(I wish I had been able to find an image of a map of Aotearoa and social media but this one will have to do.)
Lately I have been stepping outside of my comfort zone a lot. Creating an integrated programme for Level 1 means I’ve been going all over the show. Using Level 2 Education for Sustainability in a Level 1 course and incorporating designing and creating a media product (turns out it is more than just using a camera!) into the same programme, are just two examples of where my brain has been going lately (and one of the many reasons I am not sleeping through the night haha).
On top of all of this thinking, learning and collaboration I was also asked to create a Passion course for Year 11 next year. Passion courses will run once a trimester (12 weeks), three times a year and include (on average) one Level 1 standard. Okay… I can do this! Right?! Let’s just say I was a little tired and all the Achievement Standards I really wanted to teach had already been taken. I was using Education for Sustainability, Media Studies and Senior Social Studies in my own integrated programmes. Other Learning Leaders had taken on the History standards. I am already doing Level 2 and 3 Classical Studies. What could I do? What did I want to do?
A one-on-one pep talk with myself was needed but finally I decided on Religious Studies. As a Social Scientist I think it is important that learners are aware of different ideologies and beliefs in our community and society at large. From the information they gather (or are given) I believe it is part of our role to help learners create their own informed opinions around these issues. It is this philosophy that was forefront of my mind when I decided to create a Passion project around Religious Studies. One problem; I have never taught (or even looked) at the Religious Studies curriculum before. All I had done was look at the standards and decide that I liked the look of 1.1 and 1.4 the best. I knew there would be ethics involved in teaching within this area and that I would need to be careful in my approach to the study of different religions.
Through all of these weeks and this planning social media has become the most awesome tool! I tweeted using the edchatNZ hashtag and that very same day made contact with someone who was more than willing to help, give advice and share resources. A Skype call later and my head was overflowing with information, ideas and sources.
This was not the first time social media had come to my rescue. The week before I had made contact with a teacher at Whangaparaoa College through a post I put on the Senior Social Studies Teachers NZ Facebook page who had shared with me the resource they use for the Education for Sustainability 2.5 standard. The sharing of this resource allowed me to see how this particular standard could be scaffolded to meet the needs and ability of Level 1 learners. More importantly this resource made me realise that I could use this particular standard in my integrated Year 11 programme and that my learners would be able to achieve this standard.
The teaching community is so broad, spread all across the country (and the world) that social media has provided a tool for us to come together, to share our ideas, to share our voices. For me social media has become an invaluable resource – allowing me to learn from people I would have never made contact with without it. The different Facebook pages, Twitter and the #edchatNZ hastag, the online community (etc.) are a great start to creating a collaborative community of learners and educators. So, to all those who make these communities possible (and that is all of you/us) thank you! Give yourselves a pat on the back because we are changing the world of education – one conversation, shared thought, minute change at a time.