Friday, June 28, 2013

These days of dust, which we've known, will blow away with this new sun (Mumford & Sons)

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

But maybe, just maybe, the times they are a-changin'.

Maybe, just maybe, the industrial model of teaching will finally be smashed and broken up thanks to student learning systems like Schoology.

Fifty-five years ago, Marshall McLuhan wrote that thanks to mass media like TV, radio, and movies we taught in a classroom without walls.

Except that TV, radio and movies created a false dawn. Teachers adapted and used these media to change what we taught and how we taught, but it didn't fundamentally alter the regimented/timetabled way we taught.

We are basically still teaching as we have since the printing press was invented.

...we are slowly waking up to the fact that, thanks to being connected by computers and the interweb, we now need to teach in a different kind of school.

Now, thanks to Schoology and the ever expanding world of new devices that our students are using, I glimpse a new dawn, people.

These new ways of connecting/ communicating 'threaten, instead of merely reinforce, the procedures of this traditional classroom' (McLuhan 1957).
Great!! let's get rid, I say.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hey camisas, your favourite shirt is on the bed (Haircut 100)

I found myself blurting out something in class t'other day that (I'm pretty sure) I've never blurted out before.

Blurt is definitely the best verb! I was in full stride with my Year 10 English class, the class was going great, when I said, "I love teaching you girls!"

They, of course, immediately asked me if they were my favourite class.

Every now and again, I get this from every class I teach, as I'm sure the other teachers do too - the need to be the teacher's favourite.

My response (also a blurt) was that you girls find that kind of thing far more important than teachers do. Which is true...(notice that I didn't commit myself to such a thing as a favourite class - clever huh) but... made me reflect later on the favourite class/ favourite student tag.

My favourite book
I have favourite films, favourite music groups, and favourite books. I had favourite subjects and favourite teachers when I was a student, so why not a favourite class?

Because we're not supposed to that's why. It's a bit like having a favourite child. I have four children - they all have their moments but no one is a favourite.

Why not? Because that is a world of hurt, that's why. The children may feel like one of them is a favourite but no way am I stoopid enough to confirm that.

So - favourite classes? Well, okay, yes - during that moment with my Year 10's they were a solid candidate for favourite class status (see what I did there?) but tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Don't confuse me, for I know - it's the name of the game (Badfinger)

Teaching girls is an art that I am slowly slowly adjusting to. I think the girls understand this. They are a perceptive bunch.

While we were on the way to the football game at Havelock North High School on Wednesday - one of the girls, apropos nothing, asked, "You haven't taught all girls before have you".

Clearly I have a lot to learn.

Maybe she caught an expression on my face. I am definitely a walking wysiwyg.

I was caught during a pastoral care staff meeting with a blank look on my face last week as well. While wearing that expression I glanced at two of the women staff sitting next to me and they burst out laughing!

Clearly I have a lot to...oh...I've already said that.

With all that in mind I am turning to google to help me out.

There is a lot of good advice on line - here's something I like from a research paper:

Girls show greater interest in communication from an early age. Baby girls will hold eye contact

much longer than baby boys. Baby girls study faces within weeks of being born and seek to

make eye contact and gaze at faces which increases over 400% over the first 3 months of life.

(while boys don't have the same motivation). At just 4 months old, most baby girls can identify

photographs of people they know from strangers.

Girls tend to receive information from a wider range of sensory input with more sensual detail

memory (smell, taste, touch, sound). Girls tend to hear better than boys. They are sensitive to

'tone of voice' used in conversation (heightened hearing ability) and have more sensitive skin -

for touch and pain than boys. Because there is a primacy on relationships, communication is


I think this is proving to be one of the things I am adapting to. More on this subject:

Girls generally learn by talking-thinking-


Often girls need to discuss an issue in small

groups and then need some time to think

about an issue before applying the knowledge.

Try to structure most activities for girls in the

sequence of talk-think-do.

I like knowing this though - legitimises what is developing in my classroom as the girls start to trust me more. I'm aware this will be a lengthy process. This term is all about settling in and gaining that trust.

It's proving much harder to do this with my form class - they only see me briefly three out of five days. This makes it really hard to set up a rapport. No wonder they are standoffish and slightly begrudging and, let's face it - rude at times.

They are a Y12 group and set in their ways. Nevermind - I'll just have to keep at it and wait for them to adjust to me I guess.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cold as ice cream but still as sweet (Blondie)

Life is starting to settle into some semblance of order with work days and weekends forming patterns. For so long we have had to snatch glimpses of normalcy and routines had no chance.

It's been an old school Sunday today. I've been doing marking and preparation for the coming week pretty much all day.

With a twist.

I've physically only marked two scrips with a pen - the rest have all been assignments delivered into a dropbox on my school schoology account. I've checked the various essays and 'written' comments on the work digitally. Apart from a couple of DOH! moments where I failed to save my comments it's been smooth sailing.

The reading and commenting on a screen has taken some adjustment. I'm from a generation that is mostly comfortable editing stuff in hard copy.

The other neat element of today was conversing with my students as I marked their work. Little messages and updates kept popping up all day long as they responded to my notices and assessments and their essays.

Cool - marking didn't seem such a chore and I got to listen to some Miles Davis, Ten Years After, Stan Getz, The Exponents and others.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Keep on the sunny side (The Whites)

Shot myself in the foot this week didn't I!

It seemed like such an innocuous thing to do but I clearly didn't thoroughly think things through (hey hey, alliteration kids).

We have a student learning system at school called Schoology. It started a few weeks ago and staff and students are getting slowly into it together. Usually technology + students means they are way ahead of teachers but in this instance we seem to be slowly learning about the possibilities of Schoology together.

I placed a photo on my profile page that Adam had taken of me in San Francisco (below right) and placed on his facebook page.
Wozza creepily contemplates how
stoopid he can be!
Unfortunately my Year 9 students told me that the picture was 'creeping them out' and they asked me to change it. Sure I said - how about of our cat, 'Waffles'? Yes they said.

I was at school without my picture files so I went to my blog to find a picture of Wafi. As I was doing so the girls spied the title to the blog - Wozza's Place. "Who's Wozza?". they  asked innocently.

At that point I swallowed hard, made noises like a blocked drain, and said, "Um...actually - that's me".

BAM!!!! The genie was out of the bottle and I have had to face some WOZZAAAAAH type comments on their Schoology messages to me over the last few days..

My baad!!

I had to have 'the talk' and explain to the girls that calling me Wozza from now on was NOT going to happen. They are a sensible bunch and they knew what I meant. More sensible than me as it turns out.

Moral of the story? Don't you eat that yellow snow!