|Posted on 21 March, 2015 at 6:00|
These past 2 weeks has certainly been a time of firsts and learning new things. I honestly don’t think that I have learned so much as I have since I was a beginning teacher.
After attending many a conference and networking with numerous teachers, I have realised that being a Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator has opened much more doors than I could have ever imagined. Not only did I discover that I was attending the Global Educator Exchange in Seattle to represent Australian Educators, I was able to learn of the more extraordinary things that my colleagues were doing in their own schools. This has encouraged me to be so much more motivated to do so much more in my own school in the space of ICT. Being an MIE Educator has given me the confidence and the voice that I don’t think I previously possessed. Having this 'title' has provided me with a sense of assertion that I am a great educator in this KLA and that my passion and goals is in fact leading towards innovative pedagogies and practice within and outside of my school. I am still completely speechless that I have been given the opportunity to work with the world's finest in Seattle and be classed as one of them.
Prior to becoming an MIE, I used Microsoft Office as a key resource in my classroom. I ensured that students were proficient in their use of these tools and encouraged students to create tasks using Project Based Learning pedagogies. These tools were used to deliver content as well as tools that students used to curate information. Students were encouraged to work autonomously and collaboratively depending on the task at hand. In all instances, a student directed classroom was implemented to extend students in their developing of tools.
Students at Rooty Hill High School also use a Personalised Learning approach. Many pedagogies surrounding personalised learning exist, however I often used Multiple Intelligence Matrices to encourage students to direct their own learning whilst attain learning outcomes. One particular example of how this pedagogical approach was used in my classroom can be accessed via https://sway.com/1FEmbo6F3wMHqyfn
Using Sway is a tool that I have completely embraced since becoming an MIE. I have found that this tool is just wonderful in creating self paced work for students as well as creating reference resources for students that they can refer too whilst creating a project. More importantly, students can access Sway in NSW DEC schools.
When I met the other Australian and New Zealand MIE Experts last October (in 2014), the STEM teachers were grouped together to create a Transformation Project. I was completely blown away by the resume of each of the teachers that I was now working with. These educators were living proof that we, educators, individual educators, could make a difference. Not the 'difference' that we constantly hear about - in terms of changing the life of at least one student, but a substantial difference that is actually revolutionising education as we know it. We quickly ascertained that a collaborative activity that would involved our students was absolutely necessary. Minecraft appeared to be the obvious choice as Microsoft's new relationship with this Virtual World would simplify our implementation plans for including this new resources into our teaching and learning programs. This would now be known as MineClass.
MineClass at Rooty Hill High School was formally launched at the start of the 2015 school year and since its inception, 6 male students with vast backgrounds have united. This unity growing beyond the virtual world as real friendships have developed in the classroom, playground, and of course on Skype where hours of conversation is being documented. Moreover, my students have developed relationships with the students from the other participating 5 schools and have completed challenges together. This student directed collaborative learning environment is already proving successful. (View our blog at http://callaghan-mineclass.blogspot.com.au/). So successful, that our Year 9 IST students will be attending an incursion to develop a teaching and learning program focusing on Minecraft Edu to complete an existing topic. Due to numerous reasons, I personally funded the Minecraft Edu server and accounts for the school and with my skilled technology team, we were able to set up and test our internal Minecraft Edu server. All of the steps involved has been documented on our Rooty Hill High School Minecraft website in an attempt to assist other educators whom wish to do the same for their students. This incursion will run in 1 week and I can NOT wait to share the day with everyone.
Moreover, I attended the 2015 ICTENSW Annual Conference last weekend and was again inspired by my colleagues in the area of Maker Spaces. For those who don’t know about this, its ultimately a safe space where students can make and create objects without teacher intervention. Students have the ability to create and innovate projects that we as educators only dream about as we, perhaps do not have the skill to do so. After deep conversations with each of these presenters, I quickly realised the generosity of large (and) global corporations and was offered free resources for my students. This was new to me. I thought and naively believed that only schools with large budgets could access such technological tools and that schools like mine were left in the dark. I am so humbled by the assistance and contribution of these contributions that my mindset (of education) has again changed. I have realised that being an educator is bigger than what I am currently doing and that I am only tapping a very small percentage of the resources, tools, aspiring leaders available to me. I have also realised that being an MIE Educator will not only open doors for me, but for my school. For those that really need it.