Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wonderful advice to young women at the "Go Girl, Go for IT" conference

Today, two colleagues of mine and I accompanied 46 year 9 and 10 girls to the Go Girl conference at Deakin University. After a warm welcome by program director, Fi Slaven, the presentations started with the day's conference patron, Karen Stocks, Managing Director of Twitter Australia (@KazStocks). Karen gave the students 3 pieces of advice:
  1. It is okay not to have a life plan. Follow passions, dreams. Do something that makes your heart beat faster. Trust that you'll end up somewhere good.
  2. Education, education, education. Don't just get a degree, do well. Good grades will show that you can apply yourself.
  3. You will earn credibility through sustained performance. Be humble, patient and respect your elders, even when you feel that you're the smartest person at the table.

Next up was Tammy Butow (@tammybutow) , senior digital strategist at NAB. It was inspiring to see someone achieve so much at such a young age. She encouraged the girls to build products, learn to code and form teams with complementary skills.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

A class that showed me what learning looks like

Last year, I began teaching an elective class in year 10 called "Big Ideas in Computer Technology". The first class had 12 girls in it and, this year, the number grew to 17. I was blown away with the number since, in year 10, the girls can take only three electives across the year and the offerings at our school are mind-boggling.

How the learning was structured
This year, I really wanted to work with a principle I learnt from a video by James Paul Gee which I reviewed earlier. Using computer games as a metaphor, I saw my role as designing the learning in such a way that the students could have enough guidance at the beginning - the first two levels of the game - and then learn through experimentation, discussion and some help from me.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Educational beliefs I have let go of

Before becoming a teacher, I used to assume that kids couldn't know things unless they were taught them. I really thought that a comprehensive curriculum and rigorous tests were the way to ensure a quality education. Every time I encountered kids who seemed to struggle with basic numeracy, I would mumble something about the school system lacking rigour. In this post, I want to list some of the beliefs that I no longer hold.

Here are four beliefs I used to hold but no longer do:

  1. Students learn what we teach them
    It is a well-established fact that students construct their own learning and that this construction is influenced by many factors, including what teachers say or demonstrate. I know many teachers, myself included, who finish correcting their students' papers and exclaim: "I told them ...." or "was I even in the room when we discussed this?" At times, I still express my frustration this way but I am no longer surprised when students do not internalise what I said in class.