Back to Melbourne

It’s been a long time since I’ve written in my teacher’s blog. I was keeping a student blog with cool mathematics and some useful resources too, which is where my blogging energies went when I was living and working in Phuket, Thailand.

In 2016 am moving back to Melbourne to live, after many many years away. I was hoping to do a Masters of Numeracy in Education, but it doesn’t look like the course is running anymore. I have a job in a great school and I’m looking forward to the new adventure.

Hopefully I can find the time to reflect on teaching and learning as I go. There are so many amazing resources I’ve found in the two years I haven’t been writing here. I guess my three of my favourites during that time would be Diagnostic Questions by the incredible Mr. Barton and the Desmos Teacher resources. Ooh, also plot.ly for wonderful graphs.

So perhaps I am just talking to myself here but even if no-one else reads this I want to reflect on what goes well and also not so well, valuing the mistakes as part of becoming a better teacher for our learners.

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#techwoo

Screen shot of the UNIS Portal for #techwoo

Every now and then UNIS asks teachers to run workshops to show how they are using technology to enhance learning in the classroom. I was approached, said yes. Finding the time to put together something worthwhile was going to be difficult with all of the current demands so I teamed up with Emma Collins from the English department. Emma’s Grade 12 students have indvidual blogs. A nice contrast in what was going to be a blogging workshop from my class blog that is teacher managed (for now).

Due to time constraints but also excitement about what we could share our blurb to entice people into our workshop went like this:

Literacy and Numeracy join forces with Bite Size chunks of tech woo. We will  explore how to make independent learning through online woo more effective (or not?).  Numeracy chomps on reflection – a new class blog and Wallwisher with Youtube. If you are interested in improving student writing or want to explore ways to go about digital publishing, then chew on WordPress, and Youblisher (or not?). Want to see folks willing to take risks and make mistakes right in front of your faces (or not?) – we’re the workshop for you.

The (or not?) meant we’d try our best to get through it. To support our colleagues who attend I put together our resources on the school portal. This is a lockdown type of place, so I’ll post some of it here. We didn’t get through everything, but that was due to some excellent questions from our participants.

Some people believe the art of conversation is dying as we dive further into our tech gadgets. I am still talking ’til the cows come home and I dig my tech, but I can see some truth in this. In my middle school classes we play NBF, New Best Friend. Seating is random every lesson and students have to begin by making small talk or discussing their current investigation. My lovely classroom assistant has been sticking questions to the table. Funnily enough I was about to shoosh my class the other day and then I heard many of the students using the conversation starters. I wanted to start #techwoo with NBF, but this didn’t happen as we lost about ten minutes, but the idea was shared and everyone could see the conversation starters on the tables.

Then Learning to Learn, or using resources independently.

Teachers  experienced a Readers Digest version of what I do with the kids in my class. Here is a previous blog post about multiplication tricks and origami foxes.

 

Class Blog

Screen shots of the #techwoo wiki at UNIS

The class blog has been loads of fun as well as a great way to share information and work, kick off collaborative projects and for kids to reflect in one place. Click Click Click and I can sort the comments and see who has been participating. They know it will count towards their final score for Reflection.  There is a communal understanding that this is a new thing and we’ll get better at it together. Some are ready to be guest bloggers.

Individual Blogs and Digital Publishing

Emma (@collins_emma) showed what her kids have been up to in DP English Literature. Here is one of her student’s blogs. It was cool for me to read some of them as I teach the same students mathematics. She also showed them the world of ISSUU and youblisher. These are groovy, but I am wondering about how to kindle something…all I need is time…

Some examples: ispliterarymagazine (wonderful), fonts (from when we used to print more things at school), the leech (a quickly made example for a grade 7 class)

The last bitesize chunk of #techwoo was wallwisher with youtube videos. 

We shared some wallwishers, like my Grade 8 percentage poems and we had one ready for our session. Due to time lost our participants didn’t have time to post, but I think they really enjoyed that part.  I learnt about wallwisher with youtube through David Miller’s Making the Most of Online Tools through the Scottish Book Trust

I’d like to give big thanks to:

Emma Collins, my #techwoo partner (tweet at her if you’d like to participate in Literary blogs – Hamlet is currently being discussed). If you are here because you are more mathematically inclined, then perhaps you would know someone in your school teaching literature and even, coincidently, Hamlet.  @collins_emma

Clint Hamada, my #techwoo guru and UNIS’ technology facilitator for teaching me many of my tech tricks and his patience  @chamada

David Miller, for our new favourite #techwoo the wallwisher David Miller’s Making the Most of Online Tools @DavidMiller_UK

…and all my tweeps, whether they follow me or not, I get a lot out of them.

There is no way that #techwoo could have run without them

So far so good..

The last few lessons have been #AoD doing its thing or more to the point my students doing their thing at their own pace.

As I walked around two classes, of grade 8, in a row every student was engaged and working well. The last two lessons of the day. They did their own brain break and two kids made a new one to kick off the lesson and then they all got down to it. All of them were ready to try new problems having watched some tutorials for homework

It’s early days and keeping this momentum going will be one of the challenges ahead. Watching students helping each other has also been delightful as well as a huge relief. One of my fears was that they’d be too independent. So far so good.

Day Off, Part 2
Day Off, Part 2 by NCM3 on Flickr

Part of my strategy to keep them motivated is to help them to see the mathematics all around them.

I have just  finished polishing off their first summative assessment task. The task was inspired by  Darren Kuropatwa. These two share all they do.

Gone are the autonomous days in our classrooms, which is a grand thing.

Meeting Darren Kuropatwa at the Learning 2.0 in Shanghai during a mathematics and tech unconference was fantastic. Presenting an Unconference  on Using Technology in the Mathematics Classroom was the highlight. I saw my little baby tech ideas, I had brought to Shanghai, on steroids and was so inspired to go back and design #AoD. It’s a work in progress, and it always will be.

One of the things Darren did with his students was to get them to take photos of parabolic objects. “De-constructing” the world around them, as a friend put it when I was gibbering about using tech to teach mathematics. Seeing the mathematics all around them is key I believe.  I have trialled this with my teeny grade 11 (juniors) class with parabolas and gradients. Now after my middle school students learn about gradients, I want them doing the same kind of thing.

I’ll get them to take photos of all sorts of gradients/slopes/steepness and annotate them. We can then build a class slideshow. Every student will do the task when they are ready, but will have to check all of the previous images, so that they don’t repeat any. This has the extra benefit of scaffolding students trying to move ahead. They can see the work and what is expected.

 

 

But how to store these images so they continually update? Flickr, and I manage  the folder, or can anyone add to a group we make? Slideshare maybe? Not familiar with it really, but not afraid to try? Wiki for #AoD? It won’t have enough storage… I think I need to be a web guru, or just tweet for help. I think it’s time I taught myself Slideshare. It’ s been on my to-do list and I hear it’s nice and easy.

The second assessment will be done together, so that we work as a class at some points and can discuss what we have learnt face to face. Preview http://veloroutes.org/ and maybe http://www.mapmyrun.com/. Students can map out a walk, run, bike ride, scavenger hunt anywhere in the world, and analyse the easy and difficult parts. It can be a place they know well or have been to once or somewhere they’d love to visit.  I did try this with my grade 11s and one of them said “But I only ever went to the hotel or the mall”. We were using their summer holidays. Funny as that was, I think I’ll open up the scope – oooh maybe MARS.