Dare you to move.

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I have been involved in digital innovation in schools for a long time now. There are so many exciting ideas and approaches that have developed in the last 10-15 years. The advances we have made in the area of pedagogy and learning design with technology have helped to transform the way we teach and the way students are approaching their learning. Technology underpins many important emerging visions for modern learning. It is one of the core “deep learning” skills identified in Michael Fullan’s groundbreaking “New Pedagogies for Deep Learning” project.

Image: iPad Curious Learners by Fancy Jantzi, on Flickr
Image: iPad Curious Learners by Fancy Jantzi, on Flickr

Billions of dollars have been spent around the globe in education to improve infrastructure, upgrade technology training and increase access to devices for students in a variety of ways. There are many frameworks which have been developed which focus on marrying good pedagogy and learning design with effective technologies. It is not good enough just to put technology in front of our kids and think that they can do it themselves. Our kids are fearless risk-takers when confronted with new tech – but they often need a lot of guidance and support to use technology to improve their learning – that’s where we are ideally placed to have the most impact!

And yet there are still many teachers and leaders who have a view that technology is an added extra or even a “distraction to real learning”. We talk about our “digital natives” in a way that implies that this revolution is about them and not us. There are many ways that we can enhance the learning of our students by the use of technology – but there are also some exciting ways that we can improve the way that we carry out our roles as teachers.

Technology is still an area where many teachers feel hesitant, under-skilled, disempowered and even fearful – but it doesn’t need to be that way! It is way past time that we lived out our vision for our kids for ourselves. Here are three easy steps to take:

  1. ACCEPT that this is a part of your teaching toolkit that you can longer afford to be light on. It’s here to stay and it is becoming increasingly important for you to have these skills to be able to contribute positively in your teams and not be a burden on others.
  2. BUILD on our existing strengths and knowledge – choose technology use and digital strategies that you know will enhance learning based on research and your understanding of how kids learn. After all that’s what schools and students need to make it successful – teachers who can apply and filter these initiatives through a lens of pedagogical expertise! If you have a growth mindset, apply it and supercharge your tech initiative.
  3. CONNECT with other teachers who can support your skill development and who will benefit from your ideas and input. Working together is part of what we do as a profession and we are seeing many exciting developments in team-based approaches to teaching in modern learning spaces which are fantastic for teachers to be continuously developing and honing their craft alongside their colleagues. A personal learning network is only a few clicks away – social media is a rich source of wisdom, encouragement, innovative new ideas and support for any teacher who needs it. Don’t just sit and wait for the next course to be offered to you – go out and design your own learning by accessing the global network of educators who are more than willing to lend a hand!

Is it time you got your passport out and shifted your mindset? Become a digital immigrant.

I dare you.

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Teachers count

Teachers count in more ways than we probably realise when we are in the middle of a hectic day alongside our busy learners!

teachers count - HongKongKiwi 2014

National Standards and the damage done

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National-StandardsMany schools around New Zealand still struggle to align the strange dichotomy of a curriculum that embraces our understanding of the developmental growth of children and National Standards which are completely arbitrary. The New Zealand Principal’s Federation have produced a substantial amount of information to try and make our concerns known since 2009 when they were first introduced. Now the results of a major research project have raised considerable concerns over the effect that the initiative have had on teachers and schools. With the current government pursuing the use of data as a way of evaluating schools ( and probably teachers in the future ) there are grave concerns for how this process will further complicate and alienate the education community from the political powers.

“National Standards are having some favourable impacts in areas that include teacher understanding of curriculum levels, motivation of some teachers and children and some improved targeting of interventions. Nevertheless such gains are overshadowed by damage being done through the intensification of staff workloads, curriculum narrowing and the reinforcement of a two-tier curriculum, the positioning and labelling of children and unproductive new tensions amongst school staff.”

A very astute quote from the Research, Analysis and Insight into National Standards (RAINS) Project, Waikato University. The paper is aptly titled “National Standards and the damage done…”

For more info you can visit the Wilf Malcom Institue of Educational Research website.

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Is your brain fixed or fluid?

 

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.

 

Mindset can be evident in some of the subtle differences in self-talk as you approach a challenge. The way you respond to different challenges can indicate what sort of mindset you have. Which of these do you recognise in your own personal/internal responses to different situations?

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This is a great short video to help explain the differences in mindset between “fixed” and “growth”. Carol Dweck’s work in this area highlights one of the critical challenges for teachers in their ever-changing professional roles. As the changes come thick and fast adapting a “growth mindset” is an imperative!

Disrupting boundaries: how digital devices became a resource for transformative change in a time of crisis

…the community of Pegasus Bay had experienced ‘great environmental change’, many of the traditional boundaries defining community, school, teaching, and learning had already been disrupted, which provided a context for teachers to think and practice differently; the introduction and use of digital devices intensified this change process.

via Disrupting boundaries: how digital devices became a resource for transformative change in a time of crisis.

Interesting article on how the challenges faced by some schools in Christchurch following the earthquakes resulted in a project that “… not only created new pathways for learning but also new ways to demonstrate care and concern for others.”
Learning communities growing through adversity!

What will students learn in the future?

By Artmax (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Artmax (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Many schools face complex challenges as they work to adjust and adapt to new ways of working and thinking – sometimes hindered by the traditional curriculum frameworks they work within. Many national curricula are developed with a mindset that still focuses on content, although many are moving towards more conceptual frameworks to allow flexibility in locally-shaped school-based curricula which respond directly to the learning needs of any particular learning community ( e.g. New Zealand curriculum, International Baccalaureate’s PYP to name two that spring to mind )

Just as advances in technology enabled the growth of science, the extremely rapid growth of technology we’re experiencing today is impacting our perspectives, tools, and priorities now. But beyond some mild clamor for a focus on “STEM,” there have been only minor changes in how we think of content–this is spite of extraordinary changes in how students connect, access data, and function on a daily basis.

 

This article on te@chthought te@chthoughtposes some interesting questions and  suggests a new framework for what students will learn in the future:

1. Literacy
Big Idea: Reading and writing in physical & digital spaces

2. Patterns
Big Idea: How and why patterns emerge everywhere under careful study

3. Systems
Big Idea: The universe—and every single thing in it–is made of systems, and systems are made of parts.

4. Design
Big Idea: Marrying creative and analytical thought

5. Citizenship
Big Idea: Responding to interdependence

6. Data
Big Idea: Recognizing & using information in traditional & non-traditional forms

7. Research
Big Idea: Identifying, evaluating, and synthesizing diverse ideas

8. Philosophy
Big Idea: The nuance of thought

 

 

 

Are Teachers of Tomorrow Prepared to Use Innovative Tech? | MindShift

Are Teachers of Tomorrow Prepared to Use Innovative Tech? | MindShift.

The teacher-training institutions are at risk of falling behind innovative technology practices being adopted in schools… but is this any different from any area of teaching and learning that trainees are exposed to at colleges? Are we guilty of again presuming that the “new generation” knows how to use technology to transform teaching and learning simply because we suspect they might be “digital natives”?