Monday, November 19, 2012

Sharing the Teaching and Learning

Over the past three weeks my class has been involved in a very exciting project.

What is MyChatPak?  This is the new name we've come up with for the adaptation of the original software - MyVcv.  Check out our new page on the Room 4 Learning Journeys blog and see what we're up to now!!  Linking in to our epals with our new learning.

MyChatPak is an adaptation of MyVcv by Virtual Technologies.  Virtech have been very kind to us by allowing Room 4 to take this programme and adapt it for educational use.

Below is an example of the original use which is for uploading and sharing CVs.  More exciting information to come.  The link for this part of the software programme is on Facebook at

Below are two examples of how we're adapting the programme in the educational setting.  We're using it to communicate with our new epals and it's a great way to show them who we are.  This will make it much easier to match up people in the various classrooms around the world.

Already, one of the benefits we're seeing is that we are becoming so much more confident in speaking in front of an audience.

We'd be really interested in seeing what other ways you could use this tool.  It's simple and easy to use with the support for students' confidence of having a script that rolls while you're recording - like an autocue.  What a great way to build confidence in public speaking!

We're already thinking of ways to use it in reporting to parents, sharing with our eLearners overseas, sharing our Numeracy Knowledge in a snapshot to help our families know what we're learning - or as an assessment tool.

Everyday there are new possibilities!!    Email us with more ideas so we can adapt the software!!  We're really excited about our learning in this area!!

This week we're hoping to work with the software developer to add our recommendations and be able to innovate the software for our uses.  Look out for the update from us towards the end of the week!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's About - Authentic Learning - 'Dancing with Change'

What do we REALLY want for our students - how much have our classrooms and our teaching styles REALLY changed over the past few years?  What conscious changes in your practice are you making today, knowing that they are the best for teaching and learning in your classroom?  Or are you making changes because they are being forced on you - these are the changes that can't be sustained.  The changes that can and will be sustained are those that we believe passionately in, they are the changes that we want and need for our students and they are the changes that students demand in order to live - not just exist - in a 21st Century learning environment.

We continue to block these innovations and changes rather than to embrace them.  If we are to be educators in the 21st Century, it is imperative that we learn alongside and with our students - that we embrace the technology and integrate it into what we do on a minute-by-minute basis.  Why are there still schools out there that run ICT units / programmes - where is the integration, the flat classroom, the classroom without walls that links to the real world?  We need to start questioning whether we are meeting the needs of 21st Century learners in the current teaching and learning environments we are providing.

Listen to the students - they are wise.

So - what changes are you making to meet the needs of your 21st Century Learners?  Is what we're providing in the classroom authentic and does it make explicit links to the students lives outside the classroom?

What are we doing to 'Dance with change?'

Monday, January 30, 2012

Reflection on an interesting and challenging teaching and learning year

A Year of Challenges, Changes and Achievements

What a year!  Over the past couple of months I’ve been reflecting on my learning journey and what my decision to take a break from teaching for most of the year to begin my Masters has meant for me.  To be honest, the ‘break’ from teaching and learning didn’t really happen as I spent a large part of it still teaching and learning!!  What could be better?

I finished the first term as a teacher and Deputy Principal at my previous school, which produced many mixed emotions, as I loved the school, the staff and the students.  The decision to leave and study was in many ways not an easy one, but in other ways was a bit of a ‘no-brainer’.  I had always wanted to challenge my own learning and see how far I could push myself.  As the children in my class said to me – I was following my own advice that I was always giving to them about continuing our learning journeys throughout our lives.  Very wise those 9 and 10 year olds!!  In my very humble opinion, if we don’t continue to learn or are not prepared to keep learning, we are not modelling this to our students and perhaps teaching is not the vocation for us after all.

The learning journey itself has been fantastic.  I’ve completed 5 of the 6 papers and have been challenged in my thinking and also in my pedagogical beliefs about best practice in teaching and learning.  Some of my learning has confirmed and reinforced my pedagogy and some of it has challenged my own beliefs and thinking in a very positive way and has resulted in changes in my practice.

In the last term I was asked to relieve at a school where I was lucky enough to teach and learn with a fantastic group of 6 and 7 year olds.  They were quite honestly wise beyond their years and I learned a great deal from them as they shared their thinking about the world as they see it though their eyes.  They were insightful and often picked up on issues that we don’t give them credit for because they are so young.  The lesson – never underestimate the knowledge and wisdom of children – no matter what their ages.  I’ve always believed this and it is a belief I hold very dear in teaching and learning.  Teachers don’t know everything and, if they think they do and are not prepared to learn with and through their students, then they are most definitely in the wrong vocation. 

For me, this year has only reinforced these beliefs and I can’t wait to begin working with my next classes of amazing teachers and learners.  Yes, we are ALL teachers and we are ALL learners in any classroom in which I find myself.  My classes have always had this as their motto and it is something I will always keep in my mind as I carry on my own teaching and learning journey. 

I’m now in Auckland – a rather big move from Invercargill some would say.  So why has this move been important, why have I done this?  I want to push my teaching and learning further, to challenge myself in a range of different teaching and learning environments.  My ultimate will be to go as far as I can with eLearning however I seem to always have trouble getting away from my passion for Literacy.  Not the worst problem anyone could have.  Combining the two works perfectly for me as I’ve found that the pedagogy of eLearning provides the perfect platform to motivate, enthuse and excite students in their learning.