Last night I was reminded of two things that I think apply equally well to school life as they do in adult life.
One. You can always find people willing to help you.
And, two. If those people don't happen to be the ones in your immediate company, you simply reach out to a bigger circle.
Let me give you my most recent example. Yesterday (as in, for today) I was asked to take a class in something that was a smidge out of my comfort zone. And, to be honest, I wasn't really sure where to start with planning a one-off lesson that was structured, syllabus-relevant and maybe even fun. So what'd I do?
I sent out a call for help.
And, thanks to the immediacy of social media and a professional group that I belong to on Facebook, within minutes I got my first reply and suggestions for fun lesson ideas. Soon, other teachers of that subject, from around the state, were giving me some great ideas and sending me resources. And, from that initial moment of Ahhhhhhhh - Brain Freeze! - within a couple of hours I felt organised and SO much better.
Sure, I know I probably could've got by, but 'getting by' wasn't exactly the outcome I was aiming at. I wanted to do better than that. I wanted it to be a great lesson so I asked for help. And, I got it in spades!
"It's plain smart to take responsibility for your learning and reach out for help."
The thing with asking for help is that it doesn't make you a lesser person in some way. Each of us has our strengths and personal breadth of knowledge. Sometimes, when you recognise that getting a hand would actually strengthen your position, it's plain smart to take responsibility for your learning and reach out for help.
Taking responsibility for ourselves is such an important concept, and an important skill that is going to put you streets ahead of others who are happy to blame, or whine, or make excuses for not doing their best.
For example ... what can you do if you don't understand something in class? Here's 7 places you can go to find the help you need.
It's that time of year again - when all HSC students start to freak about being prepared for their HSC exams. Firstly ......
I know that is easier said than done. But, if you have been handing in assessment tasks on time and generally keeping up with your work you will be okay. It's reassuring to remember that HSC English markers use a policy of 'positive marking'. That is, your exam response will be scrutinised for everything you have done right. Not what you have missed. But included.
But, it's also natural to be a little nervous, or at least conscious, of ensuring you feel confident about doing your best in English. And every subject, for that matter, but let's just talk English for the moment.
The good news is that it isn't too late to make sure you know what you need to know for the HSC English course. Of course, it would require a major
commitment to catch up on two years missed work (I'm including the Preliminary course in that statement because that is your HSC prep year) but, more realistically, you will need to revise your understanding of language techniques, have a good understanding of each module/Area of Study and how both of these areas apply to your prescribed and related texts.
So, here's a few tips:
- Go back to a post I wrote previously that offers timely advice for surviving your trial exams and making it to your HSC with your sanity intact. You can read that post "10 Steps to Easy HSC English Revision" HERE.
- Take advantage of expert help. Here in NSW the English Teachers' Association organises some excellent study days. The next one is perfectly timed for your revision: the HSC Students Countdown is in Sydney on the 31st August. It will cover all of the modules and the Area of Study, along with tips for effective revision. I can personally attest to the quality and usefulness of these study days if you have not already been to one. Check with your teacher to see if they are organising a class group to attend.
- If you feel some individual help is needed then consider some after-school tutoring. You can read more about the tutoring services ReadWriteLearnWell can offer HERE.
In closing, keep your HSC exam preparation in perspective. It is one exam out of many you have done and will possibly do in the future. The goal, in my view, is to prepare well so you feel confident and relaxed when you take it on. That way you WILL do your best!
By Carla Anderson
Don't stifle creativity and engagement with the world around us.
Do discourage conformity.
The proof is in the science.
That's the message from this fascinating animation created by British organisation, The 21st Century Learning Initiative,
and posted at Born-to-Learn.
The 21st Century Learning Initiative explores the latest scientific research into learning and motivation, and posits that many Western educational systems aren't providing the necessary foundations for young people to learn best. They claim this is because schools often focus not on learning but on grades, and stifle creativity in young learners, while fostering social conformity.
At this stage, Born-to-Learn features two completed animated videos, which take complex scientific research and condense it in a more accessible format. But, there are also plenty of interesting views to explore at the 21st Century Learning Initiative's website.
While I agree, in principle and on an idealistic level, with the ideas shared in this video, I wonder about the practicalities of implementing this approach in regular classrooms, particularly those with less experienced teachers, with over-heavy workloads and behaviour management issues. From experience, sometimes the best plan for the most engaging and student-directed lesson comes to naught, while at other times, (and often these are unexpected), there is almost a serendipitous turn of events, that lead to those almost-magical learning experiences - for students AND teacher.What do you think?
- What are some practical ways you've tried successfully that encourage more independent, creative and engaged learning?
- How have you got around issues of resourcing?
- If you are a student, what style of lessons do you enjoy most for taking in and exploring new ideas and information?
- Does classwork have to be 'engaging' to be effective? What does 'engaging' look like? Can we, as teachers, build up a bank of 'engagement', that allows us to feel less guilty for not teaching highly creative lessons, every lesson?
Please share your views. I'd like to hear more about what you
think about this topic. It's one that I've heard raised at various times during professional development sessions, and one that gets discussed a lot, almost as a given, within the broader online learning community.
Bottom line... how do we make it happen in the classroom?Thanks to @joblannin for tweeting this video...
A web-based presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that allows for interaction between presenter and audience.
Yesterday I got to chat, listen and share ideas for using technology in the classroom with teachers from the United States, Asia and Australia.
Today, I was able to attend a seminar with Harvard professor and the father of the Multiple Intelligences theory, Dr Howard Gardner, and teachers from around the world.
Tomorrow there's a session on encouraging teens and tweens to read - that should be interesting too.
And the best part? I can make myself a cup of tea, turn my computer and mic on and settle in to hear the latest in teaching approaches and share ideas, suggestions and experiences with teachers from across the planet. Real-time. Voices. Visuals. Keyboard Chat.I am impressed.
I live and teach in a rural area, so getting away for PD is always a bit of an issue. While clocking up a certain number of hours of additional professional training is a requirement for me as a New Scheme Teacher, the bigger issue is that sharing in the wider community of educators is just so encouraging and motivating. Just think of the experience and knowledge base that you can draw upon if you can participate in professional learning with others from various schools, systems, states and countries!
That's why I'm pretty excited about the online conferencing/training that I discovered through Twitter at Classroom 2.0.
is a social network, particularly for teachers interested in social media
and Web 2.0
. It is a free site that allows teachers to chat in discussion boards and groups, and take part in educated-related webinars. I'm a reasonably new participant at Classroom 2.0, but since I've joined I've received regular emails from site founder @SteveHargadon about online PD sessions, such as the one's mentioned earlier.
Classroom 2.0 uses Blackboard Collaborate as its web-conferencing medium. Using it was fairly straightforward - simply follow the prompts and the interface will open up on your desktop. You will be prompted to check your audio settings - both to hear and to speak, but don't panic. How much you contribute to the discussion is completely up to you - listen, type-chat, or take the mic. You will hear the presenters, see their slides and websites (I believe there is also a video function, but haven't experienced it yet), and be able to read, type comments and ask questions in response to the presentation as it continues.
The first one I attended, 'Succeeding with Web 2.0
', hosted by Arizona educators, Peggy George and Kim Thomas, was well-run, fun and informative. And, I even received a certificate of attendance, so hopefully, it will count as an hour of teacher-identified professional development for me. Of course, if you are also a New Scheme Teacher in NSW, it would be wise to check with the NSW Institute of Teachers
about what training would be 'counted' as part of your required 100 hours.
To learn more about web-based conferencing and learning check out the following websites:
By the way, Peggy and Kim host Succeeding with Web 2.0
the second Monday of each month. Highly recommended. And, a final point, it looks like most sessions are recorded, so you can catch up with one of interest at a time that suits you.
Jane Sawyer http://mrg.bz/xBGruU
By Carla Anderson
Uh Oh! You've got your English Trial paper back and your teacher has written "More detail needed on how language features are used" or words to that effect.
You know that somewhere over the last six years of studying English at high school (and for that matter, before) you've learned about metaphors, and figurative language, and structure, and purpose and ..... well, all that stuff.
But, how do you actually remember it all when you need to??
Make the most of the last remaining weeks of school and read on for my list of 10 tips for being prepared to face that HSC English exam with confidence!
Came across this video created by Break Originals while checking out Jeff Thomas's Tech the Plunge blog. As an English teacher who (ahem ;-) grew up in the 80's, I really liked its play on the Stevie Wonder love ballad classic I just called to say I love you. It's a great example of the use of irony and could also be used in units exploring the impact of social media and technology.Check it out for yourself and let me know how you might use it in your English/Language Arts classroom!
1. How the Internet is changing the way we learn
More than 90% of teachers believe digital content can engage students more fully in learning, according to recent research published this week in The Atlantic.com.
Read more about the impact of the Internet on learning at the magazine's online site HERE
2. Screencasting Apps for the iPad
I always enjoy Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano's detailed posts on integrating ICT into the classroom. Read her latest post HERE
3. 35 Best Web 2.0 Tool for the Classroom
Brainstorming, presentations, social media, audio and video tools .... just some of the possibilities in this list of web-available apps. Check out the full list HERE
. The list includes some of my personal favourites including:
- Weebly (the web creation and hosting site I use to publish ReadWrite LearnWell).
- Slideshare - great for posting your slide presentations online. You'll find my Slideshare page HERE.
- Google Docs - Ditch the USB drive and upload your necessary files to Google Docs. I now rely on this 'cloud-based' service everyday.
- Diigo - my favourite social bookmarking site. Again, useful for teachers who want to access bookmarked sites they've found at home, but want to access at school.
- Wordle - I use this when teaching poetry, but there are lots of other creative possibilities. Check out an example of a Wordle image I created HERE.
- ReadWriteThink - This is an AWESOME site for English/Language Arts teachers, if you have not already discovered it. Parents and home schoolers will also find ReadWriteThink useful.
- Crocodoc - Upload documents and PDFs, annotate them and share them.
This morning I woke up to find the world had gotten smaller.
No, there hadn't been some kind of astronomical event (which I would likely have missed anyway ;-). No, I've simply begun to use Twitter.
I'm a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to tweets and retweets. In fact, I'm fairly new to the entire vocabulary and culture of the Twittersphere and how it can be a great space for teachers to share resources and ideas.
I'd avoided Twitter before because I saw it as a gi-normous time waster, kinda akin to reading the tabloid magazines at the doctors/hairdressers - but more copious in useless information.
But, thanks to educational consultant and edu-blogger, Shelley Terrell, who introduced me to other educators across the globe, I am now on my way to building my own Personal Learning Network, and seeing for myself the advantages of using this web tool as a teacher.And, this morning I woke to find teachers from the United States, Canada, Britain, Singapore, Europe and Australia who were happy to 'follow' me on Twitter, and, more importantly answer questions, share resources and ideas, and generally form a professional/social network of people to help me teach more effectively.WOW!I was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit of all of these people, and I'm looking forward to an online bouncing off of ideas and shared resources. Not to mention getting my head around the associated vocabulary, culture and etiquette.
, creator of one of the most useful websites for teachers,Free Technology For Teachers, has some excellent slide presentations on his website for teachers who are also interested in dipping their toes into the Twitter sea. Follow the 'Read More' link to see them for yourself.
Image: MorgueFile http://mrg.bz/CD8zrN
Ah Ha! I knew there was a reason that explained why I suck at Maths. Science now proves it!
According to a study by John Hopkins University researchers
, published last week, preschoolers who demonstrate a strong 'number sense' appear to be born with an inherent ability to do better at a wide range of mathematical skills.
Researchers assessed 200 pre-schoolers. The study focused on this age group wanting a sample not influenced by any prior learning associated with mathematics.
However, the study also acknowledged the question of nature versus nurture in this issue.
"Still in question, of course, is the root cause of the link between number sense and math ability. Do children born with better number sense have an easier time learning to count and to understand the symbolic nature of numbers? Or, is it just that children born with less accurate number sense may end up avoiding math-related activities before they develop competency?" said John Hopkins post-doctoral fellow, Melissa Libertus.
Why I totally sucked at Maths....
I am a gadget girl.
I love my Mac. I love my Kindle. I happily use social media and email to talk with friends and colleagues around the world. I have a mental checklist of all my must-takes whenever I leave the house... phone? Check. iPod? Check? Kindle? You get the idea.... ;-)
I've always been an early-ish adopter of technology. See that photo above? That's what I would have looked like if laptops had been around when I was that young. Same expression on my face and everything. I'm just fascinated by all that technology can achieve, and how it represents the very clever side of mankind.
So, while I no longer fit into the demographic highlighted in the infographic below, I find what it visually represents really interesting - personally and as an educator. I get the close bonds students have with their gadgets, and this connection, I think, is important for teachers to recognise.