Posted in Uncategorized

8 lessons from my holiday reading

One of my #nurture1314 wishes for 2014 is to read more. I wrote earlier that I was going to aim for one book per term and one book per holidays.  So far these holidays, I have read two.  Both for pleasure, although they are both related to work. I am hoping that what I have taken from these two books is going to change my teaching and my learning. I must be honest – one book took me 2 days to read, as I was trying to do a few other things at the same time, whereas the other book took me a total of 65 minutes. They also have numerous highlightings and bookmarks thanks to my Kindle app!

This is what I have learned so far…

Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids (Chris Biffle) @ChrisBiffle

Lesson 1: Keeping the whole brain of a child busy reduces challenging behaviour. It stands to reason that if a student is too busy thinking and learning, they have less time to distract others, flick pencils across the room and draw on their arms. I had never thought of the classroom as a war-zone, but Biffle writes,

“Year after year, good teachers leave teaching because they are tired of warring with disruptive kids.”

I do not want to be one of those teachers. I want to stand strong.

Lesson 2: Manage your own behaviour as a teacher before trying to manage the behaviour of a student.  I have definitely lost my cool more than once in the classroom, but giving myself a weekly ‘teaching score’ as a reflection is probably fair if I expect students to reflect on their own behaviour.

Lesson 3: A classroom only needs 5 classroom rules, as long as they are referred to constantly and used consistently. I loved how Mrs Maestra’s rules activated five different areas of the brain – hence the term Whole Brain.

Lesson 4: Keep your instructions short, always. Follow the instruction with an opportunity for students to teach each other what you have just taught them. Repetitive, but effective.

Why School? (Will Richardson) @willrich45

Lesson 1: “Access doesn’t automatically come with an ability to use the Web well.” (Richardson). This is probably my favourite quote from this book. The majority of our students have access, yet parents and teachers still need to guide them and support them in their technology journey.

Lesson 2: Telling students to “do your own work” should become a phrase of the past. Collaboration is the key, the buzz word, the new line of teaching and learning. Richardson writes that it we should be telling students, “do work with others, and make it work that matters.”

Lesson 3: Newer doesn’t necessarily mean better. To quote my mother, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” applies to education as well. Hasty decisions get made in education all the time because some school strive to be the biggest and best…and beat everybody else. Just because the school down the road has X,Y & Z doesn’t mean that your school’s U, V & W are completely redundant. When new devices and programs first come out, they’ve still got glitches and wrinkles to be ironed out. Patience is a virtue.

Lesson 4: Talking to strangers these days is a completely different concept to what it used to be. I freaked out my boyfriend the other day by telling him that I met for coffee with one of my Twitter friends. He had trouble getting his head around the fact that this ‘stranger’ was in fact somebody that is part of my PLN and we were just being complete nerds and getting together in the holidays to talk about…school. Yes, as he reminded me, talking to strangers can still be dangerous, I know that!  The ‘strangers’ in my PLN on Twitter teach me so much and I am forever grateful to them.

Next on my reading list: Beyond the Hole in the Wall and Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed.  Has anybody read any of these books? I’m keen to find out your thoughts!

Posted in iPads

Teaching Twitter

As one of the e-learning leaders at my school, I am helping run professional development for our staff to assist them in using their iPads.

Some of the staff are brand new to the concept of iPads so things like turning it on, using the home button, swiping the screen and opening an App are hurdles for them. Others are focusing on downloading Apps, rearranging Apps into folders and organising their Apps like Evernote.  For most staff, the implementation of iPads at my school has pushed them out of their comfort zone.

Today I decided to push them even a little bit further and introduce them to the concept of Twitter.  I wanted to make it very clear that I have only been on Twitter since May and that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing – I didn’t even know how to type a ‘Tweet’.  I stressed that I use my Twitter account to boost my Professional Learning Network (PLN) and I don’t follow many celebrities or television personalities.

I put together a brief Keynote presentation to show them, which included screenshots of my own Twitter feed, featuring many valuable Tweeters, as well as screenshots of some of my tweets.  I had also tweeted out to the Twittersphere earlier this morning to ask my followers why they use Twitter – and I showed these results to my staff.  People had retweeted, favourited and answered my question, with valuable comments and arguments to demonstrate the benefits of Twitter.

The last slide features people that I gain much benefit from following – not to say I don’t appreciate all of the other Tweeters that I follow, but a Keynote slide is only so big!  I felt it was important to provide them with a starting point, and a platform on which to ‘lurk’ and watch the tweets fly back and forth!  Hopefully I will be able to run a dedicated PD workshop on how to set up and use your accounts for the first few days or weeks, as today’s session only went for 20 minutes, before we headed into our focus groups for specific Apps.

I’m interested to see how many of my staff join, or better still, start making a visible presence on Twitter. I was introduced to the hashtag #battt (Bring A Teacher To Twitter) recently which I think is an amazing idea!

Do you have any hashtags that you find helpful for developing your educational PLN?

Have you used Twitter in the classroom, or as a schoolwide program? Share your success stories!