NEW MODULES FOR STAFFROOM

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WebinarClick here to view a webinar recording of the new Staffroom modules.

NEW Modules for Staffroom

Our team of developers are constantly working to improve and extend Staffroom – to ensure it remains the best school management solution available. We listen to your feedback, comments and requests and prioritise building functionality that would be most useful to you at your schools. Now we are happy to announce two new modules: On Time and Parent Portal. Here is a bit about these modules …On Time

OnTime allows your school to easily create calendars and timetables for important school events. These are saved in Staffroom and can be shared with school staff, parents and students in a variety of ways. Each staff member, parent or student gets their own custom calendar which only includes information about the events that apply to them!

Parent Portal

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The new InTouch portal gives your parents and learners convenient online access to important school information that is relevant to their family. Your school can share information about upcoming events, homework tasks, journal entries, term reports and more with your parents and students.

To find out more or to see a demo of how these two new modules work, please ask one of our product specialists to get in touch with you:

CALL (OR) EMAIL

021 782 2993  |    sales@eiffelcorp.co.za

 

21st Century Skills

The 21st Century Skills Debate

By Mark Hayter,Headmaster – Grayston Preparatory School

The education community has been discussing 21st Century Skills for nearly twenty years now. This has been made up of a number of skills that the educational community believe are imperative for future success in learning, college or university, and the pupils future careers.Tony Wagner (www.21stcenturyschools.com) lists seven survival skills for the 21st Century learner, these include:

• Critical thinking and problem-solving
• Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
• Agility and Adaptability
• Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
• Effective oral and written communication
• Accessing and analysing information
• Curiosity and imagination

The European Education framework details the following as being required 21st Century Skills (http://ec.europa.eu/education/):

• Communication in the mother tongue
• Communication in a foreign language
• Mathematical competencies and basic competencies in science and technology
• Digital competencies
• Learning to learn
• Social and Civic Competencies
• Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship
• Cultural awareness and expression

The Australian Education Framework lists the following as necessary skills (www.atc21s.org):

• Ways of Thinking
◦ Creativity and innovation
◦ Critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making
◦ Learning to learn / metacognition (knowledge about cognitive process)
• Tools for Working
◦ Information literacy
◦ Information and communication (ICT) literacy
• Ways of Working
◦ Communication
◦ Collaboration (Teamwork)
• Ways of Living
◦ Citizenship – Local and Global
◦ Life and Career
◦ Personal and Social Responsibility – including cultural awareness and competence

The major shift in educational needs and infrastructure is driven by the changes in the world economies, with the forces of automation, globalisation, demographic change and job security driving the change.
The change in educational method and pedagogy is driven by the advances in technology, the mobility of device and speed of connectivity.
Therefore, our responsibility as schools and leaders of schools is to ensure that we prepare all students for further education. Schools need to do a better job of attending to the application of knowledge and skills, going beyond simply teaching students to “reproduce” what they are taught within familiar contexts. It is important to avoid and either or scenario with regards 21st-century skills. Traditional methodologies including factual knowledge, the ability to follow instructions, knowing how to find the right answer when there is one – are all important elements of learning.

The key is to develop a curriculum that teaches traditional skills as well as how to apply what they learn to solve real world problems and helps them to develop the broader skills necessary for the changing world. In order, to achieve this goal, schools need to teach the applied literacies and skills within the traditional educational structure rather than attempting to teach the 21st-century skills in isolation.
According to the American Skills Commission, “People who prefer conventional work environment are likely to see their jobs disappear. But those who are more comfortable working with artistic, investigative, highly social or entrepreneurial environments are likely to succeed.”
Schools will need to adapt to stimulate these kinds of learning environments in a variety of settings to develop the skills and abilities that will be critical to the children in their care.

*** The views reflected in content or links on the Staffroom blog are not necessarily those of Eiffel Corp nor it’s affiliated products. Eiffel Corp expressly disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy of any the content provided, or as to the authenticity of the information for any purpose.

Pink and Blue Brains

Pink and Blue Brains

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Gavin Keller
Principal Sun Valley Primary School
Education Consultant.

Boys and Girls are totally equal, just not the same. In our society, rightly committed to equality, we sometimes confuse equality with sameness. Parents and teachers have to understand that boys and girls are developmentally, psychologically and biologically different. If our goal is to raise and educate successful adults, we have to know how to bring the best out of both of them.

There are many boys and girls who would cope in a Pink or a Blue learning environment. But the majority don’t. This does not imply that single-sex schooling is the answer, because it isn’t. What matters is a knowledge of how the brain embeds memory. Parent and teacher education is at the heart of this success story.

So what do we need to know?

The brain loves DRUGS. Yes, we have a natural pharmacy in our brains. Girls need the calming drug called serotonin. Every time we make our daughters feel unique we produce the good drug. When we compliment them on their dress or hair their brains produce serotonin. Talking, sharing their emotions, doing something with a group of friends, sitting around a table chatting produces serotonin. It is powerful drug that makes a young girl feel that she can face the challenges of life and memory is embedded.

Schools often create PINK learning spaces. PINK teachers get the children into a calm circle to discuss an issue, then send them off into neatly organised smaller groups to produce a product. Many boys find this unrewarding and take every opportunity to misbehave by either throwing an eraser at a friend or distracting a mate. Their product is often displayed alongside the PINK serotonin model highlighting the difference. PINK products are compared with BLUE products and PINK teachers awards recognition for the neat, colourful and impressive detail.

BLUE brains need dopamine. This is the REWARD drug – the “pumping air with fist” drug. “Oh yeah!” Every time a boys exercises, plays sport, skates, cycles, surfs, kicks a ball around the garden his body produces dopamine. It makes him feel as though he is …”The Man!” Competition produces dopamine as does setting a challenge for a boy. One of the biggest sources of dopamine production in the BLUE brain is recognition – specifically recognition from another man. Researchers call this a “charismatic adult – someone who knows my names and smiles in recognition of my value”. Instead boys are often highlighted for failure, for making mistakes or for doing it wrong. Even Dad’s are often annoyed by their sons, sending implied messages that they are not good enough, smart enough or talented enough. When this happens dopamine floods away from the male brain.

When the brain produces cortisol, the stress drug, it shuts down all high order processing and forces the survival brain to react. This reaction is often demonstrated by negative outbursts or a withdrawal into childhood sadness.

Let’s give our PINK and BLUE brains an EQUAL chance. Find activities that feed their brains with both the reward drug and the calming drug. Then the neurotransmitters will transport the information to their Chief Executive Officer and embed memory for long-term mastery. The result, successful adults who value themselves and produce high expectations.

GK

About the blogger, Gavin Keller:

Principal – Sun Valley Primary

CEO: Sun Valley Group of Schools

Education Consultant – EduExcel

Our first Staffroom client, Gavin is a passionate educator and school leader who has used his research in neuro learning and leading to change a school and the community.  He shares the practical application of his studies with schools, corporates and leaders in order to improve performance and the quality of life.   His guidance is simple, humorous, but dynamic, a treat for all!

*** The views reflected in content or links on the Staffroom blog are not necessarily those of Eiffel Corp nor it’s affiliated products. Eiffel Corp expressly disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy of any the content provided, or as to the authenticity of the information for any purpose.

To teach or not to teach with technology, that is the question.

To teach or not to teach with technology, that is the question.

By Jenny Bergh

At the risk of losing my job let me say that there is too much hype about ‘teaching with technology’. Seriously – we’ve been doing this since the dawn of mankind. It’s just the technology and the way we use it that changes. Dare I say that I have seen dipping pens, fountain pens, and – heaven forbid that the art of cursive writing be ruined – the ball point pen. In fact the meaning of the word ‘technology’ itself has changed. The Greek word “tekhnologia” originally meant “systematic treatment of an art, craft, or technique” (British dictionary). It was in 1859 (Do the math! 157 years ago!) that it was applied as “the science of the industrial and mechanical arts” (Etymology Dictionary). Most modern subjects now have different definitions for technology.

In Science for instance it is“the specific methods, materials, and devices used to solve practical problems”. In Technology it’s “jargon for ‘software’, ‘ hardware ‘, ‘protocol ‘ or something else too technical to name”. In respect of education I like the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s rendition as “a scientific method of achieving a practical purpose.”

I started teaching with a blackboard and chalk which is, you have to agree, a scientific method of achieving a practical purpose. If you asked me what technology (pre digital) changed my teaching I have to say – the overhead transparency machine. A veritable PowerPoint operated manually. The OHT was a most versatile machine enriching lessons with media as never before and providing a stage from which I could wax lyrical without ever having my back to the class.

Technology comes in all forms. I taught in a Jewish Day school with a headmaster who, dressed in a white safari suit, habitually strode around the school giving announcements through a red loud hailer. The ensuing crazy chaos was energizing but the technology was oh so inefficient – no Staffroom software in those days. Once I had to hide in a dark classroom as I had temporary caps on my front teeth and looked like a rabbit. I devised lesson plans around slide presentations and video clips – all presented in the dark. The students loved these types of lessons – they sat chewing gum, holding hands and undoubtedly kissing in the back rows. These lessons were entertaining but not engaging – well, not with the subject matter anyway. I could go on – many years of teaching gives loads of material to illustrate what I want to say.

So what is it that I am trying to say?

  • New technologies will always be introduced into education and we have to use them appropriately.
  • New technologies may offer greater learning and teaching opportunities that veer away from the traditional. Hallelujah. You can’t solve today’s challenges with yesterday’s solutions.
  • The best type of learning is by doing. Lessons that are learner centric and delivered at the students’ pace far outweigh those delivered by teacher talk irrespective of how entertaining the teacher may be.

Bigatel, in her research on strategies to enhance online learning, uses a student comment to define engagement:

“Engaged is being tasked, questioned, and expected to participate in team and individual projects. Students like myself should be interacted with in various ways, not only through assignments and quizzes, but also through exercises, training, forums, and discussion.”

All of the above creates a daunting task for traditional teachers. Engaging and enriching students using today’s technologies is no less daunting but from my experience far more satisfying.

Teachers do want to embrace today’s digital tools especially those that make administrative duties less arduous as well as teaching and learning more effective. More to the point however, students want to learn in an environment that gives them a voice so that they can interact, collaborate, take control and excel in a very fast changing world. To allow excellence to prevail we must contribute to the improvement of teaching by using the capabilities of media and new methodologies and in this way positively influence learning for students.

Reference:

  1. M. Bigatel www.facultyfocus.com. Student Engagement Strategies for the Online Learning Environments Accessed 03/15/16

Jennifer Bergh – E-Learning Consultant

jennyJenny has enjoyed a successful career in secondary and tertiary institutions both locally and overseas. Her international experience of 13 years centred on teaching within a second language university environment, managing online Learning Centres for exceptional and at risk students and very importantly, providing professional development for faculty and staff within an Educational Technology sphere. Continue reading

A Principal’s Perspective: Encouraging Technology Adoption Within My School

A Principal’s Perspective: Encouraging Technology Adoption Within My School

edited By Mark Haytor -Principal, Grayston Preparatory School

Technology adoption in the educational environment is a challenging endeavour, especially for the teacher at the front of the classroom. The demands placed on teachers continue to grow. With each school offering a technology integration solution to the parent body and the variety of operating systems available make the choices even more difficult.

The adoption of technology is a long and slow process if it is to be effective. I firmly believe that if we are going to expect teachers to use devices in the classroom environment, we need to supply them with personal devices so that they can experiment and discover applications that will work for them. The provision of devices allows teachers to experiment with the devices and applications before presenting in front of the students and builds confidence in the use of the application and device.

The training of staff is another critical element in the adoption process. For training to be effective, the application of sound teaching methodology needs to be applied as would be done in a classroom. This implies that training must be differentiated, just as we find different abilities in the classroom so we find different strengths in the technology process. The big group practice only causes frustration for all staff at all ability levels, we are either waiting for a staff member or have a staff member feel they lack technical knowledge as they struggle to complete a task. Therefore, training needs to occur on a one to one basis for it to be most effective.

The development of material can then be produced specific to the teachers learning area and the time spent on training is for an actual lesson rather than based on a general task. The best scenario is then to have the trainer join the staff member in the lesson to support the technology integration during the lesson with the learners.

This allows, for the teacher to focus on the delivery and teaching of the content and the technologist to be available to support the delivery and teaching with the device of choice. Teaching can additionally be supported by an IT technician being available to support infrastructure and application issues if the technologist is not available.

Another critical element is the establishment of clear objectives with regards delivery of lessons and the expectations for the teachers. The development of a positive attitude to the integration of technology and the benefits of technology in the classroom must be clearly demonstrated during training. One of the most effective means of sharing is having teachers demonstrate their use of technology to other teachers in their learning area or phase within the school environment. This allows for other teachers to comment on the teaching and gives the teacher presenting the opportunity to reflect on their practice.

“New technologies are changing not only what students should learn, but also what they can learn,” this means that as teachers and leaders in schools, we need to change our thinking with regard to the adoption of technology in the classroom.

*** The views reflected in content or links on the Staffroom blog are not necessarily those of Eiffel Corp nor it’s affiliated products. Eiffel Corp expressly disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy of any the content provided, or as to the authenticity of the information for any purpose.

The Homework Fiasco

The Homework Fiasco

One can hardly believe that a simple initiative like doing away with Homework can make page four of the Sunday Times and a lead article in YOU magazine. TV, radio and print media carried this revolutionary story at the end of the year and into the new academic term.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know the education is chronically ill in our country. Under funded, under resourced with poorly trained education leaders and ill-equipped teachers presents a dismal picture of our schooling system. In the few “good schools” left, students are finding the going tough. Anxiety levels are high and parents are feeling the pressure to assist with Homework in the evening.

Schools who are committed to quality teaching and learning are committing time to rethinking the function of education. 21st century schools have the added benefit of a neuroscience base. Today we know how the brain learns. We know that the brain is designed to forget anything that is not essential for the body’s survival. Retaining endless lists, names, theorems, algebraic equations, concepts, attitudes and values is not a natural practice. It takes intensive effort by the educator to create the right state for the brain to glue non-survival data into memory banks situated all over the body and in peptides in the blood system. We now know that the ability to be successful is no longer based on IQ, EQ or even talent. Giftedness is a fallacy. These ancient myths continue to permeate backward schools. Angela Duckworth (PhD) and Prof Carol Dweck of Stanford University are now proving that success is rather linked to passion, perseverance and the ability to stick to long term goals. They call it GRIT!

No longer does practise make perfect. In fact, practise makes permanent. Unless you practise in the presence of a master coach, you are wasting your time. And few parents are master coaches.

The master coach is in the classroom. The master coach is the highly qualified educator – not necessarily qualified in the content base – for knowledge changes too quickly to add any value to a specific degree of knowledge mastery, but rather, highly qualified in the ability to teach and coach. Too few teachers in 21st century schools are able to teach.

And because they can’t teach – they send home work that could not be completed in the class. Now teachers gripe about class size, student behaviour and lack of parental support – and these are all real issues. But master coaches are experts at classroom management. Boundaries are clearly set and reflective practices are in place the moment a boundary is crossed. Time on task is a non-negotiable because content is clearly planned and students know the expectations and the annual, termly and weekly planner is available to for all to see. There is no hidden “You better concentrate or you will fail!”

Homework is not necessary if there is good teaching. Good teaching must be supported by good support for teachers. Whole school conscious discipline and interventions must be in place to ensure that everyone feels safe and has a sense of belonging.

The healthy mind platter designed by neuroscientist David Rock (PhD) and medical doctor Daniel Siegel clearly indicates that our day must include the super seven slices: sleep time, exercise time, focus time (school), connection time (being with friends and family), down time (doing nothing), in time (meditation/prayer/yoga) and play time. If we are encouraging our students to sleep for 9 hours a day and attend school for a further seven, 16 hours are already used up. To spread the remaining 8 hours over five slices leaves no time for Homework. When we cram more into the day, we end up with adults who are mentally unstable. The future adult cohort is in our schools today!

School must deliver the curriculum under the supervision of a master coach. School must then end – students must play their sport, rest, chill with friends, surf a few waves – spend time with family over a meal and end up in bed reading a good book.

At Sun Valley, we bartered Homework for Reading. Commit to 20 minutes of reading your favourite novel or graphic novel and we won’t set Homework. And it worked. Teaching time became focused. Class time was useful. Master coaches assessed performance in class.

The Sport field is now corner to corner every afternoon with kids and they are going home fit, passionate about learning and determine to achieve their personal goals with perseverance.

This is 21st Century schooling at its best – and hopefully a more stable future adult cohort!

Gavin Keller

GK

About the blogger, Gavin Keller:

Principal – Sun Valley Primary

CEO: Sun Valley Group of Schools

Education Consultant – EduExcel

Our first Staffroom client, Gavin is a passionate educator and school leader who has used his research in neuro learning and leading to change a school and the community.  He shares the practical application of his studies with schools, corporates and leaders in order to improve performance and the quality of life.   His guidance is simple, humorous, but dynamic, a treat for all!

*** The views reflected in content or links on the Staffroom blog are not necessarily those of Eiffel Corp nor it’s affiliated products. Eiffel Corp expressly disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy of any the content provided, or as to the authenticity of the information for any purpose.

Staffroom ISASA Discount

Staffroom discount!

As partners of ISASA , Staffroom is now able to offer ISASA schools a discount of up to 45% on a Staffroom annual license for a limited period.
Staffroom is an innovative, user friendly, flexible and affordable school management software developed by teachers for schools, which means we understand your needs.
Book a demonstration and see what makes Staffroom stand out from the rest… BOOK A DEMO

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