Moving home…

Surprising my friends six weeks ago, I made a whirlwind decision to leave Parra Marist after 8 and a half years. I’ve been very lucky in my career to have worked with brilliant principals in great schools. When I left my previous school to go to PMHS, I was bored by traditional teaching and concerned about the integration of technology, which was out of my sphere of influence, that was brought about by the Digital Education Revolution. My husband had heard Brother Patrick, then principal of PMH, talk about what they were doing at the school, and the two of us had decided that one of us would work there….whichever job came up first.

So, in the second year of their PBL implementation, I went across to teach in what I explained to my friends was “kind of like a performing arts school for technology”. I have been so lucky in that time to have worked with some brilliant teachers, leaders and mentors, and have participated in  an amazing amount of professional development. I am a big believer in never being the smartest person in the room, and I certainly had this opportunity at PMH, the highlight of my career spending time with Br Patrick, Gavin Hays, Alfred Solis, Sam Seidel, Larry Rosenstock, Glenn O’Grady, Yong Zhao, Lydia Dobbins, Tim Presiado and Ron Berger. #namedrop

When the opportunity came up six weeks ago to work at St Lukes Marsden Park, I jumped at it. Again, attracted by an innovative principal with different ideas about how curriculum could be set up, and the opportunity to engage in K-12 education was a big drawing card. After two days, I am so impressed with the cutting edge ideas that St Luke’s are engaging in, and the level of unpacking of the different learning ideals that has occurred across K-6 within just three terms.  Some of the things that we’ve discussed in the past two days includes their sense of community in the staff spirituality day, the 6 pillars that underpin instruction and the work that teachers have been put in to encourage students to present their successes at their student led conferences. While some schools have implemented some form of “soft skills” and have then made the move to increase their relevance and importance to parents by reporting on these, St Lukes’ has taken this to the next level with their reports that flipped this focus and prioritised those skills that they see as essential to future success of students. They have also done a lot of hard work in educating parents in how to interpret the reports and as a parent of a primary aged student, and having done some work around primary STEM and Technology education, their reports make visible  the “below, at and above stage level” reporting process.

Part of the process of PD within the school is blogging, and I am looking forward to spending some time on my blog, finally finding an excuse to keep this updated more often as a reflection process.  I’ve edited the name of this blog post about three times now though, and have finally settled on its current title.  Speaking to one of the teachers today, about the plan for St Luke’s Pathways program, where each student analyses their strengths to determine where they need to direct their efforts for future success, I reflected on the fact that we are very lucky to be in a position where we love what we do. Not everyone is so lucky, or even consider it a possibility that they might enjoy work.  So, I have officially now mentally packed up my home at Parra Marist and moved house today. Thanks to the St Luke’s staff for the warm welcome.

 

 

Ipod app and blogging

For months I have been bemoaning the poor state of my blog. I’ve been so busy at school that it seems like 2009 has gone with the wind and taken with it almost two months of 2010.

So, my March resolution for this year is to focus on being a better, more efficient and effective blogger. With this in mind I have spent th last couple of weeks trying to find the perfect blogging app for my iPod touch(which is a new gadget I haven’t blogged about) followed by exactly zero blogs for the month of February so far.

Eventually, I found a wordpress app, not an edublogs one, that really seamlessly integrates with my blog. This is the first post I’ve tried on it however, so if you can’t read this, please email me. It is also a great price (free) and really easy to set up. I’m thinking of replacing my calendar with this snazzy app in my 4 most commonly used apps.

Let’s see how it goes for the rest of february

Use of Games in the Classroom Classtools

Click here for Industrial Tech Game

I’ve just been trying out ClassTools.net, which is a website where you can easily make interactive flash games with no knowledge of flash programming. I think this is a great idea to make interactive content for your classes very easily. The game above took about 5 minutes to make, and  is easily accessible for both teachers, and even very young students.

The above game is simply the syllabus dot points of one of our topics that we do “Government requirements of Industry” for Industrial Technology. Basically, it’s just the first 3 industry study factors. All I had to do was type in (copy and paste) the dot points in the syllabus into different categories, and hit create. The website then creates the interactive game. Knowing a fair amount about flash programming, this would have taken me a couple of hours to do if not for this website.

They also have a number of different templates that you can use, including a labelling, timeline and venn diagram that looks very useful. It’s so easy that you could even get students to create games themselves and then get them to submit them to a wiki, and students can play each others games.

Browser compatability

I have been following Steve Dembo’s 30 days to a better blog in order to motivate me to update and improve the blog. I’m about 4 days behind already, but considering that I’ve been HSC Marking, that’s not too bad.

This morning, I’ve added a new RSS feed and  email capabilities.

The next challenge is to test your blog in different browsers. Since I’m extremely lazy at this, about 6 months ago I found this website: http://browsershots.org/ which you can select different browsers and operating systems, and after about five minutes or so, the website will send you back screen captures for each browser, in each operating system. This is a fantastic system, that until now, I’d only used to test student websites. Below are my screen captures from this site:

Firefox 3  WindowsMS IE XPChrome WindowsFirefox on Mac

Added a translation tool

Just updated the blog with a translation page, so now you can read me in lots of other different languages (if you can read any). Since the only other languages I speak are computer languages, I wouldn’t mind some feedback in comments as to how accurate the tool is.

Click on the “Translate” page above.
Thanks to: http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/translate-your-blog-into-different-languages?replies=2 for providing the workaround for wordpress, and http://www.teach42.com/ for their 30 days to a better blog series for suggesting this. I love it!

Figured out the Blog thing

So, I’ve finally decided on a readable, usable, design friendly template. I wonder whether you can edit the CSS yourself. Something to remember to look into later. I’m also trying to figure out how to get my blogroll showing, becuase although I have some websites in it, it doesn’t seem to be working. Have been working on my ITM wiki for the day, and have put in most of the structure. I’m very happy with it, and also with the fact that I’ve finished all the programming and the description of the major project portfolio. Year 12 almost all planned for next year, with Brad’s addition of the workbooklets.