Tag Archives: Effective Pedagogy

Changes in Teaching Philosophy

15 Apr

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With the changing role of the teacher, we have never been more important with the best of us being  continuous learners who operate within the strong disciplinary framework of our subject areas. We are living in a technologically fast changing world where, as teachers, we need to be models of adaptability to our students. Schools create the professional space for genuine teacher reflection and learning and acknowledge and support teachers who are at different stages. They also give the space and permission to teachers to take acceptable risks to explore new approaches in a supportive environment. In short, a teacher needs to become a modern connected learner himself/herself and embrace the tools and see the potential of how they can open up new and different ways of learning in their curriculum area or year level. Until they do that, little will change. With this in mind it is important to remember that.

Teachers and Learners need to not only be well connected but also be provisioned with well-chosen tools that enable genuine collaboration, communication, creativity and innovation – i.e. to open up new and different ways of learning to occur (p36 NZ Curriculum). Learning tools should be cloud-based and low or zero cost to enable easy access for all students from anywhere and at any time. The ICT infrastructure must be an enabler, rather than a disabler which can frustrate and impede progress – teaching & learning, as opposed to administration, management or other, must be the priority when choosing tools. Student devices (BYOD) are now not an option but are an essential component for students to access their online tools to enable their ability to learn from anywhere and at any time. Their devices should work seamlessly at school and from home. With appropriate learning tools and infrastructure in place.

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Classroom Walkthroughs

17 Jan

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Conducting classroom walkthroughs is not a new concept. This year as a Leader of Learning group I would like to pursue these further. These can be powerful tools but only when used correctly. Here are some of my thoughts on these:

  1. Do it together.

It is a partnership. Classroom walk-throughs are not meant to be conducted in isolation. Have staff walk through classroom. This way, the teachers conducting the walkthroughs can debrief after each visit, discussing what strategies the teacher was utilizing. Make it safe and relational. You want staff to embrace and discuss the data, not be defensive. It can be stressful so to avoid this concern, leave a post-it note on the teacher’s desk at the end. Pick out one positive instructional element and praise them for it. This will put them at ease and open the door for future conversations.

  1. Purposeful and Authentic

Classroom walk-throughs need to be a priority. Time must be scheduled to do these. It is important that these are at different times of the day.

  1. Share the Data

Like in any case collecting data will not be of any service to anyone unless it is shared, analyzed, discussed and acted upon. Remember to be clinical, not critical with the analysis. Use the Data To Make Change. Remember data is useless unless you do something with it. Once the data is analyzed, discussed, and digested, use the data to decide where you need to go with professional development.

Have you had much success with classroom walkthroughs? Have you any tips for me as I go forward with these?

A Change in the Classroom

10 Oct

mentor-cartoon

Change happens whether we like it or not. Schools were instituted upon two fundamental certainties:

(1) Knowledge has unique value and is known best by experts

(2) The way we communicate with each other is limited by time and, very often, location.

In New Zealand have seen very significant shifts in these certainties in recent years, shifts that should have significant implications for schools.

I have been contemplating this change by keeping in mind the tools we have and our students use. What use is knowledge in the age of the smartphone? Most students carry the sum total of human information with them each day. A great deal of teaching must go around this too. If a taxi driver takes you to your destination from memory or GPS, do you care? If the GPS version is cheaper, do you begin to care?

My daughter the other night had the task of adding roman numerals for homework. To solve the problem she used a smart phone. I am certain that is not the way her teacher intended the task to be solved by that was it was awesome to observe.

Do we allow the same freedom to students with basic questions that Google can answer for them or do we judge them critically for using technology that they use naturally on a daily basis in every circumstance except school? If Siri knows basic arithmetic and the capitals of the world, do we still need to spend time on these thing?

These are the questions we should be asking to ensure we are heading in the right direction for our students? For it means more time teaching critical thinking and messy play.

Improving Pedagogy

21 Jun

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In my opinion the best way to improve pedagogy is to speak to the students who are in the classrooms. Recently our students provided the followed recommendations to us through the curriculum survey which I thought were worth sharing:

  • less teacher talk: which we are thinking about making this a class challenge: How can we give you the student more opportunities to just get on with it AND make sure you have the instructions you need?
  • More hands on: they just crave opportunities to make and create. Make tasks relevant.
  • Clarify what “progress” means: students don’t seem to understand the role of activating prior knowledge and that learning is evidenced by growth from that base line (this may mean we have to also vary the way we collect this prior knowledge)
  • Continue the learning assets (e.g. self managers): students understand and can articulate these as they give a framework they use to improve and set goals – maybe include these in the letters students write to their new 2015 teachers.
  • Maintain the excursions as they love them for the powerful information and shared experience they provide.
  • Keep connecting to the community: they enjoy learning from experts in the community. Again see the point regarding relevant learning and assessment tasks.

The New Age

31 Oct

Connecting

To me, 21st century learning in an elementary school has the same overall goals as a secondary school: it’s only the implementation that differs. We want students to be practicing the 4 C’s: communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. They should be producing content, not just consuming it passively. Though technology isn’t synonymous with 21st century learning, it IS an integral part of it, and it’s often the set of tools that makes this new approach to teaching and learning possible. The purpose of technology used in a 21st century classroom should be (in my opinion) to connect students with their world and enable them learn from others and to share their own ideas. It should also be used to differentiate the curriculum so that students are learning on their own developmental levels and are able to pursue their unique interests and passions.

I think that’s one of the greatest things about technology and one of the most exciting aspects of the vision for 21st century schools: that children are no longer all forced to learn the same thing the same way just because the teacher doesn’t have a simple way to differentiate. I don’t think we’re quite at the point where technology makes it “simple” to differentiate instruction, but certainly simpler. And with the thousands of new apps and websites being launched each day, I believe the quality and a variety of tools available for teachers is going to continue increasing. Even the most tech-averse teacher will be saying in 10 years, Wow,  really makes it easier to help my students. How did I ever live without this? Many of us have already reached that point with tech tools in our personal lives our teaching lives are going to be transformed soon, too. For some teachers, that’s already a reality, and it’s amazing to see.

Impact of the New National Curriculum on Online Learning

5 Aug

“Pedagogy can be defined as a combination of knowledge and skills required for effective teaching. Online learning requires a different approach to pedagogy, also known as virtual pedagogy or epedagogy.” (University of Adelaide, 2009).

The New Zealand Curriculum is one of the most significant changes to the educational landscape in New Zealand since the introduction of standards based assessment, with the Qualifications Framework and the National Certificate of Education Achievement, NCEA. Today all state schools within New Zealand are expected to be offering educational programmes that are in line with the new curriculum. The overall Vision of the curriculum is to create young people who will be confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learners. (The New Zealand Curriculum 2007, p7)

At the student learning end of the New National Curriculum, the curriculum is comprised of Values, Key Competencies and Learning Areas. Values are deeply held beliefs that motivate behaviour such as excellence, innovation, inquiry and curiosity, diversity, equity, ecological sustainability and integrity. The Key Competencies are described as capabilities for living and lifelong learning.

Thinking, using Language, symbols and texts, managing self, relating to others, participating and contributing, will all be competencies that people can expect to draw on throughout life. They also provide the basis for the future learning in these specialised learning areas. These ideals had to be clearly immersed into my vision of online learning. As a school we are using Ultranet and Office 365.

As a staff we have been working through a process that is bringing staff up to speed with the necessary changes, especially within the specific learning areas.

We have been looking at how the nature of our special character and commitment to our independent learner profile marries with the principles, values and key competencies of the NZ Curriculum. There may be some differences in the language used, but mostly we hold very similar views. We believe that through effective pedagogy, best practice in line with our teaching charter, and embedding the independent learner profile, students will develop as young people who will be confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learners. What better time to launch this blended leaning environment.

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