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Evernote has been an outstanding tool in our class room this year.

We have moved to a 1:1 ipad program which has presented many challenges, one of which was how to record students work and how would they be able to publish work.

Enter Evernote! I have been a long time user of Evernote on both desktop and iPhone to take notes, as a to do list and to save my ideas. It took me sometime to realise its potential in an education setting, but I’m glad I did. 

Each student has the Evernote app on their iPad and have also installed the program on all the school desktops. Students not only use Evernote as a word processor on the iPad but also as a portfolio and reflection tool. In my Math sessions for example, no matter the topic at the end of the session I get the student to take a photo of what they have been doing in the session with a short reflection. As I refine the use of it, learn more about it and the students get even more familiar with it I see it making assessment much easier as everything I need is recorded. Evernote also has a share function that enables me to see the students notebooks from my desktop. If the students need to print something, they simply log on to one of the desktops and print their note from there.

I am a massive fan of this amazing program and look forward to doing more with it in the future.

Please feel free to share how you use it and your experiences with Evernote

Going through my google reader recently, I stumbled upon an atricle titled ‘5 Reasons to “Gamify” You Class’. The article sparked my interest and lead my to look into ‘Gamification’ further. I feel like I’m a little late on this idea as my search revealed many articles and sites on the topic.

To me ‘Gamification’ made me think of the term ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’. Our students whether we like it or not a playing computer games at an enormous rate, in particular boys and the trend only looks to be increasing. ‘Gamification’ looks at why games are so popular, engaging and often addictive and aims to incorporate these aspects into an education setting.

Bellow are some links to videos and sites on the topic of Gamification that I have found interesting, informative and in the case of John Hunter’s speech inspiring.

John Hunter: Teaching with the World Peace Game (TED Talks)

Gabe Zichermann: Gamification (TED Talks)

Website: superfunner.com

Tom Chatfield: 7 Ways Games Reward the Brain

My own thoughts

After watching the videos and reading further about the subject, it made me think about some of the games I played when I was young and some of the games I still play.

I thought about the game ‘Pokemon’ which I am unashamed to say I was addicted to when it first came out on the Nintedo Game Boy way back in 1996. I chose my starting Pokemon and raised him and earned badges by defeating opponents and completing different tasks. I remember wanting my Pokemon to get stronger and looking forward to them evolving and changing, the anticipation and reward of my little creature learning something new or catching a new Pokemon was enough to see me play and focus on the game for hours at a time.

What if at the start of the year, each student got to choose a little creature either digitally or from a couple that have been printed, every time they completed or attempted a task at school whatever it may be they gained experience points to go toward growing their little creature. At designated levels the students creature may have the to option of evolving, changing names, learning new powers or attacks.  The aim is to have the students as engaged in their learning through game like rewards as they would be playing a video game.

Gamification isn’t without its sceptics and doubters:

These article warn about token motivation and what happens if or when the novelty wears off. They talk about psychological factors that influence our engagement and need to achieve.

Have a look at both sides and make up your own mind.

What are your thoughts and ideas on ‘Gamification’?

Have you or do you know of anyone that has tried to Gamify their classroom?

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Just uttering the word ‘Ultranet’ around teachers is enough to stir emotion. Its fair to say I’ve heard more than mixed reviews of the conroversial Victorian government anitiative. For those that are not aware,  the Ultranet is state wide secure site for students, teachers and parents to collaborate within.

As a graduate techer I am yet to be ‘burned’ by the Ultranet and am open to giving it a go, however as I write this I feel I am beginning to feel the heat of an impending burn, mostly at this stage due to the frustration of a steep learning curve.

My initial thoughts and discussions with a fellow teacher has lead me to believe this amazing, inovative and ground breaking tool that will lead our students into a new stratesphere of learning may be well and truely over sold.

I must say that I do like some of the features, like the learning tasks section. I like being able to set a task, take notes on the students work, mark it, and link the task to a specific VELS standard. However there are a few reasons Facebook took over and crushed Myspace, one was it was simple to use! No longer did I have to mess around with HTML to personalise my page, connecting with others was a click of a button, everything I wanted to see was in one place, and everything was called and did exactly what it was supposed to do. My first impressions of the Ultranet have me comparing it to an even more complicated Myspace, which has lead me to explore ulternatives namely the much better marketed ‘Edmodo’ which styles its self as a Facebook for education.

From what I can tell so far I haven’t seen anything new on the Ultranet or anything that someone or something on the internet isn’t already doing better, e.g. Edublogs, Wiki’s, Edmodo, Pinterest, Twitter…etc.

I will continue to explore the Ultranet and educate myself on its uses. From what I’ve heard it is still a work in progress and is continually being improved with an eye to a possible relaunch in October (please correct me if im wrong or you have more info).

*Currently the Australian Education Union have impossed sanctions on the use of the Ultranet as part of industrial action over the current EBA*

What are your experiences of the Ultranet?

How do you use it in the classroom?

@Mick_Sweeney

Yes the title is a pathetic attempt at a play on words for the rapidly growing site ‘Pinterest’.

I can’t remember exactly how I came to know the website, but after a brief ‘boy look’ I passed it off as a place for women to show their friends the pair of shoes they just have to have, the wedding dress of their dreams or an amazing card making design. After this initial look around I didn’t come back for a few months, until I saw a blog post on its uses for education.

I am in the infancy of giving it a go and I have to say, I love it so far! I’m very excited about using it in the future for a range of things.

 

Basically the site acts as a vitual pin board for the things you’re interested in, in my case education.
At the moment I have an account named after my classroom and have 5 separate ‘boards’ dedicated to our different subject areas including Reading, Writing, Maths, Integrated and a general Senior School board.
Our Integrated topic for the term is ‘Antarctica’ on the respective board I have ‘pinned’ websites, Youtube videos, pictures, quizes, etc all in one colourful, interactive space.

I have set up the ‘Maths Board’ to have examples, websites and Youtube videos of everything I have covered so far this year. I see this as a space for my students to go for revision or for example I set a follow up homework task on division, on the ‘Maths Board’ I’m able to pin a Youtube video going through a problem step by step, that the students can access from home.
I’m visioning using the general board as a place I might be able to showcase students work, pinning pictures or videos of outstanding work and achievement.

I think it could also provide a nice window into the classroom for parents and at the same time providing an audience for students.

It’s extremely easy to use and navigate. I highly recommend giving it a go, give it a couple hours of your time and you’ll pinning all kinds of things.

In the mean time check out what I’ve put together so far:

http://pinterest.com/DMPSseniors/

Happy pinning!

I’m sitting back on a Friday night having just finished week 3 of term 2 and thought it time to put a few reflections down.

Teaching has been everything I hoped and much, much more! There have been things I was worried about going into the job that have turned out to be easy and enjoyable. There have been things I had not even thought of that have been challenging and difficult. Apparently the best fun is not too far around the corner……..reports!!!

This may sound strange being only a term and a bit into the year and a teaching career, but I’ve already found myself thinking what I can do differently next year. Much more planning to be done next time. So many things you don’t think of! So many things I need to find spots, boxes, folders, plastic pockets, etc for!

Already thinking what can I do better… Am I covering literacy effectively? Are rotations the best way, what about readers workshop or the Daily 5? What games and activities can I come up with to continue to engage with numeracy? How can I continue to integrate technology throughout the curriculum?…..the list goes on!

In search of improvement when better to start…..will be trying something new first thing Monday morning! Not afraid to fail a few times if ultimately it makes me a better teacher.

I’m not afraid of storms

@Mick_Sweeney

As I am on the verge of being a ‘Graduate Teacher’ I think it is important I know what I’m about, what I believe, what I want to achieve and what I stand for in terms of education. Not only should I know this myself but its important others know as well, such as fellow teachers, students, principles, parents and others involved or affected by my teaching. As I believe in being flexible, adaptable and a life long learner I fully expect my ‘Teaching and Learning Philosophy’ to change as I gain experience, learn new things and develop my teaching skills.

My Teaching and Learning Philosophy

As a teacher I believe I’m in the privileged position to be able to guide and influence students towards a successful future. I believe teaching in the primary years lays the foundation for future learning and ultimately for a chosen career. As a teacher I am aware I’m tasked with helping mould successful and effective future citizens.

Over the course of the last five years I have come to build an understanding of what a good teacher is. Good teachers are role models, flexible, approachable, respectful & respected, personable, knowledgeable, influential, caring, able to form relationships, passionate and finally committed to students, school and the community.

I believe as a teacher it is my responsibility to facilitate student learning in an engaging and relevant manner. In the modern world I believe it is my responsibility to educate for the future. The world my students are going to be starting careers, voting, communicating, creating & consuming media in is going to be very different to the present. Because of this I view it as my role to ‘future proof’ my students, equipping them with the tools to become independent learners, critical thinkers and problem solvers.

To do this I aim to accommodate for multiple learning styles, set up learning environments to foster these learning styles and encourage discussion, risk-taking and critical thinking. I will aim to deliver content that connects with student life worlds, striving to remain relevant and engaging.

Finally I believe society is fluid and ever changing, continually presenting new things to think about, interact with, use, manipulate, understand, play with, create and interpret. I commit to being flexible enough to remain a lifelong learner, to be open and prepared to enjoy and explore with students whatever society and future may present next.

What is your ‘Teaching and Learning Philosophy’?

Launched in Victoria in 2009 it provides a framework and guide for what constitutes high quality teaching and what it should look like.

Without being a hard and fast explicit way things should be done, it aims to provide a guide for improved practice, stimulate conversation, promote reflection and critique of current and future practice.

The model has been developed with other programs currently in effect including ‘Principles of Learning and Teaching‘ (Polts) and ‘Primary Connections’.

The E5 model is very much teacher centred. The focus is on improving teacher practice, not about what the students are doing or what they are capable of.

As the title suggests the model uses 5 E’s:

1. Engage
Teachers are too:

  • Develop shared norms
  • Determine readiness to learn
  • Establish learning goals
  • Develop metacognitive capacity
  • Foster relationships with and between students
  • Establish expectations for learning
  • Elicit prior knowledge
  • Stimulate interest and curiosity by connecting with students real world experiences
  • Provide a purpose for learning
  • Develop explicit assessment and performance requirements
  • Develop tasks and assist students to achieve the requirements
2. Explore

Teachers are too:

  • Prompt inquiry
  • Structure inquiry
  • Maintain session momentum
  • Present tasks to support students to generate and investigate questions, gather information and develop ideas
  • Provide tools to organise information
  • Identify and challenge conceptions and misconceptions
  • Scaffold to expand knowledge
3. Explain

Teachers are too:

  • Present new content
  • Develop language and literacy
  • Strengthen connections
  • Provides opportunities to demonstrate knowledge
  • Explicitly teaches knowledge, concepts and skills
  • Present content in a variety of ways
  • Formatively assesses and provides opportunities for development of new skills
4. Elaborate

Teachers are too:

  • Facilitate substantive conversation
  • Cultivate higher order thinking
  • Monitor progress
  • Extend understanding
  • Identify and define relationships between concepts
  • Generate rules and principles
  • Have students working on the right edge of the ‘Zone of Proximal Development’
5. Evaluate

Teachers are too:

  • Assess performance against standards
  • Facilitate student self assessment
  • Use assessment criteria for improvement
  • Use evidence from each phase to inform progress against the learning goals
  • Provide feedback and assistance in the reflection process
  • Identify future learning goals

As it is a model for high quality teaching practise and meant to drive improvement I have ranked myself in order of most competent to least competent:

1. Explore, 2. Engage, 3. Elaborate, 4. Explain, 5. Evaluate

From this I can now go forward knowing I need to focus and improve on my ‘Evaluation’ and ‘Explanation’ techniques as well as continuing to improve ‘Elaboration’. I can also plan to use what I see as strengths in ‘Exploration’ and ‘Engagement’.
This kind of reflection may be useful in a team teaching environment. A fellow teacher may have very different rankings. Being able to work around and with each other’s identified strengths and weaknesses could improve teaching practice.

What has been your experience with the E5 Instruction Model?

How has it affected your teaching?

As part of my ‘Primary Education Degree’, one of my assignments was to make a poster on an issue of ‘Health & Wellbeing’.

I chose ‘Time & Energy’ as my topic. Its something that is relevant to me and have to continually work on.

I also saw this as a chance to give ‘glogster.com’ a go. I have heard a lot about it and seen some great things students have done. I found it an easy and fun tool to use. For my first attempt using it I haven’t used any links, but I can see how easily it can be done.

Please click on the thumbnail picture or link bellow to be taken to the poster.

http://edu.glogster.com/glog.php?glog_id=21730782&scale=100

Any feedback would be great!

@Mick15_

Over my time at university as a student teacher I have gained an appreciation of Gardner’s work on Multiple Intelligences.

*Picture made using spiderscribe.net

It has helped me understand that the students I teach although come together as a class, are individuals with individual learning styles. In understanding this, I use Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences to help differentiate my teaching.
When planning activities my aim is to accommodate for the varying learning styles present in a classroom. It’s difficult to account for everyone in a single lesson but I think it’s important to reach out and cater to the different learning styles when and where possible.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of planning for one style because it’s most comfortable and easy to teach. Singing, dancing and illustrating may not be my strengths, but they may be the students’ strengths.
I use Gardner’s theory and the picture I created to remind me that not all students are the same and to ‘mix it up’.
The students will appreciate it.

How has Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences influenced your teaching?

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