Working out loud

You’ve got to love what digital connection and social tools can do.

I recently reached out on LinkedIn to broaden my professional learning network and connected with Ciarra Greene at Portland University, Oregon.  I asked Ciarra about global education and her reply set me thinking.  I had an ‘aha’ moment.  She gave me the missing dots to connect so many ideas rushing about in my head. Ciarra mentioned place-based learning and whilst I understood the concept I had not heard that name.

Place-based learning immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of other learning areas across the curriculum.

I immediately thought of My Place by Nadine Wheatley and the wonderful offerings for learners relating to PLACE.  I’ve wandered from my original pathway!

Ciarra is connected to the Nez Perce tribe, who are an Indigenous people of the plateau, living in the Pacific northwest region of the United States.

Indigenous tribes in the USA are in the news right now, battling Trump’s directive to the Army to continue laying the Dakota Access pipeline across sacred sites with the threat of contaminating drinking water.

What if learners in the United States exchanged their understandings of the traditional cultures of indigenous tribes with learners in Australia and their understandings of the traditional cultures of our First People, the Aborigines?  What if the identity and indeed existence of these indigenous tribes was being threatened?  What if environmental issues are being exploited?

I think Ciarra and I are learning just in the same way we want our young learners to learn-through collaboration, communication and deep thinking.  Through technology, our learning has shot past the four walls of the classroom and entered the biggest ‘classroom’ that is our world.

How amazing!

 

Authentic writing-a pleasure

 

kids-on-computers

In an article, Do Students Enjoy Writing? the latest UK data shows that while children and young people’s enjoyment of reading has been increasing in recent years, enjoyment of writing is heading in the opposite direction.  So much so that the National Literacy Trust is now calling for a focus on writing for enjoyment in schools. Results of its sixth annual literacy survey of more than 32 000 eight- to 18-year-olds, released this month, show 44.8 per cent said they enjoy writing very much or quite a lot in 2015 – down from 49.3 per cent the previous year and 10 per cent lower than the 2015 figure for enjoyment of reading.

I pose the question, “How would I respond to this disappointing trend in attitudes to writing?”

What seems lacking is student motivation and engagement.  The enjoyment of writing is greater enhanced by the learner choosing the topic.

Writing in the 21st century has changed and has expanded beyond the genres commonly taught and the development of traditional pieces.  We now need to learning to write in a digital space- to think about using social tools for writing, coding, to write with precision and brevity, sometimes within 140 characters, to write using hyperlinks, to use the skills of curating, archiving and sharing.

How can you create the context to connect your students to a real audience beyond the classroom?  By stimulating curiosity and encouraging learners to envisage a purpose for writing, inspiring learning can be fashioned.

First, you should become familiar with common tools such Twitter, Facebook, Seesaw, Blackboard Collaborate, Edmodo groups, Google docs, Sway, blogposts, WhatsApp, Skype groups, Padlet and Global Projects including Flat Connections.  As educators, we cannot expect to be confident facilitators unless we have some working knowledge of digital tools.

Now for a purpose?  What would learners like to find out?  What do learners wish to say?  Learners easily adapt to online communication to seek answers to their own questions.  Martha Payne, a young school girl from Scotland, started her blog, NeverSeconds as a writing project.  Her blog went viral and involved school children across the globe to write. With a reason to write, learners found their voice and expressed themselves in their unique style.  A global audience is waiting-an audience of varying cultures, ages, faiths, gender, beliefs and experience.

Writing becomes authentic.  This has been measured to increase motivation and engagement.  Success can be shared with the school community as well as with wider audiences.

How can you enrich your learners’ experience of writing with a real audience beyond the classroom?

 

You’re never too young

Rafi's film screen shotThursdays are my day for sharing with my 3 year old grandson. Rafi loves to criss cross the city on a bus or a train, entertaining and proving to me that learning can be enormous fun.

Our outing to the National Gallery of Victoria became a partnership between director and producer.  At the OPEN HOUSE Tromarama for Kids, we discovered a bath tub of props and a number of iPads set up for movie making.

Rafi took his position, I moved his choice of subject and he shot enough frames to launch his movie career.  We experimented with a duck and a Babushka doll, both movies of which are now lying on the cutting room floor.

Take a look at Rafi’s first movie (don’t blink) and get along to the gallery for some creative film making. Who knows, you and Rafi might be the next stop animation star film producers.

Rafi’s video