Posted in Criterion 5, Criterion 7

Innovative Learning Attitude

Written by Christine Wells and Linda Rubens

With all the talk of innovative learning environments it is easy to think, I don’t teach in an ILE so why should I bother? There are many new schools being built which are ILEs and I have been guilty of feeling very envious and wishing that I could knock walls out and have some of what they’re having. Twitter is often full of pictures of beautiful buildings with colourful furniture and learners happily engaged. We have realised that our school will probably never be a total ILE as it would take years and huge expense for this to happen. It is possible to have a change in attitude though. Mark Quigley once said,

“… an innovative learning environment happens between your ears, not just in the physical environment.”

Change of mind is the biggest challenge. So how can we embrace this mindset in an ‘old school’ setting?

1. Create a relaxed and welcoming environment. 

You can have furniture other than the standard old school desks and chairs. Add a few couches to your learning space. They are easier than you think to source. Send out an all staff email and ask if any one has any old couches that they no longer need. You could also contact your learner’s parents or ask your learners. I was driving along one day with a friend and we saw a couple of couches that had been put on the side of the road so we stopped and got them – it took 2 trips as only one at a time fitted into my hatchback. I got a couple of cheap couch covers from The Warehouse to make them look presentable. I ditched my desk and replaced it with an armchair which I placed at the back of the room. When my learners first saw the couches they were really positive about them. There was a bit of a rush to sit on them to begin with but this settled down over time.

There are other ways that you can pimp out your learning space such as having lamps instead of turning on the harsh fluorescent lights. Many learners are more comfortable with low lighting. If you are in a 1:1 environment learners can see their screens better as they often have the brightness turned down to save the battery. Playing music at appropriate times also creates a relaxed vibe which learners enjoy.


2. Attitude is everything.

Be willing to think outside the box and explore ways to create an ILE. The #Hackyrclass movement created by Claire Amos has heaps of great ideas for ways to do things differently. Ideas explored included Design Thinking and having a growth mindset. Joining a PLN of likeminded educators is inspiring when everyone is sharing ideas or posting photos and videos of what is happening in their learning space. Many of us have joined Twitter for this reason and are continually buzzing with new ideas that we have discovered through our Twitter PLN. Becoming involved in these things does take effort and a positive attitude but it is totally worth it.

3. Get away from the front of the classroom.

Adopting different teaching and learning methods such as Project Based Learning or co-created units of work are effective in helping your learners drive their learning. You may ‘stand and deliver’ at the front while you introduce a unit of work but after that your job will be to roam the class giving feedback where needed. I recently decided to co-create a unit with a year 10 class and they really enjoyed coming up with ideas for how they would learn about the text we are studying. I still gave the parameters such as the aspects to be studied, the levels of thinking required and some compulsory tasks such as essay writing but the rest was created by them.

4. Bringing in Experts

With project based learning, one of the guidelines is to bring experts in from the community. But what about your own school community? I was doing static image with my class, so I invited an art teacher into my class. He gave invaluable support regarding their design and layout of the images. Teaching a film or novel with historical background? I found a science and history teacher who had first hand experience of the historic event that was woven into the film text, so they came and gave my class authentic insight into the event because they had lived through it. Thus giving my students a chance for real empathy. Make it real, call your expert colleagues in.


5. Cross Curricular chatter

Due to the sheer size of our school, cross curricular work can be seen to be too difficult. But when the seniors leave (how often do you hear that phrase?) we plan to do some cross curricular work. Blogs make this so much easier to manage. Art and English could be a starting point with blogs the way we bring the artefact together. Choose a class that you have at the same time as your colleague, team teach your area of expertise, and set the learners off on their project. So while we are not breaking down our walls, we are chipping away at the mental barriers that so often separate us. Smash those silos of learning!

6. Digital portfolios

Also known as blogs. Some people love them and are true advocates, others get put off at the mere mention of the word. I think they are a great way for learners to pull all their learning together, and teachers and parents can have a snapshot of all they have done. This makes cross curricular team-ups viable. One of my senior students, who is slightly, dare I say it, tech challenged, was amazed when he saw my blog. My blog is not amazing, but his naive enthusiasm is worth mentioning. He announced, “Guys, miss has her own website! Look there’s her name! And she’s talking about us!”  So maybe he has something there. For those put off by the word blog, think website. Personal website.

So yes, while we do teach in a traditional building, as many teachers around the world do, we don’t confine ourselves to traditional approaches to teaching. And I’m pleased to say we are not alone in wanting to creep out of our silos and give our learners an integrated and personalised approach to their learning.

Posted in Criterion 4, Professional Development, Teacher Registration

The uLearn 2016 Experience

Powhiri

After checking into our Rotorua motel, Lisa, Christine and I attended a powhiri at a local marae. It was a special way to begin our uLearn experience and lovely to be welcomed in a meaningful manner.


Keynotes

Larry Rosenstock

Rosenstock set up High Tech High in 2000 with the common principles of personalisation, real-world connection, and common intellectual mission. His background is in law and carpentry and he told of how local kids would come to him after school to learn how to make stuff. He explained how the enjoyment of this inspired him to set up a school where learning was all about doing and having a real world purpose.  Forbes magazine profiled Rosenstock in 2004, check it out for more info. 

John Couch
John Couch is the Apple Education executive who began by discussing the difference between education and learning. He explained the vision that Apple has for education. Apple believe that every learner is unique and deserves to be educated with this in mind. This article pretty much sums up his story. As educators we were encouraged to “unleash creativity!” Apple have developed CBL, or challenge based learning, which is something that I came across at the ADE conference last year. 



Michael Fullan

Michael Fullan explained that we are all wired to connect and that relationships are super important. Helping humanity is important to Millennials so we should tap into this value and use it to motivate and engage our learners. Fullan’s version of inquiry based learning is New Pedagogies for Deep Learning  and he has utilised the “C”skills to frame deep learning.  











Karen Spencer
This was by far the most engaging keynote although we were reminded that it was only 72 hours until Term 4 began! Karen encouraged us to ‘see the story behind the data’ and to ’embrace discomfort’. She discussed encouraging diverse thinking and views in our learners and ourselves. A very worthwhile keynote.

Workshops

Preparing for the future: Graeme Muller

Graeme discussed all the amazing new develoments in technology that we would have dreamed of as kids. He then got us to discuss what our world may look like in 2028. We discussed different changes that may occur in the home and in teaching. We also talked about what skills we would need to teach to prepare our learners for a future where many jobs will be automated. I really enjoyed these discussions and the conclusions that we drew. We realised that ethics and morality would be important to discuss and teach with our learners. I got a revelation that I would need to start this now! It was a very thought provoking workshop.

Creative Commons: Paula Eskett

Paula discussed the different types of creative commons that could be applied to created content. We thought about whether a school policy should be made available for schools as a few people had created content but could not sell it as their school owned the IP. I found this interesting as I had experienced this issue myself with creating an iBook to sell to our learners as a textbook but then being told that I could not sell it as there was no school creative commons policy. 

Someone also asked if there was a video that explained plagiarism and its consequences that we could show our learners. Paula thought that this was a cool idea and said she would look into it. Christine and I were very interested in this as a resource as we have had a few incidents of plagiarism this year. I can’t help thinking that maybe we should create this resource ourselves.

It does make you think about the content we use that is not attributed. I feel challenged to create more of my own images and also to acknowledge more of the images that I steal!



Transforming Middle Leaders: Jo Robson and Martin Bassett

This workshop was about using a UDL approach to create a flexible and collaborative online course for middle leaders: “Leaders building leaders.”

This workshop took us on a whirlwind tour of a new course that is being developed for middle leaders by Jo and Martin. As a new HOL I found this very interesting and enjoyed thinking about and discussing my personal stengths, the culture and vision of my department and planning where to next. It is a course that I would really love to do.

Some of the things that I would like to do next as a result of this workshop are to read more leadership articles and books, and work with my department to create a vision for next year.

New School or Old School: Marcus Freke, Tony Grey, Richard Jenkins
This workshop was about starting up a new school and some of the ideas behind it which included:

  • Build a culture and be clear about the vision and values.
  • Rituals – how do they effect whats really important?
  • What is powerful learning?
  • What is powerful to learn?
  • “The quo has lost its status”
  • Knowing your learner is super important in helping learners do well. Having year groups is an anachronism.
  • Leadership styles – be there to help teachers make the changes.
  • Building the team: be explicit about how teaching and learning will happen.
  • Consider EQ over IQ
  • Shared understanding over vision, signature practices and culture.
  • Remember that new teachers bring knowledge and valuable experience.

GAFE apps: Lynne Silcock

Lynne shared apps and examples of how they could be used to support literacy. This was really interesting as I immediately thought of a few learners who would benefit from these apps. Many learners do not realise that their writing doesn’t make sense so having an app read their writing aloud to them would really help.

The Gala Dinner

The dinner had a Kiwiana theme and many people had dressed up and looked amazing. There was a prize for the best costume which went to a dude who looked like a sheep but who was supposed to be Aotearoa (Land of the long white cloud)! He kept getting mistaken for a sheep because he was hanging out with a chick dressed as a farmer!

The meal was quite acceptable and the band were awesome! As soon as they started playing people got on the dance floor for a boogie. It was a great atmosphere with everyone in a celebratory mood.


Overall, it was a fantastic few days of learning and inspiration that I would fully recommend to anyone thinking of attending in the future.


References
1. http://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-apple-wants-to-remake-the-classroom/

2. https://www.cpcc.edu/millennial

Posted in Criterion 1, Criterion 4, Criterion 5

Transformers! Teachers in disguise!

This year, my friend and colleague, Christine Emery, and I presented at uLearn 2016. Our presentation was about how we have helped to begin the transformation of our department’s use of technology.

Christine and I began teaching at Whangaparaoa College this year and had both come from schools that have been BYOD for the past 4-5 years. We have both completed the Mindlab Postgrad certificate in Applied Technology and are fluent in using technology to enable our pedagogy. While completing Mindlab, we discovered the Transformational Leadership style as explained by Bass and Avolio (1990). We were keen to share our knowledge and skills with our department.

Our department is made up of teachers who are at different places with the use of technology. Some have been using it confidently for years and some are not confident at all. Our mission was to transform our department with our 12 Step Programme.


During the year in department meetings we have discussed the SAMR model and how it can be incorporated into teaching practice. We have shared apps and websites and also PBL. Every member of the department has tried something new. I was super surprised when, after sharing this blog, everyone said that they were keen to try blogging themselves. I explained that I used blogging to record reflections and evidence of the PTC for registration purposes and they could see the value in this. During the year we planned what we would do as our department TAI and some reflections have been posted on people’s blogs also.


The transformational leadership style has been useful in promoting change in a non-threatening and encouraging manner. The department have seen 4 different Heads of Learning in the last 4 years so did not need change thrust upon them in an aggressive manner.

Christine and I have made ourselves available to help when needed and have consciously been supportive. Our plan was to meet people where they were at and see what they needed help with. At a staff meeting Carol Dweck‘s growth mindset was discussed and this has been something that the school has been learning about over the past year or two. Knowing that we could refer to this and everyone would know what we meant has been helpful in encouraging persistence.


We have also shared our stories of success with apps/websites such as Classcraft, Class Dojo, Kahoot, Google Classroom, Google sites and WordPress. As a PBL fan girl, I shared resources with people and a few have adopted this learning style also. Other members of the department have had turns at sharing apps and websites that they have discovered also. It has been valuable to learn how these technologies are being used to transform learning.

Many of our department now regularly use Kahoot and Google Classroom and the more adventurous have tried Classcraft and Google Sites with their learners. These have been used by learners also as ways of showcasing their learning.

Christine and I are conscious of our roles as leaders in this area and our responsibility to be positive role models. Our goal is to motivate and inspire while being encouraging coaches and mentors. Our department is a work in progress and so are we! We are well on the way to realising our department vision.

Posted in Criterion 11, Criterion 8, Teacher Registration

Priority Learners

blended-approach-to-culturally-responsive-practice-icot-2013-3-638

As a department we have identified our priority learners and are doing the following to help:

1. Discussing the learning with them on a 1:1 basis to ensure that they understand tasks.

2. Give regular feedback and feed forward.

3. Setting small, achievable goals each lesson.

4. Providing audiobooks where appropriate.

5. Consistently reinforcing basic classroom expectations.

6. Providing plenty of encouragement.

7. Monitoring the use of devices.

8. Communicating with the whanau when necessary.

9. Differentiating and scaffolding activities.

10. Buddying with more able learners.

We have noticed improvements in many of our learners: 

1. Learners do not feel afraid to ask questions when they have the 1:1 conferencing. 

2. When they understand the task they are more likely to stay on task and complete the learning.

3. Relationships with our priority learners have improved because they feel respected and valued.

                                   download

Posted in Criterion 12, Criterion 5, Criterion 6, Department TAI, Teacher Registration, Teaching As Inquiry

Motivation, Engagement and Consequences.

When brainstorming ideas for Teaching as Inquiry, our department focus became centred around how we could encourage our learners to complete their learning. This is a challenge that many of us face. We decided that we would link our TAI to some of the Whangaparaoa College school goals which include:

Objective 1: Challenge and support all learners to give of their best and achieve their best in their learning and the other areas that they pursue.

Objective 6: Further integrate eLearning into our curriculum in order to enhance the achievement of learning.

Objective 16: Ensure that self review becomes part of the culture of the College.

What is the current situation/problem?

The current situation is that many learners lose motivation and do not complete their learning. This has happened a couple of times throughout the year, especially if the assessment does not go on reports. It seems that if a piece of learning is not worth credits then learners are not motivated to complete it. We have found that if a senior learner has another subject’s assessment due then they will work on that instead! It’s like they’re cheating on English with another subject!

My intervention will be…

Classcraft

I have written about Classcraft previously in my post on Gamification and Assessment. It’s a game that is more appropriate for junior classes than senior ones. I trialled Classcraft over term 2 with my year 9 class and it has been very effective in helping to modify their behaviour.  Classcraft engages and motivates learners by rewarding specific behaviours with points which learners can use to level up or to buy powers and costume accessories for their avatar. I modified the point system to reward the key competencies and 21st century skills. I also gave points for some work completion so that my learners realised that it wasn’t just about playing the game.



What happened and how do I know?

The class took to Classcraft like the proverbial duck to water. They were excited about getting points and suddenly became very helpful and complimentary about my fashion sense. I’ve never blushed so much! Apart from the fun aspect, my learners’ grades either stayed the same or improved by one grade. Some learners had worse results where they either dropped a grade or did not submit.

  • Same = 6
  • Better = 10
  • Worse = 6 (2 did not submit whereas last time they did).


What does this data tell me, and what should I do next?

This data tells me that Classcraft is worth persevering with as most of the class either had the same results or got a better result than the previous essay. I have developed a very positive relationship with the learners and really look forward to seeing this class now. Previously, I had dreaded them a little as they were quite a challenge both behaviour and learning-wise. The class have really enjoyed playing Classcraft and the stories that I have told about its use have encouraged other people in my department to have a go at using it themselves.  Motivating learners to want to complete their learning is a positive strategy for dealing with this issue.

Discussing the importance of finishing well is also something that I will do with all my classes. The sense of satisfaction for a job well done is something that most of us enjoy and contributes towards living a life of integrity.

While I am in favour of rewarding positive more than punishing negative behaviour, there is a place for a negative consequence. Not all learners in this class have had a change of heart when it comes to their learning. Contacting the whanau when learning is not completed is something that will happen more frequently as, in my experience, it mostly gets good results. We are, however, on the right track towards all learners in this class completing their learning.

 

Posted in Criterion 2, Criterion 4, Criterion 5, Criterion 7, Mindlab reflections

Changes in my practice

Completing the Mindlab course has been an amazing journey and I have learnt about and been challenged by many new ideas. This has led to some changes in my teaching practice, some of which are the inclusion of gamification and the adoption of transformational leadership.

Classcraft
Although I found writing the literature review very challenging, it further developed an interest that I had in gamification and game based learning. On Google+ I came across a post about Classcraft and decided to investigate. I have since implemented the use of Classcraft with my year 9 class and this has helped to improve their motivation and engagement enormously. Their behaviour is also much better and they are developing 21st Century skills as a result. This reflects Criterion 8 which includes the ability to, 

Encourage ākonga/learners to take responsibility for their own learning and behaviour.

Because my learners know that they will earn points for positive behaviours and skills they come into class wanting to help hand out books and get started on their learning. We have been using Classcraft all this term and lately I have tried one or two lessons where we don’t use it to see if the behaviour and motivation is different. I am pleased to report that it is not! Rewarding these skills has helped to make them a consistent and usual way of behaving. Thanks Classcraft!



Transformational Leadership

I have also enjoyed learning about Leadership theory and styles. This has been particularly helpful for me as this is my first year being the head of a department. I identified mostly with the transformational leadership style and have consciously used this style when leading my department. I believe that one of the reasons that I was employed is because of my skills in incorporating technology to enable my pedagogy. I have lots of ideas for changes that I would like to see in my department but am aware that not everyone is as tech savvy as I am and could see a rash of hastily made changes as a challenge. For this reason I have not made huge changes but have discussed ideas for the future and sought opinions on those changes. Some things will be non negotiable such as submitting year 11 moderation digitally next year and adding each year level in subsequent years. But many ideas will be a choice. I am encouraged by the positive attitudes of my people though. I showed them my blog and explained that I used it to record reflections on teaching and learning which were then linked to the PTC and they all are very keen to do this also. So we have begun that journey together. This reflects Criterion 5, the Enabling eLearning website comments:

Effective leadership is crucial for the successful implementation of ICT.

Utilising the transformational leadership style is a non threatening way of leading my department in the adoption of ICT for their own use which will help them become more confident in leading their learners to do the same. As my departments’s confidence in me as a leader increases, more changes will be made but I believe that it is important to first build relationships and earn respect.

The Future…

I would like to keep learning and growing as a leader. I see my department as being leaders in the school in the area of technology enabled pedagogy in the future. To make this happen I would like to develop into a leader that has “the capacity to translate this vision into reality.” (Warren Bennis) I would also like to complete the Masters of Applied Practice offered by Mindlab so that I can continue to learn and think about new ideas and technologies and how they can be applied in teaching and learning.

References

1. Enabling e-Learning, Professional Learning. Retrieved from: http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/Practising-Teacher-Criteria-and-e-learning/Criteria-8

2. Enabling e-Learning, Professional Learning. Retrieved from: http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/Practising-Teacher-Criteria-and-e-learning/Criteria-5

Posted in Criterion 1, Criterion 2, Criterion 4, Criterion 5, Mindlab reflections, Teacher Registration

Interdisciplinary Connections

The interdisciplinary approach is a team-taught enhancement of student performance, an integration of methodology and pedagogy, and a much needed lifelong learning skill. Interdisciplinary approach (2009).

Goals

At Whangaparaoa College each curriculum area has had its own paragraph structure acronym, these have included PEEL, SEXY, and TIE, to name a few. It was decided that we needed a common structure. Heads of learning from 6 curriculum areas met over the course of a term to decide which structure would work best overall. We settled on SEEL: Statement, Explanation, Example, Link. To achieve this goal we shared examples of what it would look like for each of us and then spent time creating resources. We have now introduced the chosen structure to our departments and have also begun using it. Posters are being printed so that the SEEL structure will be displayed around the school. It is hoped that by the end of the year all teachers and learners will have adopted it.

TALL (Teaching and Learning Leaders) is a group representing all curriculum areas that meet twice a term to brainstorm ideas, conduct research, and eat lollies!  A goal of the group is to create short lesson plans and accompanying resources for the staff to easily pick up and use. These lessons can be used in more than one curriculum area. We want staff to be comfortable trying new ideas without having to spend a lot of time planning. These lesson plans consider the SAMR model and aim to encourage more engagement and motivation. Currently I am working with a social science teacher to create a paragraph writing unit which includes a ‘how to’ video resource and a Kahoot to quiz the learners.

Challenges

Although the paragraph group have only focussed on one skill in an interdisciplinary manner we found that the paragraph structure needed to be general and not specific or it would not fit all curriculum areas. In English, the SEEL structure will be fine for our junior classes but we will need to add to it for our seniors so that learners record all the information needed. Other curriculum areas will do the same.

Benefits

The benefit of the interdisciplinary approach is huge for learners. They are able to apply principles across curriculum areas which makes them easier to remember and understand. This also cuts down on the time spent in teaching these principles so more time is available to help wih understanding specific content.

“Their cognitive development allows them to see relationships among content areas and understand principles that cross curricular lines. Interdisciplinary approach (2009).

According to Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997), there are many other benefits including increased engagement and motivation, more ability in critical thinking, synthesis and making decisions, and also in the promotion of collaborative learning. Basing learning on a theme across curriculum areas and incorporating project based learning could make school a very cool place to come to. For teachers, it would promote “…better collegiality and support between teachers and wider comprehension of the connections between disciplines.” (Mathison and Freeman, 1997).

Our paragraph structure group and the TALL group are only small steps in the journey of interdisciplinary learning. I would love to take larger, bolder steps in this area and truly become interdisciplinary in our school. I found the video below very inspiring.

References

1. Jones, C.(2009). Interdisciplinary approach – Advantages, disadvantages, and the future benefits of interdisciplinary studies. ESSAI, 7(26), 76-81. Retrieved from http://dc.cod.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1121&context=essai

2. Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved from http://www.albany.edu/cela/reports/mathisonlogic12004.pd

3. Lacoe Edu (2014, Oct 24) Interdisciplinary Learning . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA564RIlhME

 

 

 


Posted in Demonstrate commitment to promote the well-being of all ākonga, Mindlab reflections, Professional Development, Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning., Teacher Registration

Blogging for Professional Development


The social media platform that best supports my engagement with professional development is WordPress. Blogging is beneficial to me as it allows regular reflection on teaching and learning. Many posts discuss challenges and solutions based upon discussion with colleagues. This is a great way of being a reflective practitioner and processing information and thoughts.

The act of regularly expressing your thoughts in written form can help sharpen your intellect, organize your ideas and prep you to lead lessons in the classroom more effectively. (Teach.com, 2015)

The Reader on WordPress is a stream of bloggers that I follow and is an interesting way of staying up to date other educators with similar interests.

Putting your ideas into the world is a great way to attract like-minded people to argue with, network with, or get advice from. As we’ve learned from other discussions on personal learning networks (PLN), talking with other educators is a wonderful way to learn and grow as a teacher. (Teach.com, 2015)

I like WordPress because I can include photos, video, slideshows, and hyperlinks. It is a visually interesting digital portfolio that can be commented on and modified when needed. Many posts create a discussion which gives me other things to think about.

Positive or negative, getting reactions from other people in your community is a great way to test out your ideas. It can also be a great motivational tool. (Teach.com, 2015)

I use WordPress to enhance my professional development to record reflections and evidence linked to the Practising Teacher Criteria. Categories for each criterion can be created and each post linked to the relevant criteria. Before my last re-registration interview with my principal, I emailed her my blog address. At the interview we discussed a selection of blog posts. As I had been writing posts for the 3 years leading up to re-registration I did not need to write a lot to make sure that I had provided evidence for all of the criteria.

Many employers these days will check out a prospective employer’s online prescence to find out about who they are as a person and how they represent themselves. A blog will help an employer to understand the values and attitudes of a teacher. It will also give insight into how they teach and reflect on their pedagogy.

A media-rich teaching portfolio will give employers a deeper insight into your teaching practices while signaling that you’re a 21st century teacher. Having a teaching portfolio can be a decisive element at the interview stage of the hiring process (Mosely, 2005).

At my new school we are beginning to investigate blogging for the same purpose and many teachers have already begun to set up their blogs. It is preferable to filling in lots of paperwork. I have also been involved in facillitating professional development in both schools to help people set up their blogs. Blogging to reflect on teaching and learning naturally links to many of the PTC so one blog post can cover many areas.

I have enjoyed blogging about my experiences and journey of teaching and learning over the last few years. It is interesting to look at older posts to see how I have grown and developed as an educator. Sharing this journey with other educators from around the world has given me new perspectives on issues and I have learnt a great deal. Blogging is a great social media tool that is also valuable for our learners to use, but that’s a story for another post.


References
1. 10 Reasons to Blog as Professional Development (2015). Retrieved from http://teach.com/teach100-mentor/blogging-as-pd

2. Do I need a digital teaching portfolio?(2014).  Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/digital-teaching-portfolio-edwige-simon

Posted in Criterion 2, Criterion 7, Mindlab reflections

The importance of Netiquette

Blogging and Twitter

When I was teaching at Orewa College we introduced Twitter and blogging to our learners. I began using Twitter with the intention of it being a back channel to ask questions in class. However, my learners were a little immature and were soon making silly comments about each other so I had to press pause and reflect on how to proceed. I put a stop to the in class use of Twitter as I was concerned about it getting out of hand and becoming a cyber-bullying issue. Blogging was introduced soon after and we realised that it would be a great way of publishing learning that could be shared with families, both local and overseas.  An integral part of blogging is commenting on blog posts so our learners needed guidance on how to do this positively. Often learners are not aware that they are cyber-bullying as they think that ‘everyone does it’. It was important to teach them that this was not normal or responsible behaviour.

The Code of Ethics for Certified Teachers explains that we should:

Teach and model those positive values which are widely accepted in society and encourage learners to apply them and critically appreciate their significance.

I realised that my learners would not be prepared for participating in a mature manner online if I did not teach them how to behave appropriately. I used the following slide show to teach them Netiquette. By explicitly teaching netiquette we were able to teach positive values that are good, not only for blogging, but for life in general.

     As a teacher, my responsibilities at Orewa College included:

     Maintaining a high standard of behaviour in the class, so that all students can access the Internet and use their devices safely and to the best advantage educationally.

    After teaching Netiquette, I saw an improvement in the online behaviour of my learners. Their interaction on twitter became more positive and the comments on their classmates’ blogs were in the form of a ‘compliment sandwich’. My learners enjoyed giving and receiving comments and the conversations created.

    Blogging and the whanau

    Some parents questioned the use of social media and we were able to explain the value of publishing learning on line. Our learners made more effort in creating quality posts when they knew they would possibly have a global audience. Reflecting on their learning was another valuable reason to blog and being able to comment positively and give feedback on each others’ blogs was also a positive. Many parents did not realise how social media could be used to enhance learning.

    We explained that Netiquette was taught as we were aware of our responsibility to “teach and model positive values” and to “maintain a high standard of behaviour in the class…” It was important to have the conversation with parents and to explain our reasons for doing this as they often did not understand the value of this style of social learning. Once they heard our reasons and saw their child’s blog they were mostly happy about it.

    When we had our parent evenings I was able to ask the parents whether they had seen their child’s blog or not. Most of the time they hadn’t so I was able to show them and then explain what learning had taken place. Every parent I spoke to loved seeing their child’s blog and was very positive about it.

    References
    1. Code of ethics for certified teachers (n.d.) Retrieved from https://educationcouncil.org.nz/content/code-of-ethics-certificated-teachers-0

    2. Responsible Use (2011) Retieved from http://www.orewa.school.nz/uploaded/file/downloads/Responsible%20Use%20ICT%20Devices1.pdf

    Posted in Demonstrate commitment to bicultural partnership in Aotearoa New Zealand., Mindlab reflections, Respond effectively to the diverse language and cultural experiences, and the varied strengths, interests and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga., Work effectively within the bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand.

    Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness

    matariki_Paralax_v0021-1024x738

    “…the most common positions taken by Maori students, their families and their school principals were those which identified classroom caring and learning relationships…” (Savage et al., 2011.)

    The relationships we develop with learners and their families is important. On this foundation, we can have high expectations of our learners. They are more likely to listen to and act upon feedback if a positive relationship has been formed.

    Showing interest in a learner is a great way of establishing a relationship. Greeting them each lesson and interacting with them demonstrates that you care. Once a relationship is built, we know more about their learning preferences and can develop appropriate activities.

    A settled and well-managed learning environment, activities that encourage learner-led activities and social learning are also important so that learners can share and learn from each other. (Savage et al. 2011, p. 186)

    Goals

    Some of the strategic goals for Whangaparaoa College for 2014-16 are:

    1. To ensure learners achieve their potential
    2. Further  improve positive relationships with whanau/community

    The specific objectives addressing these include:

    Objective 1: challenge and support all learners to give of their best and achieve their best (tutuki) in their learning and the other areas that they pursue.

    In the classroom, this is reflected by expecting our learners to aim for excellence. We support this by encouraging and giving feedback/feedforward. Scaffolding is provided for less able learners. In Academic Counselling time, goals are set and learning is reflected on to plan next steps.

    Objective 7: Work with Maori, Pasifika, Special Needs and GATE learners and their whanau to help them achieve their potential

    We regularly keep in contact with the whanau. At the beginning of the year whanau are contacted by the Academic Cousellor in an introduction capacity. During the year whanau are invited in for a meeting if there are issues. Learner led conferences are conducted throughout the year.

    “Maori whanau, leaders and teachers meet regularly to strengthen bi-cultural partner ships.” (ERO report, Ministry of Education, 2013)

    Objective 9: create a welcoming and inclusive environment; evidenced by cultural harmony, respect, and a positive two-way relationship with whanau/community

    “The school ethos of learning together in a supportive, respectful environment is helping students to engage in learning and to achieve. Maori students express very positive attitudes to school and learning. They are well represented in school leadership roles.” (ERO report, Ministry of Education, 2013)

    Even though our learners are supported and valued, there is room for improvement. ERO (2013) suggested that we, “strengthen and improve the planning and evaluation of initiatives.” We also need to develop a school wide plan for Maori success so that our efforts are coordinated. They have suggested that we use The Measurable Gains Framework,  Ka Hikitia: Managing for Success and Tataiako to further promote teachers’ cultural responsiveness.

    Learning Activities

    In the English Language department, year 11 learners research Matariki to identify similarities and differences with their own cultures. In English we study some texts that are written/directed by Kiwis. Our juniors research Matariki and create presentations to demonstrate understanding.

    We need to teach more Maori and Pasifika texts in our department as none are taught at senior level and the junior texts we teach are short stories or poetry. This is something that will be addressed for next year. It was awesome to see Taika Waititi’s film, The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, it is a film that I know my year 9 classes will love.

    References

    1.Savage, C., Hindle, R., Meyer, L., Hynds, A., Penetito, W., Sleeter, C. (2011) Culturally responsive pedagogies in the classroom: indigenous student experiences across the curriculum. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), p.183 – 198

    2. Ministry of Education. (2013). Whanagaparaoa College Education Review Report. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.