26 September 2012

Not enough time in the day...

This seems to be a recurring theme. Ironically, I have been writing this post for over a week and have to keep coming back to it as I have so much else to do. The only way I can catch up with myself is because I am at home, in bed, with a dreadful cold :(

The last week was hectic to say the least. I have written many Blog posts in my head - as I am running, cooking, reading, sleeping, talking to colleagues and learners - but have not had the time to sit down to actual type them up.

I did manage to find the time this (now last) weekend to pass my Google Apps for Education exams though. I had 'Docs' and 'Other Tools' to go and sat them both on Sunday. It was awesome to get them over and done with - though on sharing with my DP, I was 'shoved' in the direction of applying for 'trainer' status. Which of course I will - there are, at least, no exams for this, which is something I believe more and more strongly against as time goes on.

Sitting these exams reinforced my belief that exams prove nothing about learned knowledge; I knew the answers to a lot of the questions but I looked up others. It tested my ability to search rather than my learned knowledge of Google Apps; I am not good at falsely created scenarios and hypothetical questions. A test where you have to actually 'do', rather than answer questions on 'how' would be more realistic. Though that could just be me I guess as exams still exist the world over.

It did also make me think about the need for my teaching and assessing to be authentic - something the PBL course has also reinforced. I must ask learners to apply their knowledge in realistic and authentic tasks - which is why I like the Blog project and The Octopus's Garden project. The audiences for both these are real and the outcomes are tangible.

The Blog project is going very well. I was observed with Grade 8 who were at the end of the presentations and moving on to reflections; I had developed the reflection lesson in conjunction with ELS and LS and it was totally learner-led and personalised. The Internet has made teaching quite tricky this week as it has been in and out and this has put a big burden on me as I am planning my lessons as sites still, but am having to print out the instructions in case the website drops out. I also have to make sure I have hard copies of all my resources. This is almost doubling my workload - though I have been reassured that I am having an Internet upgrade installed in my block today/tomorrow so should see a difference. (Since writing this, the upgrade has been installed and, so far, it is being MUCH better).

Another issue I am experiencing is a reluctance of learners. Or perhaps it is a lack of skills - they do not want the personalised learning pages; they do not want to have to learn and think for themselves. I spend hours planning groupings that work and support best strengths and needs and have individualised  pages with instructions - yet they just guess what they need to do rather than figure it out. More than once I had to remind them that they must follow instructions - a success criteria written by them! They are too ready to come to me to tell them what to do than figure out what is next. I even had a go at some flipped instructions today - I recorded video instructions that they could review as needed that explained each step. This allowed each group to be working independently whilst I supported. They didn't seem to want to watch or read and still kept coming to me. I know they are not used to this but I did not quite expect this level of ineptitude or lack of desire to use new tools and ways of learning. (Since writing this, I have also found and signed up to a course for flipped classroom certification!).

On other fronts, this week has been successful - I attained Google Certified status, I retained my 100% score for every assignment submitted for PBL, I wrote my Project Overview for The Octopus's Garden,  I managed to record some videos to use in instructions in class and I fit a 10km run in. Plus, I just managed to write this Blogger post.

Next week I need to start building the website for the Learn Different: The Octopus's Garden , set up the Blog and Twitter account, then start the pre-launch campaign - the prototype posters are awesome (thanks fb x) but need approval. I might add some QR codes on to link to the website to generate more interest. Again though, the lack of IT skills or know-how may not work. However, I will not give up. I hope my drive and enthusiasm will bring the community into the 21st Century.

Next week I would also like to do some more reading on 21st Century literacy and skills, as I want to consolidate what it is that is important for learners in anticipation of the jobs they will have and technology they will use that do not even exist yet.