Starting Collaborative Inquiries

When I arrived at Lynfield College last year I found a school with a very strong Teaching as Inquiry culture. All teachers across the school were inquiring into the impact that their teaching was having on their students. This was enabled by some great scaffolded templates to help teachers who were newer to the process and time was built into the meeting schedule to help these inquiries progress.

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How Might We best share our Geography practices?

Each year I help to organise our Geography Awareness Week in New Zealand. Most of the time it is about creating some quiz resources and a couple of fun activities to help students see the relevance of Geography to their lives. This year I wanted to get Geography teachers across the country sharing their best practice. Some subjects have started twitter chats (#engchatnz and #scichatnz) but I wanted to have an event that would enable non-twitter users to engage in conversation as well. This led to us having a Geography Teach Meet NZ online yesterday:

Thanks to the amazing Sonya Van Schaijik for helping us get this together. There were some great ideas shared and I have had really positive comments from Geography teachers (both on twitter and in the “real world”) about how they found it.

Kim Randall shared Google Maps Engine Lite which is a free web based GIS tool, an incredible resource for us Geo teachers. I look forward to playing with this and getting to know it better!

Steve Smith spoke about taking overseas field trips. Although harder to organise, the payoff is definitely worth it with the passion and engagement it brings.

I spoke about how Design Thinking can work in Geography. If you follow this blog you will not be surprised about this topic (see my other posts on Design Thinking here).

Craig Perry shared how he uses SOLO Taxonomy in Geography to help make learning visible for students.

Heather Eccles was lucky last sharing the power of making authentic connections around the world with her students.

Hopefully, this has helped provoke discussions about effective pedagogy in our Geography classrooms. The challenge now is how do we keep the discussions going? The Pond may provide space for this in future when the Communities function is set up but this will take some time. I’m not sure enough NZ Geographers are on twitter for chats to be the answer. Leaving me with my question for today:

How Might We best share our Geography practices?

 

This post is part of My Questioning Quest.

 p.s. mind turning after posting this. VLN could be a good place but I like the idea of international connections being able to contribute as well. With so many schools moving to GAFE is a Google+ Community the answer for this?

What If schools really did involve parents as much as possible?

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This tweet from Pete Hall prompted this post for Question Quest.

  My current position at Hobsonville Point Secondary School sees me having more contact with parents than I have done at previous schools. I email parents of my Learning Hub regularly giving an overview of what their son/daughter and I have discussed in learning conferences. We meet for IEMs, parent information evenings and exhibitions of student projects.

I feel, however, there is so much more we can do to really reach the point of being partners in the students learning.

My aims next term are to:
– include parents regularly in the learning happening in modules
– test the prototype of our curriculum tracking tool with parents to see if it meets their needs before we develop it further
– investigate how parent voice can be included in the development of future modules. Currently we have learning area and student voice, the obvious next step is seeing what parents see as being part of the next term’s concept.

Maybe it’s also time to revisit the parent skills database collected at start of year to see if parents could be used as partnership connections in our learning!

Surely there is a lot to gain by truly involving parents in the learning!

Advice for Twitter Chats

From a small start at the end of 2012, the NZ twitter education chat #edchatnz has grown exponentially. The last chat had around 1000 tweets in the 60 minutes that the chat ran for. It was moving so fast that some very experienced Edchatters were struggling to keep up with what was happening, let alone those new to taking part. There are lots of posts out there offering advice for teachers new to twitter (such as this great one by @lisa_madden) but not much advice on venturing into the often fast moving world of a twitter chat. Hence, this post: How to take part in the awesome learning of a twitter chat when you are new to them.
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Authentic Challenges

Another full on week at HPSS where I really focused on continuing to make sure the learning was authentic. This was the next step up as I try to continually improve the learning occurring and much of what happened in the week was due to what had occurred the previous week.

The Galileo Educational Network have an awesome inquiry rubric that I regularly refer to. This image below is of the section on Authenticity that I have looked back on whilst reflecting on the weekend:

Galileo Authentic Inquiry Rubric

Galileo Authentic Inquiry Rubric

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