Making your own Learning – The 4 stages

This is something that I am sure that a lot of people are already know or are coming to the realisation of… as learners we need to take control of our own learning and not just wait for it come and find us. I would be a rich teacher if I had a dollar for every time I heard a teacher complain or state ‘That was irrelevant for me’ about school provided PD, and sometimes they are right, but if you ask them ‘Do you take time to learn things that are important to you and your teaching?’ they often look at you as if you are mad.

I have split personalising your learning into four categories based on my experiences and what I have observed (not very scientific, but hey does it matter ūüôā )

This is that thing we all do, often mid discussion when nobody remembers that name of the drummer of an 80s band or who was the director of ##### or any other obscure question that we need to know instantly… Google it. Although, most of my questions at work are more technical, such as what is the font that is used in Scratch, but there are FAQ and message forums to answer these questions.Google-It-crop.0.0

Needs based
You have to do something and you not quite sure how. Now this is when we call on YouTube and we watch tutorials or we delve through Blogs of those that have gone before us. It is very rare that we want to do something that has never been done before so why reinvent the wheel when someone has made a video that shows you how to make one in a thousand different ways.

Medium Term
This is where the learning transfers from that instant need to know to¬†when you want to make yourself a better educator and need some help. It takes a bit more thinking and planning. Online Courses or MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) cover a mass of topics – not all are good, but some are amazing. You have the choice to pay for the certificate at the end for a minimal fee, but are able to partake at no cost (if you don’t want the PDF). Just recently I completed an EdX course that was run by MIT on MIT - Launching Innovation ini SchoolsLaunching Innovation in Schools, which challenged me throughout and made me think deeply about my practice and vision for Education. Microsoft Education offers countless courses for free (and you get a pretty badge at the end) – the Mindstorms Robotics courses that have 6 hours of course time are incredibly comprehensive and will help any teacher trying to get their head around using the EV3. Lastly there is my favourite of the online courses that I have completed in the past year – Google Teacher Certification. I found the Google Educator course to be the most robust. The exam at the end was challenging and if you fail you must wait a set time period before resitting (Luckily I passed level 1, but I’m yet to face the challenge of level 2).

Now this is the one that I have yet to attempt and not sure if I ever will. This is the one that bumps you up the pay scale, prepares you for leadership, gives you a few extra letters after your name and can suck the life from you for years (so I’ve been told). I have known many to go back to school/university and partake in a Masters Degree or even higher to a Doctorate. This is for the most dedicated. The ones who love the challenge of late night forum entries and essay deadlines. It is not for me, but is for many.

So, after all these ramblings I only challenge to take learning into your own hands. Do not wait for it to come to you. Think about where you want to learn more or what you think you might want to learn and dedicate some time and brain power. Only you can make yourself a better educator, so now is a good time to start.



Twitter is my Staffroom – but what is written in my Rule Book?

Last night I was wondering how I have developed a twitter PLN or PPLN (Powerful Personal Learning Network Рrefined by Bill Powers) of about photo (1)1000 people and I think that it comes down simply to inspiration, connection, friendship and respect.

On the wekend I had followed another educator as their bio looked interesting and their twitter feed included some people that I interact with, she responded a few hours later with a message to myself and three others saying “Thanks for the follow @_____, @_______ and @_______”, to which one person replied ‘Your Welcome’ and I replied with a comment on something that she had been working on and a very interesting Hashtag that she had included in her Bio – there was no reply. ¬†I found this interaction very interesting as it was not really an interaction, just a comment of thanks and a connotation that I should be grateful that I follow her. It has happened a few times in my twitter career and if they had just simply let me follow them without follow-back all would be good , but the thanks for the follow with no follow-back interaction has really made me reflect on how I view twitter.

So here it goes…

Twitter is my virtual Staffroom – I enter for professional development and I enter for friendship. ¬†Like the a real school staff room, when you leave the conversation stops, but sometimes they carry over to the photocopier or cafe down the road. ¬†This analogy helps me to comprehend that when I want to enter the staffroom I just click the App and when I don’t want to I do not click the app. ¬†Sometimes I get sent a message from a friend or send a message to a friend and this is the photocopier chat.

I follow Educators – they do not need to follow me back and if you are an educator and you follow me, I will follow you.

Education is Global and Twitter is Global РI love the idea of having friends and colleagues over the globe as well as right here in New Zealand. While prepping on a Monday morning I enjoy watching the #LadyGeeks present via YouTube in a Google hangout projected onto the IWB.  Many a lunchtime I have chewed my sandwich and been inspired while partaking in different edchats like #TLAP РTeach Like a Pirate  or #CaEdChat. They are live, but the previous evening in the USA due to time difference.Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 6.21.25 PM
In the evening my friends in Asia and Australia are in the mid afternoon and it is the morning for my friends in Europe. In my morning it is the evening for my friends in North America and when I am awake it is awake time for my friends in New Zealand. I can connect and interact at any time and have formed friendships globally. Southern California is now on my travel bucket list as there is a Mexican meal waiting for me.

I will reply – It may take me a little while and it may be a reply in the way of a favourite or a retweet, but I will reply.

I do Unfollow – to me it is those sacred four words of ‘Inspiration, Connection, Friendship and Respect’ that come into consideration when following or un-following. If you inspire me with your tweets and retweets and challenge me to do better or rethink my practice I will follow you intently. If you connect with me or I connect with you I will follow you. But, I unfollow instantly if you tweet mean and I unfollow if you bulk send me your blog postings – send them once each time you blog or twice if it is a goodie, but do not set your computer to push all blog posts every 6-12 hours as I do not follow you to be on a mailing list. Additionally, if I follow you and find you many weeks or months later in my following list and can not remember why I followed you and we have not connected then I will probably unfollow.

If I can help I will Рif you know me, if I know you or if we have never met, I will assist you if I can.  That to me is the power of twitter.  If I know the answer to your problem or know who does know the solution I will assist and I know that the majority of us here do so as well.

I never Tweet what I would not want my employer or Nana to read – OK, sounds simple and many of us use the tagline ‘These tweets do not photorepresent the…” but if you write it, it is there, and if you can not justify why you wrote something then should you have written it?

I need to make sure I switch off – I tweet from my phone and use the twitter app. I only use Tweetdeck or the such for following hashtags or twitter chats and that is only sometimes. So, as my phone is in my pocket I am connected. ¬†The magic fix is turn of cellular data and disconnect from wifi and instantly my smartphone is what we used to have… a cell phone.


Collaboration on the fly – #NZSchoolTimelapse

Yesterday morning, with only 30 minutes before the bell went I had some students playing, and we all know that kids learn through play, on the iLapse app. A few days previous Stephen’s (@PalmyTeacher) class had time lapsed with some letters the proverbial phrase “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” and over the holidays a collection of teachers collaborated on the #NZTimeLapse project; we never talked and it was all co-ordinated through twitter and a Google Doc.Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 10.45.42 AM

So I sent out a tweet, sent my class off around the school to time lapse busses arriving, classes beginning and waited. Then the messages came in, a Google document to coordinate was requested and the project began.

As I post there are classes around the country, and even some distance learners through the correspondence school, trying to capture moments of their school day. Stephen’s class have already created the opening title sequence and there are already a couple of clips completed and ready to be edited together.

If this works, and I am sure that it will, there is already talk of future collaborations Рpass the story, pick a path stories, retelling of stories or plays where each school takes a scene and performs it in a style of their choosing  (Much like the Star Wars Uncut project).  The big learning here is the process and connections of schools and teachers Рwho knows what will happen when we allow the students to take over.

First Global Project – Travelling Rhinos

LesdieBack last towards the end of last year I saw a message on twitter asking for classes to collaborate in a project to increase the awareness of the plight of the Rhinoceros.  This South African teacher, Karen S or @ICT_Integrator, and her class had 5 Rhinos made from traditional African fabric, gave them names and sent them out into the world to different classes. Now, almost 6 months later, Lesedi (Light in Setswana) arrived in the mail.

For the past week we have learned about Rhinos; facts and figures about their life and the sad facts and figures about their rapid move towards extinction. So with these issues in our mind we decided to try and do something to make a difference.  Many ideas were raised about ways to raise money, but it was clear that money was not the issue Рthe issue was that people did not know that there was a problem.

Then a small child said “Why don’t we make a google form and get people to sign their name and we can put it on our blog for people to access.
Another added “…and we can tweet it out on the class Twitter and your Twitter Mr Dyer”.
Then lastly “…and Mum’s got FaceBook and she can like it on that and heaps of people will see it.”photo (14)

So through social media we made a petition and shared it (as I type this blog post we have over 300 names on the petition).  The class made a poster and shared it at assembly and we also used the school newsletter emailing list to get the link to the form out to all parents. Instantly we discovered that the local newspapers read our newsletters and we have had one reporter in already taking photos and recording the journey and another is coming in tomorrow morning.

Through participating in this project I have truly seen the power of modern technology in knocking down classroom walls and making global connections. ¬†Karen’s aim of the project was to raise awareness of the issues and I believe that in our small way, this small rural school in the middle of nowhere has made a difference. Technology removes the barriers of distance, knocks down the borders between countries and allows for global collaboration of epic proportions. ¬†This may be just one project, but there are many more out there and I urge you to look for one or begin your own.

If you have not added your name to the petition do so now and if you have thank you.

photo (13)
Click on the image to view the petition