theMolisticView

A new journey in education

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My first Project Based Learning adventure-Part 2

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Before I go any further I wish to make it clear that I am by no means an educational expert or even a teachers teacher. Most traditional teachers leave my classes thinking how did this idiot get a job.

To start where I left off in the last post we actually need to travel back in time a little. I cannot remember the exact time when I first heard the term PBL used to describe project based learning, though I do remember who said it to me. I give much gratz to Dean Groom. He introduced me to PBL sometime last year I think, though it could have been earlier. When I first read a little about PBL my first reaction as a TAS/IA teacher was that’s what we do already. Students learn by doing projects and to some extent that is true. However when you delve deeper in to the structure of true PBL, it is so much more then an end product.

So as I wrote in the previous post, around week 5 holes were appearing in the work and structure assigned to both classes. It was around this time I first approached the approachable Mr Groom about what I could do. Dean immediately replied with a PBL project. At first I left the idea just sit there. Then I saw a tweet by Bianca Hewes, talking about her personal success using Dean’s suggested PBL.

By this stage I was becoming desperate at what I could do in a short time frame for the year 9 class while I was away at the SWSR conference, so I copied the work that had been set into a Google Doc to share again with the ever obliging Dean. Unfortunately for me Dean was also presenting an important Keynote at SWSR, so he was unavailable for the help I needed in the timeframe.

From the conference we now land on Sunday afternoon and my panic at seeing what I was being asked to teach. I decided to stretch my twitter generated friendship to the limit and posted in another Google Doc the basics of the work left with a begging help me please message. As you would expect on a Sunday afternoon everyone is busy with their lives so there was not much action on this front.

So I turned to my friend the Google search. I simply typed in PBL and got all kinds of stuff. The first of which I clicked like one of my students was Wikipedia, though as is the case these days the Wikipedia page had some doubts about it self so I dodged it and went looking for more. So I first ended up here http://pbl-online.org/ this lead to some free documents to download and read. I clicked further and was soon here http://www.bie.org/ plenty to read. Not to keen to sign up to something else I looked at the freebies and stole this page with Evernote http://www.bie.org/about/what_is_pbl for future reading. Then I moved on to the next result in my search http://web.mac.com/khoneycuttessdack/PBL_Lessons/Project-Based_Learning.html, which was full of examples and ideas. I grabbed what I thought I needed, printed off some reading material and quickly tried to grasp the behind scenes of PBL.

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April 5th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

My first Project Based Learning adventure – Part 1

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Before I go into the meat of my first venture in to Project Based Learning, I feel there is a need for some background to my choice.

Firstly my school like many in Western Sydney is a PBL school. Huh! I hear you say, “the school is already a PBL school, what is he on about?” Well this PBL actually means Positive Behaviour for Learning. This type of PBL is intended to focus on student’s behaviour and not actively on their engagement in learning.

Secondly and the real reason for trying this freaky new teaching method called Project Based Learning.

Last year during the ups and downs of the timetabling process, I had a choice of teaching out of faculty for two periods a cycle or taking two periods a cycle of Stage 5 Industrial Technology Metalwork across both years 9 and 10. So I choose wisely and stayed in faculty. The actual teacher of these classes around the same time chose to move to a four-day week. This then made an issue for my HT with the lines of the timetable, either I had to go out of faculty or go from Metalwork practical over each cycle to Metalwork theory.

He chose theory. This choice at the time was intended for me to influence other teachers in my faculty, not just the Metalwork teacher as a “technology leader”. With this choice the HT made it clear that I would only deliver the work set and not impact in anyway on the topics and assessable work set by the class’s teacher. I was more than fine with this, as I had embarked on a new path with my junior IST and Multimedia classes.

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April 5th, 2011 at 11:57 am

My take on SWSR

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Firstly I would like to thank the organisers for such a great venue and the WiFi provided. 7MB down was awesome and i’m sure others like my self who do not have such luxuries took advantage of this.

SWSR at ANZ Stadium

SWSR at ANZ Stadium

One of the first things to catch my eye was that my tweets with the #inspire2011 tag were not showing on the big screen. I guess someone has blocked someone, some where along the line.

The four keynote speakers were awesome to say the least this year. For me I wanted to hear Will Richardson. Will was one of the first prominent educationalists I followed on twitter. Having heard both Will and Steve Haragdon speak I was a little miffed. I have friends who live in New York State and in Washington State in the US. When I speak to them they only talk of how bad education is in their local public schools. Repeatedly it is that they have none or limited funding, old technology computing systems which are virtually unusable, and old text books that everyone works from in crowded rooms and so on. Steve and Will spoke like they had full access to modern technology in classrooms, were they could blog, connect to people outside their education system and more to improve what their students were learning.

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April 2nd, 2011 at 3:36 am

2nd year of electronic exams

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In a recent blog post Darcy Moore titled Pen & Paper exams. At the time I commented on my personal experience last year when I chose to have my HSC Multimedia class answer their half yearly exam with a word processed document (http://themolisticview.wordpress.com/2010/03/).

This year’s HSC half yearly exam period at my school coincided with my recent trip to Sydney for the Adobe Refresh event, so I chose to have this years class complete their exam while I was away.

The way I have delivered this task in the past is to have the students open a BOS HSC exam as a PDF and answer the questions in a Word document, which when completed they email to me. This year though with myself being out of school I chose to use the classes  Edmodo page for delivery of the exam document with the assignments feature, which the students then upload their finished exam.

Unfortunately as it turns out I had decided earlier not carry my laptop to the city. My main reasoning for this at the time was because of the troubles I have been having with Vodafone’s 3G wireless network, so I would use my Edmodo app on my iPhone to keep track of proceedings back in the classroom. So with this in mind I had uploaded the exam and instructions to Edmodo the night before at around 2.30am.

Year 12 were due in class at 1.15 pm. Just as 1.05 ticked my phones email sound rang down George Street. 1 student it appears had jumped the class and gone in early against the instructions given them the day earlier. I received one more alert email just on 1.15 pm asking a question which could only be asked if the person had read the exam.

When I arrived at school the next morning my head teacher explained that even more silliness had ensued in the classroom. I down loaded and looked at several of the exams and noticed that the more reliable students in the class had been erratic in their responses to what would normally be easy to answer questions for them. On this evidence I decided that they would re-sit the exam the following Friday, I duly went the process of notifying all parties that the exam would be conducted again and what the rules for the exam were.

So Friday came and went and on the surface the majority of the class did as I expected from last years experience and answered more questions in more depth than they had in their Preliminary yearly exam by pen & paper. So given all the upheaval this year I am still committed to delivering my exams to my technology classes in this manner.

Looking to the future though, I will try to find more time to develop my own PDF version of exams which uses buttons to select multiple choice answers, text boxes for short and long responses and based on this year, only deliver the exam in person.

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March 23rd, 2011 at 9:26 am

A Wordle for HSC Practical Marking Background

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Started preparing for the up-coming HSC Industrial Technology Multimedia Practical component. I decided to use Wordle to make a background image for the marking home page. Here is one example…

Wordle: HSC Multimedia NSW

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July 26th, 2010 at 8:27 am