Towards the end of 2016 I attended the Mountain Club of Cape Town’s Leaders training weekend at Du Toitskloof Hut for their Outreach Program. The weekend was a lot of fun and I learnt a great deal. But one session in particular stood out for me – the one on Fynbos with Wendy Hitchcock . I decided to record what stood out for me in the session in the hopes that I could reuse some of the techniques myself in future. Below is a description of the session as best I could remember it.
When we arrived for the session Wendy started by introducing herself and then asking us to sit quietly for a few moments and take note of the sounds and smells around us in Nature. She also had a collection of plants she had picked from the nearby bushes, together with large sheets of paper with labels like Big Leaves , Small Leaves , Waxy Leaves etc.
Our first task as a group was to sort through the collection of plants and put them onto the piece of paper that corresponded to their main characteristic. Wendy suggested techniques to determine these characteristics like blindfolding a group member while asking them to touch and describe a plant or smelling a plant and describe its smell and so on … It was a really sensory experience and I cant remember being quite as observant about plants before. We continued on like this for a while sorting the various plants into categories.
Some of the plants wouldn’t fit neatly into any particular category and so were placed into an unsure category. After the initial sorting was done, Wendy initiated a conversation about the sorting and then continued on to the topic of how to classify things. Names such as Restios, Geophytes , Proteas , Ericas and lots of terms I was only vaguely familiar with were introduced. For someone who hikes a lot, I have been pretty uninterested in plants and this informative session really changed my basic outlook. I really got a sense of the adaption of plants to their environments and how interesting they are. Wendy then allowed us to write up any questions we had about plants onto sheets of paper and addressed them in conversation with the group.
Our last activity was to go on a walk and observe the different plants we had discussed. Wendy had brought along field lenses that allowed us to look at plants on a much smaller scale. Most of them were just inexpensive jewelry lenses but showed remarkable detail once you help them up close to a plant. I liked them so much I bought one on the spot from her.
I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy the session as much as I did and it really highlighted the effect that an Educator can have on a group when they are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about their subject matter. I really liked how the whole session was done outside under the trees and how natural learning in that environment felt. I feel challenge to get my classes outside more to create some similar experiences.
Create your own digital learning portfolio showing evidence of your individual learning path.
A Personal Learning Portfolio is a virtual, personal space that serves as a dynamic planning tool, archive, profile, and showcase of an individual’s lifelong learning experiences, goals and achievements. It is created by the learner, controlled by the learner, and is on a platform of his or her choice. Though the tool is geared to be an open tool that records the digital footprint of the individual, the learner controls who has access to any section of the portfolio at any given time.
ArtsWorks , Writing Pieces , Video Clips , Audio Recordings, Projects, Books read and reviews of them, Online Courses or Programs , Blog component, Social Campaigns, Growth Filled Experiences, Leadership Roles, Projects Initiated , Volunteer Work , Places you’ve travelled or want to travel , Interviews with Interesting People , Vlogs ….
Tools you could use:
When signing up to create an account with one of these tools, rather select the option to “Sign up with Google” than creating an account from scratch. This means you don’t have to remember different passwords.
I often find myself needing to create a shared digital space on the fly, for interaction amongst a group when doing training or facilitating. In terms of speed, accessibility & price(free), this is my tool of choice for getting the job done. A good way to describe TodaysMeet is, a free pop up private chat room that can be controlled by a presenter in real time.
What I like
I love how it allows everyone in a room to have a voice and that as a presenter I have a way of monitoring at a glance what sort of things are happening for the learners. It facilitates easy sharing and becomes an effective archive system too, as everything that is discussed is easily downloaded as a transcript at the end. It’s also fast which is important when doing workshops and time is limited.
- Go to TodaysMeet.com
- Associate your Google Account or Create Login
- Pick a Room Name
- Share the link to your Chat Room with participants
- Download Transcripts of Session
This tool has been around for quite some time now, but still seems underutilized to me. For anyone looking to be more collaborative in their classroom/workshop and wanting to encourage more active engagement I would definitely give this tool a go.
Screenshot of Interface
At the beginning of this year I tried out a new way of discussing and defining my classroom Rules with my learners. It was by no means perfect, but it felt like a breath of fresh air compared to the top down heavy authoritative processes I had used before. The purpose of this post is just to define the basics of what I did and to open the concept up to other teachers so it can be further refined through collaborative discussion. Below is a brief description of how the process works. Continue Reading
I always find that keeping prolonged attention in the classroom is a difficult task. One of the best tools I have found for keeping classes engaged over extended periods of time is the concept of a break break. Brain Breaks are simple 1-2 minute mind and body challenges that release focus for a short period time to allow for longer more productive periods of learning.
Credit to the Website http://brainbreaks.blogspot.co.za/ as a lot of the material below is just reinterpreted for my context.
Pen Flipping Brain Break:
Use the following steps:
1. Stand Up.
2. Take a pen and flip it ONE REVOLUTION. (Imagine a piece of tape on one end of the pen, then throw the pen from the tape side. Have the pen go one full turn around to get to the tape side again)
3. Now do the same thing with your other hand.
4. Now get a pen for both hands and try to do both pens at the same time.
5. If you really are good at that, then try to throw the pens up into the air and catch them in opposite hands. This is tough.
Thumb War or Peace:
Thumb War or Peace is a brain break done with a partner.
1. Thumb War is easy: Simply lock fingers together and then tap alternately with your thumbs to the chant: “One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war”. Then you can get started with the war. The first person to pin the others thumb down for three seconds so they can’t move it is declared the winner.
2. Thumb Peace: Lock your fingers together. You will try to work together to outline the numbers 0-9 with your thumbs one at a time. Your thumbs will need to work together while making each number. So You will have to decide who will be writing the number forwards and who will write it backwards.
Ear and Nose Switch:
Do as follows:
1. Stand up.
2. Take your right hand and grab your left ear. Keep your right arm close to your body.
3. Now take your left hand and touch your nose.
4. Uncross your arms and move your left hand to your right ear and your right hand to your nose. Your left arm should now be closest to your body.
5. Switch back and forth as fast as you can.
I recently complete the Google Certified Trainer course and thought the material was so good I wanted to make sure I had easy access to it in future. So I decided to create this mind map. There is an enormous amount in information in here, so I would suggest just concentrating on one piece at a time.