Wednesday, 30 September 2015

My journey over time - Part 1 - Technology

I have been thinking about how my teaching has changed, and how things are so different now from when I started teaching in 1988. 27 years later and classrooms look very different. I thought I'd take a few aspects and reflect on how things have changed for me and my students.

Part One - Technology
My start at Teacher's College included learning to use tape decks and Gestetner machines, and although I was well versed in Music technology, there was very little computing happening in schools. My first school had an Apple IIe which we had in the Music office and I learnt to use Finale - a powerful piece of music software at the time. Jump forward to now and I am using Staff Pad on a Surface Pro.
Students rarely had access to computers at home and we certainly didn't use them in the classroom. Research was done in the library and through textbooks we scrimped and saved our budgets for. At my second school in the 90s we had a computer to do audio recordings on, as well as the office computer, but nothing in the classroom.

After a break in my teaching in schools to lecture at Uni, I came back to a high school just getting a brand new department, where I had the opportunity to have a computer lab. I managed to get a grant to fill this lab with Macs and have our own server so we could keep large files. Running Garageband and Sibelius and Practica Musica, this covered a good range of activities and we used the lab frequently with all classes. This then extended to a Recording studio and yet another Mac. Students were starting to get the hang of working with computers for music, although the majority in this low decile school did not have them at home. Any other work done on them was around research and typing, with very little else. Students saved work on the server and occasionally a pen drive was seen.

Another short break to lecture at Uni and then I arrived in the school I am in now. Here is a whole different ball game. I have learnt so much about technology and e-learning and change that I am excited about where things will lead us. Having slowly moved away from teaching Music and more into the Technology sphere, I realise how much more we can do. Students have BYOD, we store things in the Cloud, we communicate with students via Facebook and Twitter, and there are so many ways to collaborate and expand our minds. My goal has been to transform my teaching with technology and I have to acknowledge Andy Gorton, who is our Director of ICT, without whom I wouldn't have had my eyes opened anywhere near as far.
The SAMR model is one I have been looking at and making sure I redefine the technology in order to transform my teaching.

I read a great article yesterday titled "Three Ways to Improve Technology Assisted Learning" where it talks about mindset before resources. I believe many staff struggle with getting away from anything but substitution because their mindset is still at that level. I always used the "f" word in my teaching - Flexibility - and that goes for technology as well. Thinking outside the square, and outside the circle, just think outside and be flexible - students can teach us so much.

We have looked at Augmented Reality and I have played with Aurasma  which I would love to do more with. I have been designing Digital Badges which I believe are going to only get bigger and more important as we increase our digital skills. What's next?

So many amazing things are being done in classes - I am loving learning.

The process

So, writing my first blog was a real discovery process. I found myself wanting to read more blogs to get an idea on what people were doing, and how they work. Firstly I chose Blogger, since I had previous experience there writing a blog for school.
I had a look at the new posts from others doing the challenge, so I wasn't overwhelmed by those that had been doing this for a while!
My first look was at Ruffling a few feathers by Ruth Duke-Norris. She was doing the next step up from me in the blogging challenge, but I liked the layout of her post. This challenged me to find out how to get a good design and to look at the presentation as well as the content.
Took me a couple of goes to get a design I liked and then I moved onto the other blocks that I could add. Loved the idea of a Twitter feed and found myself having to Google how to do this - thought I had it, but missed a step. Finally managed!
I like Ruth's ideas on education and I am now thinking of trying to go to that next stage of writing a blog on how my teaching practice has evolved over time.
Having the Connected Educator #EdBlog15 challenge has given me the push to get this started - I just hope it will continue when I'm back at school - holidays are great for lots of reading and learning, but it's hard to fit that in during term time. Time to make time.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Connected Educator Week

This week has been a week to try and get myself into the habit of writing a blog.
I am frequently on Facebook and Twitter to increase my knowledge and to help my students, but a blog has always eluded me. Maybe now is the time.
I was thinking about what would be the best use of a blog for me and how it would benefit me and my teaching. So... the answer to this is: To be able to collate information and also to reflect on it and decide if it is going to be of use to me in the future.

Firstly, some things that I can't do without...

  • Feedly - Where would I be without my Feedly? To be able to have all the reading I do in one place has been fantastic. I can skim through articles and keep them all in one place - love it! And just today they announce you can share a Feedly collection - must look into that as well.
  • Twitter - Really enjoying having a Tweetdeck - couldn't be without it. I am not into having every tweet notification on my phone - it would never stop, but I do like being able to look though specific feeds that I have chosen and then read relevant articles.
  • Facebook - what a great way to communicate with students. I have none on my personal page, but I run many groups for school and find that 90% of students get more information from FB than from any notice I put up at school. The other 10% still need the notices and we have to be aware that not everyone is on FB, but it is a powerful tool.
Things I've been doing...
  • Enjoying getting my portfolio up to date with MyPortfolio - such a great tool and so easy to get things together. Really like being able to keep my PD and CV up to date. I love using it for moderation as well.
  • Getting the School of Apps up and running - it's been a great ride. Learning all about the Digital Technology Standards, setting up an innovative learning environment and running a class like no other I have ever run. I love it. Having a job where I can build things is the best I could ask for.
  • Starting my blog as part of Connected Educators #EdBlog Challenge. Week 1 on the way.

Things I'd like to do...

  • Go to this conference! It sounds like me... leadership, creativity and innovation - I would love this. *sigh. Hopefully they stream some of it :)
  • Keep building new things. I am always looking for new things to challenge me and always wanting to learn. A blog is just another step in my path.