Week of learning


This week was full of learning. Our conferences with students and parents were on this week. I learned a lot about what their shared goals were, how the parents interacted with their kids, and it’s always interesting to see how the learners interact with their parents (and two teachers) around.

After that was PD. This year was pretty good, we had some exciting speakers, and I’m interested in seeing how I can apply more critical thinking into my classroom.

On the final day in the final session I presented the above slideshow. One of the exciting things about working in such a large school is that you don’t always know who will be in your presentation and that person’s job will be much different from yours (or sometimes the same).

I knew as a school we wanted to focus on assessment and how to record it in a meaningful way.  I’ve been using forms for about four or five years to really show the depth of the conversations I have, and how that relates to learning or goals. I’ve embedded Victor Wooten’s video outlining the idea of economy of motion. At school we’re always trying to get so much done, but often we can do the many things in one or two motions, we just need to practice doing those motions.

Anyway, it was an interesting time, and I hope the participants had enough time to really work on what they needed to work on so their forms help students learn more effectively.

Exploring the brain

Screen Shot 2018-09-09 at 7.01.40 PM

We’re looking into the brain right now in class. The students started exploring google expeditions and the brain tours are really interesting. Students were able to zoom into the brain, check out inside parts of it, explore the central nervous system and just get a really good understanding of the different parts by seeing the connections.

I was wondering about the different ways we could “see” the brain to tune us in, and I hadn’t used google expeditions before so wanted to try it out.

My main dilemma was whether to guide them or not. I chose to let them explore. I feel they learned a lot more this way, because they had the opportunity to see what they wanted when they wanted and explore a little more deeply into the ideas that connected to them.


What is making?

 Some rights reserved by Chanah’s Studio

Talking to people like @rangerridely  and @deir75 from the previous post (and over the years) we’ve wondered a lot about what making actually is, and how do we use these ideas in class.

As a digital literacy coach I’ve thought a lot about the idea of creation (and of course you need content to create) but the whole idea where students choose what they make.  Recently, especially during some of our more science based units, it seems like some teachers thing their students have to make something with “maker space parts”.  I’ve been trying to work this out for myself, but I think making something, regardless of the unit could be making anything.

A couple of years ago (or it seems like that anyway) I went to a workshop put on by The Nerdy Teacher. It was really interesting as he was an English teacher using the maker space idea.  He came from a place where he didn’t want twenty odd dioramas showing the same scene from a book. So he opened it up, and got submissions from street lamps to  boats.  He didn’t assess the product (or at least that’s what I remember him saying) he assessed the thinking behind the product and what that thing was important.

So I’ve been wondering if we take that point of view, how can we apply this to our new energy unit.  Do students really need to make something out of “maker space bits”? Could we make an art project about what we think this new energy world might look like? Could we make a movie about the perils of using non-renewable resources? Could we turn vegan and make ourselves new?

Any other ideas?

Sustainability and Technology

This is one of my biggest concerns, and finally I read about it on Edudemic.

I’m not really sure how I feel about this though.  While it does talk about rare earth elements and how important they are, I guess I was hoping for more about the how and the why to teach it.

Many tech teachers (well the ones that I know) all feel this is important, but with limited explicit tech teaching time, we may miss out on these opportunities to talk about recycling products that have things we desperately need if we are to continue this style of life.

AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Dell’s Official Flickr Page

While I think it is great that companies like Dell (above) and Apple (when you search for it) have recycling programs, I think we have to move beyond that for tech.  By making producers responsible for the goods they create, making the source responsible for recycling, upcycling, repurposing whatever we might be better off.

For those tinkerers and people who want to mess around with the device, they can pay a premium to own it, but other than that, I think our devices should be rented, returned, upgraded and then brought back into our hands, or our classrooms or whatever.

Here in Cambodia, we can’t access these types of recycling programs, so we are just contributing to massive waste by living in a place with no access to these programs (I do go to Singapore often, and would bring my products there, but it seems like a hefty price to pay both with engine fuel and cash to recycle something small like an iPad).

Awhile ago I read in the Big Issue that many Australians have extra mobile phones just hanging around the house, so all of these rare earth elements can’t be extracted. If producers were responsible, I’m sure it would cut down on this type of waste.

Not really sure where I’m headed with this, but how can we teach about sustainability while using technology, any ideas?

Teaching with Tech

I’m starting a new job this year, rather have started (which is why some posts have been delayed, and making #enviroedchat much harder to attend).  

This year I am a tech coach, and tech teacher. It is hard for me to balance the idea of being an environmental educator and tech teacher, mainly because I worry about how tech teaches consumption (with iPads, etc.) and how most of our electronic resources are either not recycled, or recycled poorly.  However, I’ll talk more about this later. 
Right now, I’m really interested in this idea of coach. What is a coach, and how is it different than a teacher?  When I”m outside with the students, I usually know more than most of them, about what things are around, how environmental systems work, and I’ve been around longer, so my theories are more solidified.  When I’m using an iPad or tablet, I don’t always know more, and I’m not sure that I should. 
With the idea of tech coach, I’ve been thinking a lot about this guy.

Taken from http://www.world-track.org

So who is this guy? Usain Bolt’s running coach.  Wild huh? 

After talking with Addy about the idea of tech coaches, I’ve really wondered about what skills I need to develop.  At first I was thinking about my own personal skills and my need to become a better user of the tablets and netbooks, etc.  Now I think, my knowledge (maybe more like my environmental knowledge) needs to be broader, I need to know concepts and systems, and be able to pick out specifics in others. 
While I don’t need to be able to do everything, I need to be able to structure my questions and activities so students can achieve their personal best, maybe world best (likely a stretch). 
I’ve been thinking a lot about it, especially when interacting with hesitant teachers.  I need to reassure them that being the best isn’t the goal, but like all teaching, helping others achieve their best is the goal.