Monday, May 16, 2011

Classroom Walkthroughs

Seventeen members of the e-Learning Classroom gave up their Saturday to visit some of the classrooms in the local area. Through the power of Skype we were also able to 'virtually' visit Sharon's classroom in Ashburton.
The hardest job I had was to stop the teachers talking so I could tell them we were moving to the next school. We travelled 51.9 kms from the first school to the last.

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First off we went to Shaun's class in Bailey Road, Mount Wellington. He uses Google Docs very successfully in his classroom and he is the administrator for Google Apps in his school. Nearly all of the students work is digital.

Using hanging material to make  spaces in the classroom.
It was interesting to see how he has managed to make spaces in his Year 8 classroom.

Sharon from Ashburton was able to participate virtually through Skype. We showed her each classroom and she was able to listen in when teachers were talking about their rooms. In this photo Viv is answering her questions.

The next school was Willowbank in Botany. Here we visited 3 classrooms that share one large space. All of the other teachers were very envious of  the amount of room that the teachers were able to use.
This is the shared Awhina area at Willowbank. A year 2, 4 and 6 class share this space. 

After Willowbank was The Gardens School. They are fortunate to have 13 laptops and 10 iPads. The furniture has been specially bought for the room. Sara and Jan have created some wonderful self management strategies which I will write more about later.

At this school we also gave Sharon some time to share with us (virtually via skype) what she has been doing in her classroom. She talked about the changes she has made in her classroom setup and pedagogy.

Next was Somerville Intermediate. We visited 2 classrooms. First up was Steph who has embraced the Arts in her class and has allowed her students to have time to use Art materials. She has made significant changes in her room adding different spaces. One of her focuses at the moment is using Multiple Intelligences.

Dave was next, who like Shaun has concentrated on Online spaces. He has been using wikis (plural!) as his Classroom Portal.

Last of all we went to Point View. Kimberley was first who shared her wikis that she created for individual students, learning centres and her wonderful classroom environment.

Lynne was next who also has a wonderful wiki and a gorgeous room environment. What I found very special about her philosophy was that...'Yes, they are only 5 years old, but they can do anything'. This comment came after her telling everybody that in the morning students grab the laptops and go into the secret garden to play the games on the wiki.

I have asked the teachers to reflect on their day and to think about what they would like to do next time. We have several experts in different areas in our group so it looks like we will run 3 workshops on one Saturday where we share our knowledge.

From my observations the conversations that were going on were the most valuable part of the day.
I have asked the teachers to evaluate the day.

I have been asked by one of the participants what did I get out of the day.
  • seeing all the people who I work with who have met each other maybe once face to face or mostly online, talking like they had been colleagues for years
  • hearing the conversations that were so much about their pedagogy of teaching
  • listening to teachers asking each other probing questions
  • loving the fact that Sharon who lives in Ashburton was able to be part of a great professional development opportunity
  • the keenness of all to continue with what we have begun and their ideas for what they would like to do next
  • the passion that these teachers have for teaching and learning that they would give up their free time on weekends and nights to participate in this project

and as Dave summed it up in one of his comments on the evaluation Google Doc 'Meeting like minded people!'

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Online and Classroom Spaces

I worked with Dave and Steph at Somerville a couple of weeks ago and again Dave wowed me with the direction he is heading in with his online spaces. He has been the 'King' of wikis for a while and presented at L@S 2011 Web Tools For Schools

His class wiki worked extremely well last year and was a great source of resources for his students and a show case of student work. This year he has developed that wiki to be the 'portal' for his other wikis. He has developed separate wikis for numeracy, literacy and student Learning Journeys. I have asked him to make a Quicktime movie explaining how and why he uses so many wikis which he will add to his e-Learning page on our wiki.

Steph is new to our project but has been working on developing her classroom spaces. Like Dave she teaches intermediate children (ages 11-12). Like Dave her classroom does not look like a traditional classroom...there are comfy chairs and couches scattered around the room, she has removed most of her desks for tables and students use tote trays now. What impressed me about both rooms was that children were working in a variety of different ways, some were on laptops, others were working in exercise books, some were creating large posters, others were reading. In both rooms students were working collaboratively.
So, here are two intermediate classrooms successfully integrating their classroom and online spaces, visit their wiki pages on the e-Learning classroom wiki and then look at their own classroom blogs and wikis, it will be worth your time!