About Thinks

Sometimes good thinks happen and sometimes bad thinks happen. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Some thinks need immediate action and some thinks may remain as thinks forever. Thinks can be angry and heated. Thinks can be joyful. Thinks should never be cold.

These thinks are linked to many other wonderful thinks and I like to attribute these.

These thinks do not necessary reflect those thinks of my employer.

Think long, think on.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Don't forget to pack extra socks...

Gear-lists for school camp never cease to amaze me. They are wonderful magical things.  I remember, last year at Amesbury, that it was the school camp Gear List that got parents in droves to the hub blog. We used the Gear List as a shared writing activity and the students co-created it with the teachers and then we published it on the blog.

This year I decided to take it a step further and have the students create their own personalised gear lists. I'd been fielding emails for about a week for "when would I  be handing out the gear list and many day-to-day requests from the students:
"When are we getting our gear lists?"
"Mum wants to know what I need to take on camp."

One afternoon I walked into class with a pristine pile of photocopying and made the announcement that today was the day they could take home their gear list. And I handed out this:

It was greeted with indignant looks of
"Are you kidding me?!"
And I heard one of the more intuitive members of the class mumble to his friends,
"Oh god, she's gonna make us think..."

On the wall I placed some additional information, for example:

  • We are away for 4 nights and 5 days
  • We will be doing activities such as abseiling, swimming, walking and go-carting
  • The beds only have a mattress
  • We will all be living together so please ensure you and your teeth are clean (okay, I admit that I loaded that one)

Some of them got straight to it and knew exactly how to deal with this situation. Others just looked at me in disbelief.  One of the boys asked me why I was doing this.  I explained that not everyone will need the same things. I showed him a gear list from another school and pointed out that not all children would have two woolen jerseys and that I did not want their families to feel like they had to buy everything on the list.

The next day one of the boys came to me rather upset and said that his mother had told him that it was illegal if i didn't provide him with a 'proper' gear list.

To ensure that I hadn't taken things a step too far, I dedicated a session to checking our gear lists and making sure that everyone was feeling okay.  I even showed them the other school's gear list so that they could add anything that they may have forgotten.  Interestingly it became a great exercise in critical thinking as they poo-pooed some of the items on the other list stating that their lists were far superior.

I could tell though that it was still killing some of them inside and that they really wanted to be provided with a 'proper typed' list.  One morning I came into the class and found one of the boys (who was very disturbed by the gear-list process) writing on the wall chart:

Don't forget to pack extra socks...

Probably a very good point.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Making our learning accessible

We've been pondering for a while how to share our learning and insights that we have gained while conducting our sabbatical research. How do we share the amazing conversations that we have had with all the teachers, students, and principals that we have talked to across the county (spanning Invercargill to Kaitaia) and the amazing people we had the pleasure of meeting in the UK?

We have considered and played around with essays, formal reports, wikis, and websites but came increasingly concerned that they were boring (or worse still) would not read by our target audience (parents, teachers and students). We have started this series in the hope that they are bite sized and easily digestable.

They take ages to make but I am sure that we will get better as we learn more about the program we are using. Here is Episode One - The Introduction. Coming soon: Episode Two - 10 things we hate about standardised assessment and Episode Three - 20 things you can do to Marginalise the National Standards (and not your students).