Thursday, May 27, 2010

Students and privacy online

I thought this video about keeping yourself safe online, for 11 to 16 year olds, was very well done. It has the right tone to make kids think without being too over the top scary. I will definitely be showing this to my teenagers.

Thanks Andrew

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Developing whānau priorities

I was privileged to visit Te Kura o Hiruharama up near Ruatoria a couple of weeks back and I was struck by a comment made by a parent.

"It's about everyone having an input on a whole, it's not the teachers are there and the whānau are there, we are one unit working together hopefully."

It made me think about the old adage 'It takes a village to raise a child'. Sometimes there can seem to be a big distance between school and home, sometimes, we even speak different languages in our different villages. This school has spent a lot of time talking with whānau and gathering in results of surveys to develop a set of three priorities that the school and home can work on together (sometimes these surveys result in developing something that the school can work on, on behalf of the parents, rather than in partnership with).

These priorities are evident in the school mission statement, in the school vision, and are evident in the planning of inquiry units. The concept of split screen thinking is evident here, as the priorities are skillfully and thoughtfully woven throughout elements at the school.

This led me to reflect on my own experiences in teaching:
Were the parents' priorities evident in my school vision / mission statement / lessons?
Was developing the school vision considered when planning units of work?

(image: I think this is Mt Hikurangi, at least it is a photo I took of a huge Mt on the way out to the school :) )

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Beware when you blog

Before I start my rant - let me state I subscribe and enjoy a good deal of talented teachers' blogs and learn a lot from them. Let the rant begin ...

I saw a blog post yesterday which made me quite worried and provoked me to write this post. I'm hoping that the post in question will be taken down soon and so I won't link to it.

I once heard someone say that technology is an amplifier. It can amplify good practice and it can amplify bad practice. I have two cautions I want to put forward:
  • Principals - subscribe to all the blogs being written in your school. You are the leader and need to know what is being put out for the world to see. Also you can then support, nurture, and encourage as well as moderate. This is not micro managing, this is being involved.
  • Teachers - think! What is the purpose of your blog? Who is your audience? What is the hidden message coming through?
The post in question that has provoked this rant is a typical post where a teacher has described an activity the class has undertaken. It sounded like a great activity. The class had read about 50,000 people protesting against mining in national parks. They discussed the use of signs in the protest. Discussed the language (I hope) and made their own signs. This would be a really powerful lesson - however, this is where the amplifier came in. The teacher in question seemed to missed out the powerful bits and then amplified this to the world through the blog.

The post displayed the signs made by the children including these statements (and there were more!):

"John Key the donkey"
"Don't mine NZ, that's what Australia's for"

Now in my mind the powerful parts of this lesson could be to talk about separating political attacks from personal ones. I doubt it would be acceptable to teach children to call anyone names, let alone the leader of their country. Who, even if you disagree with his politics, deserves some respect.

Another powerful part of this lesson could be to talk about what made mining acceptable or not. Is it okay to mine in one place not another, in one country over another?

I thought this was a timely reminder that you really need to have a good pedagogical framework before you start blogging.

In one sentence "Why do you blog?"