This Teaching Life

From My Classroom To Yours

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Class Hack: How Cable Ties Became Table Ties

Sorry, it’s been a long time since posting. Just a quick practical tip today.

One of the joys of teaching is the pleasure that comes with wandering tables. If you’re a teacher then you know what I’m talking about. You painstakingly plan and organise the table layout in your room, taking into account the functionality and practicality of the room and the amount of students you have.

You work hard to place those tables in exactly the same way lining them up with mathematical precision that even a NASA engineer would be proud of, only to have 20 or more students enter the room and sit down. Suddenly the tables take on a life of their own, moving and sliding across the floor. Your hard work and hours of precision planning have come undone in a matter of moments and you are pinned to your board at the front of the room by wayward tables.

Solution? Cable ties.

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Yes. Cable ties.

This morning after experiencing something quite akin to the above description I took matters into my own hands and tied together my tables with cable ties. The tables fear to move and I no longer fear students entering into the room.

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2014 Edublogs Teacher Challenge

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One of the great things about being in the Educational Community online is that there often come along some wonderful projects and challenges.  One of these has just currently started – the Edublogs Teacher Challenge.

This is an open challenge designed to allow blogging teachers to grow personally and professionally in their craft and network.  If you have a blog and are a part of this, please say ‘Hi!’  I’m looking forward to this month long professional development opportunity.

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Literacy Activity: The Cone of Silence

The Night GardenA new week and a new book study for our literacy sessions.  Our unit this term is Day and Night and our librarian gave us a beautiful fantasy book called The Night Garden.  I wanted the children to have a chance to explore this book a little before I read it to them so I gave them an activity which they had never done.  I called it The Cone of Silence.  Yes, I was thinking of Get Smart.

As a warm-up to the activity I asked them to think about their weekend.  Instead of sharing it with a partner, they were to join with another and using a scrap piece of paper write the conversation about their weekend as though they would if they were talking.  No voices were to be heard – the cone of silence.

I gave them five minutes to complete their conversation and then turned to discussing this method of recounting.  The students told me that they found they stayed on the topic by writing rather than talking. The general consensus was that their audible conversations would have drifted away from the topic.  Some found that there was a pressure to get their spelling correct and they didn’t get to mention other things that they had also deemed important.  This was a good point to note, as we were then able to talk through strategies of only including important and relevant information.  For some it was noted too that by writing their conversation it helped them to keep on task and minimised the distractions.  This was a great little warm up activity to precede the main event.   For me it was interesting to see the way some of the partnerships recorded set out their writing, ie, speech bubbles.

 

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Weekend Coversation

I then showed them the front cover of the book on the board.  We discussed only what they could see on the cover.  We did not speculate on its meaning or symbols of the story.  We then repeated the written conversation activity to record their predictions.  I found this a good way to see the thoughts of the children and the initial connections they were making with the the text.  Of course, time is needed in this.  Reflecting from their previous comment time was the most valuable commodity in this exercise.

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I guess what I was most impressed about though was the opportunity to add some Get Smart into my classroom.  And yes, I did show them the following clip.

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Why I’ve Re-Entered The Online Ed Community

medium_4937657767Nearly two years ago, I pulled the plug on my technology life.

2500+ Twitter followers, my website, Facebook pages, Google.  All of it.

All that remained was a love/hate relationship with my personal Facebook profile.  And I was happy.  Like a spoilt child who picks up his bat and ball and walks away from the game, I was happy.  And truly I was.  Having to maintain so many profiles and create content was a pressure that I needed a break from.  In reality, it was an imagined pressure, but for me it meant relief.

So why I am I back?  Why have I once again challenged myself to pick up the digital pen and delve back into the foray of the Online Educational World?  Because in the 2 years or so, absence makes things clearer.  My self-imposed absence from blogging and writing has cleared many things;

  1. My vision was too small.  Or perhaps saying it was too narrow, would be a better description. My original site – The Teacher’s Hub – tried to corner the educational technology market.  I would try to blog about the wonderful apps and websites that could be used to create learning within the classroom. Though, this limited me in what to write. It felt that it didn’t reflect my classroom activities truthfully. My teaching was more diversified than iPads and IWBs
  2. It has allowed me to concentrate on my teaching. Maintaining the original website I would often find myself trying to manufacture a blog post and, in a way, make something happen in my classroom rather than allow the students and the day to day manufacture something for me. I have learnt that authentic learning comes from being authentic experiences. Authentic blogging comes from an authentic teacher
  3. There is more to teaching than technology. I know, shoot me. I started blogging around about the time the original iPads arrived on the scene. I had an interactive whiteboard and a Mac. I thought I was set, and I could be a fantastic teacher. What eventually became obvious was that technology did not make me a better teacher. Nor did it make my students better learners. What I re-learnt was that connections and relationship are the keys to the classroom. We have a quote at work that simply says, “Authentic learning does not occur without authentic relationships.” By not having a blog this has sounded like a clarion bell with me.

So, I hope that with a wiser head on my shoulders I have decided to start again. Will I blog technology? Yes. Will I blog more than technology? Yes. To teach well is a life consuming passion. It is more than school hours. It is some etching you think about when you go to the shops. It is something that occupies your thoughts on the drive to work. It is the conversation topic at BBQs. It is a craft that a good teacher will continue to refine. There is no end to it.

Here’s my invitation to you. Join me. You can follow me here. You can look for me on Facebook and connect with me on Twitter.

See you round, and here’s to the teaching life!

From my classroom to yours.

Mark

photo credit: semihundido via photopin cc

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