Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Last Lead Teacher Day

Last week, we had our last lead teacher day. We shared our action research which was interesting to see how much thought and planning had gone into all. It will seem strange not having the ongoing PD which I have enjoyed very much. I find that I have learnt the value of PD and being current. When I first came to Botany Downs, I wasn't that fussed on lots of PD (and I find some current colleagues have this attitude), but having to stand up in front of others and explain my PD, try and inspire others to take the "call" and seeing change across the school, I can see the value. I like having current PD, rather than feeling like the last school to be having PD even though we are probably one of the last schools to have the cluster funding for ICT and inquiry in the way that we have. Going to conferences like Ulearn and Learning@Schools helps with the focus of what is current in our field of inquiry.

Highlights for me have been the external conferences, visiting schools on lead teacher days to see and understand how other schools do things; (Schools can be insular places.)getting the data projector and other equipment so we feel more like other schools who have lots of equipment, and how I have changed as a person, and a teacher. I had to learn to stand up in front of others, think more on my feet, be proactive in being able to do the ICT and inquiry things so I could model this for others, and become more flexible about letting students on and with equipment (becoming the facilitator).

One of the biggest buzzes for me is when students can demonstrate their learning or say "I get it." This year my students have started to "get"the creating stage of our inquiry journey, they are independent users on the computer, and more recently, with a homework project have created slideshows that have internet links, using Goanimate, and generally sharing their work. It was great to see with the homework projects all the acknowledgements. One student commented that another didn't have the acknowledgements. Cutting and pasting is still a huge problem. They have a second homework project due, so we will see if the message as got across. When we were viewing, one student came up to me quietly and said,"I think my project is too long." She was asking to take it home and reduce hers as she had got very bored with another and could see the same would happen with hers. Learning has happened!!!!. We are "getting it" with ICT and Inquiry.

Action Research

After 2 terms we finished our action research. Marie and I have one more presentation on it to make to staff. With writing, 2 terms hasn't seemed enough time to make a huge difference. There was improvement but only within the level. I think in hindsight that my choices of students made it harder. This was because they had other factors which impinged on their ability or willingness to improve, eg home circumstances, and suspected processing disability.

Overall, I think doing the action research helped me focus my teaching. Sometimes, when reflecting about it I wonder would I have done anything different, as with the ASTLE identification of needs to focus on, I had to do a lot of it anyway. I would have liked more computers so that those other students in my class who would have like more opportunity to use a computer too, could have had said opportunity.

One of the students that I focused on believed he thought better using a computer. I never found it so for this student when I sat alongside trying to get the thinking and links into the story to improve it, but who is to say it is not for other students, or this student in a few months or years. The idea that "Oooh, look at me I am on a computer," is still a prevalent thought at my school, and still a distraction, so the thinking is still to come. For the more mature/responsible student this is not so. They do focus, and attempt the new learning that I am trying to instill.

I found it interesting that Marie and I chose different approaches to our action research because of the year levels that we teach, and because of our professional goals that we had set at the beginning of the year. Marie did lots of modelling with the mimio, and students using kidpix to draw, and create their stories, whereas, I used the mimio also for modelling, a little bit of kidpix drawing, and direct typing into the computer to overcome the student's dislike of using pen and paper because of poor fine motor skills. I also had student retell stories during reading time; ( a time honoured method of integration).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Action Research

Marie and I finished our Action research project last week.  It has been interesting that we have both approached the same task from a different angle because we teach different class levels.  Marie worked more on using ICT tools for modelling, and I got my kids onto the computer write.  Sometimes I got them to plan or draw first or they just typed straight into the computer.  One student reckoned he thought better at the computer but I found no evidence of this especially as he needed teacher help and assistence to get a story structure in place, and struggled with understanding that lots of detail needed to go in to explain to his audience how his characters came to be there.   The research was interesting in that some of my kids inproved and some did not.   I think that for it to have worked more throughly, I needed to have had a longer time to work with my students.  2 terms was not enough.  I sometimes found it difficult to maintain due to various and frequent times out of the classroom. On a more positive note, I found that giving opportunities across the class to go on the computers made it slightly competitive for a chance, and when they had the opportunity tried even harder with their writing.