Start Up Term 3

Start Up Term 3 So, what does your to-do list look like for the beginning of Term? We have started semester two but are about to go back for Term 3. I know, it sounds a bit messy. We might need to streamline our school year a bit so that the breaks are more logical and fit with what needed to change. I have 10 things on my list which I am pretty sure I can organise in a straight forward way but there will be other things I’ll find out about when I get back to school. To be able to do this electronically makes it so much more straight forward and so much less time consuming. Some of the things are about converting what I have to suit my needs this year. Some of the things are verifying I have the key documents in place to consult or share. Some of it is creating new materials and learning tasks. It’s a good mix of quick and easy and then those things which will require thought and time. I have used One Note because I’ll put the file in DropBox and then pick it up on my iPad with the One Note app. I also have my to-do list backed up on my blog now!!

New kid on the browser block – Vivaldi

VivaldiVivaldi is so new as a browser it still has its training wheels and dreams of a great life to come. It plans to be across device and it will be supporting onboard Mail. I have only tried it since yesterday and have just joined the community so I am less than 24 hours into this and I am using it as my preferred browser. The only issue I have had is it would not type text on the login page for one site I needed for school this morning when I was on my MacBook. Everything else has been fine on Windows and Mac. It also runs on Linux so it’s completely cross-platform and that is how things should be these days. It is a stripped down browser and designed to be efficient. No argument there. It is amazingly fast and very uncluttered. I am used to a tool bar so I have had to retrain myself and have caught myself out a couple of times looking for my toolbar links. Old habits die hard! I like having the bookmarks at the side. I like what it offers as preloaded site bookmarks in different categories both when I run it in French and English. It simplifies everything without compromising on speed. Pages load ultra quickly. Mostly it operates from a slim sidebar but there are settings bottom left and ,bottom right ,you can stop the browser from loading images and become even faster. The thing which I appreciated the most at school on my whiteboard was the fact I could increase the size of the web page text by using the slider bottom right. It made one lesson so easy because we were working from a French website and to be able to enlarge it just by sliding and then work from that image on the board made for a really good teaching option. If you go to the Vivaldi site you can download the tech preview and then be a part of the community if you want to . It also explains just how much of an open source collaborative effort this new browser is. 2015 at last. You can find them on Twitter @vivaldibrowser.

Have you used Google Scholar?

expertvillage has prepared this little clip so you know how to find and use Google Scholar. What it does is search in journals, periodicals, academic resources to bring different and more particular information than if you were to use just Google. It will also teach students to broaden their searches and not just race each other to Wikipedia. I always try to move students to other search avenues so Google Scholar works because they  love Google as much as they love Wikipedia. Google Scholar can also provide legal information. If students use both Google, Google Scholar and other search engines you recommend, then your chances of seeing and hearing the same thing 20 times is minimised. I encourage wider research for my own sanity as much as anything.

The 3 Cs of the 21st century classroom

teaching and learningUsed to be reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. Used to be teaching and testing too. That was the teacher authoring knowledge, content and the classroom. Technology allows us a more fluid approach because the world is changing rapidly , content is shared and created constantly and the devices and formats we use are changing on a regular basis. We are in the technology growth phase and so we have to learn, share and adapt. There would have been a stage in history where you could know everything there was to know about your world. Not now. Gadgets are multifaceted, computers can do so much, the whole world is at our disposal if we want to connect. The planet is sharing information and then recreating information with that new input. Yes, 2+2 still equals 4 but the number of ways you can now teach, show ,share and know that information is increasing everyday. You learn as you are passing it forward. You learn as you are trying to learn something else. You learn because someone sends something your way. We are all teaching and learning when we are connected. It doesn’t mean you don’t stop and really delve into knowledge in a deep and meaningful way. So our world is now constructed on comprehension, content creation and communication. We have to understand what we are sharing. We have to curate ideas, links, images, web content, presentations… We have to work with others to establish engagement and connections and then we have to communicate that information. Curation is becoming increasingly important as we sort the chaff from the wheat on the Net and in terms of tools and techniques suitable for teaching and learning. It’s neither lock step nor stop and start. Those were the cogs of the industrial era. It’s all fluid movement now. We now have constant teaching and learning pathways which we can connect, disconnect, reconnect as the need arises.

Managing technology

Technology

Image: my image via befunky

A school can reasonably expect its teachers to confidently and competently use the technology it has committed to and parents may or may not be helping to supply. A school can also expect to create the scaffolding to ensure that teachers learn the use of the devices and software supplied. At the conference I was at recently I noticed the NZ teachers were very good and comfortable with iPads and they all had little keyboards for the keynote sessions. They typed their notes, took pictures, could access and contribute to social media. Outside of those sessions they could quickly access their own classroom materials from the cloud, their emails and were just very familiar with the devices. Same with the Canberra primary teachers. It tends to suggest they had been well trained. This is always easier in a smaller school and in smaller groups. It works like that in our office at school . There are about 14 teachers and then other people who come to the office for various reasons for short stays, like student teachers and a French assistant. We all have different capabilities with technology and different interests. It has evolved into a learning hub for technology. We share, we show , we engage and we fix. Recently, it’s been mobile technology focus . By the time we’d done the show and tell there were some teachers who realised they needed to upgrade and take on some of the new learning with mobile technology. There was no pressure. It just happens because we share and feel free to ask questions or ask for help. Our school has also been offering learning sessions for various things from how to better use the white boards , to Google docs and various other basics so we are all on the same page so to speak. Past that point different teachers are or aren’t pursuing different technology ideas and equipment in their classrooms. Some are working on iPads, some are developing skills in particular software, others are Windows based and continuing to develop those competencies even though we run on MacBooks.Some are reaching for the stars. We are currently installing Apple TV. Of course there are issues with all sorts of technology. It’s a school. We are all learning. While there are connection problems we go for the software. At the moment we are learning to navigate everything and anything. It’s exploring. As we do that you can see that some are really developing some good educational uses for what they have been trying. Others are more encouraged to try. We are educators. Some software and some technology will normalise in the classroom but we all have to be ready to get out there and give something else a try because things are changing quickly. There should be no one approach and no single dedicated classroom model. We are not there yet. If we opt for one thing, we shall be missing out on the changes on the developments. What is important is that you have a mix of teachers with a mix of interests and skills. You need the risk takers and pioneers, you need to supply scaffolding for basics and expected knowledge and past that point you let people know what’s around or you just install it and let people find out. Getting the right tool for the job is important. Knowing what is available and what its educational possibilities are comes from creating learning hubs and allowing people to discover what suits them and fits their classroom needs.

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