Towards the end of last year and with a focus on the coming National Year of Reading class teacher, Kate Bradley, drew on A. A. Milne’s timeless classic Winnie-the-Pooh to help her class learn about relationships and also to use this literature to bind subject areas into an integrated unit of work. The students read the book then created their own characters who had to live together in their own class One Hundred Acre Wood behind the IRC. Students visited their ‘Wood’ often -sometimes bringing down their writing materials and working outside for added inspiration. This became their presentation area with characters (plastic bottles) standing next to poetry compositions (laminated on sticks). The display became a collaborative effort between the classroom teacher and Teacher Librarian with some Senior Students also assisting during study periods and the students benefited from all the added attention! In the following video Kate describes this unit of work.
The TED Blog informs us about, and links to, ten inspiring ‘Talks’ by teachers from many areas of school education.
Arthur Benjamin: Teach statistics before calculus
John Hunter: Teaching the World Peace Game
Emily Pilloton: Teaching design for change
Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover
Aaron Sams: How to speed up chemical reactions and get a date
Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education
Liz Coleman: a call to reinvent liberal arts education
Conrad Wolfram: Teaching kids real math with computers
Clifford Stoll: The call to learn
Traditionally schools have collected student work samples to store physical examples of accomplishment and compare individual achievement over a period of time. E-Portfolios have so much more potential. They can be used to “help students find purpose and passion through reflection and goal-setting” as they develop their own record of learning. Dr Helen Barrett explains how it is possible to incorporate the use of digital tools in learning to achieve this goal.
The American Association of School Libraries have published links to the top 25 sites that “foster the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration. They are free, Web-based sites that are user friendly and encourage a community of learners to explore and discover.” The sites are grouped with standards for each.
Encouraging students to share thoughts and ideas leads to improved creativity. The potential of shared learning is immense. This video story illustrates the possibilities when two minds work together.
“Created through collaboration by members of Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the talented folks at FableVision, Above & Beyond is a story about what is possible when communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity take center stage in schools and transform learning opportunities for all kids.Visit www.p21.org, www.p21.org/4Cs and www.fablevisionstudios.com for more info.”
Here is a talk given by Sir Ken Robinson, educationalist and creative thinker which is animated – an RSA Animate. This really gives food for thought about where education is up to today – and the animation is amazing!
In his blog The Huffington Post, Will Richardson discusses the paper “Right to Learn: Identifying Precedents for Sustainable Change”
As a parent and a former classroom teacher, I for one hope all of the current ideas for “reform” fail because few, if any, of them put our kids’ learning lives first. Right now it’s about more standardization in our classrooms, more competition between our schools, and whatever is easiest and cheapest to implement. In many ways, it’s embarrassing the depth to which the conversation has sunk.
And I agree with the premise of the report: if we continue to place our energy toward “fixing the system,” literally millions of kids will be under-served in the process. Instead, what if we put a laser-like focus on improving real student learning, not test scores? (And yes, the two are decidedly different.)
Let’s start talking about how we can begin to deliver more personalized, relevant learning to kids right now. Let’s rethink our definitions of teacher and classroom and school, in some profound, albeit, radical ways. Let’s deeply consider the affordances that technologies bring to the learning equation, despite being made decidedly uncomfortable by those potentials in some big ways.
Teacher and interested parents – here is a free online conference dealing with:
“innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning. This FREE conference is run by volunteers and open to everyone. The 2010 conference theme is “Cultivating the Future.” This year’s conference begins with a pre-conference keynote the week of October 11, 2010. The following two weeks, October 18 and October 25, forty presentations will be posted online to our conference blog and our conference Ning for participants to view, download, and discuss.”
Experience taking part in a Ning, join the organisational Wiki, read the Blog and follow on Twitter!
Information literacy is a very important skill – integrated into every subject and every topic.
One of the Teacher Librarians who has helped me the most in my learning over the years is Barbara Braxton. This morning she shared this new Google tool in a list serve email and I now pass it on to you:
Google Sets allows you to insert a term and it will generate a list of words that are connected with that topic which can serve as an initial brainstorming activity for areas to be explored in relation to the topic. Each term was a hyperlink to websites about the topic.
For example ‘rainforests’ produced: rainforests, forest, nature, ecology, eucalypt forests, climate, semi arid, savanna, heathlands, woodlands, global warming, deserts, ecology research, environmental science, environmental issues
Give it a go – a great start for mind maps
“Go to Google, type in a search term, and then, when the
results display, click on More Options. Wonder Wheel is in the menu on the
left. I find this so useful for suggesting sub-topics and narrowing
The Timeline tool is also fascinating. Search for your town.” Thanks Barbara
Commoncraft videos on YouTube are very useful for a quick overview on new technologies. Check out these videos – most only a few minutes in length. Start with
World Wide Web in Plain English if you are not already familiar with exactly how it all works. Go on to learn about: