Thursday, February 17, 2011

Online Spaces

It's been interesting talking to our two Intermediate members of the e-Learning cluster over the last few days. I have posted previously about Dave (Year 8) where we talked about Social Networking and Digital Citizenship. With Shaun (Year 8) we talked extensively about his online spaces. He felt the same as Dave that he wasn't really developing any spaces in his classroom but I was able to point out after visiting his classroom that he has great 'group' spaces.

He is also starting to develop Writing and Science areas. He has a couch right in the middle of the classroom and he uses this for when he is working with a group and needs to use the IWB.

I suggested to him (and also to Dave) that they explain what the spaces are about and get the students to design the spaces in the classroom.

Shaun has developed some wonderful working online spaces.
His class blog is a forum for students to post work (and they love comments, so please support Comments4Kids), Shaun also posts diary updates of what has been happening in the school and classroom.
He has managed to get some other teachers on board and they share a collaborative Wikispace This is used for Homework, links and resources for the different curriculum areas.
He embeds student activities in the wiki such as the example below

Shaun makes extensive use of Google Docs in his own planning and student work.
Have a look at his e-Learning page where he is documenting his journey week by week.
His personal blog is worth a look as he has chronicled his own teaching and learning experiences over the last few years. I look forward to see how his classroom develops this year and what changes it will make to his own teaching practice and students learning.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Social Networking and Digital Citizenship

I worked with Dave today and was totally inspired by his enthusiasm and his commitment to the setting up of an e-Learning environment in his classroom. At the moment he is concentrating on his online spaces and the classroom spaces will follow.
He has set up a classroom wiki which is aptly called 'The Classroom without Walls'. This also has a link to his blog
Each child has a wikipage to publish work to, plus Dave has set up Kidblogs for each students. The class blog is used for general topical events, the Wiki for timetables, homework, general tasks, learning tools, tutorials, surveys and forms, planning and assessment. It is worthwhile checking out his own reflective blog which follows his own journey in teaching and e-Learning.
His classroom page on the e-Learning wiki is

Dave has been thinking about how he could get his students developing social networking skills so he has started his students on Twiducate. This is 'Twitter' for kids. To start off with he has set them up with accounts and passwords, and they have all had a go at posting comments. This is a great lead in to the 'Digital Citizenship' topic that will be part of his whole classroom programme.
We talked about how this is a great opportunity to talk to his class about "how we should post online'.
This slideshow is a great starting point at the beginning of the year to show students how they should be writing online.
Dave and I talked about how should the students write... should they be allowed to use text language? As his motto is 'The Class Without Walls' we talked about how posting online on a classroom account means it has the same rules as writing in the classroom, that there should be high expectations of the quality of writing. This fits in well with the Digital Citizenship work that the whole e-Learning cluster will be doing with their students.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Reflective Writing

One of the early outcomes that I am seeing from our e-Learning cluster is the wonderful reflective writing coming from the teachers
Kimberley has a Year 3/4 class and her reflective blog is called e-Learning 2011

Here are some of her thoughts so far with her e-Learning Classroom

The idea behind this blog is for my journey to be charted along the way as a means of documenting what takes place in my own learning.  

how do we, as educators, ensure that there is a balance in learning in our classrooms as we integrate e-Learning skills and the new (although now, much older) National Curriculum?

So we have to wonder, is it about the devices and the apps, is it about the web and the phones, is it about bluetooth or blu-ray...or is it about teaching the students how to think, question, work with others, be independent, be curious, challenge ideas, process the literal or lateral?

Children in Kimberley's class...They will site their goals. They will reel off a string of ideas around their next learning steps. They will explain to you how and why they make the choices that they do around their own learning based on what they find tricky. They possess an acute awareness about their personal goals and will not hesitate to take you on their learning journey, but do take care to strap in as they are usually on a wonderful ride!

In that short space of an afternoon, we planted the seeds of our class unity, our collaboration, our ability to problem-solve together, take turns, support one another and enjoy living things...all in the garden outside our room. I think we will be growing together this year for sure! 

And then we have Dave who has a Year 7 class, his reflective blog is called Digitools for Schools

The teacher now has no desk in the classroom environment. This is quite revolutionary for me, I don't know how I'll cope, or where I'll put those coffee cups and packets of panadol !
My main focus this year is to move in the direction of establishing an authentic elearning classroom. Whether I "arrive" at the end of the year or not remains to be seen, but I see it as an ongoing journey that probably has no "final" destination ... which is I think is good thing - keeps teaching / learning fresh and relevant.

First, the notion that classrooms in the 21st century should be "open walled" enabling learning to occur wherever and whenever. I've renamed our class wiki to help promote this idea in the minds of my students.
...thinking about the big ideas that underpin e-learning pedagogy, I've decided to create multiple online environments to document students learning journeys. 

Sharon has started making reflective comments on her Wiki classroom page

I am a 2nd year beginner teacher who has been given a degree of freedom to explore.

My e-learning journey has been great. In the UK I taught IT skills on a weekly basis throughout the school, in a computer suite. I always asked, "How is this integrating IT into the classroom?" So I had been searching for answers and getting frustrated with budget restraints etc. At U-Learn last year Jo Fothergill introduced me to the idea of "Inspired Classrooms".  

I am looking forward to following the journey these teachers are on, and the insights they have that will help others in their own change of teaching practice.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

First Days

I have managed to visit a few classrooms over the last few days and I have seen some wonderful classroom environments evolving. Teachers are embracing the ideas of 'spaces' and secret spaces are the most creative.
In this classroom Lynne has made a 'Secret Garden'. There is a closed in area for students where they can go to be reflective.

She has also included a secret door which leads into a small enclosed area, just big enough for one student.

Here is a guided tour of Lynne's classroom, photos taken by Lynne

Sara and Jan have gone with a nature theme as well.

And Kimberley has come up with this idea.

Shaun has created several spaces in his Year 8 Classroom.

Dave is concentrating on his 'online spaces' at the moment.

Everybody else are doing exciting things as well, which will be documented on their classroom pages on the e-Learning wiki.