Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Our Last Master Classes

The first day of our last master classes flew by in a blur as we discussed, analysed, shared, planned and collaborated. What an amazing amount of work we managed to get through by this process. We are all so much on the same wavelength and yet are looking at a diverse variety of research pathways in our e-Fellowships. Sadly due to health issues our mentors Vince and Michael were unable to spend the day with us, but Vince managed to spend part of the morning with us and Michael was with us through Skype and following the Google doc we were creating as we worked.

Alongside the discussion there was a sharing of practical knowledge happening as members of the group asked ‘how do you…?’ and were shown how. This natural flow on of skill sharing is one of the benefits of meeting as a group alongside the extensive professional dialogue that occurs both in and outside the Core offices environment.

Tuesday was another power packed day! We worked on creating a plan for the future and ways in which we can work collaboratively. Joel helped me with setting up my own website – watch this space – and I will be working on getting that up and running soon.

The list of planned projects I have set myself for the next 1 – 2 years is almost overwhelming in its range and load, but at the same time after arriving in Christchurch feeling sad about the end of the fellowship I have come away knowing that it is only the beginning and that we are all committed to continuing and growing as teachers within the fellowship and will be supporting each others future endeavours.

This is the stated group theme that evolved from our time workshopping together:

‘Collectively the 2010 e-Fellowship is developing new teaching practice and utilising current technology to develop student interaction and learning of the wider world through collaborative projects with other schools using real-time video conferencing platforms, and developing a new culture of independent self-directed learning using newly developed e-resources, both within the school environment and in the wider world.’

Dr Sugata Mitra

As we spent time revisiting Dr Sugata Mitra’s Hole in the Wall project during our time together in e-Fellow Master Classes, I could not help but reflect on how there are elements of his work in the way we approach some things in ECE. 

For example, when I make available a new IT component (e.g. software, peripheral etc) I tend to not give instruction but adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach. I have always found that through exploration the children discover far more about the programme and uses for the peripherals than I could ever have done exploring on my own. They work both individually and collaboratively and regularly astonish me with the discoveries they can make. Examples of this are – when we were shown by the children how to take photos on our Digital Microscope with a button on the front of the unit that we hadn’t found as teachers; the amazing elements there are in Garage Band that even with going to courses and exploring this software I hadn’t yet found; the list goes on and on. 

We need to relax and let children explore with the equipment we give them – we allow this to happen in other contexts, but so often I hear teachers say that they haven’t let the children use something in relation to ICT’s yet because they themselves don’t know how to. To that I say let the children play and then let them teach you how to use it. This will reinforce the learning that has happened for them, empower them as learning leaders and free your time up to do some of the other myriad of demands that all teachers have placed on their time. 

When I was first exposed to a computer it was a small group of 4 year olds who taught me how to use it. They taught me to try something and if it didn’t work try something else. They taught me I couldn’t break it, and through what they taught me then, I have become the confident explorer of ICT’s that I am today. A classic example of who leads who? Who was the teacher? Who gained the most from this process?