Defining Task-based language teaching

 

Part 1 of my reading log for EDPROFST 360 

Course Director and Lecturer: Dr. Constanza Tolosa

Write answers to the following questions after you have read the reading you have chosen.

  1. According to the author, what is a task-based approach to language teaching?
  2. In what ways does the author claim that task-based language teaching is superior to more traditional ways of language learning? What are the benefits of this approach to language teaching for language learning?
  3. Write a personal response to the author’s claims where you give your reaction to the ideas presented.
  4. Suggest ways in which the content of what you have read could be applied in your language classroom.

Reading Chosen

Ellis, R. (2009). Task-based language teaching: Sorting out the misunderstandings. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 19 (3), 221-246.

Defining Task Based language teaching (TBLT)

Task Based language teaching (TBLT) is an approach to teaching a second/foreign language that seeks to engage learners in interactionally authentic language using the target language by having them perform a series of tasks. TBLT aims to both enable learners (1) to acquire new linguistic knowledge and (2) to proceduralize their existing knowledge.  Teachers need to understand that TBLT involves input-providing as well as out-put prompting tasks and that it is possible to build up proficiency initially through a series of simple input-based tasks.

Task

Central to TBLT is that word task, and teachers must have a clear understanding about task by providing opportunities for communication. There is is no single ‘task-based teaching’ approach. Task can be focused or unfocused and can be identified by the following four key precepts of Task.

First the primary focus for TBLT should be on ‘meaning’ by which is meant that learners should be mainly concerned with processing the semantic and pragmatic meaning of utterances.

Then there should be some kind of ‘gap’ with a need to convey information and to express an opinion or to infer meaning.

Next learners should largely rely on their own resources whether it is linguistic and or non-linguistic in order to complete the activity.

After that there should be a defined outcome other than the use of language because the language serves as the means for achieving the outcome, not as an end in its own right.

These key precepts of tasks central to TBLT is superior to more traditional ways of language learning because TBLT is capable of providing much greater exposure to the target language than traditional language teaching. Task allows the students to communicate for a real purpose to achieve success criteria. The tasks need to be trialled to ensure that they result in appropriate L2 use and revised in the light of experience. Therefore in practice attention is drawn to as the name suggests, the Task.

Advantages of TBLT

Task-based learning is advantageous to the student because it is more student-centered, allows for more meaningful communication, often provides for practical extra-linguistic skill building and are likely to be familiar to the students such as visiting the doctor.

  1. Task-based language teaching offers the opportunity for ‘natural’ learning inside the classroom.
  2. TBLT emphasizes meaning over form but can also cater for learning form.
  3. TBLT is intrinsically motivating therefore students are more likely to be engaged, which may further motivate them in their language learning.
  4. TBLT is compatible with a learner-centred educational philosophy but also allows for teacher input and direction by allowing the learner to pick out the language to use for the task.
  5. TBLT caters to the development of communicative fluency while not neglecting accuracy.
  6. TBLT depends on the purpose of the activity and can be used alongside a more traditional approach.
  7. TBLT develops communicative abilities.

The role of the teacher for TBLT

Teachers need to be clear in their understanding of what a task is and to be aware of the purpose and rationale for performing tasks. Developing task materials allows teachers to tailor the task to the proficiency levels of their students.

Applying the principles of TBLT In my current practice of teaching Mandarin.

In my current practice of teaching Mandarin I am already using several principles of TBLT. However I had not unpacked it to the depth that I am currently doing. I am a new learner of Mandarin and I use songs and simple children’s poems when focussing on form. My current class has a large proportion of Mandarin speakers and I use them to help with extensive L2 input. Initially they supported me with form and L2 input with the other children. I am already taking into account the individual differences of my learners by grouping the students according to ability. From other readings would like to trial grouping mixed ability children so that more experienced speakers can help emergent speakers.

Where to next

I will develop language teaching activities with a primary focus on meaning as I have been focusing only on form. I will aim to provide more opportunities for group and paired activities that enable my learners to pick out the language for the task.

When I highlight the 10 principles I can see that I have taken formulaic expressions to mean my learning of the expressions but have omitted my students learning them too. In order to understand what a task is and understand what is required of the learner to understand communicative messages I have begun the process of providing tasks and activities to focus on output. I have identified that I need to examine free use of language as well as controlled production because activities have shown that such tasks are effective both for practising managing and facilitating students’ performance of tasks in TBLT.  For my new task I have made decisions around both design and methodology. I have sequenced the tasks using the three phases of pre task phase, task phase and post task phase. For the pre task phase my learners sing the Mandarin colour song that has already been taught. We recap on the colours by holding up a colour block as the colours are called out. For the task phase I have developed a resource using the images from the simple PM reader called Sally’s leaves.  I have added a question and answer component to the story using formulaic phrases of  asking the question, ‘Where is the red leaf?’ Then responding with, ‘Here is the red leaf.’ My learners will group in threes to discuss and practice the patterns that they can see and hear. For the final two slides, I will leave out the formulaic expressions but will leave in the colours of the leaves. For the post task phase I have created another resource that has the coloured leaves with the words. Included are the two formulaic phrases. My learners will work in pairs to practice asking and answering the questions. The task I have created for learning has an element of natural language use.

 

Understanding my impact

Inferencing Bitmoji

I oversee our English Language Learners progress at Newmarket School.

I monitor their progress against National Standards carefully. At the year 5 and 6 level I have a particular interest in seeing how they are achieving. If the children have been with us since they were 5, I know we should see a greater alignment with children in their cohort. However if children have come to us after they are five years old, then what I do is highlight where they are and watch that progress too against the time they have been in a New Zealand school.

Yes as a school we do report students progress using ELL reports to their parents using the English Language Literacy progressions. However we still gather data on them against National Standards to watch their progress against mainstream children.

Together with my principal I have set my inquiry goal. A a school we are focussing on writing. I have adjusted my goal and removed the writing focus because I did a lot of that last year and I know that from previous inquiries, as the year progresses this goal will become firmer. I also have reflected and believe that other language inputs and outputs are just as important such as speaking and listening and reading and have an effect of writing.

By the end of September I will have trialled three visible learning  interventions for ELL and then through data analysis ascertain the effect size of the interventions so that the most effective strategies can be applied to accelerate the progress of  targeted ELL students.  

Discuss Strategy not content

In my two major intervention groups for this term, I chose year five and six children for a targeted reading intervention. Even within this group I had some adjustments. Three weeks into the session I noticed two students moving very fast with comprehension. The evidence was from observation of them discussing the text with their peers and the way they could quickly move through the three levels of comprehension and justify their responses. Therefore I swapped them out and brought in two other students from the class itself that were at the same level and also needed the same strategies.

So overall I had 8 children. I wrote about them before and the targeted three level guide strategy I would implement.

Evaluate the effect of my teaching on my student’s learning and achievement.

This week after all reading testing was completed I checked the data. Out of my original eight students, yes I achieved my initial goal of seeing them all move up one reading level this term. I had two students continue with that accelerated progress and move up several levels. So much so that they can now be ‘probed.’ I look forward to catching up with their reading asTTle data when they are completed entered. Reading asTTle  will be the second piece of evidence to confirm my findings. From my data I can see the children who need to be on my target list because they are not making the accelerated progress I do expect at this level. Two of them have had every kind of intervention thrown in. Sometimes I do wonder if we interfere too much with natural learning. They have had reading recovery at 6 years old. ( I believe this is too soon for our ELL students and wish we could defer this until they are seven years old.) They have had steps intervention. They have had some RTLit intervention. They have had someone in class that they read to every day.

Not just scores on tests.

However Hattie reminds me that it is not just test scores. He is so right. With my targeted group. I have made positive relationships with the children. I showed them their last score. I gave them their historical data charts at the start of the term and together we set goals. I told them I believed in them and I know they can achieve this. As Hattie said, ensure that the goals were not too hard and not too easy. Their initial goals included retelling what they read in their own language at home, drawing the main idea, pointing to the answer in the text or pictures. Aim for one level higher by the end of the term. These achievable goals were easily achieved. Overall I believe that as a teacher I understood clearly what the students knew already and by studying the reading progressions on TKI I clarified what they needed to work on. I made these comprehension strategies as visible as I could by using images and text. This time I also used part one school journals. So yes I chose texts that were a year beyond their turquoise reading level. But each time I chose articles, stories with settings and contexts that may or may not be outside the student’s’ prior knowledge but they could still relate to them. There was a mix of explicit and implicit content. I thought too that they have probably read everything at Turquoise level because several students had been sitting at this level for far too long. A strategy I learnt too from a previous inquiry was that when student make connections with what they read even if the text was harder than what they were capable of, they were able to shift in their scores.

What success looks like.

I showed the student what success looks like as they began the task. I showed them students at year two who could speak their language reading at and above what they were reading and have the children tell them some of the strategies they used. The regular one was that the successful younger children read every day and retold the story to family members in their own language. I showed the targeted students class members who were their age reading at and above in national standards. These children shared their strategies. The main one was reading everyday for pleasure and information.

Create climate of trust to fail.

I used the three level guides for this section. Between the text and beyond the text, there was no right or wrong answer. The power was in the discussion and in listening to each other. The children also worked regularly in pairs and if they spoke the same language then I encouraged them to have the learning discussion in their language. Comprehension is comprehension, whatever the language of learning. I believe this encouragement of valuing first language helped create the climate of trust.

The learning strategies used.

Teach the learning strategies and provide lots of coaching to reduce that gap of where they are to where they want to be. The children parroted the learning strategies daily. They drew what the strategies looked like. They gave examples in child speak of evidence when they performed the strategy. For one lesson weekly I had the children write down the strategy they were learning and explain what it was in their own words. They include a drawing of what this looked like.

Maximise teacher feedback

I provided piles of feedback and information and gave the student plenty of opportunities to practice to increase their standard and  to reduce their gap.

I stressed the importance of knowing lots of stuff and moving on to extend those ideas and make connections. As the children discussed, I would say things such as.

  • I loved the way you used because… such as…  to extend your ideas.
  • Whoah you used the word if…then  to make connections.
  • Hey … I heard your compare your ideas because I heard you say different…same… is like.
  • When you retold what you read,  I could hear you used sequencing words Then, Next, After Finally.

Using three level guides I was able to have the children know and understand surface details before unpacking making connections using between and beyond the text strategies.

Demonstrate the impact that I am having.

One way of doing this is by ensuring my walls are up to date. I use my walls as think aloud spaces. The children went up to our principal and showed her their progress and with no coaching were able to easily answer her questions. I will also create a sketchnote to highlight the strategies I used.

To finish this term with me, I had a reading around how rice is grown. Each of the students eat rice so of course we finished with a rice celebration. I bought in cooked rice and some general ingredients and the students made a dish from their country. I also made a dish from Samoa. Together we shared what we made and made a special connection. Of course the children wanted to share some with their class teachers and so they did.

Hattie states that the success and failure of my students learning is about what I do and don’t do. Two of the children I picked up part way through have had a lot of intervention. Initially I hesitated to bring them in because of this. From this inquiry and after further discussion with my principal I highlighted ELL children who I believe are not making the desired progress. Maybe like when they were earlier readers, I should have monitored their home reading better with a notebook. Even though they did not shift in data I believe they have a better understanding of what inferencing is.

Where to next

I gave the children a bag of journals to read over the holidays because I want to ensure that they do not slide back. This is a strategy I have learnt to do also from a previous inquiry.

I will show them adults from their own culture who are successful who love to read. I will do that next term and have already made connections and plans via social media.

Some of the children did not have a language buddy. I had a Farsi and a Cantonese speaker who did not have a language buddy. However my Korean, Japanese,Mandarin and Hindi speakers did. I had carried out a phonological awareness test with the children but did not do a follow up. I will do that next term too when I retest them after the holidays.

Reference

Hattie, J. (2015). What doesn’t work in education: The politics of distraction. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://visible-learning.org

Literacy Progressions. (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2016, from https://sites.google.com/a/matata.school.nz/literacy-progressions/

Masters, D. (n.d.). Visible Learning; know thy impact. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://visiblelearningplus.com/content/know-thy-impact-4-questions-help-you-pin-down-what-children-are-really-learning

New Zealand Ministry of Education (n.d.). The Structure of the Progressions. Te Kete Ipurangi. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://www.literacyprogressions.tki.org.nz/The-Structure-of-the-Progressions

Van Schaijik, S. (2015). Innovative Learning.  Edbooknz terms 2015. 44-65. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from https://issuu.com/ulimasao/docs/edbooknz_terms_2015

Visible Learning. (2014). John Hattie’s Eight Mind Frames For Teachers. Accessed April 23, 2016, from  http://visible-learning.org/2014/08/john-hattie-mind-frames-teachers/

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.

Global Digital Citizenship


The most important variable in collaboration is people. I keep coming back to the phrase that before collaboration can take place people need to make connections. Dr Wendy Kofoed and myself are presenting this very topic at Ulearn.  If you have questions for us you can add them here to our Q &  A Padlet.
Over the past two months, I have been making connections with three groups of educators as part of Connected Educator Month. I have been practising digital citizenship. I have been struggling to make sense of digital citizenship because I believe that citizenship is a strong enough word on its own. Why do I need to add digital in front of it to make it something other than what it is. I want to present this idea at my final Eduignite series where I hope by then my thinking is clearer. Monika @BeLchick1 has agreed to take on the challenge defining Citizenship as part of our #EdBookNZ project and I will be catching up with her soon to find out what she has been reading about on this very idea. Myself I agreed to work on connected educator and you can read about my thinking on connected educator here

In September I joined the second cohort of the Flat Connections Global Educators under the guidance of Julie Lindsay @julielindsay I am aiming to become a certified global educator by the end of this year. The outcome of that would be that I have led a global project and I would have worked with a group of #FlatConnect educators from around the world. I have taken part in several global projects and hence why I coordinate #TeachMeetNZ because here in New Zealand we are in still in the infancy stages of having our teachers working together nationally on national projects. Like the teachers blogs that have surfaced, evidence shows we are still in the early stages of collaboration. I have started to see some evidence of our teachers taking part in global projects with their classes but again I can count that on two hands. Some of that work you can see when I run the second TeachMeetNZ session this month as part of connected educator month.

Already I have adapted the work I do online with #TeachMeetNZ to align better with what I am learning. On reflection I know I have not given enough opportunities for the teams I work with each quarterly to make connections and to get to know each other. This is called a handshake activity. Therefore for this connected educator month I have set up a padlet for my handshake activity because I would like to implement what I am learning.
The first collaborative assignment involves Digital Citizenship –concept and practice? I am working with Ann Rooney @AnnRooney6 and you can read her blog post here on her current thinking around this. Julie gave us the term and a few guidelines as to how to go about carrying out the assignment and the rest is up to us.

So the first thing I do when I am writing is to activate a SOLO Taxonomy rubric and I have chosen an analogy map to help clarify my thinking. You can activate your own rubric from Pam Hook’s site. Virginia Kung, my SOLO  mentor at school  will be proud because that is always the first question she asks me, “Where is your rubric, Sonya?”
From the four years I have been using SOLO taxonomy in my teaching and learning I know that first step is to define my key idea.
So here goes. 

What is Digital Citizenship?
I am reflecting on citizenship through: all those online and offline experiences; conversations shared over scrambled eggs and bacon and through the screen; and books read online and by turning the paper pages.
Pam Hook – Personal Communication over scrambled eggs and bacon breakfast at Altar Mt Eden 3rd October 2014
“Any action that makes a positive difference to the common good can be construed as an act of citizenship. Enabling students to think critically about their own lives and society as a whole is a powerful way of making citizenship visible to them. To develop what Hayward (2012) refers to as a democratic imagination, motivation and involvement, students need a context where they have a voice and feel like they belong, matter and can make a difference. A context where they can value, and act in ways that promote, community and participation for the common good. A context where they can experience agency and demonstrate the rights and responsibilities they have as citizens.” Hook (2014 in Press) – Transport as a context for encouraging skilled and active citizenship) Pam Hook is writing about using the road as a commons – a shared space – as a context for citizenship but her arguments can just as easily be conceptualised through the use of digital technologies.
Pam’s question is: How might we build students’ democratic imagination, motivation and involvement as “digital citizens”?
At breakfast Pam talked about the different types/categories of citizenship – and how these might be helpful in thinking about building digital citizenship – referencing the work of Westheimer and Kahne http://democraticdialogue.com/DDpdfs/WhatKindOfCitizenAERJ.pdf
She asked what each of these might look like in  the context of digital citizenship.  We talked about how these categories might be expressed by students and educators – 

We think it might look something like this (draft thinking only).

Personally responsible citizens:
Participatory citizens:
Justice oriented citizens:
act responsibly
obey rules and laws
volunteer
take skilled and active role in groups that work for the common good
know effective strategies for collaborative action
seek social justice, equity, human rights and moral rightness
take skilled action for social change
know effective strategies for changing existing practice
Newmarket School
Curriculum connection:
Not Self But Service- Newmarket’s first Motto
Newmarket School Curriculum connection: Student Leadership Programme at Newmarket School
Newmarket School Curriculum connection:
Students taking on a glocalisation project to benefit our local environment.
EG:I would like to see here what we are doing to minimise traffic around our inner city school.
Digital citizen example:
Educators volunteer to take part in an online project where they act in ways that will benefit others.
An example here would be the GlobalClassroom chats I have hosted and co-hosted on a variety of topics.
Digital citizen example:
Educators take a skilled and active role in a group that hosts and or organises online projects for the benefit of others.
An example here would be the #EdChatNZ conference that has taken place recently
Digital citizen example:
Educators experience a form of context collapse – and exercise “pedagogical activism” to understand whose voices are amplified – and whose voices are muted or not heard. They work to include in the conversation those whose are excluded by the process and or the technology that enables online projects  – They ask what are the unforseen consequences of online projects – e.g. Postmans questions – who is advantaged – who  disadvantaged and who remains unaffected by online projects – and then they work to find clumsy solutions to address this
eg: where are the Pasefika educators hiding online. I plan to host a TeachmeetNZ totally in Samoan as part of Samoan Language week in 2015.
Digital citizen example:
Students taking part in the Skoodle Badge system (or equivalent) – or using SOLO rubrics for blog commenting – learning how to behave online for the common good
(A teacher has just created a badge system for her class.)
Digital citizen example:
Students setting up a FaceBook group to support other students in their year group – course – church or social group
Digital citizen example:
Educators and students  develop knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours about and for
·       technology access, 
·     technical awareness, 
·     individual awareness
·       social awareness
·       cultural awareness
·       global awareness for personally responsible citizen outcomes  
Educators and students  develop knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours about and for
·       technology access, 
·     technical awareness, 
·     individual awareness
·       social awareness
·       cultural awareness
·       global awareness for personally responsible citizen outcomes  
Educators and students  develop knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours about and for
·       technology access, 
·     technical awareness, 
·     individual awareness
·       social awareness
·       cultural awareness
·       global awareness for personally responsible citizen outcomes  


Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time 

Part of purchasing the course book gives me access to further online resources including access to a glossary and this is what this is what I found on Pearson’s resource site.
Digital Citizenship is the ‘Norms of online behaviour. A person practising effective digital citizenship understand the technology and can relate his or her behavioural choice according to social cultural and global norm.’ 

I am not sure if ‘norms’ necessarily captures citizenship – what it is to work for the common good. Couros suggests that – ‘Digital Citizenship needs to concern itself much more with social responsibility and social learning than is currently being addressed.’ Dr Alec Couros  Flattening Classrooms. Engaging Minds, Pg 97
The observations by Couros are supported by the conversations with Hook – see above.
When educators are connected to resources and create learning environments to help students form educated opinions and behaviours for online safety they are acting as citizens – acting in ways that promote the common good. 

There are five areas in which personally responsible, participatory and justice oriented citizens can act to promote the common good in and with online environments. These are: technology access, technical awareness, individual awareness, social awareness, cultural awareness and global awareness. From Flattening Classrooms. Engaging Minds Chapter 5, Citizenship, In the enlightened digital citizenship model. I will take these terms in turn and use them to better understand what I do when I act as a participatory citizen with TeachMeetNZ. (refer ticks in grid below). I note that there are other elements that can be addressed. So already I can see how to make what I do online even better.

Type of citizenship
technology access
technical awareness
individual awareness
social awareness
cultural awareness
global awareness
personally responsible citizen
participatory citizen
justice oriented citizen


Technology Access: Tools for Collaboration. In order for collaboration to take place the educators that I work with must have access to Asynchronous Communications such as twitter, and google+ communities and via gmail because we are using a google product. Communication takes place asynchronously in that the participants do not generally communicate concurrently. However when we move to the live streamed event, we use synchronous tools such as google hangout and even twitter. Therefore communication takes place in real time. When the session is over we move back to asynchronous communications such as twitter, a blog reflection and commenting on each others blog and a wind back of the hangout via youtube. The  educators that I work with develop their presentations using a communication conduit such as google presentation and the group wiki through which ideas flow between themselves and me on their presentation. I can see their slides develop as they are being built and can give feedback. The communication conduit happens too via the google + community and via twitter where we use the #TeachMeetNZ. I have added a facebook page too but at this stage I still find twitter the best place to pass messages through. 


Five areas of awareness

This next part of my reflection involves walking the educators through the process of the TeachMeetNZ sessions and their learning framed with the five areas of awareness that develop as their online learning unfolds.The first term is technical awareness. Educators are faced with a new tool such as using google hangout to present their learning. They generally have a basic awareness of the features and functions of Google Hangout. Many of the educators I work with are also new to wikis and presenting on #teachmeeetnz is usually the first time that they have created a presentation that is Asynchronous.

Next Individual awareness evolves as the educator decides how they will create their slides for sharing with an audience. The first thing learnt is making a copy of the presentation template. They also learn how to respond to a call and learn how to use the tools.  We have three practise sessions before the min event. 

Then during the first face to face virtual practise session, social awareness takes place. I see the educators tagging and linking to each other via twitter and adding each other on google +. I also see how the slides evolve as they personalise their presentation. Some take the slides and totally rehash them, others create their own sequence and I have even had a couple choose a totally different media too to present with. From these experiences I can see my own progress in social awareness develop as I had not even thought of using some of these ideas for presenting. 

After that cultural awareness happens as the educators learn about each other, from each other and understand what they have in common. They make connections with each other via same interests, same education levels, same cities that they live in, and even same cultural background. They find out family facts and put a face to a twitter handle. Some make connections because what they hear about is new learning for them and so generally go and find out more about the topic before the next hangout practise takes place. 

Finally global awareness happens, as the hangout is live streamed and feedback comes in from countries on the other side of the globe. The educators are excited that someone as far away as Brazil, or Spain or Finland stopped by to hear their story. They realise the impact of what has happened. For me the most exciting thing is seeing what happens next. I observe several who have joined me suddenly blossom in online confidence and I see them leading other initiatives and being rewarded with recognition from the education community both nationally and globally. In addition I love reading their blog reflections of the process and several have told me that their blog readership spike after having taken part in a session with me.

Developing a democratic imagination as a connected online educator.

 An awareness of these five areas is the beginning of developing a democratic imagination online – of digital citizenship. These five areas of awareness are like a lens to look at the behaviours we demonstrate online. In SOLO I would call this outcome multistructural thinking. The teachers that I work with know what it means to be online. They are not taught about digital citizenship but through the experience of being a digital citizen – it is through participating in an online project like TeachMeetNZ where they work with educators from around New Zealand and that by living the story, this is an effective process of learning about citizenship. From reading Flattening Classrooms. Engaging Minds Chapter 5, Citizenship, In the enlightened digital citizenship model, the best behaviour filter we have is “the space between the ears of the person using a computer”.  I love this phrase and have used it even with our teachers.

This filter is created through:  

Safety, Privacy, Copyright, Fair Use and Legal compliance. As the teachers create their presentation, they ensure that the images they use do not give away their children’s personal details.  As they mash and rehash resources, they must ensure that what they used has been referenced and acknowledged. From the chapter on digital citizenship I realise that I must stress the copyright sections with the educators that I work with. By taking part in a TeachMeetNZ session they allow their work to be shared on the TeachMeetNZ wiki and with that comes responsibility to their school and the children that they teach. I remind educators taking part about transparency and ask that their slides are visible to the audience using an embed widget.

Etiquette and Respect. The teachers learn about being respectful of other educators and learn how to give and receive feedback. A thought that keeps surfacing is disruption and I think that sometimes in education we live in an online bubble and communicate with like mindedness. Therefore missing the voice that asks us the difficult question. So we can ask the hard questions and still be respectful of the educators who ask us hard questions. In fact I welcome educators who ask hard questions I call them disruptive and use that term positively. 

Habits of Learning: Responsible Management of Online Activity. This section focusses on appropropriate habits of learning in the digital age. It focusses on the students but from my lens I focus on the teachers. TeachMeetNZ is an academic space and reflects an understanding of appropriate behaviour that is different from how the educators interact socially online. Reliability is shown by having an online presence. The chapter talks about the digital footprint and I talk about the digital tattoo because I often make reference to my personal tattoo. The educators are reliable contributors and collaborators in online spaces.

The beginnings of thinking for justice oriented citizenship 


Thinking about representation and flat leadership. It is interesting to note that educators who take part in a Teachmeetnz session with me are all involved with twitter, all have a blog and all have digital spaces that they contribute too. They are leaders on the VLN, early Pond adopters. In addition they have other education communities that they are part of or lead. Personally I call this being an educator and a citizen  It just is. However, they are not representative of the wider community of educators doing great work in teaching and learning – and as connected educators and citizens we must not forget this. The TeachMeetNZ site is still dominated by me leading and I am trying to change that by encouraging other educators to lead. This is happening, but it is not fast enough for me. Using SOLO Taxonomy I can see that use of the space is currently at a multistructural level. The scary part is I can see where to take it to relational and extended abstract. But that is another blog post and that thinking is evolving using SOLO Taxonomy  and because I am involved in this certification process with Flat Connections.

Thinking about Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Hook (personal conversation) asks how we can design online groups and teach meets so that the conversations, learning materials and ideas can be accessed in multiple way – do we provide “multiple ways of presenting materials for learning”? Do we provide “multiple means of contribution – expression and action for learning”? This thinking should become our default design when thinking about initiatives for developing digital citizenship. 


Thinking about literacy and fluency. Language in New Zealand differs. Alongside our Maori Culture we have a vibrant Pasifika Community with representatives from all islands. Being Samoan I notice online in education that Pasefika and Maori educators are few and far between. So I am always on the lookout for Pasefika and Maori educators to join me. Last July I ran a CLESOL focussed TeachMeetNZ and was excited to have representation from both groups presenting with me. In Aotearoa New Zealand particularly in Auckland we already have a vibrant cultural representation so why is this not reflected online in our education circles. Yes it is growing but again is still in early stages. My goal is to run a TeachMeetNZ totally in Samoan and one totally in Maori. So if you are of those two groups you will already know that I have been shoulder tapping you to join me. I am aiming to support a session in 2015 during both language weeks in New Zealand. 

So where is this all leading too?
The post is to clarify my thinking around Digital Citizenship, but I continue to struggle. I think the term lends itself better to just being citizenship – to ask how do we act with others in ways that enhance the common good online and offline? Yes the technologies certainly make our task of collaboration transparent and easier to coordinate but ultimately it is about people. It is about building relationships for the common good and we do this by making connections online and offline and in the between. Easier – is not necessarily better – any time, any place, must not neglect the anyone.
In Samoa I would be asked: O ai oe? O ai lou aiga? O ai lou matai? Fea lou nu’u? or Who are you? Who is your family? Who is your village leader? Which village do you come from?
In Maori we say He aha te mea nui o te ao?  He tangata! He tangata! He tangata! What is the most important thing in the world?  It is people! It is people! It is people!
Image created by students from Newmarket School.


References

Hayward, B. (2012). Children, Citizenship & Environment: Nurturing a democratic imagination in a changing world. Routledge.Westheimer, J. and Kahne, J. (2004). Educating the “Good” Citizen: Political choices and pedagogical goals. American Political Science Association

Hook, P. (2014 in Press). Transport as a context for encouraging skilled and active citizenship. NZTA

Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. (2013). Citizenship. In Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds Move towards Collaboration One step at a time. Pearson.

Lindsay, J. (2014, March 1). Digital citizenship: A global perspective. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from http://www.slideshare.net/julielindsay/digital-citizenship-a-global-perspective-reduced-size-32020944

Connected Educator



The Connected Educator at Newmarket School.
Very soon Dr Wendy Kofoed and myself are presenting at Ulearn14. Our presentation centres around our teachers. The title of our presentation is ‘Before collaboration teachers need to make connections.’ Do join us at Ulearn. We are Breakout Four A on 09 Oct 2014 at 13.45-14.15. This post has developed as part of my teacher inquiry around ‘Connected Educators at Newmarket School.’
In our school’s revised strategic plan, one of our guiding principles is Whangaungatanga or connectedness. As Wendy and staff have been working at crafting our strategic plan I have been revisiting my own understanding of whangaungatanga. For me as an efellow that is about my understanding of hyperconnectivity which is all about the relationships we build and how we build them. The Samoan word for connectedness is Va Fealofani and in Maori it is Whanaungatanga.
So some of my own questions include:
·                What does a Connected Educator at Newmarket School look like?
·                What tools do they use and why?
·                How do they share what they are learning?
As I have been thinking and reflecting on connectedness Wendy has been looking at the big picture. Her own inquiry centres around ‘Challenging Learning Design.’ I look forward to her sharing her own inquiry.
At Newmarket one concept we have is whakatauki which is sharing our stories. On our boundaries and dotted within our school we have Harakeke growing. In the springtime when the Harakeke flowers we have Tui come and drink the nectar. So I begin my post with the following proverb and have changed the word kōmako for Tui because we do not have bellbirds.
Hutia te rito o te harakeke
Kei whea te Tui e kō?
Kī mai ki ahau;
He aha te mea nui o te Ao?
Māku e kī atu
he tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata
If the heart of the harakeke was removed,
Where would the Tui sing?
If I was asked,
What is the most important thing in the world”?
I would say
It is people, it is people, it is people
If I frame this post around the current three school values I am already confident about our presentation focus. Our three values are whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga.
I use these concepts and their definition to frame my current thinking around Connected Educators.
What is a Connected Educator at Newmarket School?
Whanaungatanga – Connectedness
Being connected requires learners to develop a secure sense of their own identity and agency to think and work towards where their potential might lie.
Newmarket School is already a strong learning community that collaboratively constructs knowledge to form a foundation for learning. In order to achieve this we aim for all our teachers to be connected educators. A Connected educator at Newmarket School understands the concept of whanaungatanga. They are someone who focuses on building relationships with each other, our community and our children.
A connected educator at Newmarket School knows how to use the managed online tools to find people and how to connect with them. They think carefully about the dynamics of interactions. They actively use Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google+, LinkedIn, and other media tools to make connections and to build their own personal learning network. Because we are in New Zealand a connected educator at Newmarket School’s learning kete includes some New Zealand managed tools such as Pond, Virtual Learning Network, Myportfolio and the School Google+ community to find other New Zealand educators and to actively connect with them and build learning relationships.

What tools do they use and why?
Manaakitanga  – Generosity of spirit
Developing the ability to walk in others’ shoes which includes seeing issues from others’ perspectives and thinking carefully about the dynamics of interactions.
A connected educator at Newmarket school knows how to use and take the tools from their kete to move their practice forward. They know how to get the learning needed to improve the craft of teaching. A connected educator at Newmarket School knows how to use Google Apps for Education to crowdsource and share ideas. They are participants in online learning communities that can be found on the Virtual Learning Network and via Google Apps for Education. They take part in twitter chats such as #edchatnz to connect nationally with other New Zealand educators. They know which chats connect them with educators globally. They use a wiki, blog and or google sites as a sandbox to test their learning with online tools and show what has been learnt. They attend online New Zealand webinar such as the Virtual Learning Network monthly sessions. They curate their own learning using Pond and make connections with other New Zealand educators to share what has been found and learnt online. They know how to bring back what they have found and learnt online and share it with their school community via a reflective educator blog. Personal learning is transparent, visible and accessible by all.

How do they share what they are learning?

Kaitiakitanga – Guardianship
Ensuring sensitivity and thoughtfulness of actions in environments both local and distant.
A connected educator at Newmarket school knows how to build their community of practise that has active participants like guest speakers and where everyone co constructs knowledge. A great example of this is #TeachMeetNZ that takes place each term.  They know how to reflects on what they have learnt and make this available for all via a blog, Google Doc, wiki and or a site.  

I began this post with a whakatauki and I end with a whakatauki.
·                Ka rongo, ka wareware
·                Ka kite, ka mahara
·                Engari, mā te mahi ka mōhio.
·                I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, but through doing, I know.
Overall a connected educator at Newmarket School knows how to grow as a professional and to empower each other and their students to build their own personal learning networks to learn using the technologies that are available. Much is learnt from each other, with each other, and with the children that they teach.

As an update, a few hours after writing this, I revisited some of the education terms that have been popular in recent times. I realised that I have been doing the same thing and that is highlighting a key education term. What the originators have done is take a key word and added a descriptor to it to make it sound different. However the key word it self is fine if we view it through an extended abstract lens. Those of you who are SOLO Taxonomy educators will know what I am talking about. I created a visual to better describe what I mean.
So returning to Connected Educator and the whole point of this blog post, I finish with ‘ A Connected Educator at Newmarket School is a Newmarket School Educator.’ 

(When I write I create a rubric from Pam Hook’s site using the SOLO Taxonomy Rubric Creator. 
I use SOLO Taxonomy to frame my thinking and clarify the direction of my inquiry by asking clearer questions. Here is my Connected Educator rubric.)




Ignite- Hyperconnectivity


Talofa lava and greetings to everyone
I am here to share with you my learning on Hyperconnectivity.
This journey began with my learning for efellows 2011.
Efelllows are a group of educators who have been selected nationally by CORE Education. The CORE Education eFellowship Awards recognise innovative e-learning practice by New Zealand teachers.
In 2013 I have won a TEACHNZ sabbatical to continue my investigation. I am using this opportunity to meet global educators face to face.
So Hyperconnectivity. Mark Pesce says that it is access to inconceivable amounts of information. Hyperconnectivity provides a platform for a breadth of situational awareness beyond even the wildest imaginings of MI6. I have added- it is about being tethered.
Our children are born with a digital footprint. Even before birth there is online evidence as their proud parents upload their foetal images to social networking sites such as Facebook. Currently New Zealand has more mobile devices than population.
The social web allows access to inconceivable amounts of information. Early users generally put it all out there. From pictures, to videos to personal information. Currently the greatest uptake of use of social media is the over 35 year olds.
All this technology is like a tidal wave. It isnt coming. It is here now. To counter this wave, we must take the same technology as our children, use the same tools as our children. Some of our learning lies in the network not in opposition to it.
Last year we used SuperClubsPLUS, an online social networking tool for children to bring together a group of schools. We hyperconnected on line and we connected face to face in real time.
This year we connected globally via the BBC World Assembly.
When we come together and share, whanaungatanga happens. Connecting globally can extend our sharing in a positive way. As a school we are more conscious about not limiting what we are doing to within our 4 walls.
Last year as a staff we trialed Myportfolio. The greatest benefit with Myportfolio is sharing our teaching and learning practice. Myportfolio allows us to make hyper-connections and to work hyper-collaboratively.  This year we have added the Virtual Learning Network to our list of teacher tools.
The efellows award allowed me time to step back and look at what I was doing with e-learning. The award provided access to experts in the form of presenting my message and in the form of social media. I was able to take time to visit other educators and to hear what they said about Hyperconnectivity.
The award also gave me the opportunity to ask and explore some challenging questions. One was If I could see myself in the mirror- would I like what I see? Another question was with all the Hyperconnectivity that is taking place in our childrens lives, what are they giving up?
Being hyperconnected is an important part of life for many of our children. Many are permanently tethered with their own device. Tethering also gives the concept of helicopter parenting. For example with the use of Hyperconnectivity children can be tracked using GPS systems. We can track not just where they go physically but where they go online. Tracking also can be cyberstalking. How many of us as do this right now using instagram or twitter?
Hyperconnectivity gives us global connections and opportunities for global collaboration and sharing. But it also give us opportunities to trace and track. This is not just limited to us but anyone with a connection.
What about the space between the hyper nodes. Ulises Mejiasmakes reference to the space between the nodes and if this is ignored it is like a fish ignoring the water that it swims in. The space is what supports the nodes.
As an envro school we can make analogies to ignoring the space because we know that the environment is what supports us living.
As educators we must be aware of the tools that are being used. Find out and understand the legalities around working with children online.  At the same time allow and create learning opportunities that do not always need wifi connections, tracking or testing.
As part of our curriculum and policies do include activities that might not be benchmarked but yet create other connections and collaborations.
Include staff activities that are fun. Yes include Hyperconnectivity’ tools but as much as possible emphasis a balance that learning is fun. Connecting and collaborating also includes face to face experiences. –eg: I make reference here to Ignite sessions.
We as much, as our children, also need the space where we can be totally ourselves and not be connected. The value of silence is obvious to us. Just as being hyperconnected is to our children.
These are the people who have greatly influenced my thinking about Hyperconnectivity. Mark Pesce who introduced me to the term Hyperconnectivity, Steve Wheeler who I have been following on twitter for over a year. Ulises Mejias  who helped clarify the space between the nodes.
Larry Cuban who asks the hard questions regarding technology and education and questions the expense in dollars and in time.
Sherry Turkle and Pam Hook who just keep asking the hard questions.
To finish with…. Hyperconnectivity and the space between the nodes
Social software can positively impact pedagogy by inculcating a desire to reconnect to the world as a whole, not just the social parts that exist online- Ulises Mejias
You can hyperconnect with me online or make connections with me face to face.
I would appreciate further discussion around this topic.



Learning and Mangroves

I have been reading Ann Pendleton-Jullian Design Education and Innovation Ecotones and reflect on what she has written. That twenty first century learning environments are about learning that extends far beyond the classroom (it scales), which in turn promotes elasticity and agency. The assumption is that we need to prepare for futures in which the specific things we will be doing, and specific stuff we will need to know, do not yet exist. Implicated in an education for the twenty-first century are all sorts of new mechanisms—cultural, social, and intellectual mechanisms—that are either directly or indirectly affiliated with the digital age as a global phenomenon. I like the learning link with mangroves and how they manage the air-water interface, which is one of the most complex transitions to overcome. In addition to negotiating an environment of difference, they are also subjected to continuous disturbances both cyclical (tides) and event-driven in nature (typhoons). As such they have developed unique characteristics of adaptation.