Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Being Creative

This morning I went into the Grade 3/4 classroom. We began yesterday by setting up a wiki for the kids to create and post their ideas and reflections about what they are doing in class. In planning for this session I had a chat with Tanya, the class teacher and she told me that every Tuesday afternoon she challenges the students to be more creative by having them design, create, problem solve and produce an article or plan that addresses a particular problem or issue that she poses. For example she has asked them to design the best handbag for a teacher, or a farmer or a carpenter. They have designed and planned the best holiday for their family. They have designed the ideal spot for them to spend three hours relaxing and thinking.
As she was telling me about this I firstly thought- what a fabulous teacher- someone who values creativity and expressive thought and gives it the due time that it needs. It's no surprise to me that Tanya was once a pre-school teacher. But I also thought about how we could use the wiki as a repository for their ideas. We could scan the ideas that the children draw. We could have students descibe and explain their plans and upload the audio files. We record students demonstrating their inventions. I'm really excited about what we could achieve with just a little bit of effort and imagination.
Serendipidously I was reading a blog entry from Cherie Toledo this evening and she commented on a video presentation by Tony Buzan on creativity. He says "creativity is the engine of all curricular" That it's not about what we learn but HOW we learn. and that is the challenge for us as teachers. Not to teach facts and knowledge (although he says we have to do that) but to teach HOW to learn. By teaching and allowing for creativity we are unleashing the potential of every student, every brain.
check it out here:

Monday, August 27, 2007

Our new project- Being Green

This week we are beginning a really exciting new project with a school in Andale Kansas. The opportunity arose through some funding that I received through the Knowledge Bank. My idea was to create a connection with a school overseas and to develop a problem based project that used the Intel online Thinking with Technology tools So I approached a fellow Intel Senior trainer, Dyane who is a curriculum consultant in Andale. After about three months of planning we have finally started with our Year 8 students here and Year 7 students at Andale.
We did our planning via Google Docs which was a fantastic way to collaborate and share . We have set up a wiki using PB wiki for both teachers and students.
Beginning with a viewing of An Inconvenient Truth and a skype interview with Dyane and our students, the main task is that students will work in cross country teams and will research an issue that has some effect on their community. They will compare and contrast the differences between our two rural communities and prepare an environmental action plan.
The task after viewing the movie was to reflect on it in the wiki on a shared page for each group.
This is what one of the students said.
After watching 'An Inconvenient Truth' I was surprised at how bad the problem actually is. I never realised it was that disastrous, especially the part about the melting polar ice caps. It was a very confronting film. The statistics shocked me. It made me want to take action.

I am looking forward to learning about my American group members. I want to know how they look and what their personalities are like.

Another two students wrote their response together
The other day we watched an Inconvenient Truth.

It was really surprising to see all of the changes that could occur to the world if global warming continues at the same rate as what it is now and. What surprised me a lot was the amount of people and animals that would be affected by this. For example the polar bears drowning was a fact that reached out to us. Also that whole country could be submerged by water and the central town of Wedderburn might just be on the beach.

Also the increasing temperature and less rainfall was a concern to us as Ashleigh lives on a farm. But we have run out of time so we have to go Bye.

Tomorrow our students are going to calculate their own ecological footprint and add that to the wiki. I think it's going to be a pretty exciting time for us all.