Anseo.net Review of 2012
Every December, we look back on the year and remember some of the highs and lows and celebrate some of the successes of Irish teachers. This year was a fairly difficult year for teachers in Ireland with a number of initiatives being thrown at us from the government – some good, some bad. Last year, I predicted that 2012 would be the year of the blog and it was great to see so many schools changed from static web sites to blogs. A number of teachers started blogging too and there must be over 100 teachers around the country blogging about teaching and learning regularly. Nigel Lane, a blogging teacher, set up Irish Teacher Blogs, which aggregates all the blogs of Irish teachers and we collaborated on Seas Suas, which brings together primary school blogs. Here is a quick review of the highlights of Anseo.net this year.
January kicked off in a crazy frenzy as Rozz revealed plans from the Teaching Council- the now infamous CEPP. While CEPP had some good ideas, their plan to make principals probate newly qualified teachers. It didn’t go down well! Apart from that, I got to present at the BETT Teachmeet, which was a personal highlight. The conference news continued into February with the annual CESI conference. The keynote speakers were highly impressive – Stephen Howell kicked things off with his Scratch story. Stephen has been talking about Scratch for a number of years and if you are one of the few educators who hasn’t experienced it, you need to get to an Education Centre as soon as you can to get learning. Steve Wheeler was the other keynote speaker and he brought us through his vision of where technology will be in the not-so-distant future. The month ended with a brilliant project, http://feb29th.net, which encouraged pupils all over the world to blog on the 29th of February. The project was the brainchild of UK teacher, David Mitchell, and Ireland punched above its weight with regards to contributions!
In March, I decided to expand my articles to include blog posts about my favourite curriculum subject, Maths. I have written a little bit about teaching tables and arguing against learning by rote so in 2012, I decided to propose scrapping long division from the primary curriculum… nothing controversial! The education world was also treated to a supplement from the Sunday Business Post called Best Schools. Sadly, despite the amazing work done by educators in Ireland, the supplement was nothing more than a pile of advertisements for the supplement’s sponsors. The editor of the supplement took offense to my review and commented on the post, which led to a lengthy discussion by email, where I defended my case as did some very nice educators on the blog.
April saw two major events – the third Digital Art Week, where hundreds of children around the country shared a piece of digital art. I was also lucky enough to be chosen to go to Google Teacher Academy where I was trained in how to use Google’s tools in education. May saw the release of Ruairi Quinn‘s Literacy and Numeracy Improvement Plan, perhaps a reactionary plan from our slightly poor performance in the PISA study. In fairness to Quinn, most of the ideas in the plan are quite good but one very small point potentially has the power to completely destroy the primary education system.
It isn’t often we get involved in second level education, but June brought us the Leaving Certificate and end of year shenanigans. With social media a major part of teenagers’ lives, it was almost inevitable that the education world and social media world would clash and 4 schools found themselves in the news after suspending and expelling students based on their social media interactions. We didn’t have much sympathy. We also had a look at visualisers and Interactive Whiteboards.
With schools closed for the summer, in July, there were a few questions asked about teachers’ skills. Firstly, there was a scandal about how half of maths teachers in Ireland weren’t qualified. Secondly, we were being chastised for not having adequate ICT skills. We also looked at spending the ICT grant. August focused on the jobs market for teachers as the panel finally cleared. We also asked the question as to whether ICT is a methodology and not a resource?
In September, Rozz started a great series on good writing in schools giving great tips for teachers. The Department of Education also got itself a new web site. We also took a look at digital signage. With the tragic news of some teenage suicides, the issue of cyber bullying came to the forefront of our minds. We developed a simple program to help with the issue thanks to a good campaign from Mags Amond, “Screengrab that Bully.”
The final two months of the year were an eclectic mix of news and views. We had the great news that our friend, Damien Quinn from Seomra Ranga won the Best Individual Blog Award at the EduBlog awards. As the SSE (or CEPP 2.0 as I’m now calling it) is starting to become a reality, I decided to reflect on it and am now happy but cautious. I was also shocked that some teachers are still teaching subtraction using “borrow and payback”, so I wrote 3 articles about how to teach subtraction in the “new” way. We ended the year with a number of tips for teaching about Christmas, giving up technology for a day and having my photo in the Irish Times.
It’s been a busy year but a good year at Anseo.net. We’re planning to continue many of the regular weekly features into 2013. We’re hoping to continue with our series on using Scratch in the classroom and helping teachers with ideas on literacy and numeracy, as well as some light relief on a Sunday with our Sunday Fun cartoons. I hope you have a great 2013 and we’ll be back in January with more education-related fun.