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A Sea Change? June 14, 2007

Posted by davidit in class blog, Education, Education 2.0, ICT Integration, Inquiry Model, mathletics, partners.
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I started this blog with the analogy that my role in encouraging change was that of a tug boat manoeuvring a supertanker, hence the title. Well in the last week or so I am almost optimistic about my chances. I hesitate to say that we are experiencing an epiphany here at school, but the indications here this week might suggest that our heading is starting change. Yes it is my pleasure to announce that my particular supertanker has started to change course from a heading of 180 degrees to that of perhaps 190 degrees. We are swinging to starboard ( To the right or to the green side for the less nautically minded!)

I have been beavering away here at school targeting certain members of staff and suggesting certain resources or ideas that might be of use in their quest to integrate ICT into their class programmes. At the same time from another tack several members of staff have been championing an online maths programme called Mathletics. There has also been an increase in chatter on our school PD blogs and these three courses of action seem to have created a confluence of positive energy in the last week and hence my optimism.

We have set up several plc (professional learning circles) here in school this year and each group has been charged with investigating certain aspects of the inquiry model. Each group has to contribute to their respective blog by adding links to resources that they have found as part of their individual professional reading. In addition they also have to post comments illustrating their thinking about the area of focus and their responses to colleagues comments. So far the comments posted have been rather dull and each post was lucky to attract three or so comments. In my own group there has always been a hard core of contributors, but at our last meeting it was evident that the group was in danger of polarising. Several members of the group are steaming ahead, implementing and experimenting with ICT ideas and initiatives. That week I posted several posts to the blog, one about Interactive whiteboards and the following quote, which I knew would provoke a reaction, it was a risk and one that I agonised over, but published anyway.

“ICT will not replace teachers BUT teachers who use ICT will replace those that don’t”

(Carrey, EQ,-Curriculum Corporation – Winter 2006)

It came though on a paper that I read as part of the BECTA ICTRN that I subscribe to. It had the desired effect. It provoked a reaction and caused a flurry of angry comments on the blog. One of my colleagues described the effect as lancing a boil! I prefer the uncorking of a Champagne bottle myself! As the angrier members of my blog commented the others dived in to suggest alternative points of view and slowly within the comments you could see the anger die and a more reasoned stance being taken. Within the individual threads you could witness philosophical movement by individuals. There is now talk of experimenting with ideas, of taking things slowly, of practical solutions. In short people have started to make tentative steps and not throwing up barriers. It has been great and I thank all of my plc group for being honest, scared, brave and professional. Long may this continue.

At the same time and almost in tandem, there has been a growing clamour within school about this online Mathletics programme. Now I have to confess that I have deliberately kept myself ignorant of this product. I reasoned that if I got in on this initiative from the start, my mere presence might be enough to put some off for life! I treated it as a Trojan Horse and to date my strategy has not failed me! There is a buzz about this programme. It was introduced into one class initially and has quickly spread in almost a viral way to a third of the school. It is highly likely that the vast majority of the school will be using it in some form or another by the end of term 3. Because it is online, the classrooms that have adopted it have by default begun to wrestle with some of the integration of ICT issues and solved them, without realising that they have begun to integrate ICT into their daily programme. ICT has moved to the centre in one aspect of their day!

Our plc blogs have also had spin offs. A couple of members of staff have now created their own blogs for their students to use and are getting great results. What has happened is that student motivation has increased, parents can comment on student work, not only that one blog has been set up to link several schools together so that students and teachers from different parts of the world can contribute. You can check out the blogs here:

Year 2 Blog

Year 5 Blog

Year 4 blog

The year 4 blog is a project that I have been instrumental in. It is a partnership with a school in England. This partnership has been built throughout the year, it too has taken time and energy ensure that it could flourish. At first it seemed as this link would whither away, but to the credit of my partner in England she has stuck at it and we now have a great partnership that is gathering momentum between us and is now spreading to other classes in both schools. Currently we are co-operating on podcasts, classes are e-mailing each other and now this blog. This project has the potential to really explode. Motivation of teachers seems to be a real sticking point and then creating genuine authentic learning opportunities for the students is the other. At times these two elements seem to be almost mutually exclusive, but when the synergy is right change is almost instant and oh so gratifying.

The nut has not been cracked, the heading is still largely against me! But progress has been made, it now has to be maintained and extended to others and as momentum builds the pace of change will quicken! This week I love my job!

 

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Comments»

1. Fiona - June 16, 2007

Hi David,
Very exciting to read about some of the explorations Meadowbank is making. I have been collaborating with some teachers in a new blog over at http://www.ictinenglishnz.blogspot.com where we are exploring blogging. I have included a link through to this post as another example of how teachers are keeping it relevant….particularly the project with the school in the UK.

Cheers,
Fiona


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