Thursday, October 21, 2010

Isla at work

During the last week of last term I had the opportunity to film Isla creating her animation. She was so focused and intent on her work and despite it being a very wet and noisy day she retained that focus throughout her animation project.

And this is the movie she created:


For the fifth year in a row, I was fortunate enough to attend Ulearn, the conference held in Christchurch annually, that informs and inspires teachers, during the October term break.

I started the week with e-Fellow Master Classes. Monday we shared our journeys so far, with each other, as we shared the presentations we had created for conference delegates later in the week. We gave and received feedback to help make our presentations even more effective.

On Tuesday we had the first e-Fellow ‘group session’ working together with e-Fellows from the past 8 years alongside a team from the Galileo Network who are based in Canada. It was wonderful to meet and share stories with previous e-Fellows and to be part of an inspirational group of teachers. One of the highlights for me was to talk with Carol Marks from Selwyn Kindergarten in Tauranga. Carol was the last Early Childhood e-Fellow in 2006 and I was so impressed by her presentation at Ulearn that year, that I had decided to be an e-Fellow myself one day there and then! Here I am 4 years later following that dream.

And onto the conference itself, three days full of inspiring keynotes and wonderful breakouts combining to create a mass of information to process, interaction with great teachers from all sectors and all seen this year from the perspective of being part of an amazing group of e-Fellow as we bounced our thoughts, ideas and passions off each other. And, we even managed to fit in a late night visit to the Christchurch Art Gallery to see the Ron Meuk exhibition; sculptures that made us all feel emotional in some way or another.

 Lee Crockett from Canada, spoke about the ‘Digital Generation’ and how that brains of children today are wired differently – they are ‘neuroplastic brains’ – as they are changing physically and digitally as their eyes process information 60,000 times faster than text. The digital learners prefer to process pictures, sound and video before text and his catch phrase was “It’s not about hardware, it’s about headware.” We need to be teaching ‘just in case, not just in time’ as we have in the past as the children of today and tomorrow need higher order thinking skills to cope with the world they will be working in.

Steve Wheeler from the U.K., also talked about the trend in education moving from just in case to just in time and he feels it needs to move to just for me – more personalised learning for the future (Te Whariki kept ringing in my ears at this point). He discussed personalised learning and how we can make it interactive and interpersonal.  He also discussed Digital Wisdom and how we need to show children what the dangers are and then they will avoid them – a different scenario from a break out I attended presented by Brett Lee from Australia, who has set himself up as a teenage girl on chat rooms to catch paedophiles online, to arrest.

Lane Clark from Canada, discussed what she calls ‘Learning Smarts’ and how we need to check each stage of the way that children have taken on board the learning and rechecking to see where the learning they have achieved takes them next on their learning journeys. As I sat in her Keynote I could not help but reflect that much of what she was saying is the way we work in ECE, as we follow and build on children’s interests, and follow those interests down some amazing paths.

The final keynote was very entertaining and given by Stephen Heppell who stated we should not be discussing 21st Century learning we should be calling it 3rd Millennium teaching. You can see and listen to this presentation here.

As well as the keynotes I learnt about using IPod Touch and/or Ipads in the teaching environment, enviro-ethical teaching and the availability of open source material on the web, the power of reflection by children using video and even gave an interview for Edtalks (a scary moment) alongside presenting the research I have done so far in my e-Fellowship.

My mind has fizzed and buzzed ever since and I would like to thank Core Education, and especially Vince and Michael, for the opportunity to again attend Ulearn, the professional learning at this conference has to be the best anywhere as we learn from fellow teachers and leading international educators in the beautiful, if still slightly shaky, city of Christchurch. Thank you also to the other e-Fellows who are the most amazing and inspirational teachers, and whenever we get together I come away feeling so privileged to be included in this group. They are also so much fun to be with as we all have the same sense of fun alongside the passion to be the best educators we can for the children we work with.  I really do not want this journey to end!