Beginning to flip learning

I am SO lucky! I’m at a Distance Education school where, flipped learning is pretty much the norm. However, until recently students have been asked to read long amounts of text in science.

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This is no more as far as I’m concerned.

Yesterday, the day that changed my educational future, I discovered an invaluable web tool called Video Scribe. And began making awesome looking videos instantly.

MY FIRST VIDEOSCRIBE VIDEO on SIMPLE MACHINES:

Taking advice from the greats of video lessons I made sure that it was:

  • less than 5 minutes long
  • catchy and relevant to my students
  • animated!
  • focused on lower order thinking skills (knowledge and understanding).

Enjoy the first video I produced and I will be making all my video lessons available on my website under “For Teachers“.

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Year 9 – Redesigned

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OR: I’ve just scrapped everything I’m doing this year for something WAY MORE AWESOME

There is nothing worse than attending an incredible professional development as a teacher and then carrying on with your routine as though nothing has changed.

I have decided – NOT THIS TIME!

I was absolutely determined to make use of the incredible week I had at STEMX in Canberra as soon as possible.

 

Have a look at my year plan: mushing PBL and STEM together to make one beautifully awesome educational baby.

Rough Driving Questions in the order which students will be asked to do them:

 

1) Devise a Rube Goldberg machine that takes at least 1 minute to run that, when videoed will deliver the message of “welcome to Year 9 Science”. (Audience: each other, and current Year 8s) (Approx 2 weeks)

2) How could you use what you learned at the Observatory to create a device that improves your mobile phone reception for under $20? (Audience: Observatory staff) (Approx 8 weeks)

3) Using a programming software of your choice, model aspects of ecosystem interactions in the form of a game that will be presented to primary school students in years 5 and 6. (Audience: Local primary school) (Approx 5 weeks)

4) Prototype methods of mitigating tsunamis that are triggered by the warning signs of tsunamis and design a scientific experiment to test their effectiveness. (Audience: Geoscience Australia) (Approx 5 weeks)

5) Measure the happiness and wellbeing of your local community and create a plan to improve this by 2020. (Headspace) (Approx 5 weeks)

6) Create and refine a unique recipe that utilises at least two chemical reactions with evidence of experimenting with different ingredients, proportions and cooking methodologies to produce the desired product. (Audience: local TAFE Cookery students) (Approx 7 weeks)

7) Create a piece of artwork that is based on a scientific concept that you have studied this year which incorporates the use of electrical circuits. The design must allow you to give a three minute presentation explaining how you made it and the scientific concept you are illustrating. (Audience, parents and community members) (Approx 8 weeks)

What do you think?

Stuck what to say about the Draft Earth and Environmental Science Syllabus for NSW? – here are my views

If you care about the future of English, science, mathematics or history education in NSW, you’ll make your views heard. Here is where you can do that before August 31. http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabuses/curriculum-development/senior-years.html

Read more for selected comments I made on the Draft HSC Earth Syllabus for NSW. *Caution, emotive language used.

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“Are humans wild at heart” by Bianca and Lee Hewes

hb7392Finally! An Australian Book regarding Project based learning (PBL). At the school I’m at now, we have been embarking on a PBL quest to address the rising level of students who need greater awareness on the importance of their mental health. This has been a trend increasing all over Australia and a fantastic key note I attended recently by Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg told me I wasn’t alone.

Now, the Buck Institute of Education website and the online PBL course run by Dr. Thom Markham have been fantastic in shaping my understanding of PBL. I was beginning to be confident about it and keen to implement it.

But I still felt like this wasn’t enough. I wanted an Australian example. Was that too much of an ask?

“Are humans wild at heart” was recommended to me by my wonderful friend and collaborator – Kelly Pfeiffer.

These are some notes I took while reading the book. I hope you find them useful and inspiring.

  • make a project outline using an infographic so that it is visually stimulating
  • in the students’ weekly work, we will include a self-assessment asking them to reflect on how they are progressing towards answering the Driving Question
  • In the Driving Question, it is important to have the content focus and final product within the question so students understand what they are going towards
  • Include other “need to knows” in the project outline. This comes from your syllabus documents and means that we can dictate to some degree the learning that goes on. It’s not so open ended that students are not mastering core outcomes. You’re allowed a LONG list of “need to knows”. Maybe this can be a growing list?
  • The three stages of PBL as seen by Hewes are “Discovery”, “Creation” and “Sharing”
  • Teachers need to make links to “Rockstar experts” who can either be part of the discovery stage or the assessment/ sharing stage
  • An interesting way of discovering prior knowledge is a trivia game using terms students will likely encounter in the upcoming unit
  • Celebrate peer feedback and drafts on the “Project wall”
  • You need to teach students how to self and peer assess
  • If we as a school do PBL throughout Year 9 in science, we are giving students the opportunity to excel at something – they are going to be working towards their personal best if we use the same rubrics. They should see themselves improving each time.
  • Authentic audience to present my STEM unit of work “Making a musical instrument” is music camp during Term 2 Residentials
  • It would be cool if music students had to guess what “unqiue instrument” was making that noise
  • In formative assessment make sure you acknowledge what the student has done well and their “mission” for the future
  • Instead of 21st century skills lets call them “skills for life”
  • Be careful with wording – it should be “peer feedback” rather than “peer assessment”
  • Make sure your project outline stands out from the masses of paper that they are going to receive in this unit – make it colourful
  • I love love love their 6 pointed start technique. Who, What, Why, When, How, Where?
  • Students should be able to answer the need to knows

 

 

Getting To Know My Students

 

00This is my own multiple intelligences chart.


We’ve been told numerous times (and I’m sure that you will agree from your own personal experience) that rapport with your students is one of the most important things to build in a classroom. So many issues that arise in class that relate to classroom management stem directly from a poor teacher-student relationship. We have to know them! We have to know what they like or don’t like. How they learn. What their learning background is. So how the heck can we learn all of that while on Practicum? We have basically less than a week get to know our students.

I used this get to know you template. But I’ve tweaked it to suit my needs. Some of my students were quite offended about the Mothers occupation and Fathers occupation section so I’ve removed that and some other generic questions and tried to target questions that really tell me how my students are as learners.

To make the task less daunting I volunteered information on myself. In the updated version I’ve also added the Gardners Multiple Intelligence quiz and fill-in-the blank scaffold. It is my intention to use this template in my upcoming Practicum in order to facilitate group work. Students will be assigned particular roles in groups that align with their preferred intelligences. In a survey I had my Practicum 1 students complete 78% of them said they understood the purpose of the activity and most said that it was a positive way to get to know them. One student commented that she would have liked to get to know her usual classroom teacher in this way also! This task allowed me to build a rapport with students who were then more comfortable with me as they knew I was trying my best to treat them as individuals (Buskist & Saville, 2001).

You can download a PDF version here. or if you’d like to tweak it yourself: Here’s a Word Document.

Buskist, W., & Saville, B. K. (2001) Creating Positive Emotional Contexts for Enhancing Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from http://www.socialpsychology.org/rapport.htm

My First Practicum

My prac experience was as others before me and after me will also say a real learning curve. My major lesson was how explicit I need to be when giving instructions and asking questions. I became very self-sufficient in my prac and one of the most useful things I did was ask students for feedback on my own teaching. They have a surprising level of metacognitive ability – they know what they like! And they are a resource just waiting to be tapped into. Things I’d do differently:

  • start with clear expectations of behaviour and outline these. No matter how silly you might think it is you need to be explicit!
  • don’t change too much: 2 or 3 things that you do should be different to their normal teacher. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel cause they’ll get confused and that’s not good for anyone.
  • Try to learn their names ASAP but change the format of the Facebook Get to Know you Profile
  • Hilight the standards for my Supervising Teacher every lesson so that I’d get more meaningful feedback and they wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed.

What feedback I gained from my students or observing other more experienced teachers, I’ve added to my growing list of What Makes a Good Teacher? 

Big History at Vivid Ideas

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This was a lecture and Q&A session at MCA Sydney on a wet Sunday morning. I was really keen to see what David Christian had to say because I too believe that education should be taught more holistically and not segmented into little chunks. How can students possibly become lateral thinkers if we teach them that this is chemistry and this is biology and that that over there is history and that they have nothing to do with one another. It’s simply not going to happen! And unfortunately that’s not good enough because our world requires lateral thinking. We need to amalgamate information into coherent sequences and we need to know that it’s okay to mixup different faculties.

David Christian with sponsorship by Bill Gates has developed an online curriculum called Big History. What this is is basically a history of time from the Big Bang up until now condensed into a 10 week course. Pretty neat huh? I love this idea. Why do we have to teach students about all the nitty gritty details. Let’s teach them the BIG PICTURE. It’s the most important thing. Those nitty gritty details, in our current age we don’t need to memorise them. That’s not 21st century thinking. We have all that knowledge indispensable to us at our fingertips. We are faced with far bigger challenges that simply memorisation. We need to be able to synthesise and create. Let’s give our students an opportunity to do THAT. It was a really inspiring talk.

David talked about how we give up on asking the big questions at school because getting through the curriculum simply doesn’t allow for it. How wrong this is! We are literally asking our students to stop asking important questions. Imagine if a student asked you what the purpose of life was in class. I can almost guarantee you that you would not indulge them.

His presentation made me think of a fantastic book that I own called “A short history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson. It also aims to talk about everything in one novel and does justice to every crucial event throughout history.

To find out more: https://course.bighistoryproject.com/bhplive