about your constituents. Then think not about your strategy but more your strategies. Ewan gives the example of actor mapping. Actory mapping - look every member of your community, what's the one thing we want achieve and what's their job in making this happen. Identify all of your 'who's' and the work out what their roles are in realising your vision. You need to understand who all the people you are going to have to engage.

If you understand the why, you can achieve and begin to develop the how. Does everyone understand the why??

Learn from your failures.

You are all leaders.

Ewan ended with the metaphor of the conductor as leader of the orchestra. Conductors believe that they are the leaders, Ewan is a percussionist, he knows they are the real leaders of the orchestra. Insert emoticon wink here. So what can conductors do to lead. Have a five year plan. Identify your soloists and give them opportunities, invite them to lead. He suggests it about having a light touch. Agile leadership is about having trust in your team to try things out. 

Look at the environment around you, use everything around you and make a plan. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

EduTECH - The Almighty Ken Robinson

If you have happened to live in a cave, and are unsure of Ken Robinson's achievements and work, you can check his website here: 

Not sure how much I'll get written during this keynote. Too busy listening adoringly. First impression is that he is very funny and definitely understands the power of winning over an audience. 

EduTECH - A compelling case for capacity building for 21st Century capabilities

A short but power packed session with Bruce Dixon from the Educating Modern Learners and Rowena Ulbrick from Expanding Learning Horizons. Great messages about the beef to develop 21C learning capabilities. I won't attempt to capture all of the learning from this session but keen to share the following websites! All worth an investigation if you are even vaguely interested in 21C learning.

Modern Learners Website

Anytime, Anywhere Learning Foundation

ITL Research

ITL 21C Learning Design Program

EduTECH - Brett Moller and the student panel.

Leio Ohshima McLaren and Faith Ty on the stage to share their perspectives. 

Faith talked about how she used Garage Band to produce a radio quality track without any of the musical instruments - this was followed by a cool live demo of how she created the song. Great to see it live. What I really liked about this presentation was not the app or software itself, but more the reminder about how technology enables students to develop an authentic audience and context for their learning.

Leio then spoke passionately about why all students should learn to code. I agree! Not only has this enabled him to evidence his learning in new ways, he has even developed his own business creations apps such as phonic buddies. Please take note HPSS Code Academy! 

I loved his message that students need to stop being passive consumers and should be producing and publishing their learning. I also liked his analogy of code as a 21st language that students need to learn. 

Again we heard the message that teachers need to become facilitators allowing learning like this to happen. I get the sense we need to simply get out of the way and actually give some time and space to let this learning happen.

Code today, learn tomorrow!

Nice comment from Leio at the end as well - there is just too much busy work in education. You nailed it Leio.

Check out his website here:

EduTECH - Sugata Mitra on The Future of Learning

Mitra began his session acknowledging that many will have seen his talks, but many have not. He went on the set the scene, looking back at the demands of the Industrial Age.

Schools with their military-industrial-religious origins are outdated and obsolete.

The pedagogy will need to change if we want different outcomes. Will the old model crate creative children? This of course leads into the re telling of 'The Hole In The Wall' experiment. If you aren't familiar with this story, you can watch the TED Talk here:

It was lovely to here this story in person, particularly with personal anecdotes woven in. Children left alone with the Internet for 9 months will reach the same level of computer literacy as the standard secretary in the West. Which of course raise questions about the need or the role of the teacher. The children had changed. Their English was perfect and their work across the board improved? It turns out they had stumbled across a search engine and were quoting the Harvard Business Review. But was this learning?

In my opinion it is what it is - an interesting and powerful educational experiment. His experiment getting Tamil speaking 12 year olds to learn the biotechnology of DNA replication from a street side computer was again an interesting experiment. I still have questions about levels of deep learning and synthesis or is it rote learning and recall at the extreme?? I am not sure. In the past I have queried Mitra's work in light of my increasing understanding of the 'Hawthorne Effect' and 'Novelty Effect', particularly in the context of learning with devices. Can some of the gains be simply a result of the approach being a novelty or the subjects being aware that they are being observed? You can read my post about that here:

Personally, I love the work Mitra has done. I am wary that some of the gains are a result of the novelty and Hawthorne effect and that is okay. Personally I would take his work, add to it the thinking behind Google 20% time and the stunning stuff happening at Canada's self directed schools. I do think this is the directin we need to head in, but think we need to do it carefully. We need to understand what our new roles are as educators. I like Hattie's idea of 'Learning Activator' and I would add 'Learning Curator' and 'Learning Coach'. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Hack Your Classroom - Week Five: Embracing blended learning, even if you don't have many devices...


Well it's officially 'hump week' for the  Hack Your Classroom project. Well done to the educators who are still with us! You/we rule!! The sharing via twitter has been spectacular and the shared learning has been magic to watch.

In a sense this brings us to this weeks topic - looking at the power and potential of blended learning. If we as educators can recognise the breadth and depth of personal learning (and motivation) that has been achieved over the last four weeks thanks to online environments and communities such as Twitter and Google+, then why aren't we all using these platforms this way with our learners? Obviously if you are teaching students under 13 years old, this isn't really an option, but there is much that can be replicated in a closed, private environment that can provide similar opportunities for younger students as well. I know my daughters who are 8 and 10 love going on to their classroom blogs to both share their learning and to comment and reflect on the learning of others. 

In terms of why we should all be embracing blended learning, my thoughts are outlined in this earlier blog post

This week I am keen to hear from you all about how you and your colleagues are utilising blended learning to provide opportunities to learning that go beyond the four walls of your classroom and the hours in the school day. I am also keen to explore and hear about how teachers are managing this in classrooms where technology is limited and where students don't necessarily have Internet access at home. 

For me I believe a hug amount can be achieved with just one computer and Internet connection. Geoff Woods at Rosmini College is a great example, where is students have taken the 'Over the back fence' health programme to a global stage via Skype. What started as his students teaching the primary students (literally over that school's back fence) is now a global programme involving students and universities literally around the world. Who could you connect your students with via a Google hangout or Skype Chat.

Add to the mix one or two iPods and then you have the opportunity to explore different modes for learning and sharing learning. Are you making the most if this technology to video or capture podcasts of your or your students teaching skills or content? Are you giving students opportunity to share or evidence their learning through video, podcast as much as you are through writing? It still amazes me how many schools don't let students utilise the technology in their pocket. Do you encourage students to use their phones in class? If so, how? If not, why not? Considering many are carrying devices with more computing power that the Voyager it seems crazy that we aren't all making the most of it. 

Here is a link to an EdTalk I did some time ago about making the most of BYOD.

So how do you make the most of the little or loads technology available in your classroom?