Saturday, 28 February 2015

The end of the epic #28daysofwriting

The end of the epic #28daysofwriting about A to Z of my random education thoughts.

It has been fantastic being part of this writing expedition over the last 4 weeks. I have made my quota every day, and I have increased my blog posts total to over 70. It has been a wonderful learning process, and I have improved some aspects of my blogging over the past few weeks. There have been days when I struggled for inspiration and when I have been too tired to contemplate writing, and those posts tended to be my worst posts. Overall however I had many opportunities to reflect and share my thoughts, nd it has also allowed me to get more insight into my own thinking. New ideas and inspiration has been formed, and new questions have developed. Thank you to Tom Barrett for initiating this idea and my wife Jacqui du Toit for being my support.

As I end the #28daysofwriting I thought I would share my most memorable posts that I enjoyed writing and had most comments about. These will probably lead to further exploration in the coming months. I love learning and discovering new ideas, and being constantly challenges and growing.

T -Teaching River #28daysofwriting Day 21: (My 2nd Blog post to have over 300 hits!)
...Life does not happen in isolation, we all are influenced by others and in turn influence people. I know that my life as a teacher I will go through many phases, ups and downs, and that they are all part of my own learning journey.  This is how I see the link with a river, the continuous flow of developing my own skills, learning, gaining knowledge and wisdom, being a role model, a positive influence and mentor to my students...

I love 'Teaching', I'm proud to call myself a 'Teacher'; and the complexity of learning and constant change makes it the most fascinating profession in the world. 


We need to develop this Mindset in our student to not give up, not believe that they cannot change, that they cannot do something. This involves in us having the mindset of growth and risk-taking, and embracing challenges. 

Don't say "I can't", let's all start saying "Yet" (and "Yes") and change mindsets.

Leadership I have always been involved in some form of leadership, whether being the leader or being a member of the leadership team. I...

A is for..Assessment, Authentic & Australia So when I had the thought of doing the alphabet as part of my #28daysofwriting...

D - Digital Leadership One of the most important terms in education is to have schools providing 'Digital Leadership'...


You need to start somewhere, and I would encourage all educators to keep on trying new ideas, technology, keep on reading, start blogging, attend TeachMeets, join Twitter, connect with other educators. We all have so much to share and to learn from each other. You don't know what is out there until you begin.

Just Go Ahead and Jump..........


'Always Learning'


Twitter PLN
I also enjoyed being able to recommend so many great members of my PLN to the people that read my Blog posts. My apologies to anyone that I missed. There are many other wonderful educators in my Twitter PLN that I'm looking forward to connecting with more and more. There is so much to learn from one another and I encourage everyone to make connections and grow together.

Here is the list from the A-Z Blog posts:

Nicholas Provenzano
Nathan Weaver
Paul Browning
Pernille Ripp
Phillip Cooke
Phil Shapiro
Phil Taylor
Paul Gibbs
Peter Cameron

Friday, 27 February 2015

Z - Zzzzzz #28daysofwriting Day 27

Zzzzzzzz

Today we had our annual swimming carnival where students take part, sing, scream, shout and encourage each other. Lots of fun. My job involved being the starter, and this meant I was in the sun the whole day. This means right now I'm exhausted and my brain is in no mood to think creatively about writing this afternoon.

We all need rest, and we need to look after our wellbeing as teachers. Sleep is important, alongside nutrition and exercise. My wife calls herself the 'sleep police', making sure I get enough rest. So now I'm going to take it easy and I look forward to writing a longer reflection post tomorrow on the whole #28daysofwriting and the posts that have made an impact.




So the day is finished off with meeting a few other teachers and their families at the local Tavern for one of my favorite Australian meals - Chicken Parmigiana. Great company and good food to end the day off











Rest, Nutrition, Exercise, Conversation, Relax - Take care of yourself for the long run.



Bonus: My Twitter Recommendations- Letter Z
These educators have been part of my PLN for some time and it is fantastic to be able to connect with them, share ideas, be challenged and learn from one another. 


Thursday, 26 February 2015

Y - Yet #28daysofwriting

Yet

I never really understood the power behind this word until recently. Delving into areas such 'Growth Mindset', 'Heutagogy' and 'Motivation Theories'; and reading books like 'Drive' by Daniel Pink, 'Outliers' by Malcolm Gladwell and many others, it has made me realise how powerful our mindset can be and how crucial it is to explore this area. 


I'm working on this and I still have a long way to go. It is a continuous journey, and I hope I continue learning and developing every single day. Here are just a few ways I have embraced YET and how I'm changing my Mindset one day at a time.



2009: I'm not sure that I will be a good teacher or even be able to be one, YET I studied, completed my course, started and absolutely love what I do.

2012: I don't understand what Twitter is all about or what the point is, YET now it is part of my daily life and my PLN is one of my greatest inspiration.

2013: I don't understand how to use Evernote YET now I have presented at Conferences and run sessions on how to use it.Always: I struggle with public speaking YET I have now spoken at Conferences, run Workshops, organised TeachMeets, Tech Tools Tuesdays and now I'm a featured speaker at EduTECH this year!

Always: I'm not a great writer YET, but I Blog, I share, I comment and push myself with #28daysofwriting to improve. 


We need to develop this Mindset in our student to not give up, not believe that they cannot change, that they cannot do something. This involves in us having the mindset of growth and risk-taking, and embracing challenges. 

Don't say "I can't", let's all start saying "Yet" (and "Yes") and change mindsets.


This is a video of the brilliant Dr Carol Dweck discussing Mindsets.




Bonus: My Twitter Recommendations- Letter Y
These educators have been part of my PLN for some time and it is fantastic to be able to connect with them, share ideas, be challenged and learn from one another. 



Wednesday, 25 February 2015

X - Day 25 of #28daysofwriting

X

What to write for X?
Where do I start???
I want a word that starts with X, not have the X in the middle somewhere?
I'm not a maths teacher, so need to solve for X?
What a conundrum?

I came upon X Prize Foundation: http://www.xprize.org/






This from their website on 'Who We Are':
XPRIZE is an innovation engine. A facilitator of exponential change. A catalyst for the benefit of humanity.
We believe in the power of competition. That it’s part of our DNA. Of humanity itself. That tapping into that indomitable spirit of competition brings about breakthroughs and solutions that once seemed unimaginable. Impossible.
We believe that you get what you incentivize. And that without a target, you will miss it every time. Rather than throw money at a problem, we incentivize the solution and challenge the world to solve it.
We believe that challenges must be audacious, but achievable, tied to objective, measurable goals. And understandable by all.
We believe that solutions can come from anyone, anywhere and that some of the greatest minds of our time remain untapped, ready to be engaged by a world that is in desperate need of help. Solutions. Change. And radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.
Call us crazy, but we believe.




What a great find and something to explore further. I love how science and technology is pushing innovation to improve lives and solve problems. look forward to exploring this further.



Bonus: My Twitter Recommendations- Letter X
These educators have been part of my PLN for some time and it is fantastic to be able to connect with them, share ideas, be challenged and learn from one another. 


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

W - Why? #28daysofwriting Day 24


WHAT? WHO? WHERE? WHEN? WHY?



The 5 questions that are central in enquiring about History. When we analyse source documents, images, inscriptions, cartoons, posters, photographs, audio, visual, etc. we always come back to these five W's.

WHAT
What is it?
What is it made of?

WHO
Who made it?
Who wrote it?
Who is it in the image?

WHERE
Where is it?
Where was it?

WHEN
When was it made?
When was it found?

These four provide a very factual record and account of the artefacts and events, but the key question for me boils down to 'Why?'.

WHY
Why is it important?
Why has it survived?
Why did someone say this?
Why did they portray them like this on an image?
Why did they do this?

The question 'Why' encourages deeper investigation, it creates curiosity and exploration. This is the key question for me to have students discuss and elaborate on. 
Why do we study the past?
Why do we need to understand the past?
Why do individuals cause so much violence and oppression?
Why are events in 2015 linked to events decades, centuries, millenniums back?

Help your students discover the 'Why' and they will always search for the 'Why'


Bonus: My Twitter Recommendations- Letter W
These educators have been part of my PLN for some time and it is fantastic to be able to connect with them, share ideas, be challenged and learn from one another. 


Wade Stanford
Walter O'Malley
Wes Heberlein
Wanda Terral
William Chamberlain
William King

Monday, 23 February 2015

V - Versatile #28daysofwriting Day 23

Versatile



I've hit a bit of writer's block today. No plan on what to write for the letter 'V'. Thoughts went from Vision, Views, Version, and around to nothingness. Then I remembered one of the Twitter people I'm mentioning below had a Blog past a few years ago that I really loved. Vicki Davis has been an inspiration since I discovered Twitter and Blogs in 2012.  Her post was on "Planning to teach from A to Z". From here I thought I would borrow her letter 'V' - Versatile. A few key quotes from her served as inspiration; "You must be flexible and adaptable." and "As a teacher, I plan, prepare, and prepare but when things go haywire at the last minute, I've learned to adapt and save myself a heart attack."

Versatility is such an important trait to develop as a teacher. Quite often, the best-laid plans go awry, and we need to be able to roll with it. Schools are predictable and chaotic at the same time, we are dealing with children and adults, and the internal and external pressures of school life. This is where versatility comes in, and being able to assume many different roles and responsibilities to deal with what is happening. 

We also need to develop our own skills so that we can be versatile in the areas we can apply them whether it is numeracy, literacy, arts, sport, technology or any part of school life. At the same time, we need to help our students become more versatile in what they can do (or what they believe they are only capable of doing). Being versatile (or adaptable) is a critical skill in the 21st century, and one we must foster in ourselves and our students.

So towards becoming more versatile, be open to changes and take them in your stride.

Bonus: My Twitter Recommendations- Letter V
These educators have been part of my PLN for some time and it is fantastic to be able to connect with them, share ideas, be challenged and learn from one another. 

Vicki Davis
Victoria Olsen
Vicki Morgado
Virginia Pavlovich
Verity Simpson
Vivian Mat


Sunday, 22 February 2015

U - Understanding (by Design) #28daysofwriting Day 22

Understanding

Listen, Understand, Act by Steven Shorrock (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


A definition from our 21st century reference (book), Wikipedia:

Understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as a person, situation, or message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object.

I love this word. It can be seen as concrete, and at the same time be ambiguous in nature. It is what we hope students 'get', what 'clicks', the 'why', the way they can apply it and the lasting knowledge that they take from your class. When students understand a concept, they can make it their own and use it any applicable contexts. Understanding informs my aims with my senior students. The skills I teach them, they understand the links and processes involved, and then they can actually apply it to different situations.

My school is embarking on utilising Understanding by Design (UbD) more this year. I recently found this useful link on Edutopia created by Grant WigginsUnderstanding by Design Template - http://edut.to/1DFK8II. In the Template, he provides some of the reasons behind UbD. At the core it is a purposeful curricular planning process that makes the connections between learning and programs visible. He states that "UbD reflects a “continuous improvement” approach to design and learning." Look forward to sharing more about this process as we start implementing it across all year levels later this year.



Bonus: My Twitter Recommendations- Letter U
These educators have been part of my PLN for some time and it is fantastic to be able to connect with them, share ideas, be challenged and learn from one another. 

Urbie Delgado

Saturday, 21 February 2015

T -Teaching River #28daysofwriting Day 21

Teaching (River)

Photo by Takashi Hososhima (CC BY-SA 2.0)
I qualified as a teacher in 2010 and started my first full-time teaching post at the start of 2011. I had decided to change careers when my wife and I moved to Australia at the start of 2009. Previously I had done a gap year in New Zealand to play rugby, then studied 4 years and obtained degrees in Logistics Management, then two years in the UK, followed by four years in South Africa before moving to Australia.

Photo by Neil Howard  (CC BY-NC 2.0)

When I started blogging I had to choose a Title for the Blog and signing up to Twitter I had to choose a twitter Handle. I selected the names 'The Teaching River' for the blog and @jdtriver for Twitter. By pure coincidence the school I work at is called Riverside, but this is not where the 'river' name originated. (parts of this blog post is from one I did many years ago)

So let me explain.


Photo by Mark Seaton (CC BY-NC 2.0)
I believe our lives as teachers, (as individuals and as students), is like a river. We start life flowing along from a starting point. We have different influences as we grow up - parents, siblings, family, friends, school, sport, hobbies, culture and much more that form and shape our character. We leave our comfort, our family homes and familiar surroundings and head downstream to the next phase in our lives.



Photo by Adeel Shaikh (CC BY-NC 2.0)
We then enter our lives as teachers, where we have countless streams flowing into the river - students, colleagues, parents, communities, media, technology, government, and each one may have multiple streams. Then as the river flows, we go through calm patches - the periods where everything just runs smoothly. Then there are times of rapids, filled with ups and downs - teaching goes through so many emotional and stressful phases, but the river does not stop and nor does our teaching. No matter what is happening, the river pushes through and garners momentum as it heads towards the ocean.


Yellowstone River by Charles Peterson (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Then there are the streams that flow out from a river. This is where we influence people and make a difference in their lives. Then they head off in their own river and influence the lives of others. Eventually the rivers will reach the ocean, and this symbolises how teaching never ends and the legacy you create in your students goes out to the rest of the world.






Life does not happen in isolation, we all are influenced by others and in turn influence people. I know that my life as a teacher I will go through many phases, ups and downs, and that they are all part of my own learning journey.  This is how I see the link with a river, the continuous flow of developing my own skills, learning, gaining knowledge and wisdom, being a role model, a positive influence and mentor to my students.

I love 'Teaching', I'm proud to call myself a 'Teacher'; and the complexity of learning and constant change makes it the most fascinating profession in the world. 

'Always Learning'


Bonus: My Twitter Recommendations- Letter T
These educators have been part of my PLN for some time and it is fantastic to be able to connect with them, share ideas, be challenged and learn from one another. 


Tom Barrett
Tim Lauer
Todd Nesloney
Tom Whitby
Tom Whitford
Todd Bloch
Tina Photakis
Tony Wagner
Todd Whitaker
Tom Bennett
Tony Vincent
Tim Needles

Friday, 20 February 2015

S- Storms #28daysofwriting Day 20

Storms


The most appropriate topic on everyone's lips in Australia is storms. Two Tropical Cyclones hitting on the same day, (that is Hurricanes for the Northern Hemisphere readers). I'm based about 400km south of the largest, a Category 5 Cyclone, and we are only expecting a lot of rain (300-500mm) in the next 36 hours. This has resulted in most schools closing for today and staying home safely with my family.

People across the state are bracing for a storm, and as teachers we have to weather countless storms throughout the year. We deal with students that are struggling with their own personal issues, life at home and adolescents. Various disagreements, lack of support or negativity may exist between staff. Restrictions by an educational system tied to archaic regulations, and communities that are disinterested in their children's education. Then there are teachers own personal lives that impact on their health and wellbeing. 

Teaching is an emotionally turbulent profession that requires us to help students through their own physical & emotional developments, and at the same time deal with parents, community, education departments and financial struggles. We need to support each other, ask for help and not be afraid to speak up. 

As we experience storms in our lives, remember that their is always a silver lining and a rainbow around the corner.

Bonus: My Twitter Recommendations- Letter S
These educators have been part of my PLN for some time and it is fantastic to be able to connect with them, share ideas, be challenged and learn from one another. (So many names with S, sorry if I missed a few)

Scott McLeod
Stewart Hase
Simon Crook
Summer Howarth
Stuart Taylor
Simon McKenzie
Steve Box
Shelley Burgess
Starr Sackstein
Steve Mouldey
Simon Ashby
Sonya van Schaijik
Sally Stevens
Scott Rocco
Simon Breakspear
Sean Farnum
Shaelynn Farnsworth
Sandra Paul




Thursday, 19 February 2015

R -Relationships #28daysofwriting Day 19

Relationships

As Cyclone Marcia is bringing down torrential rain already - I'm keeping tonight's post brief and linking in two previous posts on this topic. 

Relationships are one the foundational blocks of building success in schools. 
Please have a look and any comments appreciated.


Posted in 2013 and one of my favourite posts:
The Teaching River: Relationships are the key: One of the most essential ingredients in having students achieve success in the classroom is the relationship they have with their teacher. ...

Also from 2013:
The Teaching River: Every contact leaves a trace“Every contact leaves a trace. Everything and everyone we touch is changed in some way. But the changes, they are never what we anticipate.” 


Bonus: My Twitter Recommendations- Letter R
These educators have been part of my PLN for some time and it is fantastic to be able to connect with them, share ideas, be challenged and learn from one another.

Robyn McCarthy
Rik Rowe
Roshea Buksh
Rebecca Davies
Russel Tarr
Richard Olsen
Rob McTaggart
Richard Byrne
Robert Schuetz
Rachael Lehr
Rachel Jones
Ross Halliday
Randy Norman
Rusul Alrubail
Ron Dorland