Friday, 16 May 2014

Hacking our history - first steps

What a week! I've had moments of frustration but finished wishing that tomorrow was another school day thanks to my first forays into hacking the learning in @rm1hns.

I've experimented with Adventure Learning in the past and started 2014 with the intention of using this form of learning again. The class had moderate success with their adventure learning last year but as is typical one thing led to another and we just didn't get there. As I completed my long-term planning for this term Adventure Learning had fallen back off my radar in favour of some inquiry learning and a couple of projects that I thought would allow enough differentiation that the class would be engaged with their learning.

We're studying NZ History as a school (not my choice but I can definitely make this work), so in the past two weeks I've really tried to immerse them in content with the hope that I can inspire some curiosity and get them moving.  I was trying to widen their horizons but instead they were following my ideas as their topics rather than using them as the starting point to discoveries of their own.

But then I saw the blogpost by @Juliet_Revell for the Kidsedchatnz session on Hacking -
Hacking your Learning: What would make you happy? I'd noticed the social media attention to hacking without paying a great deal of attention. My only firsthand experience was when visiting Taupaki School and @jjpurtonjones had her students demonstrate a hacking programme. To be honest, I was guilty of thinking hacking = computers. I'm wrong and so glad. 

Yesterday, as prep for Kidsedchatnz we watched the videos, Logan's video resonated with me straight away and the kids were starting to get intrigued as I wrote a few soundbites onto the whiteboard. By the time we'd watched the final video the kids were buzzing to design their own classrooms and learning. The class had a great time inventing their own classrooms. My brain was ticking over rapidly as I got to the end of the day, I'd learnt even more about some of the students, their interests, and how they'd like to learn.

Twitter then assisted the next part of the journey. An HPSS staffmember who posts & tweets about hacking regularly retweeted the latest post to Carl's Blog. It was time to learn some more so I opened the link. This succinct post, some bravado and a little experience with Adventure Learning led to some great first steps in hacking today.

We started with the NZ History calendar view, we quickly had a look through the posts on the month of May. Ten minutes or less allowed us to skim through the May and 2-3 of the classes birthdays. We got out the BYOD devices, handed out a few of the school iPads and divided up the desktops so the kids could go exploring the timeline. Carl's post had led to three easy questions that I posed to @rm1hns today; What do you want to learn? How do you want to learn it? How do you know when you have learnt it? As each of the kids found something that they wanted to learn more about I assisted them with possible learning outcomes.

Here are 2-3 of the results:
1 girl is delving into the Treaty of Waitangi and wants to write a script to recreate the signing. I can see this getting quite big but there is so much learning embedded within this that I'm going to let it.

2 boys discovered that Sir Edmund Hillary also trekked to the South Pole, they're thinking about building a model to show his journey. Minecraft got mentioned here! They'll need to be able to talk me through it but the enthusiasm & curiosity are there.

Another girl came up to show me a history event she'd discovered, the Maori language finally being made an official NZ language. I'm not sure how this project will look at the end of her project but I'm convinced that it is going to be a great learning journey for this student.

2 other girls discovered Minnie Dean, they never would have got there with my original plans but this is what has excited them and isn't this what it is all about.

Kidsedchatnz had led me back to where I am happiest, facilitating the children in their own learning. I'll be reading a lot more posts and tweets about hacking from here on, I might even manage to educate my peers who raised some eyebrows when I said we had been busy hacking the school and our learning. 

Who knows what is next but it is definitely going to be interesting, motivating and worthwhile.