Teachable Moments – Montreal

One of the advantages and a definite strength of the internet is that we can now share our skills ,knowledge, ideas and practices locally, nationally and globally. What we do can now be available to a much wider audience and has the possibility of gathering a range of further ideas and input from a broad range of people. This is a growth mindset. We are no longer operating in a vacuum and we don’t need to be working in a closed space. Roy Lyster from McGill University is sharing his ideas about teacher collaboration in Montreal and how they are developing discussions and projects between teachers across French, Spanish and English so that they are streamlining the delivery of content and strengthening the linguistic and literacy capabilities of their students. There is plenty of information out there about how languages improve your brain but Montreal is specifically looking at how moving across languages in the curriculum or looking at how different languages are delivering content can improve literacy skills. 2015 and we need to be global communicators. We need to have a way of utilising our language and linguistic resources and ideas to promote thinking and intellectual growth. We need to look at how the skills and concepts learned in one language can be utilised in another and the ways in which second language learning enhances the knowledge of a first language. Given we have an ever changing world population which is moving from place to place for whatever reason then I think it is important we understand these concepts of how we can collaborate as teachers through the use of different language to promote a dynamic learning environment for our students who might be in Canada one year and Australia the next and then maybe onto Vietnam. It would actually be interesting to see the chosen or forced itinerary of some students and their families and their travels across cultures and languages. Getting real data about real people would make these teachable moments come to life.

Not giving up my desktop!

desktopWe take a lot for granted. We are surrounded by technology and we use it all the time. There are those who have made a lifestyle choice of not engaging with it, but most of us are reliant on our phones, tablets and computers. 5 weeks ago my life came together in such a way I was provided with the opportunity to forgo my desktop and live life on my iPad. I had 10 minutes a day to get banking and blogging done and that was it, basically. I thought it would be a good experiment for me to see what would happen because I love my technology. My observation now is I do not have the breadth and complexity of interaction and development if I confine myself to a tablet. My desktop provides a richer and more complex experience. Much of what I discovered is going to sound negative but the overall effect of the last 5 weeks was not negative. I have learnt a lot about how technology impacts and how tablets impact.

1. I have constantly had sore, tired eyes. Back lit screen of the iPad?
2. Tablet is very portable and I quickly engage with it.
3. I do not trust a tablet for banking and other sensitive sites.
4. Flipboard and Zite are my best friends and no, I do not want to migrate Zite to Flipboard.
5. Twitter has a different feel on iPad and is tackier. Much prefer Tweetdeck on my desktop.
6. I connect far less on the iPad.
7. Facebook is okay on the iPad but prefer my desktop feed and experience.
8. Games on the iPad have come a long way and they are good on the iPad.
9. My activities on a desktop are more complex , utilise my skills better and I manage it better.
10. Mail apps on the iPad are efficient and effective.

I have watched students on the iPad and they navigate them quickly and effectively. I don’t , partly because I have osteoarthritis and I just do not get the feedback though my fingers on a touch screen. People have watched me tap or swipe and don’t understand why nothing happens. I can’t always feel the glass properly and so I have a nice little stylus which plugs into the earphone socket so I don’t lose it. Ever grateful at school, even though I rarely use the photocopier, that they have had the sense to supply a stylus with the touch screen. I can see my students copy and paste, type, cut, retype, insert images at lightnigh speed. That is me on a desktop. In the end, it is important to use the technology which serves you best and whioch you adapt to well. So I can’t see my desktop becoming obsolete and it would impact on my life if I couldn’t access a desktop. I have noticed there has been a big push of the extemely popular HayDay sites for the developers to provide a computer version but they want to confine it to mobile technology. That cuts back access and experience options for some people. I don’t think we shall have matured as a technology society until all devices can run all software safely and well. Quite a challenge!

Assessing the archiduchesse

archiduchesseSo how do you assess this? The year 9s had to recreate the daily routine of the archiduchesse. It revises what we have learnt, relies on the perfect tense , adjectives, reflexive verbs, activities, what we did last year when we made up a little mysterious person in French, includes lessons on Marie -Antoinette and the French revolution…and also engages them with technology and visual literacy. They could choose how they presented the daily routine of their archiduchesse and part of it was naming her and finding suitable accommodation for her. archiduchesse1We made the archiduchesse, we photographed her and we changed her visually. This archiduchesse is a real character who develops and becomes more colourful as the presentation progresses. I am marking it according to languages criteria. With the national curriculum I can say it has included things on personal and social capability, intercultural learning, ICT. I can tick the box on different national curriculum indicators for French. I was looking at this and was thinking, there has been an ingenious use of French and a carefully thought out plan for visual progression too. Where are those sorts of criteria? The presentation is 25 sentences and I am still just marking the French, acknowledging use of other skills and domains but not really assessing the real impact and achievement. 2015. We need a national discussion. What actually are we assessing now? Content? Which content? Skills? Which skills? How much it involves cross-curricula practices? We know which competencies and capabilities thanks to the good work by ACARA. This archiduchesse is not just about French. She is about communication in multiple modes and literacies.

aitsl Reflection on Practice Tool

reflection on practiceThe new aitsl Reflection of Practice Tool is fresh out of the box and it is good that aitsl has put it out there so we can use it, work with it and give feedback so they can go away and bring us a better version. It differs from the SAT (self assessment tool) in that it works directly with the professional standards and you rate yourself against them rather than answering the series of random questions which the SAT came up with . Since it addresses the standards directly , I prefer it. I have been through various versions of assessment with SAT and it does look at your practice. My latest assessment put me at graduate level in assessment. I must have gone mighty wrong to be graduate level after 42 years in the classroom and working as a regional and state moderator along with all  the other things I have done and achieved. Have I totally lost contact? Have I not kept currency in 40 years? Is all that peer assessment I have been doing with my year 9s irrelevant? The same thing has come up in this Reflection on Practice Tool. If I asked for feedback, would people tell me I have not moved with the times and that a lot has changed in my 42 years in a classroom and it has all passed me by? It is me? Is it them? Is it the tool? What is it? Can I not assess myself properly? Already there are plenty of things I can follow up. Already there are plenty of things to look at and consider to get to the bottom of this assessment. I always teach my students to look at the data which comes back about them and to think long and hard about what it might mean, how it could be inaccurate and to formulate logical arguments to ensure the data is read properly. In a professional standards context, my self reflection and my self assessment always bring up matters which I can discuss and consider. To be honest, it doesn’t matter if it is accurate or not accurate. It is the conversations with colleagues and the conversations in a professional setting which set the picture straight. Both of these tools provide feedback. Both of them set up a framework for thought and discussion. The Reflection on Practice tool can be downloaded and used offline and so you have a copy to use and refer to whether you have internet access or not. It gives spaces to fill in your evidence. I find this one more suitable because it is directly connected to the standards. Try it for yourself and see what you think.

Teacher resources and support

teacher poster Image: poster-street


The UKEdChat has just upgraded and improved . It has information and resources pertinent to connected teachers and those teaching in the 21st century. It is really encouraging to see all these upgrades going on around the Net and it is largely a result of the connectedness of teachers who are now blogging and engaging in online personal and professional development chats. I said it would make us grow stronger and update our teacher image. The UKEdChat site offers a lot by way of apps, posters, blogging, a magazine and so much more! Every country needs its online portal for teachers which reaches out to other educators around the world as well as supporting teachers in its own country.

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