Archive for September, 2008

I have had some students request that I compose a ‘final blog’ on greenup, and I am afraid to disappoint them yet I feel that I won’t re-visit the site for a little while.  I am still on a high after the success of the project and am currently organising ’round 2′ of the final presentations.  The students were so engaged and enthusiastic, so I feel that the next step is to continue fostering the writing skills that each student was developing over the four weeks of the project, but how?

I really enjoyed the online learning environment that supported the action that took place in the classroom and at home!  But I would now like to see the boys writing what they would like to write about, a “Young Writers Initiative” but I need a more adventurous name!  I am planning to offer this as an additional program to interested students who I certainly believe will wish to be involved.

I’d like to see the multi-layered effect come into play.  Teacher support at school but also by creating a supportive network as an online community of learners.  So will this only be open to Year 9?  Everything has a beginning I say, and then we will see where it grows!


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Greenup 2145 reflections

(above I have hyperlinked my blog on greenup so you can view student comments if you like!)

My week in review

I learned this week how important it is to clearly state the expectations of the project from the outset – this way I know that you will know what it is you must achieve within the next four weeks! I learned that it is important to set goals in order to make progress and that combined with strong individual work ethic AND effective group work, you can reach them!

During the development stages of this project I learned how important it was for me to be able to seek assistance from others and actually DO what it was that I expect you to complete – using different elements of technology that are specified within your project. I feel that it is good teaching to be able to model and scaffold tasks for you.

I have been SO impressed with the many students who are constantly blogging and growing as reflective writers. I love seeing you ‘switched on’ as you cover the skills and the content. I love the ‘newness’ that I am seeing as you are completing the task! I am also seeing the benefits of the 24/7 open lines of communication which has become an essential element of the PBL learning environment.

So the next step for the week ahead is really learning and understanding the geographical issues that are highlighted in the international news break and the memo that arrived yesterday in our classes! I can already see students openly sharing resources from the research they have been completing and I would love to see students present some tutorials in the week ahead to ensure the understanding of these issues are clarified

and the learning continues to grow…

As I reflect on the last week of teaching during this project, I can’t help but be over joyed at the way in which you are each growing as young writers who are also displaying a keen interest in the content of this project. I have also been delighted to watch our online community of learners continue to grow as each of you share your thoughts, ideas and information with each other.

I can certainly see the benefit now of scaffolding activities for you to complete during the project and I continue to see you respond to the structure that we are providing. I am also enjoying providing ongoing feedback to you and am grateful for the support and assistance of other teachers who are continually contributing to this project.

I learned how to use voice thread effectively this week, as a way of providing feedback through the critical friends process with particular focus on your blog posts. I have also seen the value of having insights from a wider education circle and am so appreciative of the national and international voices who are contributing here too!

For the week ahead, I really believe that my knowledge of the geographical issues that this project addresses will increase dramatically – particularly after the impressive tutorials today that were led by you – our students.

and now it’s my turn…

So I feel like I am constantly reminding boys to blog – either that or commenting on some of the blogs that continually impress me. I finally arrive at remembering it is my turn to stop and reflect on my experiences during this last week of the project.

I am impressed on a number of levels. Firstly, the way I see everyone making progress with the geographical content within this project – which I must admit is quite complex! I am struck with something most rewarding though, as I am seeing each of you gain and increase your knowledge of facts but in addition to this, I am visibly observing your understanding of these issues and how they impact on us and our local environment. This is incredible to watch online and in the classroom!

Secondly, I am so impressed with the young writers that I am reading here online. I have been an avid reader from week one of the project and have been captivated all the way to where we find ourselves now. I now see full sentences, correct spelling, improved grammar, punctuation – as an English teacher – I am over joyed as I have seen your literacy levels improve remarkably.

There is a little sadness though, creeping into our greenup space. I am noticing the blog titles (which have also come a long way!) beginning to read with words reminiscent of finality. At the same time, I am also seeing the anxious tones in your blogs as you come to terms with the fast approaching deadlines.

I am left waiting in eager anticipation as I prepare to watch the unveiling of final products!!!!

so what next

It’s quite intriguing when a student asks, “Miss – why haven’t you reflected on last week yet?” This happened today. Strangely enough, if I had a diary, I guess I should have turned it over for demerit. Instead, this learning experience goes beyond that. For me it serves as a reminder that what we have created here is a community of learners who operate both actively in the class room and online. A community of learners who have grown accountable for their own contributions and in turn for those around them. For me – this is one of the most rewarding aspects of being your teacher.

I consider this project and the demands that it placed on you. I ask myself, “Did I expect too much?” The answer that returns however is that “Even if I did, you have exceeded all my expectations.”

Over the last weeks, I have read the most interesting blogs on how researching environmental and geographical issues have impacted on you – our teenagers who walk the streets of Westmead (post code 2145) each day to arrive at school and again to leave at the end of the day. You spend 5 out of 7 days in Westmead so no matter what way you look at it, you are certainly contributors to the environmental factors you have researched and understood. This is evident in the way you proposed solutions for problems you have perceived and recommendations you made to ensure sustainability. This is an incredible achievement and I believe that many of you have embarked upon a life long learning experience of ensuring you make the right decision to ensure the continuation of greenup2145.

Your dedication and commitment over the last weeks has not gone unnoticed and I found the presentations yesterday and today most impressive. I would really like to wish the representatives from our class all the very best for the presentations that are taking place tomorrow afternoon!

Overall, I am looking forward to a promising future for Westmead! I believe we are in your capable hands. I just hope you accept the challenge to continue the good work!

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Here I am…

This my first official post. That sounds like a student who is blogging for the first time and that’s me. Throughout the current project that I have been running at school, greenup2145.ning.com I have realised that I need to seriously log-on to the world of education that my students have been exposed to – through the wonderful assistance and guidance of Dean Groom.

Firstly, I have always known that my vocation lies in teaching. One of the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher is to see the joy in your students as they are actively engaged members of the learning process. I have always liked the idea that although I have answers, I don’t have all the answers. I enjoy how my current involvement in PBL at my school allows for me to express this through my teaching methods in the classroom and beyond.

This does not mean I sit back and make the kids do all the work! That would lazy, unprofessional and not the moral way of achieving a consistent income! Instead, hard work in planning what I desire the students to achieve is paramount. This is not only for my Year 9 PBL students, I also try and incorporate this style of teaching into my other classes because I wish for my students to be life long learners who leave my classroom with knowledge and understanding that they have arrived at themselves (with some help from me!)

So where did the project greenup2145 come from? A hard working bunch of teachers attended the intense training offered in Grand Rapids, Michigan during June 2008. I was under instruction to prepare a project that accommodated the current integration of English (my favourite subject) and Geography (a subject that at the outset was lost on me.)

I was driven by the will to create something that the kids would love. Fortunately, working collaboratively with Dean Groom, Gavin Hays and Sak Vuki we entered the world of ning and a project was born! For me, a project requires multi-layered yet conceivable expectations and for me this needed to provide engagement and a system that fostered motivation as well as constant feedback from teachers.

To be honest, I would not have been aware of the world of opportunities that ning contained had Dean not made me aware of it. So with that as our platform, an entry document of an international news break (read by some authorial American voices!) and a secondary entry document of a “memo” that outlines the specific requirement of the task we were off!

I still remember being somewhat hesitant and approaching Dean is his office with the concern of “I don’t know what this project will look like”, he assured me “that was the beauty of it.” (If you know Dean you’ll know that’s not one of his sayings but it was words to that effect…)

And now the project is drawing to a close and I am so overwhelmed (in a positive way!) at the support we have received from many educators across the globe. I thank you sincerely for your support to me over the web – but also for encouraging my students who have progressed as young writers and citizens who have gained a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the geographical issues they were researching. They were given a voice that went beyond the classroom and you, my friends in education, allowed that to happen.

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