Friday, 23 January 2015

Building Blogger Culture

I created my first blogpost in October 2013 and have since developed a passion for blogging and sharing my learning, nuances and reflections on teaching and learning in a digital environment. 
Blogging within education is a great way to connect with others around the world sharing pedagogy, experience and lessons. Blogging itself relates to ConstructivismConnectivism, Social Learning Theory, and can become part of a Community of Practice. In my Manaiakalani Community we openly share within topics of interest and it has become a wealthy resource for me in my ongoing professional development. 

So how do you create a blogging culture amongst staff?

Firstly, blogging shouldn't become a chore, another mandatory task that adds to educators already busy workload. Blogging is more of a way of sharing and celebrating struggles and triumphs. For example my blogpost on "The Art of an Apology"
This post was sharing of a lesson that I had run with my learners to overcome a challenge which we had within our classroom culture. This lesson was one which we as a collective referred to throughout the year and I thought could be valuable to others who were experiencing similar difficulties. 

Sharing skills and tips can also be a worthwhile task, late last year I shared my knowledge of how to "Bling your Site". To share a practical skill with others. 

But you don't have to share a skill or lesson to be an effective blogger. It can be as simple as creating a discussion about a topic of interest, like when I pondered about the purpose of spelling which included a link to a fun, but challenging quiz for people to try for themselves - go on, try it. 

The point is, blogging should not be a chore, it should be a way to communicate and express yourself, and it can be about ANYTHING! Well, anything relevant to the topic of your blog. Hence, I keep my recipe sharing to a completely separate blog from my professional practice one. 

What do components are required of a class blog? 

Last year I was the main contributor on the Room 10 class blog where we shared the learning, successes, activities and announcements for not only the students to view, but their families and other schools worldwide. Living locally, Learning Globally. 

On this class blog, we shared a lot of photo's from our activities, this was a great reflective tool for the students to appreciate all the things they had participated and contributed in. Or sometimes I would post a screenshot of the whiteboard for learners to refer to later. Either way we were modelling the way in which we wanted the learners to use their blogs. 

Learners would use their blogs to develop their personal voice, share their learning goals and discoveries and as a platform for presenting their digital learning objects [DLO's]. 

We also ran a blogger of the month competition with my class. Where the selection criteria would change monthly: the most blog posts, the most page views, a really interesting post, posting outside of school hours, the best grammar, replying to comments, or sometimes based on a skill I wanted to encourage. 
In regards to managing a class full of learners, the blogger platform made this really simple. By setting up the children as an author of their blog, rather than the owner, I the teacher am able to screen the content and manage the commenting on the blog. 

In order to create a blogging culture between learners we need to encourage learners to share, not just their own work, but share in each others, by reading other blogs, and learning how to create a quality blog comment. A quality comment is positive, thoughtful and helpful. 

Today I decided to craft this blogpost on blogging because we were discussing the value of sharing blogs in our digital enhancement paper. 

As part of our literature review for this paper we also need to consider the value of blogs and review a variety of educational blogs.
If you have, or read a blog on digital education, please feel free to share it with me, to help me further build my community of practice. 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

What is a Community of Practice?

What is a Community of practice?
Well the matter of fact is,
Not every community is one that is of a practice

Your neighbourhood community may be full of mystics
but that won’t fit this terms 3 characteristics,
Domain is the first, and no not the auckland park
but your subject field, your interest, your spark.

The people with which you collaborate
engage with, and help each other elaborate
this is your community, real-time, face to face,
or perhaps a little later up in cyberspace

Problem solve, share, are the ideas of the domain
to implement, enhance, and help you to stay sane
allow you in your practice, to gather a real stance
you must be practitioners trying to advance

Now you know the characteristics of this term
I hope this rap may have helped you to learn

- Matt & Stef

Today our challenge was to create a rap to explain a learning theory. 
+Matt Goodwin and I wrote this rap within our own Community of Practice.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Pros and Cons of Summer School

This week I have been head down and back to study mode after a rather relaxing four week summer break. In saying that the first couple of days back at university in front of a computer screen were a rather difficult transition. 
The purpose of this university paper titled Digital Enhancement is to critically reflect and engage with pedagogy and practice to enhance the use of digital technology in education. 
Two days in and it has been a pleasure to share our practice and experience with each other. It's in immersing ourselves in these situations that we realise that we have in fact accomplished a lot over the past year and as a collective we have a wealth of knowledge to share with one another. 

One of the theories of learning which I can really relate to is that of Communities of Practice. As the MDTA cohort of 2014/15 we are a reliable supportive and helpful resource to one another. Through professional and informal discussions I am continually learning from these people that I am lucky enough to get to share my beginning teacher journey with them all. 

As part of our final assessment in this paper we are to critically reflect on our 2014 class site, compare and contrast to other effective sites and justify our 2015 class site for our learners. We then will present this analysis to one another to further learn and develop our practice. 

In regards to my experience with tertiary education, through my Bachelors in Social Sciences, my Graduate Diploma in Teaching and this Honours Degree, I have never been so engaged or included in the teaching and learning process. Sure this is a higher level course, so our competence and intrinsic motivation is assumed to be greater, but the course co-ordinators and lecturers have actually taken our needs into account and really tailored this programme to be relevant and immediately applicable to our practice. So even though I am mildly disgruntled that I am not out enjoying this week in the amazing weather New Zealand has been receiving, I am enjoying the insight and critical discussions which I am involved in within this community of practice. 

Thanks Team. 

Friday, 9 January 2015

Developing Citizenship with New Learners, a New Class, and a New Level

Barely a week into January and I'm already contemplating what 2015 will bring. This year I will be teaching a new level of Year 5 & 6 learners (last year was Yr 7 & 8). I will have a whole class full of new learners in a whole new classroom. These learners will be pooled from three different 2014 classrooms, and for the majority it will be their first year in a digital one-to-one learning environment. 

Before this year begins however I will be undertaking a summer school paper at Auckland University, along with 10 other Manaiakalani teachers, on Digital Enhancement. In preparation for this I have been reading a variety of papers on knowledge building, 21st Century skills, opportunities and implications of ICT, and other digital education research and findings. Though it seems a waste of this amazing weather to be stuck reading when I would much rather be out enjoying my new paddleboard, I am finding the texts are getting me thinking about this year, and about how I can best foster the skills and aptitude's I desire with my learners within the existing curriculum. 

Determining how I can go about explicitly teaching 21st century skills, then embed them in our daily routines is a challenge I look forward to. As I mentioned, 2/3 of my class this year will be new to having their own digital device, so it is up to me to ensure that our learners use them to enhance their learning, not just as a substitution for their textbooks. Later this year I will be speaking about this at the 2015 BYOD Making it Mobile! workshops at Hobsonville Point School; reflecting on how to develop the learning behaviours and skills needed to learn in a digital environment, how to get the foundations set early on so the learning can happen later. If you can't make it to the workshops, findings and a summary of the event will be posted here also.