I was at a bit of a crossroads with my collection of Ontario Edublogs last week and so sought some advice from readers. Those that responded in public and in private were very convincing. I’ll leave things the way they are for the present. There are some new things that I read this week. Check them out. You may notice a theme.
Even as I create this post, I’m chatting with a friend about the use of a template as a way to use technology in the classroom. Jim Cash, in this post, talks about relationships and learning. There’s also the element of respect. When you’re working with a template, you expect that most results will be reasonably similar. Does that illustrate respect for the learner? Allowing students to become creative honours their efforts. As the title to the post implies, it can only happen when the teacher and teaching is creative. There’s nothing much creative about photoglopping a black line master or the digital equivalent – handing out a template of a file for completion.
I see relationships and learning as very closely related; both are creative acts. They are creative because every day they need to be nurtured, utilized, examined, improved, and remade. The heart of constructivism is that knowledge, skills and values are built over time in socially safe and growth-focused environments. Knowledge building is never done.
In Jim’s post, he indicated that he was tagged along with a number of others to get involved with the discussion about teaching being a creative act. The original tagger was Matthew Oldridge and he shared his thoughts in this post.
I had to smile at this paragraph in his post.
When I started out teaching, I thought I was “supposed” to come up with brand new lessons every day. That’s what I thought the job was, but then, if I was stuck for ideas, I would feel bad.
I know that, as a new computer science / data processing teacher, I absolutely had to come up with new lessons and ideas. There was no formal curriculum; there was no textbook; there really was no experience I could draw on except for my own. It made for some very short nights, making up content for all the classes. In the long run, I think it worked out for the best. It was only after I got my permanent contract that I found out that there was a department budget for resources and then dared approach my department to get my share. To be honest, I couldn’t find anything that fit the bill. So, like I would suggest virtually every computer science teacher does, I did a backward design from what I wanted the students to learn to the activities, to the lessons, to the introductions.
Also tagged in the post was Brandon Pachan. It was a chance for me to add another name to the Ontario Educator list and the Ontario Edublogger list.
The post starts off with an insight that only teachers will get. Parents just think the magic happens.
Teaching is a creative act because you are balancing the process with the product while engaging an audience that is diverse, unique and also part of the cast. Creativity thrives on limitations and obstacles.
He then identifies and comments on what he feels are limitations.
- The Physical Space
- The Cast & Crew
- The Transition
I think that it’s also important to add “The Resources” to the list. So many people are having to rework old resources to try and get new and contemporary results. Or, perhaps you have the new resources but have had no time to determine how best to use them. That, of course, leads to “time to collaborate”.
Related to the theme is this powerful post from Tim King who, quite frankly, I’ve always pictured in the role of a technology teacher. But, talk about teaching and creativity.
I’m back in the classroom again and teaching English for the first time in more than a year. I took a senior essentials English class mainly because few people want to teach it (teachers like to teach people like themselves – in this case academically focused English students), and it fit my schedule. Essentials English is just as it sounds. These are weak English students who are getting what they need to graduate and get out into the workplace, they aren’t post-secondary bound and tend to find school pointless.
Huge kudos to Tim for reaching out to those students in this way.
While poking around Matthew Oldridge’s previous post, I found this one. He describes a technique for never losing an idea by always having a tab open in his browser to curate those ideas.
I’ve tried a number of utilities including a Google document, Google Keep, Microsoft’s OneNote (grudgingly after somehow I lost all those notes at the Microsoft PIL Event), Evernote, in a blog editor, and in just a text document. Ideas come at the strangest of times; for me it’s often while walking the dog which means a mobile solution. I’d forget by the time I got home and he’d lose focus at the next mailbox. I can access both OneNote and Keep on my watch and audio capture is so good. Of course, if you use Office 365 instead of Google, you could do this with an open instance of Word. The key is to find something that works reliably for you so that you don’t lose those gems of inspiration.
This is Part 3 of a three part series reviewing Minecraft for Education. Check out the post for links to Part 1 and Part 2. The post is attributed to @GumbyBlockhead but if you poke around, you’ll see who is behind this.
The whole three posts are a very complete look at the Education version of Minecraft, something I don’t have access to. So, I do appreciate the walkthrough.
I learned so much – like how to change the weather.
In case you missed it, earlier this week I had the chance to post an interview that I had with Mr. Oldridge.
I found it interesting to take a look a little deeper at what makes him tick and to get some of his thoughts about mathematics.
All my interviews can be found here.
Please take a moment to click through and read all these wonderful posts. There’s always great stuff from Ontario Edubloggers.