Looking back to the future…

No. I haven’t become confused (at least – no more than usual). Nor have I become caught in a cyclical wormhole which intersects with the space-time continuum. After doing some more readings I am looking back to move forwards, considering what my teaching was like last year to what it will be when I return from study leave at the start of next year. Continue reading

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Play versus Work

What constitutes the difference between play and work for children? Georgeson & Payler (2015) posit that it is all about perception. At the heart of the matter, they say, is the perception of freedom versus constraint. Also of note is the impact of teacher discourse on signalling which is which.

Georgeson and Payler continue by listing some of the objects that children tend to associate with play such as blocks, paint, construction materials, computer/board games etc. This begs the question – if one of these were used in a constrained activity would it then become work?

I am reminded of a student who was an incredibly talented (and young) artist. Normally engrossed for significant lengths of time in an art project of their design, this student was taken into an art extension class. The student’s behaviour was reported back as being ‘disruptive’ and ‘just mucking around’. Now in this context students were being taught a particular art technique. Had this student’s ‘play’ become ‘work’?

 

Georgeson, J., & Payler, J. (2015). Work or play: How children learn to read the signals. In J. Moyles (Ed.), The excellence of play (4th ed., pp. 159–172). New York, NY: Open University Press.

Coding

Around the Western world coding has become a part of curriculums as governments seek to futureproof education and their ability to compete at a technological level. Putting aside for a moment whether one agrees with that or believe that such a move whilst simultaneously marginalising the arts will be beneficial… I stumbled across this awesome looking site with genuine coding projects that could be implemented.

As teachers we have to enact a curriculum, but we can make even coding purposeful rather than getting caught up in a repetitive rote learning cycle (hopefully – at least, that is what is suggested by our draft curriculum in this area).

Here’s a few ideas – I claim no credit for them but do intend to use them in the future. They even look like fun!

Coding project ideas!

Capture

Compulsory te reo Māori in schools

We look back on some practices e.g. teachings caning children and go – how could they do that/say that/ think that way back then? It would be wonderful if the next generation of teachers say the same thing about Māori not being compulsory in school.

It is interesting reviewing this post. I wrote it a good few months ago, and put it in draft form to come back to to avoid reactionary responses burned into the internet forever. I agree with much of what is written, and continue to agree with the principle of making te reo compulsory. HOWEVER, I think that an awful lot of structuring needs to be put in place to avoid it starting and failing because inadequate supports were put in place. At the end of the day it is our native language and the benefits of speaking more than one Continue reading

Bullying sucks

I heard a story of a child who has been feeling unwell as an avoidance tactic for school. This child was being bullied. On the grand scale of bullying it would count as on the minor side, but it was significant to the child concerned which makes it significant.

This yet again reiterated my frustrations as a teacher when bullying occurs. I can address the bullying with the child (and sometimes that is enough – by exposing it to the light or separating a couple of individuals who just get nasty together – those are the easy ones), but often this is not enough to address the issue. That is the issue with bullying – it is generally not a one off thing, but an ongoing pattern. Patterns can be hard to change. And just leaving it for the teacher to fix does not work because the teacher is not always there. Oh, the teacher definately needs to know it is going on and needs to take steps to support students, but this isn’t always effective. Yes there are strategies that can be employed

  • Restorative justice
  • Teaching skills to deal with it
  • Removal of the bully from the playground
  • Peer support
  • Teaching people to recognise unhealthy situations – or friends who aren’t friends
  • Home-school connections
  • Addressing it in the wider school context
  • Developing student relationships and expectations to stand up for one another
  • Helping kids learn to stand up for themselves and react less

But ultimately how do we stop it? A determined bully will find ways to continue. They themselves have learning they need to do. But how do we protect those who are being hurt in the process to stop it? How do we empower the victim?

In some ways physical violence is easier to deal with because there are marks. But what about words? What about those complex situations where the bully is subtle and jabs, jabs, jabs then gets upset when there is a response? What about when the bully knows how to play the game and hide the bullying?

Is there really anything that we can do or is it an uphill battle? In saying that it is not a battle that we can afford to stop fighting. It is a battle that we see played out not just in school, but continued through into adult life. New Zealand (in 2016) holds the silver medal for the highest statistics (worldwide) of workplace bullying. Click the link below to see an article on it. Therefore, simply dismissing bullying as ‘a part of life’, or as someone needing to ‘harden up’ because ‘life isn’t fair so you might as well get used to it now’ doesn’t work.

Despite a plethora of literature on bullying, it seems to be an ongoing problem (and not just over here in NZ either) and not one that is easily addressed. If you have some more ideas to add regarding this issue, please do.

 

workplace bullying

100+ Tools for Differentiating Instruction Through Social Media | Edutopia

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/differentiated-instruction-social-media-tools-john-mccarthy?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

 

Here’s a useful post I stumbled across – it focuses on purposeful use of tech tools rather than replacing doc…

A real bugbear of mine is having these wonderful tools available and then just using them to replace pen and paper activities (assuming you have been able to get past issues such as equity of access/ physical access/ internet speed/training/ policy matters etc). It’s chocolate covered broccoli and kids know it.

The trouble is there are so many barriers preventing genuine integration – some of these are genuine, some are excuses. But this ties into the touted learning revolution with the ‘game changers’ that are computers. As I have studied this topic it strikes me that this cry goes back to the eighties and even well before that.

Ultimately I have come to the conclusion that all the tech in the world will make minimal difference without substantial changes to pedagogical and assessment practices. So big ups to all you people out there doing your darndest! Remember, one step at a time on your tech journey. Just don’t stop for too long in one place.