Tuesday, 6 October 2015

How has my teaching practice evolved?

How has my teaching practice evolved?

I'm blogging as part of a challenge laid down as part of Connected Educator Month NZ #cenz15 #EdBlogNZChallenge to try and force myself become a regular blogger...........

The first challenge is to respond to the following.....
  • How has my teaching practice evolved?
  • What am I currently working on developing in my practice?
  • What tools am I using during this inquiry?

Here goes........
My practice is continually evolving, influenced by a number of things; the students I have in front of me, what I've read, colleagues best practice and probably the biggest catalyst is being fortunate enough to be part of the first ever Mindlab/UNITEC Post-Graduate Certificate in Collaborative and Digital Learning (we officially graduated last week - Whoop! Whoop!). 

Two areas which particularly resonated with me and started to explore as I was undertaking the Mindlab PGC were "Design Thinking" and "4C's"; Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking and Creativity". The confidence I gained through the Mindlab PGC has helped me to experiment with elements of both "Design Thinking" and "4C's" in my learning environments this year. This has been exhilarating, challenging, a lot of fun and at times scary...... I have been developing this  predominantly in a multi-year "product design"  class consisting of years 11, 12 and 13 and also a level 3 "social anthropology" class - a new subject for me this year. But heck! If I want my students to challenge themselves on their learning journey then I have to "walk the talk". Things I've introduced (and are by no means polished) with plenty of room for improvement in 2016 include:-

  • In product design, all students across year groups undertaking the same two projects. The projects had plenty of scope for individualisation and different NCEA assessment opportunities based on student strengths and nature of their project.
  • Building student ownership through offering student choice, within enabling constraints.
  • Students recording their evidence digitally, predominantly blogs (product design).
  • Using google classroom.
  • Both product design projects started with a design thinking "How might we......?" question which students interviewed people, brainstormed using a range of activities (100 ideas, hexagons, new useful interesting, organising information using post-it notes) to complete their "class" question.
  • Opportunities for group activities of collaborative and co-operative nature which ranged from developing shared class resources, peer teaching, tasks with assigned roles....
  • Really exploring critical thinking and making it visible. It's all very well talking about it but what actually is it? How to teach it? What evidence do we have that students have developed critical thinking skills? I've discovered that critical thinking stems from the quality of the questions asked. Grant Lichtman in The Falconer highlighted this for me.
  • Developing graphic organisers for process-oriented tasks and also to develop critical thinking skills. This was undertaken predominantly in the social anthropology classes and became the focus of one of my Professional Inquiries. Geoff Petty, Pam Hook and Goggle Draw have all played major parts in this!

At ASHS we are fortunate that we have time set aside every week for our Professional Inquiry and the school has developed an Inquiry Cycle to follow. The Mindlab PGC opened my eyes to digital and collaborative learning and the ASHS's Professional Inquiry Cycle is the tool that has given rigour to aspects of my teaching practice evolving.  

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