Tag Archives: leadership

Thoughts on using Technology in schools.

I came across this via zite which I use to find and share a load of good reading, infographics and ideas. This pretty much sums up my thoughts about using Technology in schools, and is what we should be aiming for when embedding ICT across the curriculum.

As it says at the bottom, it’s a tool not an outcome.

technology

What I want for my pupils and Scottish Education.

My Professional learning plan for the West Lothian Leadership course begins with a section of self-evaluation. The first part of that is thinking about and noting down thoughts about what we want for Scottish Education, our schools, ourselves and our pupils.

Here are my thoughts about what I would like for the pupils I teach. I’d be grateful for any comments, awkward questions etc, as that is the reason I’m posting aspects of my personal learning plan online.

 

What do I want for my pupils and Scottish Education?

 

A Google search reveals lots of articles listing the things that our young people should develop in their education to succeed in the now and the future. Feel free to have a search yourself, there’s thousands of links to interesting reads. Many of these articles contain similar skills and ideas such as critical thinking, problem solving, effective communication, ability to collaborate (which I find in practice means having a lot of ‘self-esteem chips’ as Richard Gerver calls them), adaptability and more. What these lists don’t contain in 2013 is much in the way of facts and figures (knowledge) – these being at our fingertips now. (The key skills for using facts and figures tend to be knowledge of how to internet search for them, a bit of curiosity and some source checking skills).

 

I want all of the above for the children I work with – who wouldn’t. However I believe that there are three key ideas which open up the rest of the ideas, and for me these are the things I believe are vital to education, Scottish or otherwise. These ideas will also allow our children to develop as societies themselves develop over time.

 

1. I want children to be inquisitive and curious and that means they need to enjoy their learning.

 

2. I want children to ask good questions of themselves, their peers and the adults in their lives.

 

3. I want children to have loads of self-confidence. This means they can develop their collaborative work, can accept having their work held to peer review and can develop better their own work.

 

If a child leaves my class/time with me with these three things, then I think they will be well placed for their future, wherever it may go.

Death Valley National Park, California (8)Death Valley by Ken Lund

2013-2014

I have been accepted on the West Lothian Leadership Programme for 2013-14. I applied as I am interested in learning more about and debating leadership roles within school and I also wish to see if this is a role I would like to take in school (UPS or otherwise).

The course looks quite interesting and looks the sort of course where the more time that is devoted to it, the more the participants get out of it. I have needed to choose a project to develop over the year, and have chosen to develop the role of digital leaders in school and beyond (by setting up the Scottish Digital Leaders Network).

A major part of the course is a Professional Learning Plan, and I intend to develop mine by using this blog, and tagging each part with Leadership and PLP for ease of my finding it!

If you are interested in the course, here is the course outline.

Colourful Reflections (38/365)

Why might sharing and publishing in the open be advantageous?

This is one of a series of blog posts from #teachtheweb course. My other posts can be found at Teacher, teach thyself.

The creator controls what of their work is seen or heard, by whom, where and when.

 

In my opinion sharing and publishing have never been easier, nor more accessible for all of us. We share photos through Instagram, Facebook and Flickr, we can share ideas through blog writing, tweeting and facebook, we can share pretty much all aspects of our daily life and it’s only going to get easier.

 

Who do we share with? Close friends, less close friends, colleagues from work or education, people from around the world. Pretty much anyone we want who has some level of open and available internet access.

 

We can also produce more formal pieces of publishing such as e-books and ‘real’ books through tools such as Lulu.

 

In my early lifetime, sharing meant meeting up with someone, sending something via the post, photocopying pieces of paper and the thought of publishing your own writing was a pipe dream – it was in the hands of newspaper editors or book publishers. They decided what was to be seen, not the user and certainly not the ‘receiver’ of the information.

 

The user can access more content than before, and more easily.

 

If I wish to find some writing about a subject it is easy. I use the web and search engines and find lots of information in a variety of forms. This is a brilliant, as work which previously I would have been excluded from accessing due to cost and geographical restrictions is know available and most often for no or minimal cost. Secondly, it’s easily searchable (whilst acknowledging google organises things in a google search initially) I can use some advanced search techniques to precisely access the materials I would like.

 

The user can choose how to acknowledge the creator.

 

If I buy a book, I have acknowledged the creator(s) up front by paying. If the work is not of a standard I desire, or if it is an incredible life changing book the acknowledgement is the same – £15.

 

I’ve also paid an amount which is set by some 3rd parties – publishers, shops as well as the creator. It’s probably fair to say that if I pay £15 for a book, the creator will not recieve £15.

 

If I am accessing something via the open web, I can choose how I acknowledge the work – I can tweet the link to the work, I can access the creator directly via a comments section, I can pay some money via paypal in some cases (I choose if and how much of course), or I can write a response myself citing the original work on my own spaces.

 

The collaboration possibilities are endless.

 

It’s a reasonable assumption that if you are spending your non work time writing/creating and sharing works for free, it is something you are passionate about. By sharing these things in the ‘open’ format, you are likely to connect to people with similar passions. The greatest working groups I have worked in are the ones where the members have shared goals or passions. The work created in these groups has been of a high quality

 

The effect of your passion being shared with liked minded individuals is a massive gain. It allows you to work together (virtually or real) to create more pieces and connect with a wider audience, it lets you see how other people with similar passions are creating and can give you hope that you’re not alone.

 

And yet…

 

There are examples of work practices being used which stop or limit openness and sharing. Some planning programs in school only allow printed copies and copies within the format of their (paid) software, meaning the work created in them cannot be shared easily. Some education intranet sites allow access only to members of their community, excluding a huge range of educators from contributing and making the process of sharing work on those intranet more laborious than it should/needs to be. It would be interesting to know what the thinking is behind these decisions being imposed as I feel the benefits of openness and sharing are huge.

It’s not about the tool?

It’s not about the tool is a phrase which seems to crop up a lot in education currently. It’s usually connected to ICT with someone telling us it’s not about a piece of software, hardware, operating system etc. It’s about how it’s used and the learning that takes place.

I’m not convinced.

Tools which don’t work as well as they should.

It seems this is new thinking for education authorities, and it could be argued this is an attempt to hide their incorrect decisions of the past. An example – Interactive White Boards – Why buy so many of them, at such a huge cost? Where was the debate about the most effective use of the money? And why not make them at the correct height for pupils in the classroom?

If your school has elderly laptops/PC’s then the chances are that some fabulous pieces of free, Web 2.0 type software won’t run on them due to a missing upgrade.

Many schools don’t have free choice of web browser, they’re tied to IE (which can’t always upgrade to the newest version) which means that many tools are not on the ‘menu’ to be chosen from.

High Quality Tools

Moving away from ICT and education, when I take my bike out I love the fact that it’s responsive, comfortable and it enhances the pleasure I get from being out, making me more likely to go out on it.

The creatives in our house enjoy using the best art tools they can, and they help to expand their creativity. They don’t produce a lot of art on slates – I’m sure they could but they’d soon become disillusioned as they see other artists using finer, more appropriate, more enhancing tools.

Aspiration.

If we want to develop our children’s learning, if we want to provide aspiration, if we want to develop self-esteem, if we’re really serious about it then we need to have the BEST tools available for the job. Of course we need to debate what they are, of course we need to ensure that teachers are using them as best they can (they usually are by the way).

‘Wow’ factor.

Benjamin Franklin wrote when he was 16 about Temples of Learning. For me part a Temple conjures up images of beauty, craftsmanship and inspires feelings of awe – or as my P4/5 class might put it ‘wow’.

Schools need to, and can, provide the ‘wow’ factor in so many young lives and a large part of that is in the materials available in school. Schools are already providing the ‘wow’ factor in many young lives through the quality of staff they employ, their attitudes and their commitment to the children they teach. It’s time to provide some of the tools to match.

It’s not JUST about the tool, but Government and Local Authorities, the tool is a large part of it. Do you do all that you can?

 

Weeknotes -2013, week 4.

Here’s what’s been going on this week.

  • I attended some training about teaching fractions, decimals and percentages and was introduced to the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy. It was interesting looking at the survey and discussing it’s implications. However, having taught in a top down system for many years, I wonder if there is a case for national expectations for attainment being made more explicit.
  • I also attended lesson two of our Ukulele training. This was great fun again, and I loved playing on the concert Uke – watch out music shops of Edinburgh – it had a wonderful tone. I’m looking forward to beginning the lessons with my class.
  • I’ve been reading a lot of work on the Learning Spy. I’m finding it thought-provoking stuff and it’s fitting in nicely with the work we are doing with the raising attainment group in West Lothian. I tried out the who would lessons from this page and was pleased with the resulting discussions in the class.
  • I have had some good discussions with colleagues about differentiation (maybe on the back of my reading of the above). I feel differentiation is not about groupings in a class,  it’s more about having different expectations of outcomes from different pupils and creating opportunities for more ‘open learning’ and sharing of learning. Children need to be given the chance to experience all the learning available, not have it ‘trimmed down’ to ‘suit their needs’ (whatever that patronising, yet often heard, phrase might mean).
  • I have signed up for a MOOC Elearning and Digital Cultures which begins next week – hopefully time will allow me to complete the course watch this space!
  • Digital leaders have decided to create a podcast, rather than vodcast and have made up some great interview questions to ask the teachers. Hopefully we will launch episode 1 soon!
  • Sadly Frank Keating died this week, adding to CMJ and Tony Greig dying within the last month. Whilst not knowing them personally I know their work intimately and I will miss reading and listening to them.
  • I updated our school resources site to include the SSLN work and also the Ukulele presentations we have been following in our lessons.

Digital Leaders @Uphall

After attending Naace’s amazing 3rd Millennium hothouse event in Crewe over the summer, one of the things I was keen to start at Uphall was creating a digital leaders group. It was the knowledge, enthusiasm and energy of @shellibb @chrismayoh and @lagerama who gave a wonderful presentation at which convinced us to give it a go at Uphall.

For anyone who is unsure of what a digital leader is, have a look at Shelli’s work here

The first step in selecting our Digi Leaders was to announce our intention in assembly and ask the children to apply online for a position. I created a simple presentation and online google form to collect the information, and you can see these below.

Once the children had completed the application, we made time for the HT (@fiona_macphail) and myself to interview them. We drafted 4 questions and shared them with the children the day before their interview. Having Fiona on board was great as it made things very ‘special’ for the children, being interviewed by the HT

The questions we asked were:

If you could show or teach children once piece of ICT software/website/program what would you choose and why?

Someone in a class you are supporting is stuck on their ICT work. What would YOU do to help?

What do you love about using ICT?

Are there any questions you would like to ask us?

Finally I selected a piece of shared writing from my class blog page, and ask the children to write a blog comment about it – this was an unseen task for the children.

We interviewed the children in groups and their answers were amazing.
I have created a tagxedo cloud of what the children said which really impressed Fiona and myself.

Since appointing the successful candidates, we have created a space on Edmodo for us to share ideas between ourselves and created a web space joined as part of the school website.
You can see our website here and see how we develop our digital leaders.

Fiona and myself do not know where the digital leaders @uphall will go, that will be very much up to our leaders. We do know that we have immensely creative, talented and thoughtful children in our group, and that wherever they choose to lead, it will be a great trip for all of us in school!

Sir John Jones @SLF11

I was fortunate enough to spend yesterday at the Scottish Learning Festival 2011 yesterday. I had a great time, picking up ideas and inspiration from keynotes, seminars, education stands and through spending some time with some great people.

One of the highlights for me was the speech given by Sir John Jones. I had not heard of Sir John before I attended the keynote, but he came highly recommended by my headteacher. I found it to be a humorous and inspiring address. I hope I can carry some of the key ideas from it into my own practice.

Have a look and see what you think.

 

 

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