20 July 2017

Professional Development for staff in the 21st Century

Professional Development for staff in the 21st Century 

Giving my age away, I remember when I was a student and the school I was in, 
bought their first overhead projector.  WOW, this was incredible.  Today of course 
you get interactive boards, Ipads, Apple TV, Xbox and a whole range of others.  
Using these tools can change the way you teach, what you teach and how you teach it.  
It makes classes fun, interactive and exciting. 

Having taught ICT and computing for the last number of years learning new pieces 
of software, coding, etc is part of the job.  It is the one of the things that I really enjoy, 
the constant change of technology and the new exciting things that come out all the time.

But it can get daunting as well.  There is so much coming out so quickly that it is not 
possible to stay on the forefront in all things with regards to ICT.

I believe that my school in South Africa had the correct approach to staff development 
and ongoing professional development with regards to ICT and implementation.  
As part of my role in the school, I was in charge of ICT implementation.  
The teachers could choose to attend one session every 2 weeks.  Each session was 
20 - 30 minutes long and was either before school started or after school.  This made it 
easier for teachers to decide which session would suit them best.  During this time, 
I would concentrate on one thing that I could show the teachers that they could use 
it in their classroom.  For example, I would show them a piece of software, a web tool, 
a bit of pedagogy, etc.  

This was important, as there was a range of teacher abilities and knowledge and this 
made it easier for them to use technology that was appropriate for their ability.  
For the more advanced user they were introduced to new technology or tools that they 
could integrate into their class.
Once a week I had a meeting with each department where we would discuss what they 
were teaching and what technology they were using to enrich their lessons.  I was 
responsible for finding appropriate software, websites and tools that the teachers 
could use in their classes.  

For the new teachers or teachers that were less tech savvy, I would teach the lesson 
for them to show them how to use the technology in their classroom.  Before the 
lesson, I would always tell the teacher two things:
The teacher had to be in the class and observe me teach the class, as I was doing this 
for them, not for their class.  

Secondly, I could never teach their class as well as they could, as they knew the 
children in their classes and they were the subject specialists.  
My task was to show them how to use the technology in their class more effectively.  
A week or so later I would then team-teach with the staff member before observing a 
lesson that they were teaching a few weeks later.

One thing I realised is that there are many companies that you can contact to do ICT staff development and training for FREE.  

SchoolNet in South Africa were incredible with organising many different training 
courses for the school that they did for free.  I could not have done this without them.  
Through SchoolNet the staff managed to complete courses through Microsoft, Intel 
and Adobe.  Not only did this assist them professionally, but personally as well as 
many of these courses led to other opportunities.  

I believe that so often schools do staff development that is not really developing 
their staff.  Each school needs to find the best way for them to do constructive staff 
development that works for them. The schools do not need to do this by themselves, 
get involved and find other people / companies to assist.   

People need to remember that this is a journey and every person will progress at their 
own speed.  There is no overnight success.  One of the most important things is that the 
professional development must happen all the time, not only on a Friday afternoon 
when there is a allocated timetabled slot for this to happen.

#TeachersMatter  #MIEExpert  #Education #RubinWorldEDU 

19 July 2017

Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals

 UNICEF are currently promoting their 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
While in Dubai with the Varkey Teacher Ambassadors my team created
a video and a lesson plan to cover these topics.
Over the course of the next couple of months I will upload and share
each video and lesson plan that we created.

Here is a list of the SDG's which I will be working on

Sustainable Development Goals DescriptionLink
Goal 1: No Poverty

Goal 2: Zero Hunger

Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being

Goal 4: Quality Education

Goal 5: Gender Equality

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Goal 13: Climate Action

Goal 14: Life Below Water

Goal 15: Life on Land

Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals

#Sustainable Development Goals, #SDG, #TeachSDGs, #VarkeyFdn, #TeachersMatter,
#education, #Microsoft Educator Network, #MIEExpert, #unicef

10 May 2017

Scratch Lesson

Welcome Grade 6

Today we are going to be doing awesome things.

Firstly let me talk about decomposition:
what does this mean?


There are 3 steps to this:

The main difficult task is broken down into simpler tasks.
(design, write, debug)
think of examples......

We are going to design the game
We are going to write the program
and we are going to present it to another student

The animations broken down into components
(cat, ball, background)

Find a partner.
On the tables write down how something very complicated can be
made easier by breaking it into parts.

We are going to be making a game, but here are many parts.
Here is the completed game

Here is the program for you to follow.

We will need to:

Design the program.
Explain how we are going to design and make the game

You have used Scratch before.
Can you remember the parts of scratch?

I can:
decompose a program by:
writing (including debugging)
and present a program

Why is it important to write a bit of program and then run it often?

What did we learn today?

Need more help?



22 April 2017

Microsoft Classroom

Microsoft Classroom

Microsoft Classroom is where students are always up to date with assignments,
announcements, and grades. Class discussions can happen outside of class,
and teachers have a one-stop shop to create and grade assignments.
Students can track their grades, assignments, participate in conversations, and more.

Have a look at

#MIEExpert, Microsoft Classroom, #Education, #MSFTEdu‬, #Microsoft

18 April 2017



I am truly amazed at how different education systems seem to be so 
radically different.  In the last year, I have moved and I now am 
teaching full time in a high school in the United Kingdom.  Prior to this, 
I was teaching full time in a primary school in South Africa.  
I do recognise that there is a fundamental difference between 
teaching in a high school than a primary school, but what I did 
not realise is the extent of that difference. 

There is also one other huge difference, in South Africa there is no
 set curriculum for primary school ICT or computing.  In fact it is not 
recognized as a subject until you do it as an option when you turn 
sixteen years old.  The reality of this is the better resourced the school is, 
the more computer / ICT equipment you have, the more time you have to 
be exposed to a computer / technology.  

This also means that as there is no national curriculum there are no set 
aims, attainment targets or subject content.  The advantage of this is that 
you are able to create a curriculum that you think is relevant and important 
to the students.  And that is exactly what I did, I created my own curriculum, 
based on fun, excitement and allowing the students to be creative to solve 
their own problems.   There is a great lack of resources with regards to 
content, but some schools get together to share their ideas and resources.
At the earlier stages, I concentrated on ICT skills and curriculum integration, 
but as the students became older, I gave them more freedom in choosing things 
that they thought were important.   

I remember the first time I did this with one of my classes, a Grade 5 class.  
I knew exactly what they were going to choose and I had planned how we as 
a class were going to do this.  Well the students did not cooperate as I planned 
at all and by the time the class discussion had ended.  I realised that what I thought 
was important to them, they did not think important at all.  To cut a long story 
short, they had decided to create a stop motion animation to show the importance 
of healthy eating and why it was important.  The Incredible Adventures of Captain 
Veggie Man can be seen at this link.  http://bit.ly/2pxAape  This ended up with a 
campaign at our school to change what was being sold at lunch and eventually the 
World Health Association approved our menus.  The video was eventually aired in 
Taiwan at the annual Adobe Youth Voices Festival.  I learned that I as a teacher 
have to trust their decisions and allow them to make up their own minds about 
what is important and how to solve real world problems.  

The more freedom I gave my classes, the more they seem to come up with brilliant 
life changing ideas.  My one class suggested that as there were so few South African 
mathematics resources, why not create a website for other students and schools.  
Each student created their own videos about a specific maths problem and the 
teachers gave all of their worksheets, which were all uploaded on the website.  
We created offline versions of the website and then gave them to our Education 
Department and the local schools.  Once again, the students solved a real world 
problem through their collaboration, teamwork and their own initiative.

I could go on for ages about the various projects that my classes did and what they 
achieved, but the projects gave the students a voice so that they could be heard.  
They tried to solve problems that they think are important in their own way.  
They need to know that they are important and that they make a difference.

#TeachersMatter  #MIEExpert  #Education #RubinWorldEDU 

13 December 2016

The perfect Christmas Gift

The perfect Christmas Gift

My youngest daughter says that she would like a new laptop.  I  did say that 
she currently has an i5 laptop with Windows 10, which I think most people 
would think was very good!  She said yes, but it is not the latest....   

On the one side children are always looking for the latest and best things, 
while in education many of our leaders have not caught up with the digital revolution. 
 the reality however is that they are like me... a little older, born before the overhead projector. 
(younger readers might have to look this up on Wikipedia, but the reality was this was 
really a great advancement in technology in education...)  Being in ICT I would like to 
think that I am ahead of my game with technology in education and being able to 
relate to children and what they find interesting, but sometimes I am worried when 
leaders and principals look at what I am doing and say they do not understand the 
day to day applications and they think that what I do is a little far fetched, although 
some of the concept things that I started doing in ICT was more than 10 years ago 
and yes I did get into a lot of trouble over this. 

Apart from ICT in education, there are basic fundamental things that I would endorse 
for any pupil around the world.    

Perhaps being in an underprivileged school puts this more in perspective but:  

(This is in no order or preference, but jumbled thoughts...) 

be encouraged to take the chance and learn something new today, 
do not be afraid to go against the main stream and actually be prepared to work,  
embrace different cultures, people and encourage diversity,  
do something for other people, do not just think of yourself,  
be proud of what you could possibly achieve,  
have a goal and strive to achieve it,  
be kind to others, you do not know what baggage they are carrying, 
(In my school this is HUGE) 
treat people with respect and dignity

Perhaps the best way to end this would be:
"dif-tor heh smusma"
or in English
"Live long and prosper"

Perhaps a new approach to a novel, innovative, collaborative 
way of teaching will allow the students to reach the stars...

22 November 2016

How do you as teachers support children who are confused or frightened by events going on in their world?

How do you as teachers support children who are confused or frightened by events going on in their world?

I believe that there are similarities to teaching regardless of where you live in the world.  
On the other hand, I believe that there are differences unique to each country.  
Having just moved over 13 000 km to settle in a different country I have gained first-hand 
what this means. 

For the last number of years, I have been teaching at a privileged school in an affluent 
neighbourhood in South Africa.  This has changed radically and I am now teaching in an underprivileged community school.

Watching the world news over the weekend, I realised that we are living in a time 
were we can expect to see many changes, fundamentally in things that we have 
always taken for granted.  The inevitability of change and the outcome is worrying 
for many parents and teachers.
My school has a diverse and multicultural community which includes students 
speaking twenty-eight different first languages.  Many of whom struggle with the 
language in which they are being taught in.  The school embraces these students 
and I believe creates a unique space for them. 

Each class has a tutor (teacher) of 28 children who is responsible for the nurturing 
of the children.  The tutor sees the class every morning and this is a time for the 
tutor to get to know the children, help with non-academic and school things, like 
how the students are doing emotionally, concerns that they have, etc.  This is a 
safe environment for them to come and speak to the teachers.  I have personally 
found this rewarding for myself, but also emotionally draining, especially when 
there is a language barrier.  I have not realized how effective google translate can be. 

One of the things that I really enjoy is for my students to create videos about things 
that are affecting them.  When I do these types of projects, there is no topic, but a 
carte blanche for them to look at real world issues that are important to them. 
I was privileged enough to create a project, Project courage, with teachers from 
Canada, China, Croatia and Singapore about fear.  Once we completed the project, 
we did Skype sessions between the different countries and shared our fears.  
Regardless of race, gender, children have the same fears throughout the world.

There will always be change in the world, I believe it is up to us as teachers to 
create that environment where we can talk to our students about their concerns 
and walk with them through the process until it is resolved.