Posts Tagged ‘Classroom Culture’

Blog Post One – INF536

Here is my desk area in my study. For someone who feels such pride in being organised in all things work related, it is extremely messy and I often find myself sitting here for long periods Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 11.19.06 pmof time trying to find ‘that document’ or ‘that photograph’. My study is tucked away in the middle of the house, with no natural light entering in. It also seems to have turned into the storage room since having our baby. Not only do we both have a desk in there but also a piano and two sets of clothing drawers that are unable to fit anywhere else. I have all of the equipment I need for it to be a successful space for personal learning. I have my devices (MacBook and iPad), my cameras, printer/scanner, paper, stationery and a large charging doc, but the area is such a mess that I wouldn’t know where to find each item without going exploring.

SoScreen Shot 2015-07-24 at 11.18.57 pm, where do I begin when wanting to redesign this space? Carroll (p.15-16, 2014) describes design thinking as being ‘…an innovative, human centred approach to defining and solving complex problems… that encompasses active problem solving and believing in one’s ability to create impactful change.’ This encourages us to look at design thinking in relation to people rather than buildings or items, and focus on who is going to be the user of the space. In my case, when redesigning my desk area, I am the user and myself (and hopefully my grades) will see the impact.

When looking into why design thinking is so important, Brown (2009), ascertains that ‘society needs a new approach to innovation which aligns the needs of human beings and tScreen Shot 2015-07-24 at 11.20.49 pmhe natural world.’ Once again, focusing on the needs of human beings and ‘consumer experiences (Brown, 2009). Karatko, et al (2012), state that the design process allows us to then ‘play, display and watch the replay’ or enable us to process ideas, try them out, give and receive feedback, make adjustments and continue through this cycle.

With this in mind I thought about what I wanted to achieve from redesigning this space. I wanted (needed) to be more organised so I bought new folders to file paperwork and photographs away. Each of these folders needed to be labeled and dated so that I know where to look when in a hurry. These are stored underneath my desk so that they are easily accessible and have clip on lids that my daughter won’t be able to open without assistance. Likewise, everScreen Shot 2015-07-24 at 11.21.05 pmything stored under my desk is locked down or of no harm to my daughter. This instantly put me at ease in this learning space, as I know she can crawl around without getting harmed by materials I have close to the ground.

Kuratko, et al (2012), state that ‘design is the process that converts ideas into form, whether that is a plan of action or a physical thing.’ To cover both of these areas I needed to plan what to change and do it… and that is easier said than done. It took a full week to file away all of the paperwork I had lying around, and only then could I move on to sorting through the materials I needed to keep and storing resources that are not of current benefit or interest to me.

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The next step was to create a visual goal chart for myself, so that I stay on top of my university work and general organisation of my desk area. I therefore created a canvas with a range of drawings on it. Each night, after completing some university work and tidying my area, I get to colour one area of the drawing in. It’s going to take me a long time to finish it (I stopped counting at 213 different areas), but I know it will create good habits in me if I continue with it. I also created a whiteboard calendar so assist in organizing our hectic lives. This works as a visual display for both my husband and I to use when committing to events.

I moved the printer / scanner out of the corner of my desk so that I have a designated space for my other devices and therefore room for paper and pen to jot down notes. I bought a large medicine ball to sit on so that I can move constantly, although so far I have been alternating between that and my swivel chair due to poor posture (on the chair).

I made my space homely by adding a few photographs of my family and created a playlist of relaxing music that will enable me to work but not get distracted (so far so good, although my relaxing music may be very different to the typical Mozart, etc).

Finally, I have allowScreen Shot 2015-07-24 at 11.21.38 pmed myself a ‘distraction space’. This is a timed space where I can have a break from the work I am doing. Whether it be playing a game online, drawing on some paper, sorting through photographs or checking my phone, I allow myself five minutes before getting back into it. I have also ordered an adult colouring book online and plan on using that when I need a mind-numbing distraction for a few minutes. I hope it comes soon!!!

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Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. Harper Business. p.37.

Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in innovation acceleration: Transforming organizational thinking. (pp.103-123). Boston : Pearson. https://www.csu.edu.au/division/library/ereserve/pdf/kuratko-d1.pdf

Scott-Webber, L. (2012). Institutions, educators, and designers: Wake up!: Current teaching and learning places along with teaching strategies are obsolete-teaching styles and learning spaces must change for 21st-century needs. Planning for Higher Education. 41(1), 265-277.

And What A Journey It Has Been

600 words to summarise my personal learning and involvement in the subject does not seem to be enough. Surely that will barely touch the sides… Therefore I will focus on the key components that have stuck with me.

The module I enjoyed the most was Module 3: Knowledge Networks – Connected communities, open access, and connected learning. This module covered a range of areas I am already highly involved with, so to delve into the topic deeper was highly interesting and engaging. Chapter 4 of Conole’s (2012) book, Designing For Learning in an Open World was shared with us and after reading through it I found myself purchasing the whole book. Although it was written in 2012 and technology advances at an alarming rate, I found Conole’s writings to be very relevant of the learning happening in our schools currently; not only with the students but with the teachers as well.

One of the discussions that arose from this module was about open, social and participatory media. I remember looking through some of the comments and feeling overwhelmed by the detail some of my fellow students had gone into. How on earth could I match that? But reading on from there I found some comments more at my level of research and understanding.

After writing a comment myself (see below image), I was enlightened to see some of the responses. Having had minimal comments on my blog posts, it felt great to be heard and have some interaction with fellow students. In saying that, there was plenty of interaction with my peers on Twitter using #INF530 to communicate.

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A big focus of this unit has been on how 21st century technologies have changed education. Although the role of the teacher may differ from previous years, Godsey (2015) stresses that teachers still hold the position of motivators, creators and facilitators. The 21st century focus on problem based, child based, real life related, creative inquiry and play based learning is magnified with the introduction of connected learning and digital technologies. It needs to be stressed, however, that the focus is on good pedagogy, rather than the technology that is being used. The technology is simply a tool to assist in good teaching and learning (Crockett, 2012).

I consider myself to be a big Twitter user, however, going back through the hashtag (INF530) has lead me to believe that my peers tweet more than me. I would often find myself looking through posts or resources posted by someone else. or reading through their replies to one-another without being able to add to the discussion. I am looking forward to future units as I now know what to expect. The goal next semester with be to stay ahead of the modules. This way I will be able to post my ideas and immediately, unlike this semester where I have jumped onto the discussion forums only to find my question already answered or my thoughts already voiced.

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I have to admit that I only enjoyed the second of the major assignments required in this unit, the digital essay. Although we got to choose our book for the book review, I felt rushed and wasn’t entirely happy with my finished assignment. In a way it was a good experience as it encouraged me to do better in the digital essay. Only time will tell if that belief comes to fruition. The digital essay was also more enjoyable as it allowed me to explore Module 3 and social media use in education in even more detail.

Moving forward with the rest of my Masters, I feel more prepared and have expectations of what the upcoming units with bring. I truly believe I made the right decision by dropping one of my units early on. It was difficult enough to work though the content of one subject with a newborn baby let alone two. A big thanks to Judy for being so understanding and available to me throughout this unit.

References:

Churches, A., Crockett, L., & Jukes, I. Literacy is not enough: 21st century fluencies for the digital age. Corwin Press: San Francisco.

Conole, G. (2012). Designing for learning in an open world. Springer: New York, NY.

Godsey, M. (2015). Deconstruction of the K-12 teacher. The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/03/the-deconstruction-of-the-k-12-teacher/388631/

Blog Task Three

It has been incredibly interesting and engaging reading through everyone’s blog posts. I’ve found myself getting carried away at times (whoops, forgot to cook dinner. Looks like we’ll be having takeaway). As a teacher who has only been out of university for just over three years, it is amazing to see the wealth of knowledge within this cohort. Reading through your thoughts and discussions has given me so many ideas to incorporate not only into my teaching but into my personal learning.

Posts like Andrew Dixon’s titled Things I should Have Listened To My Lecturer About #1 – An Ongoing Series, where he discusses how he should have been using Evernote. I hear you loud and clear Andrew!! It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels a little overwhelmed at times.

I felt drawn back to certain posts. One especially, where I wrote a quick comment and felt that I had not expanded enough or shared my own knowledge. So I returned and added yet another comment (sorry for the bombardment Linda Weeks). Or posts who used tools which I use often in the classroom but never thought of incorporating into my blog posts. Katherine Herbert used ThingLink on her blog Space For Thinking to show her comments. What a great idea!! And so I created my own.

Having to read through the blog posts as a required task has been enlightening to me. I’m looking forward to getting more involved in the coming weeks, through blog posts, comments and Twitter. Thanks for all your insights.

INF530 Reflections – The Information Environment

It is incorrect to assume that all students these days are digital natives. Just because they were born in an age where technology is used frequently does not mean that they are born with advanced technological skills, or even with access to technology. I have seen this first hand when working with students over the last few years. The range of knowledge and skills is expansive, from students who have their own blogs set up to others who have never laid hands on an iPad.

My classroom is set up as a contemporary learning environment where students are encouraged to work at their own level to solve problems. There is continual growth with this setup, with students wanting to achieve higher personal results than they have previously. Students are encouraged to use a range of no tech, low tech and high tech resources, and share their knowledge of Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 9.35.21 PMthese tools in ‘watering holes’ or ‘campfires’. As teachers, we use the six fluencies from the 21st Century Fluency Project to create a range of problem-based tasks that relate to real-world experiences for our students. (See more on my personal blog).

It was interesting to read about preservation of data and think about what we are keeping and how we are preserving it. At present we are using a mix of cloud based tools (Google Classroom, Dropbox, etc), hard drives, which students back up once a week, as well as hard copies of documents. The catholic schools in Western Australia have recently started using SEQTA which is a great tool that encompasses a range of areas. But a lot of training is needed to prepare teachers to use it successfully and, unfortunately, many are only using it to take the roll twice a day.

The use of SEQTA within our schools also raises the question, ‘are we preserving the right information?‘ I feel that the answer is sometimes no. As educators we bring out different strengths in students. I feel that at times certain pieces of information should be left in the past or forgotten so that children have a ‘fresh start’ and can be involved in their learning without prejudices from prior experiences. For example: a child has used their device outside of the classroom and been told off for it. Does this need to be put onto their SEQTA record to follow them for the rest of their schooling? Surely there are more important notes to be taking!

Helen Haste talks about the Five Competencies that young people need in education for the future. She also discusses the conceptScreen Shot 2015-03-16 at 9.24.35 PM that 21st Century students are collaborative tool users who need a range of competencies to thrive in an ever-changing environment. I agree with this statement. In 2014 one of my students moved overseas for a semester. This lead me to create a virtual classroom (Google Classroom) where I embedded a range of flipped learning tasks and activities. Having a virtual classroom not only enabled this student to stay up with the work her peers were doing, but was a fantastic lesson on for all students on how to adapt to change. They needed to use a range of new and old tools effectively to complete their tasks successfully.

I know that I am going to be challenged by the content in this subject but I am looking forward to expanding on my personal knowledge so that I am able to better teach my students and peers. I already have so many new ideas that I am looking forward to incorporating into my 21st Century learning environment.

References:

Blog Post #1 – INF541

It is a struggle for me to view myself as a gamer. As a child my siblings avoided giving me the Nintendo remotes, knowing that Mario would be die immediately or the car I was driving would continually crash into the wall. The only game I was any good at was Tetris, and all three of my siblings still had higher scores than me. However, when it came to a game of Monopoly, Scrabble or Guess Who I was continually victorious.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 10.21.58 PMThese days I watch and listen to my students discuss MindCraft with passion and Call of Duty, arguing over who has unlocked the next level. I observe as they watch the new Halo trailer together, questioning each other over how good it is going to be, and now… I want in! I want to feel that excitement over online gaming and know how to incorporate something they enjoy so much into the classroom.

Our students are growing up in a constantly changing environment of information consumption, interpretation and sharing. Reading, writing and arithmetic are no longer enough in order for them to grow in their educations and careers.

StudeScreen Shot 2015-03-08 at 10.23.48 PMnts in the 21st Century need to sift through a vast assortment of information to formulate plans of action (National Education Society, 2013). Introducing serious games into education not only addresses the three Rs but is guiding our students towards achieving the four Cs; Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity and Innovation, all of which are necessary skills of a 21st Century learner.

“The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and emphasizers, pattern recognisers and meaning makers. These people… will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.”
– Daniel Pink

Students learn from the cultures and communities that are built around games. Incorporating games into education means that students will be moving from a passive approach to learning to an active or interactive approach.

By integrating subject specific content into games, teachers can build student engagement and excitement which, in turn, will assist in learning concepts which would otherwise be difficult to grasp. Understandably there needs to be involvement from the teacher, not only in the classroom during the game but also before and after playing the game. Game based learning requires the teacher to become fully immersed with the culture and communities around them.

My classroom is set up as a contemporary learning space with a large focus on problem based learning. As I move forward with Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 10.25.46 PMthis subject, I am continually coming across ideas as well as resources that will be of benefit to my students. Not only will some of the recommended games further their knowledge on specific subjects, but also assist in creating 21st Century learners. Learners who think deeply and more abstractly, socialise with others around the world, are driven to feel success, learn from trial and error and grow in the area of teamwork and collaboration.

According to Marc Prensley (2007) I am a ‘digital native’, as are my students. But as technology and games continue to grow at a hectic pace we are left in a quandary. How can we, as educators, stay up with the ever-increasing pace of games and technology? How do we know we are sharing relevant and up to date information? I believe that in this instance it is important to step into your students’ shoes and be the learner, because they too have knowledge to share with you.

 

Pink, D. (2011). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. New York: Riverhead.

Jennings, J. (2014). Teachers re-evaluate value of video games. Sydney Morning Herald. Accessed on 1st March at http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/teachers-reevaluate-value-of-video-games-20141130-11jw0i.html 

National Education Society. (2013). Preparing 21st Century Students for a Global Society: An Educator’s Guide to the “Four Cs”. http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/A-Guide-to-Four-Cs.pdf

Prensley, M. (2007). Digital Game Based Learning. Paragon House: New York.