Saturday, November 13, 2010

University Seminar presentation

As part of my University paper on New Teacher Development, we had to do a seminar presentation. My topic I chose was on "How do I support a new teacher to become an independent user and integrator of technology?".


video

Friday, September 10, 2010

Professional Identity Assignment

This is the second assignment for my New Teacher Development course. The focus is on Professional Identity and how this is reshaped over and over again through the situations we face.

Professional Identity is shaped upon a person’s beliefs, values, motives and experiences that they bring into their daily lives. Professional identity is forever changing, re-shaped depending upon the circumstances and situations we face. Flores & Day (2005) defines professional identity as an ongoing dynamic process which entails the making sense and (re)interpretation of one’s own values and experiences that may be influenced by personal, social and cognitive factors (Flores & Day cited in Beauchamp & Thomas 2009, p 177). Professional identity can be referred to using the metaphor of chorus voices; it consists of multi-voiced and dialogical self” (Hermans & Kempen, 1993; Herman, 2003 cited in Vloet & van Swet 2010, p. 151).
Throughout my career, my professional identity has been re-shaped many times. This occurred more when I was a beginning teacher.

Contextual Constraints that impact on and affect my practice as a Teacher

There are many contextual constraints that impact on and affect my practice as a teacher. This year, the Ministry of Education introduced National Standards. This has caused a lot of public debate. It has made teachers, principals and schools’ accountable for student achievement. National Standards have impacted on the way we assess students, analyse results and report back to parents.

The barriers I face with National Standards as a teacher, is ensuring that all my children reach national expectations by the end of the year. I teach 24 year 2 students in a decile 1 school. In Reading my class is to reach Turquoise (Level 18), in Written Language my children are to reach 1 Advanced (1A) and in Maths, the expectation is for the children to be working at Stage 4 –Advanced Counting level by the end of the year. As a professional, I do not mind setting high standards, expectations and targets for my class to reach. It certainly promotes creative and innovative teaching. The problems lie with the children especially if they are truant, transient, special needs, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and are already below the Year 0-1 national standard expectations. It does put pressure on teachers as not everyone progresses the same time as everyone else. There are always going to be the late bloomers in the classroom and not everyone has equal opportunities as background factors can have a massive influence on a child’s education.

Another constraint I face is the lack of parental support towards their child’s learning. This year I had two thirds of my parents turn up to the parent teacher interviews. The one third of the parents that did not turn up to the evening, most of them have children performing below the expected level.
Another sad factor is when you send reading and spelling homework home and it does not get reinforced. This is a real concern.

In these cases I feel National Standards do not give these children or teachers any justice. As an experienced teacher, there is a lot of professional uncertainty and vulnerability with the implementation of National Standards especially with the unrealistic expectations made by policy makers for some of the children we teach (Flores & Day, 2006). As educators, we do not know what will come next from the policy makers and whether this will influence such things as performance pay, lead tables etc.

When I first started teaching I never expected this grim reality to occur. In reference to the Flores and Day (2006) model I feel my past experiences influences of having supportive parents and where education was highly regarded mismatch the reality of the classroom context.

The current school assessment practices are contextual constraints and they do form a part in shaping my professional identity. At the moment, we have a clear file portfolio, which gets taken home twice a year. The portfolio contains samples of student work. I believe these work samples tend be snapshots and busy work. This portfolio increases the workload for teachers, as work has to go in a particular order and teachers end up filing papers into the portfolio. Questions are: How is this going to make me a better teacher? What sort of learning goes on for these children? According to Day, Kingston, Stobart and Sammons (2006) “Identity will be affected by external (policy) and internal (organisational) and personal experiences past and present, and so this may not always be stable” (p. 610). In a way I am doing something which fits under contexts of teaching and school culture, yet my beliefs of this reporting method do not match.

At the same time, we also have class blogs, which are a type of Electronic Portfolio (E-Portfolio). The blog, is a display area for students work which comes in the form of podcasts, movies, voice threads, photos. The class blogs are public and are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Parents can leave comments on their child’s work anytime.

As a teacher I would like to see the removal of the current clear file portfolio. I would like to see the class blogs developed further and for every child to have their own E-Portfolio. This contextual constraint relates well to the Flores & Day (2006) model as my past beliefs of observing other effective forms of reporting and taking part in formative assessment professional development on purposeful learning at previous schools have influenced the contexts of teaching at my current school.


Identify some key experiences that have been significant in defining you as a professional and that have helped you understand yourself as a professional.

There are many key experiences that have been significant in defining me as a professional, and that have helped me understand myself as a professional.

Parent / Teacher interviews have been significant in defining me into the professional and have helped me understand myself as a professional. I have worked in many dynamic classes, where the behaviour and learning needs were wide. Parent / Teacher interviews test a teachers level of professionalism, especially if the child has major behavioural problems. As a teacher, you want to be honest and tell those parents about their child’s behaviour but it also needs to be done diplomatically, so that there aren’t any repercussions afterwards. In my second year of teaching, I was given the lowest ability years 3 & 4 children. At the interviews, it tested out my honesty. I could not gloss over and say to parents that their child is doing well academically if I knew that they were below everyone else. Yet as a teacher you also had to stay positive for that child and highlight that they were making baby steps with their achievement. These Parent / Teacher interviews were one of the hardest things to do. Flores & Day (2006) states “Teaching involves daily intensive and extensive use of both emotional labour e.g. smiling on the outside whilst feeling anything but happy on the inside” (p. 221).

Another experience I faced was in my first year of teaching. One of my children came up to me and said “Miss Paton, Kaira threw a stone into my yoghurt”. At the time I was busy dealing with another behavioural child. I said to the child, “I will deal with your problem later”. Later came and I totally forgot about it. The child went home and told her father. The father was very irate and went to school the next morning. It was very embarrassing. One of the lessons I’ve learnt is to take all children’s complaints seriously. The pastoral role is very demanding and requires a lot of time. Time, in which I didn’t realize until I had my own class (Flores & Day, 2006). This experience reshaped my identity because I realized afterwards that it was my role to listen to the children and to act upon any concerns. My Pre-teaching image was of a teacher that only focused only on teaching and learning, yet the role of teaching is a lot more complex than this.

When I first started teaching, I made the assumption that every child will like me, because I was young. As a Beginning Teacher, I pictured myself standing in front of a group of attentive students presenting information, going over problems and giving explanations (Ball,1988 cited in Feiman Nemser 2001). This image was not the case and it contradicted the reality of classroom teaching. According to Bartell (1995) “Teachers are never fully prepared for classroom realities and for responsibilities associated with meeting the needs of a rapidly growing, increasingly diverse student population” (Bartell 1995, cited in Feiman Nemser, 2001, p 1026). In a way, I was not prepared for what I was expecting. My class were challenging and their backgrounds were different from my own. When children did not listen, I would yell at them. At the time, I tended to think that if I were loud enough, staff and parents would think that I was a good teacher. It wasn’t until I shifted schools I realized that relationships were critical. I learnt that I needed to change and to earn the children’s respect. This experience has defined me to be the professional and has helped made me understand myself to be a professional.

Field Trips outside the classroom have been significant in defining me as a professional and have helped me understand myself as a professional.
On a field trip you learn so much about yourself and the children. These practical experiences are lessons that are not taught at University or on practicum, in a way you are thrown into the deep end. There is so much to take into consideration. Pupil safety is the main priority. On a field trip, it’s about paying attention to the students’ needs, and at the same time, trying to improve their knowledge and skills. The teacher has multiple roles on field trips such as being the guide, facilitator, educator and the overall supervisor to the children and parents (Flores and Day, 2006). As a teacher, you need to be highly organized and be much more aware of the childrens’ medical problems, physical needs e.g. toilets, student behaviour, hazards on the trip, emergency protocols, time tables and members of the public. In the back of your mind, you need to be one step ahead in dealing with situations that may occur on the day. How we handle those unpredictable situations, shape us to be professionals and these types of experiences have helped me understand myself as a professional. I have learnt that field trips are not just a fun day for the teacher, and it is a time where you take your role / image as a teacher seriously as you are accountable for what happens to the children.


To what extent, do the stages of teaching help you make sense of your own development?
The Flores & Day (2006) and the Maynard & Furlong (1993) models have made me understand the stages I went through as a beginning teacher eight years ago. The models have definitely made me reflect on the transition into teaching. I believe the Flores & Day model helps make sense of my own development to a certain extent, however I feel the model is more applicable for beginning teachers. As an experienced teacher I can relate to parts of the model, especially past influences and contexts of teaching.

My past experiences of being a child who was excluded from school productions due to having a speech language problem have shaped the way I teach my own class of children. I will always have the belief that all children need to be included. My negative experiences of primary school have reshaped my classroom practice. Pieces of my primary school days/past are ingrained into my practice. Through observing my past teachers, this has assisted in constructing my own identity. Lortie (1975) identifies this as the apprenticeship of observation (Lortie, 1975 cited in Flores and Day 2006).

Flores and Day (2006) model could be applied to these situations: shifting school and the appointment of a new principal. An example of this could be having these fantastic ideas about how you’re going to run your new classroom and then when you get there you, you are told by school leaders, that is not how we do things at this school. From there, your professional identity is reshaped again due to school culture. A new principal could bring a lot of change, which may impact on the school culture and how things are done. A new principal can impact on the reshaping of professional identity.

Maynard and Furlong’s (1993) model has helped me understand myself during my Beginning Teacher years. I went through similar stages of development as highlighted by Maynard and Furlong, however it wasn’t a linear process. At times I went back and forth through the stages, depending upon the situations I faced. These stages have contributed towards shaping my professional identity. Maynard and Furlong (1993) have identified five stages during pre-service development:

Early idealism, Survival, Performance, Consolidation and Moving on.

During the Early idealism stage I went through the period of wanting to be liked by everyone and tended to use my past experiences of being a student to influence my teaching practise. The survival stage played a critical role. I wanted to be seen as the teacher and to be in control. This was reflected in my behaviour management. Fitting into the school culture and the contexts of teaching were priorities.
The performance stage related well to my school’s behaviour management system. I tried to follow it, but didn’t understand it. During observations / appraisals I tended to focus on myself and levels of personal performance rather than on student learning. During the consolidation stage I was starting to gain confidence, yet I tended to stay within my comfort zone. The moving on stage challenged my pedagogical practice. When I shifted schools my teaching practice was refined. There was less of a focus on me and more focus on student learning and engagement. I took more of an active role within the school e.g. ICT Leader.

Do contextual factors seem to be of greater significance in your personal professional development?

The Ministry of Education’s National Standards will play a huge significance to my professional development. It is all very new to teachers and is at its early stages. There has been no trail period and schools have been thrown into the deep end. According to Feiman Nemser (2001) “Policies can improve only if the people in them are armed with the knowledge, skills and supports they need” (p. 1013)

I believe there is a real lack of knowledge, with National Standards. To me, it’s like this massive road map but no one knows which direction / path to take.


Professional Project.

In Assignment 1, I wrote that I would like to support new teachers in using technologies. Technology is widely used at my school for administration, teaching and learning purposes. These are very broad areas and would take longer than the six weeks to implement them. Upon reflection I have decided to focus on one area, which is supporting new teachers with integrating technology into their class programme.

My school is heavily involved with E-Learning and is part of the Manaiakalani Cluster, which is an E-Learning initiative. The purpose of this cluster is to raise student achievement in literacy by using E-Learning as a hook to motivate and engage students. Each class has a blog in which all students’ literacy learning is posted onto the blog. As part of the literacy learning, all classes work through a literacy cycle, which highlights the process in which the teachers and students work through.

This week a new teacher named Bob has started at my school. His class already has a blog. Bob has not worked in the cluster before. At present the lead teacher (myself) and the teachers are the administrators for their class blogs. They are responsible for keeping their blogs up to date by posting pieces of student work onto their class blogs. This will mean Bob will be invited to become an administrator and maintain his classes blog.
The pieces of work consist of podcasts, movies and other Web 2.0 applications.

This support programme is very important, as research has been carried out within the cluster proving that student achievement is being raised through the integration of E-Learning into the literacy programme. Another reason why this support programme is vital is that E-Learning will continue and be maintained in Bob’s class. So far, E-Learning has been a hook and motivation factor for the students to actively take part with their literacy learning.

Before a support programme can be implemented, I would need to interview Bob to gather information on his past experiences. The questions I would ask are to do with his experiences at using Macintosh platform computers, specific programmes such as Garage Band, iMovie, Photo Booth and other Web 2.0 applications such as Blogging, Voice Thread and using Google Documents. A survey maybe of use to measure ability levels along a continuum, to show where Bob is at with using certain programmes.

Once data is gathered on Bill’s needs, a programme can be put in place. The duration of the programme will be for six weeks. The programme will focus on teaching Bob the how to use the computer programmes and how to upload content onto the class blog. Meetings with Bob will depend upon his needs. I get released to support teachers throughout the school. My aim is to see Bob during my 3 ½ days Manaiakalani Lead teacher’s release per term.


References

Beauchamp, C., & Thomas, L., (2009). Understanding teacher identity: an overview of issues in the literature and implications for teacher education [review of the Cambridge Journal of Education, 39(2), 175. Retrieved August 29, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1739542781).

Day, C., Kington, A., Stobart, G., & Sammons. P., (2006). The personal and professional selves of teachers: stable and unstable identities. British Educational Research Journal, 32(4), 601-616. Retrieved August 29, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1130347321).

Feiman-Nemser. S. (2001). Helping novices learn to teach, Lessons from an exemplary study Journal of Education, 52(1), 17-30.

Flores, M. A., & Day, C. (2006). Contexts which shape and reshape new teachers' identities: A multi-perspective study. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22(2), 219-232. doi: DOI: 10.1016/j.tate.2005.09.002

Maynard, T. and Furlong, J. (1993) “Learning to teach and models of mentoring” in McIntyre, D., Hagger, H. and Wilkin, M. Mentoring Perspectives on school based teacher education (1994). Kogan Page. London

Vloet, K., & van Swet, J. (2010). ‘I can only learn in dialogue!’ Exploring professional identities in teacher education. Professional Development in Education, 36(1), 149 - 168.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What has made me the Professional that I am today?

Part A

Identify and elaborate on the factors that have impacted on your professional learning and have contributed to making you the professional you are at this moment in time.

There are many factors that have impacted on my professional learning and have contributed towards making me the professional I am today. My values, beliefs and life experiences including: Family, Childhood, Education, Situations and People have shaped me into the professional I am in this moment of time.

Family:

I was very lucky to be raised in a tight knit nuclear family down in Christchurch. Mum, Dad, my brother Mark and Prickles the cat played key factors to my life. In my family I was raised under a firm stable background, where there was discipline and that consequences were always followed upon. The consequences were having privileges e.g. pocket money taken away, time out and talking about my behaviour. Good behaviour and successful learning was also celebrated by pocket money and having takeaways for dinner on a Friday night.


In my own professional practice, I tend to use similar discipline measures on the children I teach. Consequences for actions are always something I follow up on. I send children to time out, I take away their privileges and I do speak the children and their parents about their behaviour. Positive behaviour and learning are always celebrated through school wide behaviour incentives: Caught Being Good Tickets. I also provide end of term treats for my class.


In my family we would attend the Anglican Church most Sundays. The Christian beliefs of following the Ten Commandments are something I have held throughout my life. As a family we would have these beliefs that it is always good to give as it is to receive, that relationships are based on giving and taking, to treat others how you would like to be treated, and honesty is the best policy.

In my own practice, I try to make my class into a tight knit family unit, where problems are shared, where learning is celebrated and that relationships are built on respect and trust. Education was very important in my family. My parents valued education. As children my mother would drum into Mark and myself that the best days of your life are at school. As a teacher, I also emphasize this statement to my class.

Childhood:

As a child I was very different from the other children. I was born with a speech language problem. This did delay my learning at kindergarten and at school. To address this problem, Mum and Dad would take me to see a Speech Language Therapist. I would see the therapist once a week, over a three year period. As a child Mum and Dad would take me to the library and would read to me every night. They also provided lots of language experiences where I would be taken out to places over the weekend.

Being an ex special needs child that is now a teacher has made me connect better to those children with special needs. I mainly teach ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Language) children. I do show empathy towards them, but as a teacher I have the self belief that these children can make it in society if they are given the right support from home and school. As a teacher, I believe in talking to these children, providing them language experiences and giving them time.

Education

Due to my speech problem I started school at six years. I was a late bloomer with Education. I might not have come out in full bloom the same time as all the other children, but in a way my special needs were held against me throughout primary school. When I was in Year 6, I took part in the school’s Captain Cook Production. My part in the production was very minor. Every body else had speaking parts of three or more sentences, I ended up with one word to say in the play. If I were sick on the night it wouldn’t have made a difference as the main characters would just carry on.


This scenario, has shaped me into the teacher I am today. It is one of the reasons why I got into teaching as I wanted to make a difference and to give all children equal opportunities to learn, no matter whether they have a disability or not. At my school we have class blogs. My childrens’ writing gets made into podcasts or movies and is uploaded onto the class blog. All children are involved. The low ability readers and writers require a lot of teacher time, but the end result is worth it when you see those children’s faces light up when they listen to themselves on the blog. As a teacher I have faith in my children to complete tasks to the best of their ability. Every child deserves a chance and equal opportunities to succeed with their learning. They deserve opportunities that I never got as a student. I believe late bloomers get there in the end, they experience the hard knocks of failure along the way, but overcome it with putting extra effort into their work and proving to everyone else that they make it by believing in themselves.

Situations:

The situations I have faced have played an integral role to being the professional I am today. In 2001, I graduated with my Bachelor of Teaching and Learning degree. Unfortunately I did not get a job straight away and I worked for the dole. I worked as a teacher aide for six months while I was applying for teaching jobs. This situation made me aware to never look down on support staff e.g. Teacher Aides, as this was where I started -my grass roots. The gift of a teaching job was like winning Lotto to me. Today I still feel this way. I feel that rejection makes you appreciate things more, it makes you a stronger person and it makes you more determined than ever to reach for your dream job.

In July 2002, I managed to get a teaching position at a South Auckland School. I was the third teacher in a Years 5 & 6 class. It was a huge transition for me, as I had to make a new life for myself in Auckland. I had never moved out of home before. The class I had was very multi-cultural and were dynamic with their backgrounds, behaviour and learning. It was a real contrast to the white middle class background that I came from. As a Beginning Teacher, I was authoritarian with the discipline. There were times in which I went too far and ended up being sworn at by my students. I learnt that if I were loud with growling at students, then as a result my children would be loud as well. Over time I learnt that I needed to change. I came to the realization that I had to earn the children’s respect by building positive relationships, for it to become a mutual successful learning partnership.


This school was also a real learning curve for me with regards to relationships with staff. There was a lot of work place bullying at this school. It seemed that the bullying had a domino effect across the school. The Principal would bully the Deputy Principals, the Deputy Principals would bully the Team Leaders and Teachers and the students would bully each other. Excellent classroom teachers were driven out of their jobs, as people at the top were power hungry and had great pleasure in bullying others. This school taught me how not to be a leader and the hard knocks from this school has shaped me to be the teacher and leader that I am today.


Since leaving this school, my beliefs have changed. I believe that relationships are the essence to a positive working and learning environment. I also believe that power is one of those things earned and that leaders need to have the people skills. A healthy and happy school comes from people at the top and it stems down on to teachers, support staff, children, care takers and cleaners.

People:

I have been very privileged to work with some amazing leaders, who have influenced me to become the person that I am. One of the leaders was my ex Principal from Glenbrae School, Sandra Jenkins. When I had my first meeting with her, she told me I could only go so far with my three year degree. She strongly encouraged me to do my Post Graduate Diploma in Education. Sandra took an interest in me with the assignments and gave me lots of guidance. She made me realize the importance of furthering my education and that to be a successful teacher and leader, I would have to be a learner.

Another leader, I have worked with is my E-Learning Facilitator Dorothy Burt. She has shared her ideas with me and has inspired me to try out new ideas with E-Learning. She has given me opportunities to get out of my comfort zone and to present material at conferences and at cluster expos. Dorothy has encouraged me to take risks with my teaching and to enjoy using technology with my class.


Sum up one or two paragraphs, how you believe you learned to teach.

I believe I learnt to teach from Associate Teachers, Tutor Teacher, Facilitators and Cluster initiatives. I also learnt from trial and error, especially learning from my own mistakes.
My Associate Teachers allowed me to observe their practice and they shared their knowledge and ideas on behaviour management, lesson planning, sequence and they also provided me with feedback on my practice.

My Tutor Teacher was able to observe me teach in a variety of curriculum areas, give me regular feedback on my progress and she provided opportunities for me to watch her model good teaching practice with my class and her class. She was able to assist me with my planning, behaviour management and support me with school wide events.

I have been very privileged to work with a number of outside facilitators from TEAM Solutions and Evaluations and Associates. The facilitators were able to observe my practice in literacy and numeracy, give me feedback, model their practice using my class and give me a range of practical ideas/theories. I also learned to teach from cluster initiatives that my two schools have been part of. The Tamaki Pathways (TAP) initiative has provided me with the skills to teach literacy to ESOL students in a decile 1 setting and the Manaiakalani Initiative has taught me how to integrate E-Learning into my programme.

Identify one professional project you would like to undertake for your personal learning as a new teacher, or in your work supporting new teacher development. Elaborate in one or two paragraphs how you might undertake this project, given the knowledge you have about professional learning and the skills you have at this point. Identify any ethical considerations you may need to take into account.



The project that I would like to undertake is on supporting new teachers in using technologies in school. One of the common issues for new teachers when they start a school is coming to grips with the technologies. Today we are strongly reliant on technology to assist us to do our jobs. Technology in education is used for administration, teaching and learning purposes.


Before a technology induction programme is introduced, it might be useful to survey or interview the new teacher to see whether they have had any knowledge or experiences in using Mac and PC platforms, emailing, Web 2.0 applications, programmes, tools, servers, etc. From there, a tailored programme can be introduced. The use of technology is extremely broad and it would be difficult for any new teacher to learn all aspects at once.

I think it needs to be introduced gradually where you focus on introducing the important aspects first e.g. the administration aspects you use these tools every day such as a server, printer, electronic register, etc. Internet and other programmes can come later. These areas could be ranked in order of importance for the new teacher. The programme could run for a year and new areas could be introduced each term. The ethical issues when introducing a technology induction programme is ensuring the teacher understands the ICT / E-Learning policy and privacy issues of the students regarding images/work being posted on the Internet.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Leadership Qualities


Check out my Wordle, that has summarized some of the key terms on What makes a good leader? There are other terms that were missed out while I was creating this Wordle. Unfortunately I cannot go back to this Wordle and edit it. I think flexibility and adaptability are also qualities that a leader should have. An example of flexibility, is if there is a clash of events there is some lee-way made. Also being able to negotiate, listen and being diplomatic are some key terms on What makes a good leader.

Friday, July 9, 2010

What makes a good leader?

I have been asking myself this question for years. In my eight years of teaching I have worked with some good and bad leaders. The good leaders have really stood out for me and have made a positive impact on my life.

Questions lie: What makes a good leader stand out from the rest?

In my experience, I believe an effective leader demonstrates positive relationships with others with an emphasis on trust, respect and openess, is visionary with their beliefs, sets goals, able to handle the difficult situations (tough issues) that go with the job, able to communicate, is knowledgeable on a range of issues e.g. curriculum, is a life long learner, is able to guide and support learning and encourages team members to be life long learners as well.

The Ministry of Education have outlined four leadership principles: manaakitanga (leading with moral purpose), pono (having self belief), ako (being a learner), and awhinatanga (guiding and supporting) (Ministry of Education, 2010). These qualities underpin the principles of leadership within schools. How I look at these qualities, they can be applied to any leadership position and teaching position.

Manaakitanga (leading with purpose) this entails setting clear goals and knowing how to achieve them. In a classroom situation, it would be looking at ways to improve student achievement-knowing what the needs are of individual students, working on those needs and knowing where to take the students to the next level.
On a Principal's perspective it is about having a moral purpose of the day to day running of their job. This principle is very broad in its own sense. It includes ensuring staff are equipped with the knowledge and skills in raising student achievement. It is building partnerships with the community and relationships are at the core.

Pono (self belief) entails believing in oneself and confident to carry out the task required. This principle requires identifying what needs to be improved and willingly trying out new ideas. Self belief can be associated with resilience. This means, if the leader is very stressed over something, they are able to bounce back and focus on other aspects of their job. Not the easiest thing to do.

Ako (being a learner) entails furthering your professional practice and learning. This may mean doing university study, reading education literature, having professional learning conversations / meetings, inviting facilitators to come in to provide professional development on a curriculum area for staff, modelling good practice, peer to peer teaching, observing someone's practice. In Education, being a learner never stops, even for teachers and principals. The sharing of knowledge is critical. It is very easy to become cocooned in your own knowledge field. It is also very important to involve the community as there could be someone with a hidden talent that could be shared and that may benefit the teaching and learning of the students. Being a learner means having an open mind to try things out and to be willing to change your practice. This principle is not the easiest one to follow for teachers, but I feel that as teachers we are promoting learning within our classrooms, yet we have to be the learners as well. How we go about it and attitudes towards our professional learning will make the difference for our students at the end of the day.

Awhinatanga (guiding and supporting) refers to the level of interpersonal care from school leadership that is evident in staff relationships. Awhinatanga is based on empathy from the top, and involves the principal’s ability to sense the feelings, needs, and perspectives of others. This principle is critical. Relationships are essential and they are the building blocks for successful guidance and support programmes. Creating an environment where leadership is distributed will enhance the knowledge and skills other staff members bring to the profession.

Goleman (1998) has also identified the qualities of great leadership. These qualities are: Self Awareness, Self Regulation, Motivation, Empathy and Social Skills. These qualities can easily be applied to classroom practice.
Self Awareness being aware of your own beahviours, moods, emotions and how they may impact on others. Also understanding the needs of others.
Self Regulation: entails being able to constantly reflect on your performance and decisions you make. It also means thinking before acting and speaking.
Motivation: entails being able to drive yourself and others into the desired direction. It is about inspiring others to reach their full potential. In the classroom, this would entail making learning challenging, engaging but also fun. We all need to have that sense of fun in the work place.
Empathy: entails the ability to understand people, their moods, situations and being able to handle the most challenging situations. It is treating people the right way during there time of need and through their emotional state.
Social Skills: entails building quality relationships and having the ability to persuade people's thinking. Social Skills focus on team building promoting leadership skills.

References
Ministry of Education (2010) Retrieved Friday July 9,
http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Leadership-development/Kiwi-leadership-for-principals/Qualities

Goleman (1998) What makes a leader? Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business School Publishing, United States of America

What is a leader?

I believe a leader is someone who has the ability to lead / drive a team to reach common goals and visions. A leader is someone who influences others to follow their beliefs and values towards achieving their goals. Anyone can be a leader, but the questions lie whether you are born to be a leader or whether leadership is something that comes through age and life experience. I tend to believe that effective leadership comes from life experiences. Your life experiences shape the way we are, our values and beliefs.

When I think about leaders, I tend to think about my parents as being the first leaders I come across in bringing me up to be an active member in society. Other potential leaders can be teachers, principals, CEO's of companies, politicians, Managers, Supervisors, Directors, etc.

Blog Update

There have been some changes made to this blog, since you last visited. I have now completed my University E-Learning in Practice course. I was most inspired by the mark I got for this blog that I have decided to continue using this blog for my professional learning. The initial focus for this blog, was on E-Learning but I have decided to branch out and look at other topics in Education. E-Learning will not be forgotten about as it is a subject I love and get a lot of satisfaction from. The topics that I have decided to research and write about are: Leadership, Reporting to Parents, Assessment and Habits of Mind. There will be more, as time progresses. I maybe able to use this blog for my next University paper on New Teacher Development.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Evaluation: Goodbye from me

I have enjoyed this course. It has been really nice to share my knowledge and ideas with other members of the group who have been doing this course and also to my world wide audience. At Panmure Bridge School, I am the administrator to my classes blog, but also have the admin rights to seven other class blogs in the school. I have to say it is nice to have my very own professional learning blog, where I can share my ideas, thoughts, gathered research with others around the world any time, any where. This is one of the benefits of Web 2.0 applications. In the past, knowledge would have been stored and might have been shared with my colleagues.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Electronic Portfolios

These are some of the key themes that I found out on the educational benefits of Electronic Portfolios. Check out my Wordle.



Through doing further reading on E-Learning and Electronic Portfolio's there are more terms that could be added to this Wordle. Unfortunately one of the pitfalls with Wordle, you cannot update it after it has been made.
Electronic Portfolios fit under the read / write web (Roder & Hunt, 2008). This would enable members of the public e.g. family and the wider community to read the information and to write in the form of comments to the author of the portfolio. Sharing, participation and collaboration are strongly linked to Electronic Portfolios.
According to Shamburg (2009) "Digital technologies have given us unprecedented abilities to create media and content to express ourselves to various and wide audiences" (p.8).
Electronic Portfolios encourage anyone to be a writer and a contributor with the sharing of knowledge and ideas. Anyone can be a creator.
The integration of curriculum areas link extremely well to Electronic Portfolios. Any area of the curriculum can be integrated into Electronic Portfolios. A variety of mediums can be used such as audio, video and text (Shamburg 2009). Podcasts and Video can be uploaded and reflected upon. A number of platforms can be used in creating an Electronic Portfolio. These are some of the platforms: Blogger, Mahara, Moodle, Google Sites, My Portfolio and Knowledge Net.

References:

Roder, J., & Hunt, A.N. (2008). The curriculum of the future: Exploring the educational potential of new developments in web-based digital tools. In C.M. Rubie-Davis, & C. Rawlinson (Eds.), Challenging thinking about teacher learning. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Shamburg, C. (2009). Student powered podcasting. Teaching for 21st Century literacy (pp.5-18). Washington, DC: ISTE

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Experiences with Podcasting

Check out the movie I have made on how I use Podcasting in my classroom.


video

This is an example of a student podcast, that was made last year by one of my students.
This podcast is based on a Poetry unit and the children learned the structure of Haiku Poems. There's nothing like seeing / hearing something in action made by the children.


video

When implementing podcasting in a whole class setting, there needs to be a lot of training done around managing noise level of children, especially those who are not recording.
I think that's one of the pitfalls. This can easily be addressed. I use a traffic light system to highlight the appropriate noise level for when I am recording children. This is a visual aid which sets expectations for noise level in the classroom.
If you have a very young class it maybe the teacher that is editing the podcast at the end before it is uploaded onto a Blog or Wiki. Making podcasts can be quite a time consuming process, however it can be extremely rewarding in a number of ways. Children can get to listen to themselves speak and can critique their own performance. Podcasting can help build confidence for children around speaking clearly, loudly and with expression. From my own experience, Podcasting provides motivation and engagement for students. It can be integrated into all of the curriculum areas and links to the Ministry of Education's Key Competencies: "Managing Self", "Relating to Others", "Using language, Symbols and Text", "Participating and Contributing", and "Thinking".

References:

Ministry of Education, (2007) The New Zealand Curriculum, Wellington: Learning Media

Saturday, May 8, 2010

How private are we?

Yesterday I attended the Manaiakalani Lead Teachers' Meeting (E-Learning Cluster Meeting). The first discussion we had was on the topic of privacy. In our decile 1 school settings we are very fortunate to have parents that give their permission for their child's images and work to go up onto a public blog which can be accessed by any one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The children are known by their first name. Other schools of a higher decile are not so lucky as parents refuse for their child's identity and work to be displayed on the Internet. Therefore principals make the decision for students work to be kept under a private domain within the school.
Yet the exposure of childrens' identities and images, could be occurring outside of school hours, no matter what socio economic position you are in. Due to social networking sites such as Face Book, parents could easily upload pictures of their children or post videos of their child onto this site, under their name.
Depending on their facebook settings it is not too hard for members of the public to access these images. What makes things worse is the fact that the child's first and last name are there or if the child's first name is there, it is not too hard to make the connection between the first and last name.
Besides the images, parents can easily write wall posts on these areas: milestones that the child achieves and behaviour as to how well their child behaved on a particular day. The wall posts can easily be used as an area for venting, especially if the child misbehaves or does something bad or embarrasing. The child doesn't have much of a say as to whether they want their private lives exposed to the rest of the world or to a small group of friends in a positive or negative way.

The questions lie what's worse: Putting childrens' work and images onto a class blog celebrating their progress in a positive way, where the children are reflective practitioners
or Parents uploading their child's images, videos outside of school hours where the child's reputation can be perceived as either positive or negative

What are your thoughts on this subject?
I am keen to get your feedback on this subject, so please leave a comment.

This You Tube clip discusses how children these days have an individual dossier, from the time that they are born right through until death. However, the individual dossier could live on after death, through tributes and activities the person has been involved in.

Reference:
Digitalnatives (August 13, 2008) Digital Dossier (Video file) Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79IYZVYIVLA

Monday, May 3, 2010

Setting the purpose

Over the weekend I read a number of readings about how ICT / E-Learning needs to have a clear purpose and that the use of technologies should link to sound theory and pedagogy. This got me thinking about the school blogs and making it clear to staff why we have them. We have had new staff members come in and have been shown the technical aspects, but have not had it explained to them the purpose as to why we have blogging at school. Today I did a presentation at the staff meeting as to why we have class blogs. This led to my next proposal to the staff around sharing their class blogs at school assembly. My vision is having a time slot in assembly called "Blog of the Week", celebrating childrens' work. A lot of great work goes up on the blogs, but the next steps are to share them in the assembly and to comment / reflect on the pieces of work on a regular basis. It is a matter of sharing the love of learning with others and in the process leaving our Digital Footprint, so that our blogs become highly recognized by the global community. Here is my presentation that I presented to the staff today called: Setting the purpose and Celebrating our classes work.


video

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Assignment 2

I have decided to focus my proposal on E-Portfolios. At the moment, my school uses a clear file to store artifacts which include one off assessments and snap shots of students work. These clear files go home twice a year June and December. In my team, the content samples are decided by the syndicate leader and not by the child. It is a mandatory, generic process. These portfolios are very much teacher driven and lack the ongoing aspect of reflection by the child, parents and teacher. These portfolio's are kept for a year during the time in which the child is in your classroom, but then the portfolio goes home at the end of the year and as teachers we never view that childs' portfolio again. Where the actual portfolio ends up at home is another question as to whether it is kept over a period of time or thrown out. This can be a waste of teacher time, money and resources e.g. photocopying, coloured copying, if the portfolio is be thrown out in the rubbish. The following year a new portfolio is created and goes through the same cycle.

I believe these portfolios are not an ongoing record of progress over time and I feel that E-Portfolios have so much potential in students' learning. They can be used as a record of individual assessment and reflection throughout time. Also E-Portfolio's enables students to have more ownership as to the content that is displayed on them and the layout of their individual portfolio.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Reflecting on the Readings in whether ICT raises student achievement

From the reading I have done, there is very little research and data gathered in whether Computers in the classroom raise student achievement.
Kirkpatrick & Cuban's (1998) article on Computers make kids smarter-right? critiques the flaws in the research on this subject and the mistakes researchers make with lack of aim /purpose, data gathering and effectiveness statements.
The effectiveness statements from a lot of studies lack credibility and are of little use, unless there is elaboration on the childrens' ages, the subject, the software used, the kinds of outcomes that were sought, and how the study was done (Kirkpatrick & Cuban 1998). Over the years, I have been doing university study on this subject e.g. computers, technologies, pod casting, digital story telling etc, I have noticed that a lot of research articles that appear on the databases do not cover these aspects.

* Type of study being conducted: Qualitative or Quantitative
* The aim / focus as to why the research is being conducted
* Name of the school
* Sample size
* Participants - age, year group and number required
* Methodology
* Groupings:- experimental, control, random
* Data Gathering e.g. interviews, test, survey, (frequency of this process)
* Findings / Results
* Data Analysis
* Summary
* Evaluation / Conclusion

Kirkpatrick & Cuban (1998) highlights that a lot of material on the use of technologies in the classroom do not have a clear focus / purpose on what the technology is used for, why it is used and how it relates to the learning.
Another area research falls down is when standardized tests are used for comparing student progress before and after the computer technologies are implemented (Kirpatrick & Cuban). This type of assessment does not measure what the computer has taught the students. This type of assessment is like comparing apples with bananas. There are so many other influences which may determine whether one group performs better than the other group.

One of the interesting aspects I found out from Kirkpatrick & Cuban's article was how magazines, newspapers and policy briefs are very selective in which studies they cite and sometimes ignore the research findings. It makes me wonder whether to believe everything I read on this subject if the content is biased and not research driven. A lot of misinterpretations can easily occur, without the full facts. It makes us all gullible to misled information.

Another article I've read was Schacter and Fagnano (1999) on Does Computer Technology Improve Student Learning and Achievement? How, When, and under what Conditions? In this article a range of software programmes were reviewed that fitted under Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL), Intelligent Tutoring systems.
The results from the implementation of these software programmes enabled these areas to be explored further inquiry learning, reflection, collaboration, co-operative learning, design and creativity. Learning improved more so than traditional classroom teaching methods. This was through ensuring computer technologies are designed according to different educational and psychological theories and principles.
I believe the key to this success was making sure that the technology integrated with what the students were currently learning.
Schacter & Fagnano (1999) argue meaningful learning computer technologies need to be designed to align with sound learning theory and pedagogy.

So overall as educators we need to have a clear purpose as to why we are using a particular technology to enhance student learning and we also need to relate it back to sound learning theory and pedagogy.

Kirkpatrick, H,. & Cuban (1998) Computers make kids smarter. Techno Quarterly, (7) 2

Schacter, J., & Fagnano, C. (1999). Does computer technology improve student learning and achievement? How, when, and under what conditions? Journal of Educational Computing Research, 20(4), 329-343.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Does using ICT's in the classroom increase student achievement

I've been asking myself this question "Does using ICT increase student achievement?" for a very long time. When I did my first assignment for this course on Digital Story Telling I came across no conclusive evidence in answering this question. All I could find was anecdotal evidence from teachers' observations in the material that I reviewed. The common themes that I found out was that Digital Story Telling promoted student engagement, increased motivation, enabled students to take ownership and responsibility for their own learning and encouraged collaboration and reflection among students.

Questions lie: How do you measure these aspects.

I believe there are so many variables that need to be taken into consideration. There needs to be a distinction between whether it is the change of teaching practice that is making the difference or whether it is the tools that make the difference.

From my own experience with using ICT's in my programme over the years and integrating E-Learning into my classroom practice these are some of the variables that I've found out:

* The tools are a novelty for students, they may not have used them at school before so it is a whole new experience for them
* It is hands on learning-great for those who are tactile kinesthetic learners
* Due to it's newness attitudes seem to be positive
* It's a move away from traditional teaching approaches
* It's interactive
* Prior knowledge and skills can be utilized

I'm glad this week's study guide has some readings to do with the above question. I look forward to exploring this question further.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What's been done to address the Digital Immigrant Teachers issue in schools?

In Bolstard & Gilbert's (2008) article School ICT innovations: 21st - century learning or digital busywork? Wellington Girls College, has addressed the Digital Immigrant Teacher issue by providing students with training to work with highly skilled Information Technology (IT) professionals. The students were taught how to use the software packages suitable for teachers and in return worked with individual teachers in giving them training around using the computer and software. The students were known as the Tech Angels. In some ways the students were attending the professional development workshops on behalf of their teachers, as their teachers were not at the same ability, experience and confidence level as their students.

This was seen as a win- win situation for both the students and teachers. The students' knowledge was being extended, they were taught new up to date skills and were exposed to the latest ways in using technologies and the teachers' were developing new skills in using ICT's in the classroom from their Teach Angel in an informal sort of way.

Upon reading this article, a lot of reflective questions and issues around implementing Tech Angels came out for me:

* Parents:- If you were a parent would you be happy for your daughter or son to work with IT professionals / attend professional development workshops in using ICT on behalf of their teachers?
* Shouldn't this be the teachers job?
* Shouldn't the principal / Board of Trustees be a lot more stricter and cautious around employing teachers who lack the necessary ICT skills?
* Attitude / Buy in from the teacher. Makes it very hard if you're an enthusiastic student and you're working with a teacher who has a very negative attitude towards using ICTs' and is very reluctant to use ICT. This does test out relationships between students and teachers
* Decisions:-Who makes the decision for teachers to be trained by the Tech Angel
This can create tensions if it was a mandatory decision made by the principal versus a decision made by the individual teacher
* Personality clashes between Tech Angels and Teachers-
* Time: Students could miss out on valuable learning time in other curriculum areas through training their teacher with using ICT's in the classroom
* What times of the day would the students be trained to work with the IT professionals and to work with their teacher? Would the students' get released or would work be done before / after school?
* What sacrifices would the student/s have to make?
* Payment & incentives: Students' could be easily exploited by their teachers being on call during school hours. Besides knowledge and new skills what other incentives would there be for the students?
* If the Tech Angels programme was to be implemented into High Schools, it would probably be best to train the younger students in the school e.g. Year 9 (third formers), as there would stability knowing that the student is likely to stay on for at least five years.
* Cost:- It is a big cost with investing money into students as they can leave anytime leaving their teacher Tech Angel less.
* Staff turnover-this can be an issue in all schools, but if a staff member has been trained by a Tech Angel suddenly leaves / retires then it could have been a waste of time for the student training that particular teacher?
* It could also be a waste of time for that teacher, if they are never going to use that particular software programme again?

Would be keen in getting your thoughts on this article and initiative.

Reference:

Bolstad, R., & Gilbert, J. (2008). School ICT innovations: 21st - century learning or digital busywork? Computers in New Zealand Schools, 20(3), 42-51.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Does E-Learning promote equal opportunities

Over these last few days I have been asking myself "Does E-Learning promote equal opportunities for all people?". This question came about when I went to see my travel agent around booking some flights to the USA. She said you would need to go online before you leave New Zealand and get a VISA. This documentation will allow you into the country. I am very lucky as I have a computer and have wireless in my flat. I have access to these tools and I have knowledge around using a computer and going on the Internet. It made me think about equal opportunities for all people. It made me wonder about these situations:

* What if you are a ninety year old person who wants to visit family in the USA and has never used a computer before?
* What if you owned a computer, but you are not too confident with using the Internet and you don't feel comfortable about giving your credit card details online?

The simple answer is let the travel agent apply for a VISA on your behalf. Yet the travel agent would charge you on their behalf for this luxury service. I do not know how much, but this would be a hidden cost part of the service. If I was organizing to get my VISA online, I would pay nothing to do this.

Another example, is to do with Television. You might be watching an interview of someone and then it suddenly finishes. The presenter may say "To see more of the interview, visit our website".
In a way people without computer and Internet access, knowledge and skills are at a disadvantage. Today we are living in a society where there is a lot pressure to keep up with others and it expected that we would know how to use these modern day technologies such as the Internet.

These situations relate well to Marc Prensky's research on "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants". Prensky (2001) has acknowledged that there is a common divide among learners who were brought up using technologies and know the language versus those that were not brought up to using these digital technologies. The gap is widening between the Digital Natives and the Digital Immigrants. This links well to the situation of a ninety year old versus a fifteen year old in getting a VISA online to go the USA. The ninety year old would struggle getting a VISA because they have not been taught at school how to use a computer and the Internet, it is new to them, the language is new and in a way they learn / require step by step instructions on the process. Prensky (2001) identifies these types of learners as Digital Immigrants. On the other hand, a fifteen year old who was asked to go online to get a VISA would find it much easier as they have been brought up to using the Internet, and would learn to go through the online steps at a much quicker rate. Prensky identifies these learners to be Digital Natives.

In schools this is pretty much the same. Students that we teach are classed to be the Digital Natives and Teachers are the Digital Immigrants. According to Prensky's research teachers are finding it hard to keep up with their students especially with the way they think and process information. Students are getting bored in the traditional way learning is presented to them as it is not stimulating or challenging enough. Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants can be summarized below, from Prensky's research:

The 2010 Student Learner (Digital Native):
Learns by:
* Receiving information fast-less of the step by step
* Multi Tasking-could have a number of projects running at once
* Prefers graphics before text
* Self satisfaction and rewards
* Prefers games rather than heavy paper work
* Hands on, interactive
* Can learn with background noise such as TV, music playing etc.
* Net working together
* Attitude towards learning should be FUN

Digital Immigrants learnt by:
* Step by step
* Individually
* Attitude towards learning should be SERIOUS
* Perception: students can't learn while background noise is playing

Prensky suggests teachers to move forwards under the Digital Natives umbrella rather than holding students back under their Digital Immigrants umbrella. For this to happen successfully teachers would need to change the way they think and the way they present information to their students. Teachers would need to change speed in which they teach: less of the step by step. Integrate the Legacy (reading, writing, maths, thinking) traditional curriculum with the Digital which includes: software, hardware, robotics, nanotechnology, genomics (Prensky, 2001)

How Prensky sees Digital Immigrant teachers tailoring to Digital Native student needs is through adapting their materials to be in language of Digital Natives. An example of this is through the use of computer video games. Prensky recommends teachers to change their attitudes and to become inventive so that their teaching aligns with Digital Native methodologies. This could mean teachers creating / presenting content in a video game format to their students, at all levels, in all of the curriculum areas.

The challenges of integrating Digital Native methodologies are:
* The amount of support and professional development teachers would need in using digital technologies e.g. video computer games in presenting content to students in a visual interactive way
* TIME:- to learn to use the software, in class time to implement it and teach it to the students, after hours time for preparation, to be creative
* Technical Issues:- software incompatible, server issues, web site issues
* Attitude: from staff especially in moving from traditional approaches. For some teachers adapting their teaching practices. Attitude can either be positive or negative around: digital technologies, group work / networking, ownership of learning

Questions:
Prensky argues that students learn best through creating games and learning content from a game that the teacher has prepared:
What's been done at Colleges and Universities to address this, with training of teachers?
Shouldn't our professional development in schools be based around learning software in creating interactive games to present our content on to our students?
At what age should this start? As I believe the early years of school, new entrants need to be exposed to face to face teacher modeling and scaffolding
What game making programmes are out there for students and teachers?-keen to know might try it out myself on my class

Here is a You Tube Video defining Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, based on Marc Prensky's research. This video summarizes the above information in an interactive presentation-aimed for those Digital Natives out there.



Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants: On the Horizon, Vol. 9 No. 5. University Press

Shapiro, C., Wallerstein, C., Brown (2009, December) Digital Natives Vs. Digital Immigrants IST 110, Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hXZ4wlekRg

Knowledge changing the face in learning

Recently learning has had a huge transformation in the classroom. There has been movement from traditional approaches to modern approaches, especially in the area of knowledge. In the past knowledge was stored by the individual and the main sources of information came from books, or people we knew. Today due to the integration of E-learning, knowledge is shared in a collaborative global environment. There is no age restriction as to who can share knowledge. An example of this comes from my class blog. The blog shows examples of student's writing presented as podcasts and movies. This site can be a great source of knowledge to Teachers in New Zealand and Overseas. If a teacher was not sure how to teach the structures of Haiku poems or limericks, then the blog would be useful as it would contain exemplars written by students. If other students want to learn how to speak clearly, fluently or to explore genres of writing, then the blog would be a valuable tool in meeting these areas. There are exemplars for everyone to view and to learn from.

Another sample of knowledge sharing is when students are doing inquiry learning. They may use a Google search to find information on their topic of interest. The student may find the answers through an expert in their field of interest online. The expert may not need to write a book on their subject, but can share their knowledge, expertise and experience online so it is accessible for children and adults. Also students could use a number of sources to get information on their topic such as: email and Skype. They could also create forums which invite people to contribute / share their ideas

In the classroom there is an emphasis on the process of learning. Learning is one long journey. Learning tends to focus on the how and why. An example of this is in the area of maths. In the past when I was at school the emphasis was on answering the questions correctly from the text book and to get as many exercises done within the time limit. Now, the focus is on encouraging all students to share their strategies (How did you you get that answer?) with their maths group and with the class. There is no right or wrong strategy as long as the student can justify their understanding. Through students' sharing their answers individually it enables others to try out their strategy and it also allows students to have a range of strategies when they are solving problems. The onus is no longer on the teacher to give out all the answers, but the teacher's role is to guide the students' thinking and reasoning. I believe that what I am doing in the class room relates to the new work order as described by Gilbert (2005).

Gilbert's article on Catching the Knowledge Wave compares the Industrial Age to the Knowledge Age: Capitalism old and new. Gilbert highlights a number of themes that I feel strongly about:

* Knowledge is something produced through the relationships of others and that relationships are the essence to an organization
* Successful organizations are those which focus on learning as an integral process and promotes learning together
* Bosses to be seen as "Knowledge Managers":-who ensure the workers are given knowledge and skills to be innovative
* The sharing of knowledge and circulation of ideas and implementation of new knowledge within the organization
* Utilizing contacts:- this includes corresponding to the wider community through Internet and communications technologies. Contacts may not necessarily be in the same profession but they could be used excellent sources of knowledge.

An area I feel strongly about after taking three leadership papers is on the area of Relationships. Relationships from all parties e.g. Principal, Deputy and Associate Principals, Teachers, Support Staff and Students are critical, if there is to be a knowledge sharing environment. If there are relationship issues e.g. staff members feel threatened if their idea is put down by senior management or students feel scared of the teacher, then knowledge would be stored and not shared with others. We are all great sources of knowledge, but for it to be shared the environment and morale needs to be positive.
I also believe that it is up to the Principal of a school to initiate the knowledge sharing and to ensure staff are equipped with adequate knowledge in keeping up to date with modern teaching practices. An example of this could be sharing of ideas in literacy in staff meetings, where staff bring along samples of student/teacher modeled work, or it could be sharing of ideas in teaching practice. Teachers can gain a lot of new ideas from each with their teaching practice, if knowledge is shared. Another aspect of knowledge sharing is reflection. Reflection is just as important as it promotes thinking skills such as questioning, evaluating, synthesizing of ideas etc. When an idea is reflected upon changes could be made, areas of it could be explored further and new ideas can be developed from it.

The utilization of contacts outside of education are great sources of knowledge. This could easily be through social networking or setting up forums which invite people to contribute their ideas. An example of utilization of contacts relates to my own personal practice, more the face to face variety. Back in 1996, my class were studying the topic "Around the World in 80 Days". My classes country was Scotland. At the time there was an advertisement in the paper wanting members to join the Scottish Country Dancing group. I rang up the group and asked them whether they could perform to my class. The group consisted of retired people whose love was of the country Scotland. When they arrived they bought posters, wore their cultural uniforms, bought some home made Scottish shortbread for my class to sample, sang songs, shared stories, performed in front of my class and actually got my whole class to dance with them. This was a valuable experience because it was adding reality to their learning and the children could see that the best sources of knowledge came from the visitors who were from Scotland and had lots of experiences to share.

Reference: Gilbert, J. (2005). Catching the knowledge wave: The knowledge society and the future of education (pp. 23-46). Wellington:NZCER

Monday, March 22, 2010

The progression of Electronic Mail

One thing that astonishes me after reading Nola Campbell's article "The Vintage Years of eLearning in New Zealand Schools" was how far Electronic Mail (email) dates back. I initially thought email was a late nineties phenomena, but was proven wrong. I was first introduced to email when I was training to be a teacher ten years ago. During this time, email was a novelty and I mainly used it to communicate to Overseas relatives in Canada. Phone calls were quite expensive and letter writing was slow because of postage. Electronic mail was instant.

Campbell's research highlights the progression of electronic mail in the education system. Email, was first used in the early 1980's by men in the science and maths fields. Computers were greatly used in writing, instructional learning etc. There were significant changes made during the 1980's and up to the new millennium. Firstly, the Department of Education set up the "Computers in Education Development Unit" (CEDU). This initiative provided training to education and curriculum officers, and teachers in using Electronic Mail. During this time reports were issued out by the Department of Education instructing teachers how to use email. These reports in the late 1980's highlighted the success of email correspondence between schools in New Zealand and Overseas. The 1990's were also significant as the Ministry Of Education introduced Professional Development contracts in using ICT. These contracts provided teachers with training in developing knowledge and skills around using ICT's in the classroom. Emailing initiatives were running within schools, which promoted collaboration and networking between teachers and students. During this time, the Technology Curriculum came out and a new term came with it which was ICT (Information and Communications Technology). ICT was exploring the tools on the computer and developing knowledge around using them. Later came the term e-learning where the process of learning became an integral part to class room practice. The focus was more of the process rather than on the product.

After reading Campbell's article, questions lie for me: I was educated during the 1980's and 1990's, but email was not spoken about or implemented:
Where in New Zealand were the CEDU? in one main city e.g. Auckland or scattered throughout the country
Did the CEDU work with Senior managers and office staff first or were teachers shown how to compose and send emails?How come it has taken a while for schools to implement email?-if it was happening in the 1980's why weren't other schools' utilizing this communication tool- possible answers could be finance, attitudes from teachers, buy in from educators, etc.

Below is a timeline of the progress of electronic mail during the 1980'sBelow is the progress of implementation of email in schools during the 1990's

References: Campbell, N. (2004). The vintage years of e-learning in New Zealand schools. The Journal of Distance Education, 8 (1), 17-24

Headlam, S. (2006, September 09) The miracle of Electronic mail (Video File). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VCDeHuEiiQ


Email at it's early stages in the United Kingdom

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Defining E-Learning

I agree with the Study Guide 2, that E-Learning is about knowledge and processes. It focuses on the process of learning, rather than on the tools and technologies.
Holmes & Gardener, (2006) states "E-learning is online access to learning resources, anywhere and anytime" (p 14)
I believe E-Learning is much more broader than this definition. I believe it is about how these resources are utilized and the processes that they are used to empower student learning.
A question I would like to raise regarding Holmes and Gardener's definition on E-Learning is: Does it have to be online to be classed as E-Learning? I believe that there are a lot of software programmes that can be integrated into class teaching. Examples of this are: Garage Band and iMovie Webcam. The iMovie Webcam enables students to practice reading out aloud and it encourages them to critique their own performance as they can view themselves. They assess their oral skills and reading skills just through watching themselves. I use this as an independent activity in my reading programme.
E-Learning promotes learning to be conducted in a variety of ways. This includes independent and collaborative learning in an informal learning environment. Along with these types of learning it promotes the utilization of prior knowledge and new knowledge. It mixes the old with the new. It encourages sharing of old and new knowledge with others. In some ways it's like pass the knowledge on, so it has a domino effect.
In schools teachers would need to be adaptive with their ways of thinking and moving from traditional methods to new methods / approaches. An example of this could be in the form of communication. Instead of writing minutes / agenda's for staff meetings using pen and paper and copying it a number of times, creating a Google Document (Google Doc) would open the process up for staff to comment, reflect, and make suggestions.
In my class I integrate e-learning with my literacy programme. I also try to integrate as much e-learning into the school's Inquiry Learning model-when it comes to teaching Topic Studies.
Below is a literacy cycle that shows how e-learning is integrated into my Literacy programme. This Literacy Cycle is displayed on the wall and students' names are placed beside the stages that they are working at.

References: Holmes, B., & Gardener, J. (2006). e-Learning: Concepts and practice, London: SAGE Publications