July School Holidays

I have an exciting fortnight coming up. Soon it is the New Zealand school holidays. We have two weeks and it is the middle of winter. However at Newmarket School you would not believe what an amazing day we have. I am back at school on a beautiful Saturday to work on my upcoming presentations and to finalise ELL data for term three distribution of our in class support. Those of you who know me know I look after my aging parents and this past six months have been full on as they require more of my time.

So these two weeks coming up means I get a chance to have a break as my sisters step in to support me. They know how much I enjoy sharing our learning so have agreed to take over the care of my parents while I am away. My sisters support me daily with them but during this time they will be the primary support team.

Meanwhile I will be in Nelson, then Hamilton, Auckland for two days and finally I will visit Christchurch to make up for two days missed on the TPDL course that I am involved in this year.

Part of the NZALT preparation has included gathering artifacts to share. I have been working with my Thursday student Mandarin tutors who are helping me prepare my personal introduction in Mandarin. Yes it is really hard and they are tough on my pronunciation. On Monday our Mandarin dance group have agreed to perform for the school’s leadership assembly so I will have an example of that too. Of course SOLO Taxonomy continues to drive what I do and I am especially excited to be sharing SOLO Taxonomy and English Language Learners at CLESOL and at the PPTA Pasifika Fono.

As we race towards the end of the term our school has reporting to parents and of course the leadership week.

However I know that as crazy as it seems all my colleagues are in similar situations and are hanging out for some sleep ins, the chance to do some PD in their PJ’s and the chance to catch up with each other as we share what we do in our schools.

Do share what you are doing in that fortnight. I am particularly interested in those of you taking some time for mindfullness  and well being activities. This non contact time might also be a perfect opportunity to update that blog you have been meaning to do. Remember to use the #EdBlogNZ hashtag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I use SOLO

Definition and background

What is SOLO Taxonomy? SOLO is the Sustained Observation of Learning Outcomes. I was first introduced to this learning framework during my TESSOL diploma in 1997. I selected to present the work of Biggs and Collier during one of my earliest assignments. We had to present our learning in 5 minutes. A decade later I joined Newmarket School and the school was in the second year of an ICTPD contract with Pam Hook. I was incredibly lucky in my second year to oversee the contract therefore was able to have extra learning time with Pam. My understanding of SOLO was reactivated as we learnt how to use the HOT frames and rubrics.

I used the HookEd maps from Pam to identify where I was on my learning with using ICT with my students. Those who know me know that I am a technology geek and pride myself on getting fabulous work when I am working with children. When I used the frames to self asses where I was and what my next steps would be, I was shocked to learn that my outcomes were multistructural. In focusing on the product and what could be seen, I totally missed the process and reflection from my learners. So I made it a mission to plug this gap in my learning. Over the next year, I read around SOLO. I cyber stalked the work of Pam Hook. I reread the theory behind SOLO. I reread John Biggs and even talked to him via email. On twitter I started to identify teachers who were using SOLO and devouring everything I could. As I followed teachers particularly from overseas I could see the HookED SOLO Taxonomy maps and symbols in all that they were doing and all this led back to the work of Pam.

The rubrics

In gathering the overview for our school about SOLO I quickly identified who the strong teacher users were and one was Virginia Kung. I targeted Ginny for discussion and kept hounding her for feedback. Some of my best outcomes from children were framed using SOLO. Ginny would come in and observe and give me feedback. At the beginning of every session her first question was, ” Show me your rubric.” In my earlier teaching sessions I did not understand the importance of using the rubrics. Ginny still observes me and still has discussions with me and she still says at the beginning of every session, “Show me your rubric.” What the rubric does is clarify what you are looking for with your learners. It allows you to see the progression of your teaching. It highlights key words that jump out and if the children highlight these in their process and reflections and this helps drive identifying next steps and reflecting about what went went well. That learning has finally sunk in. I now always start with the rubric. In addition, if I am writing with the children, I have learnt to have a go first at writing out what I want to see from them. A good example of this is explaining what whānaungatanga is. First I would define whānaungatanga, then describe what it looks like at Newmarket School and make a list of school events that highlight the concept of whānaungatanga. Next I would explain what whānaungatanga means and then if we had an event that brought our school community together, I would evaluate if whānaungatanga was present and maybe identify what we needed to do next time to make the event even better at bringing people together to collaborate, share and celebrate. 

HOT maps and rubrics

In the earlier days I was hooked on using the HookED Hot maps. I pulled them all out, and displayed them on one wall of my teaching space. I aligned all the rubrics underneath them, stood back and tried to make sense of it all. Often early users get stuck on the defining and even the describing maps and cannot see past this part of SOLO. But by targeting a new map each term and learning how it works with the rubric, this drove my learning. For example I targeted the compare and contrast HOT map and used this to frame speech writing, Then I targeted analogy maps for creating new monsters that visited our school. I targeted the sequence map to frame a unit on electricity. Each time I pushed for reflections using teacher generated Rubrics. I then carried out a writing session using paddle crabs and I used describe maps and sequencing together and this is when I began to highlight the key words.

Reflections and extended abstract thinking.

Each time I targeted a new map I kept up the dialogue with Ginny. Over time whenever I saw Pam, I would share with her what I was doing and she would also stretch my thinking by asking probing questions about what I was doing. I looked forward to her visits because it was like self talk. As I reflected more on the process and I clarified my thinking, I could motivate my learners to do the same. I used an explanation map to deepen my own understanding of Matariki. When I worked with the children I pushed for an overall statement. But at that time I still did not see the triangulation of a statement reflecting on the process and sharing where to next.

My inquiry.

Last year I had Virginia as my appraiser. I deliberately asked for her for two reasons. Ginny can drive my thinking deeper and she always asks for visible evidence. That visible evidence is something I also drive with our teachers. This is my ongoing personal teacher inquiry.  ‘If I cannot see what you do, it doesn’t exist.‘ I have been pushing our teachers in curating their own learning via presentations, blog reflections, photo curation via Instagram, google and and micro blogging via twitter. As their skills develop, I also aim to see more learning happening using video. Our teachers’ own learning must be visible for a shift in pedagogy to happen. It is no longer enough to just have learning visible on classroom walls or sitting inside an appraisal folder.

My student inquiry

My own student inquiry centred around SOLO taxonomy and my TESSOL training.

Ginny being who she is asked me to prove the following statement and of course by now I knew to begin with the rubric. 

I wonder if what I know using SOLO taxonomy and the prior knowledge and training I have been through the best best practice for second language learners?

Some of what I have did was:

  • gathered student data before and after each team,
  • collated all that was happening in my students books,
  • took heaps of photos and scanned countless pieces of student evidence,
  • displayed the process on the wall with tags and allow the walls to be my think aloud,
  • microblogged some of what I have did via twitter,
  • wrote several blog posts reflecting on where I was up to and also to clarify some of my thinking,
  • published a piece about SOLO Taxonomy and how SOLO frames learning,
  • presented my inquiry to our Board of Trustees.
  • kept up the dialogue with Ginny.

SOLO Taxonomy and English Language Learners

I planned and co-wrote a book with Pam Hook. The initial idea freaked me out because those of you who know me well know how incredibly challenging I find writing and I am the first one to admit that I cannot spell. However I am always up for a challenge. I have never let my spelling skills hold me back. I always find a person with an eye for detail to help me by proof reading what I write. 

Pam framed up the book and I brought in our Newmarket School samples. Doing something on this scale allowed me to continually reflect on my pedagogy and to test ideas using research. Over the year I read what Pam framed up and I added statements, quotes and some references. We used Google Docs to work collaboratively. As I checked our Doc’s history I could see Pam beaver away continuously in the background. She did an amazing work on research and I am truly thankful at how special the writing has turned out. I can hear my voice as I continually stressed to her that everything I did with our children was not at the expense of their first language. We met once a term face to face over scrambled eggs and bacon and kind of debriefed. Those sessions helped motivate me to plan what I would do in the following term with our learners. During the final few months I gave Ginny and Wendy, our principal access to the doc and asked them for feedback. Even during the final edit we were all still making modifications.

My learning

During the process it was incredible exciting. Writing a book is like studying. Some of my best teaching happened when I was a TESSOL student. I liken this to research and practice all wrapped up together. So it is like addressing the why and the how of learning. I also knew the importance of gaining my principal Dr Wendy Kofoed and our Board of Trustees approval before undertaking something that involved our school, our teachers and our children. Wendy is so infectious when she says yes. Getting her approval helped spur me into action. As for our BoT, they asked me heaps of questions about my learning when I presented to them. Both gave approval.  I especially knew the importance of copyright and gained written parent permission to use their children’s image and work in the book. I had the letter translated into the three main home languages of our school. I learned that something like this is not a one person wonder but involves so many people. Even the product itself had a team of proofreaders, editors, designers and our publisher, Essential Resources. Personally I adore the cover and wished I could have had all our languages on it. But I am quietly happy to see our Pacific greetings take pride of place amongst the other dominant languages that are ESOL funded by our Ministry of Education.

Finally the thanks

I am cautious to thank anyone publicly by name and the important ones are already in the book. But I cannot finish without again thanking the amazing children that I teach and who teach me everyday. However I do have to finish by mentioning my two sisters. Kathie Phipps and Astrid Grobben. You know why and you know what you do for me. Your blunt honesty keeps me on track. In this post I want to thank Pam Hook too for giving me this amazing opportunity to share my practice in such a public way. 

Where to next

On Friday Pam and I have our book launch and this happens at our #NPSFab Newmarket School. We have not bought in any books to sell because the afternoon is really a celebration for us. However if you do want a copy, then here is the link on Essential Resources. You have the chance of purchasing both a print copy and an electronic copy. The electronic copy is totally in colour so looks especially amazing. The paper copy is in black and white and that smells and feels amazing. This year my inquiry centres more around my pedagogy and what exactly do I do that makes a difference. Of course SOLO Taxonomy is in there guiding me and of course Ginny is there prodding me. Pam is there too to hold a mirror to my practice.

Screenshot 2015-11-08 at 20.38.13

 

What am I learning? How is it going? What am I going to do next?

Teams are currently setting 2016 learning targets and I have been reading some of the targets set with interest because cognitive applied language proficiency plays an important part in achieving these targets. The year 3 & 4 teachers regularly see a fall in data and often I often hear discussion around the ‘why’. From my previous work as a Ministry of Education verifier I know that reading, writing and mathematics should be reasonably aligned. When I see several sub levels between the two I know straight away that some of the data pieces are incorrect. Also if earlier school data is not maintained then that earlier data has been gathered using student’s basic interpersonal skills. When they reach years 3 and 4, cognitive applied language proficiency becomes the learning norm and often our ELL children have just not YET achieved that in their second language of English.  

I keep reminding our teachers at Newmarket School of the chart from Thomas and Collier, 1997 that shows children learning English as a second language (L2). The chart shows the process from early production to advanced fluency can take from 5 to 7 years depending on their literacy levels in their home language. The best outcome is when children are able to learn through the curriculum in both languages or through full bilingual education. The challenge can be schools who believe that English only is the pathway for academic success and actively dissuade teachers and children from using their first language. There is a common belief that by immersing the learner in English only will accelerate the learner in their second language. However the longitudinal research proves otherwise.

That red thin line falling is one I see regularly.

collier

(Thomas and Collier, 1997)

The children often appear too high too soon in the early years. Then we see the fall and this usually happens after 3 to 4 years at school. What we should see is a gradual improvement with a goal of meeting benchmark by year 6. Then if that happens the children have a much better outcome in their following years.  I also regularly look at this chart to remind myself that the most effective way of learning English is in class and not necessarily when the children are withdrawn for specialist intervention. Finland have this strategy nailed when a second teacher is placed in the class to support with intervention. Notice I said teacher and not teacher support.

Most of our ELL children at Newmarket School learn in class with teacher support because that is where we are generally as an education system. We have some learners withdrawn for reading recovery, some for steps and some for intensive support with me if the children come from several classes and have similar literacy needs. Previously we have had other forms of literacy support, especially as we unpack our data against National Standards.

However the data I would be particularly interested in is when our children leave Newmarket School and what happens to them particularly at NCEA level 1 & 2. I look forward to seeing this happen because our school is part of the Community of Schools for 2016.

Our teachers at Newmarket School have asked for professional learning using SOLO taxonomy to advance writing. All our teams have set this as an inquiry goal for 2016 because our writing data continually appears mismatched against reading and mathematics. In additions some teams will work with emergent learners and have learning support with other students. This will take place in class and I am excited at seeing this change in teacher thinking. Myself I believe our writing data is the most realistic data and regularly remind our staff of our school’s student makeup. In April 2015, Newmarket school had 263 students on the school roll. 86 ESOL funded in the 2015 A round of funding. 74.60% of our children come from homes with another language spoken. Just under half of these are ESOL funded at 24.6% of the school roll. Currently we have 21 different languages at home. Our total Asian group has nearly doubled in the last 7 years from 43% in 2007 to currently 61.5% of our school role. Our biggest ethnic group is Chinese children who make up 28.2% of our school role.

SOLO Taxonomy background

What is SOLO Taxonomy? SOLO is the Sustained Observation of Learning Outcomes. I was first introduced to this learning framework during my TESSOL diploma in 1997. I selected to present the work of Biggs and Collier during one of my earliest assignments. We had to present our learning in 5 minutes. A decade later I joined Newmarket School and the school was in the second year of an ICTPD contract with Pam Hook. I was incredibly lucky in my second year to oversee the contract therefore was able to have extra learning time with Pam Hook. My understanding of SOLO became embedded in my practice. My earlier attempts at SOLO highlighted that I often focussed on the product and the outcomes of my students and gave little attention to the process. I believe that this has changed as I regularly step through the learning process with the children and have made this process visible.

Screenshot 2015-11-08 at 20.38.13This year, Pam Hook and I wrote SOLO Taxonomy English Language Learners, Making second language learning visible. Our book is now in the last stage before publishing.

I have been working alongside Pam for several years and she has been an amazing educator mentor for me. I think she just understands what I say and mean and regularly helps me clarify my thinking by asking probing questions. Several years ago, Pam suggested that we write a book together framed with SOLO and I baulked at the idea because I felt my learning with SOLO Taxonomy was in early stages.

However last year after Ginny and I had presented to a school who were asking how to use SOLO with second language learners, I decided that I was on track and went back to Pam and said I felt I was ready. Ginny pushes my pedagogy and is often quite straightforward in her honest feedback. She sometimes pulls me back in my thinking because I have missed a building block and highlights where I need to address the gap.

With that seed in mind, I began collecting artefacts that could be suitable. This year I fine tuned an idea about making the writing key words visible using colours. Before that I had the children highlighting words with whatever coloured felts that were available and were not dried out. My thinking wall was usually just a jumble of words hand scribbled on cut out cards as I clarified my thinking.

I am one of those teachers who puts something up and by looking at it daily, I can see where I need to develop or see what I still need to do. So my walls have been a hive of activity. Some school terms have seen better wall displays than others. My learning this year around teaching writing has been immense. My own writing has also developed and I have blogged much more. Teachers if you are reading this, bear the following in mind. If you want to teach writing and get results with writing then understand your own learning with writing.

 

I am really clear with description, explanation, sequencing, analogy, part whole thinking and  classifying. I can now see how to get to extended abstract thinking in SOLO Taxonomy and I can see the vocabulary that is required for this deeper thinking. This year I was hoping to nail extended abstract thinking. However on reflection I know that my own writing was still developing and currently sits mostly at relational thinking. Every so often I write something amazing and I hope to do so much more of that next year.

 

I created a list of words that help make writing visible against SOLO Taxonomy. Over the past few years this idea has grown and I have tested it out with my writers. This year I colour coordinated the list. and constantly used the same colours for the same key ideas and it has worked. Next year our teachers will be using similar ideas as they continue to unpack writing framed with SOLO Taxonomy. They will make writing visible and the best way that I have found to do this is using consistent colours.

 

 

wallSo if you are interested in writing and want access to this writing vocabulary list framed using SOLO Taxonomy then very soon our book will be available and this list is part of the package. If you want to know more about how I have unpacked my learning using SOLO Taxonomy and English Language Learners then again this book would be an ideal addition to your staff bookshelf.

Finally if you have high numbers of ELL students then again you will find this book of interest and value.

In addition next year Bridget Casse and myself are running a TeachMeetNZ meets SOLO Taxonomy session. I am super excited because Pam said she will also be involved. I will share the year I have had making my learning visible. I have convinced Virginia @ginnynz01 to be part of this Teachmeetnz. Over the next few weeks, our SOLO Taxonomy list of presenters will be available as we confirm presenters. The confirmed date is Saturday 16th of April at 2.00pm.

Follow me on twitter @vanschaijik and also Bridget @BridgetCasse. You can also watch Pam ‘s feed too @arti_choke. The hashtag is #TeachMeetNZ.

Writing framed with SOLO taxonomy

Untitled drawingIMG_1385

I have to share this piece of writing from one of my students. For this post, I will call him Jimmy. That is not his real name.

Jimmy is a 7 year old who has been with us since he began school. He has had several interventions including reading recovery but continues to lag in national data.

I chose to work with him this year because he has finished the other intervention and currently is not having any other form of withdrawal. He is also one of my ESOL funded students and my inquiry this year was to reflect on strategies I use for writing and to try something different. I know when I work with students I can accelerate their progress. I use SOLO taxonomy to frame the learning and I won’t change this strategy because I know how effective SOLO is for making learning visible for the students that I work with.

However it is what I chose to do with the students that is different. Whenever ever I withdraw my students I shudder at what is happening. I know from international research that withdrawal is the least effective strategy for my bilingual students. They are already on the back foot by trying to catch the moving target of National Standard Data. So withdrawal continues to put them on the back foot. If I do withdraw students it is because the numbers are spread across classes, As much as I can I try and work in class alongside the classroom teacher. This is the most effective strategy for working with bilingual children. I have seen this in action too first hand in Finland and we all know about the Finns and their NSD.

So for my current target group they are spread across two classes. They are all boys who have had reading recovery but are not maintaining their levels and that is an ongoing critcism I have had with reading recovery withdrawing bilingual children with no English. If I had my way with the system I would have them begin after being at school for two years and not when they turn six.

For this intervention I wanted to switch my boys onto writing. Usually, I would align my programme with what the children are doing in class so they are not missing out on learning by just doing language based activities. If the class are writing, then we are writing too. If the class are writing about ANZAC then we are writing about ANZAC too.

However for these boys I have chosen to try a different method.

First I had them list all the things they were interested in. I believed I would find a common theme between them. Well that did not happen. I uncovered a different passion in each student and found out that they all like drawing.  For ‘Jimmy’ it was Minecraft. To clarify how much he knew, I asked him to draw the main character from Minecraft. With my own beginning knowledge I knew it was Steve. So Jimmy drew Steve.

I told him that we would describe Steve and to do this we needed to list our ideas.

I then asked him to list everything he knew about Steve and I would help him. Using SOLO I knew listing is a multistructural out outcome and from my initial observation I knew this was not a difficult task to do. I gave him a piece of paper and asked him to list all he knew about Steve. When he was ready I gave him another colour and asked him to list all the tools that Steve used in Minecraft. Then he was given another piece of paper and asked to list all the monsters in Minecraft that he knew. Then a final piece to list why he liked Minecraft. Keep in mind I am not a Minecraft player. I have an account and have played the night time version only once.

In the follow up lesson Jimmy was given the task of writing up his first piece of paper. I changed the usual strategy for this too. I have often worked in our junior class and could see how challenging it was for the children to have their describe map stuck into their books and then they have to flick back and forth with their writing. So for my group I gave them a separate book for writing and used a different book for planning. This was to keep all the artifacts together and also so they can visually see their plan all the time. It is in front of them. A major challenge I know with children learning how to write in English is keeping the thought in their head. It is hard enough that we are asking them to write in another language but we are also asking them to think and keep the thought in their head long enough to get this down. I understood the importance of this strategy from the work we did last year with Anne Girven.

As Jimmy wrote down his thoughts, I could barely keep up with him. He wrote quickly. As he wrote I reminded him about the importance of ticking off his ideas. Again the writing professional development learning from last year. In two 30 minute lessons Jimmy wrote 4x pages.When it was time to come to me he would run to be the first into my session. He told me he loved writing. His draft was so raw and delightful I did not want to touch it and so I have not made any teacher edits. Unfortunately he became sick and so missed the next two sessions for editing. So his writing has remained untampered with teacher support. How often do we correct because that is how it is done? We don’t do it to their drawings so why do we do it to their writing? Correcting writers work has also been a real issue with me as a teacher. I am informed it is modelling but I know too from my own experience that until I am ready to make my own spelling changes then it isn’t going to happen. I am empathetic with emergent writers because my own writing is an ongoing challenge for me.

Afterwards in the next session I had him draw the monsters. Then I scanned this into the computer, imported the lined drawings into paint and he dumped colour into them. I learned this little trick from our work with Ant Sang a graphic artist.

Jimmy wanted to come back at lunchtime to work with me. I had to turn down his kind offer because I had other student commitments. I did suggest that he return and work in my room while I worked with other students. This he did.

He missed the self publishing part so I typed up his story for him while he read it out. In the published story I corrected all his inventive spelling and left his initial draft in its current state. I used presentation to do this and then imported the graphics in.

Finally I printed off his home copy and I sent him to receive a principal’s sticker from Dr Kofoed.

Where to next?

For me as a teacher, I was surprised at the relational thinking coming through strongly in his writing. I was aiming for a multistructural outcome but this piece of writing is definitely relational. I will get him to identify and highlight all the relational thinking words that he used to link his ideas.

Because the learning intention is to describe Steve, I will have him rephrase the last paragraph about why he liked Minecraft to what is special about Steve. At this stage of the intervention, I am uncertain if I can push extended abstract thinking but think I can start to develop the early sentence structure to include an I believe statement.

For my next session I will introduce the relational words and the describe rubric and explain how both will help them with their next piece of writing. The decision I have is do I continue to write about topics that interests the boys or shall I focus on the writing that is happening in class? I have identified a commonality with this group of boys and that is a love of cartoons. So maybe I should create a collaborative comic with them.

I spent the afternoon with my SOLO mentor who encouraged me to display the process. I am not the best at making things look pretty for the wall and usually just throw things up. As much as I can I like the children to see too that my own handwriting continues to develop and so they see my handwriting in its raw state. So if you see my writing, that is the writing that the children see too. What I do try and do is make it legible ad I even do this for my modelling books. Several of our children still write with a pencil so if they write with a pencil I also write with a pencil/felt.

For more information about SOLO Taxonomy visit. http://pamhook.com/

Defining TeachMeetNZ

TMNZ key word image (1)TeachMeetNZ is a professional learning community and environment that provides asynchronous and synchronous opportunities for New Zealand teachers to connect, collaborate, create and celebrate with other educational professionals beyond their own school communities.

First teachers build professional relationships by making connections with each other on twitter and google +.

Then they collaborate together as they learn from and with each other on how to use Google Presentation, Google Hangout, Slideshare and other online presentation tools for sharing their work.

Next they create a nano presentation and share an education story, a critical inquiry or an idea that has impacted on personal practice. This presentation is shared with a current cohort where critical feedback is given and received. The practise sessions are recorded using Google Hangout for personal viewing to help with identifying areas of self improvement.

After that teachers celebrate the learning process in a three minute ‘nano’ presentations that TeachMeetNZ curates allowing teachers to leave a learning legacy for the benefit of other educators globally.

Finally a critical reflection including links to professional literature is written and shared with the education community via a blog where again feedback is given and received.

Overall TeachMeetNZ supports teachers professional learning and builds capabilities. Ultimately I  believe that a visibly learning teacher benefits students learning and student achievement. ‘Every child deserves a teacher that never stops learning.’ Something amazing happens when a group of educators connect, collaborate, create and celebrate together. That is TeachMeetNZ.

Flat Connections Global Educator


Yuss!! My Flat Connections Global Educator certificate arrived on the last day of 2014 via @julielindsay. I was thrilled to receive it.


What an incredible journey I have had with Julie. Beginning early in 2013 when I was planning my global journey to visit educators around the world. I was able to deviate slightly from my travels and begin in Hawaii because Julie was running a session for global educators face to face. There I worked with a group of total strangers who after one day became friends. We had a lot of fun learning with and from each other.


Then early this year, I heard she was on her way to New Zealand to present as a spotlight speaker at the Google Apps for Education Summit that several of our staff attended from Newmarket School. We caught up briefly before the summit and I attended one of her sessions and again was totally inspired with how she ran a face to face session and was able to motivate so many teachers to collaborate and co construct learning.


Next I spotted her call for interested applicants for the Flat Connections Global Educator accredited course but at the time was feeling a little swamped with all that I had undertaken. So thought I would leave it for another year. However a change in circumstances allowed me the opportunity of joining this round.


Those of you who know me and have worked with me know that there is not much I am unable to do in an online setting. However taking on this challenge was an amazing experience.


I have learnt so much not just with Julie but with my peers in the same cohort. They were @julieswords1 @AnnRooney6 @mblanrun @BonnieHermawan.
By taking on the challenge of taking part with other like minded educators I was stretched in my thinking about online collaboration, I was stretched in my technical skills and I was stretched in time management.


“The Flat Connections Global Educator course aims to provide educators at all levels (K-12, Tertiary/Pre-service, Teacher educators) with resources and skills to go global! This includes how to introduce and sustain global learning into your curriculum as well as how to join and complete, design, implement and manage a global collaborative project. Focus is on connected and collaborative learning using Web 2.0 and other technologies. Weekly workflow and regular assignments and challenges provide pathways for teachers to build confidence to interact globally and to bring opportunities to their schools and classrooms.”


Most of my thinking is underpinned by SOLO Taxonomy and I was excited to be able to step through my SOLO thinking and apply it to Global Learning. A lot of what I have achieved I had previously identified as extended abstract thinking and at that time seemed just out of reach.


Some of the success I have had this year can be contributed to SOLO Taxonomy framing and being activated by the #FlatConnect learning that I had been exposed to. These success included my most popular blog post when one assignment called for a blog post about Global Digital Citizenship and having others comment on it. Another success was setting up a padlet to encourage delegates attending our Uearn presentation to ask questions. A further success was a collaboration with #TMSydney and #TeachMeetNZ and identifying challenges when attempting a project between two countries. In addition I was inspired with a crowdsourcing idea and created the framework for a nation wide educators digital book.


When working with my colleagues to complete collaborative and co constructed artefacts I was able to understand the challenges I will face when I work with children along the same ideas.  


During the 10 week course I was exposed to new ways of communicating, learned new technical vocabulary, comprehended the importance of actively taking part, left evidence of what I had achieved, reflected on my learning, gave and received feedback from my colleagues and was responsible for my own learning. I devised my own way of coping with what was asked of us.


I learnt how to use new tools and revisited old tools but in a different way. A highlight was coordinating a Google Hangout with my colleagues.
 
Where to next as an accredited Flat Connections Global Educator? I am looking for interested educators to join us online at Newmarket School as we lead a Global Project for The initial idea of this project is exploring getting to school safely with a focus on health benefits and turning city planning around – not just keeping pedestrians safe but building cities for pedestrians. So if you are interested in being part of my first Flat Connect Project, then do make contact via twitter @vanschaijik.


Each of the following education documents stresses the importance of working beyond the classroom in a connected and collaborative way.


The United Nations Secretary-General launched the five-year Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) in September 2012 to accelerate progress towards the Education for All. See more at: http://www.globaleducationfirst.org/about.html#sthash.KC6E7cxb.dpuf


The New Zealand Ministry of Education put out a report from Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye’s 21st Century Learning Reference Group titled Future Focussed Learning in connected communities. This report highlights the importance of understanding Global connections and learning as an educator.


The New Media Consortium states that   ‘young learners need skills to analyze information,
communicate effectively, and collaborate in global environments to solve complex problems.’ under Complex Thinking and Communication.


So if you and your school are looking at a system already set up that helps align the learning at your school with Global Focussed Education then I encourage you to seriously think about joining one of the Flat Connetion’s global projects that run each year.  If your school is serious about teachers understanding Future Focussed Learning in Connected Communities then I encourage teachers to join in and work on their Flat Connection Global Educator Certificate.


For more information you can contact Julie Lindsay directly.
Start with this portfolio website – http://about.me/julielindsay
You can connect with Julie via

CENZ14

Connected Educator Month has been and gone here in New Zealand.
The vision of the New Zealand team was for educators to strategically access, collaborate and share across national & global networks to inform schooling designed around students’ needs and strengths.



As I look back over the past few years, this is the third year that  I have been part of Connected Educator Month. In 2012, I was lurking and watching what was happening via @JulieLinday’s tweets. In 2013 I lead a Global Chat Sharing Stories of our Global Connections with #GlobalClassrooms. I attended a few online sessions run using Blackboard Collaborate.

At Newmarket School I am conscious of giving our teachers and our students the same opportunities that I have been a part of. So as I read the Ministry of Education Future-focused learning report, and Core Education 10 Trends in particular Trend 8: Global connectedness I am looking to 2015 and have identified how we can ‘effectively connect, communicate, collaborate and co-create across classrooms.’ I have been given the task of designing an EFL experience for learning using a global focus and I am excited at the possibilities. I have been learning so much from the #FlatConnect course and credit Julie for exposing my thinking to ideas that I had not even thought of. I will be using some of those ideas in my design. 
At SOLOtaxonomy design is extended abstract thinking. I am thankful that I have been part of Connected Educator Month and have created learning opportunities for teachers because now I can bring those ideas back and inform my school and design the learning opportunities for our staff and children based on their needs and strengths to connect and collaborate at a global level.
This year Karen Melhuish Spencer @virtuallykaren approached me and asked if I was interested in aligning one of the TeachMeetNZ sessions into the Connected Educator Month. I already knew about Connected Educator Month so of course I said yes and I would run the first session earlier in the month than I had initially planned. I then agreed to coordinate and run two events as I was sure that Matt Esterman  of #TMSydney  would join me because we have been speaking for a while about a combined TeachMeet event. The third event which was a collaborative book project was not really planned. However the work I have been doing with Julie Lindsay  around teachers working together on a collaborative project was the incentive I needed to say ‘Let’s do this.’ As a SOLO taxonomy educator I am aware of where I need to go next with what I do online so the book project was like the beta test.

So those were the three events I committed to for October. At the same time because of my teacher inquiry, I was working with staff who were preparing for their first ULearn presentation. In addition Wendy and I agreed to work together and co-present using my inquiry as the springboard for the presentation. But ULearn14 was only one of three events that my principal and I prepared and shared at. The second was sharing for the Springboard Trust and the third being part of the collaborative educators team who wrote the #EdBookNZ.


Highlights for Connected Educator Month are all listed below.
But what you can see is the product.

I know Pam Hook  and Virginia Kung  would say to me, “Where’s the rubric Sonya?” and “The process is more important.” and ‘How has your thinking changed?”  I am also really conscious of not allowing this reflection to just being a multistructural description. So if you are reading this, then please respond below as this allows me to think more at a relational level.


So where to next for me.
“Politeness is the poison of collaboration,” said Edwin Land. My collaborative friend Bridget Casse  was prodding working with me as we wrote the chapter on connected educator blog post. I was more excited in the working document. The challenging discussion was stimulating and thought provoking.
So thinking along the learning of #flatconnect I would have each collaborators work on a wiki page next time. This allows the interested educators to see the process. We could use an unlocked google doc too, however am unsure of how secure the history would be and how long it is archived. If I was working with children under 14, I would probably use Edmodo because it is a more like a walled garden for our children.

Acknowledgement
Thanks to all the amazing educators who took part, supported, proof read, gave feedback, broadcasted etc to the events below. Special thanks to the staff at Newmarket School who have joined in and are sharing their learning. Special thanks to Wendy the head learner who is willing to walk the talk, special thanks to Karen who was visible in all the events and to Julie for my global learning. To my SOLO mentors Pam and Ginny none of this would happen without your ongoing disruptive thinking.

https://www.smore.com/t5yjg-connected-educator-month?embed=1