Self assessment tool – aitsl

areas for development Is it me or is it them? I used aitsl’s self assessment tool  online last year and I have used it again this year. Both times I have found the questions a bit odd, both times I have come up with results I find odd and both times I have to wonder if their self assessment tool needs a bit of tweaking or whether I do. What I can safely say , though, is the results I get lead to some good thinking on my part and to some good discussions with colleagues. Last year I did it as part of my first professional conversation for the year. No matter what I think I have to confess it’s a good way to get started on an appraisal of my performance. The site itself provides a lot of questions to answer. My problem is I hold classroom teaching as far more important than any other thing in a school. I have dedicated my life to creating an effective classroom and technology has made it even more effective. I don’t think I am a better  classroom teacher because I have a leadership position or aspire to one. I am a better teacher if I look at who I have in a classroom, analyse what I am expected to accomplish with them and then think carefully about how I shall deliver that so students feel like they are genuinely involved in learning and improving their capacity to learn. This year I shall look at what have come up as my weaknesses and discuss them in a trilogy of SAT posts. On the SAT site you can go back through the questions to see what you have answered and you can also put in what you would use as evidence that you have met the criteria. It is a very effective tool if you are going to have some serious discussions about who you are as a teacher and what makes you strong.

The first section I am dealing with is:

Professional Knowledge

Teachers draw on a body of professional knowledge and research
to respond to the needs of all of their students. They know the
content of their subjects as well as what constitutes effective,
developmentally appropriate strategies in their learning and
teaching programs. In all subjects teachers develop students’
literacy and numeracy and use ICT to contextualise and expand
their students’ modes and breadth of learning.

My first weakness is :

1.5 G Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of
strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the
specific learning needs of students across the full
range of abilities.

This confounds me as it did last year. It is something I have discussed on this blog, which I focus on my other blog and something which has always been considered one of my strengths. I do look at who I teach and how I can effectively get them to learn. This blog has focussed on how I can use technology to improve that delivery and learning and how I include feedback from students as a means to enabling even more effective strategies in class. I partner with them so I can get the best out of them no matter who they are. I have also pioneered courses for vision impaired students and, at the time, that was also technology which helped them to achieve in a mainstream classroom. I need to go back through the questions to see what I am doing to come up with a weakness which is actually my strength. This is why the SAT tool is useful. Perspective is something which is essential to good performance. As a teacher you need to be very clear about what you are or are not achieving.

My second weakness in the area of professional knowledge is:

2.3 L Lead colleagues to develop learning and teaching
programs using contemporary knowledge and
understanding of curriculum, assessment and
reporting requirements

I have done a lot to help colleagues interpret technology in an educational sense and context. I even gave a talk at the ANU about it based on how we can better deliver our content using technology. I don’t see myself as a leader. I see myself as someone who does things and then shares them so I can then get feedback to improve what I am doing. I have explained that in the post Personalise and connect their learning. Assessment and how to assess is something we often discuss in our office. I have also discussed it on my blogs and explained how I go about that because I am very interested in and committed to the South Australian TeFL. I have also been working on how to to interpret the new ACARA curriculum and criteria for Languages and Personal and Social Capability. I have unpacked the elements for both groups so they are in a workable format. Reporting I cannot lead in. It is determined by the school or the examinations board. What I have impacted with are the assessment sheets and assignments I do for the senior students. They have been valued outside of my classroom. leading colleagues is not as important as leading myself and then sharing what I learn. If that then helps others then that is what I believe I should be doing as a teacher.

As you can see, if you work with the SAT tool you have something concrete on which to pin your thoughts and decisions. The report which is generated by the SAT tool gives you plenty to discuss and think about.

Share and build knowledge

Learnist 2013 ought to be moving us forward. We ought to have some good skills by now in how to connect and share. Learnist is a site which appears to have moved us all forward in terms of sharing and building our knowledge. It has a separate tab for education and yet the whole site predicates on sharing knowledge in skills. In a way it appears to be similar to Pinterest in that people create learning boards which they then share. One of the boards is about using Learnist in a High School classroom and the way the material/content is organised certainly lends itself to being a site which could become interesting and reliable for finding out things. I have noticed most contributors appear to be using real names and real pictures of themselves. I think we have reached that stage where we need to abandon the colourful names and avatars and just represent ourselves in virtual society without the barricades or dressing up. That’s another post, though! You can sign in with your email or Facebook and the site maintains you keep full control over your privacy. It is trying to keep people real and safe so that learners and knowledge seekers can relate to online people in much the same way as they relate to colleagues, authors, professors, teachers and experts in real life. Certainly worth a look if you are interested in learning.

Learn as you build your computer

If you read this post and watch the videos you will see that it has been highly successful to get students to build a computer and learn what they need to know as they go along. Shimon Schocken and Noam Nisan designed the course and then put the information and resources online. it has been a huge download success and proof that a lot of students are willing to teach themselves if they have access to the right materials and resources. It doesn’t put teachers out of a job. If you listen you can see there is still plenty of teaching being done and plenty of knowledge sharing. We have options in delivering content these days and we have students who are used to being on a computer and accessing online materials. People have different learning needs and right now we have a chance to deliver content to groups who can help themselves. A teacher will then operate in a different fashion. The website supplies links to relevant sites and materials.

Online training trap

online training I did my first official online training as a teacher. I felt like I was in a goldfish bowl. When you are in a class there are ways and means of managing the time, the experience and the content. As an online learner I was channeled into learning whether I wanted to do it in that way or not. I know other jobs use online training as a normal way of ensuring their staff have requisite knowledge. All I can say is – please let teachers look at these online training packages and help with improvements in delivery. It wasn’t that the training was bad. Nor was the content poor. For me it boiled down to the fact I couldn’t press the next button until I had had the whole page READ to me. As an assistive technology this is a great idea. There will be people who will be helped by having the material read to them because they cannot see the text properly, or English is not their strong point, or because they learn better through oral language information. I can read and absorb quickly. I didn’t need it to be read. So were the trainers worried I’d click the next button and not do the course properly? An online course I have done just to see what online courses are like is Microsoft .toolbox. .toolbox is also into the disembodied voices which I hate but they talk you through the text. They don’t actually read it to you. .toolbox also sets some really tough questions at times to ensure you have read the information but also that you have THOUGHT about it. That to me is critical in an online course. You have to make sure people understand the content but you need to also ensure they have engaged their brains. For this reason I found the .toolbox quite interesting and it made me keep up my attention. When you work online you are isolated. You can concentrate really well but if you are railroaded then you just become frustrated. People are used to doing things at their own pace online. They are used to back buttons to go back over things and they are used to manipulating the content themselves.

What worked extremely well in the online training were the little videos. They had all sorts of experts and people in the field giving pertinent and relevant information in a very clear and friendly way. All these people were real people from where I live who knew about what we were learning. They could give examples, they could talk from experience and they could make my learning very real. They all had a good manner in front of a camera and all spoke in a genuine way…so authenticity means a lot to me in online training.

The other thing which was really good about the online training were the links out to sites and other information. A back button would have been fantastic. Maybe I can go back to the site and log in and try to access those sites again. That would be good. There was a real richness about the resources in terms of online follow up and then there were some good print resources which they had pictures of too. It meant I knew I had access to plenty of information should I need it but it also now a knowledge bank for the profession. There needs to be an online site where we can access this material as a profession and the best place is probably our new LearnLink site .

When it comes to talking in online learning I really think it might be better to have a little video of the person talking. Somehow you relate to that better. With a podcast or radio the voices are not a problem because the media present themselves differently. With slides of information being read to you or discussed without a face to relate to, then I actually find that hard. It has made me think we really do need to think about what makes a good online teacher.

Flipped Classroom

So what is a flipped classroom? I kept reading about it on the #edchat Twitter stream from American teachers. Sounded intriguing and sounded interesting. It was also sounding successful. The TechSmith explains it quite well and offers link to further information. Jackie Gerstein goes to a lot of trouble on her blog to clarify it and she offers a wealth of implementation support and explanation. Basically you set the homework of a video/podcast of your content and then use class time to explore this in a more meaningful and personal way with students. You could even do it for staff and faculty meetings – make a video of your content, get your staff to create and develop ideas as they are watching and then use the meeting time to discuss issues. You would need to develop questions sheets, feed back sheets or something like that so you could make best use of your real time with real people. It’s worth considering given students and staff have online access at home by and large. You’d have to look at any equity issues. It might mean my iPad would get better use at school instead of just sitting on my desk. There are lots of things I could share with students that way. Given our school has specialist commitments to music and volleyball I am not sure how we could ensure that all staff and students would be able to watch the material at home on a regular basis. It’s certainly worth considering as an option and then looking at how I could make use of a flipped classroom and when.

Create an online learning adventure

organise and analyse

Group presentations are fun!

I posted a few days ago about Group presentations are fun with a link to a slide presentation which is spontaneously being developed on line. We started before Christmas and now the presentation has 94 slides and what a learning journey. If you are talking about effective teaching and learning and if you are committed to the South Australian Teaching for Effective Learning guidelines then this is a good example of how to approach a topic or assignment. The slide presentation and approach creates the scaffolding for learners to commit themselves to the topic in a way that suits them. We were asked to contribute one slide but more often than not people have contributed more than one slide and that has in turn created some good on site discussion and analysis of what has been contributed and then some interesting follow up to what has been published. Ali, as the co ordinator of this online learning experience, has used his social and academic skills, network and capacity to organise a project to ensure that it never stands still. It is obvious he has a vision but he is no way set in his views or path. He is open to the ideas and changes coming through. So many ideas and thoughts have now been contributed in such a short time. We know that sharing knowledge is empowering and consolidates learning , we have been given an opportunity to appreciate the input of others and then the knowledge gaps become clear and we fill them. It is now a slide presentation which has drawn on so many curriculum areas to sustain itself and grow and so now it is an excellent example of online cross curriculum learning. We still do not know how this will end up but the depth and amount of knowledge we have generated is amazing. As it has gone along we have had to sharpen our critical thinking skills. Now I have had an opportunity to participate in this I can see how it would be of great classroom value in some areas of the curriculum and the best thing is that it has been a voyage of discovery.

Build your own fish

fish The Aquarium of the Pacific has this fun fish building game to teach students about the parts of fish but it is also a serious site for getting some high level and current information about the aquatic environment of the Pacific. It has an education section and the multimedia section has videos by experts in the field and there are podcasts you can subscribe to. It is one of the largest aquariums in the USA so if you live there or are visiting the country you could actually take a tour of the aquarium. Its site has a commitment to educating all ages and provides materials that anyone can use to improve their knowledge of the Pacific Ocean.