Archive | March 2012

Goal 7: Make a Global Connection

This weeks goal is about making a global connection. Over the last year and a half I have been working on building global connections for both my class and myself professionally. I think making connections is a very important part of learning today. Students who make connections with others locally or on the other side of the world are gaining so much from the experience.

I believe there are many benefits for both students and teachers who make global connections.

Students…

  • learn about cultures from all around the world
  • have an audience for their work, which gives it a purpose
  • gain feedback on their work
  • feel the satisfaction of knowing their work is important enough to be viewed by so many people
  • begin to see that we are all connected no matter where we might be in the world
  • learn so much from the conversations that are started
  • develop communication skills

Teachers…

  • develop a personal learning network and learn from other teachers
  • share their ideas with others
  • receive feedback
  • see the students connect with people in such a positive way
  • use the connections to make lessons deeper
  • promote a learning community by supporting each other through commenting on class blogs

I know there are many more reasons and I would love you to add your ideas. Please leave a comment if you have any other reasons why making global connections are so beneficial.

 

I have already made quite a few global connections.
I use Twitter daily to connect with my personal learning network. A group of amazing educators or people involved in education who provide discussion and support in all areas of my teaching. My teaching has changed so much over the last year and half thanks to Twitter. I have tried so many new ideas, always with the knowledge that if I get stuck I can talk to my PLN. I also try to be part of some of the chats that happen on Twitter. One of the chats I try not to miss is the #D5chat that happens Saturdays 11am (Melbourne time). It is a chat based around the Daily 5 and CAFE literacy strategies.

I also use this blog to connect with anyone interested in reading my thoughts. It is a great place to reflect on my teaching, with the goal to always improve.

 

My students have also made lots of global connections. We have our own class blog which you can find at: Kids Speak . We use the blog to record the learning that we are doing in class. The comments that we receive from interested people make the blog worthwhile. The students receive feedback on their work and often the comments will lead to a dialogue where more learning occurs. If a comment is received from a person who is overseas my students are particularly excited.

To enhance the connections made through the blog I have signed my class up for Quad Blogging. It is a fantastic project where four schools take it in turns to be the focus blog for the week, while the other schools visit it and leave comments. I am hoping that my Quad this year will be as enthusiastic about the project as I am. You can find out more about Quad Blogging here: Quad Blogging .

My students also connect with the world through Skype. We have had a few Skype sessions now, including one to a person living in India and one to a school in the Northern Territory in Australia. Through Skype we have been able to learn a lot about other cultures and prove that the boundaries between us and the world really are getting smaller!

Another simple connection that we have made is a link to a school in Canada. Over the summer holidays I noticed a teacher in Canada was doing a unit on Australia and wanted to make a connection with someone in Australia. I volunteered to answer her classes questions and since then our classes have been emailing each other. It would be great to one day be able to Skype with that school too.

I hope to keep developing the connections that my class and I have made and hopefully sustain them. I think the connections that can be sustained and developed are the ones that are the most powerful.

Goal 6: Investigate and Instigate Questions

Sometimes things come along that perfectly fit with what you are doing. Goal 6 is one of those. My school is involved in a project called Performance and Development Culture. One aspect of this project looks at developing the school through improving professional learning. It encourages the use of individual or group learning plans that focus on a goal that teachers wish to work towards.

Today was a closure day for my school and one of the main focuses was on developing a group learning plan based around a goal that each level wanted to work on. My level (Grade 3/4, Age 8-9) decided to focus on developing our use of open ended questions in Maths. We have decided to use at least two open ended questions in our maths planning each week.

Our level goal fits perfectly with Goal 6 of the 30 goals challenge as Goal 6 asks us to create a lesson that will inspire your students to explore a question that has no answer or has several answers. This is exactly what my level hopes to do through our use of open ended questions in Maths.

We know that our goal must be measurable and we want to ensure that our use of open ended questions positively impacts on student outcomes. We decided to create a pre and post test to assess the effect of using open ended questions. The test consists of a set of closed questions and a set of open ended questions both based around the same content. We are going to give the closed questions one day and the open questions the next day and see how the students went with both sets of questions.

For example:
Day One
Write a number that has a 5 in the hundreds place, a 3 in the tens place and a 7 in the ones place.

Day Two
Write as many numbers as you can that have an 8 in the hundreds place.

Next to each question we will also have a smiley face that the students can draw the mouth on to show how they felt about the question. They will also colour the smiley face either; green for feeling happy/confident, yellow for feeling okay/slightly unsure or red for feeling sad/worried about the question.

This will help us gather some data on how the students went with the open ended questions and how they felt about doing them. We are hoping that the second time we give the test we will see an increase in the students who are able to complete the open ended questions and also more students colouring the smiley face green.

I hope that this professional learning goal that my team has developed will improve my teaching. I will let you know how we go.

Goal 5: Feed Yourself Inspiration

Goal 5 is about feeding yourself inspiration. The idea is to gather quotes, songs, images and videos that can help inspire you to be a great educator. I have selected a few of the most influential quotes that I gathered. I could have listed hundreds more, but then I’d be here all year!

I created this short video with some of the inspiring quotes that I have found:

Dr Seuss’ stories have always been important to me. I believe almost any quote from Dr Seuss is inspirational!

The following story was posted on Twitter recently and it really resonated with me:

What Teachers Make

Adapted from a poem by Taylor Mali

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO of a large company, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?”
He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” To stress his point he said to another guest, “You’re a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?”
Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied,
“You want to know what I make?” She paused for a second, then began…
“Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I make a C+ feel like an Order of Australia. I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for 5 without an iPod, Game Cube or movie rental… You want to know what I make?”
She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.
“I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them criticize. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions. I teach them to write and then I make them write. I make them read, read, read. I make them show all their work in maths.
“I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity. I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe. I make my students stand to sing the National Anthem, because we live in Australia.
“Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.
Bonnie paused one last time and then continued, “Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant.
“You want to know what I make? I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make?”
THERE IS MUCH TRUTH IN THIS STATEMENT: “Teachers make every other profession.”

The following is a prayer that I like to reflect on:

Lord, let me be just what they need.

If they need someone to trust, let me be trustworthy.

If they need sympathy, let me sympathise.

If they need love, (and they do need love), let me love, in full measure.

Let me not anger easily Lord, but let me be just.

Permit my justice to be tempered in your mercy.

When I stand before them, Lord, let me look strong and good and honest and loving.

And let me be as strong and good and honest and loving as I look to them.

Help me to counsel the anxious, crack the covering of the shy, temper the

rambunctious with a gentle attitude.

Permit me to teach only the truth.

Help me to inspire them so that learning will not cease at the classroom door.

Let the lessons they learn make their lives fruitful and happy.

And, Lord, let me bring them to You.

Teach them through me to love You.

Finally, permit me to learn the lessons they teach.

Amen.

(Author: Charman Kinzelman)

The story below highlights how one small action can make a huge difference:

Once upon a time there was a wise man

who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.

He had a habit of walking on the beach

before he began his work.

One day he was walking along the shore.

As he looked down the beach, he saw a

human figure moving like a dancer.

He smiled to himself to think of someone

who would dance to the day.

So he began to walk faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man

and he wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching

down to the shore, picking up something

and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

When he got closer he called out,

“Good morning! What are you doing?”

The young man paused, looked up and replied,

“Throwing starfish in the ocean.”

He then asked, “Why are you throwing starfish in the ocean.”

He answered, “The sun is up and the tide is going out.

And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”

“But, young man, don’t you realize that the beach is vast

and there are starfish all along it.

You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The young man listened politely.

Then bent down, picked up another starfish

and threw it into the ocean, past the breaking waves

and said – “It made a difference to that one!”

By Loren Eisley

Goal 4: Reveal Their Strengths

Goal four asks us to reveal their strengths. This means talking to a student or colleague and sharing with them traits that you admire about them.

I had a student that lacked confidence. He didn’t dare answer any questions in case he was wrong and was so afraid to speak in class I wondered when I would hear him speak. He rarely smiled and just looked scared most of the time.

I quickly realised that he was that one student who I knew I had to continually talk to and make him feel like he had something to offer the class. I would highlight all the things he did well and if he struggled to understand a task we would work together until he understood.

Maths was an area that I knew he enjoyed and felt more confident in. He had some really strong mathematical understandings and I slowly encouraged him to share these. When finally he shared something with the whole class I was so excited. He smiled a cheeky smile that said ‘I did it!’, and that made my day.

He was also an amazing artist. He would draw little pictures at the bottom of his page to avoid writing. I told him how great his pictures were and he looked shocked. The class quickly worked out how good he was at drawing and were often asking him to draw for them and to share his drawings. I made sure I included lots of activities that involved drawing.

As his reading level improved his confidence grew. He knew he could attempt tasks on his own and felt empowered by this. Other staff started to come up to me and say how happy he looked and that they would actually see him laughing. I was so happy to see his attitude towards school changing!

I continued to encourage and support him over the year and was asked to teach him for a second year as we had seen so much progress. I knew that I had to keep encouraging him so that he didn’t lose the small amount of confidence he had gained.

The following year we saw drastic improvements in his reading and writing and he became more and more confident. At the end of the second year I was sad to see him move on to a new class and a new teacher but I knew that he was going with a positive attitude and a smile.