Using Technology to Teach History

This week, my Grade 6’s are learning about Migration and my Grade 7’s are learning about Ancient History.

Yup… two very different topics in the one class! It’s a challenge but Im becoming a better teacher because of it and my classes are learning from one another.

So…. Migration is the topic this term and this is the unit plan so far…

  1. Define migration and brainstorm what countries the students in my class come from
  2. Briefly touch on convicts coming to Australia
  3. Look at the Gold Rush and how that impacted upon Migration
  4. Compare our lives to those children living on the Gold Fields.
  5. Talk about modern day migration – reasons for migration, experiences, feelings and how people come to Australia.

This is where Selena Woodward from Teacher Technologies and Skype comes into it!! 🙂

I’ve known Selena for a few years through our work at Flinders University. She migrated to Australia a few years ago, so I organised a Skype session with her. Selena spoke with my students about her experiences, where she came from and what she misses about her homeland. The students were so engaged listening to a real life story. Not only did it meet our needs in terms of History but it also covered some geography too! Selena used Google Earth to show my class where she is (Adelaide), where we are (Whyalla) and how far away England is. It was an awesome lesson! Selena also explained to the class that migrating to Australia was a lengthy process involving a 24 hours plane ride and many months of planning and even the process of having her 2 cute cats in customs and quarantine for a few weeks to make sure they didn’t have any diseases! It was fascinating!!

Next we also Skyped my dad who was a migrant from England many decades ago! It was interesting comparing his experiences with Selena’s. My dad travelled on a boat for 6 whole weeks and it was scary for him as a young child!

Two different experiences of the same phenomenon. It was very educational. I would highly recommend using Skype to bring various experiences into your classroom.

The Grade 7’s in my class also had a wonderful lesson learning about BC, AD and how we learn from the Ancient Past. I feel very blessed to be working in this school (for many reasons…) but also because of the expertise the parents have! I have an archeologist in the school and he came with lots of artefacts, methods of dating things, how the layers of earth are developed and what that means for history …..  and lots of real life experiences of investigating our Ancient past, not only of many countries overseas but also the ancient past of our local area – Whyalla. The students were enthralled and…. now they all want to be archeologists when they finish school! hehe

To conclude our lesson, we jumped onto twitter to reflect on what what have learnt! Here is our class twitter account, check out our learning in real time! I LOVE how we can share our learning with other classes and educators all around the world!!

What a fun way to engage students in the learning process – by using Skype and by utilising experts within the school and local community!! Technology really can enhance learning, but make sure you are using it well… I personally use the TPACK model to plan my lessons with technology, check it out if you have time!

Here are some pics of our fun learning this week!

This is Selena! 🙂

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What is the Purpose of School?

This blog post began in 2012. I have been pondering the question of what is the purpose of school?

When i began writing this piece, i was still at Flinders uni doing my thing of lecturing, tutoring and researching. My world view was very much for a humanistic position. Now, a few years later…. I am still reflecting on this question. What is the purpose of schooling and school? Why do we do what we do. Well…. here are a few thought! They may not be correct but this is where im at, right now. I’m sure these musing will grow and develop as I continue to develop as a teacher.

The Purpose of Schooling as of February 2015:

  • It’s about preparing students for the future
  • It’s about preparing students to know Christ and to be a follower of Him.
  • Its about learning NOT teaching, if students’ haven’t learnt, I haven’t taught.
  • Transformation… i.e. NOT using technology in old ways (like using Ipads to read books or as glorified dictionaries)
  • Creating digital citizens, who know how to effectively, safely and inclusively connect with others for the greater good of society.
  • Assessment should look different to what it has in the past: Show what they know not what they don’t know.
  • Use technology to improve their learning, to develop better structure of writing, deeper understanding and meaningful use of information in real world contexts.
  • We only have one life – its not private and professional – its ALL public!! Students need to learn what is safe to put in the public arena. Their online identity will never go away, they need to be purposeful about their online presence.
  • Schooling is all about a learning process – don’t tell me, show me and teach someone else! IT’S ABOUT CREATING and showing their learning.
  • Building relationships – asking about Weekend, build a connection with the students and their families. We learn in communion with others.
  • The purpose of Schooling is to set a good example, like Paul in the Bible says: imitate me as I imitate Christ. Kids watch everything we do – what are we modelling?? What attitudes am I passing onto my students? What habits or values am I portraying. May I truly be an imitator of Christ.
  • The purpose of school is to join with parents, partner with them so we can learn with the families and the children. Get parents on Twitter and follow educators – get the learning space happening! Check out my class Twitter account @MissPagesClass
  • The purpose of schooling is to create Christ following students who can operate in this ever changing world with the World View of Christ, everything is for Him, through Him and to Him!
  • I want my students to leave this year knowing how to Love God, Love Others and how to Love themselves! I want them to read well and to think critically, to engage in the larger issues of this world.

That’s about it for the moment. So… that’s where I’m at….. Bye for now!

The Power of Rest

I don’t know about you…. but teaching is a crazy profession which involves many, many, many, many, many, many (you get the point) hours outside of the 8.45-3.20 classroom time!

I find each day super busy and I’ve discovered that I simply don’t rest. Are you like me?

I’ve been wrestling with this notion of rest for the past few days. For those of you who don’t know me outside of the Twitterverse (@DrShaileighPage) or outside of these written musing on my blog, you need to know that……. I’m a Christian. This world view shapes every part of me and it is the lens through which I view every circumstance. So, this post about rest will be from this perspective. Don’t tune out though… keep reading, stay with me……

God says a lot about rest, right? It begins in Genesis (the first book of the Bible) where God creates this very universe in six days and He rested on the seventh. God clearly states in the old testament that we need to rest and this idea is found within the 10 commandments. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with them……here they are:

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

In the new testament, God simplifies these commandments into two: Love God and Love Others and we see Jesus, throughout these pages taking time out of his ridiculously busy schedule, showing God’s character to the world, in order to rest.

As teachers, and I think this applies to most professions, we are busy, busy people! Right? There are many demands on us and expectations of us… every moment of the day it seems!! Some of us also have kids, husbands, dinners to make, friendships to maintain and healthy life styles to keep up. We have a lot going on… constantly! I am all too aware of the unending tasks I have to complete each day, each week, each term and….. I am equally aware of the time constraints we have. Have you ever found yourself saying “I wish there were more hours in a day?”

It might be scary to know that God gives us 168 hours a week. Yup…. 168 hours is all we have! I am currently reading the Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst. Check out her Time Assessment Tool here. God gives us limited time and he trusts us to be good stewards of that time and to honour and glorify him in all we say and do!  So… given the fact we have limited time and unlimited tasks and jobs to complete…. how can God ask us to possibly rest? Is God serious about this commandment and about this notion? Is it an optional extra?

For many years I have justified working everyday… yes including Sundays! I know! Some of you are totally disgusted, right? My first priority was getting EVERYTHING done and done well! I wanted to be organised and always felt like all the hard work I put in was never enough! Perhaps this thinking is a good thing….. maybe this very striving is what makes me keep growing and learning… I don’t know… maybe not….anyway! I felt like nothing was ever good enough. So, I would work late into each evening, I would awake early to keep working, I would work every Saturday AND…. Yes I would often work Sundays too! I refused to rest while I still had work to do. And I always had work to do, so I wouldn’t really rest.

This week at school, as part of our daily staff devotion time, we watched a clip from a pastor about keeping the Sabbath. Here is a resource from this video we viewed. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that immediately, my attitude wasn’t so good towards this teaching and I found myself getting distracted by the weird items placed on the set… like the old fashioned camera, the old globe and weirdly placed lamp near the presenters head etc….. but as the video continued I began to wrestle internally with this notion of resting.

I began considering the other 9 commandments… we don’t see adultery, murder or stealing as optional extras to this whole Christian thing, but somehow in my mind, I have decided that resting and observing the “Sabbath” is a take it or leave it deal. Hmmm…. I’m beginning to think that God placed it in that list for a reason! Maybe it’s actually for our own good?

As the video unfolded and as the random items on the set of this video continued to really annoy me…..I found myself reflecting on the fact that so much research today highlights the need for rest in order for our brains to function optimally and for us to function effectively both emotionally and physically. So, if the “worldly” perspective recommends resting and if God, who created me, says resting is important… I guess I need to do it, hey?

So, here I am sitting in my rather hot house with the cool change slowly liberating me from the stifling heat of the day. Here I am pondering rest. The need for rest. The logistics of rest. The “how” of rest. And the long, unending list of things I need to do. I find myself stuck in this frustrating dichotomy of needs!

After all these thoughts began bombarding my mind over the past few days….. I made a decision. Yup, little, indecisive me made a decision!

I decided to rest.

Today, I purposefully set aside time to just rest. Yup… that’s right, a whole day. I watched a few movies, read a book, wasted a chunk of time on Facebook and I took time out to pray and read the Bible. it was an awesome day! I feel recharged, reenergised and relaxed!!

I’ll be honest, I’m very much still wrestling with the logistics of how we set aside a whole day each week… but I think that resting is something so crucial that we need to consider! I think we need to listen to the Ancient teaching of God’s word and rest, let’s do what God says and see what He will do in response to our obedience.

What’s your take on the whole resting thing? Do you rest? How do you find time out to rest and chill in amongst a very demanding schedule? What do you do to rest?

I look forward to your comments as we wRESTle together on the topic of rest!

Coat of Arms Activity – Getting to Know You

My grade 6/7 class made coat of arms as a get to know you activity!

We discussed what a coat of arms is and began looking at various designs.

I googled shields and coat of arms templates and chose a few different designs that the students could pick from.

Their task was to divide their page into 4 parts! They could be creative and divide it in any way they like.

Here’s what they needed to fill in their coat of arms with:

“We’ve been getting to know one another over the past week. Each “Coat of Arms” is a symbolic representation of four aspects of who we are!

  1. Something I am good at.
  2. Someone who inspires me.
  3. Something I am looking forward to this year.
  4. A goal I want to achieve this year at school.

We are all unique and we all have different strengths. We know that together, we can achieve anything through Christ!”

Definitely give it a go!! Here is a picture of our coat of arms in 2015!

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Teaching Children NOT curriculum

So… today I learnt a valuable lesson. I am teaching CHILDREN not curriculum!! Let me say that yes the curriculum is important but the students in my class will always come first!

Today in maths, my students were just NOT getting two digit by two digit multiplication! You know those days where the blank stares just scream at you lol…. Yup well you know what I’m talking about then! It was at that moment that I rememebred that I am teaching children…. not the curriculum. Today in Maths I didn’t even look at my curriculum. We use Origo and I love it but today we threw it out the window! hehe

Today, we needed to get their knowledge up to scratch and get the students really confident with their two digit multiplication!

It was a fun lesson! It began with a few blank stares and ended up with cheers and laughter as they managed to achieve success and confidence!!

We grabbed all of our cushions and sat in a circle and handed out mini whiteboards! We went through loads of questions together and then began to give them ones to solve in pairs and independently! The students loved using their own whiteboards and the novelty factor kept them engaged!

By the end, they totally understood multiplication and asked for a hard question!!

The “epic” question was super fun! The answer to it was something like 22 million something, something, something!! lol Soooo fun!!!

So… today I really have had a fresh revelation of the fact that I am a teacher of children not the curriculum and when i need to stop and go over something I will do exactly that!! Deep understanding will win every time!!

Chip Classification

Hi… so school has just finished and phew what a day!! We have just finished completing an awesome activity: Chip Classification! I have a grade 6/7 class and the 6’s are learning about living things and the grade 7’s are learning about classification among other things. So, usually I would teach the two grades separate content but I figured it overlapped enough and I thought it would be a valuable learning experience for all my students. Here are the science ACARA links for 6 and 7 if you’re interested.

i was introduced to this chip classification idea about a year ago by a teacher at the Paradise Campus of our school located in Adelaide. It sounded like a great idea and I wish I had taught this sooner!

My students loved it! I began planning last night… let me walk you through it!

  1. I researched chip classification online and came across some great instructions here and here and here.
  2. I then made a sheet with the various brands of chips on them.
  3. I bought LOADS of chips… as many different varieties as possible!
  4. I made bags of chips with a few chips of each kind in it!! One bag for each group!
  5. I grouped my students and made my grade 7’s leaders of the 5 groups.
  6. We handed out the bags and explained that the first step is to classify them into 2 groups of chips according to likeness!
  7. Then… they were off! Some got a little confused as they classified the chips according to broken chips and unbroken haha oops!!
  8. We got there in the end!!
  9. Each group wrote out their classifications. It was interesting because each group was slightly different but all showed the various pathways they had taken to classify their chips together!

It was definitely a memorable lesson and a good experience upon which I can teach living things (grade 6) and classification (grade 7)

Awesome activity!! Give it a go!!

Facebook: A Community of Learners

So…. it’s a Saturday night, 10.07pm and here I am siting on the couch trying to wrap my brain around ACARA for my class of gorgeous and handsome grade 6/7’s!! I was becoming a tad overwhelmed and so naturally I headed to Facebook for a well deserved break. Actually, it wasn’t a well deserved break but a break never-the-less! Whilst scrolling down my newsfeed full of friends babies, delcious dinners, recipes to try and articles to read, I came across a post from the group What a Great Teaching idea. I posted a cry for help…. I needed some ideas for my grade 6/7 science curriculum. I love the new curriculum but I also need more resources and ideas to help me along at this stage! I was totally taken aback by the generosity of others teachers who jump in and help out. Ideas, resources, books, websites and even unit plans were offered to me!! WOW… I am continually amazed at how Facebook and other social media sites can be repurposed for education!! I am one very thankful teacher… thankful for Facebook groups and thankful for generous teachers who are willing to share their experiences and resources!! 🙂

So…. how have you repurposed technology or social networking recently? Share your thoughts… and if you’re not part of What a Great Teacher Idea…. definitely join… it’s a fab group full of experiences and passionate teachers!!

Good night all…. heading to bed… enough planning done for the night!