STEAM – Project based learning

Students work on a project over an extended period of time – from a week up to a semester – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing a public product or presentation for a real audience.

As a result, students develop deep content knowledge as well as critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills in the context of doing an authentic, meaningful project. Project Based Learning unleashes a contagious, creative energy among students and teachers.

Resources:

https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/36-stem-project-based-learning-activities

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/sept10/vol68/num01/Seven_Essentials_for_Project-Based_Learning.aspx

STEAM Made Simple – Primary

Bright Sparks – Using Design Thinking to Solve Problems – Years 5 & 6

 

 

The Future of Schooling

We do lots of planning around the “what” we are going to teach and even the “why” with respect to improving the impact on student learning.  One area that we have yet to address is with respect to the future needs of children.  The impact may not be felt the greatest in primary schools but we need to at least consider the impact at our level.  Lots of Gonski conversation lately and a common theme centres around personalised learning.  I wanted to share a couple of videos about some work in parts of the world to at least get you thinking.  Often when you look at videos on future school you often just seem the same old industrial age model but with lots of new toys.  I think the challenge will be what the work in classes will look like.  I know a few of you dabble with some websites like readingtheory.org that offer a personalised pathway to reading comprehension.  Have a look at some of the AltSchool work from the States to see this in action for these schools.  Teams of educators and software engineers working together to develop personalised curriculum.

http://www.lobethalps.sa.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/All4One_Complete_March13_V2_web.pdf

How can we make this plan work for us to move towards the future:

https://payneroadss.eq.edu.au/Supportandresources/Formsanddocuments/Documents/MasterPlan_AVision.pdf

Critical and Creative Thinking

 

 

Critical Thinking is

the process we use to reflect on assess and judge the assumption underlying our own and others ideas and efforts.

Creative thinking is

the process we use to develop ideas that are unique, useful and worthy of further elaboration

A problem of practice…

Amazing things happen when a school staff shares the belief that they are able to achieve collective goals and overcome challenges to impact student achievement.

I shared this quote about the merits of collaborative teacher efficacy on our student free day as a definition of this term and also to share what I believe is the way forward when we look to impact successfully on student learning.

And here lies the problem…do we all recognise what the challenge is?

Are we prepared to face the challenge?  Are we prepared to change what we do? Work differently?  Work together?  And rely on ourselves for the answer?

I think we would all agree that we face a range of challenges in schools and in society (that often get forced on schools to fix)…Like you (I hope) I

So let me throw this problem of practice out there…

This is not an exhaustive list of influencing factors…I could go on…the system…the curriculum…funding/resources…leadership…etc etc

I developed PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) to address pressing needs at Payne Road but I also developed them because the answers can’t always come from me or from a policy maker somewhere or from some external team.  We are our best resource…we have an opportunity to think outside the box, work differently and look beyond tradition and the way we have always worked.  I don’t exaggerate when I state that our profession is at risk of becoming obsolete and I have seen our respect in society diminish over the course of my career.

I don’t have the answers…but I challenge you all to try.

I wanted to share an article with you:

Teachers Teaching Teachers: A Sustainable and Inexpensive Professional Development Program to Improve Instruction

Abstract

School districts face tremendous budget challenges and, as a result, professional development has been “trimmed” from many school budgets. (Habegger & Hodanbosi, 2011). School administrators responsible for planning professional development face a daunting task and often focus on PowerPoints, district mandated training, one-shot presentations, and workshops that are delivered by expensive experts. These types of activities lack teacher collaboration, time for sharing of ideas and opportunity for reflection and analysis (Torff & Byrnes, 2011, Coggins, Zuckerman & Mckelvey, 2010).

Now it is a dissertation…and long…and I am not expecting you to read it all…some of it my touch a chord with you…perhaps start with the preface.

I want you to consider this challenge or problem of practice when you are working in PLCs this year.  There will be no one magic wand but a collective approach and the willingness to take risks will begin to address some of our concerns.

Think also about what you already have access to…our technology has evolved and we have access to a range of resources.  And some of these have been with us for a while…we need to explore how we can use some of these differently…I can tell you from personal experience…trial and error has been a far better teacher than any professional development that I have ever attended.

Making Thinking Visible

I thought I would take the opportunity to share some resources.

Why I can’t stop talking about Visible Thinking

One of the basic tools of the Visible Thinking framework is a series of Thinking Routines, simple patterns of conversation, or protocols, which encourage a spirit of inquiry, reflection, and metacognition. I created the resource below to help the teachers and students I work with as they pursue a Culture of Thinking. My plan is to use it when introducing Thinking Routines as part of an exploration activity. I am hoping these routines will become part of their reflective toolkit, a natural part of their questioning strategy and, eventually, a given in their classroom culture.

http://www.visiblethinkingpz.org/VisibleThinking_html_files/VisibleThinking1.html

http://nicoraplaca.com/how-do-you-know-making-thinking-explicit/

https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/making-critical-thinking-explicit-and-intentional

Making Your Thinking Visible With Graphic Organizers

 

 

STEM and creativity

A couple of us signed up for the online course for STEM so we will have access to resources.

Blue The Film: Inquiry – Years 1 & 2

Our Vision

Be the leader in real world learning.

 

Our Mission

Upskill educators to become designers of exceptional learning for all young Australians.

Our Values

  • We value REAL WORLD LEARNING because education should embrace every opportunity to be authentic. Real world learning helps young people connect and contribute to an ever-changing world.
  • We value EMPATHY because education should assist us to consider how our decisions impact on other people, our planet and our future. Empathy supports young people to build self-awareness and compassion through the understanding of different perspectives.
  • We value CURIOSITY because education should drive the impulse to learn. Curiosity stimulates our interest and our desire to actively seek answers. Curiosity makes learning meaningful and opens up new possibilities.
  • We value CREATIVITY because education should provide opportunities for young people to use their hands, minds and hearts. Creativity supports young people to become problem finders and solvers, innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders. Creativity allows us to design the future and imagine ways to combine old with new.
  • We value COLLABORATION because we often learn better, and achieve more, when working together. Collaboration helps young people develop interpersonal and communication skills, while fostering a sense of belonging and self-worth. Collaboration builds shared responsibility and teamwork skills within diverse groups.
  •  We value the LOVE OF LEARNING because education should bring joy, connection, fulfillment, fun, satisfaction and a wow factor. The love of learning is the driver behind purposeful and lifelong learning.

 

What We Do

We create units of work and learning activities that can be downloaded from the Cool Australia website and taken straight into the classroom. The learning activities are year level specific, from Early Learning to Year 12. All are linked to Australian Curriculum standards and the Early Years Learning Framework outcomes.

We provide an online Digital Library to support learning and teaching. It contains videos, images, infographics, research and news articles.

We deliver online professional development to help educators build their confidence and skills. Sometimes we also provide keynote addresses at conferences across the country.

We coordinate Enviroweek – a year of action, a week of celebration.

 

 

 

Top TED Talks for Teachers

1- Every Kid Needs A Champion by Rita Pierson

2- How to Escape Education’s Death Valley by Sir Ken Robinson 
3- The Key to Success ? Grit by Angela Lee Duckworth
4- How Great Leaders In spire Action by Simon Sinek 
5- The Puzzle of Motivation by  Dan Pink

6- Teach Teachers how to Create Magic by Christopher Emdin
7– Hey Science Teachers… Make It Fun by Tyler Dwitt
8- Math Class Needs A Makeover by Dan Meyer
9- 3 Rules to Spark Learning by Ramsey Musallam
10- A Teacher Growing Green in the South Bronx by Stephen Ritz
11- A Girl Who Demanded School by Kakenya Ntaiya
12- How to Learn from Mistakes by Diana Laufenberg

Refuse to be a boring Teacher

How to Have More Fun Teaching

1. Discover new things together.

It’s much more fun for both parties when students and teachers learn new things together. Your job is, of course, to educate, but why can’t that process include the joy of shared discovery? Make a point each day of letting down your authoritative guard, humbling yourself, and enjoying the lifelong journey together–even if it’s just for a few minutes.

2. Incorporate mystery into your lessons.

Learning is the most fun when it’s surprising. Don’t just disseminate information; cloak it in mystery. Highlight the weird, the unusual, the unique. Ask questions. Start with a curious detail that can only be addressed by diving into the background of the subject and thoroughly exploring it. Pose a mystery at the beginning of the course and let your students work towards solving it throughout the term.

3. Be goofy; show you care.

Let loose; laugh; make fun of yourself. Don’t worry about sacrificing your authority. In fact, the latest research says authority stems from showing you care about your students, and making them laugh and feel good is one way to do that.

4. Participate in projects.

I had a creative writing professor at uni who would bring his own material to class for the students to workshop. It was great fun for all of us, and enjoyable for him as well. Stepping down to our level and actually participating in an activity he assigned himself made us all more engaged in the task because he was willing to be a part of it.

5. Avoid “going through the motions.”

If you feel yourself slipping into a rut, spending the same hours exactly the same way each day, stop and reassess your teaching process. It’s so easy to let it all become automatic, especially after twenty-plus years in the field, and to use the same lessons and techniques year after year with different students. But if it’s not fun for you, it won’t be fun for your students either. Make an effort to be fresh, try new things, take risks, make mistakes, enjoy the moment.

6. Flip your lessons.

Flipping your lessons will help you avoid boring in-class activities. If students watch lectures or correct their own homework the night before, you can spend the course period focusing on deeper learning. Everyone will appreciate the chance to reflect on, instead of repeat, the material.

7. Review–but don’t repeat–material.

It’s important for learning and memory to review new material regularly and to integrate it into the bigger picture shaped by old material. Spend an hour or two each week reviewing material from the past few weeks, but always position it within old material so that students see how it all fits together. Simply repeating new information represents a missed learning opportunity.

8. Share your passions.

Show students how you have fun. Passion is contagious. If you’re having a good time, chances are your students will too.

9. Laugh at your students’ jokes.

The best teachers I’ve ever had got a genuine kick out of their students. It’s one of the best ways to ensure teachers and students have fun: enjoy one another.

10. Replace lectures with conversations.

Why should teaching be so passive? Forget the sage on the stage and engage your students in a casual conversation like you would a good friend. This doesn’t necessarily mean asking more questions, but it does require a stylistic shift whereby you and your students are actively exchanging ideas–not just responding to them.

11. Put on a performance.

In his books and workshops, Doug Lemov talks about what pace to move around the room, what language to use when praising a student, how to adjust the angle of your head to let students know you’re looking at them. Teaching, he says, is “a performance profession.” You don’t have to be theatrical (though that might help), but you do have to be self-aware.

12. Enjoy yourself.

People with high confidence–people we respect and listen to–tend to have one important trait in common: they enjoy themselves. Quite literally. You’ll have a significantly better time teaching if you work on nurturing your personal relationship with yourself. Your students will have a better time, too.

13. Make yourself available.

Don’t go to the teacher’s lounge during lunch; stay in your room and invite students to eat lunch with you. Keep your doors open after the bell rings at the end of the day. Make yourself available online for part of the evening. Hold one-on-one and group office hours. Invite students to your home for workshops or end-of-course celebrations.

14. Try being a student again.

Take a seat in the audience and let your students teach you for the day. Spend a week doing your own assignments. Let students grade you on projects or presentations.

15. Don’t take yourself–or your subject–too seriously.

One complaint I hear from students is that teachers don’t sympathise with the fact that their course isn’t the only course students are taking. Students have to balance assignments and material from several courses at once (you had to do the same thing not so long ago). This doesn’t mean loosening your rules or being lenient on late work; it means acknowledging that students have interests and priorities that might not line up with yours. Try to be understanding, and even express interest in other courses students are taking. Think of it as an opportunity to strengthen students’ grasp of your subject by relating it to other disciplines.

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/what-you-need-innovative-educator-terry-heick

http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/tag/innovative-teaching-and-learning

http://ajjuliani.com/10-commandments-innovative-teaching/

Golden Rules for Engaging Students – Edutopia

When we think of student engagement in learning activities, it is often convenient to understand engagement with an activity as being represented by good behaviour (i.e. behavioural engagement), positive feelings (i.e. emotional engagement), and, above all, student thinking (i.e. cognitive engagement) (Fredricks, 2014). This is because students may be behaviorally and/or emotionally invested in a given activity without actually exerting the necessary mental effort to understand and master the knowledge, craft, or skill that the activity promotes.

In light of this, research suggests that considering the following interrelated elements when designing and implementing learning activities may help increase student engagement behaviorally, emotionally, and cognitively, thereby positively affecting student learning and achievement.

1. Make It Meaningful

In aiming for full engagement, it is essential that students perceive activities as being meaningful. Research has shown that if students do not consider a learning activity worthy of their time and effort, they might not engage in a satisfactory way, or may even disengage entirely in response (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). To ensure that activities are personally meaningful, we can, for example, connect them with students’ previous knowledge and experiences, highlighting the value of an assigned activity in personally relevant ways. Also, adult or expert modeling can help to demonstrate why an individual activity is worth pursuing, and when and how it is used in real life.

2. Foster a Sense of Competence

The notion of competence may be understood as a student’s ongoing personal evaluation of whether he or she can succeed in a learning activity or challenge. (Can I do this?) Researchers have found that effectively performing an activity can positively impact subsequent engagement (Schunk & Mullen, 2012). To strengthen students’ sense of competence in learning activities, the assigned activities could:

  • Be only slightly beyond students’ current levels of proficiency
  • Make students demonstrate understanding throughout the activity
  • Show peer coping models (i.e. students who struggle but eventually succeed at the activity) and peer mastery models (i.e. students who try and succeed at the activity)
  • Include feedback that helps students to make progress

3. Provide Autonomy Support

We may understand autonomy support as nurturing the students’ sense of control over their behaviors and goals. When teachers relinquish control (without losing power) to the students, rather than promoting compliance with directives and commands, student engagement levels are likely to increase as a result (Reeve, Jang, Carrell, Jeon, & Barch, 2004). Autonomy support can be implemented by:

  • Welcoming students’ opinions and ideas into the flow of the activity
  • Using informational, non-controlling language with students
  • Giving students the time they need to understand and absorb an activity by themselves

4. Embrace Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning is another powerful facilitator of engagement in learning activities. When students work effectively with others, their engagement may be amplified as a result (Wentzel, 2009), mostly due to experiencing a sense of connection to others during the activities (Deci & Ryan, 2000). To make group work more productive, strategies can be implemented to ensure that students know how to communicate and behave in that setting. Teacher modeling is one effective method (i.e. the teacher shows how collaboration is done), while avoiding homogeneous groups and grouping by ability, fostering individual accountability by assigning different roles, and evaluating both the student and the group performance also support collaborative learning.

5. Establish Positive Teacher-Student Relationships

High-quality teacher-student relationships are another critical factor in determining student engagement, especially in the case of difficult students and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds (Fredricks, 2014). When students form close and caring relationships with their teachers, they are fulfilling their developmental need for a connection with others and a sense of belonging in society (Scales, 1991). Teacher-student relationships can be facilitated by:

  • Caring about students’ social and emotional needs
  • Displaying positive attitudes and enthusiasm
  • Increasing one-on-one time with students
  • Treating students fairly
  • Avoiding deception or promise-breaking

6. Promote Mastery Orientations

Finally, students’ perspective of learning activities also determines their level of engagement. When students pursue an activity because they want to learn and understand (i.e. mastery orientations), rather than merely obtain a good grade, look smart, please their parents, or outperform peers (i.e. performance orientations), their engagement is more likely to be full and thorough (Anderman & Patrick, 2012). To encourage this mastery orientation mindset, consider various approaches, such as framing success in terms of learning (e.g. criterion-referenced) rather than performing (e.g. obtaining a good grade). You can also place the emphasis on individual progress by reducing social comparison (e.g. making grades private) and recognizing student improvement and effort.

Do you generally consider any of the above facilitators of engagement when designing and implementing learning activities? If so, which ones? If not, which are new to you?

An Idea to Innovation to Best Practice

A question that was posed recently was challenging the notion of “innovation” in education, and how it challenges best practice.  “Best practice” can often be seen as the enemy to innovation.  But “best practice” doesn’t stay as “best practice” forever.  Look at the “Blockbusters” of the world. What was once best practice to them, was what they hold onto, and how they eventually collapsed.  Standing still is the same as moving backwards in our world. Yo1u can have been an amazing teacher ten years ago, but if you have changed nothing in those ten years, you could now be irrelevant.  The best veteran teachers in the world look back at the beginning of their careers and think, “What was I doing?!??!”, not because they were bad, but because they are now so much better.

Yet how dare a teacher “challenge” best practice?  First of all, “best practice” in instruction and learning is not best practice for everyone. What works for one, might not work for another.  I have been thinking a lot about the “eye test”; if a teacher doesn’t see that something is working for their students, is their professional wisdom trumped by a researcher who has never worked with their children?  If something is working for your students, then keep doing that (and I am not talking about test scores, but growth in learning). But if it isn’t, teachers either need to learn something new, or create something new to serve those students.

There has never been a best practice in teaching and learning, that wasn’t at first an “innovation”.  Someone, or some group, was in the pursuit of doing something better for students, and they saw their new practice as better than what they were doing before.  This image summarizes the process of innovation in education.

Ideas lead to innovation, but only if we turn those thoughts into actions. Yet if those actions are new and better, they will become best practice for a period of time. There should be no better researcher of student learning than the teacher working directly in classrooms. They have to decide when to embrace best practice, and when to create “next practice”. That is where the true innovation in teaching and learning happens.

http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/7140