Sunday, September 28, 2014

Reflections upon Google Teacher Academy

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard” JFK

There was a real buzz that first morning when we all arrived and yet were not sure exactly what lied ahead of us. We knew there would be a range of teachers, skills, the walls you can write on and that sense of googliness but what was going to be achieved was still not quite clear to me.

We shared our findings from the immersion tasks and we all had a realisation of what we want to achieve in education. Teacher moonshots included building excitement for teachers, student voice, changing assessment and why can’t I open my own school? It was then we had a Jerry Maguire moment of “who’s with me?”. I grabbed the fish and I was with a lot of the teachers.

I was introduced to Hackschooling. A TED talk by Logan Laplante - Everything is up for being hacked. Hack Schooling TED Talk
This excited me, I was left asking questions of how else can we get students and schools show what they are doing and what they are doing well. So trying to improve assessment across schools is my Moonshot!

As the first day went on (and this continued into day two), what struck me was the connection I made with my team, we questioned, challenged, supported and worked together to see how we could work towards achieving our Moonshots. Clare, Karla, Ross, Shawn, Anthony and of course our team mentor Chris I had a great couple days working with you and I thank you all for your questions and support and look forward to our continued journey ahead. I know I am able to ask challenging questions to my students but I have never felt confident in challenging adults, this experience changed that also.

Google teacher academy was personalised we were able to use the strategies and resources to suit our very own Moonshot - I can’t wait to use these skills with my students - such as
  • Shaped Thinking (My version of hexagonal thinking)
  • 100 ideas in 10 minutes
  • Coming up with open ended challenges with my students
  • Seeing that sparks student curiousity

Time was a challenge throughout the experience but really this is no different to our classrooms and in life. Some things do take time but limitations can be of assistance rather than a challenge. A focus our team worked on when the idea of a 48 min movie festival came round.

What also added to this great experience is that I was able to share with 4 great friends/colleagues from the #aussieED team. The car rides on the way home together were an experience in themselves.

We were also very fortunate to hear talks from Annie Parker, Brett Morgan and Suan Yeo himself. Helpful, encouraging and inspiring. Great ways to end each day.

So, the fact that it was different to past GTAs made it that bit more special - Hamish Curry and Tom Barrett from No Tosh were amazing leaders of the two days who were challenging as well as encouraging, I especially loved and heard others say it was great how we were addressed as colleagues. I am excited to continue the journey after this experience with my new colleagues and skills acquired. Moonshots are GO!

Hanging Out!

Connecting classrooms with Google Hangout!

So Both Term 2 and 3 I found myself and my students loving to connect with other schools.
We have had High Schools teach us about states of matter and gravity and have shared maths lessons with other Year5/6 classes where students questioned and challenged each other.
I couldn’t help but come up with a helpful list.
Tips for having a google hangout!

If questioning schools - it’s always good to just repeat the question anyway.
Only one student speaks at a time unless they are greeting.
Students who are talking should be right up front to the camera.
Have students have pen, paper or ipad for note taking, working out or reflecting.
Students can reflect on their own blog or site about the experience.


The debate that will never end.

With all the ideas of authentic learning and genius hour, I had been challenged with allowing time for my students to work on personal projects. While, still being able to meet their needs in other areas of the curriculum.

It is a well known fact that students don’t like homework and to be honest I don’t like homework. Trying to come up with interesting activities that will support what they are doing in the classroom. Then having to find the time to mark it when I am a firm believer in marking with students. I have also thought about and plan to implement Flipped learning for homework as well.
It was one day when students were working on a 3D creation task that a student asked me - “For homework next week can I draw up a net and make a pizza box?” I thought about it and I said yes, look at one of the tasks and we can negotiate which task you won’t complete.

I thought more about this and then thought What if students wrote their own homework? After discussing with my grade partner, she suggested let’s start with allowing them to come up with one task and then increase on that next term.

They were excited. I had students doing such a range of tasks which include:
  • Documentary on their dance school.
  • A new song on guitar
  • Chocolate and Banana muffins and writing up the recipe
  • The Pizza Box
  • Creating Minecraft characters
  • A student recorded his statistics at football training and then drew up a graph

For one of my students with special needs he opted to spend time on an online maths game, which was also fine.

As I said they were excited, I was excited and I looked forward to seeing,
marking their work.  They then all wanted to share their homework with the class and started giving each other feedback. Definitely a winner and I can’t wait to see what they continue to do.