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Travelling with children: Prague and Vienna

Darcy Moore's Blog - 15 hours 54 min ago

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. Miriam Beard

Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.     Sigmund Freud

If travel broadens the mind of an adult it must do something even more significant for a child. Educators know that children learn best when new information can be connected to pre-existing knowledge. Providing opportunities for kids to explore ever-widening worlds, intellectual, imagined and real, is fundamental to helping them connect ideas and form deeper understandings of their world. Dialogue is fundamental to knowing but this is much wider than just talking with friends, family and teachers – it is an ongoing discussion with our culture.

We know that the spoken vocabulary a child possesses when commencing kindergarten is a very good indicator of future success, or otherwise, at school. Children develop their vocabularies by communicating with the their families. This is a process that continues for many years and includes sharing books, experiences, feelings and is a fundamental part of being human. It is also the best part of being alive as it can also connect us to the wider world of ideas and culture.

In, to use an expression tainted by political advertising, ‘working families’ time is of the essence. The regular week is so busy with the pressures of life. Travelling, and I have said this many times in blog posts I know, allows time with my family leads to many conversations that would just not happen in our regular lives at home. When travelling learning is hothoused by conversation, not just about what we are seeing but also how we perceive our own lives. My kids are curious and I have learnt that no topic, however complex, will lose their attention if it is grounded in what we have experienced together, especially if it starts with a question they have asked and leads far further afield than expected. There is just no need to mention ‘learning’ and it is best to just get on with having fun with ideas.

Prague and Vienna have such complex histories. We have spent hours and hours talking about religion, politics, history, art, people on the street and much more. I have not shied away from discussing really challenging questions about the Holocaust and Nazism or answering questions about religious practices that seem of a different time, inexplicable and very illogical. My youngest daughter will discuss communism, trying to understand it, with some really good questions. She called Prague ‘popey’ as the importance historically of the Roman Catholic Church, we visited a convent too, is everywhere to see. ‘Communists wouldn’t have liked that much about the place’ was another observation she made while walking the streets of this very walkable capital.

The ‘God thing’, is often discussed more sensibly and insightfully by children than adults. What do you say to a child who says, “it is pretty clear that God doesn’t exist so why do all these religions keep ignoring the truth?’ ? We visited a very impressive museum in Vienna that explored a range of rules that stem from the most ancient of religious texts. The plaques were read aloud by Miss 8 and then a discussion ensued. I had to censor saying lets talk about this after we leave. The most fundamental tenet of the education system in Australia must be a search for the truth along with respect for different ways of being but the tension that exists when cultural practices are linked to the word of God, is an issue of power, as much as tradition. Respect for others must be central to all discussions with children but enlightenment values cannot be quashed either. Tricky, I am sure you will agree.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

I try to explain my own foibles, likely prejudices and beliefs by providing context while also suggesting I may be wrong about many things. Trying to makes sense of the world has to start with your own. Often that can be developed by asking what nan or grandma might believe or why Australia is the way it is. All of this probably seems quite heavy for young children but I am guided by their questions and responses. I find both girls completely curious about the large and the small of it all. They are readers.

My eight year old constantly amazes me with her creativity and intelligence. She is determined, resilient and very, very witty. Her stream of consciousness comedy routines, often inspired by what we are seeing, are a source of amusement for our family. Sometimes her irreverence is so satirical that we are a little stunned at what she can see of her world and us. Language seems to really interest her and she is very interested in understanding words when we travel, often using Google Translate or a hard copy dictionary. We have been translating the Viennale Film Festival program from German together. She is hard-working and will see a job through to completion. I got sick of it well before she did.

My 11 year old has a different kind of intellect. She remembers everything she is paying attention to and is very good at school learning. Give her a test and she will excel. She is in the state spelling competition finals next week and seems to do well with very little study (other than being a bookworm).  Her ability to define a word is better than mine, it seems. It is like she is reading from the dictionary, there is great precision. When she draws there is very fine detail in the tiny figures and landscapes. She can concentrate for long periods of time. Often she is not quite with us and unaware of what has been happening around her through being ‘off with the pixies’. Her stories are cool.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Food & the Art of Travel

Obviously trying new foods and culinary styles is one of the great pleasures of travel. Eating or sitting, in those transitory spaces on trains planes and ferries, allows reflection and chat about the day or recent experiences shared. These are some of the best times travelling. The day has been filled with new sights, sounds and experiences and you sit back and try and work out what it all meant…or laugh at the events of the day. I really like trains. They are great for reading and just looking out the window. As a famous comic-strip dog once mused:

Sometimes I sit and think

Sometimes I just sit.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Over the years the kids have impressed me with their willingness to try new foods. It was very easy to eat schnitzel and strudel in Vienna but how many children will hook into a plate of dumplings and stew, or anchovies, cooked to perfection, in Prague? Street foods are their favourite and such a great way to hand out on the streets, basking with the traveller’s glow.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

When we go to art galleries the kids love it when there i a room where they can draw or paint. They both love any kind of kinaesthetic learning space in museums too. I always think it gives them a bit of time out from looking at things as well as whetting their creativity.

Asking questions about what the kids liked best etc.. is often very illuminating. Even places that are a little dull for children can lead to some surprising insights. When I notice a glazed look entering the eye I usually give the kids my camera and say ‘frame a cool shot of something…’ or failing that, ‘take my portrait’. This never fails and sometimes becomes quite time-consuming. Notice the portrait below, taken by Miss 8, and how carefully she has framed the shot. It is very balanced.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

You are what you share

Maybe this is true but I loved the very quotable quote on the cafe window in Vienna. It seemed odd in a way as the Viennese seem very reserved compared to many other people. One local person, who had lived in the city for three decades, told me that it people tend to have their small circle of friends and it is hard for anyone, even other Viennese, to break into the circle. Another person told me that Viennese think you are slightly deranged if you smile randomly or say hello in a friendly way to someone you do not know.

I am finishing this blog post on the morning work recommences. A few people have already said it must be hard to go back to school after travelling. Funnily enough, I don’t mind at all. I have a great job and being an educator is satisfying, important work. We are privileged as a family to have these interludes and getting back to hard work (Miss 11 is studying for the spelling bee state finals) will make our next travel seem well-deserved and special. We have already, on the long flight home to Australia from London, worked out a few plans. Berlin, Amsterdam, The Orkneys and maybe even the Isle of Man seem likely. We went swimming at our favourite place in Kiama, on return, in glorious weather. Life is good.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

I will let a philosopher, Immanuel Kant, have the last word about how to live a fine life:

“Rules for Happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.”

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Featured image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by Darcy Moore: http://flickr.com/photos/darcymoore/15578264401

The post Travelling with children: Prague and Vienna appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

Replacing Skills

The Thinking Stick Jeff Utecht - 18 hours 50 min ago

I haven’t been blogging here much as my time has been spent working with teachers in their schools, Learning2 and COETAIL…which I love!

Replace is my new word of choice when talking about the skills of technology. 

I have done the word dance on this blog. Going from integrate, to embed and now to replace. However, I think it’s just the progression of adoption of any new way of thinking any new skill set as we reach a new level. A level where we need to start replacing the skills we use to teach with new skills that must be taught. The standards haven’t changed….the tools and skills have and we need to make sure we’re updating the skills to match the needs of our students.

Here in Washington State our new state assessment is done on a computer. Typing has finally become more important than cursive writing. It must replace cursive writing and maybe even most writing done by students. Many schools are now complaining that students are doing poorly on the test because they don’t have the computer skills needed to even navigate the test software. So now we need to replace navigating a book with navigating a website. I wonder in how many schools these skills have been replaced?

I have been focusing my trainings on this idea. A standard is a standard I say….but the skill and tool to reach that standard has changed. Let’s look at a couple of examples.


Digital maps are replacing paper maps in our society as a whole. From your captain on an airplane to your captain of a ship. We’re relying on digital maps more and more. With pretty much everyone walking around with one in their pockets today I’m wondering why we are not replacing the paper mapping skills with digital mapping skills? The skills are different.

A paper map doesn’t zoom, a digital maps doesn’t have longitude and latitude lines.

A paper map defaults to North being at the top. A digital map can be changed to either North as being up or the way you happen to be facing.

A paper map you kind of know where you are, a digital map you know exactly where you are (within 30 feet and if you have GPS of course).

If you still want to teach the skills of a paper map….I don’t have an issue with that. But I do hope that we are introducing the skills of a digital map and we’re starting to replace the time we use to spend on paper maps with digital ones.

Reading Skills:

The new research, led by Donald J. Leu at the University of Connecticut, is appearing this month in Reading Research Quarterly. Although the study is based on a small sample, it demonstrates a general lack of online literacy among all students, indicating that schools have not yet caught up to teach the skills needed to navigate digital information. ~ NYTimes 24/09/14

This research shouldn’t surprise us. We’re spending more of our life online….outside of school anyway….and yet we are not replacing the literacy skills of reading offline with new ones of reading online. Skills such as:

When do you read a full article and then click on links?

When do you “link jump” looking for resources?

How do you quickly scan a webpage to recognize where the ads are, where the navigation links are, where the main content is located on the site? I have not heard of a single school that teachers the literacy of reading a webpage or a website.

Because an increasing number of life tasks and jobs depend on the ability to sift through boundless online information presented in various formats — text, videos, graphics and social media — the ability of a student to accurately search for and evaluate information on the web is becoming crucial to success. ~ NYTimes 24/09/14

We know this but what are we doing about it in our schools? What are we replacing? 

The Common Core standards do contain references to digital literacy, however. “Whether you’re dealing with the readingwriting or listening standards, there’s a notion of students getting information both from print and digital sources and looking at credibility and accuracy of the sources,” said Susan Pimentel, a lead writer of the Common Core standards. ~ NYTimes 24/09/14

creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by CaptMikey9: http://flickr.com/photos/mjsciald/9142453756

Even the new standards as schools update them are adding in…or have long ago….added in the idea of understanding digital sources. Yet I find very few schools where these new skills are replacing the old skills. Instead we send student to the computer lab once a month to learn these skills completely out of context and with no real follow up or meaning. Would love to know if some district has added “Digital Search Skills” to the report card. Yes…that means you should be assessing students search skills!

These are just a few of the skills that need replacing in our curriculum and classrooms. The standards haven’t changed that much but the tools and resources we have to teach those standards have. The skills needed to use the tools that allow us access to the information to learn those standards have changed. So we must update the skills we’re teaching students.

I’m not saying you have to 100% switch. Sure…still teach paper mapping skills…but teach them 30% of the time and digital mapping skills 70% of the time. Talk about the benefits and drawbacks to the different types of maps. When should you use one over the other? How do you download a digital map so you have it on your device without a data signal?

These are all great questions to explore in the classroom just around maps! Just this one standard alone needs it’s skills replaced in order to stay relevant today. Want students to create that oh so popular map to their house…no problem…but let’s do it digitally on Google My Maps.

Nothing makes me smile more than running into a tourist in downtown Seattle who is looking at a paper map trying to figure out which way to go. They’ll ask me if I can help them……”Sure!” I say…….and then I ask to see their phone.

What other skills do you see needed to be updated or replaced in the classroom?

Categories: International News

Global Education Conference 2014

Technology allows us to take learning beyond the textbook and enables global education to take place on a scale previously unheard of. The global education conference is a wonderful way to learn about the world from the world and with the world. It is an amazing conference that brings all corners of the world together and makes so many connections possible.
If you are involved in global education, we would love you to consider presenting. There is still time to submit proposals for this exciting conference but please ensure it has a global education element. Final submissions have to be in by November 1st.

You can read more from any of the following flyers that may be of interest to you. Please note that we are looking for more student presenters.

Make sure you mark these dates on your calendar and set aside some time to participate in one or another – presenting, moderating or simply participating. Hope to see you there!




Categories: Planet

Inquiry Based Learning is dead, long live inquiry.

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 30 October, 2014 - 15:33


  • In the ebb and flow of educational theories and approaches to learning one can see many commonalities to the world of fashion. A good idea emerges, becomes mainstream, is appropriated by a wide number of educators who blend the essential elements into their methodology and over time the once good idea becomes an oversimplified or slightly misunderstood model of what it once was. - Nigel Coutts

Tags: Education, Web2.0, collaboration, learning

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News

Leadership Framework Series: Setting Directions #ONTEdLeaders

The Principal of Change George Couros - 30 October, 2014 - 10:21
#187474484 / gettyimages.com


Spending a lot of time in Ontario, I have been going through the Ontario Leadership Framework with a fine tooth comb (here is a cleaned up Google Document that I have been using to go over each leadership strand) and although there are some areas I would change (“building relationship and developing people” should have been the first leadership strand in my opinion, as everything starts with relationships and knowing your people), the overall document is really strong.  

Most “frameworks” have some pretty generic standards could be met as a principal 30 years ago when things were different in terms of what we knew about learning and the access that we had to one another.  This document though, has statements that really stick out to me because it has some points that ensure a high quality leader in our world today.  You can not simply do the same thing that was done in 1985 and expect to be effective as a leader today.  

To learn more about this framework, I wanted to really go through each “leadership strand”, pick out a few key points that really stuck out to me as “forward thinking”, and break it down deeper.  If we are going to be effective moving forward, we need to be reflective in our practice.

Over the next few blog posts, I will be going over each strand, and trying to take an in-depth look into some of the ideas that really stuck out to me.  I really encourage others that are either interested in going into leadership (no matter what area you are located), or are currently in leadership positions, try the same process.

The five strands that I will be looking at are the following:

  1. Setting Directions
  2. Building Relationships and Developing People
  3. Developing the Organization
  4. Leading the Instructional Program
  5. Securing Accountability

Today I will be focusing on “Setting Directions”.

Setting Directions

Here is the summary of the standard:

“The principal builds a shared vision, fosters the acceptance of group goals and sets and communicates high performance expectations.”

Building and communicating a vision is crucial to leadership and important in the success of a school.  Communication is not simply through words, but also through actions taken in your work.  For example, if you want to create a culture that “takes risks”, as a leader, you need to model taking risks.  It is also important that any vision that is developed together with a staff has high expectations (as stated in the document), but it is important that those goals are broken down into smaller goals that are achievable to build confidence and competence towards getting toward a larger vision.  People do not start by jumping from the bottom of the mountain to the top; they have to get to different summits along the way that they are able to see as reachable and attainable.  Once you get to one summit, you become more confident in your ability to get to the next.

What I think is really important that in leadership today, that a vision is truly created together.  There are many leaders that develop a vision with their staff, but really know what they want to happen the minute they walk into the building.  If you go through the process of taking valuable time for people to help build a “collaborative vision”, it is important that the process is actually collaborative.  If there are things that you would like to achieve in the school and they are “non-negotiables” in your mind, be transparent about this.  All people may not like “top-down” initiatives, but personally, I hate “top down” initiatives where we pretend my input actually mattered in creating the direction.  People see right through that process.  Yet if you have initiatives that you see as vital, it is still important that you are open to suggestions and modifying plans based on feedback of the people you serve.  This goes to the idea that the “smartest person in the room, is the room”, and if you aren’t open to feedback as a leader, you are not a leader, you are a boss.

Creativity and Innovation

It is great to see a document where “creativity and innovation” are considered an important part of what we do as leaders.  It is outlined in this statement:

“ensures creativity, innovation and the use of appropriate technologies to achieve excellence”

My concern with this statement is that it is easy to read that “creativity and innovation” are synonymous with the word “technology”.  It isn’t, although technology can be a huge and important part in the process.  For example, it is important to realize that the iPhone isn’t the innovation, but the thinking that created it in the first place.  This innovation and creation of ideas can come in many areas such as health literacy, assessment, and technology.  Again, it is the thinking behind it that is important.

How technology does support these areas, is the openness to ideas and learning from others, that is accelerated through the use of technology.  Being able to connect with others sparks ideas that may not have come to a person from scratch.  Networks are crucial to innovation, and they can either spark the invention of a new idea, or the iteration of another.  How are you using technology to foster these connections amongst your staff, and helping them building relationships both in and out of your school community?  That, in my opinion, is where technology really fosters the innovation process.

Where does your vision come from?

One of my favourite parts of the first strand is having an understanding of what is happening in the world, and building a “vision” based on that understanding.  This outlined in the following knowledge descriptor:

The principal has knowledge and understanding of local, national and global trends.”

There is a word that is left out of this statement, and I appreciate that it is.  Often in a sentence like this, the word “education” would appear somewhere, which I think is limiting.  Educators need to look not only within education to develop and create a high quality programming, but look outside as well.  For example, if you look outside of education, you can see many organizations moving away from a “factory model” or work, and now creating more flexible learning environments.  This is not all organizations, but many of them, and we need to pay attention.  Again, to get this access, we need to be connected.

Can we have leaders in our schools that have no idea what a “Ted Talk” is?  Or know the big “researchers” in education but know nothing about any educators outside their own school?  What do we lose as a school when we have leaders that have no idea what is going on outside of them?  It is important that we start to understand the shifts not only in schools, but in the world, and from that learning, we bridge connections that are relevant to our community.  Schools can not be in a perpetual state of ‘catch up”, but with a visionary leader, they should be ahead of the curve.

Leader as change agent

In the world, the only constant is change. That’s it.  With that being said, visionary leaders understand that part of their job is to help people embrace change as outlined in the leadership framework:

“…leading change, creativity and innovation.”

The thing that we have to alway realize that when we are leading change, is that sharing “data” is not enough.  People have to experience something and create an emotional connection if you are truly going to embrace sustainable change.  Saying, “you need to change because of these results” is not enough and often takes away the autonomy of teachers on the ground.  Numbers tell a part of the story, but only a small part.  To change the story, it is essential that people become part of the story.  It is not enough to minimize kids as numbers and think that the people focused endeavour of education can simply related to numerical data.  To embrace change we need to create something more.  Innovation and education is and always will be a human endeavour.

Concluding Thoughts

People do not follow a leader that has no vision of where they are going.  “Setting direction” is imperative to our journey but there is no singular line that will get you to a point.  We have to be understanding that different people take different pathways to get to that vision, and we have to be comfortable with that.  The other key takeaway from this framework is the focus on helping move people from their point “A” to their point “B”.  We need to differentiate learning for adults as we do for our students, and when we value the people that we serve, they will move a lot faster, than if they do not feel valued at all.  Any organizational vision can only happen when people can come together and make that vision a reality.  Otherwise, it is only a flashy “vision statement” that is only words with no actions.

Categories: Planet

BBC - Doctor Who and the Dalek

ICTMAGIC ScoopIt - 30 October, 2014 - 02:03

A wonderful Dr Who online game where players use basic coding ideas to complete levels.

See it on Scoop.it, via ICTmagic
Categories: International News


ICTMAGIC ScoopIt - 30 October, 2014 - 01:56

A superb online game which takes learners through coding activities with Python. Complete the tasks to gain points to move to the next area. More suitable for older students.

See it on Scoop.it, via ICTmagic
Categories: International News

Leave School Now While You Still Know It All

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 29 October, 2014 - 03:31

Interesting questions appear on Twitter all the time. Sometimes addressed to individuals and sometimes addressed to the Twitterverse as a whole. One earlier today has me thinking a lot. And chatting with people on Twitter and Facebook.

Advice for a hs senior who is already programming at a high level and is wondering abt spending $100K+ for a degree??? Anyone?

— Will Richardson (@willrich45) October 28, 2014

This is a tough question if only because it raises many more. What does it mean to be “programming at a high level?” What is the value of a degree? How does one invest their time and money to make the most of their talents?

People regularly ask about moving into a career in software development right from high school. I never hear anyone asking about moving into a professional career in architecture, engineering, medicine, biology, chemistry or the like. If computer science is one of the hardest HS courses students can take (based on how many are afraid to take it) why is is seen as so easy to turn pro at?

In part this is because of the stories we tell. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and more made billions without finishing their degrees.  But wait, LeBron James makes millions of dollars and he jumped to the NBA right from high school. Being Bill Gates is probably about as much a long shot as being the next LeBron James. but While a lot of high school seniors think they are ready for the NBA and are wrong they at least know they have to be found before they can turn pro. Young software developers have the ability to “turn pro” at very little cost or risk these days. The temptation is great to try because the risk appears so low.

There are many people with very successful careers in software development who don’t have degrees so there is that. Why don’t we see that in other fields? Is it because we don’t do well teaching people professional level skills in high school in those fields or is it because there are artificial barriers to entry in those other fields or is there just too much more to learn? Possibly a bit of all three.

There is also a real anti-degree feeling among some software developers one could point to as well.

@keinath @GirlsWhoCode More and more, we discover that CS degrees are useless or worse to devs. Maybe gals are smarter about that than guys.

— Dan Wiebe (@dnwiebe) October 21, 2014 This is far from new. In the late 1970s I had a hiring manager tell me he was initially against bringing me in for an interview because I had a university education in computing. It’s hard to imagine another professional field were there are practitioners who see a university education in the field as detrimental.

One thing that makes computing, or perhaps more specifically software development, different from other fields is that it is easier to learn a lot without a formal education. Between MOOCs, freely available software, shared resources, online forums, and more there seems to be a virtual smorgasbord of resources for autodidacts.

One can quickly learn, on their own, enough to start making apps and applications and even make money. Once in the field one can bootstrap their learning though hard work and online resources to keep improving and growing. This is not really possible in many other fields. Not these days. There was a time when doctors and lawyers and other professionals learned on the job though internships and apprenticeships but those days are long gone. They have been replaced by professional degrees.

So to get back to the question that started this epic long post – degree or not? I’m a big fan of the degree. I think that people benefit from a guided learning experience. It forces one to broaden their knowledge and helps them to learn some things they don’t know that they need to know. There are some who can succeed without it but not as many as think they can.

If you are going to skip the degree you need some way of demonstrating that you really know your stuff though. You need significant projects that have been completed that you can show off as samples of your ability. That can be a profitable app for phones or tablets. I suspect that the students who created YikYak for example will have little trouble showing that they understand phone apps and cloud computing. People looking to get into game development need (and I’ve been told this time and again by hiring managers) to have a significant game project under their belts.

A degree, for good or for ill, is validation that you “know something” and if you don’t have that degree you need to be able to convince people you know as much.

One last thought, if a student says he doesn’t need a degree because Bill Gates doesn’t have one remind them that Bill Gates completed two years at Harvard. Then ask them if they can get into Harvard. It may get them to think a bit.

A late thought from someone on Facebook. A good degree includes a lot of courses that are not part of the major but which make for a more well-rounded and complete person. There is some real value in that.

Categories: Planet

Two States–the Highs and the Lows

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 28 October, 2014 - 23:30

I found this image on Facebook last week and it really rang true for me.

I experienced both sides of this recently. On one hand I wrote a program on the spur of the moment and pushed it out in 20 minutes with no struggle at all. On the other I started a program I thought should have been just as easy and spend a couple of frustrating hours as nothing I did seemed to work. I put part of it aside to come back later when I was calm again. Why does this happen?

The same is true with teaching as one of my friends on Facebook pointed out. One day you thrill to the sight of students “getting it’ and executing projects smoothly and with great pleasure. The next day you hear a lot of “I don’t know where to begin” and “I’m confused.” And you ask yourself, if I explained things so well one day why was my talk a complete failure the next?

Well I expect that some teachers will blame the student for not paying attention or not having what it takes. And of course there are students who don’t pay attention or who are lazy. But I feel some responsibility to be interesting enough for them to want to pay attention as well. Probably we, students and teachers, share some of the responsibility in most cases.

In the case of my frustrating program what I realized is that I was rushing things. I was not thinking things out enough before writing code. This is something I warn students about all the time. I need to sit down and work out the algorithm on paper before I revisit the code. Likewise with my teaching I need to sit back and honestly evaluate how I taught a lesson (or three).

Did I try to cover too much too quickly? Were my examples not as helpful as I’d like? Did I really plan the lesson well or did I rush it out assuming it would be easy or just the same as some other topic that went well? Was I insensitive to the state of the students? Were they paying attention or did I push them to where their eyes glazed over and they stopped listening? Most of all, how can I help them learn what I am trying to teach? I’m never going to become the teacher I want to be if I assume that a failure to learn is all on the students shoulders.

You know, teaching coding makes actually writing code seem REALLY easy some days.

Categories: Planet

Green lighting – do we give kids permission?

Lucacept - Jenny Luca - 28 October, 2014 - 22:13

Last Friday, after watching Kevin Allocca’s video about why some videos go viral, I had a discussion with my class that went something like this.

If there is one thing you take from this class this year, it is this. Don’t wait for someone to green light something that you want to do. If you’re passionate about something, if you have an idea, if you want to pursue an interest, don’t wait for permission. We live in a world where you can start something if you have the wherewithal and desire to follow it through. Your parents might not like me saying this, but I’m not convinced that the only path to success is waiting for the credentials you get from a University education. I’m pretty sure that employers are going to be looking for people who have demonstrated that they think outside the square and know how to go about making things happen. You don’t need a green light – you can start now.

In fact, thinking on it, it was a bit of a short lecture rather than a discussion. It was the end of the lesson and they were wanting to head out to recess…  but, they did listen intently, and maybe they did take it in.

I hope so, because I think it’s advice worth taking.

(And below is Kevin’s video, where he talks about green lighting at the end of his TED talk.)


Categories: Planet

A Handy Chart Featuring 8 Ways to Do Formative Assessment ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 28 October, 2014 - 18:25


  • The chart features 8 strategies teachers can use to conduct a formative assessment. By definition, formative assessment is assessment for learning which usually takes place simultaneously with learning. The aim of formative assessment is to students understanding and plan subsequent instruction.
    In this chart on the page, you will get to discover 8 ways you can check for students comprehension, have a look and share with us what you think of it." - Rhondda Powling

Tags: formative, educational technology, chart

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

Assessment and Rubrics

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 28 October, 2014 - 18:21


  • "A collection of rubrics for assessing portfolios, cooperative learning, research process/ report, PowerPoint, oral presentation, web page, blog, wiki, and other social media projects." - Rhondda Powling

Tags: rubrics, assessment, resources, technology integration

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

Snapchat and Education

The Principal of Change George Couros - 28 October, 2014 - 10:58

I think I did it…

I think I finally figured out a way that schools can use Snapchat to connect with their school communities. I will get to that in a bit.

If you have decided to stop using the Internet over the last few years and have never heard of Snapchat, it is the app that is hugely popular with kids and terrifies adults, mostly because it was known as the “sexting app” to many people.  Yet, when I go to schools and ask kids who uses Snapchat, it is almost all of them.  Although there is inappropriate use of the app (just like every app in existence), there is something that is appealing to a massive amount of people and why the company is considered to be valued in the 10 billion dollar range.

I personally have had an account for a long time but never used it, or really thought of using it until I saw this video:

Notice no mention of Twitter or Voxer in the piece? (I feel old)

What I found really interesting was the immediacy of Snapchat that draws people to it, and also what seems to create a more authentic user experience.  If you know a picture will disappear (and I know you can screen capture it) are you more willing to share a “true” moment as opposed to the “perfect” moment we often share on Instagram (which is put up on your wall until you take it down)?  The “story” element also brings a whole other dimension and pushes the app past the idea of just being another way to text friends.

I started using Snapchat this morning with Paige (I made her sign up to help me figure it out) and shared what I was doing during the day while she sent me pictures of her and the dogs.  I really had no idea how to use it in the first place so I looked it up on YouTube and figured it out. It was kind of a neat experience and I definitely see the appeal.  For years though, I have been saying to parents that I could not think of a way to use Snapchat in schools, but after seeing how you could share “Stories“, finally thought of something.  The “story” feature could allow you to show what a day in your school looks like, while also deleting the “permanency” of the pictures/videos online.  It could be a cool way to reach kids at an app that they are already on.

Or maybe it isn’t.

I asked if any schools were using Snapchat and got a great response that really pushed my thinking:

@gcouros to Ss, snapchat is an adult-free platform. A school would look like it’s trying too hard to meet kids where they’re at.

— Mlle Northcott (@MlleNorthcott) October 26, 2014

Great point.

Although I think it is important that we have an understanding of what most of our kids are using in schools today, I also don’t think we need to invade every space that kids are on or write “10 ways to use Snapchat with your students” blog posts.  Perhaps the biggest appeal to students using Snapchat is not the app but it is that it seems to them not many adults are using it?  Do you remember being a high school kid and wanting nothing more than to hang out with your parents? Me neither.

I really think we need to start paying more attention to things like Snapchat and Vine, and try to not just understand these apps but also try to understand why they are so appealing to so many.  This doesn’t mean we have to use them in schools but I think it is important that we can have a conversation with our students.

Not every technology needs to be “edufied” but in a world that there are so many new things that we are still learning about and figuring out, I think it is important that we have some credibility in the conversation.

Categories: Planet

Digital Citizenship Course for Educators

The Thinking Stick Jeff Utecht - 28 October, 2014 - 03:10

Just a quick announcement that our third Eduro Learning Online Professional Development course will begin soon. We’re really excited about this one as it is one of those things we talk about teaching but A) Never get training on and B) Don’t really make it a priority.

Our fear is that even though educators told us they would like to have a class on how to teach Digital Citizenship to students we’re not sure if people will actually sign up for such a class. I guess time will tell. Space is limited to 25 participants so if you’re interested now’s the time to sign up.

Here are the details:

Instructor: Chrissy Hellyer

Over the past few years, Digital Citizenship has become the unwanted step child of academia. Everyone is talking about it, but no one wants to teach it. How do we teach it? What do we teach? How do we integrate it into the curriculum? Our goal is to move educators from a world of fear to a world of empowerment.

Participants in this course will uncover a variety of ways to balance, respect and protect themselves and their students through the lens of digital citizenship.

Here’s the link for more info and to register for the course!

Categories: International News

Interesting Links 27 October 2014

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 27 October, 2014 - 21:15

What a week. I teach at a private school and one of the things we do is have open houses for prospective students and parents. Last week we had two which meant some extra time at school. Honestly though I really enjoy talking about the school and especially the computer science program. For students who are interested in CS there are not a lot of great options in high schools. I heard last week that New York state is going to let computer science meet a graduation credit. I hope that helps there.

And let’s not forget the lower grades either. Why Teach Computer Science in K-8? I Want Every Kid to Code by @mraspinall

Only a few more days to vote for my lesson on Binary numbers so I can get some computers for my school. http://aka.ms/omvote You can vote once a day so as they say “vote early and often.” I thank you for your support. BTW I have blogged about using the Office Mix tool a couple of times. Well worth checking out.

A couple of competitions for students are wrapping up soon. Check the deadlines and encourage students to enter.

Introducing teens to open source software development with the Google Code-in contest

Know high school girls who love computing? Award for Aspirations in Computing applications are open until Nov. 2nd.

Have your students entered the 2014 We Are the Faces of Computing Contest for students?

A little topical humor to end with. Perhaps the single most terrifying Halloween pumpkin ever carved.

Categories: Planet

Global Selfies

A global selfie featuring people from Indonesia, Australia and China

What can you see in this picture –  sights, feelings, atmosphere??? Selfies are a great way to capture learning, experiences and learning and can now be done on a global scale!

A fun linkup was held last Thursday after school with Endang from Indonesia and some of her helpers to created global classrooms with students in Pekalongan, Indonesia. Unfortunately, our students had just gone home on their school buses so I connected with  three lads who  wanted to know what Mystery Skype was. Instead of telling them, they participated in a mystery skype. Questions that could only have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer were asked until they worked out where I was from.

Li Min, our Chinese language assistant who is helping with our mandarin Chinese language program at school, came into the room after hearing the laughter, so they had fun working out where she was from. She hails from Wuhan, China. This added another accent to the mix of conversations, so the chat was used, together with audio,  to ensure we all understood each other.

They then asked about the global projects that students in our school have been involved in and what projects we are currently involved in. Year 9 and 10 students have just started a Global Selfies project through Taking IT Global, so I mentioned this. Immediatley, hearing the word selfie Mumtaz Kwizime pulled out his phone as if to clarify that is what we meant.

The second selfie taken!

We asked if he would take a selfie of all of us involved, and above is the result! I love the photo. What do you think? What can you see in the photo? How do you think our connection went?

Categories: Planet

TER Podcast – my interview from Edutech 2014

Lucacept - Jenny Luca - 26 October, 2014 - 22:07

After my Edutech presentation in Brisbane in June I was interviewed by Corinne Campbell for the Teachers’ Education Review (TER) Podcast. It was posted on their site last week and I spent some time listening to me sound quite knowledgeable about topics related to digital citizenship, the importance of our students understanding what curation means in today’s world and the approaches we are taking at my school with our LMS (Learning Management System) and Google Apps.


Part of the interview was spent discussing the importance of schools committing funds to infrastructure to support whole school technology initiatives. Corrine remarked in the commentary after my interview that she’d never really heard people discussing this in depth. This is a conversation that needs to be had at every school looking to make large scale change with technology initiatives to support learning. Without a robust network supporting the introduction of web based LMS’ and cloud based technologies like Google Apps you have no hope of seeing adoption become widespread. Teachers need reliable infrastructure to ensure everything ‘just works’, and school administrations need to provide funding and staff to make this happen.

Thanks to Corinne and Cameron for posting the podcast on the TER site. To hear my interview, go to 40min 19sec in when it begins. The entire podcast is worth a listen, with timecodes listed below.


00:00 – Opening

01:19 – Intro

10:13 – Off Campus with Dan Haesler

19:12 – Education in the News

37:09 – AITSL’s Teacher Feature

40:19 – Main Feature, Interview with Jenny Luca & discussion about technology in education

01:09:43 – Mystery Educator Competition

01:10:54 – Announcements

01:12:27 – Quote and Signoff

Categories: Planet
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