Agency and Ownership

Last week I attended uLearn15, an epic conference in Auckland with 1700 teachers and 250 sponsors and exhibitors. On the first day I ran a Breakout session called Agency and Ownership: Why the How? Initially planned as a smallish interactive workshop, it proved very popular as people chose their sessions so it grew into a large presentation to around 250 people with a lot more of me talking from the front.

Core Education filmed this presentation and streamed it live from their conference website. You can watch it here (jump to 11.50 where it actually starts):

Or, if you don’t have an hour and a half spare, this post will cover the highlights.

We have all heard the terms Learner Agency and Student Ownership of Learning. We all have the same vague understandings of what these are about. This presentation was focused on working out they actually look like in the classroom. What the practices are that we as teachers can implement to enable and empower students to truly own their learning.

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Active Citizenship

This term on Mondays I teach a Big Module called Take Action with Bryce and Martin. We have joined our subject areas of Social Sciences, PE/Health and Technology around the ideas each area has on taking action to influence society. Monday this week was the best day’s teaching I have ever had on developing students’ citizenship. There were aspects of digital citizenship, elections and other forms of taking action on issues in society. Continue reading

Citizenship in a Digital Age

I know that bad news sells but the lack of positive digital citizenship stories has been irritating me for a while. What started as a small irritation has ended up in this blogpost. The mainstream media seems determined to pigeonhole digital citizenship as being purely about online safety. It also follows this up with talk of teenaged “digital natives” and implying that they exist in a seedy online world which we older folk could possibly never understand.

It is important to educate all people (not just children) about how to stay safe online including cybersafety, security of your devices and what to do about online bullying. It is not, however such a doom and gloom situation as it seems the mainstream media makes it out to be. In fact I find it interesting how quickly students soak up this information and really appreciate having more knowledge on what to do in certain situations.

A great example of how quickly even young students learn how to stay safe is the great advice shared during the kidsedchat Digital Safety discussion last week. These are Primary school students now demonstrating true citizenship by helping others stay safe online! These students meet up every week to discuss different topics which is where we really start to see what digital citizenship means in action: they are participating in a purposeful activity online, thinking critically, relating to others in positive ways and helping each other manage challenges. Check out http://kidsedchatnz.blogspot.co.nz/ for more.

In a secondary context, our students at Hobsonville Point Secondary School created their own Digital Citizenship pledges. The students in my hub did not just focus on online safety and bullying in their pledges but also on aspects like digital manners and attributing ideas to where they have got them from.

Online safety is not the only aspect of digital citizenship. The commonly accepted and used definition of Digital Citizenship in New Zealand comes from NetSafe:

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Bias Towards Action

Elements of a Design Thinking Mindset from dSchool K12 Wiki

Elements of a Design Thinking Mindset from dSchool K12 Wiki

A bias towards action is the element of a design thinking mindset that resonates with me the most and what I see as really making this such a powerful pedagogical approach. Yet, the bias towards action is bizarrely an aspect that has seen some teachers question the appropriateness of design thinking as an approach for all learning areas. For me, the bias towards action is what makes this an authentic inquiry process rather than just another project producing a poster. Continue reading