Classroom Connections

Over the past 18 months I have been lucky enough to build a wonderful personal learning network, mostly through Twitter and blogging.  I couldn’t begin to list the ways it has helped me to further my learning and my teaching.

This year, participating in the PLP Connect U project, I have continued to build a connected network of wonderful educators who inspire me to learn more, teach better and share often. These connections allow me to bring experiences into the classroom I know would not have been possible before, such as the learning we did yesterday.

Our inquiry unit for this term is, ‘How do we design and create furniture for a particular purpose?’ After spending the last few weeks learning about the design and features of different chairs we are now delving into the design process of making our own model chairs.  It soon became evident we needed some skills in woodworking from someone with a greater knowledge than mine.

With perfect timing I happened upon the blog, which the PLP Connect U – Animals and Habitats team were using to share their experience of Project Based Learning. They had made possum boxes at one of their schools and it was obvious they needed some woodworking skills to produce this.  It was time to do some investigating.

After an email to Ben Gallagher, he was able to suggest a student who had worked on the boxes and was happy to do an Elluminate session with us.

So yesterday the kids all crowded around the Interactive Whiteboard to hear Harris’ presentation.  It was amazing! Harris worked through the slide show he had prepared, sharing with us tips for using a hammer, a drill and saws as well as how to choose the correct wood.  He spoke with such confidence and the students were mesmerised by his expertise.  He then answered our questions without hesitation. We did have a few technical hitches where our class didn’t have a microphone but it certainly didn’t matter, especially as we now have the recording.

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As a teacher it was such a powerful experience to watch our expert share his knowledge with the class.  And he wasn’t an expert in the traditional sense but someone who was confident in his knowledge and willing to share it. The students in the class listened attentively and took on board all of his advice. Can teaching and learning be any more authentic?

How have you connected with an expert, classroom or teacher?

Do you have a similar classroom experience to share?

Elluminate

I have been participating in a monthly elluminate sessions on the Learning Management System we have in Victoria called the Ultranet and have thoroughly enjoyed the interaction you can have using Elluminate web conferencing.

After the last session I was asked if I would like to lead the next session.  Although it couldn’t have come at a busier time and I actually enjoyed sitting back and letting someone else run the session, I felt it was time to take a risk and jump in.  And I am so pleased I did!

I really didn’t understand how much Elluminate has to offer until I had a go myself.  It was a new experience to go behind the scenes of an elluminate session.  And now I have done it I have some advice for others who are thinking about taking the plunge and having a go.

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Woman with computer headphones

1. If you are a DEECD teacher you can access Elluminate and book a room free of charge at the Virtual Learning Centre

2. Join the Educators Guide to Innovation Ning.  This is a great place to find and advertise upcoming Elluminate sessions.

3. Listen to some recordings.  On the Educators Guide to Innovation you can look up past events and listen to their recordings.  This will give you an opportunity to watch how different people set up their presentations and involve the participants.

4. Do the training.  Quite often training comes up in the Educators Guide to Innovation Ning and you can join a live chat.  But if this doesn’t suit your timeline you are best to head directly to the Elluminate Support website where you can look through some recorded training.

5.  Book a room for some sandpit time. You can book a room that is private so you can have a play around.  Doing this with two computers is a great idea. Log into one as the moderator and the other as a participant. You can then see what you as the moderator can do and what the participants can see.  You can even record yourself to check your pace or hear how clear you are.

6.  Be prepared.  The great thing about doing an Elluminate session is no one can can see your notes.  Write notes to remind you of when you have to turn on the recording or what you want to talk about in each slide.  Don’t forget to plan for time for someone else to do some of the talking – this will give you a break.

7. As much as it may make you cringe – listen to your recording after your first session.  This will give you great feedback on how you went and allow you to improve next time.

Elluminate is definitely a wonderful resource and one we can use to collaborate with schools across the world.

Have you used Ellumiate before?

Do you have any tips for moderating or participating in a session?