Our Week In Sydney with The Bridge Project

What an amazing week we’ve just had here in Sydney for the Bridge Project. While we sit at the airport waiting for our flight, doing a last minute catch up with Erin and Mel who are also hosting 2 partner teachers from Medan, I’ll try to give you a brief picture of our full on 4 day training and development.
Marg & I first met our partner teachers, Pak Pahot & Bu Elizawati, in the breakfast queue at the Novatel. Pak Pahot is a year 2 teacher and Bu Elizawati is a year 6 teacher at a school called SDN 025443 Medan Barat which apparently is rated number 1 in Medan. Of the 400 odd students who apply to enrol each year, only 100 are selected!

IMG_9638-0

Over the past 4 days there has been a strong emphasis on collaboration, planning and communication. Presenters recommended a variety of ways in which we can achieve all 3 successfully with our partner schools and time was provided to not only make a start on them but also so that we could familiarise each other with our school calendars, so that any planned projects avoid school holidays, religious festivals and national exams.

IMG_9639We also spent time discussing cultural differences. Our partner teachers have already noticed differences with punctuality, environmental pride, traffic and the differences between Indonesia and Australia with the use of right hands to pass items.

Thursday afternoon, we were given a challenge:

IMG_9675This was a brilliant and fun way for all of us to explore Sydney. The resulting photos on Twitter were varied and the shared experiences were vast. Check out #bridgeproject!!

IMG_9648

Another fun outing was lunch at the local Giants stadium.

IMG_9662After lunch, 2 of the stalwarts (proud muslims) explained about the various programs they run which target disengaged youth and promote education. Very impressive. Afterwards, we enjoyed a tour through the facilities:

IMG_9664

IMG_9666

IMG_9667

Presenters over the 4 days included Mike Bartlett & Danielle Leggo, education officers from from Sydney Olympic Park (SOP). The program they run there is truly amazing and caters towards both local and distance students. It largely focuses on sport, agriculture & sustainability and can be accessed either face to face or by video conferencing. Thirty thousand students annually access the ranger led Australian curriculum aligned activities learning about the local wetlands and other local habitats and there is also an online Koori classroom! One great suggestion from Michael was to set up a collaborative project to study the migratory birds that fly from Siberia to Australia, transiting Indonesia! For further information about SOP, regardless where you are globally, check out their website and youtube channel. They are currently searching for non Australian classrooms interested in an international 2015 netball challenge.

Joedy Wallis from AEF, divided the group so that the Australian teachers and the Indonesian teachers could each focus on their own curriculums to identify areas compatible for collaboration as well as identifying goals and outcomes for student learning. She pointed out the areas of the curriculum covered by the bridge project include:
literacy
numeracy
ict capability
critical and creative thinking
personal and social capability
ethical understanding
ICL (Intercultural Understanding)
which together create successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active informed citizens.
Joedy outlined some history behind the inclusion of the ‘Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia’ priority in the new Australian curriculum. The global shift which has lead to policy changes and the Melbourne Declaration, first signed in 2008 (changes advocated by AEF) provided the impetuous behind our Bridge partnership meeting this week. This promotes student acquisition of 21st century skills. all beneficial for Australia; socially, culturally and economically.

IMG_9645
Joedy promoted twitter to all, encouraging all teachers to sign up and discover just how amazing it is for professional learning and sharing. She also promoted the AEF website (which is currently undergoing a huge update to become even bigger and better), the AEF newsletter and #AEFchat on twitter (details on the website) which currently run monthly but will happen more frequently if the number of teachers on twitter increases.

Julie Lindsay from Flat Connections presented on Thursday for 2/3 of our day focusing on the challenges connected with our partnership schools beyond face to face and how to sustain global connections and collaborations. She raised an important point about the need for deep global learning and the importance of constructing a legacy. Encouraging teachers to think deeply and creatively so that whatever project our students create, it will be their legacy.
Julie suggested a variety of online tools through which this could be achieved:
1. Ning.com (not free) which is a multimedia networking tool was recommended highly by Julie for asynchronis communication if both schools can not be online at the same time.
2. voicethread.com – highly recommended. students can record their voices along a given video/photo
3. Wikispacess – where students and teachers can collaborate on projects
4. blackboard collaborate – students present for 1-2 minutes about their learning to an international audience.
5. globalyouthdebates.com asynchronous global debates between classrooms
6. wevideo
7. Animoto
8. Edmodo – private; great tool for creating discussions)
9. Hangouts
10. Skype
11. Padlet – a private forum for groups to share

Before any actual planning, it is critical all teachers agree on a cyber safety policy and have in place an agreement to monitor all students.
Projects could be based on a range of activities:
interpersonal
research (joint?)
problem solving – kerja sama tentang kebanjiran?? find something in common and explore issues!! eg rivers, sea,
artifact and co-creating (eg making video alone or by collaborating with partner students)
connect
communicate
collaborate
create

Most of the suggested project ideas would be entirely undertaken in English which would create opportunities for deep ICL for classroom teachers. Julie suggested students take the learning home (al la flipped classroom style although she didn’t name it!) which gave me the idea of tasking students to record themselves teaching their parents ‘siapa nama’ & ‘nama saya”. Could create a funny yet educations video about specific target language!
Other flipped ideas that arose over the 4 days included a flat Stanley project whereby students make a puppet of themselves and then send it to their partner school who then takes it with them in their every day life photographing everything and creating a journal which is then returned to their partner school either digitally or by snail mail. Another idea I really love which would be perfect for a look and discuss activity is called, A View From Your Window. Tasking students to take a photo from a window at home and then writing a caption about it.
Julie’s presentation was chocker block full of suggestions with little time to fully explore and trouble shoot. Most teachers felt totally overwhelmed and this confirmed for me just how fortunate we are at PEPS to not only have had a ICT Coordinator for the past 3 years but to have someone of Kathy’s high expertise and dedication in the position. Teachers were also concerned about poor tech support on return to their schools, which again for Marg & I, is rarely an issue!! Our highly capable tech team of Darryn & Kathy is second to none! What they don’t know isn’t worth knowing!! One principal told us about a class set of computers still in boxes at their school because they only get 2 hours of tech support per week!!
The second part of Julie’s time with us was task based. We had to create a digital story with our partner teachers. I quickly wrote a script which I then typed up in Pages and emailed to Marg, Pak Pahot & Bu Eliza. Using Puppet Pals, we quickly made a film entirely in Indonesian about the transport we used in Sydney yesterday which Pak spiced up with some evil laughs!! We uploaded it to Youtube and then pasted the link on the Bridge Padlet to share with everyone.

IMG_9674

Pak Donny, the Indonesian translator and coordinator, constantly stressed in his translations, that the partnership is all about our students and should benefit them not the teachers and that all projects must keep that in mind! There was also a huge push to encourage Indonesian teachers to review their learning style (methodology) so as to adopt more western aspects. I can see that encouraging students to ask questions, to be more confident in exchanging opinions has benefits but it is a huge cultural shift and with it comes other aspects of western culture. Other factors which must be considered is that class sizes at our partner school are enormous. Classes range from 34 to 46, Class rooms too are not large and school furniture is also not conducive to more ‘creative’ styles of learning. I can see benefits in encouraging a methodology shift but would like to explore ways in which it can be done that are more sympathetic culturally. It makes me feel like a missionary rather than an educator.
It had been an amazing week, meeting teachers from almost every state. We have swapped email addresses and Skype handles as well as following each other on twitter so that we can keep in contact and help each other with any upcoming challenges this year as well as sharing our successes. Marg in particular was brilliant with this. She has already arranged a Skype call with Mel & Erin this coming Friday!! Another teacher has offered to set up a Facebook page for us all and Aaron will create another Padlet too. The September study tour will be a reunion for those of us who sign up for it!

Goodbye Sydney!

IMG_9673Thank You so much to everyone involved for such a memorable week and in particular to Pak Aaron, Ibu Bonnie & Pak Donni.

Advertisements

Lesson 3 & 4 Reflections

Overall, the lessons ( see previous post) this week were awesome. I had a brilliant week and thoroughly enjoyed telling the story, ‘Pleased To Meet You’ with my middle and upper primary classes. The junior primary classes though, focused purely on ‘nama saya’ and Siapa nama?’, so I could get photos of my reception students and also because unlike the older students, they only have one 50 minute lesson per week.

Storytelling Reflections:
As it was the same lesson repeated 8 times in all, I had to constantly remind myself to talk SLOWLY. While I was very comfortable with the story, students were encountering both the familiar and unfamiliar vocabulary for the first time ever in this context.
The stop sign came up many times and that everyone joined in, made it easier for both the students to initiate it and for me to see it. Really helped me remember to go slowly and ask for comprehension checks.
My 2015 timetable has worked out so well. I teach mostly middle primary classes on Monday which gives me the opportunity to iron out any potential kinks in it before facing the upper primary classes the following day. This week I was ready for them. I stayed upbeat and we all enjoyed a great lesson. So much so, that with the class before recess, when the bell rang, no one moved because we were mid way through acting out the story! They wanted to see it through to the final scene!
Student reactions to the story were hilarious! The responses ranged from incredulous (Taylor Swift/Will.i.am was at McDonalds yesterday?) to disbelief (It wouldn’t have been Taylor Swift fainting!!)
Acting out the story was very popular and there were many volunteers. I tried to avoid choosing students who usually hog the limelight and gave the quieter students a chance to shine a la Ben Slavic advice.
I introduced jobs this week during the first lesson with the upper prrimary classes mainly because I wanted to film each 6/7 lesson so that I had a record of the lesson. Had it gone haywire, I would be able to watch the video and pinpoint where I’d lost my students. I am also really curious to discover what I missed! So much happens with large classes, that I either miss things totally or suddenly realise that a student I believed to have been totally focused was successfully staying under my radar by timing his/her asides well. I haven’t had a chance to watch the films yet (partly because I am dreading watching myself in action/but mostly because I haven’t had the time!) but I did have a quick look at the photos. I had hoped to use the photos for lesson # 4 to help with retelling but unfortunately the photos were largely useless: out of focus and too far away from the action. The few that were in focus were not enough. Interesting assumption on my part that all older students know how to take photos with an ipad!
The filming of one 50 minute lesson filled up an ipad, so instead of having a ‘tukang film’ for the year 5’s and 5/6’s, I introduced ‘Penghitung’, the counter. Unfortunately I forgot to introduce the jobs until too late with the year 5/6 class and the poor counter barely made it into double digits, so with the year 5 class I made sure to do it first up! I asked Sienna to count each time someone said, “Nama saya” and the final count blew us all away! In 50 minutes, Sienna counted 310 reps!! I wrote it on the board for future reference:

IMG_9462

Story Retell Reflections:
-The look of panic on students faces when during the second lesson, I asked for the retell to be in Indonesian was in retrospect, to be expected. But once someone made a start, the panic evaporated and it all came together. I was delighted with how students collaborated to retell the story.
-I had 2 visitors during this segment of my lesson; Marg, the year 5/6 teacher (who incorporates Indonesian phrases into her classroom day where ever possible) & Brenton, PEPS principal (& in a past life, was a Spanish teacher). I haven’t had a chance yet to ask for feedback, but I will….
-I have several year 6/7 students who rarely engage with my lessons. I successfully targeted 2 of them this week and gave them each an opportunity to shine while learning the importance of staying focused during lessons. Jesse rarely looks up, so during bola kenalkan, I firstly reminded everyone that they need to constantly watch. I then threw the ball to Jesse while he was looking downwards. He fumbled, grabbed it, responded and then returned the ball to me. After a few more students, I noticed that Jesse was once again not focused, so I gently threw the ball to him again. He looked up puzzled, returned the ball to me and said, “But I have already had the ball!!” To which I responded, “You need to watch ALL the time!” and pointed towards the expectations. I returned it to him again and asked, “Siapa nama?” and this time he caught it and returned it answering my question. I then targeted other students and if I noticed Jesse was again unfocused, I again gently passed him the ball. He loved it!! It was so lovely to see a smile on his face as he reveled in the attention. The icing on the cake was when one of the sporty boys complained that it wasn’t fair, Jesse had had the ball 10 times and he’d only had it once!!
-The other student, Drae, is one of those students who pretends he doesn’t understand so that he doesn’t have to contribute. I’m sure you all have one of those students. We had just started retelling the story and I asked him what came next. He baulked and stated he had no idea, so I asked him to translate what we had written so far. Again he baulked, so I reminded him about the stop signal. I then returned right back to bola kenalkan and passed him the ball, while asking, “Siapa nama?” Of course he could answer, so I did a comprehension check and naturally he could tell me what both sentences meant. So returning to the story, I again asked him to translate. Again he balked, so once again, I grabbed the ball and repeated the whole process. By this time, it finally dawned on him that there was no escape! He took a deep breath and proceeded to translate everything. The loveliest thing was that when he’d finished, the class erupted into a genuine and spontaneous applause! With impeccable timing, Brenton then entered the Indonesian classroom, so Drae received even more kudos!
– I introduced the job of ‘reader leader’ with all classes. Luckily I have a sound field system in my room which incorporates a microphone. This makes the job of reader leader so much easier. The reader leader reads the story at a pace that we can all read along together. Great way to get extra repetitions of the story & target language. I did have one student who had difficulty with pronunciation. At first, I corrected him and then I stopped. I suddenly remembered a post on tprsquestionsandanswers. This post included research and information about just this! I need to acknowledge that not only does it take confidence to get up and read in front of the whole class, the last thing a student needs is to be embarrassed and have his/her confidence undermined. Speaking in the target language is the most anxiety provoking form of communication. Anyone who has attempted communicating in a foreign language can relate to that! Here too is a quote from Chris Stoltz from the moretprs yahoo group:

Since I started TPRS, I stopped both pronunciation and spelling instruction . This year, I didn’t say a single word about anything in Spanish– and I got the best spelling (and pronunciation) ever. If they hear/read it and they get it, their brains seem to soak up the rules and conventions. The same is broadly true of grammar.

Free Write Reflections
-What a range of writing abilities! I was blown away with the stories students wrote. Even one of the year 3 student wrote a few sentences amongst his word list!! (see below)
-I love the concept that students can write anything as long as it is in Indonesian and they understand it. It’s simplicity appealed to all students and is a great example of how TCI differentiates for all levels of ability and confidence. The more capable wrote stories while others were challenged finding words around the room they knew.
Here are a selection of free writes beginning with a year 3 and finishing with year 7’s:

IMG_9463

IMG_9472

IMG_9473

IMG_9476

IMG_9477I love the way the above student wrote a sentence structure and then focused on it! What great repetitions!

IMG_9479I love how Harriet incorporated kenalkan vocabulary from previous years into her story!

IMG_9482

IMG_9484
Look how Illiana (above) added to the end of the story! Not an ending rewrite as such but a great example of what others could do too.

IMG_9486

IMG_9490

IMG_9494
Miranda also took the structure and built on it using vocabulary from previous years! How awesome!

IMG_9498
Look how Eli used dengan and suka!! Brilliant!

IMG_9504Georgia has used the story structure to rewritte an entirely original story! In 5 minutes!

IMG_9514Winter has used this opportunity to experiment with all the sentences and phrases she has learned over the primary years! How great is that!!

IMG_9516Look how the above student has spent the entire 5 minutes writing solidly!!

Aren’t they amazing! Reading through them has given me an idea! How cool would it be to read them to classes and have students illustrate them as they are read??? The drawings then would make awesome ‘Look & Discuss’ pictures. I only read about L&D recently and this could be the springboard I need to give it a try!