Be Like a Kid!

Will Richardson said something during his blackboard collaborate session T3S3 – The Challenges & Opportunities of Modern Learning which struck a  chord with me. Something I hadn’t realised that I had already embraced and something that I can now identify that frustrates me when I am supporting other teachers’ learning.

“Stop waiting for Professional Development Workshops, if there is something you want to learn, be more like a kid and go out and learn it!”

Photo Credit kids playing with sand image by Cherry-Merry from Fotolia.com

Photo Credit kids playing with sand image by Cherry-Merry from Fotolia.com

When I see something, hear of something or experience something I want to embrace or use, I find out how!  I determine whether this new skill or understanding will support my teaching, or develop my understanding and I make a choice whether I invest my time in it.

When kids learn things, they share it with their friends, they build their understanding together. When I learn something new or discover something interesting, I share it and try and develop it further. When staff approach me about supporting them to use a tool or develop a skill, I always say yes, or point them to the person or place with more expertise than I.

Instead of being frustrated by colleagues who don’t pursue any learning, I need to address WHY their interest in learning has faded.

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Attention Please….

The beauty of watching a recorded etmooc session, means that I can stop half way in and respond to ideas whilst they are fresh before returning to the session. As I write this I am 26 minutes into Howard Rheingold’s session – Literacies of Attention, Crap Detection, Participation, Collaboration & Network Know-How.

The discussion is currently focussed on how we pay “attention to intention”.  Whether some people are genuine “super taskers” and whether they were born this way or have somehow developed the skill. Some people within the chat admit to being able to multi-task but as Alec Couros @courosa asked is this actually just “continuous partial attention“!

I would love to say I am a “super tasker” but in reality I just like to have my hand in everything and I am constantly seeking information. This means that my reader is exploding, my tabs are often in excess of 20 and I stay up late reading and sorting. This I don’t begrudge, because I love discovering and sharing my learning, plus there are just not enough hours in the day to see the latest goat screaming clips!

Using Diigo and TweetDeck to filter and keep organised has had a huge impact for me. I also have a TO DO list on my notes shared between my phone and iPad which keeps me on track for the things I have prioritised. I find it helps me keep focused on the important tasks.

There is no doubt I am a busy person and fairly organised, but can I actually attend to two tasks that require more than motor memory at the same time with precision or appropriate attention? Sure I can cook dinner, hold a conversation with the kids, and pay bills on the phone at the same time, but these are things that do not require real attention for me because I have done them numerous times. If I was cooking a meal I had never made before and needed to follow a recipe, having a conversation with someone I was unfamiliar with and finding an alternative insurance plan online, would I do any of these things successfully?  I think not! I think it would result in disappointing and possibly unsavoury meal, a disconnected conversation of which I would remember little and a search I would have to complete again!

Some of the participants asked for strategies to become better at mindfulness/attention. Howard suggested a couple of “probes” to engage students in class.

via Wikipedia

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson via Wikipedia

I have always played word games in the car with my own kids. When they were little it was “I-Spy” and remembering the previous guesses and clues was essential. Lately it is more word association games, where a topic is chosen and you have to name things related or within that category eg. names of dinosaurs.  If a name is repeated, that participant is out!

My children and I are fairly competitive in these games and we enjoy playing them whilst travelling to and from school.  I had never actually made the connection that these little games could actually improve their attention.

Is there something to be said for some of the games we play in early childhood that contribute to our attention state or our ability to focus on what is important?

In this TED talk Richard Gill (Australian Composer) talks about the role of music in education and gives a live example of evoking attention with his audience participation.

Freshly MOOCed

So I completed my first etmooc session today and to tell you the truth it was really fun! If you suspect a hint of surprise, you would be right.  Having never experienced a MOOC before, even having read a little about it, I was unsure of what to expect. Whilst the session was just an introduction to things that will be covered in the course, it was a great taste of what is to come.

What I have learnt already…

1. There are people from other countries who laugh at my jokes!

The chatroom was a buzz with people connecting/reconnecting, commenting, suggesting and providing information and support via links. It was exciting to see so many people engaged in an opportunity to learn or develop their skills and from so many different professional backgrounds.

2. Alec Couros has a good sense of humour and can tolerate being teased.

Alec is a good sport and exemplified the fun in learning. It was quite impressive how he managed to keep his train of thought, talk and read comments fly by all at the same time. The chatroom did at one point become somewhat of a “Couros love fest” with @gcouros being thrown in there, even though he wasn’t a part of it!

…and on an educational note..

3. Blackboard Collaborate is a great tool.

This was my “virgin” experience of this collaborative tool.  It was CRAZY! I definitely see the value in using this space, however, due the the hoards of people participating, the comment feed flew so fast it was hard to keep up AND contribute/graffiti on the slides Alec was presenting. As one participant suggested though, this forum would possibly not be where the significant learning would occur.  Instead, the development of groups and discussion via twitter or Google+ would be where the connections would come to bear fruit.

4. Plenty of folks are on the same page!

There are many people asking questions similar to mine and responding to prompts similarly.  This provides me with confidence that our collective voice will come up with some really interesting ideas and possibilities.  I am also looking forward to challenging some of the ideas presented. Alec prompted us to discuss what is digital literacy? It was amazing to see so many comments that were fear based.  This will be an interesting discussion me thinks!

5. Plenty of folks are on a different page!

There are many people within the etmooc crowd that are well established digital contributors and it is heartening to see their willingness to help those with less advanced skills/experiences. It was also great to see so many people taking the “ski jump” (as Alec showed) and entering the blogosphere and twitterland for the first time.

cow15

Needless to say that the first etmooc session has left me enthused for the next round, bring it on!

(NO COWS WERE HARMED DURING THE ORIENTATION SESSION OF ETMOOC DESPITE THE CONSISTENT EFFORTS OF PARTICIPANTS TO MAKE THEM PERFORM RIDICULOUS DANCE MOVES!)