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Posts Tagged ‘classroom’

  1. The Exchange

    17 March 2011 by shartley

    This year I am privileged to have the same classroom for all my lessons.  This goes in conjunction with going mobile, meaning I have no fixed location for a desk.  I mainly work when I’m off class in The Hub, a large teachers’ lounge but can escape to a ‘cave’ space when I need to work in a particularly quiet location.  My filing cabinet, full of resources, are in my classroom and I have a mobile unit in The Hub.

    My working space in The Hub

    My working space in The Hub

    My mobile unit (pic by Stephen Harris

    My mobile unit (pic by Stephen Harris

    We are gradually changing the names of the classrooms around the school.  Some have the names of the local beaches, Science rooms are named after the tallest mountains in the world and Art rooms are named after famous art galleries.  We’re going to call my room The Exchange, partly due to the amount of Economics, Business Studies and Commerce that is taught there, but also because it is a place to exchange ideas.

    “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” George Bernard Shaw

    “Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.” H L Hunt

    “Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.” Walt Disney

    “The public interest is best served by the free exchange of ideas.” John Kane

    Next door is a room used for Textiles and Design and Food Technology.  It will be called The Mint, to match The Exchange but also because it is a colour, a food and a condition.

    A few years ago The Exchange was a crowded computer room, frequently used as a thoroughfare by the teachers from the staffroom connected to it.  Now the computers have been moved to the edge of the room and lovely new couches and tables put in the middle, ideal for my boardroom sessions in Business Studies classes.  There is also a large bookshelf of HSIE resources, very handy for students who ‘forget’ their textbooks and for consulting a wide variety of texts easily and spontaneously.  It has been interesting to see the arguments over which textbooks the students consider to be the best.  Some think the more words the better, others think clear succinct writing is more suitable.  It goes to show when we choose textbooks for our classes that it is always a compromise.  With the new Business Studies syllabus this year I am attempting to not use any single textbook more than 10% to comply with CAL and not have to require students to purchase a particular text.  Business Studies lends itself to this because there a numerous textbooks, due to its popularity, and some fantastic Internet resources.  It is also a subject containing a lot of common sense that just needs to be tailored to the syllabus, thus the board room sessions to sort out what is already known.  Economics students use the couches and tables as if they were the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to solve the economic issues in the world.

    The Exchange - as you enter

    The Exchange - as you enter

    The Exchange - new lounges and tables

    The Exchange - new lounges and tables

    The Exchange - the books

    The Exchange - the books

    The Exchange isn’t perfect.  It is blessed with air-conditioning but it drips atrociously so a towel is kept in the room to soak it up.  It is also currently used as a storage area for a class set of new computers to go to another room.  It will be nice when they find their home.  The vertical blinds for the windows had deteriorated to the extent they have been removed and I am anxious for their replacement.  Sunlight also streams through the skylights making it difficult to view anything shown through the data projector.

    The Exchange - the air-conditioner

    The Exchange - the air-conditioner

    The Exchange - the boxes

    The Exchange - the boxes

    I love my classroom and the opportunities it provides but I would love to know how YOU would use it.  Please post your ideas here.

  2. Pulled every which way

    9 April 2010 by shartley

    Twitter has inspired me as I see other teachers passionate about what’s best for students.

    It has depressed me as I realise how little I know compared to many others.

    I want to investigate every which way of teaching but I would find the process overwhelming.  I want to read the hundreds of blogs I have found through Twitter.  I want to use nearly every resource I discover.  But time, sweet time, prevents me.

    Twitter has connected me to other parts of the world.  One highlight of this is a (private) blog between my Society and Culture students and students at the UN International School in Hanoi, Vietnam.  Blogging is something I am trying in a variety of contexts in class (eg see but also a little as a teacher and anonymously as a writer.

    The last few days I have been following #ACEC2010 (Australian Computers in Education Conference) on Twitter.  Two of my colleagues have been presenting there, Stephen Collis (@Steve_Collis) and Chris Woldhuis (@cwoldhuis) and I’ve watched via U Stream.  I have been addicted to all this, yet I have learnt nothing new since it has all been discussed before in my PLN on Twitter and through what we do at my school anyway.

    I had allocated today to completing a university assignment for my Editing subject as part of my Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) through Deakin University.  I’m just over half way through this course and I’m really enjoying it.

    My other subject this semester is Script Writing.  I spent Easter writing a monologue for it.  You see, I want to be a writer, probably a fiction writer.

    I am already published as an educational writer but that is just to gain a name for writing before I hit the real deal.  I must admit I enjoy the exercise though.  At the end of each year EdAssist send me a list of topics I could write on for BusiDate and generally I choose something that would interest me, or is most relevant to what I’m teaching, or most recently, what I know a lot about and can write with minimal research.  I then write the article during the summer holidays.

    My educational writing started when Grant Kleeman came to my practicum class during my Dip.Ed. at Macquarie University and asked who had a finance background.  I’m actually a degree qualified accountant who used to work in funds management.  For example, for three years I was the Accountant for the Cash Management Trust at Macquarie Bank.  Through Grant I ended up writing three chapters of Commerce.Dot.Com.  Grant then passed my name onto EdAssist.  EdAssist also invited me to deliver lectures on Business Studies to students in holiday workshops, which I did for two years.  I have also lectured for Economics and Business Educators (EBE) as a result of an article on WorkChoices I wrote for EdAssist.  I enjoy doing all this.  But the time!

    For the last six and a bit years I have been teaching at Northern Beaches Christian School.  It is quite a ride.  Once I muddled my way through first year blues I now find the classroom quite an enjoyable and exciting place.  I’m not great at differentiation but I do see students as individuals and treat them as such in my relationship with them, just less so in the teaching process.  I think my passion for teaching and most of the subject matter is contagious and my students generally like class as much as I do.  They also love going on journeys with me learning new ways of learning.

    I also do a lot of online teaching.  I think it is very suitable for Commerce and Business Studies but HSC Economics I still wonder about.  This year I have some very enthusiastic Economics students but personal interaction is necessary so I have Skyped with one and driven to Scone for another.  Workshops are too far apart and not always convenient for the students.  My school is very gung-ho with technology and mostly I am on board.  We have an institution as part of our school called Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL) which is constantly looking for new ways to educate better.  I don’t always agree with some of the decisions our Principal makes, such as our focus on Matrix learning in the middle years and teaching students en masse, a lot of the time with several classes in the one large space.  I’m not fond of that level of clashing noise.

    What I’m currently keen on to do through SCIL is collaborating with other schools in my area, sharing ideas and producing quality resources, preferably online.  For instance, I’d like to develop a focus study on social networks for the Popular Culture topic in Society and Culture.  I think it would benefit from lots of input from a variety of people, not just teachers.  The problem is, I’m having trouble finding Society and Culture teachers on Twitter.  My next step will be to talk with people in the Society and Culture Association, via email or, heaven forbid, phone (so old-school).

    I love to read, both for pleasure and to keep up with current events.  I have about 40 unopened Sydney Morning Heralds in my lounge room and 100 unread emails from the New York Times, Crikey and The Punch in my inbox.  In my bedroom I have dozens of books waiting for me to read them, goodness knows when.

    I also have two gorgeous children, a supportive husband and a dog.  I am trying to lose weight and become fit through Fernwood and a personal trainer there.  I attend Turramurra Uniting Church and meet with friends from there a lot less frequently than I would like.  I used to volunteer as a Youth Group leader but as a teacher by Friday night I am simply too sapped of energy.  I still haven’t completed my tax return from last year, embarrassing as an ex-accountant.  I have a small group of friends who I neglect too much.  Some of them I stay in touch with via Facebook.  I enjoy tennis, wine, restaurants, movies, classical music, opera and theatre but don’t have enough time or money for all that I want.

    I dream of living on a bit of land in the Southern Highlands with high ceilings and an open fire place with cups of tea and just writing the days away.  But I also know I will continue to be tugged by all my interests.  And I’d miss the classroom.   I plan to teach for another 6-8 years, which is when my children are due to complete their schooling, and then reassess.  However, I don’t think I can keep up the current pace for that long.

    I need to give some of my interests away.  But what?

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