The Barker Institute were proud to host a TeachMeet at the end of Term 2. For the uninitiated, TeachMeet is a session, usually one afternoon during term time, where teachers from many schools in the area can come together and share ideas about teaching and learning. Each presenter usually shares one main idea in a short presentation - think TED for teachers. Our Term 2 TeachMeet featured presenters from Barker College, St Leo's College, Killara High and Matific - a not-for-profit mathematic education company. Below are a few highlights from the first half of the evening.
Len Nixon from Barker College spoke about differentiation, beginning with the well-known Howard Gardner quote: "The biggest mistake of past centuries in teaching has been to treat all students as if they were variants of the same individual and thus to feel justified in teaching them all the same subjects the same way". Len went on toe describe how his department have begun giving students options when it came to completing tasks. Each of the options were based on one or more of Gardner's multiple intelligences model, including music, visual spatial, and interpersonal.
Ksenia Filatov from St Leo’s College English department presented a topic on engaging juniors with classic literature. She begun by stating that she has found significant problems engaging younger readers with the classics. One way she has overcome this challenge was by asking her students to keep a journal documenting their journey engaging with their text. She first had to define what it meant to keep a journal, asking her students to go beyond simply listing or summarising what was happening in the text. Instead, she wanted her students to react to the story and to speculate what was really going on. As they read, students were asked to "collect" new words, and try to use one of these in their ongoing writing.
Simon Borgert from Killara High School was on a mission to make curriculum documents, like units of work, more relevant and useful by integrating the collaborative functions of Google Drive. Simon began by outlining the problem using curriculum documents: paper copies are usually kept in a filing cabinet in one location. Teachers using documents might change certain teaching and learning strategies, but might not always share these ideas with colleagues. Furthermore, it is often difficult to link these documents with their associated resources. Simon argued that the unit of work should itself become the resource. They need to be dynamic objects, continually developed, linked to resources. One way to achieve this is to draw on Google Drive. Using this technology, each time the document is used, it is updated. Resources can be hyperlinked and stored in shared folders.
Finally, Constantin Lomaca from St Leo’s College, introduced a secondary school course he has been developing called Applied Philosophy. The aim of the course is to develop high order thinking skills by studying the fundamentals of philosophy. Along the way, journals were used as an informal assessment, uncovering students' developing understanding of the subject. Later in the course, students themselves were challenged to come up with their own question to answer as part of their assessment. Constantin referred to four principal question types used in this course:
- Reading comprehension: what did the author refer to?
- Speculate/imagine: what would be some alternative options
- Factual inquiry: who was this person?
- Open inquiry: how do we know that we don't know?
Those interested in learning more about this course can join the discussion on Edmodo using the following group code: yvsimr
Stay tuned for a run down of the second part of this evening.