Welcome to my blog.

I am a geography teacher in New Zealand - using ICT extensively in my classroom to enhance the teaching and learning. Looking forward to talking with you about issues and ideas to improve teaching and learning in classrooms across the globe.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Happy Easter!

It is eggsellent that people have time off to spend with their families at Easter and more public holidays are needed I say. And this year in New Zealand two of our public holidays have fallen on a weekend so no day off for people then. The second of these days is tomorrow - so Happy Easter Monday and Happy ANZAC day.

I have been on holiday for the past week (after a very long term) and have made some progress with some marking of work that Year 11 NCEA Geography students have done. The students have made websites on weebly.com and have done an excellent job. The site is very intuitive and easy for students to use and I think they enjoyed using it to present their work rather than just hand writing it in a test. They took great care in their publishing of their work as they realised that it was up on the net for everyone to see it (should they be able to find it). They also realised that they could show it off to other people - grandparents, parents and friends and this I think made the learning much more authentic for them. Next time, I will get them to make websites about different things as I have read about 40 all about the same thing which is a tad boring for the marker so I have lots planned for this assessment for 2012.

"The integration of ICTs and thinking skills is a core component of teaching and learning at St Cuthbert’s College. Classroom practice that enables multi-modal personalised learning is essential for all students to reach their potential.
Digital literacy is essential for students to be prepared to face the challenges of a future which is largely yet unknown. Our intranet is based on Moodle - a multimedia rich interactive platform for a student learning management system that provides for student centred constructivist learning environments. Student enthusiasm for web 2.0 tools and social networking can be harnessed through our integrated social bookmarking system and individual portfolios

This quote from my schools website is interesting. We are not there yet with our vision I don't think. But well on the way. I guess the hardest thing in education and using new ICT tools is that often teachers are behind the eight ball with technology and don't always feel comfortable doing something that they don't fully understand but I think this is the beauty of using ICT in the classroom. If the teacher doesn't know the answer someone else in the class will and then we are all learners together. This teacher and student interaction is vitally important to how students perform and when there is mutual respect between both parties then the classroom teaching and learning will be positive and engaging and LEARNING WILL HAPPEN.

This is one of the findings of John Hatties research which you may be familiar with. Hattie's meta analysis ( a synthesis of 50000 previous studies) found that student teacher interaction came out on top. (not a surprise, I say!)

Hattie's book is about the power of directed teaching, focusing on 'what happens next' through feedback and monitoring. This is an approach that also informs the teacher about the success (or failure) of their teaching; making learning for both teacher and student 'visible'.

Hattie found, that 'expert' teachers had real respect for their learners as people with ideas of their own. They are passionate about teaching and learning, able to present challenging tasks ensuring 'deep learning'. They are able to make lessons their own, invite students to 'engage', integrating and combining new learning with students prior knowledge. Their expertise allows them to understand their classrooms and to be more responsive to learners. They are extremely flexible, improvising to take advantage of contingencies and new information as it arises. Hattie found it was pedagogical knowledge rather than content knowledge that distinguished the 'expert' teachers.

I am continually striving to become that 'expert' teacher - and this is always my goal. Roll on term 2 with new ideas and ways of making the learning 'visible' to the learners and certainly I believe e-learning is one of the ways to do this.

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