#edsketch15 Going Strong

As May began I posted an idea to share a sketch every day this month. 10 days in I am stoked to say that a great group of teachers have joined me in #edsketch15. The large majority from New Zealand and Ireland (thanks Bianca for spreading the word in Ireland!) but also being joined by teachers and students in India, Australia and the US.

Here are my first 10 sketches from this month: Continue reading

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Sketch a Day in May

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This May, I would like to encourage everyone to take part in a challenge. The challenge is to share a sketch every day in May. We can all track each other by using #edsketch15 on our shares (whether it be on twitter, Google+, instagram or whatever social media you utilise).

Inspired by Austin Kleon‘s Show Your Work, I would like to encourage everyone to sketch something they have been reading, thinking about, trying out, observing, questioning, exploring, reflecting on, working on that day.  Continue reading

What are we doing to provide for learners born in 100 years?

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I am a big fan of twitter chats and regularly take part in many chats based in various countries. Recently, however, I have found that they are becoming ego chambers filled with back patting and lacking critical thought. Still doing great things to connect educators, share ideas and support each other but not really allowing time or space for critical discussion to occur.

That is until the 2nd Birthday of #edchatnz last night. It was a doozy! The topic was “How can we meet students’ needs when the world changes so fast” and Rachel Bolstad (@shiftingthinkng) gave a masterclass in developing critical discussion within the fast-paced environment of a twitter chat.
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An Awesome Day of Design Thinking

Tuesday proved to me just how much Design Thinking is the way I approach all aspects of school (and increasingly life) these days. In reflecting on what had happened this week I realised that Tuesday was an entire day of Design Thinking.

I started the day with my Hub completing the redesign of our space. Last week I had realised that things needed to improve with my Hub teaching so we had completed a SWOT analysis of our Hub and everyone had drawn how they would design our space to make it work for us. It was pretty clear from all the pictures that a common theme had emerged. So, away went our old space:

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And in came our new design:

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We have still kept the seating we like for Hub time – mainly ottomans and a few beanbags. But now we have got rid of any other form of seating, created a break out area and swapped the unused table that was a dumping ground for a low table that we can work on from our low seats. Early days but it has definitely created a better feel for us as a group.

After this was finished we Continue reading

Prototypes, Errors and Focus

Interesting day yesterday: figured out a way to make a prototype work, developed a 2nd prototype, discarded both prototypes for a list of questions.

We are currently evaluating and reviewing our module structures to check how they are working for student learning. Staff have completed an evaluation of these structures, the student evaluation survey closes today and as Specialised Learning Leaders we have added our thoughts and concerns. Continue reading

All is well, or is it?

I was worried how last week would go. How could I possibly keep up the excited puppy heights of hosting the Geography Awareness Week TeachMeetNZ and being at the inaugural EdChatNZ conference?

The Monday following EdchatNZ conference saw me spend the day in the Take Action big module I am co-teaching with Bryce and Martin. I spent 2 of our blocks helping Martin in the workshop as students constructed marble runs while their groups were affected by changes in government policies.

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Students also had similar experiences with Bryce as they played Volleyball with Government policies affecting the rules for each team. The final block focused in on actions we can take as citizens other than voting and brainstorming issues of interest to the students. Continue reading

Lessons from Term 2

While playing with family over the first week of these holidays I have been reflecting back over last term. This reflection has led to me finding 5 key takeaways to remember in future.

1. Name the Elephant in the room

If you can name the issue/concern that is bugging you at the time it arises it allows your team to move forward together much quicker. An effective team has healthy working relationships and can deal with these situations, not get stuck on taking things personally.

2. Take the time to get students defining the problem

An extremely important step in problem solving is actually defining the right problem at the start. So often students are given the problem by the teacher. This term Pete McGhie and I really found out how powerful it is to get students defining the problem themselves. More time consuming but incredible learning ensued!

3. Teach less and teach it better

Page 34 New Zealand Curriculum

Page 34 New Zealand Curriculum

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Anchor Points

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Image sourced from Wikipedia

Earlier this week I had a mini-mental tantrum to do with my struggles teaching robotics. I pride myself on having a Growth Mindset but it absolutely disappeared on me as I thought “that’s it, next term I’m moving back to teaching the stuff that I know really well and that is my passion, not theirs (the students).” But after letting my tantrum go I was able to reflect and move forward with teaching robotics in a more effective way.

This whole episode (and how quickly it happened) reminded of a visual metaphor (I think that’s the right thing – I may be about to be slayed by the English teachers out there!) I thought of a couple of weeks ago when having a critical friend talk with Maurie. Continue reading

Changing Tack?

I have spent much of this term working and learning in the robotics lab with my students. This includes a Spin Module (90 minutes a week), Big Project (3 hours a week) and 2 My Times (flexitimes at 50 minutes each). Right now, I’m not thinking of being in here as much in future.

To meet the needs of our students who were interested in Robotics I got involved and have benefitted greatly from external support of those far more knowledgeable in this area than I am. But over the last week or so I have begun to question how much of my focus has been on our robotics areas. Because I do not have the skills and knowledge in this area, I am constantly needing to learn more and have found at times that I have not been able to help students as they struggle with certain aspects they are working on. Youtube, Instructables and Arduino tutorials have certainly helped but at times even then I have been flummoxed. So more time being spent (in school and out) learning and curating resources to help me and the students as we progress with their projects.

Of course, this then leads to the critical reflection points of am I adding value for these students? Continue reading

Searching for Elegant Solutions

I recently read The Falconer by Grant Lichtman and thoroughly encourage each of you to do the same!

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It really pulled some thought threads together for me and I found myself nodding away and tweeting quotes the whole way through the book. I had read the book to try and find ways to take Design Thinking from a process to a mindset and it has absolutely helped me to do this.

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