Some of the world’s finest teachers

17 08 2010

Part of our requirements to achieve successful teacher registration and qualification is to complete a professional learning profile, which must include a log of professional development activities.

This might include current or previous jobs, research, volunteer work, PD sessions, or even trawling through youtube and teachers.tv

So for those of you who might need something to add to those personal development logs, or just gain a clue in the classroom watch these global experts at work.

Embedded videos below the fold.

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Game: I wanna play forever

30 06 2010
Kids hard at learning.Image: sean dreilinger (Creative Commons)

Play-based learning is used in the Early Years to provide children with an intuitive learning environment suited to activities that little kids do best – playing around with stuff.

This tends to be phased out around the end of year 3, as we move into constructive activities and even, ‘oh noes’, direct instruction. This is something one the children I look after lamented now he is in a year 3/4 class at his new school, “We never play anymore”. Boo hoo, little Johnny, boo hoo. You don’t think I don’t not want to not play games too, yeah?

With gaming returning to an acceptable past time for adults – just listen to Kevin Butler¹ at this year’s E3 – shouldn’t this be reflected in our schools and curriculum? Many of the kids I taught respond to questions like “What’s your hobby?” or “What do you do in your spare time?” with some form of console or another. Many child care centres, and even libraries, these days have consoles available for visitors to use. And if you want to get into economics, I’m sure you can go and find your own figures on just how much this industry is worth.

Games in the classroom do present some problems, mostly to do with moral panic. Firstly just about “games” in general – with some of the students I’ve worked with not allowed to complete teacher-set homework on Mathletics at home because carers won’t let them². Others more serious and understandable moral panics about inadequate classification, excess violence, and depictions of sexual and criminal activities. The ethics and other social issues surround video gaming culture and industry is probably enough to design a unit (or three) all on your own – but what I am interested at the moment is what recreational video games are out there that could provide the stimulus material for an entire trans-disciplinary unit on there own.

As this Dueling Analogs strip illustrates games today are becoming more and more complex – not only in gameplay and graphics – but in background stories, character development, dialogue, and even the style or genre of storytelling themselves (also known as interactive fiction). These components should make it easier to take a single game and safely stretch it into multiple learning areas.

Below the fold are just some ideas:

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Do you teach about dinosaurs?

29 06 2010

The wisdom of Calvin:

Click for full strip

Why do clearly bright and passionate kids not perform so well in class?





Don’t worry nurse, its a *healing* sword

30 05 2010

I’m all up for learning in gaming, and even for gaming in learning (more on that story later), so the story of Healing Blade intrigues me. It even has a trailer.

A company called Nerdcore Learning has released what looks like a Magic: The Gathering Style Trading Card Game (TGC) that is supposed to help medical students remember what antibiotics they should be using for particular infections. It also mixes things up with cards for antibiotic resistance, as well as broad-spectrum antibiotics. I’m am quaking at the sight of Bacillus athrancis and his hordes of sparkly butterflies.

Yes. Your future doctor will have learned how to cure your ails by playing a medical-themed version of Yugi-Oh. Oh, dear, what?*

I wonder if they will release an OVA, or at least a web-comic.

If your interested in medical card games for younger demographics, there’s always Zygote Games’ Parasites Unleashed.

*Actually I’m far more worried about the med student likening his practice of medicine to Mass Effect





Unit: Swine flu and you

1 09 2009

What would you do?

For my multiliteracies assessment I have planned out (somewhat) a Swine Flu/Public Health unit for a hypothetical group of year 7s. The unit combines essential learnings mostly from the Key Learning Areas of English (we had to include English) and the Health in HPE (which suits disease units better than Science standards).

A main part of the unit planning task was to come up with multiple outcome tasks for our students, that would cater to a range of diverse learners. Gone are the days when everyone is expected to hand in a written information report. We had to design our tasks to combine not only multi-modes, but also cross-genre tasks.

The tasks I set this imaginary groups of four students were:

  • An animated morality play: Students would script and create an animated (stop-motion, flash-based, cut-outs) narrative short film that will educate a peer-level audience on appropriate disease prevention and control strategies during an influenza pandemic. This group would have some help in accessing technical expertise from a high school AV club (one good thing about a hypothetical classroom of hypothetical students with hypothetical tasks meant we could hammerspace mentors and equipment). Outcome: Script. Character outlines. Final edited video.
  • Expert interview podcast: Students would identify and approach a small number of relevant community opinion leaders (doctors, scientists, nurses, school officials, mayors etc.) to interview. They would then use excerpts of the interviews to assemble an audio podcast on disease prevention and control in the event of a local influenza outbreak. This group would also receive guidance from our friendly teens in the AV club. Outcomes: Question plans. Opinion leader profiles. Final edited podcast.
  • Public health campaign: Students will design an entire school-based public health campaign that would encourage peers to engage in activities that prevent and control spread of influenza. The school’s art teacher has thankfully volunteered to help students produce printed materials (posters, pamphlets etc.). Outcomes: Multiple campaign materials. PowerPoint and group oral presentation of campaign to class.
  • Digital art gallery: Students will create a digital art gallery centred on a specific theme related to pandemic prevention and control. Students select a variety of images and illustrations, decide how to arrange them appropriately to create a user-friendly interactive display. Each picture needs to be accompanied by a short amount of text. Outcomes: Digital gallery – pictures, captions, layout and interface.
  • Recommendation report: Students will research pandemic responses around the world and produce an information report that compares these with actions taken in Australia and then provides recommendation on actions Australia should enact in the future. The report is for the Federal Minister for Health and will have a cover letter that provides a synopsis of the reports findings. Students will also provide a small resource folder that reports on ‘further reading’ resources the minister could use. Outcomes: Cover letter/synopsis, information report, recommendations, resource folder.

What sort of learners do you think each task was designed to cater for? Do you think I missed out on a particular group of learners with these tasks? Do you have a preference for which task you would like to be allocated if you were in my hypothetical class of year 7s?

What do you think of the idea of students being set different assessment tasks? Is it fair? Is it realistic?

You may notice that some of these tasks overlap in both content, genre and modalities. This is deliberate. After all, I cannot be expected to teach five totally distinct learning outcomes to a single class at the same time (or am I?) All students are working towards the HPE Essential Learning to “understand how to/apply skills to promote health and wellbeing” among other things.

Note: This assignment has been handed in and is currently being marked. The above outcome tasks have been somewhat refined from their original state.





Christmas word from sponsor

18 12 2008

It’s sometimes surprising to find something not demoralizingly pornographic on jlist. But here’s something that actually looks pretty cool and educational.

A kanji-learning tool that takes advantage of the DS stylus.

Kakitori-kun II (which suggests there is also an original).

While not a program for beginners. It looks like a good practical device for learning those difficult stroke orders. Almost 2000 kanji from the Japanese “standard-use” syllabus.

I’d ask for it, but I have a PSP, not a DS. Now if a secret santa wants to get me both…





Lessons for teachers

14 10 2008

This would be one of the best lists of advice to anyone considering teaching.

Number one is so true. If you do not get on top of things at the start, you will be in a lot of trouble. You can’t “get back into the swing of things” if you were never there to begin with.

The list below – but be sure to actually visit the original website, there is a detailed article on each topic (and even sets of articles for some).

10. Learn from the experience of other teachers
9. Set aside personal time
8. Implement measures to eliminate stress from your life
7. Maintain your old lifestyle after your first paycheck
6. Establish clear, concise, comprehensive classroom rules
5. Pacing
4. Make efforts to reach every student
3. Establish a small circle of teacher friends
2. Start a blog now!

1. Get a handle on classroom management early