Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Making connections: 10 TED Talks That Could Be Used As Course Titles

Literacy... (Photo credit: hazelowendmc)
Why do. people give so much time, thought, and often, effort to sharing, commenting, and participating in online environments - for free? An inherent desire to share and receive feedback? The great moment when you make connections across topics, or someone Tweets back a link to the answer you have been searching for? To be extended and challenged in your thought? For me, it's all these and much, much more.

A concrete example from today's work for me was the 10 TED Talks that could be used as course titles...the Committed Sardines 21st Century Literacy Project was shared by Vicki Hagenaar (here), a quick perusal led me to Ross Crockett's post referring to 10 TED Talks, and finally to the Edudemic ezine where Katie Lepi had written and posted the original article. She had been inspired by a Twitter conversation to write a post that combined the thought-provoking TED Talks with course design. Wheels within wheels! And all freely available as inspiration.

An extract from Katie's post reads:

Long story short, most [course titles] are still stuck in the dark ages. Biology 101? World History 1812-Present? These titles may seem like they’re accurate and fit but… they’re boring.
In an effort to give school administrators and teachers a guidepost with which they can rethink current course titles (what better time than in July, right?), I offer up the idea being shared on Twitter this morning: that we take a page from TED and offer courses using their naming schema. In other words, make the course titles sexier, the descriptions more attractive, and get students excited to attend a class before they even step foot in the classroom for the first time.
So, without further ado, here are potential course titles that are actual TED talks / TED categories. I’ve put the actual name followed by what course it could actually be below it. Click the big title to learn more about each topic.
Read more here>>>
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Māori and Pasifika learners: To make change it has to be a tide rather than a wave

ASB Polyfest 2008 Avondale College Samoan Group
ASB Polyfest 2008 Avondale College Samoan Group (Photo credit: Richard Sihamau)
Today (22nd August 2012) I was privileged to be a part of a webinar "brought to us by the VPLD project", discussing some thoughts around working with Maori and Pasifika learners (recording can be accessed here).

The session was opened with a traditional Maori waiata being played of Whirimako Black singing E Kumara about sharing the goods, treasuring things important. Merryn then greeted everyone and shared some of the different ways of offering greetings in Maori and Pacific languages, and then offered the following whakatoki:
Na to rourou, na taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi
With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive
A slide from Waikato University (2003) was introduced, that looked, from a Pakeha perspective, the Maori pedagogies. Other factors that were mentioned, including those on a diagram by Peta Sharples and his team.

ASB Polyfest 2008 Ruderford High Maori Group
ASB Polyfest 2008 Ruderford High Maori Group (Photo credit: Richard Sihamau)

Heather started by speaking about one of the students with whom she is working, and spoke in particular about the content of this video. This student feels as though that her Maori language is her strength, and that by using the language was a way of showing respect, and by showing respect to her culture she indicated that you "show respect to me". Heather went on to describe the conversations that she has been having with colleagues, as well as (perhaps more importantly) the students. "It was like opening the floodgates...why haven't we been doing this all along? This is the way I can connect with my students." She also said that it pushed it out of her comfort zone as she was worried about causing offence, feeling inauthentic - especially with her Canadian accent, and other concerns. However, she persisted, and set herself the learning objective (that she shared with her students) "How do I incorporate Maori language into the classroom", and now she is finding that her students often support and guide her in her learning journey. She gave a lovely example of one student who created a PowerPoint with language she feels Heather should know! Heather is now finding that students are dropping in to her classroom and she is finding out more about their families, and feels that the response is because she is meeting them within their own culture. There was also an example about how a student has really started to engage since Heather has acknowledged him 'authentically', and he is now becoming more involved in class. There was some neat follow up discussion after Heather's contribution, especially around respect, and relationships.

A himene was played, and Merryn explained why it's culturally responsive to include such songs, and recognising the importance of protocols. Vicki mentioned that she has students other than Maori and Pasifika including "a Sri Lankan girl, a Hindi girl and another who is Jewish and Korean in descent. Provides lovely variety for the building of tolerance and understanding of others that are different".

Marg talked with enthusiasm about a range of amazing initiatives that she is working on with the students, school and community, and showed a prezi which illustrated many of things the students are doing at Ashburton college (with 1200 students where 6% are Pacific Islanders and 11% are Maori. They have one specialist ESOL teacher at the school and they are lobbying for more. They have a working group who are working toward providing support for the Pasifika students. Students are being encouraged to step into the leadership spaces - especially important where the community members work long hours, and awesome for the students who stepped up to take on the roles as cultural leaders. One example was where the students have created a homework space for the community to study after school, that is warm, dry and welcoming. At the cluster meetings they share data, ideas about the issues as they see them, and have conversations around how they can start to help each other outside the parameter of a single school. Marg described the excitement (and successes) at Polyfest 2012. There are some wonderful things also underway such as reading mentor groups, which are proving to be incredibly popular...and effective. The community supports the reading groups to provide food and reading materials.

It was wonderful to hear about the incredible initiatives that are coming from the heart; ideas, and strategies that encourage students to step up and be heard, who are shown respect, and who grow while leading and teaching - "to make change it has to be a tide rather than a wave" (Merryn). So who is also trialling such initiatives? Please share experiences and ideas.

You can access a copy of the recording of the session here, as well as Marg's Prezi here, and Heather's video here.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Designing learning spaces...some thoughts and resources

English: The media suite at Albany Senior High...
English: The media suite at Albany Senior High School, New Zealand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There is a growing interest in designing flexible learning spaces that will provide opportunities for students (of all ages) to learn in a space that best suits them. Some of the resources available to help guide thinking if you are a school, or other institution, thinking about re-designing your learning spaces.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Flipping out about the 21st Century Fluency Project

The wonderful Vicki Hagenaar shared the following link to what I found an insightful resource. I was particularly taken by the post "The truth about flipped classrooms", which addresses some of the myths and misconceptions around the flipped approach. I agree with Vicki that this a resource worth spending some time exploring. Vicki made the following comment when she shared originally:
I have spent some time this evening making sure I am happy with the Professional Reading I am to present to my team tomorrow and have stumbled onto this for those of you looking into flipped classrooms.
You may need to join before you can access - it is well worth the up to date info that will come to you:) (source)
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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fibre to the gate is only half the story. How about affordable high-speed Internet?

Access to the Internet appears to be one of the key sticking points for those students who are based in the lowest socio-economic communities. While this factor seems to be pretty logical, maybe it is less obvious that low decile schools and/or small rural schools would also struggle to access affordable high-speed Internet. Rachel Roberts comments "I know there are lots of issues around equity and access for RBI though I had never considered decile rating to be part of the digital divide ...", and shares Cost bar keeps fibre dream out of classrooms(written by Kirsty Johnston).

English: Internet Penetration (% Population). ... 
Internet Penetration (% Population). Red indicates no statistics available. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of highlights from Kirsty's post include:
Schools in underprivileged areas are struggling to benefit from the Government's ultra-fast broadband scheme, with high prices and unfair distribution creating a rich and poor “digital divide”, Labour says. Figures show the scheme remains behind schedule, with 176 schools connected to the fibre but only eight actually using the high-speed internet Figures show there was a relatively even split between schools in rich and poor areas getting high-speed internet access. For example, there were about 45 decile one schools in the rollout so far, and 58 decile 10 schools. Wall said decile 1-3 schools should have been a priority. “Strategically, they are depriving children who live in communities like mine. The parents of my kids are more worried about putting bread and butter on the table than having internet.” (source)
So - what's the solution? What have your experiences been? Ideas?