Internet safety and reliability of information are two issues I often consider when navigating the internet. Students are often told to tread with trepidation in using information gathered from wikipedia as anyone with an active account can easily edit in a heartbeat. Safe from a dying mobile phone battery, I remember years ago I was moments away from losing a weeks worth of grocery money through an online betting app after seeing wikipedia had made ‘Sam Mitchell’ from ‘Hawthorn’ as the winner of the AFL’s most prestigious individual award, the Brownlow Medal. The only thing was, the Brownlow Medal count was still hours away from beginning. Suffice to say, Mitchell didn’t poll as well as the anonymous editor of Wikipedia had expected. Lesson learned, not all information is good information.
Taking this life experience into the classroom, and coupling it with the importance of cyber safety, I have come across a wonderful search engine that is ‘child friendly’. In being child friendly, it embraces the security and reliability to ensure children can learn and engage with information without the need to be screened 24/7. It is Google for kids!
Named kiddle, the visual search engine is run by editors and backed by google’s safe search technology to ensure the first one to three hits are specifically written for children. The following four to seven hits have been written in easy to understand language. Now with a search engine specifically geared towards children, the opportunities for students to develop investigative skills and the nurturing of a natural curiosity have just gotten better. I can’t wait to stat telling my students to “kiddle it”.
Growth mindset is a buzz word in education circles these days. The theory behind mindset was founded by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck that brains and talent surfacing from either end of the nature v nurture debate do not dictate the success one can achieve in learning. What does lead one to becoming successful however is dedication and hard work and a belief that each individual can grow. In practice for the teacher this means facilitating an atmosphere of growth that opposes a fixed mindset of negativity and that ability is tapped. The word “can’t” is out. On a recent practical experience with a Prep and Year 1 composite class, my mentor would combat any defeatist attitude by a student with a rallying call to his troops, “chilllllllddddddrrrrrreeeeeeeennnnnnn, Charlie said he can’t do this!”. The children would systematically flock to the centre of the classroom where an enormous poster with three letters hovered above their heaven embracing eyes. In unison the crowd would roar “YET, you can’t do it yet”. Any hint of negativity was bombarded with positivity, as focus on what the children did right instilled a confidence to do better and a belief that they could. The power of yet at such a young age instilled an understanding that everybody in that room was on a learning curve.
I have since seen growth and fixed mindset practiced and embraced wholeheartedly during another of my prac schools, with seniors in Years 4, 5 and 6, spoken about by the school principal at my daughter’s Junior High orientation for parents, and actively addressed by friends in education circles.
Lesley spoke about “the curse of knowledge” in her blog mentioning that as educators we need to be careful not to assume that students will understand our teachings right away. This is also a significant understanding for teachers as well as ICT opportunities filter into the classroom . If educators can themselves develop a growth mindset then there is no reason to fear not having the knowledge, and being on the receiving end of that curse, nor an absence of effective conceptual understanding that often emerges when we encounter new technology.
I have always been able to think on my feet, and connect to people on different levels. I think this comes from my educational journey where life experiences have presented opportunities to grow. I was born in a small country Victorian town of 500 people and moved alone to Melbourne when I was 18; I have been the new guy with no friends or connections. I traveled to Taiwan at 22 and was the only Westerner in the region I lived for a number of years; I have been the cultural minority. I joined a language school to learn ‘Beginners Chinese’ 3 months after the semester started; I have been the student with low self-esteem and confidence. I have taken three years of one-on-one Mandarin classes and rejoined my former classmates; I have been the differentiated learner. I have worked as the ‘Western Head Teacher’ in a kindergarten for three years. I have been the experienced. I have worked in a school where I was one of only three males; I have been the gender minority. Throughout my journey I have been lucky enough to enjoy privileges and learn from the adverse. My journey has been a big part on who I am today. As I prepare to undertake a unit targeting the integration of ICT into the classroom, it is hard for me not to feel elements of ‘the inferior’ and the unknown. I know, however, that the journey will enable me to gain self confidence to enhance my future students’ capacity to develop their self efficacy. I am looking forward to my ICT integration journey and learning about how technology can enhance the learning of my students. Today, I am the novice but so be it, education is lifelong and I am ready for this.