Be open and creative and good ideas can flow

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I was chatting to LibrarianSarah M. in the Library recently about the Mass furniture in the Sanctuary in The Centre. I told her that I noticed she did not push the Altar Table or the Lectern into a corner when school resumes each Monday. She told me that she leaves it in place and the children do not go up to the top level. A few things arose from this conversation:

I thought it was very respectful of Sarah and her staff to adopt that attitude. Sometimes when spaces are shared, people can be a bit territorial.
It gave me the idea that more than just leaving the furniture in place, we could put it to good use.
I think the Sanctuary area could be used as Sacred Space or a Chapel until we build our Chapel onto the Pope John Paul 11 Hall in the future.
We can make a feature of the Word of God with the Bible opened on the Altar during the week.
We will add moveable vinyl cushions on the lower step to invite to kneel or sit comfortably in prayer or reflection
Class groups could visit the Sacred Space to listen to the word of God in word or music
We the staff, could use the space for staff Prayer
And many more possibilities

“Magic” Screens, new ways of presenting and sharing learning

Ten years ago when we were installing the latest form of presentation technology at the time, the so-called “interactive Whiteboards” we were removing the “old” fixed static White Boards. When the staff were lifting off the White Boards from the walls, in some places lo and behold they found their predecessors ..blackboards.

As it happened, we quickly found that the Interactive Whiteboards were not so interactive after all. Four years ago we moved to Screens which truly enabled learning interactivity among stakeholders adult and children alike.

The introduction of the screens was preceded by establishing an extensive wireless network which we saw as an essential element in launching the emerging technologies which we could forsee in the future. The trends were clear, miniturisation and portability of devices and a focus on the personal rather than shared devices.

It is interesting in education that there is often a gulf between the perceived purpose of an innovation and the actual outcome in schools. One of the traps for the unwary seems to be when technologies are developed and schools try to fit themselves around them.

In our case the screens fitted hand in glove with our pedagogical predispositions. We went looking for the screens not the reverse where someone sought to sell something to us. In one sense we wanted to wrest the chalk from the hands of the teacher and share it around a bit.

These days children and adults use the screens seamlessly to present and share their learning. The various learning areas have access to a range of screens of different sizes placed in various positions. We have an outside screen beaming information out to the community, a huge screen in the Hall suitable for sharing learning with large groups.

I was anxious that the screens should not be a simple electronic substitution for the previous static forms of presentations. We wanted to move from pedagogy which operates basically the same way it did before computers were developed to pedagogy which simply unattainable without computers. In this we way we are being truly transformational. As Ruben Puentedura describes the process it is about moving the use of technology from Substitution to Augmentation to Modification and finally to Redefinition (Known a the SAMR Model)

Interestingly, other schools who resisted our early promotion of using screens in the classroom are now taking them up. The real challenge, as I say, is allowing the students to use the technology to be resilient agents of their learning.

 

 

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Figure 1.  The screen in my office to which a five year old referred recently announcing he was going to bring in his device, connect to the screen and show me his learning

The latest iteration in the use of Screens is to use the new Samsung magic info which enables dynamic imaging of learning in a class controlled by a teacher loading and storing images on the network and using to post images celebrating learning achievements or providing provocations for new learning.

All learners at Holy Family use their devices (iPhones, iPads and Laptops) to connect wirelessly via Apple TV to share and celebrate their learning. The screens proliferate in our school with three in most learning areas, some in leaders rooms and large LED screens strategically placed for large audiences and lots of ambient light.

 

Speaking of feeling at home in Church….

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Recently there was a meeting of generations in my home Parish when my youngest son acted as Sponsor for my oldest grandson at his Confirmation.

It was lovely when our Parish Priest Fr Michael welcomed the whole family casually but warmly as we assembled in a pew near the front of the Church. “G’Day boys” he said to my teenage boys. (not many teenage boys go to Church I’ve noticed). We have always sat near the front, atypical for Catholics, since my youngest daughter Emilie complained that she couldn’t see when she was younger! (We were then in prime focus late on separate occasions when the same child fainted and another time threw up in her primary years.) She certainly got attention and care.

During Confirmation the Vicar General, Fr Philip told a story about the birth of his niece Kate who now teaches at Holy Family. Amid the huge religious significance of Leo’s Confirmation there was something special about Fr Philip’s approach to people. I think it was about being present in a human way to the people who had taken the trouble to be present in the Church.

Fr Philip was reaching out to all the people there, being inclusive of everyone, posing for photos afterwards as he did at the Confirmation in Salisbury, even staying around for the cutting of the Confirmation cake! I appreciated the outreach to people: it wasn’t about power over people but embracing them and their Vision and walking beside them. Very  homely and very reassuring that we are in safe hands .