Monthly Archives: March 2015
Monday, 23 February was the second and final day of the forum. Once again the Educator’s Track I was privileged to have been asked to participate in a panel discussion called Connecting Educators, Students, Classrooms with educators Sahar Chaer from Lebanon and Manu Mital from India and this was certainly a highlight for me. I was afforded the opportunity to present my Travelling Rhinos Project to the audience, as an example of how such a project can connected classrooms around the world in a meaningful way. What an honour, what an experience!
What did I learn from the forum?
- That passion is the key to great teaching – passion for the students, passion for the content and the delivery of content and a passion for education as a whole.
- Teachers around the world face many of the same challenges, we are united by our profession and dedicated to changing lives. We may speak different languages, but we speak one common educational language.
- I am fortunate to work for a privileged school where we have and use different forms of technology in our classrooms, and we do our best to stay abreast of current trends in education, but South Africa as a whole, is way behind on the technology playing field. As a country we have a long way to go.
- Collaboration across borders, oceans and continents is important in order to foster understanding and tolerance for the many different peoples and cultures of our world. If our children learnt this from a young age, our world could be such a different place!
- That the countries in the world whose education systems are working and are producing top results, treat their teachers with the respect they deserve. However, the selection process to become a teacher is much more stringent, and so it should be. In these countries education is continuously discussed at the highest levels, strategies are developed and plans put in place to educate their children so that they can be the best that they can be, not merely to finish school.
- Cloud technology is the way if the future if it isn’t already. This does, however, exclude a large portion of the world’s children in countries where internet connectivity is poor and bandwidth costs are exorbitant. Our own internet in South Africa is of the slowest and more expensive in the world, and children in rural areas are, in the main, excluded from tapping into this resource that most of us living in a first world situation cannot do without.
- I would have loved to have seen more teacher projects and work on display. I love to learn from other educators who share their ideas and expertise.
- Microsoft has really upped its game and its new offerings are exciting and really innovative. OneNote (on steroids), Office Mix, Sway, the new Surface Pro 3 tablet and Windows 10 are all worth a good look and deeper investigation. Exciting times for educators!
Our Grade 4 Pheasants class just finished a 30 min Skype chat with Mrs Beverly Ladd’s 2nd graders in Wilmington, NC, USA. Despite slight technical glitches on my side we still managed to have a strong, clear connection and it was fantastic! Mrs Ladd’s class is hosting a 24 hour around the world Skype marathon, and we participated in the 21st hour. It was nearly 3am in North Carolina!
Our students had prepared answers to questions that Mrs Ladd had shared with us when we signed up to take part. They were a little nervous, as this was their first Skype call, but after a run through of the questions and answers, we were ready for the call!
During the call we exchanged answers with Mrs Ladd’s students and also asked questions. We loved it when the students recited The Pledge of Allegiance and also when they sang America The Beautiful for us – so beautiful! We were proud to share information about our beautiful Table Mountain and one of our students showed them a photograph of it from her iPad. We also shared a little bit of information about our school and also about Cape Town – especially the wonderful things you can do in Cape Town, such as visiting Ratanga Junction and the Waterfront.
After the call Mrs Sinclair took time to go back to the Google map showing where all the participating classes were and then we looked at where Cape Town is in relation to Pine Valley Elementary. This led to a discussion on time differences and time zones – such a teaching moment! The possibilities are endless.
I take my hat off to Mrs Ladd and her students who have been Skyping for a full 24 hours! What an amazing learning opportunity to find out so much about the rest of the world in such a visual and meaningful way. Skype is an amazing connection tool for the classroom. We need to make use of it more and create more such teaching moments for our students. This is real life learning at its best.
Well done Mrs Ladd’s class, and thank you for the opportunity to participate.