It’s In Safe Hands :)

Well …. it’s gone now and there’s nothing more I can do apart from have a very welcomed glass of wine (at least that might help to blur the carnage that used to be home!)

It’s in the local bookbinders, Tom Valentine’s, just a 5 minute walk from here. They’ve got a website. Have a look

They were so nice – and they even offered to allow 4 or 5 budding book writers from my class to pay a visit so that the children can have first hand experience of seeing their writing turned in to a real book! The children are just over the moon at the prospect! Watch this space for the chosen few (who will make that decision??? – not me !)

Anyway … I took some photographs of the moment I handed my chartered teacher dissertation over. I’ll see the ‘dressed up’ version on Monday when I go to collect it and deliver it to the Uni 🙂

Three Quarters of the Way There!!

I’ve put the last full stop and printed it off …… all ready for tomorrow morning’s drop off at the printer’s!

Phew!!

Meanwhile, Marc has put a great post on his blog about this evening’s CPD ‘Blog Training’ – thanks Marc :).

I was too ‘essay’d out’ 🙂

Marc’s blog new blog post is HERE

The Abstract …. Thanks Kim :)

 This post is for Kim who has kept me going! It’s been great receiving her supportive comments. I read them and think … OK – maybe it’s not such drivel after all 🙂

The abstract (like everything else) still needs fixed.

Unfortunately, I think I’ve gone off on a tangent again ?:(

Abstract

Current thinking in the review of literature suggests that it is possible to draw on the online communication skills already being developed in pupils’ lives outside of school. The literature also proposes that, as blogs and wikis are not unlike the new media tools currently being used by young people today, these media could potentially be adapted by schools to allow e-learning to occur successfully. 

This study sets out to investigate whether weblogs and wikis and other emerging social software tools can be used to create an effective on-line learning community. The research is confined to one particular class of primary 7 pupils who have been using these new social software tools since entering their final year of primary school. A fresh approach to using the blogs and wikis was adopted during the three month research period and the children were given the freedom to use the tools as they wished within a supportive online environment. The teacher’s role became that of a facilitator, and guidance was provided through creating a sense of online audience by submitting comments on the children’s posts regularly. Offline, new interesting posts were shared with the children. 

Particular consideration is paid to:·        

  •  Online Identities / gender issues·        
  • The relationship between the online / offline environments·        
  • Resulting impact on teaching and learning·          
  • Consequential formal and informal learning 

A case study method was adopted. Data was gathered systematically throughout the research period and consists of:

  • Observations – regular checks in order to monitor blog posts and comments, and wiki entries
  • Field notes – updated regularly on a blog set up for the purpose of narrating the research journey
  • Interviews (structured and unstructured) – in order to establish views of all concerned
  • Triangulation – enlistment of a sceptical colleague and a critical friend to ensure that the perception of events is fair and accurate   

This case study consists of two elements. The first is concerned with the wider field of focus, and analyses the breadth and depth of posts and comments. The second narrows in to investigate any formal / informal learning taking place, and explores the useful features and barriers of managing web 2.0 tools with primary school children

 The findings show that the relationship between the digital and the real worlds began to merge and this had an impact on teaching and learning. The children’s informal online voices began to have a direct influence on what was to be included in their more formal offline learning programme. Sharing the entries from the blogs and wikis in the offline environment of the classroom had a direct influence on the teaching and learning taking place. The curriculum became more ‘child led’.

……. I keep editing this final bit AAAAGHH!

I’ll try writing the acknowledgement section, or something else less likely to hurt the brain!!

Ok … Things are Getting Serious Now

  I need to have this dissertation ready for Thursday morning so that the local ‘Bookbinder’ can have it ready for Monday’s deadline. I’ve written the ‘Implication’ section (probably needs a wee bit of fixing ….. should I add links to some Chartered Teacher competencies, for example?) Anyway, the implications are included in this post.

Sooo that leaves the Abstract and the Acknowledgements ……. and I have National Tests to administer tomorrow – and a co-operative learning ‘after school thing’ tomorrow … followed by a Dentist appointment at 5.30pm (no doubt resulting in a very numb face).

On Wednesday, there’s more testing – followed by the final CPD Blogging twighlight session…… and then it’s Thursday – HELP!!

  

Implications

The Standard for Chartered Teacher Document (2002), states that: “In every Sphere of his or her work the Chartered Teacher should be reviewing practice, searching for improvements, turning to reading and research for fresh insights and relating these to the classroom and the school.”

Taking part in this case study has given me an opportunity to reflect on my own teaching. Some of the findings from the research were unexpected. I set out to investigate if the strategies I had put in place would lead to the creation of an online learning community. I was not prepared for the effect this would have on the offline environment of the classroom and for the changes to the content and delivery of the curriculum.

Giving the children the freedom to use their online spaces as they wished allowed a deeper insight to their persona. An online community did develop, but that was on the periphery. The sharing of thoughts, opinions, ideas and personal likes and dislikes began as online blog posts. These were then developed in the offline classroom setting, giving rise to opportunities to increase motivation by modifying the programme of study to one that was more ‘child led’. 

Early on in the study, doubts began to creep in about whether or not leaving the children ‘to their own devices’ might result in blog and wiki entries fizzling out. I felt despondent at the lack of written posts by the boys in particular. An entry in my online journal, however, describes the level of enthusiasm they displayed when demonstrating to adults how we use the new media.

This prompted a comment from my online critical friend, Kim. She made some important observations which I’ve included here: 

I’ve just realized that your preparations for your CPD sessions actually reinforced your findings in your dissertation! You said in your dissertation that the boys especially enjoyed telling visitors to your ICT stand (at a technology show) how they used ICT in their learning, and that they would be great at helping at your CPD sessions, by making and using Vokis and Animotos. The Vokis and Animotos are visual – like the prevalence of pictures on the boys blogs. I’ve noticed that the boys in my class also are really good at making topic related vokis and animotos.In my experience, girls use these applications in a different way – more about how they see themselves, or want to see themselves; as opposed to the boys filling these applications with topic specific pictures and content.So you see ….. your preparations didn’t actually hinder your dissertation prep – just supported it in a different way. PS Girls seem more word oriented evidenced by their blogging stories, commentaries etc; whereas boys tend to prefer visual (and less text oriented) ways of expressing themselves. Maybe boys prefer to talk and show how to use an application, rather than using application for personal reasons.

The CPD (Continuing Professional Development) sessions mentioned in Kim’s comment were instigated following a discussion I had with our Local Authority’s Curriculum Development Manager before the commencement of this study. I had wanted to find out the Authority’s view of using web 2.0 tools with pupils. I was left with no doubt that this was seen as the way forward to develop all areas of learning. At the time of that conversation, however, there was no specific policy in place about the use of these new online tools. I was informed that the main priority was to find ways of helping teachers to feel comfortable with the new technologies in order to monopolise on the online communication skills already being developed in the pupils’ lives outside of school.As I was undertaking this research study, I was approached by the Authority’s curriculum development team and asked if I would host some CPD sessions to introduce teachers to blogging with their classes.

Three twighlight sessions were arranged and the response to these was overwhelming. Despite the fact that there was a failure to advertise the sessions until a week before their commencement, fifty three teachers applied to attend. Unfortunately, as the venue consisted of a limited number of computers, only twenty places were available. At the time of writing this account, two of the three sessions have taken place. During the first session, it became apparent that the teachers attending the session had varying degrees of computer skills. It was later noted in my online journal how I had been torn between helping those who were having difficulties, and occupying those who were ready to move on. I also noted that I intended to enlist the help of some ‘experts’ by inviting some Primary seven pupils to come along to the two remaining sessions. This proved to be a very popular decision for both teachers (the learners) and pupils (the instructors).

Maryam put a post about the experience on her blog:

 …. Then we had went back upstairs and we waited for all the teachers to come. Then when they had all came we started our presentations. Anna and Sophie went first. Then me and Darcie but we had sort of made a muck up of it! Then after we had went around helping the teachers.

THAT WAS THE WEIRD BIT!

I’ve never helped a teacher and it was a bit embarrasing going up to them and saying, ”Do you need any help?” I had helped a few people but the computers there are a bit slow and they keep cancelling things so it was a bit hard.           

I can’t wait till next week if we are going back!” 

In the Literature Review section of this report, Wenger (no date) was referred to. He claims that one of the characteristics crucial to developing a community of practice is that members engage in joint activities and discussions and help each other and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other. Inviting the children to help out at the CPD sessions went some way to developing a community of practice in our Authority. The children saw themselves as the providers and this was welcomed by the teachers on the course.

Two of them asked me to help place a comment on one of the pupil’s blogs:

Sophie,
Thank you very much for all your help tonight. We couldn’t have done it without you. You were extremely polite and helpful. Good luck at High School. Keep up the good work!
Mrs F and Miss B

Many of the teachers stated that they were going to return to school and ask if arrangements could be made for some of the pupils in my class to visit their own classes to arrange some peer to peer tuition sessions. The children obviously relished the thought of being able to be part of this. This has far reaching implications for the provision of future CPD courses on the use of the new web 2.0 tools with classes.

Glow is a national schools intranet set to digitally linking Scotland’s 800,000 educators and pupils. There are no Glow mentors as yet in my own Authority. However, Mentors across Scotland have been exploring the potential of this tool to support their own learning and teaching. A wide range of ideas and uses have been identified so far. These include using Glow to:

  • support Primary 7 to S1 transition
  • demonstrate examples of good practice
  • showcase pupils’ work for family and friends who are not Glow users
  • allow pupils to advertise school events
  • promote enterprising activities within school.

 As we await Glow being introduced to our schools, teachers could prepare by utilising the already freely available web 2.0 tools. All of the ideas for using Glow identified above are able to be implemented by using class blogs. For example, a few of last sessions primary 7 children still keep in touch via their blogs now that they have moved on to High School. Recently there was a post on Stuart’s blog. The target audience was obviously this session’s primary 7’s and he wanted to allay any misgivings they might have about next August’s transition to High School.  

Learning and Teaching Scotland (no date) describes a mentor as an experienced person who provides guidance and support in a variety of ways to another person – by acting as a role model, guide, tutor, coach or confidante. A Glow Mentor, it goes on to say, is someone who will provide support to staff and possibly pupils in learning how to make use of Glow. It also lists some of the attributes a Glow Mentor should have. A few of them are included here:

  • an enthusiasm for new ICT projects and a willingness to try things out
  • an awareness of the potential of online learning, communication and collaboration
  • an ability to provide everybody with the opportunity to see the creative potential of ICT
  • innovative with the technologies available – no matter how limited
  • an ability to communicate knowledge and ideas to others.

It could be argued that the primary 7 pupils who helped out at the CPD sessions displayed these very attributes.The director of technology at Learning and Teaching Scotland, Laurie O’Donnell, was interviewed by Times Online (31/3/2008).

He is quoted as saying that Glow is, in effect, a gateway that provides the means by which education can take advantage of the digital age. A five-year project, costing £37.5m, it is being rolled out local authority by local authority, school by school, until all the country’s pupils and teachers are linked to each other. Every pupil, he states, will have a homepage and an e-mail address. Chat rooms will develop for each subject, classes will be available in the form of video conferencing, teachers will be able to access lesson plans, homework will be submitted directly for marking, and parents will be able to talk to teachers by e-mail.The article goes on to say that, for O’Donnell, a former teacher and local authority adviser, the intranet, the development of pupil and teacher blogs, and the use of computer games as teaching aids is not so much a revolution as an evolution.

It is clear from this statement that there is a place for web 2.0 tools to co-exist alongside Glow, and that there is a need for teachers to develop the necessary skills to make this ‘evolution’ happen.

Another one of those 30 minute surfs!

Marc was in my class last session and he was invited to come along to the Teacher’s learning to blog CPD courses I’m giving at the moment -that’s just one more thing to distract me from the dissertation time ………. but my critical friend Kim’s comments tell me differently:) .

Marc got in touch through the class blog last weekend to let us know that he had been voted the 2nd most popular blog in the edubuzz domain in April 2008.

Well done Marc!!

Like the other volunteers, he really enjoyed the experience of teaching teachers !!

…… Anyway back to the ‘drawing board’ … as opposed to the ‘dashboard’ :). I’ve reconstructed the conclusions section to add this bit:

This case study was carried out in order to find an answer to the following question:

Can Weblogs and Wikis and other associated emerging social software tools be used to create an effective on-line learning community?

Having analysed the findings in relation to the three aims of the study and the review of literature and current thinking on the topic, clear conclusions can be drawn. In this particular study, there was a gradual fusion of the online and offline worlds of the classroom. When the study began, the distinction between the relatively casual online teacher/pupil connections contrasted sharply with the more formal offline classroom relationships. As the study period progressed, however, there was a continuing merging of the two spaces. The new online familiarity led to a greater awareness of pupil personal interests and concerns. This resulted in offline discussions occurring and eventual changes to the delivery and content of the familiar classroom curriculum. The children’s informal online voices began to have a direct influence on what was to be included in their more formal offline learning programme.  

I’d better go …. that clock is still clicking!!!!!

Distracted From The Studying …. Again

 Every so often (well, every 20 mins or so!) I take a break from the hard work of the dissertation to just ‘surf the net’ (the surfing usually lasts for at least 30 mins each time ….. no wonder I’m way behind schedule!).

Just a moment ago, I noticed a new post on Maryam’s blog about yesterday’s Teacher Blogging CPD course I’ve been blogging about. It really sums up the situation well 🙂

weemaryams.png

 “Yesterday Me,Anna,Sophie,Darcie,Rebecca and Ainsley had went to this place in Camelon to teach teachers who to use blogs.It was really fun! Though it was a little weird teaching teachers.But anyway it was still fun.

First we had went to the little café place.We had a scone,some biscuits and tea.The scones rocked!We got to put jam on them or butter.The tea was REALLY hot and my tongue went firey red.Aghhh!

Then we had went back upstairs and we waited for all the teachers to come.Then when they had all came we started our presantations.Anna and Sophie went first.Then me and Darcie but we had sort of made a muck up of it!Then after we had went around helping the teachers.

THAT WAS THE WEIRD BIT!

I’ve never helped a teacher and it was a bit emmbarrasing going up to them and saying, ”Do you need any help?”I had helped a few people but the computers there are a bit slow and they keep canceling things so it was a bit hard.Then after the teachers had went back and we got everything back in Mrs Vass’s Car.Mrs Brown had took some people and dropped them off at there homes.Mrs Vass took me,Anna,Rebecca and Darcie.It was really funny!

I can’t wait till next week if we are going back!”

Thanks Maryam .. and of course you’re coming back next week ….. how on earth would I manage it without you all 🙂