Monday, 30 January 2017

My Challenges for 2017

We officially start school tomorrow, so I thought about my reflection of 2016, and considered where I struggled and was challenged. I have set myself 5 goals for the year, I really hope to achieve to some extent!

  1. Schedule time for me!

    I am sure everyone can appreciate the busy lives we are all living, and the million things we need to do, however, our wellbeing is incredibly important - we cannot do great things if we do not have time for ourselves. Particularly towards the end of the year last year, I forgot about me, and my Hauora. I was too focused on the kids, work, wanting to keep others happy, and trying to achieve the best I could at uni given everything else going on, and I burnt out.

    I have decided to try and have about 2 hours per day for me. Whether this is out for dinner, at the gym, watching a movie or just having a nap, I want that time. Realistically, the workday is supposed to be about 8 hours. With uni part time too, maybe 10 hours. I then also have to chuck in 2 hours travel per day on top of that. So I think it is fair and realistic to switch off and give myself 2 hours... whether it happens or not will be a different story!

  2. Read educational blogs

    I am going to set aside one hour per week to read through some educational blogs, like the ones I have been exploring as part of my assignment. I have really enjoyed what others have to say, and the things being shared through blogging. There are many out there that are goldmines of information and resources for teaching and learning, including technology, PE and broader education. Reading through others blogs is also essentially free PD! If I have extra time, and really engage with particular posts, I would like to write my own post as a reflection. Not only is this a great way of sharing others blogs, but also great evidence towards my registration (which I am hoping to complete this year!).

  3. Experiment with more digital tools

    Although I have some knowledge about digital technologies in teaching and learning, I feel I only scratch the surface, so I am really keen to take some risks and use more technology in the classroom. By reading through others blogs lately, and hopefully throughout the year, I have started to pick up some apps and programmes to use, which I am excited to try. There are so many things I feel I have no knowledge about, or have little knowledge but no idea how to include into my teaching, hopefully this will change! I will possibly try one per month.

  4. Attend more extra-curricular activities

    Juggling lectures, assignments, planning, teaching, a social life and a long distance relationship last year, I really struggled to get along to support the students outside of school. I am ashamed to say I only attended one football game, two basketball games, and two rugby games! So, this year my goal is to make time for more, because I think it is important for students to see you outside teaching, to build different relationships. I don't know how, but I think I may be coaching the Junior Boys Basketball too! Watch this space...

  5. Include blogging into 11PE

    Although this is one of the aims of my dissertation, thus I need lots of evidence, I also think the students will find blogging useful for their learning. I find blogging helpful for my own reflections and rewindable learning, which I hope my Year 11s will too, so I want to include blogging as often as I can, without taking away too much time from fun and content development. I am aiming for 1-2 times per week. I am intrigued to see how they respond, and whether blogging will increase student knowledge and understanding, and possibly in turn their achievement.

If you are wanting to set yourself some goals, which I recommend, check out this short video explaining how to create SMART goals! There are many more online for a more depth explanation of SMART goals.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Tech & Teachers Go Hand in Hand

I am currently completing my second assignment for my Summer School course, which is somewhat interesting. Our task is to find a list of blogs and provide a summary of them,  choose three blogs to compare and contrast, and then determine which of the three I will follow and read regularly (justified and backed up with research). So, I have spent hours skimming through blogs the past few days, and not felt guilty about it as it was part of an assignment! For anyone interested, here is the list of blogs I put together, which I am interested in exploring further. Definitely not to say there aren't more, there are so many amazing educators blogging!

Amongst my scrolling through heaps of blogposts I wish I could engage with and respond to more, I found Lesson Planning for Technology Use in PE (PEGeek). I could not skim past this one easily! Although the layout suggested is incredibly simple, it has definitely taken time to develop, because it is really in depth. Although I would not complete a lesson plan this in depth for every single lesson, as it would be super time consuming, I think I would like to fill out a few throughout the year.

I really like how the plan really makes you think about why you are including technology, whether it is for the students or the teacher, and whether it is something new or something you are including just for the sake of it. I am wanting to include more technology within my practice, especially apps, but I am unsure how and what to include. Alongside the copious suggestions on the PEGeek blog about what apps to incorporate in PE, this lesson plan really encourages reflection as to why the technology is appropriate for the given task, because I think it is important to not just include technology just to include technology (this is Substitution on the SAMR model for sure!). 

Something I had not really considered whilst planning before, was how my lessons were developing students' 21st century skills. The lesson plan offered identifies four key skills students need to be developing in school, which align closely with the Manaiakalani pedagogy of Learn, Create, Share - they are Critical Thinking, Creating, Communication and Collaboration. Even though it seems pretty obvious we should be providing opportunities for students to develop these skills, I feel unless we actually step back and think about whether they are having opportunities (as the lesson plan encourages), then they probably aren't, at least not as often as they could be.

A final point about my liking of this lesson plan, is the idea of the hook, the engagement. Again, it seems so obvious to draw in the learners, to engage or hook them from the start, but I know I am guilty of not having this hook, and then attempting to reel them back in. I want to have more hooks this year! Which aligns closely with Manaiakalani - The Hook From Heaven.

Very excited to read through more posts, and find more gems like this one!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Ethically Viable Research

A huge part of conducting research is applying for, and being granted ethics. Research needs to be ethical in order to be carried out, and supposedly approval takes a substantial amount of time. Many from the previous MDTA cohort, and my friends who have carried out their postgrad, have complained to me about the hideous process! However, we are considerably lucky that ethics is, hopefully, going to be granted to our cohort together.

This morning's job was to get the lowdown from the Ethics Team from uni about why application for ethics is incredibly important, and how they are able to assist you along the way. Although unlikely in our studies, there is a possibility to cause harm, long term damage, or affect the participants or researchers, but the aim for ethics is to minimise the likelihood of harm as much as possible. Check out the sketchnote I created as we were given the presentation this morning.

We were then given the difficult task to create an umbrella ethics application to submit together. As expected, this was difficult as we all have very different studies, thus have different methodologies, parameters, samples etc. We came to somewhat of an agreement by the end of the discussion, many conforming to the rest of the group in order to meet the blanket application. 

Although I still need to do a bit of thinking in the next week or so, my hope is my research will investigate student and teacher (myself) perception of the impact of blogging on learning, in my Year 11 PE class. I have a bit to redevelop after this morning, to fit under the ethics proposal, but I am both petrified and excited for what is to come! What this space...

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Who has power - Technology or Society?

We explored some theories of the relationship between technology and society this afternoon. A thought-provoking question to think about is who has the power over the other - technology or society? I found this incredibly interesting to think about, and also quite scary. 

It frightens me how strongly people feel technology is 'taking over' society. How technology is seen to have power over our lives, and every aspect of our lives. Having this opinion and real fear, that technology is a controller of what people do, is referred to as technocracy. If people seriously deem this to be true, and see no place for technology in society, particularly education, I fear how disadvantaged these citizens, and potentially their children are. As discussed in the Horizon Report and the Future Focused Learning in Connected Communities, both forecasting what is to come in education, teaching and learning, a large component is the need to develop 21st century learners. I always wonder who determines what these are, and who determines a 21st century learner, but a huuuuuge aspect is the need to be comfortable, confident and connected digitally.

After talking through the various groups of people/stakeholders and how they view the power relationship between technology and society, I started to think about how I feel, where I fit. I think I come under the 'soft technological determinism' notion. This is the idea that technology influences and is influenced by society. A mutual relationship, where one impacts on the other. 

The scary reality though, is what will technology be like in 2, 5, 10 years - who will be in power then?

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Architects or Teachers?

Our focus for day 3 today looked at Learning Design, and beginning to think how our classroom environment (physical and digital) impacts on the learner's experiences. 

One theoretical framework which offers how digital technology may impact on teaching and learning is the SAMR model developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. He developed the SAMR model, for teachers to analyse and evaluate how technology is used in their classroom. Simply, Substitution is when there is no great affordance of using technology for something, as it is simply replacing pen/paper or hardcopy, such as using the Calculator app, Googling the definition of something or writing a list. Moving through to the Redistribution component of the model, this is when technology completely reforms a task or learning, things which previously could not be done. For instance, movie making, multi-modal pages or blogs. Although difficult to distinguish between the middle components, the below questions help.

Our task to review this model was to create a building. with building blocks. We were split into two groups and needed to brainstorm examples of things we can do within our classes then identify which component of SAMR it related to. Each example/sticky note we came up with, we were given a building block to stick it on. So, the more ideas we had the more blocks we were able to build our building with! I really enjoyed this activity as it was engaging, competitive, revision and fun. I felt so comfortable with the model after this activity. The two groups then displayed their buildings, by letting the marble loose!

Other frameworks/models we explored were ADDIE and Carpe Diem, as below. I found Carpe Diem relatable as the core focus is students feeling welcome, familiar, comfortable and supported within their classroom environment, in order for effective learning to occur. Two more days to go!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Affording Learning

Day 2 at Summer School was based around the concept of affordances of technology.

We started by brainstorming our ideas of what technology affords the classroom environment, given two minutes to list each idea on individual sticky notes. We then needed to group the affordances into alike ideas. This process was incredibly interesting because many 'groups' formed incredibly quickly, and some were considerably large (e.g. the affordance of creativity) and others were very small (e.g. assessment). Our understandings of affordance and how we are afforded by the devices our students are exposed to were gigantic!

Cope and Kalantzis (2015) represent their ideas of what technology affords teachers and learners with the below diagram, which we pulled apart in class today. In the Manaiakalani cluster, we are familiar with many of these ideas, particularly ubiquitous learning, multimodal meaning and recursive feedback. I would like to increase my students' ability to have access to their learning anywhere, anytime this year though, by the inclusion of blogging, as well as having greater accessibility to their learning.

I believe collectively our school and cluster are en route to familiarity and confidently addressing and including the other ideas, but specifically I am interested in the affordance of metacognition. Having the critical awareness of one's thoughts and understandings, and the ability to examine one's thoughts and understandings is complex, but an incredibly useful skill. I hope I provide my students with ample opportunities to have open-minds, to think about others ideas and opinions and then be able to challenge them and their own ideas and opinions in a positive, thought-provoking way. However, I do feel students need to be offered more time to actually think about their thinking, which is where rewind-ability and reversibility of knowledge and learning may come in.

Although there are clearly multiple affordances of technology, "there is nothing inherent in technology that automatically guarantees learning" (John & Sutherland, 2005). Thus, we need to remember technology is a tool for learning, not a replacement of it.

7 principles of e-learning.png

Monday, 16 January 2017

Legends Are Amongst Us

And I'm back! After a few weeks skiing in Japan, we got back into it today, starting our Summer School block course.

In preparation for the full on week, we were given nine readings to read and create thought provoking questions for prior to arrival. Each of us were then required to create an activity based on one of the readings, to share with our peers today. 

I thought this was a great way to put the research into practice, pulling out some of the key ideas from the text. Particularly when it is beautiful outside and we are still in holiday mode, it has been really difficult taking in the texts, as they are quite long and full on. The activities today were a fantastic way to revise what we had already learnt and pick up some other bits and pieces others had taken away from their reading which we may have missed among some of the jargon.

I kicked off the day with my activity first. My article (Kirschner & Merrienboer, 2013) was really interesting, and I was thankful I easily thought of some activities. If you would like to read it, click here. Check out my basic lesson plan too.

I began with a simple game of Chinese Whispers in two small groups, and then the class came together to play. When they were in small groups, there was slight error from the first person to the last, but considerable error between the first and last person when the class were together as a whole. Similarly, there are many legends in education, which we have come to believe true, however, how does one know if that 'idea' is credible? Correct? Made up? Or if what we know it to be now, is even remotely related to the initial idea years ago? The article explores three apparent legends, which I created three small activities for.

The class was split into two groups via email, then given instructions in person. Group 1 had three questions to answer (see the screenshot of the Google Form) in two minutes. Group 2 answered the same questions, but needed to listen to music and engage in an online chat at the same time as answering them. As expected, generally the students who were multitasking (Group 2) had shorter answers than those in Group 1, as you can see below, because of the divided attention between three things. This does not mean to say their answers are of any less quality, however they were attempting to do multiple things at once, so spent less time answering the questions. Legend 1 suggests students are digital natives, thus always need digital technology, and because they have technology all the time, they are effective and efficient multitaskers. This simple activity suggested otherwise.

Group 1

Group 2

Everyone were then asked to push three things of different weights, with the same force. Very quickly, they could see that the greater the force applied to an object, the further it moved, but if the same force was applied to different weights, the lighter object would move further. I then told them this is related to Newton's 2nd Law of Motion: The Law of Acceleration. To follow up students watched the below clip from 0.33-1.05, explaining the law a little further. To conclude, and revise what they had just learnt, the class were asked to record a brief description in their own words of what Newton's 2nd Law is, and then listen to a peers recording. I followed up with some probing questions and explained the relevance to the three learning styles many are familiar with - legend 2; students can be categorised into kinaesthetic, auditory or visual learners. Because of this widespread belief, many teachers, myself included, attempt to include a variety of activities to cater for these learning styles, when in fact no one can be boxed into one style of learning.

Finally, I gave everyone two minutes to find as many songs as they could which included my name in the lyrics. As expected, a few immediately had the country or the state return from their search, many chose the first link returned in their search, and most had visited three or more websites. To my surprise no one knew about search functions in Google such as -country or "Georgia in lyrics", to control and reduce Google's response a little. This was perfect to highlight we all have different understandings of how to effectively  and efficiently research, and this was something huge they didn't know. Therefore, our students must know little about how to research effectively. So, legend 3 emphasises students need to take control of their own learning and be self educators, but how can they do this if we aren't even knowledgeable on how to find answers to things we are unsure of?

We have four more days of summer school including a reading and then it is game on with planning next week. Really excited to see the kids!