Saturday, July 14, 2007

Home among the gumtrees with friends

Gumtrees along Mullum Mullum Creek, Melbourne

There is always something special about coming home. Despite the cold, wet weather (good for the drought!) I am pleased to be spending some time in my 'home town' of Melbourne in Australia. I love waking up to hear the magpies crying out and the occassional kookaburra laughing and to smell the eucalyptus of the gum trees.

Julie and Jo over coffee in Melbourne

This week I was thrilled to be able to meet face to face Jo McLeay, English teacher and blogger from the eastern side of Melbourne. Jo is a very down to earth Aussie and a great inspiration for other educators with her approach to Web 2.0 pedagogy. What I also really like about Jo is her willingness to take on a challenge and to be outward looking, as shown by her efforts as a Flat Classroom Project judge last year. We shared ideas and experiences and lamented the lack of understanding by administration in our respective schools as to what we were doing in the classroom and beyond. My daughter and I goggled over Jo's new Nokia N95 and had fun recording a short conversation.

Also this week I caught up with another colleague who I worked with 15 years ago when we were both music educators. Linda, also an English teacher, is starting a new job working with the Australian Federal education department on a new initiative that is trying to provide a better system of education for Grade 11 and 12 students (17-19 years old) who are working in 'industry' and studying for their high school certificate. Linda has the challenge of providing curriculum coordination and vision for the program. We discussed the need for an information/digital literacy course that was international in approach, available as a package, and which gave students of this age the necessary tools to become confident cybercitizens and fluent with Web 2.0 tools. Linda is experimenting with wiki-centric ideas for assessment and student-teacher interaction. Her new school has also recently implemented a laptop program which has been semi-successful so far. Once again the same lament, some teachers who complain because the laptops are being a 'distraction' in the classroom. However, I am not going to dwell at all on the negative here as there are far too many wonderful positive ideas and great energy.

I believe it is intelligent and articulate educators such as Jo and Linda who will make the difference to education and work towards the changes that are inevitable, although a little slow coming for some of us. I am honoured to call them my colleagues and friends. Watch this space for more Melbournian updates!

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1 comment:

Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher said...

Oh, Jo seems so neat! I want to meet her even more! It sounds like you are having a great time! I miss you! (Used to seeing you online!)