Monday, April 27, 2009

Is Energy the fifth element?

We’re thinking we may need to change the name of our Blog to 5 Core Elements as we’ve been talking a lot recently about energy. At certain times throughout the year, for a variety of reasons, our energy has dwindled and, exponentially, so has our ability to ensure that the 4 Core Elements (Engagement, Experience, Empowerment and Evidence) are present in everything that we do. Chad said it has become like a formula, that the original 4 Es were reliant on the E of Energy.

Effective Education = 4E + E

So, is it possible to teach well without a good amount of energy? Are tired, jaded, bored, disenchanted, complacent teachers doing a less effective job than energised, motivated, dynamic, enthusiastic, interested teachers? Are those negative feelings and emotions being passed on to their students, just as the positive feelings and emotions are undoubtedly passed on to students? It would be difficult to deny, wouldn't it?

What makes teachers
tired, jaded, bored, disenchanted and complacent? How can the rot be stopped? How can schools and administrators ensure that their teachers are energised, motivated, dynamic, enthusiastic and interested? How can curriculum achieve that?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

IB Learner Profile Posters

I really like these IB Learner Profile posters that "freax_out" has created. You can download them on this link.I've contacted her to see if she has versions without the Bahasa Indonesia translations on them, watch this space!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sir Ken Robinson

This is just a shameless declaration of my admiration for this guy and my belief in what he says. Here's some links to some of his inspirational speeches. I'd love to hear what you think and how you think we can take Sir Ken's messages and put them into practice. The PYP is the closest thing I have seen to a curricular encapsulation of what he advocates. But curriculum isn't everything, is it? It still boils down to good teaching.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Is there an answer out there?

Collaboration! Is it possible to truly collaborate on absolutely everything we do? Is there a place for it or should it be a part of everything we hope to achieve? I am not talking about collaborating within your grade level team. I am talking about reaching wider than that. Parents, other teachers, outside experts, and on-line. Bringing in an authentic audience that will make significant contributions, contributions that you may not be able to provide. Is there an ideal class setting out there that paints a landscape rich and full of resourceful people that are drawn together through their skills, talent and/or knowledge? Teaching is challenging. We do what we can with what we have. Each day brings new challenges that pull us away from teaching and learning and demand that we solve these challenges delicately like walking a fragile tight rope. Sometimes I ask myself, is my school right for me? Am I right for my school? There is only one way to find out I guess.

As teachers we are always learning. Making deliberate choices about the things we can achieve and being able to prioritize. Everything that we do MUST come back to why we are where we are - the students. The students who make what we do worth going every day. We as a teaching team try and make everything about the students and I think we do a great job at creating a community of learners; however collaboration is essential when your goal is to maximize the student's learning experience. I believe that integration is the key to success. Being able to look for natural links and bringing learning experiences together. If we can integrate effectively and free us up from all the other "stuff" that happens then we can place more attention and focus on bringing in the outside community. At times it seems that teachers are so busy within their cocoons time just passes by and with that so does the opportunities. The opportunities to see what others are doing. Looking at openings where you to can give back and show excitement about what they are up to. If only it was that easy.

Make mistakes!

I am not one for perfection. I am a "driver" who gets things done as quickly as possible. This can sometimes go against me and be my kryptonite. Or does it? As we all know the day is constant, like surging waves that keep pushing us back in to the shore. If I can see a short cut I will usually take it. By no means does this detract on the teaching and learning that happens. I make mistakes. I am human. Does this make me a hypocrite because I go against exactly what I try to instill in the students? That proofreading and editing and revising are essential when writing or planning your work. Instead, I get whatever it is I have to do done as quickly as I can. I am a master at showing the students that I make mistakes because I am aware of who I am. I use this to model how to laugh it off and that it is okay to make mistakes as long as we can recognize them and learn from them. Be open and honest about making mistakes. Don't shield students from it. By making mistakes you are removing huge barriers and a deep level of fear that students often feel when they make mistakes. It is all about keeping to your strengths and finding ways to see the value in weaknesses and growing from them in positive ways. If you are a perfectionist then try making mistakes. Show students that you are human. It's worth every bit!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

We have used multiple intelligences a lot this year to help our students, and us, to be more aware of who they are as learners and as people. This has given them huge amounts of confidence when making choices about how to work, how to present and what to inquire into. It has also really helped us to differentiate meaningfully and to provide the students with the best path to success.

This is an interesting video about the multiple intelligences, worth a watch. It comes from edutopia.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Using Collages to Capture Prior Knowledge

Collages are an excellent and creative way to capture what students know or think about a subject when you're just starting out on it. We are inquiring into conflict at the moment, so I got the whole of Grade 4 to work together on a collage that depicts conflict. It really gave me a good idea of the way the students are thinking as many of them came to me to ask about the suitability of certain images, and whether or not they showed conflict. By taking anecdotal notes, I was able to do a meaningful formative assessment. I'll move it forward by getting the kids to focus on finding words that they associate with conflict to stick on the collage. We can then use those words for spelling, to build conversation around and to put into writing projects.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How aware are parents of their kids life at school?

"82% of parents admit they don’t know as much
about their child’s day at school as they want to."

This is a very thought-provoking article based on an alarming study about parent-teacher-student relationships. Here's the link.

Reinventing schools

A very thought-provoking article that echoes a lot of what we believe! Have a read, here's the link.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Planning for an Assembly

Grade 4 have an assembly this Friday. Chad and I look at assemblies through the lenses of the 4 Core Elements of Education - if we can't achieve each of the 4 Core Elements through an assembly, it is probably just not worth doing it! It's going to be a big challenge this time as the Grade 4 assembly is the same week as Student-Led Conferences and our students simply won't have the time to think about an assembly, it's just not as important! Right now, Chad is discussing the assembly with the kids and getting them to tell him what they will do in the assembly. Then, he will hand responsibility for the whole thing over to them. Let's see how it goes...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Making Thinking Visible

What is a good, visible way to share our strategies for making our students' thinking visible? Oh yes... photos! I've created a group on Flickr called "Making Thinking Visible". It's a place where teachers can share their ideas for effective displays and show students "in action" interacting with and shaping displays as they evolve. If you're a Flickr member, join the group and add some pictures. If you're not a Flickr member, become one!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kim Cofino

Kim Cofino, who has one of the education world's best job titles - "21st Century Literacy Coordinator" - and works at IS Bangkok, attended our workshop at EARCOS. We had a great chat with Kim and so we went to her workshop too. Keep an eye on her ideas and her energy. Here's a link to her blog which has a good recent posting on her experiences of going to workshops about "teaming".

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

One of my students and I created this very cool "Wordle" using the words that the students gathered and used during their "How we express ourselves" unit
. If you haven't used Wordle yet, I really advise it! Here's the link