Mindfulness

edbooknz-terms-2016-2

My contribution for #EdBookNZ 2016.

Listen with your heart to what your mind is telling you.

  • Ko tō ngākau ki ngā taonga o ō tïpuna hei tikitiki mō tō māhunga.
  • Turn your heart to the treasures of your ancestors as a crown for your head.

I have chosen to undertake understanding mindfulness because at our school our personal focus is on well being. I am also an across school teacher for the Auckland Central Community of Schools and understanding how mindfulness affects learning is one of our underlying concepts to unpack.

What is Mindfulness?

I believe mindfulness is about training of self to be more aware. It is about focussing and resting the mind so it has time to relax. The benefits of understanding mindfulness as a skill is reduced stress, effective emotional regularity and an improved working memory. Mindfulness nurtures positive mind states like kindness and compassion.

Psychology today defines ‘Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present. When you are  mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.’

However I have recently uncovered this definition from Mindful Schools where children explain what mindfulness means titled ‘Just Breathe.’

As I read about mindfulness I identified components to understand the interplay of mind and body feelings such as:

  • Taking care of the soul through outdoor activities such as exercise or just being outdoors enjoying the natural environment;
  • Taking care of the body through nutrition, hydration and sleep;
  • Taking care of the mind by allowing it to rest, daydream and imagine;

In addition there appears to be a ripple effect of steps when experiencing mindfulness. Mindfulness stresses the importance of loving self, loving others and loving the environment. These all have an effect on mind because all are intertwined. I was recently reminded about the importance of mindfulness in indigenous cultures and how closely mindfulness is linked to our place in our environment. From my Samoan side I am reminded of the term Fa’alupega which is a part of Samoan culture and custom.  Knowing Fa’alupega allows you to connect individuals to families and to land and origins of their past. I was taught, ‘O ai a’u?’ Who am I? If we, as educators, teach the whole student, then shouldn’t we be providing them with the skills to harness their mental, emotional, social, intellectual potential and make links to their place in the community via mindfulness?

The opposite of mindfulness is: self destructive behaviour; stress and burnout problems; under-achieving; lack of self-respect; substance abuse and other self harm behaviour.

Let me unpack the steps to develop mindfulness for teaching and learning further. In schools we often focus on exercise and activity for our learners. We teach about the importance of nutrition and hydration for well being. We work with families to reduce the appearance of processed food and sugary drinks at our schools. We stress if our learners appear to be tired from lack of sleep. In this day and age we have the added stress of being permanently connected to devices which brings both benefits and challenges. However when do we give our learners time to rest their minds? How do we take this non-judgmental approach to observing our thoughts and feelings during mindfulness into how we exist in the world? How different would the world be if we could observe without judgement?

Looking after self by resting the mind

There are three steps to follow that focus on mental stillness and attention to the present moment. All three can be used to rest mind or can be used individually.

  1. Anchoring which is when attention is anchored to a chosen object by staying close to the object despite mental activity.
  2. Resting allows the mind to relax by resting gently on breathing.
  3. Being which is just sitting and experiencing the present moment.

We can teach our ourselves and our children the importance of having digital detox. We can create comparisons with junk food and media junk and look for the effects of both on our well being. We can take care of our minds by practicing dreaming and imagining and just giving our minds a chance to rest and be still. You can explore Chade-Meng Tan’s ideas for settling the mind here. You can have a quiet chuckle here. Deep breathing has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and lessen anxiety. Deep, slow and even breaths can be a powerful calm-down tool.

Giving service to others

Another idea of mindfulness is about kindness, compassion and about looking after others in our community. In our curriculum how can we acknowledged the importance of service to others? That is the giving of self to community so that we can develop the sense of purpose and contribution of our place in the community. Our older children do some of this via leadership activities. They choose an area where they give time such as looking after the library or looking after younger classes during wet lunchtimes. They commit to activities that benefit the school such as taking part in Travelwise or sports. But how can we foster this idea further so they can move this out into the community?

What other opportunities for our community of learners can we develop so that they can make connections with each other? We already do this with camps and productions and school wide activities. But I wonder if we can be doing even more especially now that we are part of a greater community of learners in the Auckland Central Community of Schools? How can we develop further the ideas of nurturing and sharing across our community of learners so that kindness and compassion develops?

Loving the environment

As educators we focus predominantly on environmental studies and in the case of my school we pride ourselves on our Green Gold Enviro status and our silver status for Travelwise. Yet how often do we focus on using the environment for us and our well being. We know that breathing fresh clean air and feeling the sun on our skin can be rejuvenating. However exposure to sunlight and fresh air actually offers our body health benefits that can last a lifetime. Exposure to the sun gives vitamin D benefits that fosters bone growth and improves general overall health. Exposure to sunlight at the same time each day reduces a chemical in our bodies called melatonin and this helps us sleep better. Walking through trees exposes us to phytoncides which reduces the stress hormone cortisol. You can read more about the effects of being outdoors here.

The benefits of mindfulness

How can we be of genuine service to others and create lasting connections within our communities if our mind is a busy whirlpool of fleeting and ruminating thoughts? Being aware of and practising mindfulness with our learners brings several benefits including decreased negative effects of depression and anxiety. Learners become more self regulated and compassionate. They become more focussed and stronger academically. Being aware of and practising mindfulness improves the working memory. Practicing mindfulness is a powerful antidote for stress, distraction and selfishness in the world. Most important of all mindfulness lays a powerful foundation for all other learning skills.

Mindfulness and learning

I have listed and described the  steps that develop mindfulness and explained how and why mindfulness helps learning and by making my learning visible. I can teach others to explain why mindfulness helps learning. However I have finished with even more questions to explore and a greater sense of calm as I put into practice some of what I have learnt about mindfulness.

Acknowledgements and Sources:

I give a shout out to Kim Mackrell ‎who took some time to give me some fabulous feedback and more questions for me to to think about.

Alton, L. (2014). Deep breathing skills to lower anxiety and blood pressure. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from http://www.naturalhealth365.com/anxiety-deep-breathing-1135.html/

Hess, E. (2014) Get-U-Fit. Get out and smell the roses. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from https://blogs.uww.edu/warhawkfitness/2014/04/06/get-out-and-smell-the-roses-the-benefits-of-fresh-air/

Mindful Schools. (2015). “Just Breathe” by Julie Bayer Salzman & Josh Salzman (Wavecrest Films). Retrieved October 20, 2016, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVA2N6tX2cg

Stosny, P. B., (n.d.). Psychology Today. What is Mindfulness? Retrieved October 2, 2016, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/mindfulness

Tan, C. (2016). How to Settle the Mind – Mindful. Retrieved October 18, 2016, from http://www.mindful.org/how-to-settle-the-mind/

Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up

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Introduction

Yesterday I took a bit of a risk. Yesterday was the day to share my inquiry around Chinese language learning with my year 0 and 1 children and teachers at Newmarket School. We were asked to create a Task Based Language Activity, teach it, evaluate its effectiveness and present our learning to our colleagues in the EDProfst360 TPDL Course. I had extra pressure of having my principal invited to come and hear my learning and of course she accepted and was there. My learning about the task I created was how I failed and the learning I took away from this. So here is my presentation and story.

  • wǒ xìng Van Schaijik
  • wǒ jiào Sonya
  • wǒ shì xiǎo xué  lǎoshī
  • wǒ zài Newmarket xuéxiào jiào shū

Background

My class is made up of forty four year 0 & 1 students. I take them for thirty minutes once each week. The class is made up of 22 year 0 students and 22 year 1. Of these ⅓ are Chinese speakers of varying proficiency from new learners of English to having some words. There are two teachers who work in class with me and we are all learning together. However because I am in the TPDL programme I am the teacher preparing and leading the lessons. My own language of Mandarin is minimal and I am in my second semester of learning Mandarin. I am also teaching the language therefore my proficiency is developing.

Where did the idea for my Task Based Language Activity  come from?  

Earlier this year for my first assignment, I researched Rod Ellis. I  developed the learning task using a PM reader. I was really clear in my approach and rationale behind the lesson. I spent ages on the artefact so that it all worked well. I called in a proficient L1 speaker to help with the resource. My understanding was the task should have worked.

Information gap.

So I carried out the lesson with the whole class. The task was mostly receptive and did not require much language demand because the children were already familiar with colours and where is (zài nǎ lǐ)

 叶 子 在 哪 里
hóng zi zài nǎ lǐ

They just needed the new word zi meaning leaf.

I deliberately chose a PM reader that most would have already read in English so there was little language demand.

I wanted the children to fill in the missing colours by looking at the picture of the leaf. I believed that they would easily accomplish this simple task and the lesson would be a great success. 

However I experienced a disastrous outcome. I felt that nothing was right.

Justification on my disaster

So I reflected on the outcome.

  • Why was the task all wrong?
  • Maybe the timing was wrong.
  • My expectations were too high.
  • I did not have enough language knowledge to carry out the teaching of the task.
  • Maybe the children were just playing up for me this particular day.

#Smallvoice

Then a niggling doubt surfaced. Maybe my designed task did not not fit a task based language activity.

According to Rod Ellis, a task has four main characteristics:

  1. A task involves a primary focus on (pragmatic) meaning.
  2. A task has some kind of ‘gap’.
  3. The participants choose the linguistic resources needed to complete the task.
  4. A task has a clearly defined, non-linguistic outcome.

Yes there was meaning because the children could see the colours and hear the language.

But there was no gap because I was teaching whole class, all children could see the task. I misinterpreted Gap as a Gap in knowledge, rather than a gap in communication. 

I did not give the participants an opportunity to choose the linguistic resources in order to complete the task because I had colour coded the vocabulary I expected them to use.

The task did not have a clearly defined, non-linguistic outcome. Instead I expected a focus on form.

Evaluating the task

I could not evaluate the task because I did not have enough evidence. I did not allow the students to use all the language they knew and or are learning. Instead I expected them to use just the ‘target language’ of the lesson. Therefore I had little evidence of output.

Time was against me as the term’s end was approaching fast. So instead I gave up on this activity and left the idea of task based language teaching for a few weeks. 

Instead I concentrated on more focussed input such as building vocabulary and building simple sentences by having the children continue to learn formulaic sentences.

I used more songs to give sentence frames and structure for language. I read more around the criteria of a task.

The impact of designing this task on my teaching

With failing comes reflection:

  • Reflecting on practice and where to next;
  • Discussion with colleagues how to improve the task and using my colleagues and their teaching skills; 
  • Refocus Task Based Language Teaching and ensuring that pretask, task and review are ongoing;
  • Refocus on learning formulaic expressions;
  • Refocus on my own language learning and registering for semester two of learning Chinese;
  • Focus on allowing the children to use all the language they knew and or are learning and opportunities to develop greater complexities of the target language such as using connectives or time order words.

Try again but adapting the task

  • Will the activity engage learners’ interest?
  • Is there a primary focus on meaning?
  • Is there a goal or an outcome?
  • Is success judged in terms of outcome?
  • Is completion a priority?
  • Does the activity relate to real world activities?

Focus on Input

So I spent most of term three focussing on input because the children still required plenty of exposure to LI through input before I can expect output. Therefore I focussed on smaller group teaching with the teachers focussing on language input. I was lucky enough to have an L1 parent join us as support and she was a fabulous L1 model and help. We also had a teacher in her final year of training who had the mindset and was willing to have a go. So with our forty four students we had 5 adults. I continued to use youtube videos as a model for L1 and created several visuals with images that would help with receptive input because most of our children are still developing basic reading skills. I focussed too on less whole class teaching except for the pre task stage.

The impact that ‘failure’ had on my students

Initially I was gutted and felt like giving up. I was tired and disheartened and I know that by my third TPDL observation I had more than had enough of my own learning.

But as the Chinese saying is

失败不是倒下,但拒绝起床。
shībài bùshì dǎoxià dàn jùjué qǐchuáng
Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up

So as a thinking teacher who is always reflecting I looked for opportunities to bring in the expertise of the teachers I work with. I completed another assignment around the key concepts relevant to intercultural communicative language learning. This gave me another pathway to think outside the square and try something even more amazing.

Our Chinese Language and Culture Week at Newmarket School

So I approached our management team and asked for the opportunity to develop a week long series of events that focussed on culture. I applied to the Asia New Zealand Foundation and won a grant to help with the weeks event. I planned for several cultural events such as the kinds of games that children played, a calligrapher who shared his skills and who I was able to get through the support of our deputy principal and her connections with Confucius, a guest speaker who wrote a book about the history of Chinese Market gardeners to New Zealand.  I thought seriously about opportunities for language output and was especially excited because my focus classes of year zero and one would be hosts for the upcoming school assembly. I ran a small speech competition with a focus on students who could use connectives and I also looked for students who could recite a poem because I knew that they would have to carry out research to do this. Classes were invited to compete a Chinese art artefact and in order to do this I knew that the teachers would have had to research into some Chinese history and to find out about the art before they would do this. I asked all classes in the school to learn a dance and to learn three songs in preparation for the assembly and they did. My own Chinese dance group were given another opportunity to present and this time I ensured that they had dance costumes so they looked stunning.
The highlights are published on our Newmarket School’s Facebook page. The highlights for me were:

  • Seeing the little children talk to a kindergarten in China via WeChat and singing Twinkle Twinkle little stars together;
  • Seeing the parents come in to help with in class activities;
  • Seeing the delight at the whole school partaking in mooncakes during Mooncake day;
  • All classes learning a little bit of culture and language;
  • Our fabulous guests;
  • Our senior students leading the games events each morning tea;
  • Of course my absolute pride at the fabulous team lead assembly from the 5 and 6 year olds.

Balance

You might fall down seven times and maybe on the eighth time you might have your balance. As I reflect on my language programme I must balance meaning focussed input with meaning focussed output. I must balance  Language Focussed Learning with Fluency Development. This delicate balance enables more student centred, meaningful communication, and provides extra-linguistic skill building. I must continue to provide real world activities and tasks that are familiar to the students such as our WeChat session and our fabulous week long celebration. Our recent week highlighted that our students and staff were engaged which may further motivate them in their ongoing language learning of our target language as part of the ALLiS project.

Celebrate the learning

Finally look for opportunities to celebrate the language learning. Use the tools to capture the output such as video or iRecord. I have a big week ahead of me as I publish our celebration for our school website. I have a group of students who I will record their poems and introductions for our learning resources. I have a book that needs publishing in both English and Mandarin. I have heaps of people to send thank you letters to that helped make our week amazing.

So my failure ended up being hugely successful for my children and my school. I am always looking for new ways of forced output for our children. I have managed to convince our junior school team to take big steps in term four. They have all signed up for WeChat as we explore new ways for making connections with our families. As a team we have signed up for K-2 Flat Connections project where they will work with schools around the world and look at new ways of learning for our children. The project is called ‘Building Bridges for Tomorrow‘.   Our teachers will be exposed to new tools and the chance to think in new ways because technology has a way of forging past the traditional junior school teacher modelling books and the traditional walls of sharing student learning.

Children do not come first.

npsThis week at Newmarket School we had camp and swimming and new children and I thought about our fabulous teachers at NPS. This post is a shout out for them and for all teachers.

I believe if we take care of our teachers then they will take care of our children.

I often hear and read about children being incredibly important and they are placed at the center of everything. They are highlighted in school documentation as being the heart of our schools. 

Don’t get me wrong, I believe our children are the heart of our schools too.

However we appear to miss something when we neglect to mention the place of our teachers. If our children are the heart of our schools then our teachers are the blood that pumps that heart.

One of my old principals used to say “Take care of our teachers and they will take care of our children.” Or she would say, “Our teachers are our greatest resource.” She also said,  “Without our fabulous teachers I would not have a fabulous school.”  

Sometimes too when I read documentation I want to change the word student or children for learner because I also believe that all teachers are learners too and if we use the word learner than this embraces our teachers too. 

Yes I know support staff, parents and whānau, but that is another post.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

A week in the life

Hehe, I am guessing you thought I might be sharing my week! Well not this time.

Last year I completed my Flat Connections Global Certificate under the guidance of Julie Lindsay. This year, I have a small team of students involved in a global student project called ‘ The Week in the Life. 

I am working with a team of global educators from Australia, Bulgaria, Thailand, Nepal and the USA. So 6 school, 12 educators and 23 Global topics and 146 children.

As educators we meet with Julie approximately once a week. In order for us to achieve this across the 4x time zones some of us have to really step outside our comfort zone and learn heaps of new tools, accommodate time zones  and heaps of new ways of doing this. We learn across several digital learning environments and my big one for this project is Edmodo.

When I join the educator’s meeting the time is usually from 11.00-12.00pm on a Thursday night. By 11.00pm I am nodding and trying to keep awake as I usually try to be in bed by 10.00pm as I am up the next day between 5.30 and 6.00am.

This week, Julie was away and I put my hand up to run the group meeting. I joined the ‘Week in the life’ group group after it began and wanted to contribute as I feel like I have been lurking around the edge and watching.  I am experienced at running Google Hangouts and for this session I was determined to learn how to use Fuzemeeting. The notes set up for me were fabulous and it took a few sessions to get around the tool. Probably the only challenge I had was sharing a Google Doc. To overcome this I popped the link into the chat bar and had been advertising the link to the group.

I was probably so focussed on learning the tool, I forgot the importance of broadcasting and reminders about the session.

However I have learnt the importance of creating evidence from meetings so that there is always an archive for those who were not there.

I have been in and out of Edmodo for many years but could never quite get my head around it, Probably because I have never had anyone to play with. However with the other FlatConnection  teachers on the site I have plenty of support. As soon as I saw the way Edmodo worked I immediately invited our senior school teachers from Newmarket School into the Edmodo environment and they are flying with their classes.

Again the benefit of joining a global project. We learn about other ways of learning with our children.

Over this past week my Travelwise team have been busy with their school leadership roles as Travelwise students. They raised money for our friends in Nepal who have been in the earthquake, therefore making a real link with real children affected by a natural disaster. They have been chatting to them on Edmodo and finding out how they have been affected. I mean how more real can the learning be? My school sent through our contribution and Brian immediately responded that it had been received and what they would do with it.

Last night I met John from Thailand Face to face via Fuze and he has been helping me and my students join the right groups on Edmodo. He asked for my help with popplet which I thought was amusing. I have used popplet on ipads with some children but have never coconstructed a live popplet with a group of learners before. I said I would help where I could but really we are learning together. Sometimes when we work with under 14 year olds we find ways of working the system as we do not want to be gatekeepers for learning.

One way of ensuring our students and teacher’s safety at Newmarket School is to always have more than one educator from my school on any digital learning environment.

In Edmodo our children have been split up into the various teams and they are working with children who they have never met face to face. Again citizenship comes into the ongoing discussions. If we are able we will skype with other classes however at this stage, it might only be our Australian team because the time zone is a real challenge. I guess we could leave video messages and that might be something that I work on this week.

A big challenge that I have with what I am attempting is that the children I have trialling this project is a small group of school leaders. I meet with them once a week in their lunchtime as part of our work. If I was able to incorporate ‘Week in the life’  as part of their class learning, then we could really fly with this project. I have spoken with their teachers about allowing them to do some of their investigation during their Discovery Fridays, Yet at this stage, as a team they are also exploring what this would look like. When they move into asking questions around global themes and how this affects us locally, glocalsation, then I know they are ready for moving into global projects.

This week I showed the Travelwise children what the children from the other schools are already doing with popplet. Again some of the Flatconnections  teachers have the popplets all set up and some do not. So some of my group are learning with their global lead teacher.

I was working with Edmodo in one of the classes this week with a younger group and their teacher had ‘got’ Edmodo. She had added a link to a youtube clip and set up questions as part of an Edmodo assignment activity. I thought that was extremely clever. When I checked back today, the whole class had already responded. Therefore I will incorporate these ideas into some of my Flatconnection Edmodo posts to help generate discussion.

Where to next for me, I need to support my Travelwise students with adding to their team popplet and begin preparation for their voice thread activity. I want to pull in the rest of Newmarket School staff into Edmodo. As part of my personal inquiry I need to keep adding feedback on teachers and children’s comments and blogposts to encourage the ongoing work we are doing with digital learning environments at Newmarket School. I have to keep up with the curation of our teacher’s and children’s spaces as this helps drive the learning. Finally keep suggesting ideas for teachers about keeping their own learning visible.

If you want to know more about Global Education then join the programme. There is another intake happening in June.

Here is a link to my space on the #Flatconnections Ning.

If you want to know more about our learning spaces then visit our blogs 

Curating WELS15

I love curating links, lists and photos.

What an amazing couple of days of learning I spent last week with my principal Dr Wendy Kofoed and Assistant Principal Virginia Kung to attend INTASE – International Association For Scholastic Excellence held in Singapore.

https://www.facebook.com/intase.org

The Newmarket School team were set the challenge of getting a selfie with their masterclass presenter and to tweet it out. This they did.

wels15

Here are some fabulous reflections coming through from the World Education Leaders Summit.

(Thanks Neil for putting them on your blog.)

Here you can check out the twitter list of the educators tweeting about #WELS15 created by moi. Check the number who tweeted because over 1000 educators attended globally.

Jon Bowen created Prezi diagrams title Lead and Redefine Future Schools and they are awesome.

Andrea Stringer curated all the tweets using Storify. She was watching the twitter feed from afar.

Here is the list of speakers.

These were the topics they covered

  • Principalship
  • Middle Leadership
  • Innovative Leadership
  • Educational Technology
  • Self Organised Learning Environments
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • School Social Capital Building
  • Highly Effective School Culture Building
  • Creating Equity
  • Curriculum and Assessment Planning
  • Global Future Leadership
  • Change Leadership
  • Leadership Productivity Tools

Here is my favourite photo from the conference. The photo highlights three educators having fun learning together.

wels2

This post is multistructural because of all the lists and I must include that  we met Stephanie Thompson and her class. You can read Stephanie’s blog post about our visit.

steph

Summary

The three travellers had an amazing learning time and the dialogue that took place was incredible.

My list of takeaways from the conference

  • Keep pulling teachers to share their learning and water the flowers.
  • Keep up with my reflective writing.
  • Continue to have disruptive conversations
  • Look after myself better as a leader.
  • Keep up with global learning with the children.
  • Continue to gather evidence of children’s learning in disruptive ways.
  • Keep asking questions that are ungooglable

Critical friends

As an experienced educator I learnt from some of the best. One of which is my dear friend Patisepa Tuafuti and the other was Anne Saunokonoko.

Pati shows by her actions that she grows leadership. One of which is standing back. She would push me hard to do things well out of my comfort zone and then be there to celebrate with me when I ever did anything amazing. But again always in the background. She never takes credit for achievements and always focussed on the group success. I cannot count the number of times she has shared successes with me and often put me in the limelight. But really it is her driving force that has achieved the outcome.

The other is an old principal Anne. Anne would say, “when you are successful, we are successful so go for it Sonya.” When I would quibble at attending another professional development session particularly concerning ICT, she would remind me with, ” Its not what you get out of the session, but what you contribute.” Staff at my school will now hear me use the same words. At the end of most training or celebrations she would be there for me to recap with and she would gently nudge me into trying something else new. Now I would call that downloading and rewinding strategies with a critical friend as part of reflection.

I often observe presentations and watch who is hovering in the background like a mother hen. More recently with social media I observe who is broadcasting the success of their teachers. Yes that person could be at the front in the spotlight. But often you watch them hovering to ensure that the sessions go well and only step in when needed. They are there to help celebrate their teachers achievements and to be the person to recap with and help identify next steps.

At the same time we all need mentors. We all need someone we can download with and rewind our learning. We all need someone who helps us identify our next steps. Some schools use the term critical friends because often they ask the hard questions. They provide opportunities for staff to step up. They are the ones pulling the staff forward to take a jump into unfamiliar learning.

In your workplace, who do you identify as your critical friend? Who is the staff member who pulls staff hardest out of their comfort zone? Probably those of you who are reading this, it is you. If you are arrived via twitter or if you are from my school, then you are my one of my critical friends and you know me, I welcome discussion. Click below.

The term is nearly over

Reflection near the end of term allows me to sort out my thoughts and helps me make sense of the speed that sometimes happens in my thinking. This post is a way of sifting through how I am thinking.

 

Science

Science at Newmarket School has many links. The school has recently completed a science contract under the guidance of Susan Heeps. Last year Virginia Kung and her work with science was featured under the Future Focused Learning site.

During the recent #TeachMeetNZ meets #Science session Belinda Hitchman @BelindaHitchman from Newmarket School shared her work that was carried out in regards to using coding. She explained the links between understanding coding and understanding science. Recently I led a #scichatnz live twitter chat. You can read about the how the session was developed on a post on the Scichatnz blog.

The TeachMeetNZ meets Science session was a collaborative process between myself and Catherine Battersby from the Science Learning Hub. However what began as a duo chatting face to face soon became a full group of science educators making connections on twitter and google +, creating a presentation to share in a google hangout, learning and supporting each other with the tools, celebrating during and after the event and then sharing via a reflective blog post for the education community. As part of my collaboration with Cath I was interviewed by Melissa @NZScienceTeachr on behalf of the New Zealand Association of Science Educators. You can read that interview here.

Using Social Media for learning

My goal this year is to understand how social media works and so I have been investigating how everything links across platforms and how traffic is driven. I observed the TeachMeetNZ youtube channel with interest and was particularly interested in the way the channel took a spike during each session and then how this was sustained over a period of time after each event.. Through my online involvement  I stumbled across Thunderclap which is a social media tool that allows broadcasting across several social media sites at the same time. A thunderclap was activated to help broadcast the TeachMeetNZ Science session and also  to see how traffic was driven. In addition I set up tickets in Eventbrite and could identify the integrations that this site has with Facebook, Twitter and instagram. In addition, I have reactivated my Mailchimp account that has been dormant for a while as this allowed access to subscribers to events.

I used the TeachMeetNZ meets Science session to play with many of the social media tools.

 

TeachMeetNZ goal

Recently I had a discussion with Julie Lindsay and she asked me what my goals were for TeachMeetNZ. My  goal for TeachMeetNZ is for the process to continue to evolve. I have identified that my work with teachers and the site is moving into relation thinking using SOLOtaxonomy because each year I have had a teacher take on the task of hosting an event. Therefore other educators are making the link of the importance of teachers sharing their practice. A few other educators have indicated a willingness to host a session. So far I have had Tim Gander hosted a TeachMeetNZ meets PE, Steve Mouldey hosted TeachMeetNZ meets Geography and now Cath Battersby hosted TeachmeetNZ meets Science. Coming up there is a session for Samoan teachers and a session for Maori teachers. In October Matt Esterman has agreed to cohost with me again as we run a second ‘Across the Ditch’ TeachMeetNZ where we combine TeachMeetNZ with TMSydney.

The real goal of TeachMeetNZ is about educators making learning to network and make connections with each other outside their school bubble and having fun learning collaboratively.

 

Youtube as a vehicle for sharing continues to evolve and for the next topic focussed TeachMeetNZ  I recommend a drop in presenter numbers and having a larger support team. For example having a separate time keeper then enables me to move silently in the background and concentrate on cameras and sound. In addition having the twitter broadcaster join the hangout and even have a live blogger record the event in progress. It does take time to train a team, however the event quality is worth it. For the next subject specific TeachMeetNZ these recommendations will be put to the host because ultimately the session is for a teacher to practice reciprocity and help with coordinating and running the session.

 

Leaving a legacy

TeachMeetNZ is about teachers leaving a legacy for the education community. This can be in the way of twitter microblogging and being curated using storify, it is in the youtube clips, the slides that are made available to the community via the wiki, it is in the reflective blog posts that eventuate about the sessions and the process.

Where to Next: 

Currently  TeachMeetNZ educators create their own presentations on something they are passionate about. Each session is about bringing a group of educators together to make connections with each other online and to share their learning.

Using all of my own learning frameworks, I have identified that my next big step using youtube is all about collaboration. I am planning for teachers to work together and create an artefact like I learnt how when becoming FlatConnection Certified. Through the work I do with Pam Hook, I have identified networking to learn as thinking relationally because teachers working collaboratively together strengthens their understanding about making links with each other and with a topic.

If an artefact is co-created  then abstract thinking is extended. This was highlighted in the edbookNZ project that happened during Connected Educators month. The educators taking part informed me that they had more fun learning with each other during the process.

 

Teachers collaborating and networking to learn

So the edbooknz collaborative site is ready and I have put my hand up to organise and coordinate this during Connected Educator month in October. I will use all my learning around social media and educators to drive this years #edbooknz project. It will be wiki based so all learning will be public. This will drive extended abstract thinking because many educators come together, make links and cocreate a product in live time and with a realtime audience.

 

Final Question

Will you say yes to this collaborative opportunity? Will you allow your learning to be on display in real time? If you are keen to be one of the team leaders, then let me know.