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  • cross-posted from http://virtualicteltpd.ning.com/profiles/blogs/an-overlooked-learning-environment

    In education, the most important, primary, and over-looked 'modern learning environment' is the space between our ears. How we think, what we think, and why we think it, catalyses and forms functional and inhabitable learning spaces wherever we present ourselves as educators.
    How I cultivate my mindset with a focus on growth, and how I choose to nurture my neurons, will ultimately shape the physical, virtual, and energetic spatial fields that will take shape around me. How I think, my pedagogical beliefs, shape the learning spaces where I work, and I want to be increasingly conscious of this. My beliefs shape my environment, regardless of whether or not I'm aware of them. Addressing what exactly modern learning practices and environments are allows us to re-engage with our own beliefs and values about what education means in the 21st century.
    To uproot a garden of learning ideas shaped by an industrial, consumerist, competitive paradigm, driven by fear and scarcity, with a new bed of learning ideas shaped by knowledge building, learner agency, collaboration, and connectedness, informed by the notion of 'growth' and by environmental awareness, is no 'mean feat'. To operate balanced with a foot in each world is our challenge as educators, as a shift between ways of thinking about learning and the resources and infrastructure required, will take time.
    A growth mindset and an emphasis on 'process praise' is as much about an empathetic expansion of the heart and its capacity to feel, as it is an expansion of the mind, of growing neurons to increase the capacity to think. Having an expansive heart and mind located in the learning space of my body will inevitably change the quality of my actions and interactions with the people and living things surrounding me. In a good way too, I trust.

  • Cross posted from http://inspire-innovate-educate.blogspot.co.nz/2014/05/digital-mihi.html

    I presented the first 5 slides to the participants. Below are my speaker notes.

    Why mihi?
    Mihi is a way of establishing a connection with an audience. We are looking to tell a story, to establish links or find commonalities, to establish our identity and in some cases to establish our credibility.

    Why digital?

    Mihi are traditionally delivered orally but using a digital format enables accesssibility for all. (Multi lingual, sign language, voice over recording, text and images) 
    Adding images allow you personalisation, to tell your story your way, images give us more
    information than text alone can, you can add sounds and music to your images.
    Images = building a story = building a connection, we are more likely to engage when someone shares information as a story, the act of storytelling relaxes us, makes us feel safe, is familiar to us, allowing us to more easily process and retain new information.


    Embed + link + share, being a digital format means you can link to your mihi online or embed it into a presentation shared online. You can also share your story more widely engaging a wider audience and connecting beyond face to face.

    Telling a story 
    More on the importance of storytelling as part of presenting, includes a link to a stunning piece on the psychology of storytelling.

    What's in a mihi?
    Traditional and modern options. Modern allows you to share as much or as little as you like, to share what is important to you and what is appropriate to your audience.

    How do I want to share? 
    Time for you to think about what you want to include, how you want to share, what format you want to use. 

    The next slides are like a mini inquiry - you pick your path through getting more information, examples or tools to produce you own mihi.

    Feel free to have a go with your students, your colleagues, yourself, use my links and have fun!
  • Earlier this week I participated in the Google Summit and so am fully googled inspired. : )
    I would like to share some of my new learning with you all.
    One of the google features I have not made full use of in the past is the google form. Many of the workshops used google forms at the beginning to gather starting data about the participants and to get feedback at the end. 3 questions seemed to be a good number to gather info but not make the task onerous.

    for the full post click here

  • imageI introduced my granddaughter to blogging over the holidays.  Her mother is off touring in the USA and I thought it would be an ideal time for the two of us to work on improving her writing which her teacher tested for and judged (triangulated, no doubt) in a snapshot at the end of the year as "Below the National Standard".  Shock, horror!  
    So drawing on what little I know about "writing for improvement", we decided to set up her ipad with Blogpress and encourage her blogging with the aim of writing to an authentic audience.  Subject matter abounds in the holidays.  "Write about your holiday experiences, share with other people and see what they have to say," I urged her.  Here is the resulting blog - Hunter's Blog

    Initially, I had hoped for 20 views for her blog at the maximum, after all it takes time to build an audience and even more time for the "authentic audience" to respond with some comments.  That seems to be a common theme across schools.  I wonder who has seen a blog from a successful blogger at intermediate level in New Zealand so that Hunter can compare and contrast?

    What I found was her audience was twice as big as mine from the beginning.  Oh, Blog Envy, I think it needs to be number eight of the deadly sins. I have begun to question why I do not have a larger audience.   Is it because she is 12 and I am 60? How can I cast my net further?  Is my writing boring?  I suppose I do ramble on about education a lot, is it just something most people are not interested in?  Oh well, I suppose it comes back to the purpose of blogging.  For me it is reflective.  Having said that I certainly do want to share these thoughts with people, after all , its not  much fun being an island, is it?

    So I can gnash my teeth for the next five months but really it comes down to what have I learned from observing the changes in her attitude to writing?  

    • I learned it makes a real difference to be able to use technology and not have to rewrite to the teacher's satisfaction, a multitude of edits in handwriting until your hand aches.
    • I learned it really does make a difference if you know someone else is going to be reading your writing.  There is a sense of urgency in wanting to edit and get it right.
    • I learned you really have to think about what you believe (actually I knew this already but it was pleasing to watch this process going on in the young mind)
    • I learned you can really make it "your own work" with adding your own images.  Adding the right photos has been a fun part of the process, as well as giving a sense of ownership.
    • I learned that there are so many teaching opportunities when children write blogs, like the digital citizenship issue that came up when my granddaughter wanted to use an image from Google, (you shouldn't just help yourself to other peoples pictures and, yes, cartoons belong to people, too).
    • I learned there are lovely people out there who can really make a difference in a young girl's life by commenting and encouraging and supporting blogging.  
    • I learned you really can enjoy doing homework in the holidays (actually I knew that already, too, but someone else didn't.)


    Yes, Grandma learned a lot these holidays. And I think Hunter did, too. Blog on, Hunter!

  • I shared the following notes with arthistorynet last week, during a discussion about how teachers had experienced their year implementing the newly aligned achievement standards and re-vamped prescription for level 3 art history. My focus for the year was primarily targeting my course design, using Knowledge Building Communities principles to frame all aspects of my teaching...
    I mentioned early this year that I was going to try out quite a radical redesign of all aspects of my teaching to my level 3 art history class. I think its gone amazingly well, I'm presenting my findings etc at the Knowledge Building symposium in Dunedin, at Otago University, in a couple of weeks, so I'll share that presentation here (when its written!).

    Rest of the post is here.

  • As I draw breath after the report writing mini-marathon we all have at this time of year and reflect back over my own experience of the year I would have to say it was a mini-marathon also - run at sprint pace! The year began with the OK to trial Inquiry based practice.  Then came the but... it could only involve the afternoon programme (Science/Social Studies/Health essentially). That was not what I had in mind so incorporated the three R's at every possible moment, therefore the morning programme too. We got as far as our constantly interrupted days allowed and enjoyed every minute as I became facilitator rather than just teacher...cross posted from the VPLD community...

    read the rest of this post...

  • This discussion from the VLN Enabling eLearning professional learning community, relating to PLD in today's environment, is an excellent summary of opportunities and challenges we face. The VPLD programme offers a blend of ongoing virtual mentor meetings, webinars, an annual face-to-face hui, monthly newsletters and an active online community of practice where special interest groups are facilitated by participants. 

  • He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.  

    What is the most important thing in the world? Its people, people, people.

    De ThomasDe Thomas will be facilitating this webinar, with a focus on focus on Māori students learning as Māori.

    Some of the key questions that will be addressed during the session are:

    • Rangatiratanga – can you be a rangatira if you are not Maori?
    • What does it mean to be a rangatira?
    • How do I move ahead with students who don’t look, sound, or think like me?
    • Why do I have to engage with whanau?
    • How do I get to iwi? Actually, who are they and why do they count?

    In the webinar she will share with you some practical strategies for the classroom, and there should be heaps of opportunities to ask questions, talk about your own experiences, and share ideas. If you would like to find out a bit more about De's motivations, ideas and thinking, you can visit her blog at: http://maoriachievement.blogspot.co.nz/

    Time: August 14, 2013 from 3:45pm to 4:45pm
    Location: Adobe Connect
    Event Type: webinar
    Organized By: VPLD Team

    To find out more and to register your interest please go to: http://bit.ly/1c4NC9p

  • This week I had my first taste of hosting student-led conferences in place of the traditional parent-teacher interviews. IT WAS FANTASTIC - HERE’S WHY …...

    1. It’s all about the process:

    I spent the past 6 weeks supporting 14 students in the planning of their conferences. We moved through a process of collecting data on and evidence of learning, analyzing it, reflecting on successes and challenges and planning next steps … all which link to a student's future pathway. Now that the conferences have come around, I’m merely a supporter of the student as they present what is essentially the result of an inquiry into themselves.


    2. Students are empowered with data about their own learning:

    Never before have I, as a teacher, had access to so much data about my students. My school uses the KAMAR system where I can readily access data about a students attendance, moderated and unmoderated assessments, standards they are entered for and much, much more. Sharing this data with the students makes their successes and challenges transparent and is a great starting point for analysis, reflection, and goal setting. It also empowers students to have greater knowledge of NCEA which allows them to personalize their learning programme to suit them.


    3. Having a holistic picture of the student allows me to better support the student:

    In a traditional Secondary school a teacher may have little knowledge or experience of a student beyond their subject. When it comes to parent-teacher interviews, their advice is narrow is its focus with conversation rarely evolving beyond behavior and achievement in their classroom. Moving through the student-led conference process with students allows me to see patterns, identify skills that need development and see the challenges a student may face from a holistic perspective. As a result  I am able to better support the student and whanau in planning next steps, instead of leaving students and whanau to piece it together themselves.


    4. It shines a light on my own practice:

    During this process I have been challenged to understand the facilitation and demands of curriculum subjects other than my own. I have learned about folios and courses heavily focused on externals, as well as many different ways courses are facilitated. I have also witnessed students making cross-curricular links. One of my students discussed in her student-led conference how she applied her learning about skin cancer in Science to the topic of her writing in English … which has me thinking about how I can better support students and work with other teachers to develop such cross curricular links further.


    5. Positive parent feedback:

    I love watching a student beam as their whanau tells them, “Wow, I’m really proud of you!” Parents seem truly engaged in what their student is sharing in their confrences. Also, I feel that this style of conferencing breaks down barriers between school and families. Today, I participated in a conference in which the student discussed her progress with her mother in Vietnamese. I can’t help think that that parent may have been much less likely to attend parent-teacher conferences if she was faced with 5 one-on-one conferences in English.


    6. Motivating

    Even as we are quickly approaching the end of Term 2, my students are feeling motivated and driven as they look towards Term 3. They now all have in place ‘next steps’ and a focus for next term which they have determined for themselves. They can see how what they are doing now contributes to where they want to be in the future!

    So, overall I’m sold on student-led conferences. I have been impressed by the quality of reflection and planning done by my students and happy to step back as they lead the charge in the next steps of their learning journey.

  • Links are being added to the VPLD group page for you to access before, during and after our Hui.

    Check them out at the top of the homepage.