A Mindset for Learning

“If you haven’t failed in the classroom lately, you probably aren’t pushing the envelope enough. You are being too safe.” Dave Burgess

This blogpost is all about the word “mindset”. I know this has been around for a while but I first consciously came across the word Mindset at ICOT this year. It seems to have really grown on the world and in my consciousness this year and I see it everywhere now. There are many people out there selling tool kits or strategies that will make you a more effective teacher but I fundamentally believe there is no 1 correct answer for education. By having an open mindset we can make more of a difference.

My teaching mindset at the moment is heavily influenced by the following mindsets that I believe really complement each other to help me approach teaching with the enthusiasm (and hopefully effectiveness) that I do:

– Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset
– Design Thinking
– Teach Like a PIRATE
– Exploration mindset (heavily influenced here by Dan Raven-Ellison)

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Research Access Success

Two weeks ago, I sent an email to a group of people high up in the Ministry of Education and put it online in this post asking for access to academic journals as a teacher. I have had a range of conversations with people over the past 2 weeks about this and today had a successful outcome to the email.

The obvious message over the last 2 weeks has been that there are lots of teachers out there craving access to research so they can challenge and improve their practice. Everyone I have spoken to has been interested in what the outcome would be. Either because they also want more access to research themselves or because they see the value in it so much they are currently undertaking research or study and want to know where they can read once their study finishes. Continue reading

Is Globalisation Good or Bad?

My Year 10s are working on a unit about Globalisation at the moment. We have done all the intro activities, looked at global economics, fashion, global links, globalisation at school and globalisation of media (including the class and me getting in trouble for writing in washable chalk on school buildings – must remember instruction of ground good wall bad for next time!). Today I split the class into random groups and gave them 2 lessons to investigate the 3 most positive aspects and 3 most negative aspects of globalisation. Essentially a basic research task but with the added critical thinking of what are the most important pros and cons.

The class know that they then have to give a 2-3 minute explanation to the class of their most positive and most negative aspects on Friday. To follow this up the class will enter a philosophical chairs discussion on “Is globalisation good or bad?” Continue reading

Why are concepts important?

I have been having some great discussions this week with Stephen Matthews (@srmdrummer) around teaching geographic concepts that have made me revisit my philosophy and teaching approach. This video of Sir Ken Robinson talking about subjects as disciplines provides a good example of the discussions we have had:

I believe that Geography is concerned with social issues and that geographic educators should be equipping their students to take action in society. Increasingly global issues such as climate change, globalisation, sustainability and social justice are making headlines and Geography should assist students with their understanding of these issues. Continue reading

Geographic Concepts

Step Up 4: Miami Heat (2012) Poster

To introduce my Geography classes to our key geographic concepts we have watched Step Up 4: Miami Heat (called Step Up Revolution originally) this week.

Before watching we did a concept and definition mix and match activity where the concepts and a definition were on laminated cards. Once all pairs/groups had sorted the definitions together the students wrote the concepts down in their books leaving about 3-4 lines after each one. Continue reading

Geographic Significance of Current Events

Had my second lesson of the year with my Year 11 Geography class today so decided to introduce them to the idea of geographic significance at the same time as doing some basic world mapping.

I gave the class a blank world map and brought up the World page of the New Zealand Herald website on the screen. First of all we read the introductions to each story locating and labelling the countries involved on a map for a bit of basic world geography (amazing how many students know the names of countries in the news but have no idea where these are e.g. Syria, North Korea).

Next we discussed the criteria for geographic significance that we would use to differentiate between the stories:

Criteria for Geographic Significance

Criteria for Geographic Significance

These criteria were obtained from Teaching about Geographical Thinking by Kamilla Bahbahani and Niem Tu Huynh.

We then read back over some of the stories collaboraitively sourcing examples of stories that demonstrate each of the criteria well. Students then had to choose two news stories that they felt are geographically significant and justify their decision.

Will pick this up over the rest of the year with getting the students to source information about geographically significant events as I feel this is incredibly important in helping them to develop the ability to think geographically. We will also use this to help decide which case studies we will focus on in our various topics this year.

Passion, Persistance and Purpose

ICOT was easily the best conference that I have been part of. It provided a mass of ideas and thoughts in a good balance of keynote and breakout sessions. I met lots of great people that I had known only over twitter previously and also had great discussions with completely new people. Everyone of these discussions was a valuable addition to my week at the conference and many of these people have now become part of my wider personal learning network through twitter. There are a string of great comments and blogs coming out (see other blogs on these links by Karen, Matt  and Stephanie) but here is my final wrap up of the conference. Continue reading