What the constant changing world of technology and communication teaching professionals in all areas of education are realising the importance of keeping in touch with the needs and most effective ways of teaching and educational methods. It was great to read about the study “Becoming effective teachers for under-25 students: A model for professional development decision-making” which is being undertaken collaboratively by 5 of our Polytechnics.
A recent article that I read about engagement entitled “The Eight C’s Of Engagement” re- enforces the importance of differentiating the way that teachers deliver instruction so that it addresses the needs of diverse learners. How do we create learners that are in control of their own learning, display high levels of energy, ask questions, seek answers and alternatives and take risks.
It is encouraging to see this question also being asked at the tertiary level. While educators may think they know the answers this is an opportunity for teachers, staff developers and students to work collaboratively to plan future direction.
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The importance of the early years in a child’s life and the development of the brain during these years was the topic of an interesting seminar I recently attended by Nathan Mikaere Wallis. When we are born we have 15% of our brain and by the time we are 4 we have 90%. The things we experience during these early years will set the foundation for later development. He talked about some interesting aspects of those early years.
For the first 6 months the focus is on building relationships. The baby is relates to those closest to them building attachment. Nathan Mikaere Wallis says that to ignore attachment at the expense of physical development does the opposite. Trying to force children to weight-bear before they are ready has the opposite effect. It’s like the gardener tugging at the new shoots to speed up the crop.
From 6 to 24 months the mid brain or movement brain develops. The social or emotional development is important as is freedom of movement which in turn supports learning. He talked about baby traps limiting movement and therefore limiting learning such things as jolly jumper, play pen, stroller, car seats, highchairs, slings, safety sleepers. A baby on the floor exercises 100 muscles needed for walking, but in a jolly jumper only exercises 8 muscles. The next 12 months sees the emotional development of the child.
If we recognise the importance of these years as a future foundation do we also recognise the importance of providing the best learning and development experiences and the impact of choosing the best pre- school environment.
“Pathways for future education, training and employment,” The ERO Report that has just been released makes some strong recommendations that will support and prepare students for education, training and employment in the 21st Century. I have previously spoken about the rapid global changes that are happening and the need for educators and education to move to support it. The report talks about not only the need to provide options that suit a student’s “ability, interests and future plans” but also giving them access to services that will help them with their choices. Logical traditional pathways that followed education through to employment does not always fit with the students our system produces. Not only must learning be differentiated but also the step that takes them from education into the employment arena.
As we move into this exciting and fast moving direction of education in the 21st century education centres are evolving to keep pace with not only the needs of students but also the technological changes that accompany them. A recent article in the Education Gazette by Kate Bleasdale talked about the increasing number of tablets that are becoming a familiar sight in the classroom. While the price of tablets can be an obstacle for some schools there are a number of creative ways they are using to make it possible for all students.
While money is one of the issues she also discusses the need for digital citizenship. This has been the centre of some of my previous blogs. With the announcement of the 21st Century learning reference group the Government also realises the importance of creating a strategy that enable all students to make the most if available technologies. As more and more schools look at “BYOD” or Bring Your Own Device giving all students equal access becomes an important issue.
How important it is to keep open minded about the needs of a diverse education community as we progress into the 21st Century. The passion that the students of Salisbury Residential School had as they spoke about the positive affects being at Salisbury had given them, not just for their learning but also their self esteem and social interactions. In May the Minister of Education Hon Hekia Parata confirmed that Salisbury would remain open as part of the delivery of service within the new Intensive Wrap-Around Service, along with the other two residential special schools. What an important battle was won by the many people that advocated that these residential schools remain open. It is easy to loose sight of the importance of the different curriculum that schools such as Salisbury offer. The best spokes people have to be the students themselves and their families. If you want to learn a little more about Salisbury visit Edusearch Articles.
I am reminded of my previous blogs when reading over the last few days the growing discussion around a relatively new social networking site ask.fm. Popular amongst lots of young people it is being used inappropriately by some. According to one news feed it has 57 million users and is adding members at a rate of 200,000 a day. Digital citizenship is a must for these participants.
What is the first step towards developing digital citizenship? To begin students need to have digital literacy. That is the ability to effectively participate using a range of digital technologies. Part of this means critiquing and evaluating information. This requires both technical and social skills that will help them be successful and safe. The significant changes in technology have created challenges for educational institutions to provide an environment where students feel confident and safe.
This year with the commitment to ultra-fast broadband to all New Zealand, schools and greater connect ability it is important not just to have the policies and procedures in place but also strong education programmes that build cyber safety skills and knowledge that enable students to make the most of all learning opportunities while keeping themselves safe.
It is important to work with the community and parents to develop shared understandings and resources that will help guide students to make confident ethical decisions. The ability of children to navigate their cyber world can often be well beyond parents. Therefore on going staff and student education programmes are fundamental to keep pace with changing technology use in education establishments. For students it is to develop the skills and knowledge needed to meet the challenges of traversing cyberspace and for educators to keep pace with the ways to support them.
Yesterday morning I was listening to “Daily Roast” who opened with a quote from Einstein who said “ I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” I thought this followed on nicely from my last blog that began talking about digital citizenship and the need to equip children to make informative decisions on its use. The Daily Roast was referring to the way in which the phone and other device use has impacted on the art of face to face conversation and social interaction. It is now seen as socially acceptable by many to have phones etc on and being used in situations where previously it would have been considered rude. This appears to fit into digital literacy and the need to school our students on when it is the appropriate time or situation to use them and the social impact that overuse may create.
This week once again I have become so aware of the need to keep our kids digitally safe. While at a social occasion I had the opportunity to reflect with a range of age groups from school age to 90 that many parents are finding it hard to know how to best support their kids in a world moving so fast in the area of technology and global connectability. Earlier I had seen how easy it was for students to access information that was well above their years and understanding and then send it out to a small peer group who in turn sent it out to their group and so on. Did they understand the implications? No not until it was explained to them.
The Government has announced an injection of millions of dollars to enable all students to access high speed broadband. To support this it is really necessary to have programmes in place to teach digital citizenship. We live in a world where kids have far more skills then their parents technically and learn these skills at a faster pace. These digitally plugged in kids face huge challenges around their online presence and need support in creating an online world that’s responsible and respectful. How do we make our kids “digitally smart” and continue to do so, keeping up with the fast rate of change?
I know that this is a question I am continually challenging myself with as I work in the midst of these exciting times.
This week it has been great to see the fast tracking of providing high speed, quality connections for school networks. The government announced that it will fast tracks school network upgrades recognizing the importance of the need for all students to access high speed technology. In our globally connected world New Zealand students will benefit from this. To benefit all students, schools need to have this at an affordable cost.