The future of education

The future of education is in the hands of teachers like John Spencer:

My goal is simple.
I want to make something every day.

In the past it’s meant student-led documentaries, murals, and coding projects. It’s meant building a blogging platform or writing a children’s book. And as a dad, it’s meant making pillow forts.

Some days I make things.
Other days I make a difference.
But on my best days, I get to do both.

I have a crazy idea that all people are creative and that schools should be a bastion of creativity and wonder and so here’s where I experiment and make things and share my ideas on life, learning, and the creative journey.”

John Spencer YouTube Channel

By having personal goals which develop his own education, by sharing those goals and ideas and gathering feedback he has become a dynamic force as a teacher and educator. He has developed a lot of his ideas through blogging but has since branched out into his YouTube channel . You can read the interview with him about Inside Education Blogging on TeachHub.

His video makes the point in his video that the future of education is in your classroom and that you have everything you need right there. Couldn’t agree with him more. The classroom partnerships in education and learning/teaching are what drive unpacking potential, innovation and creativity. An enthusiastic teacher sows seeds and develops curiosity. All of that needs to be based on something, though, and curriculum needs to be well thought out and considered. The cry from many teachers is that they want time to explore the ideas and innovations coming out in class. There would be others who would not want to be with thirty students, thirty devices and no clear plan. All of this needs to be discussed. These days if students do not see the value in learning they just avoid it and pay the price down the track. Others bypass it and use the online materials and avenues to develop their ideas and learning. John Spencer knows a lot about technology and he knows a lot because he has made a commitment to making things and making a difference. That kind of make up in a personality will engage others because they can. They are not short of hooks , ideas and knowledge.

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.

Four teachers and a curriculum document

acara learning areas Image: ACARA Learning Areas
There were four of us – me, a teacher of 40 years, an enthusiastic, competent student teacher, a dedicated contract teacher and a teacher of less than 5 years with some awesome art skills. The other members of our faculty had to be elsewhere for various reasons.The four of us were charged with critical unpacking of the national curriculum for our faculty. Four subject areas – History, English, Maths and Science are already implementing the national curriculum. Ours is in the final stages of writing . The challenge we had between recess and lunch today was quite a sizeable one. Thank heavens for technology! I hooked up the Apple TV so we could use it to screen share when necessary but it also meant those who had not seen the Apple TV set up could orientate themselves to it. Our first task was to find the current curriculum document for our area. That was hard. We searched and searched and at the point we were going to give up, the student teacher won and brought us the document via email. I printed copies and she learned how to better use the photocopier. Our our art talent had the job of creating a visual mock up of the elements, key processes and key concepts. All along the way we were negotiating and our dedicated contract teacher was great at keeping tabs on the links and what we had decided were the important things. He recorded everything so we could use it later. My job was to keep the eye on the ball and make sure we were always headed in the right direction no matter what.The advantage of the laptops was we could easily show each other what we were doing, what we thought, what we wanted permission to continue with and what was cool. The visual mock up looked really impressive by the time we had finished with it. We had wondered for a while which graphic organiser to use and settled, in the end, on Comic Life. Completely suited our purposes and will offer some good advantages when we next unpack all the descriptors for the elements under their year levels. ICT was there to support our problem solving, inquiry learning, discovery learning , differentiating the curriculum and the sharing and feedback. We had applied the tried and true internet concept of creating content, sharing it and getting feedback. In an hour and a half we did not waste a single minute because we could smooth over all the communication processes with our laptops. In the end we had a great sense of accomplishment because we had something to show after all the frustration of trying to find what we were looking for! The next part will be so much easier because we have a plan, a process and some great group skills.

ACARA app for iPhone and iPad

I highly recommend this ACARA Australian National Curriculum app. A well thought out application for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch can do much to alleviate the stress and strain of trying to come to grips with curriculum issues as a teacher. We are preparing and delivering lessons, marking, teaching, assessing.When there are new curriculum requirements and directions it always puts on the strain into an already very busy schedule. So why not use technology to lighten the burden? I downloaded relevant shape papers from the ACARA curriculum site. They are worth having but they take time to go through. The beauty of this app is that it gets the key points across one tablet page at a time. You can get a good overview, you can take in the relevant information and you are just dealing with one small screen. At no stage do you think it’s too much. The ACARA app is put together so you can navigate through the current requirements and since it is presented in tablet form then it cannot be too dense in its approach. I found it helpful. It has made me realise that apps have their place when you want people to learn something and come to terms with it. Instead of giving them 10 or 20 A4 pages to read – give them an application which logically takes them through the key features of what you want them to know. The app makes you more aware of the structure of the national curriculum. It makes you see at a glance what the key features of each area are. In time the app can link us to examples, key papers, key resources. It can reach out for us so we can access what we need to know. I think it’s a good addition to our National Curriculum information – the more so because it is on something I have with me all the time. Currently it is on my iPod Touch but I shall download it onto my iPad too. The fact I have seen this has made me think we need to try to create some applications for our classwork and courses. It really is a straight forward way of learning information and then branching out from that.

Padagogy – Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy

padagogy Ian Green and Allan Carrington have been running padagogy workshops for faculty in Australian universities and now overseas. Allan Carrington has been blogging about it. The padagogy is based on Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy which I blogged about here earlier in the year. The visual approach which they have adopted (left) is brilliant . It just looks so effective and the sort of thing which should be hanging on our walls, be displayed on info walls and into the not so distant future I can see a big touch screen where you tap on any part of the wheel and it takes you to further screens and information. In the meantime I’d settle for a T-Shirt, a mug, a pencil case because this is one of the best visuals I have seen to advertise education and what educators can do. By using an in service approach with staff Adelaide University is ensuring better and quality uptake of the technology it is using. Comes back to the creating competence and connectedness of yesterday’s post about building engaged teams.

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