Brick Walls In The Career…Right Now…Part One.

This evening I began putting some ideas into thought as to why I feel knocked down and somewhat weakened in my chosen profession at the moment. This is my chosen career, my passion…but right now I have big questions and genuine concerns. I have collated my Posterous entry, contribution to the PLP ConnectU Ning and reply from Chad J Evans to start my extraction.

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This is such an important discussion. I’m going through a phase at my school right now where this conversation is relevant…even though the school where I work is doing a lot of pretty cool things here and there.

A take on the response to the idea of ‘unlearning’…    in direct reply to  @willrich45    @kynanr

I really hear what Kynan is talking about.  Writing is the one subject area that makes me wonder. How can we expect kids to be engaged if they are not given ample opportunity to write for a genuine audience? I’ve found this year that I have to change topic, authorial focus, content, etc etc….so much that my students do not get a chance to sink their teeth into some writing that they can work hard on and publish to a place where there is an audience waiting for them. I’ve had glimpses over the years of this but it is never an ongoing.

Practising persuasive texts for the NAPLAN tests was a perfect example. I thought to myself…what a fine opportunity to dig into some ‘meaty’ topics and get the kids passionate about their point of view. Yet I had to keep practising more and more, one text after another. The kids didn’t have a chance to publish to an audience.

Why do we have to cram so much in? This is what we could unlearn? Why can’t we NOT be afraid of lingering on a project or piece of writing for awhile so the kids can lap it up, go over it carefully and surely and get it out there for those to see?

These two examples are some of the only real writing projects that I think went all the way. I’ve been in the job six years and this is what I recall instantly…

http://bit.ly/l7wOqk

http://bit.ly/mpmpwP

Reply from Chad J Evans…

Rick

Why do we have to cram so much in? This is what we could unlearn? Why can’t we NOT be afraid of lingering on a project or piece of writing for awhile so the kids can lap it up, go over it carefully and surely and get it out there for those to see? I see these as really important questions.  I just had a conversation with a colleague this morning surrounding the curricular choices we all make every year and how even though we often feel like we don’t have the flexibility to make those kinds of decisions, we make them often. However, we feel comfortable making the little choices, yet not the big ones regarding student learning and the ability of learners to immerse themselves…

I’m wondering how we go about having those difficult conversations with ourselves, with our colleagues, and with our supervisors and what those conversations might look like and feel like?



Posterous entry  - 18.5.11

Posterous entry - 18.5.11

I realised today that education is always evolving…but really. Yes I can already hear you saying ‘get with it, that’s been the case for at least the last ten years.’ But this evening I’ve been pondering the concept of ‘unlearning.’ It is a theory that’s been discussed but I think this concept may take a new avenue for me soon… maybe others. I only get glimpses of what I could really achieve with my students at the moment. In between, I have to make sure I am planning, thinking and talking about the numbers, the process and the end marker. There is not enough time. It nails us, knocks us down, sows the seeds of doubt. I don’t want to short change my students. Controversial but demoralising.

The Case of the Digital Footprint…

As part of the PLP ConnectU project, I thought I’d share my thoughts on my own digital footprint and what turned up of late. The overall ideas coming through is that a digital footprint is an inevitable step for young users, of course many students would already have quite significant footprints. Our task is to educate and guide them to making the right digital footprint as they move through the early part of their lives. It’s an old saying…you never know who might be watching. And in my opinion, this doesn’t have to be a negative thing.

Here are my reflections on my own footprint as it stands in May 2011…

I have googled myself on occasions in the past. At times I have done it for plain curiosity, to see what the most common sites are where my name appears and to remind myself of places where my name resides (in case I have forgotten that particular little footprint).

Summary: Four of the first five links are to other Nings and education related websites that contain my photo, biography and details of a presentation that I have delivered at a particular conference. I discovered some vodcasts and podcasts of my presentations that have been uploaded to these spaces.

Intriguing: The first link at the top of the Google search was a comment I made on a Facebook page that belongs to a vineyard close to my local town. The comment was positive and innocent, about the prospect of receiving a free hot cross bun over Easter at the vineyard! I have an active Facebook account but do not use it heavily. I filter my Posterous blog through Facebook and keep in touch with overseas friends via email messages most of the time.

Point of Interest: My name appears on a MySpace link to my band’s profile page. This is one of the few band links as we have had a quiet past two years on the gig and recording front.

Minor Concern? : One of the links on the first page is to the Rate My Teacher website. I have been given a rating and the school has been named as my place of work. The rating is positive (5.0) and no comments accompany it. The rating was posted in February 2010. What would you do about this find? Do I try to have it removed?

With a surname that contains a hyphen and is not overly common, it is interesting to see what comes up. I am yet to discover another ‘Rick Kayler-Thomson’. I found it interesting as you scroll past the links containing my complete name, the next ‘hit’ to the search is my younger brother’s name. Although a qualified teacher himself, many of his links are associated with his professional football career.

An interesting task. Overall I am comfortable and happy with my digital footprint. I have a strong professional presence on line that I’ve established over the past few years. My social footprint is appropriate and well controlled it appears.

My Edmodo / Ultranet dilemma!

The 2011 school year is now in full swing.  It feels good to be back. I’m really enjoying getting to know the bunch of students I have in the 3/4 unit this year. I feel refreshed and positive after a satisfying break.

My main goal for the first and second week of term one is to get the entire unit of 3/4 students (approx. 170 students) signed up to Edmodo. We already have a head start because most of the grade four students are still signed up from last year. So some of my spare time has been dedicated to omitting the students that have moved on and ‘tidying’ up the groups.

This year I have a larger group of Edmodo ‘experts’ across the grades that are promoting the positive aspects of Edmodo to the new students and my intention is to get these students to be the ‘teachers.’ In fact, it is already happening.

The next step is the parents! We have an information night next Tuesday 15th February and from my experience last year we should expect a rather healthy turn out. One of my favourite tweets from the @edmodo people over the summer break was that they had parent accounts active and ready to go on the site. My intention next week is to allow some keen parents (I think I have at least two or three) that are willing to sign up to Edmodo on the night with a parent account using the Smartboard so all can see the benefits. We will be promoting Edmodo as ‘the norm’, not an extra bonus for the ICT savvy.

If you are unaware of this new parent account feature, I’ve posted a link below to the Edmodo blog.

http://blog.edmodo.com/?s=parents+account+available

Now here is my little dilemma! I completely acknowledge that the Ultranet will provide all these things that I am talking about eventually. We are yet to sign parents up and our students have only recently been signed up. We have some dedicated Lead Users on our staff and I am looking forward to the next few steps of our Ultranet experience.

My question is: will the Ultranet and Edmodo be able to live in harmony at BPS?

I’d like to think they can. There are two main facts that I keep coming back to with Edmodo:

1. Edmodo adds new features regularly and they work instantly…in my experience anyway!

2. The interface is so user friendly for students. It looks like something they may have seen before (Facebook, Skype). The spaces are uncluttered and tailored to students across all year levels.

Outlook for me, my colleagues and students…

My thinking is that Edmodo could continue as a tool for instant communication between students and teachers, a place to hand in homework projects, to have ‘live’ discussion about topics, books, units of work etc. and much, much more.

The Ultranet will be the place for all other work, assessment and learning portfolios for my students.

This is me thinking out loud and I welcome comments, questions and musings.

Thanks for reading.

ULearn10…Where do I start?

So I’m sitting here at home reflecting on the past four days. I was lucky enough to attend and present at the ULearn 10 conference in Christchurch, New Zealand. This is easily the best conference I have ever attended. It is full of inspiring educators and ideas. The networking opportunities are boundless and it was also a chance to meet up with some of the tweeters I’ve been conversing with online for the past 12 months or so. I’m still thinking about the main ideas that I bring back with me after the conference. I am also interested in hearing what others are taking from the conference. It’s been great to read and hear some thoughts already from the ULearn VoiceThread I created.

Please add your own comment if you have a spare minute.

A slideshow of Edmodo musings and events by our Grade 3/4 students in 2010

Hi there,

I presented at the IWB Digital Schools Conference today at the Crown Promenade Hotel.  After the presentation I put together this PhotoPeach slideshow that details some of the examples of how students in our grade 3/4 unit have embraced Edmodo this year.  If you were at our session, these are the same examples I showed on the overhead.

Thanks for visiting!

Rick

The many uses of Edmodo in and out of a Grade 3/4 classroom. on PhotoPeach

Welcome to my blog!

Hi there,

So it’s been something on my mind for awhile.  I wanted to start writing down my thoughts and sharing some of the ideas I am trying in my classroom.  I am really inspired by lots of the professionals I have met, either within the workplace or on the WWW.  I still think I am way behind anything that my ‘friends’ are doing in their classrooms, but hopefully some of the things I’m trying are of interest to some.

Please check out my blogroll to see some of the projects I have undertaken with my students over the past few years.  I intend to take a trip down memory lane (play catch up) on this blog to describe the ideas I have implemented since 2008.

Thanks for visiting,

Rick