Remote learning taught me so much about clear instructions, the social and emotional needs of learning communities and how students rely on each other to decode activities that they need to complete for the subject I am teaching them.
This example comes from my Year 9 History OneNote Class Notebook from the end of Term 3 and a long spell of teaching and learning remotely.
The topic we had covered for most of the term was “Making a New Nation”. The students were weary, and we had completed the assessment for the topic but there were 3 lessons to go until the holidays.
Typically our Year 9 students have spent a week in Melbourne and three weeks in China by this time of the year. They were missing their friends and upset about what should have been. I decided that hosting an excursion would be something different even if we had to go virtually!
So, we “went” to the Canberra Art gallery!
The second lesson of the week asked them to share and discuss one of the images they chose. Choices were shared on 4 pages within the Collaboration space. A number of students offered to talk about their choice and then students were asked to pick 4 favourites from those submitted.
While this excursion was not really a better way to go than if we had been able to actually visit an art gallery, it did allow for most students to enjoy something a bit different that summed up or studies over the term.
The last lesson of the Term was VERY successful. Three groups took on creating a task for their classmates. I facilitated and the term ended with a lot of much need laughter. We had a Kahoot run by two boys; a quiz shared by a girl who had been a bit disengaged in the last few weeks and a challenge from another girl.
Today I took a leap of faith and worked with Grade 5 students on the International Space Station challenge in MinecraftEDU. It developed neatly from our conversation a fortnight ago, during which I “introduced” them to Commander Chris Hadfield.
They were fascinated by his clips on how to brush your teeth, how to sleep and even eat a tortilla.
The following sentences were sent to me by email after the class:
I really enjoyed the Minecraft space station it was fun and
creative. I was going to make a bedroom and a bathroom thank you. IM
Today’s lesson was great.
In my space station I am planning on making bigger spaces
for life. For example, plants and animals. I think it would be amazing to see
if animals and plants could be taken to Space, so that is what I am trying to
succeed in Minecraft. Thank you for the lesson. SR
Thank you so very much for the lesson I enjoyed it very much
there were a few glitches for me but I still enjoyed it though SS
I was going to make a new sleeping quarter and make it
bigger. Today’s lesson was fun. MW
I was making a living space. CH
I enjoyed the lesson can we do it again also I was building
a lava trap. HS
Today during our lesson with you I was planning to make a
living quarters. I really enjoyed it. DW
I am making it look more
Thank you for the lesson. It was enjoyable and fun. I would
like to do it again. IR
Thank you so much to Lynette Telfer and Troy Waller for pushing me on this! Ian Cook, Mitchell Clode and Stephen Mirtschin you are also spurring me on! The Microsoft Educator Community is such a supportive environment. Wonder what I’ll try next?
The Microsoft E2 Educator Exchange Conference is an exclusive three-day event that brings together 350 of the most innovative educators from around the world for the opportunity to collaborate, create, and share their experiences on how to integrate technology and pedagogy to advance learning, achieve student outcomes, and transform education. This year the event was held in Paris.
To be selected, educators must be active participants in the Microsoft Expert Educator Program, have qualified as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and have lodged an application with the relevant person in their country. For Australians, this is Travis Smith, the K-12 Industry Lead at Microsoft Australia. The application had to be created using Sway; this is mine.
For 2019 Travis chose 4 Australians: Laura Bain, and Mark Savery from Queensland, Jodi Gordon from South Australia and me, Margaret Simkin, from Victoria. A fifth, Stephen Crapnell, also from Queensland, presented one of the whole conference sessions, as well as participated in the challenges.
In my case I was told that my selection was due to my engagement in programs, including presenting at TeachMeets in the school holidays, participating in online conferences outside school hours, and my social media involvement.
were required to participate in the following tasks:
Educator Learning Marketplace – sharing a learning activity and learning from peers who are using Microsoft technologies in innovative and creative ways. The lessons shared were varied, targeted all age groups from 5 – 18 Years and were in languages other than English in many cases. Many focussed on Minecraft, Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality, for example Mark’s, which combined all three. Mine focussed on Collaboration, which is the nature of my role at The Hamilton and Alexandra College.
Professional development and certification opportunities – we could all participate in workshops and training opportunities run by peer educators, and product development teams.
Global Educator Challenge – Teams of 6 educators from a variety for countries, many of whom did not speak English, were tasked with completing the Class Hack educator group challenge. This involved a quick tour of the Eiffel Tower precinct and the forecourt of the Louvre, followed by the development of a learning activity using some of the designated Microsoft products to achieve a learning goal. The Translate tool was working overtime!
Awards Ceremony: held at the Les Pavillions de Bercy. The Musée des Arts Forains – Collection Jean-Paul Favand a private museum of funfair objects located within the Pavillons de Bercy in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. This was an amazing venue with wooden games that could be played (a type of bowls which led to some mechanical horses racing across a space, a point scoring type of pool, fortune telling activities, and lots of life-size mannequins et cetera).
The first week of April 2019 was spent in Paris attending the amazing Microsoft E2 Educator Exchange. I was honoured to be one of 5 Australian teachers selected, and the only one from Victoria.
Most of the team met for the first time at Dubai airport, and by Monday afternoon we were all together at the Marriott Hotel, our home for the week and the conference venue.
The plane landed a little later than scheduled and we were met at the airport door by a driver holding a sign bearing our names. None of us thought to photograph this once in a lifetime event!
After a shower and a rest, and working on instructions NOT to sleep (yes Travis!) we headed out for a quick tour around the area and then tea.
The first full day that we were there was for acclimatising – so we got outside and wandered the streets. Unfortunately for Laura, Mark and I, our first choice for exploring, the catacombs, was closed on Mondays. We found our way to the Pantheon, taking taking photos along the way. Signs of the revolution were everywhere!
On our way to dinner, we stopped to take a photo outside Notre Dame.
We then took breath while three of us rode a carousel!
In the evening we had a team meal at Georges, in an interesting building called the Georges Pompidou Centre. Here we had a rooftop table with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
Having conquered the application process, developed the required materials for the exchange, and found our way via various routes to the beautiful city of Paris, were were ready to commence the exchange.
A more advanced level of collaborating between schools is enabled by Office 365. It is aided by classes where students have 1:1 device access. This is an example currently being employed in 2019 with VCE Year 11 and 12 students studying History Revolutions using PowerPoint online. I am waiting for the other two schools to act – watch this space!
I have an experienced and enthusiastic teacher who is currently teaching Russia, which I teach in the second half of the year who wants to be involved.
The restrictions on this task were enormous: I visited the class for 50 minutes per week on Friday mornings. Many things were commenced and then by the time we met again a new topic was being introduced. Most students, however, were able to produce something useful in the first lesson. I can’t share the links with you because they all did what was requested and only shared with people within our organisation.
The student 1:1 devices were not quite ready to be used and my timetable allocated me to one of the Year 6 classes to assist with an Inquiry Topic into World War 1. Hmm – how best to meet the brief?
I selected a number of texts from the Senior School Library, loaded them into a crate with wheels and headed north.
What did I choose? A range of texts about the “Great War” – including titles relating to Chinese soldiers, the Australian Imperial Forces (great language to discuss) and several volumes of the wonderful but underutilised Official history of Australia in the War of 1914-1918 by Charles Bean.
By taking these somewhat ancient tomes I was able to discuss the role of an official historian, censorship, and the age of our school (which is why we have these in our collection).
Students were invited to enter the book gallery and complete a table in any way that they felt appropriate.
The collaboration, obvious interest in content and active discussions around the room were wonderful to behold. The images below were taken with my staff laptop (Toshiba Z20) screen and they worked better than I thought they might.