Does Australia really look like that? (A short one today)

Day 2 of 28 in the writing challenge.

Today I started my Grade 3s iLearning project on Australia, so I decided to do a little pre-testing on them to see what they already know. The first being to draw Australia freehand, which proved to be comical. Australia is hard enough to draw when we know what it looks like, so there were some interesting interpretations. The same could be said about the attempts to draw the flag. It was frightening the little knowledge the kids had of the States that make up our country.

But what was evident was how much these kids are going to learn through this unit, they are a sponge, ready to soak up the information that they will discover through themselves and each other. I can’t wait to see what they all come up with!

Enthusiasm

So…28 days of writing…28 days of February…here we are.

Well back into the start of another school year, a year that feels very different to those gone before. Not that I have changed roles at school, or even gone to a new school, but the change of an era at my school. Last year saw the retirement of my Principal and Mentor, who gave me my chance 12 years ago. Also the departure of a long time colleague, who was employed at the same time as me, to another school.

So for the first time in a long time…the school felt different. IT’s hard to describe, but for the first time that I can remember, when the first day of school came, I wasn’t enthusiastic about returning. I spent the school holidays with my family at home, and in my spare time I was doing things for school. Building and painting large storage boxes for the kids to use as bag storage to try and overcome a space problem in the classrooms. Rearranging and decorating our schools internal learning space, trying to make it more functional and more attractive for our students. Creating new displays, some giant words of inspiration for may classroom; MAKE, LEARN, INVESTIGATE and ANIMATE. Normally having done all of those things, I’d have felt enthused and excited to get back and share it with our parents and our students, but I even tried to take it a step further, setting up a giant stick bomb to welcome my students at the start of the year. (I will post a video ASAP)

But, I get back to school for the first day and that excitement and enthusiasm that I have felt for 12 years, doing the job I love, isn’t there. The changes made in the classrooms and learning area went largely unnoticed and unappreciated by key stakeholders, especially parents and I feel that I have absolutely wasted my time with all of the hours I’d given of my own time.

However, there were some that were very appreciative, including two colleagues, who are two of the best friends I have. But there were 19 others who thought it all was absolutely amazing. These 19 people help to remind me why I do what I do. The 19 students in my class (normally 21, I had 2 away) were excited and enthusiastic and couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. So this year, whilst it feels very different, is all about the same as the past. Making sure these kids get the very best that I can give them.

All situations are what we make of them, so I am going to block out all of the “noise” and focus on doing what I do best, give these kids learning opportunities and amazing memories to take with them for the rest of their lives. I can feel the enthusiasm rising…

Dreaming Big!!

Who are we to tell kids that they aren’t capable of doing something they want to do so desperately? Surely we give our students the opportunity to try and achieve their dreams the best that we can. So when my students asked me if we could make our own Lego movie, of course I said, ‘why not’! However, there is a saying the we go by in my classroom.

“Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger.”

So taking the motto, we are THINKING BIGGER!! Our goals have gone from making a little Lego Animation, to creating a whole class ‘feature-length’, Lego movie! The Lego movie we create, will be the main feature at a film festival that we will be organising and running, late in term 2. There will be special guests at the event and speaking as we go along and plenty of creativity to be seen. Stay in touch as I can confirm that our very special guest speaker on the night Adam Elliott, of Oscar-winning Harvey Krumpet fame, will be answering questions from the audience. I am also in talks with the Regent Cinemas in Ballarat about screening our film festival in their 700 seat main cinema on their big screen with surround sound.

Keep coming back to read more about our big project as we go!

Ben

@ben_mr_g

ACCE Study Tour

Reflecting back, it was about a year ago I was watching the 2011 ISTE Keynote and reading the tweets coming from ISTE and I turned to my wife and said, “next year I am going, I will be at ISTE in 2012”. Funny thing about a throw away line like that is when I tend to set my mind to something I fixate on it and it tends to change from a throw away line, to a goal, to an obsession.

Today, I sit here in my hotel room in Sydney, waiting to head off to meet my tour group before heading off to Canada for the first stop of on our exciting study tour that culminates at ISTE 2012. For those who don’t know ISTE is the International Society for Technology in Education and their conference is MASSIVE, one of the biggest of it’s kind in the world and this year I will be fortunate to see the keynote being presented by Sir Ken Robinson.

I am excited ad nervous as it will be my first time out of the country and the longest I have ever been away from my family and wife since we started dating in 1997, but I am sure our action packed itinerary will see the time fly! I have included my itinerary below that includes visits to many innovative schools, a visit to the Apple ‘Mothership’ store, Microsoft and probably one of the things I am most excited about a trip to the Google Offices in San Francisco!

Thanks, keep checking back as I will be blogging throughout my trip!

ACCE_Final_Itinerary

ICTEV Conference Presentation 2012

Saturday the 25th of May brought about the ICTEV State Conference, my second time presenting at one of my favourite conferences. It was great catching up with many fantastic educators and hearing about some of the amazing things happening in schools. I thought that I should post the presentation by Fairlie Pritchard and myself about some of the things happening in our school.

 

Our presentation was recorded on the day and I will let you know it is available to be viewed. Also coming soon is iLearning the movie!

 

 

 

Connecting Students Worldwide

WOW!! What a huge day, I’m spent, but must admit am swelling with a little bit of pride. Today was a huge day for my students, myself and the Student Conference Series. It started out with an early morning Conference Session at 10am with some special guests, Karen Dowling and Nyunkia Tauss from the Education Department. They were joined by Jo, an Ultranet Coach from Ballarat’s Regional Office. They were treated to 3 fantastic student presentations , 2 of which were by my students, the other by 2 girls from Epsom Primary School. Keep an eye out for us in Inspire magazine and on the Department’s Innovate Here website.

After a ‘break’ which featured a 1 and a half hour stroll around a farm in the hot sun, we returned to school for our Tech Afternoon and Pizza Night. The afternoon began with a Skype call to Jennifer Fenton’s students at Canadian International School in Hong Kong, the kids had a wonderful time talking and asking each other questions, having a laugh and even singing a few songs with/too each other. The kids were amazed to hear of the school’s sheer size of around 1800 students, compared to the 107 students at our school it is an astronomical amount.

This was followed by the students have a great time on the Xbox and Wii organising their own dance off and Mario Kart competitions. This all preceded the main event, the Student Conference Series presentations of 7 amazing ESL students from the Mark Twain International School in Romania. My students were treated to fantastic presentations about Playing the Guitar and Drums, Dancing, Doodling, Soccer and Aikido, presented really well by Cristina Milos’ students. Whilst at times the audio was crackly, her students spoke clearly and apart from their accent you wouldn’t know that English wasn’t their first language. My students were so impressed with their efforts that one student felt that they would like to try and learn their language and do a presentation back to them later in the year in their native language.

It was so gratifying to see the Student Conference Series link students around the world and provide students with an authentic audience to share their passions with others, and inspiring students to do things for themselves. In a term that was extremely successful for the SCS, today may have been its biggest success and best example of its potential and its power.

So as a term comes down  to an end I want to thank Mel Cashen and Jenny Ashby for their support in moderating the SCS and also a thank you to all of those innovative and inspired teachers that allowed and encouraged their students to be a part of it. But most of all, I would like to give a MASSIVE thank you to all of those brave, inspired, amazing and creative students who put their hands up to present in the inaugural term of the Student Conference Series.

THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

To participate in the  Student Conference Series next term fill in this Google Form:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AhJ99BaUCPcjdDk3WmxkalZFU3BQX2EyRXFzek1wd0E#gid=0

To view the recordings from the Romanian schools click on the links below.

Session: Ioana – Doodling, Mihnea – Guitar, Andrei – Aikido
https://sas.elluminate.com/p.jnlp?psid=2012-03-29.0004.M.6B41C51939B4457CE5EF6A19B3D6C1.vcr&sid=2007026

 

 

Session: Elenis – Dancing, Eric – Guitar, Iustin – Soccer, Peter- Drums
https://sas.elluminate.com/p.jnlp?psid=2012-03-29.0005.M.30C6FAD58002C22F95FFCFDA0CA0B3.vcr&sid=2007026

Student Conference Series – Call for Presentations

There has been massive interest in the Student conference Series to date so now it’s time for the exciting part! The Call for Presentations. In the first Student Conference Series Newsletter there was information about how your students can nominate for the Student Conference Series. Below, I have included the link for those of you who didn’t receive the email on Friday. If you need me to add you to our mailing list send me an email or a DM on Twitter!

Click Here to read the first newsletter

Student Conference Series Call for Presentations are due 17th of February for the first Presentations in early March.

You can follow me on Twitter: @ben_mr_g

email: gallagher.ben.j@edumail.vic.gov.au

 

 

 

The Student Conference Series is creating a buzz!!

A few days ago I posted about my plans for the Student Conference Series in 2012 and there was a lot of Buzz around it! I had messages and emails from all over the country and even from a few other countries like America, India, China and Romania!

So to keep track of things, I thought I would create a bit of a mailing list so I can forward information out to people interested in this as they come to pass. At this stage I am anticipating that the conferences will begin mid to late term 1 and I will start taking student submissions in mid-February.

So if you are interested in your students taking part pass your email address on to me via twitter DM or e-mail so that I can add you to the mailing list.

email – gallagher.ben.j@edumail.vic.gov.au

twitter – @ben_mr_g

Be Part of this Exciting Opportunity!!

Coming towards the new school year, I find my mind ticking over new things to do for the upcoming year. However I had this idea late last year, but until now I haven’t had the chance to do anything about it until now as I’ve been super busy over the holidays doing some work for the ICTEV, writing for their Playing For Real game.

So I suppose I’d better get to the idea!! With the amazing technology that is available to us, teachers frequently communicate over the internet, but what about kids from different schools communicating??

What I’m wanting to run this year is something I’d call…

The Student Conference Series

The idea of the Student Conference Series is that students would present something that they are an expert in over Elluminate and it would be made available for other students in other schools to attend!!

The idea for this came about when I had a student do a presentation for Mel Cashen’s grade at Lightning Reef Primary School in Bendigo (You can read about it here). To see the excitement in this student when he was doing it was very enlightening. Harris always new he was good at woodwork, but to be able to share his knowledge with others was very empowering for him. He worked so hard on his presentation, easily the hardest I’ve seen him work during writing for the whole year and he did an amazing job!

The Student Conference Series at this stage is still a work in progress, but for it to work I need like minded educators to put their hands up and say I want to be a part of it! So if you’re interested in being a part of this in any way (providing student presenters, have your students attend ‘conferences’), then let me know.

I envisage the conferences starting during March and probably happening during the afternoons, however if international teachers/students want to take part I can arrange that, and would be very excited! Any other questions, feel free to contact me!

You can contact me in many ways to express your interest:

email: gallagher.ben.j@edumail.vic.gov.au

twitter or twitter DM: @ben_mr_g

or simply comment below!!!