Archive for category online tools
Ah, “FYE” … the new acronym in my life!
It stands for First Year Experience, and now that I’m the FYE Coordinator for my Faculty, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot.
As a school teacher, the role reminds me a LOT of being a Year Advisor, but with one difference. Instead of staying with my year group and looking after them until they graduate, at the end of the year I send my group off to second year, and prepare to look after the FYE of a new cohort.
My FYE jobs
This is my first year in the role, and one of my ‘big jobs’ is to consult with unit coordinators to identify students in need of help with academic literacy. Students have a raft of assignments due around weeks 4-6 and using those we can make early recommendations for study skill support.
I’m also one of the main points of contact for first year students, and I get to go to many (very interesting, seriously) meetings about student engagement and improving campus life. My personal engagement project is a knitting club that I am launching for Education students in Week 5 of semester
Something else I am trying this year is the establishment of a Twitter account (1styear_edu) to communicate messages relevant to students in first year Education. I’ve stated nice and clearly in the bio that I am behind the tweets, and the profile pic is a shot of our lovely main admin building at Kelvin Grove campus. I’m not following students back (yet), but am following things that I think they would like, or that I would want to retweet from.
So far I’m up to 93 followers, out of a potential 650 (ish). It’s Monday of week 4, out of 13 week semester, and on the whole, I am happy!
Yes, yes, some things I already know:
- Almost all first year students use Facebook, with only about 10% entering our courses using Twitter. We know this from a student survey. I think this is great, because it means most of them are up to date with the digital literacy skill needed to use Twitter, and just need some guidance to transfer those practices.
- Not many students like Twitter when they first join it. I know this anecdotally, but I don’t see this as a reason not to persist with the service. In fact, I think it’s good to put students out of their learning ‘comfort zone’ … especially students that are trying to become teachers!
- Most students won’t go to Twitter regularly for announcements. That’s OK! They should be going to the institution’s ‘Blackboard’ (or other LMS) for essential announcements. Although I do repeat some key announcements on Twitter, it would be inequitable to announce important stuff there without also placing it on Blackboard. Twitter is for engagement, tips, and social study support.
- Students don’t use their social media for learning. Well, I know that some already do, actually – you should meet them! But I sincerely hope that by the time the others graduate from a year (or four) at QUT that their attitude to Personal Learning Environments will have changed! Using Twitter is just one thing I can do to help them over this threshold.
What is to come?
I hope that students will increase their take-up of Twitter for crowdsourced note taking. I’ve attempted to lead some tweeting using the unit codes #EDB006 (for ‘Learning Networks’, the only core unit that first year students share) and #CLB320 (a unit on ‘Studies in Language’ that about half the cohort undertakes).
I also want to show other teachers the power of using tools such as Storify to collect tweets about a topic that can be used later as a teaching aid. For example, here is my collection of tweets from the start of EDB006:
Other than that, I think I’m just hoping for some more discussion between students … but I don’t mind if that doesn’t really kick in until later in their degrees. For now I’m just stoked to have seen any interaction at all!
93 followers, baby … how long will it take me to double it? I’ll be sure to report back when we hit 186
Last week I had the good fortune to hear Professor Diana Masny speak about her Deleuzian approach to researching multiliteracies theory (which she referred to as ‘MLT’). Masny is from Ottowa, Canada, and is an adjunct prof at QUT.
In this presentation I was returned to the idea of ‘the rhizome’, something that had interested me when I encountered the work of Deleuze and Guattari. The idea behind looking at things rhizomatically is that we can stop focussing on binary oppositions, or organising concepts into ordered taxonomies and such. Instead, rhizomatic analysis involves looking at things and ideas spread/propagate…and at where new possibilities ‘shoot off’ out of of what already exists.
This talk by Masny was interesting for a number of reasons to do with designing research methodology, as well as considering MLT from new angles. One thing that inspired me was the way that her presentation was organised around ‘entry points’ to her own topic as a rhizomatic collection of findings. This is in contrast to a presentation that tries to summarise ‘key findings’ or ‘ways forward’. Seeing as I most often use my blog to reflect on ‘findings’ and ‘planning’, I thought it might make a nice change to adopt Masny’s (after Deleuze’s) approach of exploring the ‘entry points’ into my practice so far this semester…
ENTRY POINT: Attendance
At QUT we have a policy that attendance is not to be counted in any way toward assessment, and that students choosing to catch up on their study from home are to be supported in that choice. I have heard some lecturers complain about this – they think students would learn better if they turned up to all the classes, and wish the university would enforce this. Most of us, however, respect the purpose of this arrangement, which is to provide flexible study options for the grown-up human beings that are our ‘students’, and cater for a range of learning styles. Personally I find it very motivating, as it forces me to think about HOW I can make my lessons “worth coming to”!
I’m really happy with the attendance rate in my classes at the moment. Out of the 110 students I have studying on campus, almost 100% turned up in Week one, and the students that were away mostly emailed in their apologies. In Week 2, attendance in tutorials and the lecture was down to about 85%, which is to be expected. What I am eager to see is that 85% attendance rate maintained for the rest of the 9-week semester, rather than drop of over time to 20-50%, as other lecturers often report. I’m pleased to say that in the past few years here, I haven’t noticed the same kind of drop of, and I like to think this reflects the usefulness of my classes.
ENTRY POINT: Engagement
As always it has been a slow start on Twitter…but as always, there are several students ‘coming around’ to the tool already and engaging with informal peer tutoring as well. Once again, I am glad I chose to persevere with introducing students to an unfamiliar (and for many of them, unloved) social media tool.
I had a really great out-of-context engagement moment as well last week, on Pinterest. I use Pinterest among other things to collect useful resources for English teachers, and one day I saw a collage about English teaching and ‘re-pinned it’ to my board. I thought (and commented) ‘wow…this is just like an activity I do in class!’. Then I realised that I was following one of my students already, and that it was her! Funniest bit was though, she had been following me too without realising who I was, or making any connection to out uni lives. Good times!
There has been a growth in socia media profiles and ‘chats’ that I can now connect my students to, and the most important of these is the #ozengchat that takes place on Twitter on Tuesday nights. Feeling like they are engaging with ‘real teachers’ seems to be helping with motivation in the class, but at the moment that’s just my anecdotal take on the situation.
ENTRY POINT: Assessment
In my class students undertake THREE assessment tasks:
- Personal essay on teaching philosophy and resource analysis (individual, 30%)
- Lessons plans for a junior English class (in pairs, 40%)
- Portfolio of completed learning ‘challenge tasks’ (individual, 30%)
What I like about what I have achieved with this set of assessments is that there is a balance of individual and group work, that there is a variety of tasks, and that no task is worth more that 40%.
At this point I’ll put myself out there to say I am disappointed to see how many uni coordinators choose to use just TWO assessment piece in their own classes. This is not good practice imo! Having less assignments does mean a smaller marking load for the lecturer, and less due dates for the student, but at what cost?
I really do believe that students in uni should not have assessments that are worth 50% or over, as this is too high-stakes to promote good learning. To do this, you must have more than two assessments for a unit in a semester.
FINAL WORDS: The CLB018 ‘assemblage’
In the theory of Deleuze and Guattari, the context of my CLB018 class provides an assemblage of bodies and things that can produce any number of effects. I hoe to keep reporting throughout the semester on the effects (and affects) of our assemblage!
In the meantime, any comments on these POINTS OF ENTRY are most welcome.
Are you a teacher? An English teacher, perhaps? Trying to find where the good chats are on Twitter? Look no further! Start by searching for these three English-curriculum-related hashtags and you’ll be on your way to finding and conversing with other teachers just like you!
If you search for this hashtag on Tuesday nights, you’ll find Australian English teachers talking about their craft, ideas and resources.
The #ozengchat group also has a page on Edmodo, which is where voting for the weekly topic takes place (a group code for Edmodo can be obtained by tweeting @vivimat78). Vivian, who convenes the chat, also collects our chat tweets in a weekly online storyline using ‘Storify’.
#ozengchat officially takes place on Tuesday from 8.30pm – 9.30pm, Australian EDST (i.e. GMT +11)
As well as a special hashtag for Australian folk, there is also a more general #engchat hashtag that is coordinated for a more global chat.
Currently the #engchat tag seems to be heavily used by teachers in the US – as a result you can see some interesting discussion taking place there now about the implementation of ‘Common Core Standards’ across their states. And of course also a lot of resources being shared that we otherwise might not stumble across through our own local networks!
#engchat takes place at 7pm in the States (EST) every Monday, which is 10am – 12pm on Tuesdays in Australia (Eastern time).
You can follow the #literacies hashtag on the 1st and 3rd Thursday every month. The convenors are based in the US, so the chat happens on Thursday night for them, which is Friday lunch-time in Australia.
This chat is supported by a very up-to-date and informative blog, where a record is kept of the chats and upcoming topics.
The #literacies tag can be added to your tweets at any time, but Friday 12pm – 1pm (Eastern time) is when you’ll see it live in Australia (i.e. Thursday night 8-9pm in the US).
A tip for non-tweeters:
If you want to check out these tags, but don’t really want to get involved in Twitter or create your own account, never fear!
You can search for these tags any time by going to the Twitter homepage and typing the hashtag (complete with its ‘#’ at the start) into the search bubble. You will need to make your own account to reply with your own tweets, but until then there’s no harm in lurking and learning from afar
I wrote a little while ago about my venturing into the world of Pinterest. My first board was a collection of images and links relating to ‘Indigenous Studies‘.
This post is just an update on what else I’ve been pinning that other teachers might like to check out.
On my board for English teaching I have links to professional associations, related groups and institutions, magazines and journals, classroom resources for English, and other stuff I think an English teacher might like.
When I started finding resources for learning in general that weren’t specifically about English, I created this board for pins about Learning. There are some especially good things up to re-pin from Edutopia and Edudemic.
Finally, so that this post isn’t ALL work and no play, here is a link to the board I use to collect links to cool things to see and do in Brisbane. This board is great for when people come up here to visit, it means we always have a good list of things to do and see
If you’ve never used Pinterest before…
- Don’t stress out about missing out. I don’t see it as one of those “you absolutely GOTTA have an account!” tools. Anyone can go and browse my Pinterest boards, which I’ve invested time in because I like to curate, and also because I think my students enjoy the visual layout of links they would otherwise ignore in a reading list.
- My ‘addiction’ (read – compulsion to add pins!) to this tool waned after about four weeks, but I still find myself coming back to it and liking it five months after signing up.
- If you do decide after reading this post to go and make some Pinterest pin boards, ENJOY! I’ve really dug finding new resources this way, as well as thinking more carefully about how an icon or image ‘pin’ can represent an idea, association or resource.
This semester I have been leading a group of future Teacher Librarians through the Masters of Ed. unit ‘Youth, popular culture and texts‘.
For their second assignment they have to contribute to a group learning blog.
Here are links to blog posts from each of the SIX student blog groups that I will be charged with assessing at the end of October:
- Group M: http://jeanetteki.edublogs.org/2012/10/01/tv-shows-i-loved-growing-up-by-gina-mcpherson/
- Group C: http://cln647groupc.edublogs.org/sample-page/
- Group G: http://shellnye.edublogs.org/2012/09/16/successfully-logged-in-to-blog/
- Group R: http://whatishotandwhatisnot.edublogs.org/2012/10/10/gaming-as-learning/
- Group A: http://kpak.edublogs.org/2012/10/03/putting-the-social-into-reading/
- Group W: http://walwoowar.edublogs.org/2012/09/13/is-this-popular-culture-text/
I would be really grateful if folks could click through to any of these and drop a comment!
For many students in this unit it is their first attempt at adding to a blog like this – an extra comment here and there will make a big difference to their experience.
Thanks in advance
English teachers who blog
I’ve just come home from the AATE 2012 national conference in Sydney. It was exceptionally energising to spend two whole days and nights talking face-to-face with people in my PLN, as well as getting to know my colleagues better and meet new people.
One of the sessions that I spoke in was a panel discussion on being a teacher that blogs. Here is a piccie of me with the other panellists @Darcy1968 and @BiancaH80 with our chair @melanne_k:
Why we need more voices online
There are so many things I would love to write a blog post about, based on ideas I heard or conversations I had at the AATE conference. BUT – I know I won’t get a chance to write about them all! So, the first reason that more teachers need to blog is to literally get more of these ideas recorded:
- Andrew Burn outlined a ’3Cs’ model of media literacy – Cultural, Critical, Creative. How does this differ to other models of literacy (e.g. Green’s 3D model, Luke & Freebody’s 4 Resources model)?
- Bianca’s presentation on Project Based Learning emphasised the role of assessment. I have also found this to be very important, have others?
- Gillian Whitlock from UQ presented some really interesting ideas about humanitarian perspectives on literature and children’s writing. She showed refugee writing from Australia and artwork that had been created to memorialise the refugee journey. Definitely someone in Queensland to talk to or hear from again!
- The hashtag #5bells was used pretty successfully as a conference backchannel, I thought! What can we learn from this and how can we improve the experience for 2013 in Brisbane?
- Vivian (@vivimat78) did us all a big favour by collecting many of the #5bells tweets via storify…this is super helpful and valued, as hashtags are no longer searchable, after a time period, and we don’t want to lose all that great sharing!
- Vivian also coordinates the #ozengchat twitter chat and edmodo group. What relationship might exist in the future between AATE and #ozengchat? How can/do they support each other?
- We got to say so much to each other in real life (IRL)! Talking uses up soooo many characters! Face-to-face conversations are fun
- Hip Hop – OMG Adam Bradley was convincing. All the copies of his ‘anthology’ book sold out, and so many people left the keynote ready to exchange their cardigans for hoodies… In response I’ve started a Twitter list: trust-me-i-m-cool for teachers looking for Aussie Hip Hop links. One love!
- I found the closing keynote by Bill Green and Jane Mills to be quite problematic. I understand their point to be that linguistic frameworks have taken over the analysis of ‘the visual’, and that ‘cinephiles’ understand film in a much more ‘visceral’ way. I don’t agree. I think this contrast is weird, given the way I cry like a baby when reading some books, and (I believe) can successfully understand the moving image, thank-you-very-much. I usually love Bill’s stuff, but would rather have heard about his theories on ‘spatial literacy’ than be told English teachers are inadequate at teaching film…wrong crowd for that idea bill and jane, wrong crowd indeed.
I’m sure there is more, but these are the big ideas that I would ideally tackle in the next couple of months. Who will help me? (Will it be you?)
Don’t do it for me, do it for you!
In the panel that we did, quite a few people wanted to talk about how to get more people commenting on their posts. This is a good question, and our suggestions included:
- Comment on other people’s posts so that they come and visit your blog
- Let people know you have written a post by putting the URL up on Twitter (you’ll need an account)
- Use categories and tags wisely to help search engines find your post
However, I really do believe in the power of reflective writing for learning, and I encourage any new blogger to write posts for themselves as much as for an imaginary audience. It’s OK to talk to yourself here!
Think about it – how many times have you tried to convince a student to do a piece of reflective writing for homework, because you know the benefits it will have for their learning? Writing up your experiences on a blog can have the same benefit for you! The mere process of deciding “what will I publish information about this time?” will put you more in touch with the successes and obstacles in your practice, I really do believe this.
So that’s the second big reason. Start a blog for yourself, because if you haven’t yet, then I think you need to.
If you think you “can’t find time to write anything, ever”, then making time to do this will hopefully help you see ways to make time for other things too. And don’t worry – the blogging police aren’t going to arrest you if you don’t add anything for 3 months!
And because all good things come in threes…
The third reason why more English teachers should start a blog is because teachers who blog and share their resources are usually friendly, generous and just plain fun to hang out with.
And the more we share our work and resources, hopefully the more time we can put back in to spending quality time with our students, friends and families x
For the first half of this year it seemed like all anyone was asking me was ‘do you have Pinterest?’
All throughout semester one, when I asked students about Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr, I was guaranteed to get a few voices around the room crying ‘Pinterest!’
It sounded like a cool tool. A virtual pinboard – just make a board on a topic or ‘interest’ (ahhhh… pin + interest = ‘pinterest’!), then add images and videos to it. Always a fan of putting posters on my bedroom wall, covering my school folder with pictures under contact paper, and putting stickers on random bits of stuff, this highly visual curation tool has always sounded promising to me.
I had made the decision in semester one, however, to steer clear of Pinterest. This choice was purely motivated by my fear of taking up another addictive web tool … the first semester of this year was just too busy already to attempt trying new things.
Some questions have also flown around over time about the ethics and copyright implications of re-pinning images without permission, and I confess this made me wary.
THIS SEMESTER, however, I am pinning!
My most promising board so far is the one I have made to collect links for the unit ‘Culture studies: Indigenous education’ (EDB007):
I hope to engage students in my two tutorials by sharing the board with them and inviting them to explore the links I’ve collected/curated.
Of course, I could have chosen to share my links in other ways, but they all have their drawbacks:
- on a handout (which is not hyperlinked)
- in a Blackboard/LMS post (students hate and avoid Blackboard)
- using social bookmark sharing e.g. delicious (so far unsuccessful; students don’t use/engage)
My hope is that the visual nature of Pinterest, and the ability to browse it socially and on mobile devices, will entice a few students to explore the links I’ve found.
As far as the image copyright issue is concerned, I think I’ll just wait and see if any of these organisations complains, eh? I have done my best to attribute the images, that’s all I can say.
This slide presentation by Joe Murphy (@libraryfuture) was really helpful for me:
Joe makes this observation:
“Pinterest succeeds at the juncture of the major online and content trends of:
- self curation
- image engagement and sharing
- visual search/discovery
- and social discovery”
In addition, points made in these slides about the potential of Pinterest to expand community engagement and open up services to diverse clients made me even more eager to try using this service as a teaching resource.
Here’s hoping my bid to invoke some ‘cool’ in my classroom pays off!
I really enjoyed meeting new people and hearing them share their work yesterday at the first TeachMeet in Brisbane.
Steve Box (@wholeboxndice) hosted the TeachMeet at Moreton Bay Boys College (thanks Steve!):
I presented a 7 minute pecha kucha on how to construct ‘fair’ assessment when using project-based learning (PBL).
My presentation included shout-outs to @BiancaH80 @malynmawby @Vormamim and @benpaddlesjones who are some of the wonderful people that have tweeted around ideas with me on my PBL journey. It was the first time I presented a pecha kucha and adhered strictly to all the rules! Making cards to help me stick to the topic helped a lot (something I haven’t done since school tbh):
If you’d like to check them out I’ve put the slides up on slideshare. I hope that showing these resources helps future TeachMeeters plan their Pecha Kuchas – I loved the mode of presenting and highly recommend it!
Congratulations to TeachMeet Sydney on their WORLD RECORD ATTEMPT tonight! I hope the next #TMBrisbane event at the State Library of Queensland will be able to be video streamed online like #TMSydney was tonight, I had a ball watching along and tweeting with everyone from home
Very conscious that the Edublog Award nominations are closing tonight, but stuck in a hotel with no WiFi and slighly tempremental devices…
Still, my moby is playing nice enough to let me post these – my three best favourite blogs, and a free tool that should be getting more Edu-love, imo:
Best School Administrator blog
Darcy Moore’s Blog
Darcy continually puts forward ideas and resources that are either immediately of interest to me, or make their way into my orbit months (or years) later. Progressive, responsive and visionary Darcy – I’m sure i won’t be the only blogger to nominate him
Best teacher blog
For her edupunk ethos, and her uber reflective practice, Bianca always gets my vote. Now she’s started an MEd. in edu research, making this a hot blog to watch for all things Project-based.
Best individual blog
Dean is doing some really sexy Games-based learning work. He shares on his blog, among other things, his powerful use of Minecraft to connect kids AND their parentals to meaningful and fun learning online. His posts always give me something to think about – sometimes to disagree with – and his generosity with knowledge and resources is an important factor in the growth of interst in GBL in Sydney and beyond.
Best free web tool
At first glance this looks like a fashion website. But dig past the front page and you’ll discover a collage making tool with a vibrant community of users and a rich collection of ‘sets’ covering a wide range of highly creative art, literature and even interior design sets. Easy to use, highly addictive, 100% recommendable (as long as you can forgive the fashionista links to retail items…which any good critical user should be able to manage )
Now, off to submit my post link. I hope I made it in time!
Thank-you to every blogger i have read this year. While i was finishing my thesis I did fall a little out of the loop; i hope to be a better reader, and commenter, in 2012.
Good luck to my peeps, and may the odds be ever in your favour!
Thanks to @malynmawby @benpaddlejones and @Vormamim for engaging in tweety-chat today about play-based learning and transformational play.
There was an article that I wanted to post the full reference to – this one by Angela Thomas (@anyaixchel)
Thomas, A. (2011) Towards a transformational digital literacies pedagogy. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy. Vol. 6 pp. 89-101
You can see the abstract for the paper with my own annotations, above.
In it she argues that there are:
a number of significant characteristics of digital literacy that are imperative to include in a pedagogy of digital literacy in order to make it a transformational pedagogy. These include: explicit understandings of multimodality, opportunities for play and experimentation, participating within communities of practice, and critical engagement with text.
I had picked this article up to read Angela’s findings about digital pedagogy, but it was a timely read. I am a big fan of the work of Paulo Freire, and of his work to empower communities through literacy. By bringing in Freire’s notion of ‘transformative pedagogies’ this article reaffirmed the need for critical, participatory and dialogic practices to be woven into the digital learning landscape.
I’d love to hear of other readings and resources along these lines, if you know of any…?
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