Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Manaiakalani and Outreach Principals Wananga 2019: MIT19 Presentation

Last week I presented at the 2019 Manaiakalani and Outreach Principals Wananga as part of the Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers 2019 programme. We presented our inquiries as a Pecha Kucha (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide). Here is my presentation along with a transcript of my speech:

Slide 1: In this moment, think about the digital technologies you use which allow you to connect with others. Think beyond this room to the digital technologies our children are using in school while we are sitting here today which allow them to connect with others beyond the classroom. Connecting is interpersonal. It requires critical thinking. Can we do more to provide our children with these necessary skills?

Slide 2: We live in a digital world which is much more connected than ever before. There is therefore a need for teaching children the skills to be able to relate to others and be critical thinkers in what is a highly interpersonal digital environment. Through this, we teach through the key competencies and teach life-long skills which can be applied throughout what is and will continue to be an innovative and quick-changing environment.

Slide 3: The challenge I faced was that children living in a digital world, where key competencies are essential, require ubiquitous access to scaffolds and resources which are not currently available. Our children are using digital tools to enhance their learning. Therefore it’s important that we teach the critical thinking and problem solving essential for people to be able to make smart decisions when online.

Slide 4: We have cybersmart resources as part of the Manaiakalani Cybersmart Curriculum however two questions I asked myself were: 
How can we continue to develop the incorporation of the Manaiakalani values into cybersmart learning?
How can we get the children really excited about learning, creating and sharing in cybersmart learning?

Slide 5: Some things stood out for me when exploring cybersmart resources which are being used and shared in our schools:
1. Classes with learning sites mostly had visible cybersmart resources available directly on their site OR had a place on the site ready to be populated with these resources.
2. Most of the cybersmart resources which I have seen being used are teacher-led resources/tasks.
3. We have the teacher-led tasks and student-created DLOs/ more student-centred, ubiquitous and eye-capturing resources would be useful to engage our children in cybersmart learning.

Slide 6: This venn diagram from netsafe New Zealand shows the many aspects of ‘Digital Citizenship.’ You can see that Cybersafety (as they call it) is only one section of digital citizenship. Manaiakalani’s use of the word ‘cybersmart’ already emphasises that we want our children to be thoughtful when online. I like to think that Cybersmart content is actually the cybersafety and NZ Curriculum Values and Key Competencies sections of this diagram combined.

Slide 7: In fact, when we look into the NZ curriculum, these are the sorts of words that are used to describe children learning in New Zealand. These definitely describe what we would like our children to be able to do and be when learning and working in a digital environment.

Slide 8: I began the inquiry process by wanting to create a number of resources such as posters and flow diagrams to support the children, like the well known and highly useful quality blog comments poster. However, with much research and data collection, I realised that there was a need that went deeper….

Slide 9: What the children were missing was the ability to think critically online and the connection of this to interpersonal skills. This was evident through blog comments written by the children in my class which were often positive, however not always helpful, thoughtful and connected to the content they had read.

Slide 10: These preliminary findings really drew my attention to the importance of teaching children critical thinking, interpersonal skills and the connection between them. And the research backed this up! I started getting the children creating short movies to share their learning and knowledge around creating strong passwords. The children were mostly engaged. They enjoyed the competitive element which came with working in groups and creating short movie clips.

Slide 11: I then narrowed down the research to 10 areas which would teach the connection between critical thinking and interpersonal skills. The children began creating 30 second to 1 minute cybersmart clips.

Slide 12: For each cybersmart topic, the learning sequence begins with a whole class brainstorm. At this point, I also explicitly teach them important aspects to think about. After this, the children break up into small groups where they begin to collaboratively plan a script for a movie clip. They then film and edit their 30 second to 1 minute movie before sharing it on their blogs. The biggest challenge that arose was that some children had difficulty with the collaborative planning. However this observation really reinforced that this change in teaching and learning was exactly what was needed to support children in development of key competencies.

Slide 13: Much learning comes from this tool for children of all levels and abilities. It supports development of all the key competencies, critical thinking and ability to collaborate with others. It encourages creativity and gets the children excited about being cybersmart! Finally, it develops skills which are important everywhere, not just online.

Slide 14: The cybersmart clips that the children create could be shared through school news, other classes and across schools. The children are learning through concepts such as Tuakana Teina and Ako, where the children are teaching and supporting each other in their learning - they become the teachers.

Slide 15/16: You can see from these cybersmart clips that the children are happy, confident learners! These are all examples of children who worked through the process from the initial brainstorm, through to working as a group to edit and share their cybersmart clips on their blogs. As a result, they have developed their key competencies while learning to be critical thinkers and while using interpersonal skills (both in personal and in a digital environment). They have learned movie making and editing skills and have created some great resources which could be used to teach and support other children. 

Slide 17: And the children’s responses back this up too! The children have told me that they enjoy working together and choosing their own groups. They have told me that they enjoy filming and making their movies and that they like putting the movies on their blog to share with the whole world. There is not a lot that they told me they wanted to do differently. One child responded by telling me that they wanted to continue making the movies but with more props to support their creations.

Slide 18: it making a difference and meeting the original challenge?
If you compare the blue and red lines, there could be a possible correlation between the ability to collaboratively plan and create cybersmart clips which include both critical thinking (CT) and interpersonal skills (IS). 
Those low in IS/CT in the collaborative planning stage are often also low in IS/CT in the cybersmart clips and blog commenting.

Slide 19: Another interesting potential correlation is that between reading and or writing level and ability to write a comment which includes critical thinking and interpersonal skills. In these graphs, each of the dots represents a child.

Slide 20: So what next for this inquiry?
Based on these findings, it is going to be important to focus in on the children who have difficulty collaboratively planning so that I can support them to develop their ability to relate to others and manage themselves so they can then develop their critical thinking skills in an interpersonal environment. I need to begin looking into the connection between reading and writing level and the ability for children to be critical thinkers in an interpersonal environment 

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