This is my first blog post in a little while.
It has been a tumultuous little period for me. I had the honour of being a part of two presentations by Lucy Gray, one at ISTE, where I had the opportunity to talk about the Writers' Club in particular and global learning in general.
And then, very suddenly, my time at Castlemaine North ended. And from being praised for my reflective blog posts, I suddenly had nothing to say.
My voice is slowly coming back after a long period of introspection. I will be teaching literacy and numeracy to year seven students at Maryborough Education Centre. And I can honestly say I am looking forward to it, not least because it gives some ideas of mine a chance at being reborn in a new setting. However, it means the end of a few ideas, too.
I'll be teaching year seven literacy and maths. This means that two of my three projects will continue. The first is the Writers' Club. I think it's fair to say that it has been successful in attracting teachers and student to participate in the community. I've been very wary of over-committing, the result being either having to go back on things I've committed to, or losing control of the site and having something unfortunate posted by a student. So I chose a number of accounts which I thought would be an 'upper limit' of what I could comfortably handle. The number I chose was one thousand.
We're now at over nine hundred. Now I'm in the slightly awkward position of turning people away, based on their location. I must admit, I'm not entirely comfortable with this. Turning away participants simply because they're from a location we already have a large number of students from seems contrived - what if the school from Victoria I turn away from tomorrow would have made outstanding contributions to the community? And why would a school from, say, Burkina Faso necessarily make a more worthy community member than another school in the United States? Yet having a global writing community with students from only Australia, the US and New Zealand doesn't sound like what I'm after either. So I've had to strike a balance. Is it the right balance? I have no idea.
One way I'm striving to accommodate willing participants is by getting rid of student accounts that have been inactive for six months or more. I'd rather have a site of 1,000 with 1,000 passionate writers, than a site of 10,000 with only 10% of the members being active. Again, it's a balance between "you can contribute as often as you wish" and allowing more writers to be a part of the community.
Something else I've been working on for a long time, Maths@North, will get a new lease on life. While not particularly easy for someone not familiar with what I've done to use, I've always been really proud of it. It's a site filled with videos and activities that enable students to work at their point of need. So if we're learning place value, there are ten place value instructional videos and activities, ranging in complexity from the place value whole numbers to 999, through decimals and negative numbers, to base 2 notation. The fact that I have been teaching at grades five and six for the past few years has meant that the videos and activities have been centered around this age group (levels three and four). Now teaching year seven students, I will be able to extend these activities towards level five, and provide an even more differentiated way of providing Mathematics instruction, and give students even more opportunity to succeed. While it hasn't gained the outside recognition that the Writers' Club has, I've always believed in it, and have seen it work. I look forward to re-engaging with this work again.
Sadly, I won't be teaching science, which means another six months of the Virtual Experts idea sitting on the sidelines. I feel like science teaching is becoming a lost cause - without the focus of national testing, good teaching of science seems to have slipped down the list of priorities of schools. I have so much to say about science education, but it seems there is no discussion to enter into, and no opportunities for me to put things into practice.
It's a massive change for me. There will be enormous obstacles. And yet, I still believe that despite years of struggle in "the system", I still have something to offer.