Saturday, February 27, 2016

Educamp 2016 reflections, actions.

I am often very happy to live in Wellington; its beautiful landscape, flat whites, bush walks and beaches. I was especially happy after a few hours spent with a bunch of enthusiastic, passionate and knowledgeable educator-learners yesterday at the second @Welly_Ed #Educamp. 

An incredibly well organised and smoothly flowing unconference full of rich ideas and opportunities to talk and listen and learn about things that have been percolating at the back of one's mind. I actually needed to have three bodies to get in front of all the people I really wanted to. Probably not a bad thing as my brain has been ticking overtime non-stop since then. More input may have caused oozing from the ears!

The smackdown was awesome! I love how it helped focus what I wanted to know more about because I was having a Saturday morning mind blank. All I knew was I was going to Socratic Smackdown. I needed some help. 

I have had the luck of working with a principal, Denise Sainsbury, who taught me how important it is to ensure things are cohesive and connected. To avoid cherry picking. To really think about how what I am about to launch in to benefits the students in front of me. I am blessed my new principal, Andrea Scanlan, is skilled at this too. So I am going to now take the time to reflect and connect what I got from #Educamp with my 2016 goals of 1) ensuring my practices grow my students as active learners, and 2) that I fulfill my word of the year - application. 

Discussion facilitated by Paula Hay and Tim Kong. Very practical and clear. 

  • Range of information and resource types available under searches. 
  • Opportunity to share and have resources critiqued by colleagues. 
  • Opportunity to curate content in a 'bucket'.
    • Great for me to store resources of a similar 'theme' so I can find them later
    • Can put information in a bucket and share URL with students so they can still learn to find good information content, but from already identified (by me) good content (or whatever it is I need them to learn/practise). This is a good skill for learners to be more active in their learning as they can bring resources to a group (reading etc) that they have identified as useful, rather than me. 
    • Can follow useful buckets, such as 'Tools for the Classroom'
    • Can have 'draft' bucket (wish Twitter had equivalent)
  • Kids can access some Pond resources without signing in. 
    • An excellent idea shared that you can ask kids to find a variety of resource types eg audio, clip, written text, under a theme. I have asked kids to do this in the past but it can be overwhelming for some as many skills are involved. 
There were a tonne of other features, but I see these ones as having immediate changes on my teaching (and hopefully student learning). 

Wondering: wonder if Paula or Tim would come to our next planning meeting to help us locate resources...

Of the four sessions, this one least matched what I imagined it would be about. However, I still sucked some good thinking from the people in the room and scratched some ideas down in my notebook. 
  • Karyn Grey talked how at her Gisborne area school, they transitioned students when they showed they were ready for transition. Not when the year dictated readiness/convenience. Add this idea to "dream school" cogitation. 
  • She mentioned a website, "The quo has lost its status" so adding this to the reading list. 
  • There was a lot of talk about 'student/learner agency' and how to develop this in classrooms, schools etc. I struggle with having me as only teacher help students meet their individual academic learning/ emotional/ social/ active learner needs. How might co-teaching help this? 
  • Someone in the room behind me (sorry, I think it was Jono Broom??) said how he has to teach his students to reflect well against goals they have set. AHA! Of course we do, but it made a piece fall into place. Before I rush into getting students to drive their own learning (as I was wondering how to do quickly, like tomorrow) I need to make sure they have the skills. So obvious, I know, but I was cart before the horse-ing. Again. So. 
    • How can I make learning transparent for learners so they feel confident to identify a range of strengths and next steps in their academic learning and of themselves as active learners, know how to find and keep a log of evidence of goals met, keep identifying next steps and what the impact of these has been and will be on their learning (i.e.why bother??) 
    • When I was at a "curriculum of the Future' workshop last year, I listened to Ally Bull talk about a science profile for learners. That day I imagined an active learners profile. Now I am going to think about a profile of all these ( like an e-portfolio) but in addition to student, teacher and parent/whanau voice, I have thought about ensuring students get community voice. Like if they were doing a community based project (inquiry, design, passion) they would get an expert they connected with to give them feedback as well and use this as part of their evidence of success and next steps. 
    • Back to transparent learning: we start our Akoranga o Naenae satellite at K.P.S. next week where we explicitly teach learners about what it is to be active, and help them know when they have been, apply to a passion project etc. I have some reading/writing rubrics based on NZC, Learning Progressions and National Standards in  kidspeak I developed with some colleagues ready for use. They all have gmail accounts so I just need to work out the best platform to pull all these together. 
Design thinking
Conversation facilitated by Philippa Antipas. Lots of very excited discussion. 

  • Last year at #Educamp I went to a session on 'making'. I came away confused as to how this was different from some of the inquiry contexts I was already doing where kids may end up making something to solve a problem. I have been seeing the phrase 'design thinking' around and added this to the "I'm confused how this is different" kete. But half an hour in a Design Thinking session has clarified much. 
    • The main difference for my thinking and practice is that DT always has an actual real problem that needs solving with an actual solution. It is really about the user; who is affected by solving this problem, and how will they be affected. 
    •  It's beneficial to 'stay with the problem' for a while and not rush to solutions. Really get to know the problem. 
    • Remember to take the time to work out how the solutions will impact everyone involved. Get input. Ask. Analyse. 
    • As with good inquiry, there are 'iterative loops'. 
    • Good resources: Slack, Trello, Future in Tech, No Tosh, K12 Stanford Uni wiki, Kelly Bothers, IDEAL (excuse any errors, haven't checked my poor note taking for accuracy).
  • For me: in class, we are designing our own school. I have not let the students identify or sit with the current problem - what's wrong with school? They have done a task of identifying what helps and what hinders/stops their learning. Most of the 'hinder' stuff was around behaviour. I need to push them beyond that. This will be assisted as all the groups I have been working with share what they have learned about the seven innovative schools we have been reading about, and we examine the role of learners/teachers/technology/places of learning/how students are grouped across the different schools. Then analyse our own school. 
  • It will be a great process for our next topic which is around what we can do to improve our local community. 
Socratic Smackdown
Run by Becca @paradisecreated. Practical. Interactive. Hilarious. 
This was the session I KNEW I was going to after a flurry of Twitter activity pre #Educamp. After watching 'Most Likely to Succeed' and seeing a teacher use the Socratic questioning method with his college class, I was wondering how I could get all my kids there. Socratic Smackdown is how. 
  • Very specific discussion skills and strategies students are awarded points for using, or deducted if not beneficial to the group. 
  • Love: 
    • short and snappy - 6 minute discussions on set topic (novel study, current event, provocative statements) 
    • Benefits more than just the people actively talking, they are scored individually so that doubles the people involved straight away
    • Are scored as individuals and as a group
    • Highly reflective
    • Gets kids being aware of how to be active in discussions
    • Can mix up people talking, scoring to vary dynamics
    • Can adapt skills and strategies to suit learners
  • For me: have kids who easily go off task. The scoring aspect may hook them in, and the fact I can add specific strategies (ie not participating) to deduct points. 
  • One of our active learner traits at Akoranga o Naenae was 'question'. One of the success criteria of this trait was around being able to clarify and challenge others' thinking through questioning. Socratic Smackdown will assist this as it develops interactive, critical thinkers. 
  • Very concrete and practical
  • Resource: Institute of Play.
If only I'd got to:
  • Seesaw
  • Gaming for learning/game design by kids for learning
  • Banqer
  • Google read and write
but I will get there somehow. 

  • Definitely attend "creating our dream school" currently being organised on Twitter as mooted by Paula Hay. 
  • Offer to buy Leanne Stubbing craft beer as I am keen to hear about a few things she is up to. 
  • Get some sleep before another week of application begins!

Thanks @Welly_Ed. A great way to spend a Saturday.