Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Beginnings for Me in Education

An interesting journey...It began when, after much deliberation, I decided to embark on further study. A difficult decision - how to be a full time mother to two children (aged 12 and 17), wife, full time teacher with three positions of responsibility and a student?

Driven by what? By my own personal love of learning, my desire to be a better teacher and the belief and knowledge that there was so much more to learn.
When I began the Masters of Education program online, it was a huge challenge and a really steep learning curve. I was forced to learn how to use online libraries for research, programs such as End Note and academic expectations/formatting and so on.

By far, the biggest challenge arose when I was approached to become involved in a group project on using Social Networking in education. I didn't even have a Facebook or Twitter account. My initial response was to decline the offer; however, after some thought, reconsidered. At least I would have a group to work with and wouldn't have to spend time searching for a topic and group.

I don't know why, but I volunteered to focus on Twitter and how this could be used in education. As I learnt more and more about Twitter, I soon became consumed by the many possibilities. I opened up an account, researched a lot on the Internet and also through the university library. Suddenly, I became a Twitter enthusiast, with a really helpful and supportive PLN. This was really just the beginning. From following key people on Twitter (educators and so on), I learned about so many more possibilities for my students.

Working on the group assignment was an extremely frustrating and challenging experience. However, as a result, I learned how to collaborate using Google Docs and then using a wiki. Using a wiki proved to be a real turning point for my teaching.

The wiki got me thinking - I found working in a wiki to be really engaging. How could I use this in my English class?

In the past, my Year 7 students had read and responded to 'Chinese Cinderella' by Adeline Yen Mah.  Here was the opportunity to look at getting them to use a wiki to respond to the text. First, I set up a wiki that included the tasks students would need to complete, as well as to function as a demonstration model for students.

This can be found at
Students then created their own wikis in groups. The results were simply astounding.

As part of my next unit at university, I was required to produce a professional development presentation. For this, I chose to focus on Using Wikis in Literacy to Engage Students in Text Studies. The requirement was to present using a PowerPoint file - which I did. However my preference was really to present using a wiki, so I established a wiki that could be used instead:

The above mentioned wiki contains all the details regarding my student wiki project, as well as guidelines for teachers wanting to try something similar.

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