I was told a year ago by a colleague to watch a 2005 BBC Documentary called "The Secret of Drawing" by Andrew Graham-Dixon. Over the weekend I finally did it. It is a four part documentary and not only did I watch the first episode but I bunged watched the other three in quick succession.
We've all seen and heard Sir Ken Robinson' s famous talk on education. While posing the question "Do schools kill creativity?" he discusses the hierarchy within education. Maths, English and Science, with the creative arts falling in behind. This also reflects the time given to learning in these areas i.e the creative arts being time poor.
The research into numeracy and literacy shows that if a learner hasn't got basic structures and strategies sussed by age 8 it gets exponentially harder to bridge the gaps as they grow. In Dr Betty Edwards book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" she discusses our development as an artist through our drawing development. We all start at the same place and develop in a similar way. Like with numeracy and literacy, at about age 8 a gap starts to appear. How many of you say you 'can't draw?' Betty suggests that it has nothing to do with talent, which you are about to suggest and all about positive feedback which leads to more practise and negative feedback leading to less practise. Hold these thoughts.
Now back to the hierarchy. In a traditional school setting students are time poor when it comes to spending time immersed in the arts and it is this situation which Sir Ken is suggesting is effecting creativity, a quality we need in todays world.
The structure of learning at Rolleston College Horoeka Haemata is going to be different. We are wanting to be a school that doesn't kill creativity. But how do we ensure that curriculum areas don't have the same time poor issues as the past?
Maybe we need to embrace hierarchy? Maybe we can't do without it? Maybe, in the range of cross curricular projects and bodies of work our learners will create, we need the project lead to be shared equally by all curriculum areas in the beginning. Over time, this will allow our learners to create their own learning hierarchy as they progress through their time at Horoeka Haemata with the subjects they are passionate about at the top.
To do this we are going to have to create a really good map that is transparent to allow learners, educators and parents the ability to see the learning that is being done.
I've started a new job! It's a unique opportunity. It's at a brand new school, so new in fact it's still wrapped in plastic as I type. This means we have term 4 to reflect on the past and what the future could and will look like with out the pressure of students.
At Rolleston College we are going to be doing things quite differently from the ways of the past. Dr Julia Atkin in so many of her presentations about change says you should first of all ask the question 'Why?'. In the two weeks leading up to starting my new position there were a couple of links to articles that turned up on social media that are part of the answer that question for me.
The first was written by Nigal Latta for the Star Sunday Times outlining his thoughts on the direction the New Zealand economy needs to evolve. For me his second last sentence says it all "it's that they find little niches in the world market and fill them." I'm no economic expert, but to me, it seems the best way for a small country in the South Pacific to compete on the world stage.
The second 'Nigal Latta only tells half the story on the economy' was by Geoff Simmons for the Morgan Foundation. In it he talks about how more than half of our national wealth is in housing and the affect this has on our businesses ability to step into overseas markets.
To effect change that can address the issues outlined in these two articles, we need to look to our youth. No pressure on teachers, but if we do things differently in education, then maybe in the near distant future things will start to change more in the New Zealand economy.
The interesting thing, is the inspiration and exemplars are out there. At the same time I was reading the above articles these two came out. One on Jamie Beaton and his Crimson Consulting company raising of capital in New York. Tech based companies are an obvious direction but not the only one. This article on Celia Robinson, group co-CEO of Myfoodbag gets you thinking how big could it get?
Dan Pink in his book 'A whole new mind' talks about the world entering the 'Conceptual Age' and suggests that to survive and thrive in this age you need to ask 3 simple questions. Can a computer do what you do faster? Can someone in the world do what you do cheaper? Are you producing something in demand in the age of abundance? If you answer yes to the first 2 and no to the last, things will be tough.
I like what Dan has to say in his book and the two examples of success above answer his questions in the way they need to in the conceptual age.
In six weeks I'll be starting a new teaching position. A fellow colleague started there five weeks ago. Both of us have/had been teaching at my current school for nearly ten years. As she drew close to her final weeks she was given the advice to make sure "She took time to smell the roses". To make sure she enjoyed all that she had grown and achieved.
A couple of weeks ago she passed on that advice to me. Some call it checking out. I have no intention of doing that, but, I'm definitely more relaxed than what I have been at this time of the year in the past. I'm taking time to just enjoy being 'in the moment' in my classes and the hustle and bustle of the school day.
It's a time to reflect and celebrate those teaching and learning ideas that have worked. To think about those ideas that I was sure would work and didn't. To think about all of those ideas and which ones I can take forward and try in the new environment ahead. At some point soon a list will be made. For my students though, I have three weeks left and plenty of work to do.
But, smelling the roses shouldn't stop there. Life is about balance and far to often we forget about the space outside of work. It's important to reflect on your accomplishments there too. To see the two spaces as two parts of a whole. I've bought two houses and sold one renovating the first. I have an awesome young family with two boys that make me laugh, mutter under my breath and wonder, often all in the same day. I've sold a yacht, rode my bike and tramped with family, friends and school.
Taking time to enjoy the moment or 'smell the roses' is something we don't do enough.
As a teacher you are in front of a group or groups of people everyday, presenting information and delivering instruction in a way that facilitates learning. It also needs to be entertaining. Some days it can be nerve racking and intimidating when your a little underdone on your prep. But nothing gets me more nervous than presenting to my work colleagues.
An ex colleague recently started TeachMeet here in Christchurch, a wonderfully structured teacher driven professional development opportunity. An hour long with 7 or 2 minute presentations on anything to do with teaching and learning where the presenters volunteer if they feel they have something of worth to share.
For the second instalment I decided to present on a Chrome app and extension called Screencastify that I use for recording demonstrations and screen tutorials. What an empowering experience it was to be apart TeachMeet 0.2 and I would highly recommend it to all teachers to go and sometime present. Here is a wrap up of TeachMeet 0.2.
Our last all staff PD was delivered by Philip (Piripi) Prendergest from Te Tapuae O Rehua where he is a program leader for Mau Ki T Ako project. His talk was a brief history of Ngai Tahu, the iwi of the South Island of New Zealand. It was quite timely as the weekend before while landscaping, I had listened to to two items on Radio NZ about PD teachers needed to do and weren't. One was learning about the local history of Maori, so as teachers they would be able to gain a better understanding of the local Maori perspective and also pass on this understanding to students in their day to day teaching.
I grew up in Bluff, New Zealand and left Southland to go to University. Recently(once again during my landscaping listening), I heard a few items on Bluff, it's people and their achievements. One that struck accord was 'A world History of Bluff' by Dr Michael Stevens.
I looked up the study online as possible subject matter my current map drawings which links historical information to place names in the drawings via QR codes. My research then lead me to this Waka Huia piece on the Southern Most Marae in New Zealand.
I'm looking forward to finding out more and sharing with others through my work as an Educator and Artist. The quote below is from an article in Ngai Tahu's 'Te Karaka' on Dr Stevens project.
“One of my overall goals is that I want everyone who has a connection to Bluff to see some part of themselves in the book I end up writing; I would like them to see some sense of themselves in New Zealand history that they don’t see at the moment. I also hope that they find out something about themselves and our little corner of the world that they didn’t know before.”
I can definitely say this has happened for me.
Well, a couple of months back I put my hand up to be an e-leader in the school I teach at. We have become a part of a local initiative that sees all year 9's starting 2015 with a Chromebook, dragging our school into a digital learning environment ready or not. Exciting times to be a teacher!
To enhance, and help the project myself and another e-Leader have created an e-Learning blog to tell our story and here are a couple of posts I have done. The first is on the type of mindset we'll need to have as a school community. The second is a reflection on what parents might think about all this modern learning environment mumbo jumbo.
I hope to keep a record on my posts here that travel with me.
I have been using twitter professionally as a teacher for a year or so now. Sometimes it gets pushed to the background, but it always comes back. Recently I've started following companies and people involved in the outdoors and are starting to see the benefit of twitter to help with the life work balance.
If the truth were told I'm a bit of gear geek. I love going into Outdoor stores, looking at the latest cloths and gadgets. I started following a couple of companies and love their posts on their latest gear and what people are doing with their gear. I've even shown some of the more inspirational posts to my students. It helps to remind me that you work to live not live to work and as technology blends work into homelife why shouldn't a little bit of homelife flow the other way?
In a previous post I mentioned how I had changed my learning sales pitch in the artroom. In doing this I've come up with a different way of delivering assessment information and student task sheets which allows for more personalised learning approach. This is my second full year working on this structure and I thought it was a good time to share. A colleague and I are continually critiquing my work, balancing learning outcomes and quality assurance commitments and we are still yet to have it fully tested in our moderation system.
My sales pitch is simple at the beginning of the year I say " We are going to learn how to make really cool Artworks!" We are going to use the Artwork Creation Cycle to do this and if we focus on that goal, the assessment part of things, will take care of itself.
Ask really successful people how they got to where they are and you never hear about the school assessments they did. They find something they love doing and they strive to be the best at it. It's about intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic motivation. In my opinion an education system that continually focuses on assessment results and neglects it's students intrinsic motivation will never achieve the bottom line it is looking for.
Lets start with the Artwork Creation Cycle. It's nothing new, it's the design process with slightly different wording. In fact it's a life process, it's how we grow, live and develop as human beings. In introducing it to students I always talk about it in this way.
In the beginning I deliberately teach each part of the cycle giving and showing examples of what they look like. The template below is what I hand out to the students minus a couple of pages that sit in my folder. The document is A3 in size with the students using an A3 clearfile for the template and their work throughout the year. I drip feed the paperwork, so as not to hit them with too much. When I feel they have enough artwork, which is normally towards the end of term one, I hand out the assessment matrix with assessment definitions and conditions. I then start to have class and individual conversations about how the assessment relates to the artworks they have made. It's about empowering my students to have conversations about their work and how it relates to assessment. This empowers them to take a more active part in the feedback and feedforward process with greater understanding.
The Task Sheets
I've struggled with task sheets. My students are really good at telling me "That's not what I need to do!" and when I ask them what they think they need to do, they look at me and say "Your the teacher, your suppose to tell us". It all comes down to "Why?" for them. Focusing more on the process, allows me, when it comes to task sheets give some students get more scripting and some will in essence write their own.
I've moved to using Evernote through a senior art account as the vehicle for communicating the task sheets with the students. This allows me to add text, pictures and links easily and is a multiple device platform that the students can access anytime anywhere. It also allows me to add too and alter at anytime in the learning process for the best learning outcome for the students. Assessment numbers are used in the task sheets but the focus of the task sheets is on the process of learning how to make really cool artworks. Microsofts Onenote or Google Apps could be used
It's early days and the consistent proof is yet to be seen in the pudding, however, the academic bottom line results have been positive to date. Like anything it needs to be continually worked on to meet the needs of my students.
"What are you going to do?" A resonant statement made by Ewan McIntosh at ICOT 2013 in Wellington. Our PLG is at this point. What are we going to do?
We have had some great conversations about ICT in education. At times we have gotten side tracked talking about the latest hardware and software, however, these distractions can often be opportunities in disguise and where some of the best ideas come from.
Literacy is the set of the rules that structure human communication. This communication is both projected(orally or written) and received(listened or comprehended) by individuals when experiences and knowledge is shared. Technology allows us to communicate quicker and to a wider audience, broadening our scope, producing faster and greater understanding. Technology has sped up literacies continual evolution into a new form; Digital Literacy. Check out the following clip on Digital Literacy by Sonja Delafosse .
Digital literacy is intertwined with being a digital citizen and this is where we intend to start. The plan for our PLG, is to create some teaching resources around what it means to be a digital citizen at Catholic Cathedral College. These resources could be used by any teacher and would be intended for use at the beginning of the year with new junior classes as an induction into the digital component of education at Catholic Cathedral College. Here is an interesting clip on being a Digital Citizen by Xin Zhang.
Sometimes, us adults assume all school children(digital natives) know how to use all aspects of technology. We all know about sentences that have the word "ass|u|me" in them. With this in mind we intend to create teaching resources to follow on from those on digital citizenship which teach students how to use our google environment more effectively in their daily digital life at Catholic Cathedral College.
Professional and personal email usage, professional and personal social media usage, appropriate online behaviour, google calendar use, google document creation and the use of comments for feedback and feedforward and multiple device workflow are but some of the resources we will be working on.
We'll need to work with senior management to best fit this deliberate teaching into the academic year at Catholic Cathedral College. We'll also need to work with staff to help us create and use these resources.
Some of the best PD discussions are had in the staffroom over a coffee. My posts are intended to be like one of those conversations. Feel free to join the conversation, we just might help each other out. My opinions are my own.