Last week, Tony Brandenburg from ACCE invited me to join a forum in Melbourne as part of the TTF project.
Below is the piece my Principal asked me to prepare for the College newsletter explaining my participation…
Last Friday I had the opportunity to travel to Melbourne to attend a forum of education professionals discussing professional standards for Graduate Teachers. The project is called ‘Teaching Teachers for the Future’, and is funded by the Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations through the ICT Innovation Fund.
The project specifically targets systematic change in the Information and Communication Technology in Education proficiency of graduate teachers across Australia.
On Friday, our task was to work on the first of three components to the project: build explicit ICTE dimensions to elaborate the Graduate Teacher Standards of the National Professional Standards for Teachers. The forum was conducted by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, in collaboration with the Australian Council for Computers in Education, from whom my invitation had come.
The particular group in which I worked had educators from primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, from New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria and Queensland. I was the only member of my group not from a metropolitan setting.
These new National Professional Standards for Teachers, which will sit hand-in-glove with the Australian Curriculum, have three domains (professional knowledge, professional practice and professional engagement), and are written for teachers at four stages of their careers (graduates, proficient teachers, highly accomplished teachers, and leaders). In all, there are 35 focus areas for the 7 standards.
On Friday, we worked on the Graduate Teacher standards, drafting and editing elaborations to further explain the various focus points, and then including exemplars of how each might be done, all from an ICT perspective. It was an extremely busy day, and I believe we provided some valuable information for the facilitators to use. The process is ongoing, as all who attended the focus group are now part of an online community to continue the work. My understanding is that a final draft of elaborations and exemplars is to be published during the last quarter of the year.
Read more about the Standards here: http://www.aitsl.edu.au/
I could well be the last educator with an interest in technology to discover the writing of Scott McLeod, an Associate Professor in the Educational Administration program at Iowa State University. He has a blog at The Huffington Post which is always interesting.
My attention was drawn by a tweet from Steven W Anderson @web20classroom referring to Scott’s article titled ‘If We Were Really Serious About Educational Technology‘.
His personal blog is called Dangerously Irrelevant.
This site came to my attention through a tweet in my PLN from @web20classroom (Steven W. Anderson)
The range of sites available here is just fantastic. It includes some of my favourite websites and sources of inspiration, such as TED and Teacher TV, and introduces many, many more. I just have to find the time to sort through them. Could be some late nights ahead.
As he states, “…this is an implementation point, a discussion starter”; and a very good starter it is, as it will challenge you to think about the placements of various tools, and the fluidity of the model. I really like the way he has designed the model to show how various tools can be used in different ways – underlining the fact that learning is context-based.
My first impression centred on how our thinking about learning has changed in just a few years. Web 2.0 has opened up so many doors that we didn’t even see a decade ago.
There are a number of other tools I would consider deserve a place in such a model, but I appreciate that this model is based upon Jane Hart’s 25 top tools for learning.
Take a look, and see what you think. Are you using Web 2.0 tools in these ways?
Readers of this blog will know that I am an advocate for the use of modern technology in school. In the second half of this year my local campaign has been to lift the ‘ban’ on phones, pods etc at my school (with some success!).
I plan on distributing the list at the beginning of our new school year. Mind you, not many of our students have iPhones (there are a few Touches about, though), but I want the teachers to see the extraordinary possibilities that exist.
While on the trip I write about below, I kept a daily blog primarily to keep parents informed of where we were and what we were doing. You can see the result here.
This was the first time I had tried to do this (actually it was the second time I had tried, but my previous experience two years previously had died on day one due to technology restrictions), and I was really surprised and pleased with the response from parents and grandparents (and an aunty).
To make it all work, I used the following bits and pieces:
- an Acer Extensa laptop computer
- a Sony Cybershot digital camera
- Internet Explorer 8
- Telstra pre-paid mobile broadband
On almost every occasion everything worked perfectly.
I would be interested in hearing about other hardware/software used successfully (or not) by readers when they have been away from home for a similar experience.
Most schools, it seems, have a program of school camps and excursions. These tend to fall into a few main categories: those which are more or less embedded in the curriculum, and those which are more of a holiday, or a day out. At religious schools, there is another category – that of spiritual retreat. Some schools also have ‘leadership’ camps prior to the selection of school captains and leaders.
During the fourth term of this year, I spent 5 days in Canberra with a group of 90+ 11 and 12 year olds, kids in their final years of primary school. This is the third time my school has undertaken a Canberra trip. As we run a multi-age Yr 6 and 7 cluster, it occurs every second year. Prior to the tour, the students have completed a “Discovering Democracy” unit of work which looks at both the development of democracy as a political notion, and how it is used today. In the weeks prior to the tour the children also had a series of guest speakers from the various levels of government: the mayor, the member of State Parliament, and our Federal Member.
While in Canberra the students visited, among other places, Parliament House, Old Parliament House (now the Museum of Australian Democracy), and the Electoral Education Centre. So this trip, as you can see, was firmly based in curriculum matters.
So, is it good value for money, at about $100 a day? Is it worthwhile? And why do some families not allow their children to attend such a camp?
Certainly, they experienced and visited places they could not if in Canberra on holiday with their family – the tour of Government House, the parliamentary education session are just two of those experiences.
As a teacher (and parent of a child who undertook the same tour two years ago) I see huge benefits both educationally and socially for the children. The obvious educational advantage is seeing the places and things they have spoken about in class. Sitting in Parliament House during Question Time is very different from watching on TV or reading about it. Taking part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Australian War Memorial has a different impact to doing the same at home on ANZAC day. The different type of relationship that is developed by living and travelling with somebody for a week is very different from that developed during a week at school.
I don’t believe that money was an issue for the families that chose not to send their children on camp. While it wasn’t cheap, all families had known for two years that this trip was coming up, and some families had taken the opportunity to pay off the trip over a period of a year or more. Our school office had made a facility available for progressive payments to be made, and this was well-subscribed. One family, which has now had two children not attend, is very well-off financially, but says this sort of trip should happen with older students. I guess it will dawn on them as their children move through secondary school that that is not going to happen. Another family (the mother to be precise) said that if neither parent can accompany their children, then the kids will not go. Unfortunately for them we don’t like that sort of ultimatum, and called their bluff. The boys missed out, but then they don’t attend sport for the school in neighbouring towns if mum can’t drive them. And that could well be the crux of the problem: parents who are not willing to let go. I sometimes wonder when they will let the children do something alone….
To conclude, a couple of observations:
- Use a tour organiser. Life for teachers, especially for the one “in charge” is so much easier when you use a tour organiser. Years ago I did all the leg work in taking kids to Melbourne, and I couldn’t believe how much better it is paying someone to do it for you. For our Canberra tour, we used Educatours of Australia.
- Digital photos. Back in the day (yes, I’m old) all the kids would take a camera and spare film, and that would have to do. Then people started taking slides, and a couple of weeks after the trip there would be a (dreadfully dull) slide night. Now EVERYONE has a digital camera and takes a photo of everything. That’s good, I suppose, but the CD all the kids got after the trip had literally thousands of photos on it. Who’s going to look at them all?