Tony Gurr

Archive for the ‘Classroom Teaching’ Category

The DNA of GREAT Teachers – 3 “listicles” you have to read!

In Classroom Teaching, Guest BLOGGERS, Our Schools, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training, Uncategorized on 18/03/2014 at 9:59 am

Last week, allthingsLEARNing offered a bout of bloggery from guest-blogger Steve Brown (Is it all in the Genes?).

Today we have a follow-up guest-post from Cas Olivier (all the way from Harties“, a small resort town in the North West Province of South Africa). I never actually got to Hartbeespoort on “my walkabouts” around South Africa – but now I have a reason to do so…next time.

Cas (guest post slide) 01

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The story of how I bumped into Cas in the blogosphere is a funny one!

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About 8 months ago, I was desperately looking for some new images to “steal” for one of my own posts on “GREAT TEACHers”. Yes, I know…some of you “hate” this phrase – but, come on – who among us all does not want their students to say something like – “Tony Hocam is a GREAT TEACHer”?

go on, tell the truth now!

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Well, I was at a total loss – couldn’t find anything new to steal…sorry, “inspire” me! I had got totally fed up of using “brains” and “mirrors”!

I had lunch with my big, little girl and told her what was going on (actually, she wanted to know what all the “swearing” was about…the foul language that had been pouring out of my study all morning)!

Expletive (four)

I mentioned that I had overdone the whole “brain” thing – but I (still) liked the notion of “organic” TEACHing! She looked up and said “Dad…what about DNA – that’s cool”!

I jumped up…kissed her…and ran back to the study!

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Not five minutes had passed…and the wave of obscene expletives began againbloody Google had spat out Cas’ book The DNA of GREAT TEACHers (spat it out straight in my eye it did) and I hated him almost immediately…with a passion!

Expletive (sixteen)

Hey, I am human – get over it! Least I’m honest…

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You see…the same thing had happened to me when I “invented” (yes, I also “steal” ideas from me daughter – I am THAT daddy!) the term ASSESSment Literacy back in 2011 (I still “hate” Richard Stiggins…not really!) LEARNing, CURRICULUM and EDUCATIONAL Literacy, however, are still “mine” (and my big, little girl had nothing to do with them…that time it was “Dexter”, my dog…who will soon have a blog)!

I calmed down…and started “stalkingCas via his website-cum-blogLEARNingDESIGNs – could he be my long-lost brother (my dad had spent time in Cape Town, Durban and the Free State in the late-40’s), acaba?

Cas Hocam – I know you were born in the Free State…but, when exactly WERE you born? I want a date…and a pregnancy calendar!

 

I fell in love with the sample chapters that Cas was so generously sharing on his blog – I liked the complex simplicity of his THUNKs…and the common sense those thunks were screaming at me!

I forgave him (!)…got in touch via mail…and, his first act of cyber friendship was to send me a copy of his book. 

Paying It Forward is alive and well…in the “Harties”!

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Cas and I started chatting about him doing a follow-up to Steve’s post – and although neither of us are fans of “listicles” (TY – Kevin Stein aka @kevchanwow in the big, bad Tweetiverse) he thought it might be fun…to do THREE of themin one post!

So, over to Cas!

DNA Question (for Cas)

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The DNA of GREAT teachers are described from a plethora of vantage points and they all have merit.

My vantage point is my latest book: The DNA of Great Teachers in which I use the ‘DNA-concept’ as metaphor to explain teaching paradigms and explain how teachers’ genetic teaching make-up influences their mindsets and teaching practices.

Once I started to “decode” teaching-DNA, I began to understand more and more about what made GREAT teachers so GREAT!

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GREAT Teachers (for Cas) 01

Let’s start with beliefs – and my first “listicle”:

 

The 10 Beliefs of GREAT TEACHers

  1. Teaching means to facilitate learning.
  2. Lesson planning means converting the curriculum into learning challenges.
  3. Their main tasks are to guide and support students.
  4. Are firstly followers and then leaders.
  5. Teaching is like developing new medicine. It must be based on patient needs and not the design preference of the manufacturer.
  6. The momentum of great teaching is maintained by questions asked by both themselves and the students.
  7. When students are not learning as expected, they change their approach.
  8. They cannot teach learners anything, but can make them think.
  9. Learning always starts from the known and progresses to the unknown.
  10. Lesson must cater for ‘short-legged’ and ‘long-legged’ students.

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As Tony might say – have a THUNK about it.

How many of these reflect your understanding of your own DNA? How many of them are beliefs – that walk-their-talk in your classrooms? Are there any in there that you might disagree with? Why / Why not?

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GREAT Teachers (for Cas) 02

The second of my “listicles” is more focused on the classroom (I’m not that sure if that term is growing on me or not)!

Before you read mine…What would your own Top 10 List include?

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Questions (Joseph O Connor quote) Ver 03

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The 10 Things That GREAT TEACHers “DO” in the Classroom

  1. Determine the learning status of students and then become leaders to guide their learning.
  2. Manage their classes through good relationships.
  3. Deviate from their lesson-plan to enable students to gain quick learning-wins.
  4. Provide learners with scaffolds to work out their own answers.
  5. To achieve productive silence in a class, they ask questions. To achieve productive noise give students an activity to do.
  6. Use at least 5 teaching methods.
  7. Never give answers to questions. Rather provide students with scaffolds to enable them to work out their own answers.
  8. Ensure learners are acknowledged and feel clever.
  9. Ensure students master logical, critical, creative and big picture thinking skills.
  10. Encourage learning risk takers to speak their minds.

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How many were similar to your own listicle?

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GREAT Teachers (for Cas) 03

List 03now, this is one of my favourites.

None of us are “perfect”…we all have room to grow. But, GREAT TEACHers often take their DNA…and turn it into an “art form”:

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The Top 10 Things that GREAT TEACHers “do” to Improve

  1. Discuss their teaching with colleagues.
  2. Learn from any source to improve their teaching.
  3. Appreciate positive and negative critique on their teaching.
  4. Do not take critique personally.
  5. Keep on looking for better ways to engage students in more creative and challenging learning.
  6. Open to advice.
  7. Willingness to change.
  8. Remind themselves that they should not be the main source of information during lessons.
  9. Keep on looking for ways students can discover and create their own answers.
  10. Keep abreast by reading about teaching.

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Now, here’s a thunk or 2 (again, to “steal”…sorry, to be “inspired”…from Tony)!

How many of you work in schools that give you the “space” to do these things? Schools that create the conditions for “DNA mutation and adaptation” to take place – through LEARNing conversations between LEARNing teachers

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GREAT Teachers (for Cas) 04 (with cover)

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Cas Olivier   –   www.LearningDesigns.co.za   –   casper@mweb.co.za 

Is it all in the Genes? (from GUEST BLOGGER – Steve Brown)

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Guest BLOGGERS, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training on 05/03/2014 at 8:25 am

Today’s bout of bloggery is from Steve Brown (aka @sbrowntweets on Twitter).

I first came across Steve when I was pointed in the direction of his blog post “21 Questions for Language TEACHers”. I have to admit I had not stumbled upon Steve’s blog – the very-easy-to-remember(The) Steve Brown Blog” – until Mike Griffin gave him a nod in one of his posts and I kicked meself for not seeing it earlier.

I loved his questions so I decided to stalk his blog pages a wee bit more. When I came up for air, I told him (via Twitter) that I was sorry I had had not recognised his “bloggery genius” earlier – and then asked if he’d be interested in answering a question (rather than just helping us thunk over his – he has just done another wonderful “quiz” for all us teachers, too…take a look)!

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He agreed – and here we are this morning!

THUNKers Wanted (for Steve)

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When Tony asked me to do a guest post on his blog I was flattered, then excited, then a bit scared.

I got (really) scared at the point when he “suggested” I try answering this question:

DNA (LEARNing TEACHer) Blog ver 01

Freakishly scary, right?

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I mean, where do you start? This question isn’t just about what makes a good teacher, but what (if anything) is hard-wired into a person that predisposes them to effective, reflective, developmental teaching.

At least I think that’s what the question is!

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So, let’s start with a definition of a LEARNing TEACHer.

I would suggest that this is a teacher who continues to LEARN throughout their career. Someone who recognises that completing a teacher training qualification does not make you the “finished article”. Someone who realises that there is no finished article.

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Parker Quote (for Steve)

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Someone who constantly seeks ways to…

improve,

develop and

enhance their skills & talents.

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If this is our definition of a LEARNing Teacher, maybe we can identify what qualities such a person needs to have.

They need to be able to take new information on board, to respond well to feedback, to pick up new information and ideas, and to have the technical skills to put them into practice.

LEARNing Quote 01 (Steve)

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Of course, much is made of such qualities in the world of ELT teacher training courses. Trainees are expected to make steady progress from observed lesson to observed lesson, absorbing new information from input and feedback sessions then putting it into practice at the very next opportunity.

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But all that stuff is LEARNable!

Adams Quote (for Steve)

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You can LEARN how to manage a class, how to give instructions, how to do effective boardwork, how to clarify language, how to correct errors. This is what the ancient Greeks called poeisis – the implementation of techniques. You learn what needs to be done, then you do it.

Is that all that teaching involves though? Is it just a matter of following set procedures, using tried and tested techniques?

Sure, you need to be able to acquire those technical skills, but you also need to know when to use them.

Best TEACHers (new ver) TG

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Teaching is an essentially human activity; you’re working closely with real people, and these real people will respond in very varied ways to the techniques you implement.

A sensitivity to these responses and an ability to react appropriately are therefore crucial. This is more like what the ancient Greeks called praxis – action that is informed by a wider context, taking into account the moral, socio-economic or political consequences that your teaching might have, beyond the classroom.

I mean the impact on the students’ lives, and the resulting consequences for society in general.

Resnick Quote (for Steve) TG ver

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In terms of what goes into a teacher’s DNA, therefore, the skills themselves are less important because they are LEARNable. What is more fundamental is an inherent AWAREness of the “implications” of employing these skills.

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But the question isn’t just about a good teacher; it’s about a LEARNing teacher.

So as well as an awareness of what you’re doing, there needs to be something else in the DNA that “drives” you forward, that keeps you “wanting” to LEARN more.

Resnick Quote TG ver

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I would suggest that this requires FOUR qualities:

Interest

You can’t LEARN how to be interested in something – either you’re interested or you’re not. So you need to have an interest in the subject you teach, and you also need to have an interest in the whole “business” of teaching and LEARNing.

Motivation

Again, this has to go in the DNA because you can’t LEARN how to want to do something. Desire to take action comes from somewhere very deep down. 

Inquiry

I suppose you could argue that this is very closely related to motivation, but it’s not exactly the same. While motivation is a desire to take action, inquiry is a desire to find things out. You can have your interest piqued or your curiosity raised, but I think that a constantly questioning approach to life, or a reluctance to just accept everything as it is, is something you either have or you don’t have.

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Tolstoy Fish Quote (new ver) TG

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Humility

In order to get better at something, it is important to be able to recognise how bad you are at it. In fact, failures or shortcomings need to be welcomed and embraced as opportunities for development.

We tell this to our students, so we need to demonstrate these qualities in ourselves as well. Humility is certainly something that can be developed, but the ability to equate failure with opportunity is something that some people find very difficult, and others find impossible.

LEARNing and ADAPTATION (Steve)

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I’m not sure I’m doing very well here in describing what the DNA of a LEARNing teacher looks like, though.

Can we visualise it?

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Apparently, regular DNA looks like this:

DNA (Steves Ver)

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You’ve got the four chemicals Adenine, Cyostine, Thymine and Guanine, surrounded by sugar and phosphate.

Maybe the DNA of a LEARNing Teacher can look pretty similar.

Replace the four chemicals with Interest, Motivation, Inquiry and Humility, and surround it all with…AWAREness!

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What if 06

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Of course this is incredibly “unscientific” and I apologise to everyone who actually knows something about DNA. I would welcome any comments from such people.

Trying to answer Tony’s question has raised three related questions for me, which I think I can answer now:

Steves ANSWERS

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Steve Brown

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What EXACTLY are the “Skills” needed by 21st Century TEACHERS? – The “Robocop” Upgrade…

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Technology on 18/02/2014 at 3:24 pm

21C Teacher (Robocop ver) 160214 TG

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I have been heard to say that you can’t throw a rock into the blogosphere these days without hitting a post or article on the 21st Century “something-or-other”.

Love it or hate it – the notion of 21st Century Skills is one of those HOT topics these days – especially in Turkey. Sadly, however, the discussions on EDtech here seem to be dominated by some very strange creatures…you know them as:

21C Digi Cheerleaders

…IDIOTS, mostly!

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The real problem is:

Digi Cheerleading Rabbits

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IDIOTS that are breeding like bloody rabbitson steroids!

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IDIOTS that (still) do not link the 21C concept to real LEARNing – choosing instead to focus on what seems to be both the engine and the fuel of the 21st Century…..

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Don’t get me wrong…I’m not some kind of EDtech luddite who wants to put a stop to the so-called tablet and akıllı tahta dönemi we are currently witnessing in Turkey.

Turkey is my adopted home, I am a “milli enişte” and I am amazingly proud that I helped co-create one of Turkey’s first “digital natives” (and also one of the toughest and most beautiful, too – ask me about the “Türk kızı” who took down men twice her size on the Turkish TV version of “Wipe-Out”).

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I am a “daddy”, too!

A very proud one….

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21C LEARNing FIRST

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But, my business is LEARNing (as if you didn’t know) - not TECHnology. And, I’m interested in how we actually “do” something with all the talk-we-are-talking these days – talk about the new kids on the curriculum block:

  • INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL and CREATIVE THINKING
  • PROBLEM-SOLVING and CREATIVITY
  • COMMUNICATION, COLLABORATION and SHARING
  • COGNITIVE and EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
  • ETHICS, ACTION and ACCOUNTABILITY
  • LEADERSHIP, AGILITY and ENTREPRENEURIALISM
  • CURIOSITY, EXPERIMENTATION and RISK-TAKING
  • SELF-DISCIPLINE, RIGOUR and REFLECTION
…even:
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IMAGINEERING
(a wonderful “skill” that brings many of the above together)… 
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 21C SMARTBoards and DUMBIdeas

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We know here in Turkey (not that different to the rest of the world…really) that we still have major challenges with:

  • ORAL and WRITTEN COMMUNICATION (the 3R’s in TURKISH) – of course!
  • ENGLISH LANGUAGE (the 3R’s in ELL)

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But, the TECH (and the so-called “new digital landscape”) still gets many more column inches and pixels than student LEARNing.

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Our raging debate, a debate that others in the US and Europe have picked up, centres on Turkey’s plans to purchase 15,000,000 tablets over the next few years (as part of the Fatih Project) – and has international and domestic commentators really talking:

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Actually, I’m not sure if we should be talking about the tablets (the PM was today…again and again and again) – we should be discussing the skills the tablets are supposed to be ushering into Turkish schools.

…and, the impact of these skills on TEACHers.

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In an earlier post, I discussed how these 21st Century realities are creating a new set of roles for TEACHers:

However, discussion on how these roles translate into a new evolving set of teacher skillsliteracies and fluencies has been (very) limited – especially, in Turkey.

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Isn’t it time we started to ask some REAL questions:

  • What skills do TEACHers (in Turkey) need as we continue our march into the 21st Century?
  • How many of these skills actually relate to how we deploy and use TECHNOLOGY?
  • How many of them relate to effective LEARNing and TEACHing?
  • What do TEACHers actually think themselves – and what do their LEARNers think?
  • How effectively is TEACHer (and LEARNer) LEARNing being promoted and supported (in Turkey)?
  • What else needs to change to make the 21st Century “wishlist” a reality?

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Hey, maybe we can even start asking some of the most basic questions.

Questions like:

21C TECHnology SECOND

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I’d love to see some fresh ideas and comments. 

If not (and you are a lover of “bedtime reading”) – here’s a little list of some resources on allthings21Cskills:

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Tony’s 21st CENTURY LEARNing Library

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Back to Basics – “QUESTION Basics”, that is!

In Classroom Teaching, Teacher Learning, Technology on 04/11/2013 at 2:45 pm

DNA (LEARNing TEACHer) Blog ver 01

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I’ve been getting a lot of flak recently for doing so much on all that “bloody TECHnology stuff”!

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Come on…not my fault!

I’ve been doing a few programmes / projects of late that are designed to put the TECH into the EDwithout forgetting the LEARNing – especially the TEACHer LEARNing!

Afterall…

Tech Change (Clay Shirky quote) ver 01

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…and, Clay is a guy I choose not to disagree with too much

(unless it’s about hair-styles)!

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Now, the plan (for this current post) was to look at some of the questions that we (as TEACHers) really need to be asking ourselves as we look at ways to “use” (more) EDtech – to enhance what we need to be doing….to help our students do more with the stuff they are supposed to be LEARNing….with us!

Yes, that’s a mouthful…and a half.

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That’s because we need to be doing more than just “DOing” stuff in the classroom…

Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

…we need to be THUNKing DOers – in our classrooms!

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What I was going to do (in this post) was look at a few of the questions all TEACHers need to ask BEFORE they jump on the latest band-wagon or hand over their credits cards to one of the many…

Digital Cheerleaders ver 02

…that are out there – lots of whom (sadly) are TEACHers, too!

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You know, questions like:

LEARNing First TECH Laters 01

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This one is even “sexier” (probably because I stole and co-opted it from Clay Christensen):

LEARNing First TECH Laters 02

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Not only the EDtech you “hire” yourself…what the school also hires – for you!

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Why, Tony?

Why do we need to question everything?

I just want to get on with my job…

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Well, because…of what Uncle Clay (the first one) tells us above – but perhaps, more importantly,

NEW and SHINY

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Let’s look at an example (very) close to home (if you live here in canım Türkiyem):

Fatih Project

I am a Turk now – can say what I want about OUR projects!

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Did it work? Is it working? Will it ever work – if we throw more money at it?

Why not?

DUMB things with SMARTboards (Heidi Hayer Jacobs quote) ver 02 TG

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What’s the price-tag?

Taxpayer

Me thunks…someone, somewhere got some ‘splaining to do – to all us tax-payers!

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Questions, questions, questions…are GOOD!

Never let anyone tell you any different…

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If we start asking these types of questions (about allthingsEDtech), others just start bouncing around and out of the old grey matter:

How does this tech 01

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But, heywhy stop at student LEARNing:

How does this tech 02

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…when we can (also) do so much more with our own TEACHer LEARNing!

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Questions, questions, questions…

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…because we all know (especially if you speaks a wee bit of Mandarin):

Questions (Chinese Proverb) ver 02 TG

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Now, that was what I WAS going to say (in this post)…but I won’t - because a few of you are a bit fed up withall that “bloody TECHnology stuff”!

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So, let’s really get back to “basics”:

What is this

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NEXT TIME…söz!

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The Next “BIG THING” in #EDtech…

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning, Technology on 14/10/2013 at 12:34 pm

Next Big Thing (Cameron Evans quote) ver 02

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I know, I know…some of you are still recovering from that last post I did.

Not only did it have the longest blog post title ever (there has to a “prize” for that somewhere, yes?) but it had enough links & “bedtime reading” to put you off ever stepping back into the blogosphere!

OR, perhaps, just trapped in the Blog-a-Matrix…..forEVER!

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Sorry (bw)

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On reflection, it might have been better to split it up – you know, into 12 parts or something. That certainly would have made planning my bloggery writing schedule easier for the next few weeks!

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In fact, this is what I am doing now – but I thought I’d begin with the last section of that monster post:

Pt 12

…and see how it goes!

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I’m starting with a “part” on “hardware”…not because I think the “toys” are more important than the “stuff” we do with the toys…but because it’s the hardware that most frequently scares us to death.

It’s always been that way – even since we all started watching those Sci-Fi movies in the 1970’sheck, even way before this…who remembers the re-runs of Flash Gordon – all the way from the 1930’s?

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but...

…it’s not just hi-tech hardware (or robots) that give us the willies!

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Take a look at this lovely video (with thanks to Joan Kang Shin for sharing this at the recent conference hosted by AİBÜ in Bolu)

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See – and we got used to these things (and Norwegian)…just dandy!

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On the list I did, however, I chose to focus on:

Google Glass (TG ver 2013)

Google Glass is just so cool…the coolest!

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I want…I want….I want – now!

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I also wanted to share a few thunks from others that agree with me:

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The downside of an innovation like Google Glass is that it has serious…and I mean really shirious potential to create another major educational disruptiona disruption…the likes of which…not even God has seen!

But, didn’t we also say that about “the book”?

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SergeyYES, you and your crew!

If me and my crew lose our jobs in the next few years (because of your bloody “specs”), you will “giz uz all a job”  yeh?

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The thing was, as soon as finished up that post (ain’t it always the way?), I came across another post – a post suggesting that Google Glass was perhaps not the be-all-and-end-all of EDtech over the next few years.

This post was penned by Hartmut Esslinger (the grand-daddy of allthingsAPPLEDESIGN). Harmut tells us about 4 sexy EDtech trends to keep our eyes on

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…while wearing our Google Glass, of course!

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His list was not exactly full of all the “small things” that Cameron Evans (look back at the very first image) told us about last year. Now, Cam probably wouldn’t be seen dead saying something about Apps (unless they were all MS Apps, that is) – but I guess this is what he was really talking about.

Perhaps, the biggest news of the week (about all these “small things”) was the announcement that Apple has just launched its new iPad Apps for TEACHers section on iTunes – actually, it’s TWO sectionsone for TEACHers and parents on Apps for kids (broken down into age groups and LEARNing activities)…and, the otherstuff TEACHers can use in the classroom

If the massive adoption of the iPad (by everyone and his dog) was the last “big” thing (before we all get our hands on Google Glass) – the Apps are certainly all those small things that could change how we “do LEARNing”.

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Boyz n’ girlz…before I forget:

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??????????????????????

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…to all my Sevgili Hocalarım!

Have a wonderful Bayram – from big, bad İstanbul!

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Everything NO Single Teacher Should EVER Want to Know About EdTech, Digital Literacy and 21st Century LEARNing…

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning, Technology on 05/10/2013 at 12:31 pm

EVERYTHING EdTech 01

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Now, some of you may have noticed (from my last 3 posts…and mini-dizi) that I have had my “techie” head on of late. But, I have to admit it is the “TEACHer LEARNing techie head” or (as I like to say…to convince myself, perhaps) my “THUNKing DOer techie head”!

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Those last 3 posts were not just about the “tech” of Twitter - they were more about the capacity of a tool like Twitter to help us TEACHers LEARN, GROW…and get off the planet faster!

A tool is just as good as the purpose to which it is put…nuff said!

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Twitter Blog Post 03 (21C Culture 3C ver)

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However, I have been working on a little project (for a group of ELL/ELT professionals here in canım Türkiye) with my partner in “EdTech crime”Ana Cristina Pratas (our “Desert Rose”, yes the one with a digital footprint bigger than that of a Sasquatch on steroids).

We got to thunking what it would be like if we pooled our favourite online bedtime readings on Edtech, Digital Literacy and 21st Century LEARNing – and looked how we could feed them into the “syllabus” we are co-creating for our little project…

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Easy-peasy…

…you might thunk!

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This is the “result” – yes, probably the longest title of any blog post ever written…ever!

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We have tried to group our favourite bits of digital reading into 12 parts – and included a few posts / articles that would also be useful for those of you “new” to Edtech – or perhaps just looking for ways to continue your journey of becoming a more connected educator. As I noted, the list was developed for practitioners in ELL and ELT – but we have tried to draw on the thunks of a wider range of THINKing EDUcational DOers…across all our EDUsectors.

Thank you (glass image)

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ALL…so much…for caring enough to share!

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Pt 01

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These are some of our fave speakers doing their thing – these ideas have inspired us, made us thunk…and even given us a laugh or 3.

Enjoy!

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P

Pt 02

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These bits of bedtime reading are just in case you need a reminderEdTech is not just HEREit is here to STAY…and it can help all of us do more with what we know, who we are and how we all improve as educators. 

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Pt 03

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I know, I know…a lot of you are sick to the teeth of hearing the phrase 21C LEARNing!

Remember, “a rose by any other name“.

bla, bla, bla!

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There are a lot of thunks to be had by stepping back from the “tech” and thunking over the issues…and terminology (so, check out that last one from Terryreal cats n’ pigeon stuff there).

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Pt 04

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These great posts and articles follow up on many of the issues raised in Part 03 above – they will keep you going for days…weeks….months! 

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Pt 05

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OK – before we really get into the “techie tools”, this little list are those things you can bookmark (and keep coming back to…again and again).

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Pt 06

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Here we tried to give you as wide a range of tools as possible – the writers of these posts spent hours weighing up the best tools around. Of course, no-one (except an idiot, perhaps) would suggest that we need to know all of these inside out – start with the ones that help you solve the very real problems you have…or just do what you do – “better”

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Pt 07 8

Ahhh, and where would any half-decent, curated Edtech list be…without a nod to Social Media. Again, we have tried to give a few introductory bits of reading – but do check out that last one.

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Pt 08

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This list was one of the toughest to “prune” down – the list of tools is (literally) endless! However, we tried to focus on the ones that are either most useful or most used…

…by connected educators.

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Pt 09

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We almost decided against keeping this little section – well, the second part of it at least. But…with so many of our institutions (sadly) doing such a poor job of supporting (real) TEACHer LEARNing, “going DIY” is probably the best route!

Then, use LinkedIn to find yourself a better job!

Did he just say what I thunk he said?

Yep, he did!

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Pt 10

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Now, considering that both my partner in EdTech crime and I both suffer from acute Idiopathic bloggeria, we opted to keep this one short and sweet (but notice I did manage to sneak one of me own posts in there – tricky, tricky)!

Basically, blogging is good for you…and even better for your LEARNers!

See why…

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Pt 11

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Now, I know I have said (in the past):

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Its NOT about (edtech) TG ver 02

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…and emphasised:

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It IS about (edtech) TG ver 02

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I stand by that…still!

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But, especially here in canım Türkiyem these days…more and more of us are being asked to play with our “classroom toys”. It’s pretty silly to have a “toy” and not know how to use it!

The problem is that our dear friends in the primary sector have kinda cornered the market in half-decent web-based ideas and tips for IWBs. We have done our best here – but let us know, if you have found better stuff. 

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Almost there…boyz n’ girlz!

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Pt 12

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Now, I bet you thought I was going to start banging on about the “flipped classroom”…..“MOOCs” perhaps….even “augmented reality”?

No, no, no!

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Google Glass is just so cool…the coolest!

I want…I want….I want – now!

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Besides, it’s my blog and I can write whatever takes my fancybut I might come back to that other stuff later.

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Thats-all-folks

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You know the jingle…yes?

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SergeyYES, you and your crew!

If I lose my job in the next few years (because of your bloody “specs”), you will “gizza job”  yeh?

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What are the 3 QUESTIONS you have to ask EVERY student you meet?

In Classroom Teaching, Teacher Learning on 15/09/2013 at 2:37 am

In a recent post…I asked my own version of a question that has become ever-so-fashionable in the blogosphere of late:

Quick Fix 02

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…I had friends that really gave me a “hard time” for getting so “touchy-feely” (YES…they were all “Brits”) with my bouts of bloggery!

Come on, guys – you know how I feel about that stuff…

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Quick Fix 00

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That having been said – it does feel good to do these shorter posts!

HEYI might even turn them into a book!

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But, and in my defence, I have been feeling these feelings for so longthey just spilled out!

Problem was…what also accompanied these feelings was an uncontrollable urge to do one of those very “Top 10″ postsposts I have grown to love ‘n hate…as you well know!

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Must fight the “urge”!

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My original question was a heartfelt one… – OK, it was created by a feeling of pissed-offness (at paying so much money for a very average LEARNing Opportunity):

What I want my TEACHers to say to me

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BUT…I “meant” it…HONEST to God!

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As I thought about that “core question”…and, the fact that so many of us TEACHers were meeting so many of our students – for the first time this week, a couple of other questions peculated to the surface, too:

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3 FQs (Core Questions)

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Questions so few of my TEACHers asked me…ever!

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Not touchy-feely at all – very practical.

Practical questions that give students a “voice” (on ‘Day One’)…and help us create the “climate” we need for REAL LEARNing.

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…and “feel” the difference between:

Quick Fix 01

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A Post That (Really) Made Me THUNK…

In Classroom Teaching, News & Updates (from the CBO), Teacher Learning, The Paradigm Debate on 11/09/2013 at 9:20 am

Are we too egocentric

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Yes, that’s it folks!

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That little quote ripped off from Grant’s latest blog post – and turned into one of my wee graphicsthat is my post for today!

Well, I am travelling these days (a lot) and that’s the best I can manage.

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Perhaps, I should not apologise too much – as it is such a powerful THUNK in itself.

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Read it again…and pop over to the post – for a closer look.

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What do you think?

How egocentric are we – as TEACHers?

How egocentric are YOU?

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Take a look at that last sentence (and the word “merely”)…now, that might ruffle a feather or 3!

You are here (universe) Ver 02

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…or…

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Has Grant missed the mark with this one?

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Who will my students BECOME after they LEARN with me?

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning, The Paradigm Debate on 18/07/2013 at 9:25 am

TEACHing is not LEARNing

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This little image is one of the very first I did for the blog – almost 3 years back!

It’s been downloaded so many times – hey, some people have even conntacted me and asked me for “permission” to download it (yes, there are many nice guys out there…gals, too). Others have suggested that I add a word or two…we could probably add many!

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Not that you need me to tell you…but I was kinda stating the obvious when I did this – and, I was also linking it to two other questions that TEACHers ask themselves on a Monday morningor Sunday night:

The toss up (LEARNing vs TEACHing)

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Very different, aren’t they?

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It’s not really a toss-upit’s a choice!

I’ve found that the TEACHers who ask the second question “do business” very differently to those that ask the first. I’ve also “confessed” (and recently re-booted the post in which I made that confession) that I used to ask the first far more than I ever asked the second.

So…how do we get from that second question to the one I have used at the title of this post?

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Well, I thunk it’s a question of what matters…or, to be more specific, what we thunk matters…and what we do to breathe life into that thunk.

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Go back to that first image, for a minute…I was suggesting that there are 11 things that are really important in allthingsLEARNing.

If you had to choose 3 of them, what would they be?

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  • FUN, perhaps? It’s important, for sure…but it might not make the top 3, yes?
  • What about REFLECTION? Yes, that one might be in there.
  • FEEDBACK? The LEARNing lubegotta have that in my top 3!

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Or, maybe, it’s EXAM PASSES!

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For me, top of the list would be:

Change (Margaret Mead quote) Ver 02

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Come on! Only 18 words there…you know the ONE!

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Need another clue?

Change (David Thoreau quote)

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It’s in there TWICE

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OK…I know you have got it by now – but I just wanted to throw in this one, too

Change (Maya Angelou quote) Ver 03

I know, I know…but I did take all that time to prepare it!

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Besides…who doesn’t love the She-Hulk? I bet Maya Angelou does…

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Change (Leo Buscaglia quote)

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LEARNing has to involve change…change in the way the LEARNer thinks, feels and acts.

It’s not just about LEARNing “stuff” or it shouldn’t be. The “stuff” we are creating these days is growing at exponential rates…and if our goal, as TEACHers, is to simply TEACH this stuff, we might as well just pack up and go home – and leave it all to the tech we now have!

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This is why our questions have changed…have to change.

Just asking “What should I TEACH today”? …is a “stuff question”.

Asking “What should my students LEARN today”? is an improvement…and, asking “What should my students be able to do with what they LEARN today”? – is even better!

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However, asking:

Who will my students BECOME

…is a whole new ball-game.

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A ball-game that scares the crap out of many TEACHers!

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Indeed, many TEACHers I have discussed this question with tell me it’s an impossible question – especially those that work in the ELT “racket”. They tell me that primary TEACHers (even university TEACHers) have a shot at this – they are well-placed…they have enough stuff to TEACH…they can shape minds (and souls)!

A friend of mine once told me, “I’m beginning to think that all that stuff about you being a LEARNatic is true…Come on! I’m just a bloody language TEACHer…I TEACH grammar…sorry, language communication skills…I help kids with the 4 skills…and vocabulary”!

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Read that again…

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My friend is, by the way, a great TEACHer. But, he is notgreat” because of his knowledge of grammar…nor because he knows how to TEACH the 4 skills (rather than just “practice” them using a silly textbook).

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but...

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…look at how he describes himself!

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I wanted to slap him upside his head when he said this! Instead…I think I made him pay the bill!

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Why do so many TEACHers put themselves down in this way?

Maybe it’s because this is what institutions have LEARNed themI don’t know!

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Change (Seth Godin quote)

My friend is a great TEACHer because he really knows how to “connect” with his students…and because the quality of his interactions with his “kids” allow him to make a real difference to the way those kids think, feel and act – and I ain’t only talking about GRAMMAR!

You see…it doesn’t really matter “what” we TEACH…what discipline we work in, yani! Afterall, none of us really “TEACHes courses”, do we?

We TEACH kids, teenagers, young adults…and even old farts like me!

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When I had this discussion with my old pal, it took a long time to convince him (what the heck…he was paying the bill)! Seth Godin had not published his latest book The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?

I wish he had! Perhaps, we’d have fewer TEACHers saying the type of things my friend was saying.

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Seth’s book has also led me to add another little question to my list:

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Who will I BECOME (as a TEACHer)

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…far more important for us as EDUcators, yes?

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Afterall, we (also) need to remember the words of Ellen Hocam:

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Change (Ellen Glasgow quote)

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Wonderful BEDtime reading for every TEACHer (and their dogs):

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The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin

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To LESSON PLAN or NOT to LESSON PLAN…that is the question! (the RE-boot)

In Classroom Teaching, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training on 02/07/2013 at 5:51 am

big bad İSTANBUL

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Continuing with my series of 500K bloggery RE-boots here!

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This one was one of my very earliest posts…from all the way back in March 2011. This probably accounts for it being one of the top posts I have ever done…despite the fact that it used very few images and I was still LEARNing how to “highlight” on WordPress.

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Now, I’m not sure…but I think the element of this post that people seem to like is the “personal touch” in the two stories that the post uses.

You decide!

The VERY best TEACHers

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An old friend of mine caught up with me on Facebook the other day. He was a great “natural” when we worked together in Dubai…a few years back – he was a bit of a “maverick”, an architect who taught maths and computing, and enjoyed taking risks.

My kinda teacher…

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In his Facebook message he made a “confession” – in all the time we worked together – he had never prepared a “lesson plan”.

He explained that it was “against his religion” and noted:

I always hated the idea of lesson plans…because lesson plans are about what the teacher wants, not what the students need. Education should always start with students’ learning, not teachers’ teaching.

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I pointed out that lesson plans were actually quite a good idea – if they were LEARNer-centred.

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TEACHing is not LEARNing

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His reply:

Sorry! I assume lesson plans to be TEACHer creatures that often have very little to do with students. I should have been more specific! Yes, ones that focus on students – good!

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3 Lessons (of a TEACHer) Ver 03

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It’s often said that every TEACHer teaches 3 lessons (in every lesson they do);

the lesson you plan to teach (Lesson #1),

the lesson you actually teach (Lesson #2) and

the lesson you wish you had taught (Lesson #3).

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It always made total sense to me that if I wanted to see the difference between these 3 Lessons, I had to have some form of “lesson plan” for the first of these – so I would get better at the second type by reflecting on the third type.

Reflective Savvy (3 slides) Ver 02

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Does that make sense – to YOU, too?

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The problem was, as my friend noted, when I was TRAINed (as a TEACHer) I was asked to jump through all sorts of silly hoops and prepare 3 or 4 page lesson plans for every single “dreaded” observation.

Now, I know this was probably not the intention of my teacher trainers (we wrote on slates in those days and the LEARNing rEvolution hadn’t quite “kicked off) because we spoke about this – a lot!.

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A typical conversation went something like this:

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Tony: Come on, this is just a waste of time – you can’t seriously believe this is going to help me be a better teacher.

Trainer: Look, I know it and you know – but this is what {INSERT name of exam board} want. If you don’t do, they’ll fail you.

Tony: You mean YOU will fail me!

Trainer: YES!…just get through the observation…you can do what you want when you get the bit of paper!

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I actually liked the trainer!

And, did everything she saidespecially the last bit!

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When I started teaching full-time, I quickly realised that it was not what I wanted to do (as a teacher) that was important – it was what I wanted the students to do that really “mattered”!

It also dawned on me (some time after the fact) that everything my trainer had LEARNed me was not that stupid – the one thing on the lesson planning form I had to repeatedly complete in my training emphasised “objectives”.

The problem was that {INSERT name of exam board} defined these as TEACHing objectives”  – notLEARNing outcomes” (I think they may have evolved since then…but then again).

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3 FQs (purpose)

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OK – I had “translated” that to mean purposeand brought it together with the idea of “what will the students be able to do with what they LEARN”.

This focus on “purpose” led me to another discovery – that in every “lesson”, I should have a “big idea” that students would “get” and take away with them.

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It was these three things that always formed the basis of Lesson #1 the written version.

Rather than writing down every single “step” I was going to do (with “specific timings” and “classroom interaction patterns”), my lesson plans were about the steps the students would take (the “stuff” they would “do”) – and how I would know if the steps students were taking actually helped create LEARNing.

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Engagement Ver 02 (credit)

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This actually meant that Lesson #2 started to get better – I was more relaxed, I didn’t have to keep looking at my notes (written on a slate, of course) and I could focus on “BEing with” my students much more (rather than “TEACHing at” them).

The beauty of this approach meant that I was more willing to focus on Lesson #3 – and got better much faster.

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And, you know what else? 

Observations stopped being so “dreaded”!

LEARNers and non LEARNers (Barber quote) Ver 02

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So, to sum up:

YES, lesson planning is important and useful (when you focus on “purpose”)

YES, lesson plans should be about what the students will do (and what they will be able to do with what they LEARN “with” you)

YES, lesson planning can help you become a better TEACHer

NO, format does not matter – and size certainly doesn’t…

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For those of interested in getting better at planning (and reflecting on) your lessons, why don’t you take a look at one of my libraries:

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Tony’s LESSON PLANNING Library

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