Ruminating on educating

Damien Morgan – items of interest from the world of education

Posts Tagged ‘student issues

Student Wishlist

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As part of my school’s move to 1-to-1 computing, we polled the students from Yr 6 to Yr 12 about their technology use at  home and at school.

The final question asked them to suggest other aspects of technology which could be of use to them. The Wordle here is a summary of their answers. No surprises in guessing the most popular response!

Wordle: Student Wishlist


Written by Damien Morgan

March 15, 2011 at 11:17 am

The value of school camps

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

Written by Damien Morgan

December 14, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Using Google

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I attended a Windows 7 launch a few days ago. Unfortunately, the Microsoft presenter had been called back to Sydney, so we made do with the local guy who “had seen the presentation a couple of times”. Hmm,  a bad start -obviously we are less important than Sydney folk. I was less then blown away. I was initially, and still am I suppose, curious as to Microsoft’s choice of name for this system update. Mac System 7 (specifically 7.1) was a ground-breaking and excitiong piece of software released 18 years ago. Sitting , as I was at a breakfast table, along with invited others from various industries, we decided to amuse ourselves by counting the references to Vista (two, and neither were positive, in a half-hour. Many references to XP, however). But what we should have counted were what appeared to be Microsoft’s catch-ups.

At the risk of sounding a little bit pathetic, Windows 7 appeared to be more about catching up to the Macintosh system 10.x and, of all things, Google.

And that got me thinking about (a) just what was available through Google, and (b) why a software megalith would be concerned about competing with a free website.

Question (b) is probably easier to answer. My guess is that it’s about power and control. ‘You have paid for our package, so why go anywhere else? Stay with us. We’ll look after you [imagine a big warm smile]’.

The first question is answered at Online Colleges. I don’t know how complete this list is, but why would you go anywhere else (please don’t take that literally – my point is that there is much to make use of at Google)

100+ Google Tricks That Will Save You Time In School

Written by Damien Morgan

November 2, 2009 at 7:13 am

cLc showcase

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I spent yesterday at a  cLc (connected Learning community) showcase in Toowoomba. A number of schools in my diocese have been trialling a LMS by Uniservity, a UK based company.

Those schools had the opportunity to present to each other, and to other interested schools, how they have used the cLc over the past few months – or in the case of one school over the previous six days.

My overall impression of the cLc is quite positive, and what the presenter from Uniservity showed is coming in the next generation of the environment is quite impressive, and as he implied more ‘Facebook’ than the current 10-year-old look.

Students and teachers are provided with a ‘safe’ environment within which to build webpages, blogs, contribute to wikis and forums, and so on. The direct communication, which hopefully does not replace actual spoken conversations, between teachers and students, students and students, and parents and teachers is a great facility. Each aspect of the cLc could be done in another way, but the beauty of the LMS is that it all happens in one place.

It seems as though each school in the showcase had gone about implementing the cLc in very different ways. At one primary school it was very child driven. They had shown the students the capabilities and basically asked, “What do you want to do with it?” The students had replied with a shared blog covering many aspects of their school life. Another school had taken a very top-down approach, having all teachers’ programming available for ‘transparency’ as we were told.

One of the best ideas concerning implementation/roll-out was to ensure that all teachers had their homepage in place and many resources available before students gained access. It not only meant that everybody was up and going from the very beginning, but that all teachers had a sense of authority about what they were doing. Many schools reported that the ability of students and parents to access class materials from home was a very powerful attribute.

The experience of the ‘newest’ school was interesting. Teachers, some with no experience of blogs or wikis, were able to produce homepages and include content including forums (fora?), quizzes, and shard learning spaces in just a day.

It seems to me that primary aged children would be more excited about producing their own homepage, whereas older students quite possibly have one or two (or more) of them happening already. The value, and starting point, for them would be in class-based discussion forums and the development of learning portfolios.

We had many questions answered, and were left with plenty of things to think about over the next few months before we are included in the rollout.

I would be interested to hear from any schools where LMSs are in place. What are you using? What are the benefits and problems? How did you manage rollout? How ahs interest and involvement been maintained?

Written by Damien Morgan

October 13, 2009 at 8:38 pm

Using iPods in the classroom (cont)

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This interesting site gives some very practical uses of iPods in classrooms – especially with regard to using them to track development in students’ reading. The teacher stores children’s recorded reading using iTunes, and collecting these as a playlist within the Audiobooks section. Very clever. This certainly expands the idea of running records, as each entry is separate and date stamped, but all are stored in the one list.

iPod literacy

From Colin Harris (@digitalnative) on Twitter:

@jdeyenberg Some uses of iPods in the literacy classroom athttp://ipodliteracy.com5:09 PM Sep 26th from Tweetie in reply to jdeyenberg

Then, a couple of hours later, this tweet from Tom Barrett (@tombarrett)

For those teachers at #aisitic09 What happens when you give a class of 8 year old children an iPod touch each?

20 minutes ago from TweetDeck

Take a look at the way these 8 year old English children have taken to using iPod Touches:

Make sure you scroll down to the video file – something of an eye-opener.

Written by Damien Morgan

September 29, 2009 at 11:22 am

iPods and Cell Phones

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There has been some spirited discussion at school about the use of the mp3 players and cell phones by students. Opinions range from “ban them” to “encourage the use of them”. In an attempt to continue the discussion, and to provide some food for thought, I made this presentation at our staff meeting.

iPods And Cell Phones
View more presentations from dlm1303.

The video included in the presentation is from TED, an amazing resource of ideas and developments. The particular item being discussed in this video is called ‘Sixth Sense’ and is a product of MIT.

Written by Damien Morgan

September 8, 2009 at 5:11 pm