Year10 – Part 3

I’ve been meaning to write up the results of my collaborative project with Year 10 for a while now.

It was definitely a success, the work they produced was fantastic. I’ve never had so much fun marking assessments before. Of course I had to play their games and try and win. I must confess that for some of them I had to get my children to play because I sucked at getting to the next levels.

I know it was a success because I got better work than I expected. My more challenged students succeeded. They were engaged the whole time. They had fun.

Interestingly as I was marking them I kept thinking I was giving out a lot of Excellences, was this right? Then I remembered that that should be the whole point – I should get better work when the students are engaged and having fun.

Looking forward to their next collaborative project. I’m letting @tanya experiment on them and it’s going to be great.

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The #edchatnz Blogging Meme

If you get included in the blogging meme: copy/paste the questions and instructions into your own blog then fill out your own answers. Share on twitter tagging 5 friends.

1. How did you attend the #Edchatnz Conference? (Face 2 Face, followed online or didn’t)
For me, it had to be face to face! I live less than 10 minutes down the road from HPSS. In fact I registered and then asked school if I could go. Luckily they said yes.

2. How many others attended from your school or organisation?
There were 10 of us from Westlake Girls High School. But I spent most of my time avoiding them (only because I wanted to meet other new people).

3. How many #Edchatnz challenges did you complete?
Ummm, maybe one. I was too busy revelling in the goodness. But I spent a lot of time checking my back for post it notes.

4. Who are 3 people that you connected with and what did you learn from them?
@mattynicholl – to be careful what you say when posing for grelphies
@mindkits – that perseverance does pay off. Finally got that robot to work.
@GeoMouldey – Well actually I learnt a lot from his students and what they are capable of expressing and explaining when given the chance.

5. What session are you gutted that you missed?
Face to face #edchatnz. But I really wanted to go and play with the robots. It was a tough choice.

6. Who is one person that you would like to have taken to Edchatnz and what key thing would they have learned?
Actually everyone I wanted to go, went. I think we had a great group from our school attend and I’m sure it will continue to grow.

6. Is there a person you didn’t get to meet/chat with (F2F/online) that you wished you had? Why?
Yes – I missed meeting @rosmaceachern. She has been a real encourager for me and we’ve never met.

7. What is the next book you are going to read and why?
3D Game programming for kids because I’m a geek and I’ve got to find some more stuff for Code Club for Teachers.

8. What is one thing you plan to do to continue the Education Revolution you learnt about at #EdchatNZ?
I’m going to investigate SOLO again.

9. Will you take a risk and hand your students a blank canvas?
I’m trying to do that now, within the constraints of the school. As @mrsmeganpete said – don’t always tell them what you are doing.

Who do I tag with this meme:

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Let’s start a code club for teachers

I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of talk lately about how coding is important, how it should be taught in schools and how important it is for everyone to at least understand the basics. This got me to thinking about the barriers facing our teachers in school. And I think it is mostly lack of support.

So I decided that what we needed was a coding club for teachers. To give them skills and confidence to give it a go.

So on twitter the other night I put the idea out there about floating it at educampAKL. I actually can’t believe I did that – so not me. But thanks to some great encouragement I added my slide. Luckily I convinced a like mind @tanya to come along too.

So the day arrived and Smackdown happened – I said my piece (uggh so embarrassing) and Tanya said hers and the vision was born. Was anyone interested?

Well I’m still buzzing about our session. The room was crowded, the people keen and so Code Club for Teachers was born. Check it out here.

Thanks everyone who was there. It was awesome. Onto to my next idea – watch this space!  

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How school is failing my son

I should be looking after my own students, doing my marking, preparing for next term, but I’m just too angry. In fact it has taken me over a week to back down from furious to just angry. I received his report at the end of term and quite frankly I found it hard to believe that some of the unthinking comments got past the checkers to be sent out to me as the parent.

I can’t believe it took a whole term to distribute his IEP and only after I queried it, due to the flack he was getting from a teacher for doing something that was in his IEP.

I can’t believe that they have really made no changes to help him.

I’ve just emailed my concerns to his school, but I know nothing will happen, nothing will change.

A bit of background. My son is Type 1 diabetic and been going through a bit of a teenage rebellion lately which has seen him in hospital. Add on top of that he is a twice exceptional learner with dysgraphia. He is a lovely boy and I love him to bits, but his school just doesn’t get him and aren’t making an effort to change.

So we have to make some changes. I want my son to know that he is special and clever, not to have him demoralised by exams and tests that don’t take into account his needs. I want him to love science again like he used to. He is an avid reader and knows lots of things, but because he can’t write it down he isn’t being given the chance to shine.

The posts on twitter this morning really reinforced this for me this morning about Barrowford Primary and the letter they sent their students.

I’m looking at another school for him. And I know the grass isn’t always greener, but I need to try. I need a school where they will at least try different things – not just try to make it go away by giving him extra time in exams.

I’m celebrating what he can do at home and building up his confidence.

And I’m also trying to make sure I’m not doing the same thing to any students in my classes.

OK I’ve got that off my chest. I’m off to design a unit that will engage my students, be inclusive and be creative. Or at least I’m going to try my hardest.

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NetHui – Day 3

I’ve been putting off writing about Day 3. Think I was tired but also I didn’t get as much out of it. Maybe I just chose the wrong places to be.

I missed the beginning sessions – hospital appointment for child, and they come first! Would have liked to have been at the first session of education, but will read notes and catch up.

I arrived in time for the education barcamp. All good, sound like some good ideas to talk about. Was a bit torn on this one. Really wanted some ideas on how to improve my Technology Teaching, but got sidetracked by Open Badges, which I was also interested in.

The open badges explanation was great and followed on nicely from Edudemic article about badges in the classroom. I will need to explore this more but in the meantime follow  @OB_ANZ for more information.

Next up was the Women’s meetup at lunchtime – except noone was there. Apparently it was cancelled, missed that memo. Anyway still got to hang out with some new people in a relatively quiet place. Nice break.

After lunch I went to a session on Safety. We talked a lot about how it needed to be taught. Best takeaway from this was that it is a lot like Sex Ed. Everyone thinks its important and it should be being taught. But by who? and how much should be taught? 

Things kind of went downhill for the next sessions personally, so I decided to call it a day.

The one thing I have become concerned about as a result of attending nethui is creative commons, copyright and who owns the work I create as a teacher. Been a lot in the news about this lately. Very frustrating if we are not allowed to share resources or take them to our next school. A lot of wasted effort. Next crusade – seeing if we can get that fixed at my current school.

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NetHui – Day 2

Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the sessions this morning – trip to the dentist with my son. However I inflicted the livestream on him. Awesome – his comment during the keynote “Did you know that the iPhone has 2 million times the computing power of the first and second Voyager”. Awesome he is 13 and he was engaged.

Finally arrived and snuck into the “Design Right – Design for all” session. Was really challenged by a student at Wellington Girls. She explained how Google Docs is not accessible for her. Wow! I feel awful that I hadn’t even considered that. We as educators need to make sure that education is accessible for everyone. On a personal level my brother has limited motor control – I need to talk to him more about these issues. I am embarrassed by how little thought I give this.

Next up was empowering women. First up “What if …” felt a little intimidated by this, but relaxed as the ideas reflected my own. We broke into groups and I joined the youth and education. Was a little concerned about the perception that technology is not really taught at schools.It is!! Note to self -speak up more. Looking forward to lunch meetup – must be brave!

Digitally Blended Learning next. Much more my comfort zone. Great discussions around blended learning. Yes – I’m on the right track and doing the right things in my little bubble inside a very large school.

So today I am continuing to do what I do and starting a codeclub for teachers because I see a need. Please step up and help me!

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NetHui Day 1

This is the first time I’ve been to a NetHui and quite frankly I had no idea what to expect or even if it would be at all relevant.

I joined the JumpStart stream as it seemed to be the most applicable. It started off a bit ho hum and I was starting to wish I’d had a coffee. I was following the Youth stream on Twitter and they seemed to be having much more fun,

However things started to resonate with the session on accessibility, Jason Kiss raised the idea that accessibilty is not just about disabilities, but also culture, devices and generations. That we need to think about everyone and to be inclusive. We try to teach our students about accessibility and alt tags,but they don’t always get it. An amazing demonstration by Neil Jarvis who is blind, about the differences between a good and bad site was next up. He was using a screen reader and demonstrated how non existent or cryptic tags are useless, especially on images. What really amazed me was when his wireless stopped working and he reconnected it faster than I could have, all using his assistive technology. This would have been so good for my students to see.

Philippa Smith on The World Internet Project followed by Barbara Craig talking about the Digital Divide gave some interesting facts and figures about how accessible the internet is especially the 200,000 plus children who have no access.

Looking forward to tomorrow. I think it will have more relevance to me personally.

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Rails Girls Auckland

Last day of school before the holidays – heading for home for a well earned rest… But no off to the first evening of Railsgirls Auckland. Super excited, something for me (that might just be useful in the classroom too).

Over the course of that evening and the next day,we had some great presentations. Learnt from some awesome people who had given up their time for us. And last but not least actually wrote an app in Ruby on Rails. Woohoo! (Oh and I won a cool t-shirt too)

I made some great connections there. It was really good to meet some people outside education, and talk coding. About how important it is to every aspect of life and how necessary it is for women to code – otherwise all of the problems that are solved will be what men think need fixing with no voice for women.

So I’m now making sure I teach my girls to code (and my son too). I feel invigorated for another term of running our code club. And I’ll keep on pushing for coding to be taught in my school. Every little bit will help.

If you ever get the chance to go to one of these events – take it and run with it!

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Confessions of an LTR

I took some time out last year to see if I could make it in the “real world” again. I hated it – time sheets, no great professional conversations and output, output, output. So at the end of the year I once more set out to get a job in teaching. I found it incredibly difficult, I was in a new city, had no contacts and wasn’t even sure it was what I wanted to do.

I landed myself an LTR for this year, left my programming job and had 4 days leave before I launched into Term 1. I spent the first term running to catch up, but loving being back in the classroom.

Now for the confession. Being an LTR I felt disconnected, not truly belonging. I applied for permanent jobs elsewhere. But truly sometimes the grass isn’t greener on the other side. I was avoiding doing anything extra. No effort. No commitment.

So what changed? A couple of things – a meeting with Senior Management about what needed changing in the department, including a licence to make some changes and some great colleagues who have got me tweeting and blogging.

So now I am rewriting my junior programmes to make them more interesting, running a coding club to enthuse girls about programming and immersing myself in PD.

Who knows what next year will bring, but at least I will have made the most of this year!

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Year10 Part2

I do wonder what people would think if they walked into my Year 10 classes at the moment. They are noisy, they are playing games, but they are creating their own learning. I am assessing the bare minimum. Enough to satisfy the reporting requirements of the school, but as little as possible to encourage them to take risks. I’ve given them what they are being assessed on up front and I’m hoping it isn’t stifling them. It’s based on satisfying their stakeholder. I’m encouraged so far by the questions I get. “How many levels does it have to have?” they say. I reply with how many do your stakeholders want? – “So you mean it can just have one?” – Yes if that’s what they want.

What are they learning? Planning, Research, Design, Digital Skills.

BUT What are we really learning? We are learning to work with other people. To co-construct our output. To compromise. To experiment. To make something real for someone else. To communicate. To work how they best work.

I can’t wait to see the finished products. They are looking really good already. And to anyone who walks into my class – talk to the students, they are engaged and they can explain what they are doing so well. They may be noisy, but they are great and they are in charge.

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