Why you need to start doing dailys to learn more

One of the reasons people log into games like Warcraft is to do the daily. It’s a quest that helps build reputation with one of the various factions in the game. Generally speaking they don’t take too long. 5-15 mins. They are a tactic of getting players to check back in – and keep playing. But, having said that – the Daily is also a great way of getting people to do something they might not – and to bring people together.

Why you need to start doing daily’s in educational technology!

A daily, is a ritual – and god knows schools love them. Rather than tweet truncated advice endlessly, try supporting another teacher or small group of teachers who have their own learning goals, and perhaps less experienced in something you are good at already. I realise that lots of gurus won’t do this as so much of this movement has become pay-me based, but I am sure some are still pure Crusaders. No one is too busy for spare 15mins for others.

So take time to help others using online spaces such as wikis or Google Docs. Just support, offer advice and maybe act as a moderator for their ideas. It is healthy for experts not to ram their view down everyones through all the time (just some). Getting new perspectives is so much more important than banging your own into the psyche of others. I try to do this with about 8 teachers all the time – you’ll be amazed how much you learn – even if you think your role is just to keynote or consult – to tell others what to think.

Why kids need to do dailys MORE IMPORTANTLY

Kids need to do them. They can go towards grades if you like. I suggest these are to spark minds right out of what you are teaching them that day.

  • Create a set of daily’s that they can choose from initially.
  • Venture out and ask questions that you might not even know about other subjects.
  • Start kicking down walls – daily.

I think, these can be at a uni-structural level. They are not exactly busy work, but are at the base of the taxonomy (not Blooms). Here are some verbs and some technologies that you might use. The point here is for students to win easily, spend a small amount of time on it – but extend them into areas and interests that you really are never going to get to.

  • Verbs: memorise, identify, recognise, count, define, draw, find, label, match, name, quote, recall, recite, order, tell, write, intimate.
  • Digital activities: Googling, highlighting, bullet pointing, bookmarking, favouriting, typing out, searching, facebooking (status updates, commenting, liking, favouriting), tweeting.

Over time; start a Google Form, and get kids to suggest Dailys that they or others can do – begin to negotiate learning – without having to tank the damn curriculum and gatekeeper. The great thing about invention is that you don’t need to tank – you just operate in spaces that no-one even notices.

All you need is a Google Form, Edmodo or Moodle activity. Once again – you can share your Daily’s with others. Daily’s at 5-15 mins a day, soon add up and take almost no time to develop as online activities. See, games are smart – start using DAILYS in your classroom – and please share them with me, love to hear.

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Retraining Australia

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Image: 'The Sentinel of the Sacred Path'

School isn’t broken; its just got patina and potential. It can be restored; but taking on a large project on your own is a little daunting.

Not all schools can afford to join a private coaching clinic or hire a consultant to provide them with specialist training. Most are totally reliant on their employer and their peers. Teachers may be aware of some benefits associated with adopting technology but can be reluctant to embrace it fully due to a general distrust of computers. This distrust is sometimes a result of a previous computer failure and can be exacerbated by a user’s inexperience in using a computer and/or application.

BUT, simple toolsets; though effective retraining can produce big differences. The real problem is that we are not focused on this; but reacting to the wider changes in read/write publishing; powered by the rapid advanements in technology. It is widely accepted that around 60% of us are visual learners; but unfortunately 60% of teachers are not visual ICT creators or even users. Not every student we teach is going to embrace each tool you give them, so don’t expect your education leaders to  either. Right now we are still awaiting any real definition of the 21st century attributes that are being illuded to in the draft National Curriculum – what exactly is it we have to do again? Oh yeah get Band 6s.

We can’t continue to work 1 or 2 teachers in public schools trying to support 60 forever. We need 10 or 20 to support 600 in a single community focused on retraining. Those 600 will interact with 6,000 – and the structure for this is horizontal, democratic and online, focused on foundational skills – that have low cost or no cost; that allows everyone to contribute something; but not everything. We can restore it; but we’re are not at the glossy paint stage; some are in their supa-communities, but over 90% need fundamental skills training. Its those teachers who are gonna be teaching my kids.

The start button is bottom left. Leave your name in the box. We can fix it.

Priming the Educational Pump

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BEFORE anyone is going to consider using alternative technologies in learning and teaching, teacher-trainers have to ‘prime the pump’. Nothing sustainable is going to flow out from the raging torrent of internet possibilities into the classroom unless the teacher decides that it’s worth pressing the start button.

There are then some considerations that I’ve begun to build into professional learning plans.

  • Teachers are unsure about the ferocity, force and form of ‘new’ media that is apparently building up tsunami like pressure!
  • Opening up the classroom through new technology may flood the classroom with more problems that it set out to solve!
  • There seems no obvious lever to control the valve of information, it seems to be more off and on, than controlled!
  • The are no instructions on the pump, so safe operation appears unlikely!
  • There is no service number to call if it doesn’t work as you expected!
  • It seems like you have to press the button every 108 minutes to prevent potential disaster!
  • There seems no obvious ‘off switch’ just in case it doesn’t work out – so its hard to avoid pump failure!

I don’t see much benefit these days in trying to introduce a single new idea, linked to a single new(er) technology (Webx.x @gnuchris) unless you have done a great job, priming the pump.

To me, this means working with both teachers and leadership staff to ensure that everyone is aware of what is going to happen when you hit the ‘start’ button. Including everyone who is  potentially influenced or affected by the information flow of new ideas, methods and technologies. This means having a number of well articulated plans and strategies that communicate what to expect, what do if you get stuck, how to manage the new environment and how to support people though a period of change etc,. Lack of planning is akin to kids turning on the fire hydrant to play in the water. Its very exciting for a while for those jumping through the water, but is seen as disruptive and is unsustainable, by the authorities who shut it down.

To scale better ICT use, model better practice and develop sustainable ‘habits of mind’ beyond a handful of teachers is more a process of renewal and recycling than revolution (sorry Mr Rudd). I hope to start running some free professional learning workshops at Macquarie University soon; all about pump priming – as I feel strongly that higher education (and my role in that process) must connect far more with teacher-educators in learning how to learn. I’d just like to thank Annabel for the HTAV workshop this week, which primed this post.

The virus spreads

When I dropped a 10th grade class earlier in the year, as our EdTech needs grew, I felt really bad about no longer working with the IST class who I’d pioneered most of my Web2.0 ideas with the year before. When I interviewed Suzanna, she hadn’t used Web2.0 in her classrooms. In fact in her previous school she was teaching English. So I wondered what the boys would make of it, and if indeed, they would continue to use Web2.0 at all.

I dropped into some of the kids RSS feeds today, and look what I found. An amazing teacher, who has taken on board the methods we’re using in Project Based Learning environment, and not only kept on using Web2.0 with the class, but has extended what I was doing with them to include a solid Ning group, developing a classroom learning network.

In a difficult topic (programming), shes been using Alice, Ruby, Pascal and Visual Basic! – and transformed the old topic (Logo/VB) into a dynamic trip into a range of languages and programming concepts.

The Ning is alive with students posting comments to each other in conversational writing. The forums are allowing students to post questions with her, well outside the classroom. Her own blog is being used to scaffold their learning – abandoning the LMS that is available from ‘head office’.

The students are selecting and using a range of Web2.0 tools – from presentations in Zoho to organising them with Slideshare. Their blogs are showing continued development as independent learners and reflective writers.

All this in a term!, and with no direct PD at all. This 2 year course has been completely reinvented and supported with Web2.0. The skills these students now have can’t help but facilitate better learning for those moving to the HSC, and for those leaving school – they have a greate ePortfolio to show how well they can use technology – and that as learners or potential workers – that they make a consistent effort.

While I was still thinking about a comment on my last post about ‘teachers are independently developing their own models of PD’ – this is such an appropriate illustration of that fact. The other conversation this week was around teachers ‘not having time’ or ‘access to PD’ – again, how amazing is the professional development here! – and Suzanna has a very young child at home – so certainly has no more time than anyone to put into this.

She’s supported their learning, supported what I started – and taken it even further – without saying a word. No wonder the students speak so highly of her as a classroom teacher – and it’s never easy picking up someone else’s class mid-semester. Wow, I am blown away by this and really hope that she can find the time to take part in the Powerful Learning Initiative with Will and Sheryl. Just amazing – but I said that already!