About Thinks

Sometimes good thinks happen and sometimes bad thinks happen. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Some thinks need immediate action and some thinks may remain as thinks forever. Thinks can be angry and heated. Thinks can be joyful. Thinks should never be cold.

These thinks are linked to many other wonderful thinks and I like to attribute these.

These thinks do not necessary reflect those thinks of my employer.

Think long, think on.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 2: Bar Camp

Today the children turned up to school with supplies and resources that they could teach each other with. One student brought photos of her Dad's carvings and is planning a hands-on workshop for next week (eeek sharp tools!). Another brought in a very flash looking guitar. We had tools, crafts, beads and all sorts of special treasures from home.

Unfortunately we also had swimming today - do you think any remembered their togs? ooops!

After the sessions we had reflective breaks. The children talked about how they were inspired by each other and how they felt supported in their learning.

I had decided not to introduce the 'vote with your feet' rule as I was trying to avoid crushing their self esteem.  However they started shopping around the workshops naturally and noone got offended.

Check out the vid :)

yeah yeah I know, I need new music...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bar Camps in the Primary School Context

Reports and assessment are done and dusted. Our laptops have been stolen. Books are due back in the library, our art supplies are low. We are plagued by senior prize-giving and graduation rehearsals. It's the end of the term and we know it ...but I feel fine.

Why? I introduced by kids to the concept of the 'unconference'.

After yet another inspirational emerging leaders ignite talk from Mark Osborne, and a too-and-fro tweet jam with Tim Kong, I decided to give it a go with my class.

To be honest, I went in with low expectations thinking "what have I got to lose?"

Now I am sitting here at the end of the day wanting to shout to the hills - "Today was AWESOME!"

All it took was a short explanation, a google form, and they were off!

Today was a preparation day - but interestingly the kids 'couldn't wait' they have already started teaching and learning with their friends and they are ready to replicate their "workshops" tomorrow with kids they don't normally work with. They are promoting their workshops in the playground - "wanna learn how to dougie? come to my workshop!"

Kids are naturals. The 'teach me how to dougie' teacher had an inherent success criteria (keep your arms close to your body) and used something that the kids could to relate to (spongebob flipping burgers).

It's nice to have enthusiastic engaged kids at this time of the year!

Try it!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

DOWN with pencils!

I was lucky enough to gain my Teaching education from a legend. Harry Hood was not only my literacy lecturer but my final year practicum supervisor and he had many great insights to share.

One of the many things I gained from him was his ideas surrounding the pencil. Like all things good, he assumes competence in learners. He convinced me that emerging writers are perfectly capable of using a pen. As adults we use pens, why should children have watered down tools?

I know that there are some of you out there that love the feel of a freshly sharpened pencil and enjoy using them. I won't take that away from you. However, I am not a pencil lover. I never have been. I struggle with a blunt eyeliner on a daily basis and frankly, that's all the pencil action I need.

So out I bounced fresh from teacher's college with an enormous amount of ideas running around my head. I jumped into various teaching roles when I learned very quickly to toe the line for a while before creating the waves. The pencil vs pen debate was the least of my worries.

Then today it hit me. Owing to a school wide 'understanding' the children in my school are not allowed to use pens! Pencils are the BANE OF MY LIFE! How could I let this happen? Why have I put up with this for all these years?

My kids use tools such as smartphones, ipads, laptops, computers and video cameras. My kids create movies, they blog and skype so why are they not allowed to use a PEN?!

It's time to take action. DOWN WITH PENCILS!

1. Pencils WASTE time (breaking, sharpening etc)

2. Pencils are EXPENSIVE (a box of 20 pencils costs $16.95 a box of 50 pens costs $14.95 ). Yes, you can get cheaper ones but any teacher in my position will tell you, the cheap ones waste even more time (see point 1). As far as ethics goes pens and pencils are created in the same sweatshops.

3. Pencils are magical - they can disappear into a void after having owned one for less than an hour.

4. Pencils DO NOT celebrate mistakes. Their main feature is the ability to rub out mistakes.

5. Pencil lovers believe that pens look 'messy' in children's writing books.  I'm sorry, but those teachers need to focus on the DEEPER features of our children's writing.

6. Pencils have a mystique about them that they are somehow green and natural.  They're not. They are made out of rain forest trees just like most of your wooden classroom equipment and tools.

Next week I'm going to do something a little wild.  Let's see if my kids can put a stop to this nonsense before the end of the year!