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, March 27, 2012


Maths tests are stupid
They point and shriek
at those who fail to solve maths questions
Out of context.
If only there was a math test
That pointed and shrieked
at those who fail to pose and solve maths concepts
In context
Oh wait
There is
It's called
But by then
It's too late.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Enhancing social stories via video

I have always enjoyed using video in my learning and teaching.  In an ideal world I would teach the entire curriculum through video, movie making and movie editing.

I was intrigued by the idea of social stories for children with ASD. I am no expert in either ASD or social stories.  From what i can gather social stories are personalised stories for children to assist with an understanding of what is expected during the (school) day. Quite often social stories are in relation to class-room routines, for example, lining up.

Here is a social story on playing, learning, recalling, tidying and putting away.  There may be too much going on with this one (they're supposed to be simple) but it's a start.  If anything, it celebrates one of the many awesome children I work with!

Corey adores the Cars 2 movie and has learned many scenes from it, so I have chosen to use the Cars 2 soundtrack.  The music therefore is not licenced under the CC-BY license otherwise applicable to this blog.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reflecting in a new school...

Being a foundation teacher of a new school is a curious time. We are never short of authentic inquiry projects because there is just so much to do! This photo pretty much sums up how we feel on a very regular basis.

Photo by Matt Ives

These kids are trying to figure out the best way to spend our book budget.

Other inquiries include:
Setting up a sustainable school recycling system
How to create sustainable school tours for our visitors
Creating a community garden
Exploring the possibilities of a sustainable and ethical 1:1 model
Figuring out digital signage and other ways to broadcast our learning
Creating a healthy and sustainable school lunch ordering system
Managing and Creating an emergency procedures system

The wonderful thing about this learning is that we are as much in the problem posing phase of learning as the kids are. The teaching team (Me, Matt and Urs) spend many hours sharing,
"you'll never guess what the kids have come up with now!" stories. When planning the next day we often look very much like the kids in the above photo.

In only 6 weeks the kids have created so many google docs that they have to use collections to organise their work. It has got to the point that the children choose not to use paper as they need a tool that is collaborative, that can be shared with others outside of the school boundaries, and that can be worked on from home. Children organise documents and share them with other members of their group without specific instructions. The photocopier machine barely runs (I have used it two times this year)

Our multi platform environment has enabled the children to learn the best tool to use for the job. Where iPads were a most popular tool in the beginning of the year our Asus netbooks have grown to be the hot device around the hub. They are small and portable, they connect to the web, they access google docs and that's all we need. Apple tools continue to be the preferred tool for movie making.

Photo by Matt Ives
Making movies

In the past I have worried that a 1:1 model would threaten the important aspect of children conversing and problem solving with each other face-to-face in structures that Sugata Mitra refers to as Self Organised Learning Environments. I have observed, however, over the past two years that this interaction still occurs despite the children being behind a device each. With tools such as google docs they manage to have a written and spoken dialogue at the same time. This has meant that it is very difficult to differentiate between an oral language, writing or reading activity as all three are occurring simultaneously. I think that this is a good thing.

Photo by Matt Ives
Oral language, Reading, or Writing?

We (the teachers) tend to do the same thing when we are documenting and discussing our plans for the next school day. We do all our planning on google sites, docs, and calendar which we make available to everyone. Students know their learning responsibilities for the day via our (updated daily) 'What's On" google site. Our buildings are filled with wide open spaces and huge windows. We try to make our pedagogy just as transparent. Our hub blog works as another window into our learning where parents can view and comment from their homes and work. Extended family members from all over the world watch and comment also.

I think that there is a lot to be said for the power balance that comes with a new school. The teachers were as new to all this as the kids and we have had a great partnership for negotiating and establishing routines and systems. There is something very liberating about NOT hearing the phrase "but we've always done it this way". Our equivalent phrase would have to be the shrugged shouldered "I dunno?". It's empowering.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Confession: I catch and spread

If we were all to stay in the same place forever, would anything ever happen?

I have worked alongside some phenomenal educators (and children) all of whom have marvelous skills and traits that I am now able to share and cross pollinate with others.

Social networks are great for allowing us to share great ideas, resources, and learning experiences, but they do not capture the magic we see everyday when working alongside others.

The daily grind stuff, the stuff that is too hard to put into words, the stuff you learn from each other through osmosis. The behaviour management, the I-love-the-way-he-dealt-with-that, the little gap fillers. The way things are set up and introduced, the little games, the silly songs, the crafty craft, the tricks of the trade.

And when you go to another place you'll find that there are other amazing people who do things slightly differently that they have gained from others - and we can extract their goodness for next time.

Goodness carriers are in a very special situation - we can take all the great (and dispose of the not so great). The new children we teach are treated to the same you - but with a slightly tweaked operating system. You can't upgrade at the same school as easily - because the people are already there doing their great stuff. You need to take it and share it elsewhere (thus leaving a gap for another to come in and share their acquired goodness).