Thursday, 25 August 2011

1st post: How to take one step at a time...

8th August 2011

How to take one step at a time.
(towards 21st Century learning).

Let’s be honest.  I am a relative newbie to 21st century learning. Especially when you consider the likes of America’s  coolcatteacher and closer to home: Townesy77 and Bianca' s Blog.

Up until about 3 weeks ago, after a staff PD session on the Networked Social learner, I was using digital tools for mainly power point presentations, research, note taking and a handful of student videos for Drama and Religious Ed on imovie on my Mac. I also create and maintain a VIRTUAL CLASSROOM (scholaris). At home, I dabble in amateur photography and movie making, Facebook and surfing the net. 
I had tried Twitter a couple of years ago, but without realising I could utilize it for educational networking, the interest soon died off.  At the PD, Twitter, as a 21st century connection mode was explained.  Needless to say, I was right in and loving it! What a great way to source information! Twitter ‘s catch phrase is “Twitter is the best way to discover what’s new in your world.”..and I agree. Luckily for me, it coincided with an early birthday present – an iphone.  This enabled me to access the Net 24/7. Awesome! 

Now, as I alluded to, I was hooked.  A wealth of information, in the palm of my hand, via tweets from passionate educators from all around the world. Hence, the dilemma!  I was totally overwhelmed.  I was keen, eager and so, so curious.  How does one retain and organise all this information!  So.  I took some advice from a quote I enjoy by Maharaj Nisargadatta.

"to understand the currents of a river, (s)he who wishes to know the truth must enter the water."-

Where did I find this quote?  You will laugh. On a daily quotes and reflection calendar …in the toilet. OK. 
My Mum will have to take credit for that one. I still remember the quotes Mum had on the back of our toilet door as kids. One being “You cannot lead where you will not go and you cannot teach what you will not know.” (How apt!) 

I believe it is integral to actually complete issued assessments yourself so one can be prepared and understand the limitations and possibilities of the research and end product.  If I was to continue educating effectively and professionally in the 21st century learning environment, I felt I had to
“enter the water, to understand the current”. 
 Over the next few posts, I hope to share with you the start of my new journey towards 21st century learning (for both myself and those in my care!). However, as with most things, it is important to start small.
Take one step at a time.
Do something well. Be confident and then move on towards bigger, greater and increasingly exciting things!

My first step was joining Twitter.What was yours?
Step two , next post! 

Ps Maharaj Nisargadatta is a Hindu Guru whose main teaching/masterwork was based around the philosophical idea of “I am that”. It was a mantra. He felt the main question to ask yourself in life was
“Who am I”?

So, who am I?  A devoted and dedicated mother, wife, friend and an educator who strives to care, support, inspire and encourage others to continue their love of learning. 

Have an awesome week,

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

3rd post: What motivates you?

Tuesday 23rd August, 2011

 I have always been a thinker. I enjoy philosophical questions. Do you ever ponder what makes us choose motivation?  What is it, that makes you propel yourself into a positive mindset? And does it matter?  I believe it does. Motivation is your why. Why do you do the things you do? Motivation is your "internal engine" - your drive to achieve your goals, wishes and desires. 

Below is a short presentation about the science of motivation.
I am always amazed at the RSA animation videos. Their artwork mesmorises and astounds me. 
In short, Dan Pink presents the following findings (tremendous food for thought):
As long as the task involved mechanical skills, bonuses worked as expected. That is, higher pay=better performance. HOWEVER, if the task involved rudimentary cognitive skills the larger reward lead to poorer performance. Self direction is important. Concepts of mastery, satisfaction and making a contribution. 
A sense of purpose.

Your students may ask  "What is our purpose?"   Some may say  "to be inspired" or "be engaged". This can be true and it is a worthwhile argument, however we still wind back to the age old question.........but why?
I will be fascinated to hear your responses to this question.
(please leave a comment towards the end of this post)

Here are a few of mine:
  • Our purpose is one of character building. We experience as much as we can to lead effective lives via good character. This sustains relationships, aids peace and up keeps society. 
  • Our educational purpose is to learn how to learn! Therefore enabling the transference of learning skills to varying situations. A life long gift. 
  • When learning you may be exposed to an area of life that you never knew existed. This could be your new hobby or career path.
  • Other purposes of education include (but are not limited to) friendship building, collaboration skills, time management, work management and interpersonal skills.
This is the why. This is what should motivate us. This is what we should be explaining to our students so they can see the drive.

If we look to the father of motivational thinking Abraham Maslow (who was a teacher), we can see that our basic needs ought to be meet before we can hope to function in other areas of life ie humans NEED air, water, clothing, food and shelter. Not all school attending students present with these basic requirements.  Once these needs are meet, the focus shifts to SAFETY;  personal, financial, health and well being. 
Do we as educators place enough emphasis on this incredibly crucial human right?  
How can students be in the right headspace of learning if they feel threatened or unwell?  Student (and staff) well being underpin success. It is huge. It is understated. It should be given more due. 
A last Maslow mention...and the next stage is? Love and belonging. I think this speaks for itself.

 What do you deem as motivating?

If you can afford yourself 15 minutes, watch this inspirational You tube video of Steve Jobs delivering his commencement speech to the graduates of Stanford University in 2005.

"Vision without action is just a dream; Action without vision is just passing time; Vision with action can change the world." 

-Joel Barker  

It is heartening to see page views increase. What are your views? 
Would you have a minute to leave a comment? Feedback welcome.

  Post "post" link via @pvlies  
The science of motivation, Growth Mindset and Dr Carol Dweck, Professor of psychology at Stanford University.
A reflection by Mrs Lawrence   on a PD (professional development) at Abbotsleigh in Wahroonga, NSW Australia Monday night 22nd August. 

Sunday, 21 August 2011

2nd post: Twitter time flies when you are having fun.

Time flies photo by @7mrsjames

21st August 2011

Cliched but true. I am having a ball experimenting with the new tools that are overflowing on the net!
Here lies the trouble...there is just so much to absorb, process and trial. Luckily, I am part time this year as I still have a little tacker (Number 3, Mr 4) at home.  Therefore, I am able to explore a little more than if I was at work full time. Needless to say, much of my time online happens to be late at night, as my tweets show :) I enjoy it and for me, it is a form of leisure as well as business.  I wonder if those that are new to 21C elearning find "information overload" a reason for not pursuing their learning any further?

I cannot believe it has been almost 3 weeks since my last post. In that time, I remain active on Twitter.
For educators new to Twitter and not yet convinced of it's use or potential, hear are my views:

  1. Great source of information. Other educators willingly share what has worked for them and provide links to resources.
  2. Keeps you up to date with latest thoughts in Education (or whatever your passions are. I also gain great insight to the world of food and photography).
  3. Continual collaboration. Not just a Hub meeting or teach cluster meet once a term, but every day!
  4. Source of affirmation.
  5. Ability to bounce ideas of one another. What works? Is this a good app or tool?
  6. Providing learning experience for others.  Just this week @pvlies (whom I follow on twitter) asked if anyone had any contacts for a Skype opportunity with her SOR (Yr 11 Studies of Religion) class. A friend I know is able to skype @pvlies class about her Muslim faith in the next week or so. A rich and contemporary learning opportunity. 
  7. Quick human responses to a question "Do you prefer Macs, notebooks or other?"  or "What is the best Ipad app for art students"
  8. Twitter doesn't sleep!  When all us Aussies are heading for Slumber town, our colleagues oversees are reading our night time tweets :) 
If the prospect of joining Twitter doesn't sit comfortably with you as yet:

  1. Give it a whirl.  Try before you buy mentality. Just do it. Give it a try and be patient. Just click on this link to get started.  Click here to join Twitter.   OR....
  2. Ensure you join (or initiate) a proactive team at your school, in order to engage in continual dialogue and move forward. 21st century skills, is the current way of Education. We do need to keep up. Try Twitter again later. But do try!

I am not suggesting EVERYTHING needs to be focused on 21C elearning. Like most things, education requires a balance.  Technology does not equal good teaching. Technology is ONE method that educators can use to engage their students in effective learning.  Use of technology in 2011 does not mean using the laptop to record notes. 

When joining Twitter. Here a couple of musts in order for Twitter to work for you.  
  • After joining, ensure you fill in a brief background under your profile so people can decide whether they should follow you.  Usually people chose to follow another as their interests and values are similar. Here is mine. I did this on the day I joined and am yet to change it. It was my initial thought, in way of describing myself.
           Down under (location)
           Mother of 3 gorgeous kids, Love life, photography, food, eating, learning,discovering & people. 
           Facilitator of Food Technology, Religion and Drama studies.
  • Follow people! Just click on the FOLLOW button near their Twitter name.  Either search for people you know or use the suggestions Twitter provides (this is based on your profile background which is another reason to spend a few moments filling this in.)  See who others are following. Ask those you trust who might suit your interests. Once you follow people, their Tweets will appear under the Home (tweet feed) on the LHS screen for you to read. 
  • Lastly, Tweet!  Interact with people. Comment. Retweet. Provide opinions. Here is an excellent post about what to tweet by Michael Martine. It is well worth reading. What to tweet about?   
Follow Michael on Twitter @remarkablogger.
    Have an awesome week.  
    Jeannette James

    Please join in via a comment interaction. 
    Let everyone know what works for you. Any other ideas or thoughts?