This will be a brief, ultra concise, exact blog post. (Probably didn’t need to say that!) Despite being on a well deserved term break, the weather has largely been vile and so I’ve been doing my best to keep up with the latest from George et. al. I particularly enjoyed Episode 3 featuring the hyped-up-hard-to-ignore Kaleb Rashad. My educational bucket list certainly includes a visit to a Hi-Tech High campus (hint, hint Kaleb.)
I have long proclaimed the importance of mindset before skill set … and yet there are those who continue to “teach as they were taught” (in the 1970s no less) The homework for this week was to dive into George Couros’ What If “process” which aims to
“… dream big and to figure out what is important for you and your educational organisation as you move forward.” (The Innovator’s Mindset, p. 117)
My response takes the form of a Haiku Deck; it’s always great to visit an old favourite. Why not try a little What If – ing of your own. Or, leave a comment on my attempt. (I always respond)
What Ifs – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;
Today, June 22 was the first day of school holidays but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to be a presenter at the QHTA (Queensland History Teachers’Association) Annual Conference. The day began with an engaging if occasionally controversial keynote by journalist and author, Anthony Lowenstein who spoke about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I also enjoyed a presentation by University of Queensland Classics lecturer, Dr. Tom Stevenson who discussed the life of Hypatia of Alexandria.
I presented a one hour session on three of my favourite digital tools, ThingLink, Pinterest and, of course, Haiku Deck. All three work well together and have been extremely useful and well received in my History classes. For those who participated in my session, the presentation (as promised) is embedded below. Of course, it is also available for my other, regular readers. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can offer any clarification or assistance. Two more presentations in the next few weeks … so I was never going to have a holiday anyway!
OK, so this will be a very short post … in part because I have exams to assess but also because everything I want to say is in an embedded Haiku Deck. Over the past two days I had the opportunity to attend EduTECH Brisbane, 2013. This meant that I had the chance to hear and even meet some genuine “rockstar” educators; Daniel Pink, Stephen Heppell, Alan November, Salman Khan and Sir Ken Robinson. That is not in any way to diminish the contributions of many “local” luminaries.
Fortunately for me (but not the exam marking) this coincided with the release of the latest Haiku Deck update. So, what to do? Well, to me it was obvious … download the update and create a new deck to “curate” the great learning from EduTECH. And here it is, a public deck with notes and explanations (one of the new features) that you are invited to download, use or embed in your own blog. Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad
It’s good to be blogging again after the insanity that was end of term examinations and student reports. This post will be somewhat of a compilation although I’m certainly not ready as yet to release a “Best Of” or “Greatest Hits” collection. (Can you guess who attended a Blues Festival last week? Oh, and by the way Jimmy Cliff is still kicking it at 68. Only hope I’m as impressive fifteen years from now!)
In an online community which has started to utilise, whilst still debating, the term teacherpreneur, I have come to understand the need for “building a brand.” Whilst entrepreneurship and brand immediately summon up the idea of monetary gain, I can assure you I haven’t made a cent! Dave Orphal gives the following definition of a teacherpreneur as distinct from a teacher leader or an educational entrepreneur. (You might also want to use the link below to access Dave’s excellent Prezi on this idea.)
“These are part-time classroom teachers. This is the big idea — job sharing so that the traditionally non-teaching jobs associated with a school; the traditionally non-teaching role of ed-policy maker; the traditionally non-teacher role of researcher, staff developer, etc… can all be done by people still have a foot in the classroom.”
Having taught for over 30 years whilst holding a range of positions of added responsibility, this is the job I want now! Of course, I can’t see this happening in the real world; my school is highly unlikely to make me their resident teacherpreneur. So, I figure that the way to succeed is by building an online brand which is “legitimised” by the fact that I am still active in the classroom. The problem of course, is exactly how to construct my brand. I believe I have made the correct choices … so here are my “Four Cornerstones For Teacherpreneurs.”
1. Build A PLN: This Friday I will celebrate my first “Twirthday.” In that first year on Twitter I have accumulated 700 followers and have sent around 3300 tweets. Not a bad effort considering that I spent the first three or four months as a lurker. All of my followers are either teachers or companies involved in the field of education. Whilst I do occasionally tweet about films or books or music … I believe it is essential to be perceived by my PLN as someone who is excited about and heavily involved in education. I visit Twitter several times a day and ensure that I respond to all direct messages and mentions. I also consider it imperative to thank new followers for connecting and to promise to build a relationship of sharing with them.
2. Create Content: We certainly live in an age where creation has overtaken consumption. I emphasise this fact with my students and accept that I too must be a genuine creator of content. Obviously, this blog is one forum in which I can share what I am doing in class, what I believe and what I have “made.” It is also important to make your content available to the wider global market, to “put it out there.” Earlier this year, I created a Haiku Deck presentation entitled “The New Mindset” for colleagues at my school. (Yeah, I know I mention this at every opportunity!) I decided to put it online through the Haiku Deck gallery from where it has been picked up, tweeted about, pinned, embedded and shared. I am astonished that this presentation has now been downloaded over 6000 times and has garnered responses like this one. (Thanks, Matt.)
3. Seek and Accept Opportunities: I was pleasantly surprised when a random Twitter mention of owning a home in South Australia led to me being offered a guest post spot on Fractus Learning. (Nick Grantham, one of their principals, is an Australian!) Writing my contribution took a great deal of time but was well worth the effort, both personally and professionally. My post “You Can’t Adjust the Sails from an Armchair” was very well received and Fractus Learning offered me a “regular gig.” If you haven’t read my musings as yet, I would certainly welcome your feedback.
I am also delighted, as I’ve no doubt mentioned more than once before, to have built an association with Haiku Deck. Becoming one of their International Gurus has secured the opportunity for me to present about the application at conferences later this year. For me, the best part of this will be having the opportunity to meet some of my tweeps in person for the first time.
4. Connect With Preservice Teachers: I am flattered (… and that’s definitely the right word) that I have connected with many preservice teachers as part of my PLN. I think that all educators, especially those with lots of classroom experience, have an obligation to give back to the profession. I have begun to share resources and ideas via Twitter with young (and not so young) student teachers at Flinders, USQ and ACU. I sincerely hope that they remember that you can be 53 and open to the “Winds of Change” in education. This post has almost devolved into self-love but I want to offer one final artefact before signing off. I relish the downloads and the positive feedback but this video from preservice teacher Jenni Brown (follow her on Twitter @jenbrown01) is most definitely the kind of reinforcement I enjoy the most. It lets me know I’m well on my way to attaining my desired teacherpreneurship. (Is that even a word?)
Jenni’s video on “How ICTs Can Promote Professional Development” is well worth viewing, even if her drawing of “The Connected Teacher” looks nothing like me. We would both welcome your feedback.
PS: For the period from April 5-April 20 inclusive, I will be travelling overseas with my Year 12 Ancient History students. We will be visiting Istanbul, Troy, Ephesus, Athens, Mycenae, Delphi and Olympia. I will be live blogging during the trip. These posts (which prove to parents that I haven’t lost their children!) may be of interest to my fellow History teachers and can be found at
Last week I had the opportunity to deliver my Haiku Deck based presentation, The New Mindset, to a group of around 75 high school teachers. The attendees ranged in experience from just 1 or 2 years teaching to, like myself, 30 years or more. At the time I believed that my “challenges” for 2013 were well received and certainly many of those present were complimentary about my presentation. However, yes there is always “However!” Today, I returned to school and to the company of many who attended my session. I was disappointed (I could go as far as alarmed) to see reams of paper spewing from coloured printers and to hear teachers complaining about lack of space in their filing cabinets.
As the only regular tweeter in the room, I also challenged my audience to join me on Twitter and reap the benefits of creating a PLN. The end result was four (yes, four) new followers; not exactly paradigm shifting! In the end I can only assume that my session of “Personal and Professional Disenthrallment” had limited impact. It would seem, the divide continues to grow between those who have accepted the inevitable transformation of education and those (still the majority) who are far more comfortable with monks in dimly lit rooms illuminating texts! OK, that last bit might have been a slight exaggeration.
On the positive side, my Haiku Deck has now surpassed 2500 downloads; an indication I hope that it contains a message which resonates with the readers of this blog. Some of the comments, messages and tweets I’ve received have been both complimentary and particularly affirming. The smallest of samples:
This brings me to my final point: I feel very much at home in the Twitter-verse and as many others say “I love my PLN.” But am I just “preaching to the converted?” I accept that getting others on board is never going to happen at the speed I would like. Yet, surely there are schools out there that are truly progressive and I would welcome comments about how you “inspired the uninspired.”
Well, as hard as I’ve tried, I couldn’t put it off any longer. The summer holidays are almost gone and I’ve been awfully slack on the blogging front. This post is in fact being composed on a flight to South Australia; my wife and I are heading to Australia’s premier wine growing district, the Barossa Valley, for a short break. Surprisingly however, this will not be a post about my favourite wine or winery. (In case you’re wondering, it’s “The Beauty” from the Barossa’s Hentley Farm.)
In an earlier post from December entitled “The New Mind Set and My First Adventure with Haiku Deck” I wrote about my growing love affair with the iPad presentation app. Since then I’ve been appointed as one of the company’s international “Gurus.” (Can’t imagine I’ll ever tire of telling people that.) Creating a deck is simple but the end product is anything but; it’s an elegant, I would even say lyrical way to “set your story free.” The images are high quality and the challenge of using only limited text demands that you think deeply about exactly what you want to say. Yes, I am doing my best to promote the app itself but I also have to give a huge shout out to Catherine Carr and the team at Haiku Deck for their excellent, personalised support.
Finally, I can shift the focus to my purpose in writing today. I’ve recently revised, updated and indeed transformed the deck which I embedded in my earlier post. At that time it was a half-formed idea which Haiku Deck has now enabled me to fully realise. The deck is still entitled “The New Mindset” and it will be the basis of a Professional Development session that I will be delivering to a group of high school teachers on January 24.
Educationalist Sir Ken Robinson Photo Credit: www.abc.net.au
The well-known TED Talk “Bring on the Learning Revolution” by Sir Ken Robinson will the stimulus for those who attend the session. Robinson believes whole-heartedly that schools all over the world are failing to provide the necessary opportunities for students to explore their natural creative talents. We are indeed following a linear narrative which is based upon the outdated imperative to produce standardised, assembly line university students. For Robinson, one of the greatest needs is for teachers to disenthrall themselves; to break away from old practices. In every school there are teachers who continue to teach in the same old way because “that’s how it’s always been done.” If you’re not amongst the nearly 4 million people who have seen Robinson’s inspiring talk, just click on the link. Trust me, it’s well worth 17 minutes of your time!
Now, I love the school where I currently teach; after all, I’ve spent 17 years there, which represents more than half of my teaching career. But, for the past 2 or 3 years I’ve suspected that the school has been suffering from what I might call a malaise. Up until recently, I believed the problem was that many of my colleagues lacked the skill set required to teach in a school which has a 1:1 program of Apple laptops. I was wrong; what my school needs is a new mindset; teachers need to be disenthralled. There needs to be a fundamental shift; an acceptance that education and learning can and must be transformed. I can give my colleagues the skill set required to teach in 2013 and beyond but the new mindset must come first; disenthrallment is a personal and professional undertaking, a commitment to change.
I’m pleased to say that in just a few days “The New Mindset” deck has been viewed over a thousand times. I accept that’s not exactly “Gangnam Style” but it’s surely good numbers for an educational piece. One of the newer features in Haiku Deck is the ability to attach presentation notes to a deck which can then be downloaded as a PDF file. As much as I’d love to do a national tour delivering my presentation, I have to teach for a living! The notes can counterbalance the minimalist nature of Haiku Deck. (Did I mention that I’m a Guru?) “The New Mindset” is embedded below if you should wish to view it. However, if you download it and print the PDF you could easily present it at your own school. To download the deck, follow this link:
The deck is designated public because I believe absolutely in its message; feel free to share the link with members of your own PLN. I know that with the help of my tweeps and blog readers I can send that download counter spinning. I trust you find it a worthwhile and even provocative presentation and as always I would welcome your comments.
Many have announced, demanded or even prayed for the immediate death of PowerPoint. I’m sure you have all, at some stage, endured PD where you sat wishing for the laptop or even the presenter to spontaneously combust. Earlier this evening on Twitter I came across the following modified version of a well known aphorism about teachers and computers.
“Any teacher who can be replaced by a pre-recorded PowerPoint presentation probably should be.”
Let me confess my sin, I have in the past been a regular user of PowerPoint … and for that I am now truly sorry! This week I found the ideal replacement; Haiku Deck has (for me at least) finished off PowerPoint once and for all. Unfortunately, for some of you, it is currently only available as an application for iPad.
Now, of course, the quote above opens up a whole can of educational worms. I’m certainly not entirely in favour of flipping theclassroom as some would advocate. However, I do accept that the time for numerous changes in our schools has well and truly arrived. Until recently I was convinced that many of my colleagues lacked the necessary skill set to teach in 2012 and beyond. Now, I’ve accepted that in fact it is all about mind set; a refusal on the part of many to accept and embrace change. When school returns for 2013 I will be presenting a PD session that will be entitled The New Mind Set. I intend to use the opportunity to provoke those that I work with, who seem destined to be trapped forever in the halcyon days of PowerPoint (… though many still haven’t mastered that!) Too many teachers believe that because schools have a 1:1 laptop program that they are “progressive” or even “transformative.” Rubbish, just having the technology doesn’t guarantee anything. The first change has to be in the mind set of teachers.
And what, you rightly ask, does all this have to do with Haiku Deck? More than once in the past I have based presentations around huge, unwieldy PowerPoints with text laden slides. And then I’ve wondered why the audience has become disengaged. Well, as the philosopher Homer Simpson would say, “Doh!” Haiku Deck is elegant in both its ease of use and the final look of your “deck.” A range of themes are available and you have the choice of a number of slide layouts. But, and this is the best part, you can only enter two lines of text on a slide and once you’ve typed this in, Haiku Deck will provide you with a selection of Creative Commons images to use. No more searching for images yourself or investigating if they are subject to copyright. A completed “deck” can be shared via email, Facebook or Twitter; or embedded in a blog such as this. (And, although I refuse to do so on principle, you can export your “deck” to PowerPoint or Keynote where you can add video or transitions.) Haiku Deck’s own blog will give you a list of 23 ways to share your deck. Just go to blog.haikudeck.com Below you can check out my “first adventure with Haiku Deck.” I would welcome your feedback upon any or all of the following:
Am I right when I speak of mind set? Have you found ways in your own school to transform teacher thinking? Are you prepared to give up PowerPoint? Are you going to start using Haiku Deck? Do you have suggestions for other ideas that I might include in this presentation?