Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bullying: Old Problem, New Playground.

The role of technology in bullying is overemphasised. It is a case of bullies having new tools at their disposal. The number one factor is, of course, student engagement in bullying or victimisation in face to face environments.  Results show that students' roles in traditional bullying predicted the same role in cyberbullying.  So basically, students don't become bullies just because they have a computer. I would be very interested to know the exact ratio of bullying that occurs on mobile phones compared to computers as well. I think much more occurs using mobile phones. The accepted wisdom to bullying at the moment seems to be to have a whole school approach which has zero tolerance for bullying in any form. I hope these links I have collected will help you do that.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Classroom Management

I have collected some links this week to help teachers with classroom management. When it comes to managing students at school, everyone has their own individual style. It is not something that happens overnight. It takes years to develop the skills to handle most everyday situations at school. My suggestion to any young teachers starting out, is to realise you are a beginner and talk to the most experienced teachers on staff and ask them what they do or ask for advice about problems you may be experiencing with students. But don't take all their advice as gospel. Their strategies may not suit you or your class. I found that each year I had to change my strategies depending on the composition of the class. I also found out the hard way that some strategies don't work for all kids. Getting to know your kids really well at the beginning of the year and establishing a good relationship with them is the first place to start. One thing I try to do is catch kids being good. A simple reward system where you allocate "Free Time" reward points when you see students working well can help most of the time. Put a poster up where the kids can reach it with pockets next to their name. Give them reward cards to put in their sleeve. They can redeem it at any time of the day (within reason) and do the activity of their choice. They can even invite a friend if they have enough points. Vary this idea to suit your style and ideas. For a few years I had students who just refused to bring in homework. I set up a lucky dip bag and let them pick something from the bag each week if they completed their homework to a reasonable standard. It probably cost me $200 for the whole year (a tax deduction) but saved lot of grief. Everyone did their homework.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Visual Ventures

The ability to create a story, demonstrate mastery or understanding of a concept using images and video is now a basic skill that all students require. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic are just not enough. By the way, I like Chris Betcher's list of basic skills for the 21st century (touch typing should be added).

As I became more experienced in teaching digital storytelling and film making, I gave up on using video cameras and ended up using the most basic tools available to many students, digital cameras and mobile phones. I also now demand that student videos be no longer than 60 seconds in length. I have no problem with students preparing a 3-5 minute film to show at a class film night (yes popcorn included) but for video assessment items, less is more and saying what you need to say in 60 or even 30 seconds is a great discipline for students. Video also allows some students to really shine. I have seen this with New Arrival and ESL students. They can really surprise you when English is no longer a boundary to their expression.