Friday, 29 April 2016

How did your learners learn about Anzac?

Anzac came and went in the last week.  A time for reflection on our history.
It did get me thinking again about curricula in our schools in the context of the last week.  Schools need to examine very clearly what they want their learners to learn and above all why they want them to learn it.   Only then should they focus on how they should learn.
Anzac is a big "topic" in schools in the last weeks of the school term.  Why learn about Anzac?  What do they need to learn about Anzac and then how are they going to learn about Anzac?
Some answers to these questions may centre around the following.

Anzac is an important part of the culture of New Zealand. It represents a struggle of grit and determination against the odds which many of us should identify with. It links our past to our future - what will we do in the future based on what we did in the past?
Our forebears went through hell for what they thought was the right thing to do.
They were so young.  There was so much suffering on all sides.
Poppies represent the blood lost by so many on foreign soil.
So many losses of our people in the field, fighting for a cause which may or may not have been remotely relevant for them.
The paradox of war - strength determining an outcome that may or may not be morally right, and the fraternisation of soldiers on opposite sides.
Many of our grandfathers and grandmothers and great uncles and aunts were involved in the Anzac battle, either directly or indirectly.  These were the people who suffered so much for what they believed was the right thing to do.
No doubt you will have other learning intentions associated with Anzac but now focus on how your learners were able to take on board some learning around Anzac.  How did your younger children learn about some of the concepts associated with Anzac compared to your older children?  Did they draw pretty pictures of poppies?  What did they learn from that? Did they erect white crosses on the school lawn.  Did they fill in a worksheet about Anzac? Did they listen to an Anzac service or the mournful "Last Post" played on a bugle?  Is there a knowledge building from year to year?
Do you think that they learned any part of the "What?" listed above.  How could you have enlisted their creativity to enable them to really take on the learning? What did your students learn about Anzac and how do you know they learned it?  What is the visible evidence of their learning and how was it relevant to them?  And what are your learners going to learn about Anzac next year?

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Google Photos -

Google Photos must be the best way to store your photos in the cloud for free, that I know of. You can synchronise all of your photos from your phone or ipad by installing the Google Photo App on your phone.   You need a google account (ie a gmail address) and the rest is easy.

Note: You should adjust the settings on your phone, so that you only synchronise photos to the cloud when you are on wifi to save your phone data.  Open the app when you are within range of wifi and it will synchronise as shown below in the latest (top right hand side) photo.

How big can your photos be?
You can store all of your photos for free if you choose the 16mb per photo option.   The i-phone photos should take a maximum of 8mb per photo so this works well.  You won't lose resolution on any of those photos.

Managing the photos is really easy.  You can create albums, share them on facebook, google+ or twitter or just share the link via email.

Searching the photos is simply the easiest it can be, and with Google able to recognise faces, it will group all photos of the same person together for you, as shown in this video below.

If you haven't done so already, give Google Photos a go.  I think it would be perfect for teachers, organising photos of their learners, as well.

Watch the video below for a few tips on how to organise and search.

Monday, 4 April 2016

No response came the answer.

In my last post I asked about alternatives to the 5 minute per teacher scramble that is secondary school parent-teacher evening.  No response.

If I ruled the education world, it would look like this.  Every student would have an e-portfolio.  A site or a blog.  The site or blog would cover all of the learning areas that the learner was involved in.

The learning intentions for every learning area would be very explicit.  The learners would know what they were learning and why they were learning it.  And then they would also know how they learned it.

The teachers would have commented on how well the learners have learned whatever it was they should be learning.  And they would have indicated what the next steps could be.  And they would have seen what the learners were learning in other subject areas.  And maybe they could all work together to make cohesive links in their curricula.

Wouldn't that be a grand thing?

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Parent Teacher Interviews

It has been many years since I had to go to a parent teacher interview as a parent, so it was exciting that my daughter wanted me to go along to her daughter's first college parent teacher evening.

"What do you want to find out about your teenager?"  I asked my daughter.
"I want to find out how well she is doing compared to all the other students," she said.
"Why do you want to know that?"
"So I can compare her with the other students."
"So I know if she is going to be able to compete with others to get where she wants to go."
"So why don't you ask what she needs to learn, what are her next learning goals and what learning outcomes are important?"
"Because I want to find out if she is going to do as well as other students."
"I think you have been brainwashed."  I said, and then added, "what makes your daughter special and different from other learners so that when she applies for a position or a place at university, they can see that she has expertise and interests in areas that others do not have?"
"Well she IS a great organiser, she is very creative, and she does get along with people and she can convey her feelings well."
"Right, lets start with the key competencies and also find out what she has to learn to do in each of her subjects."

And so we began the interviews.  We wanted to know what the learning outcomes were in each class. That was not easily available nor explicit.  Generally we learned a lot about the activities that she was doing and how she was behaving when she did them but not exactly why she was doing them.

We got a pretty good idea of where she was compared to other students.  I found myself wondering if there was a better way, for parents to understand what supports are needed for their children to develop into the best person they can possibly be, than a 5 minute scramble to see teachers that another 5 parents were waiting to see.

I have lots of ideas.  What ideas do you have?