Monday, January 30, 2012

A track less travelled

Like most people I am a creature of habit.  I am also a keen bush walker - partly for exercise, partly for photography, partly for personal therapy.  My most favourite site just happens to be a World Heritage area less than two hours from my home - Cradle Mountain.

I tend to stick to well  trodden paths when I visit. With scenery like this waiting why not?

When you know you will be seeing this why would you go elsewhere?

Yet that is just what I did recently - due, in part, to weather conditions.  Seeing as though my favourite tracks were shrouded in morning mist I went on some of the less well known tracks... and “discovered” this...
and this...

I even met some of the locals...

Not only did I add some gems to my walking catalogue but I also discovered tracks to two other destinations that I had been wanting to visit.  In short, by breaking my habits I discovered some “unknown” locations - but also found some exciting places to explore in the future.

So how does this relate to education?  It struck me that my habits prevented me from exploring other options and opportunities.  This happens in classrooms too.  How many teachers cover the same material every year?  How many people use the same task design year after year? No doubt these are successful teachers - if it didn’t work they wouldn’t do the same things repeatedly.  Yet this approach reduces innovation and exploration of alternate methods - especially in the nature of what the students do.  The curriculum may dictate what students are to be taught - but usually teachers have freedom to select how they  present and get students to explore material.  This is easy to say but possibly a little harder to do - but there are some simple ways for teachers to expand their instructional horizons.  

One might be to use this resource - the Kelly Tenkely's blooming peacock.  This resource identifies areas of Blooms taxonomy and then identifies software that addresses that mode of thinking.  Another llist, by Kathy Schrock ,does the same thing but limits the software to that produced by Google - meaning free and web based. Andrew Churches' Blooms Digital Taxonomy  worksheets also provide advice on how to address Bloom via technology. One way for teachers wishing to expand their skills and move beyond their current habits into 21st Century skills might be to choose one new piece of software per unit and become an accomplished user of that site or program. Once done, select another site that suits your purpose from the next level up in Bloom’s taxonomy. Over a relatively short period of time teachers will have learnt not only a range of useful skills and programs  but shifted their teaching towards the higher end of Bloom’s spectrum.

Taking a fresh look at how we teach and trying something different is likely to be very rewarding - for the teacher as well as the students.

If you like the images displayed in this post you may like to view this video I made of walks completed last year. 

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