Saturday, April 30, 2011

Back towards the light

I'm working on Assignment 2B and judge myself to be about half way through. I'm yet to decide on a second teaching resource, but that's okay. I'm responsible only for myself and to myself and I know I will get there in good time.

I've really been giving a lot of thought to my decision to teach over the past week or so. I admit, I got a little impatient this week, waiting for the assignment to come together. It's still not finished, I'm still waiting, but I've decided that I've done everything I can and there's nothing I can do to force the issue right now. Still, I've not let my impatience show to those concerned. To them I've been the model of patience, but inside...not so much. Ask my beloved husband.

My teacher friends tell me that teaching has up days and down days. They tell me that teaching in the classroom is not the same as working on a group assignment. They also tell me that the majority of teachers who give it up do so in the first three years. Four years learning. Three years teaching. I've therefore made a promise to myself to spend as long teaching as I do learning to teach. That's a minimum of four years. That seems like a good promise to myself.

The thing is, I love learning. I love taking in new information and forming new attitudes with the knowledge I have. I love sharing information. But I love it more if people interact within the process. I love learning so I don't understand it when others don't share that love with me.

Which is why we have to be taught to be teachers, I guess.

And now, here's a song about teaching (or, how not to be a teacher) from when I was at school:

Friday, April 29, 2011

The downside of frustration

Do I really really want to be a teacher? Do I have the patience?

Not so sure anymore.

Almost done

I've spent close to six hours at uni this week putting the finishing touches on the 2A website. All I'm waiting on is one more lesson plan to arrive and I'm done. The best part is, I uploaded the ppt as both a ppt and a pdf and they both work brilliantly! We did away with a timer function, so it has to be clicked over, but other than that it does exactly what we wanted it to.

I will be so glad when it's over and I can concentrate on 2B.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Frustration, thy name be Yola.

Okay, I may have had to pay good Aussie dollars for my website, but at least it works whenever I need it. At this point I'll be putting all our work from Google Docs and onto my website because it's the only way I can work on it.

Hating Yola with much hatiness. Hate.

My favourite part of this week

A good selection of Australia's horror writers having a fantastic dinner at the Balti Restaurant in East Perth, Saturday night. A night off from assignments, children, uni and all things Not Writing.

From left: me, my beloved Lee, Kate Eltham, Rob Hoge, Alan Baxter, Peter M Ball, (unknown blurry person from other table), Jason Nahrung, Kirsten McDermott, Paul Haynes (who had a book launch that made many of us cry), Matt Chrulew, Ben Payne and Rob Hood. Photograph by Daniel Russell who managed to freak out the hardcore horror writers with his oh-so-sordid jokes.

Since I want to at least try to make this about EDN113, many of us own and use our iPads and/or laptops as a normal part of our day. A lot of what we talked about was the publishing of ebooks so we believe in authentic learning. There. I did it. :)


It's holiday time and the family have been out going to movies, the pool, Swancon, watching DVDs, playing video games and doing all the fun things families do on the holidays.

Yes, I've done some of that, too. I went to Swancon because Lee and I were both up for awards (and therefore got together with the best of Australia's Horror Writers for a night of catching up over drinks, dinner, more drinks...) and I saw two movies ("Thor" and "Paul") but other than that, my life has pretty much revolved around my two assignments. I'd say that in all I've probably spent about 25 hours on my EDN113 assignment, doing research, building sites, building the Powerpoint etc. I'm very, very, very happy with the work I've put in. I have worked extremely hard on this, putting in time that I could have spent seeing "Hop" with the kids or playing "Halo" with Aiden and Georgie or having lunch out with Lee during his extended public service break.

And now, when I'm attempting to add various parts of the assignment to the website, I'm finding that Yola is down. Still. It was down yesterday as well. Yes, my paid-for website isn't as newbie-friendly as others, but at least it was always there when I needed it. No issues, at all.

I hate it when things are out of my hands.

Grrr. Okay, I have PMS today and it's possible that this is bothering me more than it needs to. Maybe. Grrrr.

I'm off to meet up with my assignment-buddies at 9.30 to see what they've got to add to our assignment. I'm doing this while Lee takes the kids to the movies and shopping. And I have PMS. All I can say is, I hope they bring chocolate. Those poor, poor people :)

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A new skill put to use!

I have Endnote! And it works! Colour me freaking proud, dude!

And here's a snippy (or two) to prove it. I tells ya, I'm rocking the granny's panties in this unit. And, I'm loving it. Oh, and look. I've even learnt how to upload a snippy (aka screen capture) to my blog.

I've also chatted with my assignment buddies and we've changed the structure slightly. Podcasts are out. Skype is in. I love being in mum-mode :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

After bombing the termite investation in my garage, I then turned my attention fully to 2B. And, tada, I have created my real, first, proper teaching plan. Little happy dance for me.

I did this first by sending out a Facebook message to my teacher friends asking for advice on how to write a teaching plan. My good friend Tehani directed me to this site:

I highly recommend this site as it highlights simple steps to follow when drawing up a plan. I then decided to focus on Grade One Maths (I have a son in grade one so it seemed relevant.) I went to the Learning Federation page, clicked on Early Years, then chose the number train.

After testing it out myself I beta-tested it on Connor. First we sat through the tutorial together then I re-explained what he had to do. After one false start he got into it. He worked through three trains before I sent him back to work on Lego.

Yes, it's a winner. Love it.

Assignment stuff

I'm doing research for Assignment 2B and came across a site called This is my favourite game which seems to be aimed at the year 1 level. I've chosen to work on a Maths component within 2B because, well, at school, I sucked at it. Or, at least I think I did. I think the truth is, I just never found it as interesting as English and so I didn't apply myself. Maybe if it had been presented in a somewhat more fun way I would have enjoyed it more.  I would absolutely use this in my assignment, but I'm not entirely sure that it is a SmartBoard game. I found in by Googling Smartboard free resources, but there's nothing on the site (as far as I can tell) that says it is a SmartBoard resource.

It has been a devastating day for Lee and I. We found two huge termite nests in our bookcases and have to throw dozens of books away. Neither of us can face it just yet, so I'm working on my assignment and Lee has taken the kids to Bunnings to play. I've thrown several of Lee's books away in his absence, just so he doesn't have to do it when he gets home.

At least I have my assignments to keep my mind off things.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Assignment 1B result and other stuff

This year, on February 2, I packed up the lunches for my various children and drove them to Primary School, High School and TAFE. I did so with a heavy heart, knowing that I was, once again, failing life. I had completed just one semester last year before succumbing to bronchitis and depression. I had failed to get jobs that I should have walked into and in general I felt awful. It was going to cost $100 for me to reapply for uni after my deferral, $100 we just didn't have. I felt so defeated by life at this point.

On February 3 I repeated the process, but this time I came home and reapplied for uni anyway and then picked my lecture and tute times. I took a deep breath and committed myself to passing the units.

Two months on I've completed a couple of assignments and the results are in. 17/20 (aka 85% aka HD) for EDN113 and 8.3/10 (aka 83% aka HD) for FDN102.

I am so proud of myself. I have to deal with so much in my personal life (depression, bronchitis, anaemia)but with the support of my loving family, my tutors and with my own determination I'm achieving results. I came home with a renewed feeling of commitment and have forged ahead with the next lot of assignments.

Onwards and upwards, my friends. Onwards and upwards.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More on the authentic learning question

I found this today when testing out Google Scholar. The reference appears at my reference page.
"On the other hand, a syllabus that is based, or that draws heavily on authentic children's stories, provides a motivating medium for language learning while fostering the development of the thinking skills that are needed for L2 academic literacy. Literature can also act as a powerful change agent by developing pupils' intercultural awareness while at the same time nurturing empathy, a tolerance for diversity, and emotional intelligence. This is an important consideration at a time when our world is becoming smaller, yet increasingly hostile."

This is one of the strongest cases I can think of for authentic learning. I read to my children from the time they were born. I also read to my baby grandson. Whether it's through reading or watching TV or just listening in on conversation, children pick up language and culture by what they see and hear. Children start to vocalise before they learn to crawl or walk. My grandson is only four months old but he has been moving his mouth into shapes and making noises when we talk to him since about 4 weeks. He has only just learnt to roll over. Language is one area where authentic learning takes place naturally. By the time children attend school (at around age 4), they're already well armed with the process of language. The only technology we use initially is what we were born with - our vocal organs, our eyes and our ears (or, if you're Helen Keller, the palm of your hand and your fingers).

I believe technology isn't just about gadgets and widgets. It's about what you do with the things you have. We, as humans, have been using technology since the dawn of (our) time. We banged rocks together to break open a nut - technology. We attached a rock to a stick and threw it at an animal - technology. We move the mouse to get the screen to light up - technology.

Technology has always been there as part of our education, whether it be a drawing in the sand, a slate in the classroom or the new uber-cool whiteboards. When cave men sat around a fire showing their sons how to knapp flint they were educating with technology. I just get to use computers to teach in my classroom, but the effect will be the same, I'll be working with technology.

How authentic is authentic?

It's Dome Day Tuesday, the one day of the week where I forget uni, the housework, the kids, Lee (except on the rare, lovely occasion when he joins me), head down to Dome and do nothing but drink coffee and write.


Well, except, this morning I'm drinking tea (English Breakfast) and thinking about uni. Or, more precisely, authentic learning. I'm hung up on it. I know I believe in authentic learning. I know I do. And yet, for some reason, every time I read or hear someone talk about it, I find myself thinking of opposite arguments.

I partly know why. Lee and I have discussions about all sorts of things from writing to religion to the kids to world events to the presence of aliens. Over the years, to keep the conversations going, we've both fallen into the habit of taking an opposite stance to the one raised. This week I'll raise an argument for the implementation of religion in the school system, so Lee will automatically pick up the debate against. Next week, out of nowhere, he'll think of an argument for my side, raise it and so I'll look at the other side. It's part of our communication process and it makes for more interesting conversation than "Which toilet paper should we buy?"

For some reason I have taken this stance into my uni learning. The lecture shows why authentic learning is best and I immediately come up with reasons why rote learning is better or where what seems authentic for me is not authentic for you. Or you.

Take, for instance, an incident that happened last year. We had an assignment for our maths unit where we had to show how we would work with decimals, percentages and fractions in real life.

Straight up I came up with a decimal example - money (we had to work with .40). I made my case, showed an example and moved on to fractions, specifically 5/13 as shown. I more or less stated in my essay that this was not authentic as I had gone throughout my house, my work and my life and could not find one authentic incident in which I would use 5/13. It was a ridiculous notion that was not supportable in real life. I then moved on to percentages.

The following week, when handing back our essays, Barry talked about our use of real life cases. He said that while pretty much everyone had used money to depict the decimal example, only one student had used it authentically. Me. As a bank teller it was a requirement for me to enter money onto my computer according to its decimal value. We don't do this in every day life; ie a shop assistant doesn't ask for .40 of a dollar. They'll ask for 40 cents. Only me, with my bank telling, was able to enter money as .40. I also got marks for making a case against fractions in (my) real life. I have a large family (anywhere up to 9 people in the house at any one time) but I would never use a fraction like 5/13.

So, what does authentic mean? In my upcoming assignment we'll be constructing a teaching plan using various forms of technology. My group and I are using mobile phones to take photos (authentic, seeing as how my mobile takes better photos than my whizz-bank camera), emails for correspondence (authentic) and the iPod/Pad for podcasting. I don't see this as authentic. My husband is a pod-cast published author and he doesn't use the iPod/Pad for this. Maybe I'm missing a step in the process. It's probable I'm about to learn something new (as I did with my previous assignment). However, there is the possibility that podcasting could be this week's Ping, full of possibilities at first glance, but lacking any practical use whatsoever. Did I mention I hate Ping? I hate Ping.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Where I'm at (sort of)

I've just walked out of my lecture and my head is buzzing from all the things we need to do in the upcoming assignments 2A and B. I went to last week's tutorial and got to meet up with one of the people I'm working with. The task had already been chosen - we're working on English and using "Corresponding with a sport's star" as our platform. The technology we're looking at using is: mobile phones for photos, and maybe recording an interview with the star; computers for emailing the star in question and iPod/Pad for podcasts. I'm taking on the email component for the correspondence because it is my strength.

Our lecture today was really interesting. Some of it was regarding our blogs and the sort of stuff we need to be including in it. Fortunately, I've been doing pretty much all of it as a matter of course, so I feel I'm pretty much on track. I could probably do with participating in the online forums a little more, but with there being so many streams I sometimes feel a little overwhelmed as to where to start. I've commented on a couple of them but it wouldn't hurt to make my presence a little more felt. The thing is, I'm such a talker in class, I sometimes worry that people get sick of my voice. I don't want them to get sick of Cyber-me as well.

Anyway, that's it for now. I have readings to read and log for my other unit plus research to do for both. Busy busy busy. I had massive chest pain over the weekend and I want to take it easy while being busy, so at least I have an excuse to study rather than do housework.

Actually, that reminds me. I Facebooked my chest pain on Saturday and had about 30 comments from people I don't even know personally telling me to go to hospital. That's the weird thing about social networks. We all feel connected, even though we're not really. Everyone had a story to tell about chest pain and heart attacks (don't need to tell me, my Dad died at 45 from a massive heart attack) but in the end I went with what my body was telling me. I'm over doing it and I need to rest more.