Minecraft-ing the Curriculum

With more and more focus on standardised testing and data collection in education teachers are looking for solutions that satisfy the curriculum and the governing education department’s requirements of assessment data.

The timeless question for many teachers in the classroom today is: How can I keep my students motivated to learn and participate? And there are a vast number of resources to answer this timeless question, but my answer is always to make it feel like it isn’t learning and the students are engaged and demonstrate a whole lot more than the curriculum outcomes that you have set for the lesson.



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From Learning to Exploring

With only a week before school returns for 2015, I am beginning to consolidate my ideas into planning for the new school year. As the Digital Technologies Teacher K-7 (plus a year 11/12 course) I am keen to continually innovate and push the boundaries. I have a new leader in the STEM curriculum area, whom I believe will be supportive of innovation, and a very supportive Principal who has given me license to push towards innovation and making a difference in my field, but to always reflect and evaluate upon the implications.

When I plan for the new Australian Curriculum – Digital Technology I know there will be many challenges and a very steep learning curve to navigate. I took the opportunity to begin some coding with some students at the end of last year during the Hour Of Code, which was received well by some students, so I believe they are up for the challenge and change. My big idea for the year is to allow more freedom to the students in what they will explore and learn. I want them to take more responsibility for their learning and the direction of their work. I know some students will run with this and thrive in the new learning format and space that is being provided, and others will need guidance and modelling every step of the way. This is an effect of the education system we traditionally impose on our students.

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Hour of Code 2014

This year I have signed Ocean View College up to participate in the Hour of Code. I have put together this presentation with the support of some University of Adelaide resources. If you would like to use them please do so with acknowledgement of the authors.

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Preparing for the Future

We are often presented with the fact that the students we are educating today will be working in jobs of the future that don’t yet exist.

The Australian National Curriculum has a strong emphasis on carees strategy and preparing students and providing them with the skills for this unknown employment future. The development of the Australian Blueprint in Career Development has given schools some guidance as to how to implement this into the curriculum. This strategy will be implemented from the beginning of secondary school and skills are developed throughout the students’s education until they complete their secondary education.

The Three areas of focus will be:

  1. Self Awareness

  2. Opportunity Awareness

  3. Decision Making

The above stated qualities are very important in a global world and the more of the associated competencies that students can personify the more chance they will have in the world of an imbalanced supply and demand of labour. At its core the Australian Blueprint in Career Development recognises that people will only become more productive, innovative and willing to manage their own careers under the primary condition that they love the work they do. The blueprint identifies that students with the greatest employability skills will demonstrate:

  • Communication skills that suits particular purposes, contexts and cultures.
  • Teamwork skills to develop working relationships that are based on independence and interdependence.
  • Problem solvig skills and the ability to identify new problems and possible solutions.
  • Initiative and enterprise skills that take up opportunities  and adapt to changing situations in life and work.
  • Planning and organising skills used to develop, implement and articulate plans to achieve visions for the future.
  • Self-management skills for the harmonious balance of life, learning and work.
  • Learning skills that demonstrate an inquisitive nature to continually learn.
  • Technology skills that are transferrable and efficient.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Carol Browne

People will only become more productive, innovative and willing to manage their own careers under the primary condition that they love the work that they do. – Unknown

In today’s changing world of work, the ability to embrace ongoing learning of new tasks in a globalised world and the horizontal progression in any employment will be challenges that our students are faced with in their working life. This must become the focus of all education and flexible learning for our students.

The question of employability used to be in the form of “What do you want to be when you grow up?”.

How would your students answer the new capabilities questions?

      • Who are you now, and what do you love to do?
      • What are your special talents and skills, or gifts?
      • What types of situations and environments have special appeal for you?
      • What types of organisations need what you can offer better than others?
      • What innovative work arrangements will suit you and potential employers?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the careers strategy or the future employability of ouf students.

Don’t flip out! Grab the tool box!

It is great to learn new ways to present learning to students but I believe flipping (although it has its merits) is not always the best method. I would rather see education change from a consumption of information to the apprenticeship of learning. This apprenticeship would teach the tools in the tool box (this may be done in an exploratory manner or flipped). Once the basics of the tools are established including rules and safety precautions. The students are then required to apply this foundation knowledge to the tool and demonstrate competencies in the possible use of it. George Couros wrote a post about the impact the “Flipped” classroom, and how it will not transform schools. His basic description of the Flipped classroom:

The idea of having students spend more time working in the classroom and connecting with the teacher, and having the content shared during a time where they can pause and watch the content at their own speed.

Although Flipped is great in theory there are some floors to the process. Teachers must become guide of learning and experiences. Teachers are the ones to share the Tool box and introduce the learners to appropriate “tool of the trade”.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Aivar Ruukel

“Thinking outside the square”, is a phrase we have all heard and used, but how many of us truly impress this on our students? How many classrooms share the basics information about something and then let the students explore and discover what they can about it?

CHALLENGE: Give a group of students an ambiguous object, maybe an old meat grinder, or a shoe horn. Ask them to hypothesise as to what the item is if you have students who know what the items are have them work on a different item or help with the suggestions about how this item might be used and how it’s purpose could change. This is the traditional model of “thinking outside the square”. Propose that in addition to these theories, students advertise the product, make a TV and printed advertisement. Present a ‘but wait there’s more…a set of steak knives!, in the shopping centre’ type demonstration of the item and see how many others were convinced.

Think about all of the Key Learning Areas the students would be using… Literacy/language, writing, public speaking, math -costings, video editing, desktop publishing, hypothesising (science), Humanities – the history of the item…and the list goes on.

Imaging a classroom where every student was working on their presentation using their chosen tool and media. Allow the students to choose the tools they use for their  project and be there as a guide to support them in their discovery and learning.

I have always held the philosophy that: “You only have complete knowledge when you can teach it to someone else“. In many cases this is true, but the majority of information anyone needs to know these days can be found either by using a search engine (i.e. Google), YouTube for a video demonstration, picture search or even seeking relevant information from social networks. In recent times I have come to revisit my philosophy and am now working under the idea that “Sound knowledge is developed through exploration and meaningful experiences“.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by BenSpark

Given the support and the time everyone can explore, discover and learn. The skills students are coming into schools with today are far broader than just a few years ago. They are now very connected even before they start Kindergarten. As teachers, it would be near impossible to keep ahead of all of our students in terms of technical knowledge and experiences. Thus, we must use the tool box of teaching in a different way. Rather than supplying the information and expecting to have it bounce back rebound style from our student’s when they have “learnt” it, we must provide key information and embrace their creative minds in making the discoveries and learning through their own processes. This may present more challenging to the teachers than the students as there would be no assessment schedule and no guiding boundaries, but this is what we are teaching our students for..an unknown future where they will not only need to be problem solvers but problem finders. they will need to identify local or global issues and then develop strategies to solve them.

This proces of investigation and exploration lends itself to “flipping the classroom” just as equally as conventional “un-flipped”. The process seems to be less of a factor to the learning than the process by which the learning was achieved, and both take the onus off the teacher and puts it back on the learner.

Flipping the roles not the classroom.

How do you provide the tools for your students?

Are your students the investigators or the consumers of learning?

Lessons, Lessons, Lessons

Upon the resumption of the final school term I was asked by our Principal to read a very concerning email that had been sent into our school via our website. This was a notification to the school about some undesirable behaviour by students of our school on a page naming our school, on Facebook. The author of the letter also expressed her concern about this online behaviour as the company she works  for actively seeks information online about prospective employees and the behaviour of these students will reduce their chances of being employed by some companies.

Through further investigation we found that there were quite a few schools (approximately 30) across the state who had  similar pages. The major concern for us as educators is that of the future of our students. We recognize this digital association will remain attached to their names indefinitely.

The analogy was recently made that the decisions and posts we make online should have more consideration that the decisions of a tattoo. A tattoo will go to the grave with the individual but the posts online will remain in cyber-space forever.

The following is an Info-graphic about employers screening employee candidates, from How Recruiters Use Social Networks to Screen Candidates [INFOGRAPHIC], By 

How-Recruiters-Screen-Candiates-Using-Social-Media infograph

I would like to know how you teach socially appropriate behaviour for students’ future?  And what action your school takes with socially unacceptable behaviour online when it is posted out side of school hours?