Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bunsen Burners, Flame Tests and iPads with Years 4 & 5

Recently, as a favour to a local primary principal (and to fulfil my own need to teach some science), I ran a day of science lessons for Years 4 and 5. As a wonderful example of cooperation, the neighbouring secondary school had provided the primary school with access to a science lab for the year. Having the unique opportunity to use secondary science equipment with primary students I set  about designing a fun and worthwhile hour to be repeated with the four classes. 

Now primary students are always itching to study science once they get to secondary (although this enthusiasm often wanes by the end of Year 7...), and what they want to use most of all are Bunsen burners. To this end, I chose to:
  1. teach the students the parts of a Bunsen and their function
  2. get them to light a Bunsen safely
  3. perform flame tests on various metal salts.
The preparation was made possible by the wonderful lab technician at the secondary school, Margaret Croucher (who is also Chairperson of ASETNSW - Association of Science Education Technicians, and treasurer of SETA - Science Education Technicians Australia). With my secondary chauvinism it didn't occur to me that primary students might not be allowed to participate in the experiments. Thankfully Margaret came to the rescue, and after a lot of negotiation with the Health and Safety people we established that although we couldn't use solid salts we could use 0.1M solutions soaked into paddle pop sticks.

When the students arrived, much to their delight, we got them to wear lab coats and safety goggles. We then discussed the parts of the Bunsen, their function, how to light a flame and the different types of flame. Then the moment of truth - every student got to light a Bunsen. [Aside - during the introduction I pointed out that the box of equipment for every group had a famous scientist on it. However, of the 10 scientists only 2 were female (Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin), why? One boy tried to explain that men were smarter and was quickly rebuked. After a several hints (surprisingly many) we extracted that historically girls and women weren't given the same access to education. However, I challenged both the girls and boys to capitalise on their fortune in accessing high quality education in a country of opportunities such that in 100 years they might be the famous scientists in a 5/5 split).]

Once every student had successfully lit the Bunsen I brought them back together to demonstrate how to perform a flame test. Subsequently, they each got to perform a flame test with a different solution within their groups, filming proceedings on their iPads and recording their results. Chuffed with the timing of the lesson I brought them together to go through the results.



This was a wonderful day that couldn't have happened without the vision of Lisa Harbrow, Principal of St Felix Primary School, the support of Mick Egan, Principal of La Salle College, the Y4&5 class teachers, particularly Maree Elchaar and Ashley Azzopardi, Ritz Balzarno - Science Coordinator at La Salle, and of course Margaret Croucher. As a follow up activity, Ashley got her students to blog about their experiences. Please see below, it is very cute as they practise their letter writing to each other, signing off sincerely. Please do add you own comments on their blog to feedback to the students. Well done Year 4 & 5!!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Future of Technology in Education

I was pleasantly surprised to be asked to present at the 2013 ACEL Conference: The Future is Now in Canberra. The motivation to present was the prestige of the conference, my current work on what future schools will look like, plus building on previous work such as Welcome to the Future ...Today and What does it mean to teach in a technology-rich world?. Accordingly, I chose to present on The Future of Technology in Education. Below are the abstract, the presentation itself and an explanation of the slides (those that attended should note that fuller explanations of slides 27-30 are included below).

Abstract:
If we are to prepare students (and for that matter, teachers) for their future, what will the future of education look like? What new technologies are on the horizon and which ones will become de rigeur? Are there ‘futuristic’ technologies already being used successfully in schools? Drawing on the latest research, this presentation will look at the future directions of technology in education, inside and outside the classroom. 
Future opportunities and how they might be capitalised upon e.g. teacher collaboration will be discussed. Examples of the innovative use of contemporary technologies in teaching and learning, K-12, will be demonstrated. The emerging challenges surrounding technology that are facing education leaders, such as professional development, accessibility, evolving societal pressures, and how they might be overcome will also be discussed. As the saying goes, “do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time”



Slide 1 - My ever present opening slide. What is wrong with this slide? Nope, it's not the kid with the slate (get it! :) the image is back to front, the writing on the board goes from right to left. 

Slide 2 - Background: Senior eLearning Adviser to 17 secondary schools in southwest 
Sydney and the Shire.

Slide 3 - It is important that this whole presentation is ground in the latest research. The most obvious and important choice for future technologies in education is of course the annual Horizon Report

Slides 4&5 - The 2013 DEAG Report, commissioned by the Australian Government, makes some important recommendations to prepare schools for the future of learning.

Slide 6 - With the end of the Federal funding in the DER we must not lose the momentum created thanks to the embedding of so much technology in schools. Equally, we must learn from the various evaluations of the DER by DEEWR, DECNSW and (as a shameless bit of self-promotion) my first and second papers. 

Slide 7 - Before Google, the teachers were the sole bastions of knowledge. Post-Google, students can find out simple facts using simple Google searches, Wikipedia (copying, pasting and plagiarising) and even acquire skills e.g. learning the guitar via YouTube, all on mobile phones that are banned in most classrooms. From about 2016 according to the Horizon Reports (or 2020 according to Wikipedia), the Semantic Web will be all-pervasive with a far more personalised online experience.

Slide 8 - Consider the new NSW Board of Studies Syllabus for Australian Curriculum History. If we only ask simple questions of facts, students can answer these in seconds.

Slide 9 - However, if we ask deeper, higher-order, personal, subjective questions students will not be able to google the answers.

Slide 10 - Ask Ungoogleable Questions (a phrase I heard from @ewanmcintosh). I am not saying Google is bad, but in its simple form it is pretty low-order (as shown in Bloom's Digital Taxonomy). We need to offer students higher-order questions and opportunities. At the very least we should extol the virtues of 'Advanced' Google searches.

Slide 11 - Whether within or outside the classroom, students can collaborate with their teachers and each other, importantly receiving immediate and regular feedback through cloud computing apps like Google Docs and Edmodo.

Slide 12 - Teacher Collaboration: teachers can also take advantage of these technologies and collaborate too, not least with collaborative programming for the Australian Curriculum using Google Docs.

Slide 13 - Teachers don't need to rely solely on formal professional development or the collegiality of the teachers they work with. Through TeachMeets and the networks that ensue, teachers can be proactive in their own professional learning in a fun, informal and highly beneficial environment. (Check out http://www.teachmeet.net/what-is-a-teachmeet/).

Slide 14 - Quick plug for all English and Drama teachers, K-12, to attend the English Australian Curriculum TeachMeet at the State Theatre Company. Should be a great Friday night out! See http://tmsydney.wikispaces.com/TeachMeet+AC+English for details.

Slide 15 - Hand in glove with TeachMeets is networking with fellow educators through Twitter. On Twitter there is a whole variety of awesome teachers willing to collaborate, share resources, converse with and even mentor. On this slide is an all too brief (and nepotistic) list of some of the people I collaborate with and learn from. They represent educators from government, systemic Catholic and independent schools, interstate and overseas.

Slide 16 - Teachers need not feel isolated as they can now tap into thousands of expert and similarly specialised teachers via Twitter. One way to find specialist colleagues is via 'hash tags' on Twitter, some examples of which are listed here. These allow for subject based conversations that can be searched for easily. The list on the left shows global conversations. The list on the right shows Australian hash tags. In both cases these conversations are sometimes organised for specific times in the week.

Slide 17 - A couple of Prezis to help teachers and principals with Twitter and understanding it's power for collaboration and online presence.

Slide 18 - Other ways teachers are collaborating include using things like Pinterest to find teachers from the same subject area to follow, post and share resources with. In the example shown, my colleague Bettina, from All Saints Girls Liverpool, is a Spanish teacher isolated in a local network of Italian teachers. She uses Pinterest to find and connect with other Spanish teachers form North America.

Slide 19 - With most, if not all students having a mobile phone (check out the ABS stats), why are they banned from most schools and classrooms? Now that the Digital Education Revolution has ended and the Federal funding stopped, how are we going to maintain the momentum of embedded technology in the classroom. One answer is to let the students bring their own mobile devices. There are solutions to the issues of cost and equity, not least schools supporting the minority of Australian families that cannot afford any device. There are also technical solutions for the techies. Several schools are running pilots of BYOD, including some I work with in low SES areas, plus @aliceleung's school, again in a low SES area. 

Slide 20 - A great image that passed my way that sums up the power of mobile devices and their underutilisation.

Slide 21 - A lot of people do not realise that many students already have programming skills and enjoy coding. Under the guidance of my colleague Jason at Good Samaritan College Hinchinbrook, there are Year 10 girls and Year 11 boys writing literacy and numeracy apps respectively for the neighbouring primary school students. The older students are using the actual NSW Board of Studies syllabuses to create and differentiate the questions for the littlies. This is an amazing story - well done to Jason and students!

Slide 22 - Identified in the 2013 Horizon Report was the emergence of 3D Printing over the next four to five years. 3D printing uses computer-aided design (CAD) software combined with a plastic extrusion-like process to create tangible, three-dimensional objects. Despite the timeline suggested, it should be noted that several schools have all ready purchased and are using a 3D printer. For example, Clancy College in West Hoxton, is using its 3D printer to make topographical maps in Geography, molecular structures in Science, mobile phone cases in Design and isoloc hybrid joints in Timber only possible in CAD.

Slide 23 - Game-Based Learning: why not use Angry Birds to teach projectile motion as this pic from @aliceleung's classroom shows? There is also a great blog post by Wired on this.

Slide 24 - Taking GBL to the extreme, Michael from Freeman College Bonnyrigg is using WWE Wrestling on the XBox to teach literacy! The students have to write correct instructions on their moves and counter moves. Based on their writing the moves are then entered into the game to simulate the fight. As an incentive, a couple of students get to play at the end of every lesson.

Slides 25&26 - Global Citizenship: These slides were videos from All Saints Girls Liverpool and a school from China (thanks to Jenny from Liverpool). With Skype in the Classroom and online sharing through things like Dropbox and Google Drive, students from two different hemispheres can collaborate together. The Liverpool girls sent video footage to China of themselves acting out Cinderella. The Chinese students overlay the audio, in particular the dialogue, as part of their study of English. The Chinese students then shared back the finished product which was very funny and a great exercise all round.

In the second video, the Chinese students sent over footage of them playing hide-and-seek around their homes. What was particularly interesting for the students from southwest Sydney (a low socio-economic area) was how salubrious the homes were of the upper-middle class in China. This was a real lesson in global citizenship.

It is important to note that this happened in 2011. With the Asian cross-curriculum priority in the Australian Curriculum from 2014, is this kind of collaboration happening in every Australian school? If not, why not?

Slide 27 - Getting into the more extreme predictions of what schools will look like in the future, Neil Selwyn of Monash University discusses in this article things such as smart drugs, haptic technology, robot teachers and moveable and modifiable schools. 

Slide 28 - Spreading their bets, the OECD present 3 pairs of possible scenarios for schools in the future in this article. I am fearful of the first pair i.e. maintaining the status quo. There is a lot of research (including some of my own) plus plenty of anecdotal evidence, not least the proliferation of the industrial model of schools, that would suggest this may well be the case. Many educators will prefer one or both of the second pair 'Re-Schooling' which "would see major investments and widespread recognition for schools and their achievements". Futurists may prefer scenario 3a in 'De-Schooling' with "the abandonment of schools in favour of a multitude of learning networks". Capitalists may prefer 3b where "many new providers are stimulated to come into the learning market, encouraged by thoroughgoing reforms of funding structures, incentives and regulation".

Slide 29 - A great quote from Halverson and Smith (2009, p.52) warning of the institutional mindset in many schools and systems that manipulate new technologies to maintain the old paradigm and status quo:
“schools seemed to pick up on affordances that reinforced institutionalized priorities. Rather than opening up new opportunities to reframe how teachers teach and students learn, it seemed as though instructionalism bent technologies to extend existing pedagogical, curriculum delivery, and assessment practices” 
Slide 30 - To the contrary, Weston and Bain (2010, p.14) highlight that technologies can be used as a catalyst for a paradigm shift in proactive schools:
“[technology] initiatives can be fertile ground for the creation of new-paradigm schools, schools that are self-organizing”
Slide 31 - The 13 references used (8 of which from 2013).

Slide 32 - 
Augmented Reality by turkletom, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  turkletom 
My ever present final slide: a fantastic augmented reality pic to prove the point that if students aren't engaged they will find very creative ways to use their technology instead. Combined with this picture was the quote, often (though not definitively) attributed to Rabindranath Tagore:

"Do not confine your children to your own learning, 
for they were born in another time"

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bloom-ing Heck! The Activities of Australian Science Teachers and Students Two Years into a 1:1 Laptop Program Across 14 High Schools

Some great news! In the roller-coaster ride that is my study (see Peer Review, Peer Exposure), my second paper has just been published (in fact it was published 4 days ago but no one told me! :) Entitled Bloom-ing Heck! The Activities of Australian Science Teachers and Students Two Years into a 1:1 Laptop Program Across 14 High Schools, it is featured in the International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education 21(1). 

I have been nervous about the publication of this paper as it is not necessarily a good news story. However, it goes without saying that I have to be objective and report the data as it appears. Here is the abstract (for the full article click on the link above):
This study examines the responses of 1245 science students and 47 science teachers from 14 Catholic high schools in Sydney, Australia, 2010. Two years into a 1:1 laptop program, the types of activities engaged in with laptops as self-reported by teachers and students are analysed. The activities are differentiated from lower- to higher-order using Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. Though the shift has been to use pen and paper less and laptops more, it is found that the modal practice for students is the lower-order paradigm of note-taking and working from textbooks through electronic means by word processing and electronic textbooks, plus simple online searching. Students would like to engage in more higher-order activities such as blogging and video editing but these are not favoured by teachers. Datalogging and databases, despite being encouraged or even mandated by the Board of Studies NSW, are rare experiences. Most science teachers appear to use simulations but students do not report the same experience. Investment must be made in the professional development of teachers to empower and encourage them to integrate higher-order tasks and to capitalise on the opportunities offered by 1:1 laptops.
What is most important to highlight is that the findings are based on 2010 data. As systems/schools/teachers, we have to ask ourselves 'have we progressed from this baseline in the 3 years since?' (The next few papers will go some way to answering this).

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What does it mean to teach in a technology-rich world?

Below is my presentation 'What does it mean to teach in a technology-rich world?' from the ABC Splash Live: Digital Ideas for the Classroom event (see previous post ABC Splash Live). Explanations of the slides are also included. Many thanks to @heyjudeonline for recommending me to speak and the team at ABC Digital Education, especially @edificite@AnnabelAstbury and @ABCSplash



Slide 1 - What is wrong with this slide? Nope, it's not the kid with the slate (get it! :) the image is back to front, the writing on the board goes from right to left. 

Slide 2 - Before Google, the teachers were the sole bastions of knowledge. Post-Google, students can find out simple facts using simple Google searches, Wikipedia (copying, pasting and plagiarising) and even acquire skills e.g. learning the guitar via YouTube, all on mobile phones that are banned in most classrooms. From about 2016 according to the Horizon Reports (or 2020 according to Wikipedia), the Semantic Web will be all-pervasive with a far more personalised online experience.

Slide 3 - Consider the new NSW Board of Studies Syllabus for Australian Curriculum History. If we only ask simple questions of facts, students can answer these in seconds.

Slide 4 - However, if we ask deeper, personal, subjective questions students will not be able to google the answers.

Slide 5 - Ask Ungoogleable Questions (a phrase I heard from @ewanmcintosh). I am not saying Google is bad, but in its simple form it is pretty low-order. We need to offer students higher-order questions and opportunities. At the very least extol the virtues of 'Advanced' Google searches.

Slide 6 - In a techonology-rich classroom students can collaborate with their teachers and each other, importantly receiving immediate and regular feedback through apps like Google Docs and Edmodo.

Slide 7 - Teacher Collaboration: teachers can also take advantage of these technologies and collaborate too, not least with collaborative programming for the Australian Curriculum using Google Docs.

Slide 8 - Teachers don't need to rely solely on formal professional development or the collegiality of the teachers they work with. Through TeachMeets and the networks that ensue, teachers can be proactive in their own professional learning in a fun, informal and highly beneficial environment. (Check out http://www.teachmeet.net/what-is-a-teachmeet/).

Slide 9 - Quick plug for all English and Drama teachers, K-12, to attend the English Australian Curriculum TeachMeet at the State Theatre Company. Should be a great Friday night out! See http://tmsydney.wikispaces.com/TeachMeet+AC+English for details.

Slide 10 - Other ways teachers are collaborating include using things like Pinterest to find teachers from the same subject area to follow, post and share resources with. In the example shown, my colleague Bettina, from All Saints Girls Liverpool, is a Spanish teacher isolated in a local network of Italian teachers. She uses Pinterest to find and connect with other Spanish teachers form North America.

Slide 11 - A quick plug for the great resources on ABC Splash.

Slide 12 - An example of a great resource on ABC Splash - a video from Catalyst by my mate Derek Muller (of Veritasium YouTube Channel fame), alumnus of Sydney University Physics Education Research (SUPER). 

Slide 13 - With most, if not all students having a mobile phone (check out the ABS stats), why are they banned from most schools and classrooms? Now that the Digital Education Revolution has ended and the Federal funding stopped, how are we going to maintain the momentum of embedded technology in the classroom. One answer is to let the students bring their own mobile devices. There are solutions to the issues of cost and equity, not least schools supporting the minority of Australian families that cannot afford any device. There are also technical solutions for the techies. Several schools are running pilots of this including some I work with in low SES areas plus @aliceleung's school, again in a low SES area. 

Slide 14 - A lot of people do not realise that many students already have programming skills and enjoy coding. Under the guidance of my colleague Jason at Good Samaritan College Hinchinbrook, there are Year 10 girls and Year 11 boys writing literacy and numeracy apps respectively for the neighbouring primary school students. The older students are using the actual NSW Board of Studies syllabuses to create and differentiate the questions for the littlies. This is an amazing story - well done to Jason and students! 

Slide 15 - Game-Based Learning: why not use Angry Birds to teach projectile motion as this pic from @aliceleung's classroom shows? There is also a great blog post by Wired on this.

Slide 16 - Taking GBL to the extreme, Michael from Freeman College Bonnyrigg is using WWE Wrestling on the XBox to teach literacy! The students have to write correct instructions on their moves and counter moves. Based on their writing the moves are then entered into the game to simulate the fight. As an incentive, a couple of students get to play at the end of every lesson.

Slides 17, 18 - Global Citizenship: These slides were videos from All Saints Girls Liverpool and a school from China (thanks to Jenny from Liverpool). With Skype in the Classroom and online sharing through things like Dropbox and Google Drive, students from two different hemispheres can collaborate together. The Liverpool girls sent video footage to China of themselves acting out Cinderella. The Chinese students overlay the audio, in particular the dialogue, as part of their study of English. The Chinese students then shared back the finished product which was very funny and a great exercise all round.

In the second video, the Chinese students sent over footage of them playing hide-and-seek around their homes. What was particularly interesting for the students from southwest Sydney (a low socio-economic area) was how salubrious the homes were of the upper-middle class in China. This was a real lesson in global citizenship.


Slide 19 - The resources I used.

Slide 20 - 

Augmented Reality by turkletom, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  turkletom 
A fantastic augmented reality pic to prove the point that if students aren't engaged they will find very creative ways to use their technology instead. Combined with this picture was the quote, often (though not definitively) attributed to Rabindranath Tagore:

"Do not confine your children to your own learning, 
for they were born in another time"

Monday, September 9, 2013

ABC Splash Live

Normally after I've presented at a conference I blog, simply to share my own presentation without necessarily commenting on the conference itself in much detail. However, in the case of ABC Splash Live, it is worthy of a post in its own right. 

ABC Splash Live: Digital Ideas for the Classroom was a free event, organised by the ABC Digital Education team of @edificite@AnnabelAstbury and @ABCSplash, to assist teachers with integrating technology in the classroom and promote the merits of ABC Splash.

ABC Splash is a free online resource from the ABC to help support teachers, particularly with the advent of the Australian Curriculum. It is a very engaging resource, providing an ever increasing number of 'cutting-edge games, virtual worlds and immersive digital experiences'. Of particular use in these times of Australian Curriculum is ABC's partnership with Education Services Australia (ESA), thereby making readily available to teachers and students many of the learning objects from Scootle without requiring a Scootle login. 

Anyway, back to the day: I was chuffed to get the gig at @heyjudeonline's recommendation (thanks Judy!). The agenda was very enticing.  @AnnabelAstbury was an excellent MC and host. Proceedings began with Annabel interviewing @AdamBSpencer. Adam was very entertaining, not least highlighting the fact that being into maths, science and chess is cool!

Straight after the keynote interview was my presentation 'What does it mean to teach in a technology-rich world?'. It seemed to go pretty well (see next blog post for details). Next up was @aliceleung regarding the power of a back-channel in schools, both in the classroom and for example in staff meetings. It was great to segue into Alice's presentation having mentioned the power of TeachMeets and a PLN. Also, when discussing GBL I used Alice's famous example of utilising Angry Birds to learn projectile motion

Following Alice was @jarruzza on the power of sharing knowledge in real time using tools such as Google Docs and Google Forms. By sheer coincidence, Jason and I both chose separate videos from ABC Splash on objects falling under gravity to meet our various ends. It was quite amusing when Jason suddenly jumped out of his seat to stop me from inadvertently steal his thunder. The crisis was averted and an uncanny further segue created. 

After morning tea, @msdigifly shared some very interesting stories about four schools from across Australia (3 rural and 1 city) engaging in the 'Making the News' project. Sara was followed by Amy Walsh from PLC Armidale, one of the participating schools. The news reports from PLC told a fascinating story of the partnership between the community garden and the local 'fancy' restaurant. Finishing off the morning was @BeveridgeSue on the merits of video conferencing. 

Kicking off the afternoon was @leejr from ESA sharing some of the learning objects and simulations in ABC Splash. Following Leanne was @berniehobbs presenting the brand spanking new GBL experience from ABC called Zoom. 'Zoom is a browser-based game primarily aimed at year 9 and 10 students to bring back the fun in science learning'. After Bernie was @BronSt on gamification of learning and 'hard fun' and 'flow'. ('Flow', the sensation gamers have when they are 'in the zone', sounded very much like the martials arts idea of 'mushin'). Last cab off the rank (and my personal highlight) was @Type217 with 'Raising Gamer Kids'. As ever, Dean had a very irreverent, yet well informed and humourous manner of delivery, taking people out of their comfort zone with a mini-case study of Hit Girl. He also provided some practical advice around what makes gamer kids tick and how to raise them.

In conclusion, it was a great day. I truly feel this was a quality, free professional development opportunity provided by the ABC and I thank them sincerely, especially Katie and Annabel for their organisation. As ever at events like these the networking was fantastic. It was great to catch up again with Annabel, Alice, Sue, Bron and Dean and wonderful to meet Adam, Katie, Jason, Sara, Amy, Leanne and Bernie for the first time. 

In closing I leave you with a Storify of the back-channel from @steverwilkins and a great image Dean used to portray gamer kids




    

Saturday, August 31, 2013

How to 'Cripple' Students

Recently, my next door neighbour gave me Stasiland by Anna Funder to read. It is a very moving and oftentimes horrific account of life in East Germany after the Wall went up, under the the constant monitoring and manipulation of the Stasi, the GDR secret police. The reign of paranoia, fear, obedience and acquiescence was not fiction from George Orwell's 1984 but actually happened to real people from the 1950's to 1989. A constant feature throughout was the insidious way the Stasi endeavoured to break the spirit of the populace in a calculated fashion (a theme covered so often in fiction by e.g. Orwell and Pink Floyd (for a tenuous link see Peer Review, Peer Exposure)). 

In the Notes on Sources at the end of the book, Funder reports that she later "found instructions to [Stasi] operatives on ways of crippling 'oppositional' people". The aims of these instructions were to:
      1. develop apathy (in the subject)
      2. achieve a situation in which in which his [/her] 'conflicts', whether of a social, personal, career, health or political kind are irresolvable
      3. give rise to fears in him [/her]
      4. develop/create disappointments
      5. restrict his talents or capabilities
      6. reduce his capacity to act
      7. harness dissentions and contradictions around him [/her] for [this] purpose
These are in essence, a list of ways to dehumanise someone. So getting to the point of this post in an educational blog: if any teacher, school leader, district administrator, politician or parent behaves or imposes an environment that achieves any of these aims, they are in fact contributing to the dehumanisation of the students in their care. I am not being melodramatic, this is happening in pockets (sometimes swathes) all across the Western world. Consider this, how many students:
      1. arrive at a school or a particular class invigorated and leave dejected and apathetic?
      2. find their social skills, personal lives, aspirations, abilities and individualism irreconcilable with 'school'?
      3. find that school raises their self-doubt, and they even fear attending?
      4. are set up to fail?
      5. have their wings clipped?
      6. find their opportunities limited and nonmeaningful?
      7. receive mixed messages about themselves such that they fade rather than flourish?
I am not suggesting that this is the plight of most students but it does happen and it shouldn't!

Turning a morose post on its head, if we use the antitheses of these points we empower students and let them 'fly'. Everyone in education and the establishment should strive to allow students to:
      1. develop a fervour for life and education
      2. find 'school' a place that embraces and adapts to their individual nature
      3. find their way through adolescence whilst feeling safe in school
      4. experience achievement
      5. find their individual talents encouraged and provided for
      6. be provided with meaningful opportunities and a genuine voice
      7. receive a consistent message of self-belief and self-worth and the necessary skills to be resilient and to flourish
Nothing but the best is good enough (see Nil Satis Nisi Optimum). Anything less is at best neglectful, or at worst crippling.

Monday, August 26, 2013

HSC Physics '1 More Mark' Tips

Today I was fortunate enough to present video conference to large bunch of Year 12 Physics students from across Sydney. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, getting back into my Physics, the preparation, collaboration with colleagues and finally the delivery and discourse that ensued.

This was part of the 'HSC Masterclass: One More Mark' initiative being run to help lift our students from high Band 5 into Band 6 in the NSW Board of Studies Higher School Certificate examinations.

Here is the presentation. Please copy, re-edit, comment and critique to your heart's content.



Many thanks to my colleagues at work for organising and the various tips offered by fellow Physics teachers. Also a big thanks to Helen Fergusson and Derek Muller for their contributions. Recommended resources include:

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle
"All science is either physics or stamp collecting." Ernest Rutherford

BEST OF LUCK TO ALL YEAR PHYSICS TEACHERS AND STUDENTS!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cited by

After perhaps going overboard with citations in my own work, it is quite exhilarating to find my own research cited by esteemed academics. To this end, this blog post will be updated  (in reverse chronological order) if and when my research is cited by others.

November 2014, citing first paper:
Longley, M. (2014). Laptop. Edutech Wiki.  Retrieved November 30, 2014, from http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Laptop

November 2014, citing first paper
Matheson, S. (2014). Science. Edutech Wiki.  Retrieved November 30, 2014, from http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Science

January 2014, citing first paper
Beckman, K., Bennett, S., & Lockyer, L. (2014). Understanding students' use and value of technology for learning. Learning, Media and Technology, 1-22. doi: 10.1080/17439884.2013.878353

September 2013, overview of first paper:
Science Education News (September 2013) Seeing eye-to-eye on ICT: Student and Teacher Perceptions of Laptop use across 14 NSW Secondary Schools, Science Education News, 62(3), 149-150

June 2013, citing first paper

April 2013, citing first paper

citation needed by Dan4th, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Dan4th 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Nil Satis Nisi Optimum 2013

Last week I ran a 'Cohort' at the Third National ITL Masterclass. The conference format was quite different and to my liking. Delegates were split into cohorts and worked with a facilitator over two days around a particular idea, developing an authentic product and acquiring skills and an extensive personal learning network in the process. 

I decided to run a new and improved version of the project as I did last year since it deserved another audience, this time NSW rather than SA. Entitled 'Nil Satis Nisi Optimum: Nothing But the Best is Good Enough', we examined the 'moral imperative' in teaching, the latest research, what good and bad teaching/eLearning/PD look like, why many teachers are reluctant to engage with technology and how we can help such teachers overcome their fears. All the while we engaged in a variety of technologies that the cohort picked up on as part of the process, rather than being drilled specifically e.g. Twitter, Prezi, Padlet, Creative Commons, Popplet, Weebly, VideoScribe, YouTube, Google Docs, Google Forms and Flickr.

The Prezi below contains all of the stimulus material used including quotes from Fullan and Hattie plus some excellent Creative Commons images from Flickr.
  

After getting things started we had a brainstorm about what a great teacher looks like using Padlet. The final results are below and can also be found here


The interesting thing about this exercise was that after the cohort did their initial brainstorm, @LiamDunphy put it out on Twitter and his PLN responded... from County Mayo, Tipperary, Virginia and even some Year 7 students from Sydney! This was an excellent demonstration of the power of Twitter, a PLN and global citizenship. 

Following the Padlet, the cohort discussed a series of questions and collated their answers in a Google Presentation (see below).


This Google Presentation was then used as a central crowdsourcing point, very much following the example of @TomBarrett's 'Interesting Ways'.

Over the course of the two days we worked and collaborated our way through the material, always with the end product in mind. To bring everything together, @LiamDunphy and @Largerama developed a Weebly, and,  to be a hit in the plenary showcase, @mrsdaedalus@rubeth and myself made a RSA Animate-esque VideoScribe explaining our work and @astrodidit @dlittle_mhs @nikki_dwyer @AnnaCoop112 @JeanetteBlack08 made a 'Harlem Shake' (see both videos below). 



Not that I'm competitive but I think we nailed the showcase presentation! 

It was a wonderful experience to work with Cohort 6 (and it was a great coup that the Keynote, Nick Jackson aka @Largerama, chose to join our cohort). I wish them all well as they take some of these ideas back to their schools and I look forward to working with them in the future via Twitter and other means. Go team!

Friday, June 7, 2013

#CEODECAISBFF: How technology is breaking down traditional barriers

#CEODECAISBFF: How technology is breaking down traditional barriers was the title of my talk at Edutech 2013 in Brisbane. The conference itself was excellent with Dan Pink, Ewan McIntosh, Sal Khan, Stephen Heppell, Alan November, Sir Ken Robinson and more plus the fantastic networking opportunities and great educators I met. 

As promised, below are my presentation slides with explanations for those that missed it. The presentation can also be downloaded as PDF here.

#1














A great pic courtesy of Vegas Seven

#2 - Stranger in a Strange Land
video
A Videoscribe showing that whilst St Angela's Ursuline Convent School was a Catholic school, it was also a State school in the east London Borough of Newham. However, after leaving St Angela's 11 years ago and moving to Australia, I found that Catholic schools were very much separate from State schools. Not only that, State schools are called Public schools in Australia. To me, Public schools were things like Eton and Harrow. This was all very confusing! Worse still, I soon realised that the Catholic, State and Independent sectors (in Sydney at least) did not collaborate anywhere near as much as they should. 

#3 - United? States of Australia
Perhaps the lack of collaboration between sectors was simply symptomatic of the lack of collaboration between states, as often analogised with the different railway gauges historically? (Picture by OutofPrint).
















#4 - Australian? Curriculum














So much for an Australian Curriculum. The idea and dream is a good one and much needed, but the reality, due to the parochialism and territorialism of the states and territories, is that every state and territory is implementing it their own way (with the exception of ACT I believe, who will follow ACARA). They can't even agree on the same name for the year before Year 1 as explained on the Australian Curriculum's own website!

#5 - Twitter














Despite these traditional and institutional barriers, many of us are getting around them by collaborating via Twitter with a whole variety of awesome educators, whomever they work for and wherever they are in the world. Above is just a small sample of great educators on Twitter from state, systemic Catholic and independent schools, interstate and overseas. 

#6 - Twitter in Education
        
A couple of Prezis to help teachers and principals with Twitter and understanding it's power for collaboration and online presence.

#7 - PLANE


















PLANE is one of the good news stories of cross-sectorial collaboration (albeit only available for NSW): PLANE is an innovative and fun educator community, networking space, and virtual world; providing accredited professional learning, courses, multi-media resources, ICT skills development, e-portfolio, collaborative tools, games-based-learning, and peer coaching.
More details can be found at my.plane.edu.au.

#8 - Between Teachers
What a cracking picture of a 1970s/80s staffroom! No one is talking to anyone, let alone sharing ideas. One of the most criminal things that occurs in some schools is when experienced teachers refuse to share their resources with new teachers (or each other). How can new teachers learn their tradecraft when some colleagues refuse to collaborate or share with them? How can some teachers be allowed to leave schools and take all of their resources with them without leaving copies behind? Should the development of new teachers be dependent upon the quality (or lack thereof) of the colleagues they find themselves rubbing shoulders with? No! Any teacher, can now collaborate with and learn from amazing teachers (from all school sectors) through events such as TeachMeets.

#9 - TeachMeets
This is a picture of the World Record TeachMeet held in Sydney last year. A TeachMeet is simply a bunch of teachers getting together to share ideas. Presenters have only 2 or 7 minutes to share something. If they go over, a soft camel is thrown at them! TeachMeets are free. All you need is a venue, usually a school so you need permission from the Principal, and there is a whole team of people who will help advertise and organise (no spruikers!). It may sound cliché but many people say TeachMeets are the best professional development they have ever attended - teachers teaching teachers.

#10 - TeachMeets in Australia












Find out all about TeachMeets across Australia at www.teachmeet.net. Taking Victoria as an example, we can see there are TeachMeets in Melbourne and Geelong. However, if you live in Shepparton, don't fret, simply find a venue in or near Shepparton and the team (via the website) will help you get started.

#11 - Other Ways of Linking with Fellow Teachers















As the only Spanish teacher in our cluster of 17 schools, my colleague Bettina might have been somewhat isolated. However, although working in southwest Sydney, she is now collaborating and sharing with Spanish teachers all over the world, particularly from the USA, via Pinterest. Consequently, she can cherry pick resources easily for the benefit of her students.

#12 - Twitter Conversations















As already mentioned, teachers need not feel isolated as they can now tap into thousands of expert and similarly specialised teachers via Twitter. One way to find specialist colleagues is via 'hash tags', some examples of which are listed here. These allow for subject based conversations that can be searched for easily. The list on the left shows global conversations. The list on the right shows Australian hash tags. In both cases these conversations are sometimes organised for specific times in the week. Of course #CEODECAISBFF is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek hash tag a bunch of us use when we collaborate cross-sectorially in the face of traditional barriers.

#13 - Between Teachers and Students
Marking by Pkabz, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Pkabz 
Some of the barriers between teachers and students are simply down to our work processes. Traditionally, a teacher collects in the students' books, takes them home on a weekend in Coles or Woolies plastic bags, possibly doesn't get around to marking them due to the busyness of weekend family life, invents an excuse on the drive back into work, does the walk of shame out of the car park carrying the books, with the students asking "have you marked them yet?" It doesn't have to be this way.

#14 - Anytime, Anywhere














By using online tools like Edmodo and Google Docs, teachers can access, feedback and mark students' work anytime, anywhere (thanks to Chris Leonardi and Jenny Symington for the screenshots). Teachers can be marking in class, out of class or at home, whichever suits them. I've even heard of one guy feeding back on Edmodo in the supermarket whilst waiting for his partner to choose which balsamic vinegar to purchase! A detailed video on such strategies by Charles Myer can be found here. In a great blog post by Robie Jayawardhana he talks about getting students to hand in or share tasks with teachers at the beginning rather than on the due date. That way teachers can offer feedback throughout the whole process and hence the students understand how they are progressing rather than finding out after the fact when it is too late.

#15 - Engage Me or Enrage Me
Low-tech texting . . . by jonmott, on FlickrStudents have never had barriers between them regarding technology, they have always texted, chatted and Facebooked since these technologies existed. However, teachers, schools and systems have been the ones that created the barriers between the students, such as banning mobile phones and making students sit in rows, potentially impacting on their collaboration. The thing is, students have always chatted at the back of the classroom, played games (albeit hangman in the back of their book) and bullied. These are behaviours due to disengagement and more. When they occur as online chat, MMOs or cyberbullying we should not be demonising the technology, rather, dealing with the underlying behaviours and perhaps the classroom activities. As a colleague of mine said "engage me or enrage me!"
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  jonmott 

#16, #17 - Global Citizenship
These slides were videos from a school in southwest Sydney and a school from China (thanks again to Jenny Symington). Some of the barriers faced by students and teachers are simply down to distance, particularly when it comes to collaborating with schools elsewhere in Australia and especially around the world. However, technologies like Skype in the Classroom and online sharing through things like Dropbox and Google Drive have removed most of these barriers. In the first video, the students from Sydney acted out the story of Cinderella. They then sent the video footage over, where the Chinese students overlay the audio, in particular the dialogue, as part of their study of English. The Chinese students then shared back the finished product which was very funny and a great exercise all round.

In the second video, the Chinese students sent over footage of them playing hide-and-seek around their homes. What was particularly interesting for the students from southwest Sydney (a low socio-economic area) was how salubrious the homes were of the upper-middle class in China. This was a real lesson in global citizenship.

#18 - Final Slide
Augmented Reality by turkletom, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  turkletom 
A fantastic augmented reality pic to prove the point that if students aren't engaged they will find very creative ways to use their technology instead. Combined with this picture was the quote, often (though not definitively) attributed to Rabindranath Tagore:

"Do not confine your children to your own learning, 
for they were born in another time"