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Ulearn Reflections

8 teachers from our cluster attented ULearn this year and outline some of the effect the conference had on them.

Over 1800 teachers were gathered together in Sky City (in one hall!). There were teachers from all types of school across New Zealand plus some from Australia and some from as far as UK and USA. The conference was cross subject / cross curricular, cross phase as well as cross country.

We were treated to inspiring Keynote speakers who reminded us why we do our job, followed by high quality workshops designed to give us some additional tools to help us do our job. Post – conference, Core – Education ran an on-line feedback rating survey which was averaging about 4.7+ out of 5, demonstrating that the wider audience concur with my judgements as to conference quality.

Furthermore, there was also that vital element of the informal discussions between colleagues from differing schools. I found myself in professional conversations with, not only teachers from various High School subjects but also Primary and Intermediate School practitioners along with someone who delivers their lessons through the medium of sign language.

My target on return to school has been to investigate the interactive capabilities of my Interactive White Board combined with the tools offered by Microsoft Learning Suite – hence the workshops I chose to attend were specifically geared to this end.

On the shared journey home it was clear that my colleagues and I had found the experience well worthwhile and were ‘fired up’ to put into practice our new learning when we returned to the classroom.

Teacher Two

This was a highly motivating conference with virtually every Breakout and Keynote providing either motivation or resources for changes to make in the way forward.

Ideas to be put into practice in my classroom

  • ·         SOLO taxonomy based on Pam Hooks work.

This will fit in well with the work we have done on thinking tools this year. It could be used as part of the school wide professional development next year to link thinking tools to levels of thinking in a way that is easily accessible to all students and has the potential for them to easily see how to lift their level of performance by using a higher level of thinking. (www.pamhook.com)

  • ·         Effective e-learning practices that impact on student outcomes.  Mary Anne Mills

This looked at ways of bringing learning alive through e-learning. Important to start getting teachers using these tools so they can integrate them in their teaching. Would like to see teachers using blogs as part to the reflection process of the school PD. Could use the Ultranet blog on the teachers page to get this started.

Other ideas such as using a facebook page to create online interaction eg for teaching Shakespeare. Lots of websites to explore.

  • ·         Web 2.0 tools : Creating    Jacque Allen

Flipping the classroom is an attractive idea. Need to look at implementing some flipped lessons as part of developing the L3 new course.

An emphasis on all the ways to use video in the classroom as well as pictures and ipad apps. Would like to use this is my classroom using voice threads, video feedback and videos of lessons to enhance my teaching practice and gather evidence for reflection. Use Interface magazine to keep up with what is being used by teachers and how effective they are finding them. ( cooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com)

  • ·         Question Askers or Question Answerers   Trevor Bond

This focussed on how to get students to ask good questions. Giving students a framework of skills to access higher level questions. Again something that I plan to integrate into my classroom practice possibly using the questioning Waka approach. (http://question-skills.wikispaces.com/Questioning+Framework)

  • ·         Using Open Data in the Classroom  Edwin Bruce

Gave important exposure to sites will need to use when developing the new statistics curriculum across all levels. Also focus on being good digital citizens and using open data.

  • ·         Glen Capelli

Importance of pausing to revisit what has just been covered. Get students to talk to each other about it. Blended Learning – ipad app Thinking caps

  • ·         EPIC – importance of use of EPIC and other resources available through the National Library digital services including data sets for stats.

Teacher Three

What an incredible experience! Possibly one of the best PDs I’ve experienced.
Why?

1.    I have returned to school with a very clear focus for my own teaching and learning. Even more significantly, for our own school-wide goals.

These include developing new topics for our Professional Learning Groups for 2013 such as Thinking Tools, Digital citizenship, (revisiting) Ultranet – Uspace, e-portfolios, and resources such as Epic, DigitalNZ.   We have signed up with eTV as a way of sharing information and creating relevant resources.

2.    The wide range of excellent keynote and breakout speakers left me with an array of ideas, resources, stories and inspiration. Many of these I have already shared with other people with the help of eTV. The conference was well run and being with like-minded colleagues was refreshing.

3.    I have been given the encouragement and tools to develop ‘flipped’ lessons into my teaching programme next year. I have started experimenting with podcasts, screencasts and vodcasts. And I’m very excited about this new project and it all happened because of the conference experience.  I am the Head of a Department and I envision that the new ideas will be filtered into all my departments classes and then into other school departments.

4.    I have also been made aware of new resources that I am hoping to purchase in 2013. These are Britannica Digital images, FlipPal, Microphone and ipods. I have seen how these resources can be successfully utilised in lessons.

The ULEARN conference is vital for discovering best practise and to receive the inspiration and courage to move forward in our teaching. The students  reap the benefits of the experience. Thank you for the opportunity and I hope I have the chance to go next year.

Teacher Four - Notes on Presentation to Staff on Return from Ulearn;
Hi everyone,
Here are the links for the websites I shared at staff meeting today:

LEGAL imagery:http://www.creativecommons.org.nz/
http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/

Research:http://www.digitalnz.org/

Magazine-style inspiration:

http://www.scoop.it/

And my 2 favourites:

http://pinterest.com/ (for inspiration and creating pin boards)

http://www.instagrok.com/ (mind-mapping/research)

Teacher 5

I came back and my head was spinning! I came back so inspired and excited about better, more focused teaching. What have I used? SOLO Taxonomy, which I used hand signals for when questioning, was a great tool for getting my girls builidng on their answers when questioning. I attended a workshop on making podcasts (and vodcasts, and possibly in the future, screencasts!). I have strarted creating my first few poscasts for my Year 9 RE class (lots of content) using Audacity to edit and add sound effects (armies fighting, people praying etc). Having these available from the start of the year means the girls have an option to access content out of class so we can get into thinking tools IN class. I am so excited about this. I also joined Twitter...that is in progress. I've begun to make some serious plans for next year - linking my Year 9 RE class into Jenny's 'flipped classroom' research. Going to use more online news stories and resources for Year 10. And I am so excited about blogging on Ultranet USpace! Have some other plans in place for Eportfolios in Year 10 and 11. Can our server handle it? Guess we'll find out!

 Teacher 6

The conference venue was pleasant but somewhat cramped, especially in the thoroughfares between sessions and perhaps not up to the numbers that attended. I found the conference Keynote speakers disappointing  - all being overseas speakers and ‘motivational’ conceptually. Khoa Do (AUS)  - filmmaker’s speech seemed particularly irrelevant to an IT learning conference. Jason Ohler (US) and Kevin Honeycutt (US) at least tried to stay on the learning with IT theme but both can be easily access doing the same sorts of things on UTube, so come across as professional conference speakers and did little to inspire me really. Glenn Capelli (AUS I think) was so off the wall that it was difficult to find the message or relevance, and  I found his entire presentation a waste of time. In short then I would have liked to see some NZ input in the Keynotes and themes that related more to the actual NZ IT learning environment.

I found the workshops of variable quality, and good choices were largely a matter of luck with so many on offer. I had on-going problems with the website and the online booking system never worked for me (and others) at all so I had to beg my way into some sessions. Highlight for me was the Minecraft workshop run by Tony Richards  - who looked at using this programme. I was interested in this because of the interest shown by students here. The two Microsoft Sessions run by Mark woods an Karl De Borst were also valuable and I have asked Richard here to look into implementing Microsoft Learning Suite applications on our school network. Office 365 should also be investigated in my opinion. Other workshops were forgettable and there was a preponderance of iPad related workshops that I don’t see as particularly relevant to the Secondary sector. In fact my observation was that the conference seemed more relevant to the Primary sector than the Secondary sector with respect to workshop themes.

Sponsors displays were of a high standard at this conference in my opinion and provided a great opportunity to see what’s around at the present time.

Conference food was good, and I avoided the huge queues by requiring a special diet. The conference dinner was a bit overwhelming given the numbers who attended and I don’t much care for 80’s Disco (which was the theme). Accommodation was excellent and very close to the venue (Thanks John).

• how feedback has been shared in your school,

Early Term Four was an extremely busy time for all and opportunity for a  staff presentation didn’t eventuate. I shared observations one on one in conversation with some staff members and The cluster facilitator of course.

• highlights

Minecraft and Microsoft workshops and trade displays
Microsoft Learning Suite