Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Taking time to play

Tuesday 22nd November, 2011

As the year draws to an end, it is nice to have a moment to play.  Term four is frantic. A shorter term, assessments, marking, reports and planning for the next academic year.  Inspired by @malynmawby's 10 minute project  and her "sandcastles" art work for @gcouros, I decided to spend 10 minutes completing a quick sketch.  Click here to see Malyn's creative piece.  I was due to pick up the kids from school, so the sketch had to be something quick. 

As I was intrigued by the title of @gcouros "playing in public" I thought of sketching something to share with him as the idea was creating/playing/learning and sharing with the world. That idea of PURPOSE once again. Pretty powerful in my opinion.  Purpose does give me a nudge!  I do enjoy, for the sake of enjoyment's value but sometimes I need that deadline. The purpose to get started. Life can get very busy and there is always something that needs doing. You can read about @gcouros original challenge here:  PLN challenge-playing in public.

Even though the challenge had ended, I wanted to give it a go. I sketched George's twitter profile pic.  
I used a free app called itimelapse pro on my iphone to create the process of the sketch.

This is me playing in public take 2:   

A funny story.  Take one went well. In fact, it is probably a better likeness to George.  However, I titled the sketch @gcourosa -with an 'a' on the end of @gcouros!  Why?  Mixing the two Couros brother twitter handles together in my haste.  As you do.  :)  Older brother Alec's twitter handle is @courosa.

Here is take 1:

When embedding these videos, I came across another You tube video titled 4 George-playing in public by Shawn Urban.  This is his blog post.


  • Fun, Fun, Fun.  
  • Learnt how to timelapse a video- am already planning ways to engage kids using this technology in the learning space.
  • My daughter viewed the final product and was intrigued so hence she had a go as well!      Butterfly sketch by Jazzy
  • Was very relaxing to "just be" to take time out from work and play.
  • Gave my mind a break, therefore was refreshed and rejuvenated. 
  • Nice affirmations via twitter and views.
  • The importance of setting time aside to play was reinforced.
  • Realising that play doesn't need to take up a lot of time.  Sketching both videos, rendering and uploading to You tube took less then half an hour in total. Twittering in between :)

Thanks guys!
Jeannette James

Friday, 18 November 2011

Food for Educational geeks

Wednesday 16th November, 2011

Food for educational geeks

Summer, Jeannette, Malyn and Liam at #ravoties day one.

If you love learning and education as much as I do, you would have heard by now of Teachmeets and unconferences.  If not,  Click here for teachmeet and here for unconferences. These informal and highly effective means of PD (professional development ) work on the premise of achieving the ultimate good for our students. This is achieved by sharing new ideas/thoughts/tools/resources, networking and many educational discussions and endless support after the event (through twitter).

It is PD that keeps on giving.

The latest PD I engaged in last week was #ravoties at Ravenswood school for Girls, Gordon, Sydney Australia.

#ravoties is the hashtag used for the twitter backchannel from the 2 day workshop
Click here for more info


This was the inaugural event initiated and hosted ever so graciously by @edusum  (and Ravenswood). The first travelling inspired educators being the humble and fun duo @gcourosa and @courosa from Canada.  The Courosa brothers had presented at the #tlv11 conference the week prior at Brisbane (Teaching and learning with vision).  

If you don’t know the two lads follow these links:

George Couros  - Connected Principal + Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning for Parkland School Division.
Alec Couros - Professor of educational technology & media at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina.

      George, Summer, Alec and Jeannette                                                              

I was privileged to be apart of this workshopping experience, catch up with my PLN (personal learning network) some of whom I have meet a few times now f2f (@liamdunphy, @edusum, @malynmawby@benpaddlejones) others at previous teachmeets, conferences, or staff development days (@wrightstufmusic, @gregwhitby) and others who I had not yet had the pleasure of meeting @lizarmenio  -thanks for the lamingtons, @whatedsaid, @gazzabrown, @silvanarossett1jonesytheteacher, @bronst@carolskyring and other cool dudes not on Twitter- as yet!

Ravenswood is a lovely school and on such a hot day (35'c) the airconditioned learning centre was most welcome!

DAY ONE:  Wednesday 9th November, 2011

The first day was run by @courosa and was titled:
Learning and Leading conversations with Dr Alec Couros  

Personalised learning environments to foster social media literacy, digital citizenship, and connected learning  

Both George and Alec also presented:
 Why school should be like a family restaurant 

As Alec presented he had Auto tweeting set up to direct us towards resourceful links.

Thoughts presented:
-developing a network takes time.  Be patient. Give as much as you take. Interact. Connect.

-the idea of participatory media. Skype, blogging, dropbox.
-have fun. Be positive. Stay positive. Keep on keeping on!
-people by nature like to be involved- so let them!
-Don't be hasty by putting learning into action straight after PD- think LONG TERM and build a network to assist this.
-visual literacy- we have a responsibility as educators to show background story. This is important- don't believe everything you see (and read). See Alec's slides.
-the use of Google apps to survey staff and students.
-need to move from "know what" to "know how".
-Use community- can be local or Global- Granny cloud info very cool! I have included this link to @steve_collis blog as I first heard of the concept thru NBCS.
-Uses of dropbox.  Two examples here:  the virtual choir and the johnny cash project ART
-rapport, rapport, rapport, rapport, rapport = good leadership. "No office days". Leaders should be out and about at least some of the time. Lunch AND learning time.
-Creating an environment (learning and physical) where kids are repeat customers. Willing to come to school. Teachers too!  Valuing teachers.

Some of the cool learning spaces at Ravenswood.
Alec presenting in the Learning space.
Me deep in concentration-spy cam by Summer!
Some cool tools:
Google apps for Education

If this then that  (IFTTT)
google forms (surveys, quizes)

Check this video out: An Open letter to Educators

I loved how Alex self corrected/edited his slideshow as he went along if there were mistakes or if someone suggested an idea.  I really believe strongly in doing this.  If our students see us willing to take risks and see how we rectify and manage mistakes, they too are more likely to give things a go. Also, students can see HOW things are done when we model this right in front of them.  Eg setting up google forms.  

It was a VERY hot day. WE enjoyed time together at the Greengate hotel- where Alec tried a slice of my pumpkin, rocket and pinenut pizza. He was intrigued by this combination. Canadians eat pumpkin in pie but not really as a roasted vege - or on Pizza!  :)


DAY TWO:  Thursday 10th November, 2011

Learning and Leading conversations 
Collaborate. Create. Learn. Creating Transformative Schools

with George Couros 

Thoughts presented:
-vision needs to be built together. Collaborate more within departments, within school, within community.
-what is full potential?  Do we limit kids with rubrics, set assessments about the same topic, via the same presentation? Why do we do this?
-Everyone in your school is your student!  Don't just watch out and say g'day to YOUR class. concept of EVERY student is your student. Say hello!  Talk to kids more. Mingle and connect with all kids.  Know students names AND use them.
-Feature the kids on walls instead of landscape pics and old principles. Not just about school but people IN the school RIGHT NOW.
-Value the kids so they feel sense of belonging and want to come back. Confident to learn.
-Work on staff relationships too.
-How often do schools ask teachers "what are your goals?" let me hear your voice. What is your sentence?
-kids live up to your expectations. What is the culture at your school?

Taken by @benpaddlejones titled "THE CONNECTED BROTHERS"
Cool resources/ideas:
-The Learning project
-connected principals
-Collaborative document for George's workshop

To gain greater insight into the day check out the backchannel:  (still going)
Here is a tweetdoc I put together from the Twitter backchannel (see for ideas, links to web tools etc)
tweetdoc number 1,  (#ravoties) and one Alec put together Tweetdoc 2

Jeannette James
Thanks   and Ravenswood for the last 2 days. An amazing opportunity. Now let's translate into action 
10th November, 2011

My sentence
Not only "I can do that" but "I will do that"

Other reflections of #ravoties
@whatedsaid blog post

I will sign off with this quote:
If not us, who? If not now, when? John F Kennedy

Keeping the conversation alive,

Jeannette James

Monday, 7 November 2011

Teachmeet Sydney - Please try it! We don't want SAME.

 Click here: What is teach meet?

The screen shots above are a result of a question posed to my PLN (professional learning network) regarding Cybersafety in-servicing for students.  A friend (who is not on Twitter) enquired about guest speaker suggestions and so I sent out a tweet. The suggestions above are only 8 or so out of about 15 responses.  Instant. All in about 30mins and some the following day. This to me is true collaboration - in an effective way.  I have meet all but two of these tweeple at teachmeets and value their input. These personal relationships are a result of my online social network (twitter) whom I may never have meet, if it were not for the contacts made within the Twitter family. I first heard of Teachmeet through Twitter and decided to go along and take a look what the fuss was all about- I am glad I did!

Teachmeet Sydney is really do it yourself PD.  A chance to be inspired, learn and grow. A chance to debrief, make contacts and most importantly, BELONG to a dynamic, enthusiastic and caring bunch of educators.

I wonder what you felt when you read "do it yourself". You see, I really believe as a profession we need to keep moving and keep learning.  That is our game. That is what we encourage our students to do. However,  educators can get stuck in routine.  The same topics for the same KLA (Key learning Area) presented by the same teaching staff, via the same lessons, year in year out.

We don't want same.  We want YOU. We want your thoughts, your ideas, your interpretation, your way of learning. Who are we? We are educators and students who have been hoping, waiting and trialling ways to ignite the passion of learning, back into education. Of course, there are MANY educators and classes that are inspiring daily. And others that are not.

We all learn differently. We all process and create differently.  That difference may have been hard to manage in schools of the past.  Hopefully, more educators will sense and see the value in this shift from teacher directed lessons to student focused learning.  I am still bemused by how little schools actually teach learning skills, thinking skills, management skills, resilience, cyber-safety and organisational skills. They may give a token presentation once or twice a year but this is not enough.

Just as students are conditioned that teachers will provide the content and manage its delivery and assessment, so too are many teachers conditioned that their workplace will provide all relevant support and PD.

Are you lucky enough to work in an environment where educators are:

   attentive to students needs and learning environments
   willing to adapt and change pedagogy as required by the learning group or subject presented
   open to suggestions
   proud of their working environment 
   proud AND content of their efforts and those of their students
   happy to engage in PD and continual dialogue about education and improvements
   happy to see what is NOT working and rectify?

I wonder how many teachers are "conditioned" or expect their HOD (heads of departments) to be responsible for their teaching affairs, reminders, programs, direction of learning, assessments and PD?  Is this why self efficacy evades many educators?  See pre-service teacher Lauren Forner's blog post on improving teaching through heightened self efficacy here.

As educators, it is up to us as professionals to be caring enough to invest the time into providing the best possible, engaging learning environments for our students.  That is the role of the teacher.  Attending teachmeets is one avenue to meeting this complex role.  Being an educator can be hectic, fast paced and emotionally draining.  True, but it also rewarding and satisfying.  It doesn't have to be isolating and confusing and thankless, due to a wonderful bunch of like minded educators that you can make contact with via teachmeets- if you choose.  

Just as we encourage students to extend their thinking and move out of their comfort zone, so too should we encourage other educators to get involved by attending teachmeets in their area in order to be connected, inspired, rejuvenated, share, think, grow and learn.  

Interesting thoughts on Getting others to dive in and play in the deep end:

I would also be interested in reading more on Steve's research:
(perhaps you can contact him with your thoughts and help him out?)

Steve Box
Pls help me with some research. What guides your choice in PD? How has twitter changed your professional learning? more

19 hours ago via web

Steve Box
How have teachmeets/edcamps/unconferences changed your learning experience? How important is your PLN?

Last week, I hosted the first ever HILLS teachmeet at Oakhill College.  I was privileged the school I work at granted me the opportunity to host this event on site, given our busy school calendar.  It was an amazing process to coordinate, cater and organise presenters.  I was very passionate about providing an opportunity for any willing educator to gather with other like minded professionals. All were welcome. Primary, secondary educators, HOD, principals from public, Catholic and private schools as well as directors of learning from DET all attended in one space with a common aim. This is the beauty of teach meets.  See the link below of the attendee comments, to gain further insight into a teachmeet experience.


There is always so much to learn and improve upon!
I hope to meet you at the next teachmeet.  
Jeannette James