PLN…tick!

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Twelve weeks ago I had no idea what a PLN was so, as you do, I googled! I came across this article on what a Personal Learning Network is and found it interesting but also daunting. I was being asked to set up my own PLN for the online unit of study I was doing and as I am a bit of a technology ‘dinosaur’, I went into a mild panic.

But look at me now!

I have completed The Six Learning Spaces assignment, added to my PLN.

I am just about to complete my Future Learning Space assignment, added to my PLN.

I have written regular blog posts to my PLN.

I have learnt so much about the design process of this site through trial and error but I have also been wonderfully supported by my online lecturer, Mr Adam Staples, my eCoP, in EDFD459, my colleagues, my friends and especially my family. Amazing what two tech-savvy children can do to help their Mama when she is stressed out and on the verge of tears!

As I was searching for an image to place at the top of this post, I found this wonderful one and I must admit, I smiled when I realised that all 10 reasons were now very applicable to me.

sd-blogImage retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/sylviaduckworth/

I am very proud of what I have achieved this semester. I am connecting with wonderful educators all around the world and I am looking forward to continuing to blog so I can…

LEARN  SHARE  INSPIRE

PLN…tick!

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Refugees are you and me

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This statement has been on my mind as I think about these wonderful people always being labeled as ‘refugees’. Why can’t they be labeled teacher, doctor, business owner, chef, scientist, etc. Why do they have to be defined by their situation and not by who they were before they were forced to flee their homeland?

With thanks to @RNalletamby at Teach21C

TEACH21C

Last night, while I was carrying out research into my latest university assignment, focusing on learning spaces in refugee camps, I came across this powerful and emotive article.

THE ONLY SCARY THING ABOUT SYRIA’S REFUGEES IS THAT THEY’RE JUST LIKE US

Refugees are people just like us, with dreams and hopes for the future.

We need to do more, to help make their dreams and hopes are reality!

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Which space? Pick a space! Any space!?

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-2-20-24-pmI am trying very hard to choose two out of six learning spaces for my assignment. Each space is important. Each space is interesting. Each space would work well within a refugee camp context. The spaces are all very much connected.  How do I pick the right ones or the best ones? Are any of the spaces going to be more beneficial within the camp than another? They all have merit.

When working with young children who are sometimes reluctant to talk or write, I go back to the true and tried basics of the following questions…

                         WHO? WHAT? WHERE? WHEN? WHY? HOW?

Who are the children I am trying to connect with?                                                          What can I do to improve their learning?                                                                                Where will I get access to information that can guide me in my thinking?                       When will the children be able to go to a learning space within their camp?                   Why am I not doing more to interact with these children?                                                         How do I make a difference when I am comfortable living and learning on the other side of the world?                                                                                                                      How can I help to make a change, no matter how small, to the way these children see the world around them?                                                                                                                How do I engage these children in 21st Century learning to prepare them for life beyond the confines of their camp?                                                                                           How do I give them a voice?                                                                                         How do I show them that I care?

Which one will I choose?

Personal Space   eSpace   Group, Collaborative, Cooperative Space                         Classroom and School Space   Beyond the Classroom Space   Liminal Space

Alexandria, Greece

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I was struggling to choose a refugee camp to focus on for my assignment but in the end the camp chose me, thanks to a beautiful four year old boy named Muhammed Ali. After having ‘met’ Muhammed while doing my research, I immediately wanted to learn more about where he lived, what the conditions were like, what sort of facilities were in the camp and what opportunities did he have to play, to learn, to be creative.

Alexandria in Greece is where I have found my refugee camp, Muhammed’s home for the last four years. So much needs to be done for all the children in Alexandria. It is a camp that has drawn the attention of some wonderful organisations and people who are doing amazing things there to help not only the children but the adults also. They are working to do their best to make these people feel settled for the time they have to spend in the camp, to give them access to basic necessities of food, shelter, water etc, to provide some simple educational resources and to help them with the process of relocating to and often reuniting with their loved ones in another country.

After reading of the the work being done there, I have been inspired to think about my part in helping to make a difference. I have been influenced by Teachers Without Borders to choose their Child-Friendly Spaces Initiative and I have made connections with other organisations doing similar work. I have been thinking of ideas that could be implemented in Alexandria to help Muhammed and all the young children at his camp. I would like them to have access and opportunities to flourish in Learning Spaces.

I am now trying to do “small things in a big way” Napoleon Hill, Writer, 1883-1970.

Happiness is upon me

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I am beginning to formulate my own ideas for a Vision and Mission statement as part of my assignment. In everything that I am formulating I…

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As I research about refugees and their plight around the world my previous post was filled with sadness. This post is filling me with hope as I look at the work a myriad of wonderful organisations and people are doing to make a difference.

Education is paramount in all the organisations. Each has a very definite direction on how to ensure refugee children receive quality education, often despite less than favourable conditions.

Below I have included general statements from the organisations with which I have made a connection. I am now looking more specifically at education and becoming inspired by what they are doing.

I’m getting my ‘happy’ on!

This wonderful video of Syrian children in Za’atari Camp affirms that despite the sadness and often overwhelming sense of despair these children might be feeling, they can also still get their ‘happy’ on!

Hope this makes you get your ‘happy’ on too?

Teachers Without Borders Mission and Vision states… Teachers Without Borders connects teachers to information and each other in order to make a difference in their communities — on a global scale.  Our tagline:  Teachers.  Leaders.  Worldwide.

International Rescue Committee “Better Aid” Strategy states… The world’s more than 60 million displaced people, the highest number ever recorded, require more than “aid as usual.” Their growing and increasingly complex needs mandate a transformation—a creative rethinking—in the global humanitarian response. The International Rescue Committee has taken on this challenge.

Refugee Support Europe Mission states… We aim to improve the livelihoods and outcomes for refugees by prioritising dignity and co-operation. We believe that if we are going to achieve that we need to adhere to high professional and ethical standards. Human dignity is right at the heart of our activities.

UNHCR Primary Purpose states… is to safeguard the rights and well-being of people who have been forced to flee. Together with partners and communities, we work to ensure that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another country. We also strive to secure lasting solutions. 

Sadness overwhelms me

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I have spent many hours today reading about refugee camps all around the world.

Every single one overwhelms me with sadness and despair.

This story in Idomeni is one example of the horror these children are enduring to try and move out of the camps and meet up with family or to try and change their circumstances for a better future.

I cannot comprehend the horrors they are enduring.

I can only hope and pray that they receive the support, care and ultimately the love they so deserve and should indeed expect, as a human right.

FOOTNOTE I have just come across this article in The Guardian that less than three weeks after the previous report (linked above), Idomeni Camp has been shut down. Many are now living in worse conditions. Many are now trying more than ever to flee. Many more are now disappearing.

Sadness and despair overwhelms me once more.

I wonder where all the children have gone? I wonder if they are safe?

FOOTNOTE  3 November 2016    I now know that some families are safe. Thank you to my fellow student at Teach21C for her link to this video.

Every space is important

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I’ve been thinking a lot about The Six Learning Spaces I researched previously as I work on my current assessment. When I first began this unit, I thought of learning spaces in a very literal way. I have now learnt about the different learning spaces that both teachers and children inhabit and I have a deeper level of understanding of each individual space.

The most important thing I have learnt is that ALL the spaces are important, valuable and have a place during anyone’s learning. The fact that they are all connected is proof that any one space is no more important than another. As educators we have to guide our students through each space, dependent on their needs. This unit has now given me an understanding and a vocabulary to be able to recognise when a particular space is relevant and how it will improve the education of my students. It has also made me realise the importance of children having a voice in their learning, to be able to articulate their ideas, their successes and also their concerns when they are working within a particular space.

I am both an educator of and a student in 21st Century education. I must have a solid grasp of these six spaces to be able to use them effectively with my own students, to be able to acknowledge which space a student can comfortably work within, to introduce them into a space they were not aware of and to guide them in moving between spaces. I have to be a good role model to my students and articulate my own ideas, successes and challenges when I am working within a particular space.

This unit on The Learning Space has equipped me to do all of the above with confidence and knowledge. I can do it!