Bits & Pieces

Being new to regularly blogging and to having an e-portfolio, I found I have had trouble deciding what to write about. I like the focused topic approach, such as Colin McKenzie’s reflection on the paralysis of choice that affects teachers’ adoption of new technologies, but sometimes I don’t have enough to say about a topic. I remember the first time I presented at a SAETA conference. After agreeing to present a workshop I was so scared I would be ‘lecturing’ to professional colleagues and teaching them what they already know that I made my title sounds as boring as I could to reduce the number of attendees at my workshop. I called it: “Bits and pieces – some things that have worked.” I thought that sounded terrible against the highly academic titles of the other workshops and I would be ‘safe’. I had the most people in my workshop of any in the conference! I learnt that day that that’s teachers want other teachers to openly share their work, and that we are all bower birds – picture for effect. : )

All teachers are bower birds!

So, back to my approach to blogging. I think I will take the bits and pieces approach. Explore an idea, share a resource, tell a story, etc. The validity of the approach was reinforced when I watched Derek Sivers’ video below: Obvious to you. Amazing to others. This will be my resource to share for this blog.

For my idea, I am a brand new tweeter. (So brand new I’m not 100% sure that’s the right term.) I always swore I would never be on twitter, and my attitude was outlined perfectly in an article in The Age titled Teachers unlock tweet smell of success(gotta love news headline puns), “A common misconception is that Twitter aggregates only banal snippets – what my pet dog just ate.” I have discovered, thanks to George Couros, it is a fantastic professional networking tool. As stated by Corrie Barclay (@corrieb), e-learning co-ordinator at Manor Lakes College in Wyndham Vale, in The Age article, “One of the best professional development things teachers can do is to get on to Twitter, share ideas and follow certain people. Following people who are leaders in their field and having access to their resources and thoughts.” Simon McKenzie also refers to the difference being in the twitterverse can make for educators in his blog.

My story is an amazing lesson on the impact of grammar. I love to teach misperceptions, mistakes, etc due to punctuation, grammar and spelling. There are the classics:

  • Eats, shoots, and leaves. (Gun version. Yes, I’m a comma traditionalist.) Eats shoots and leaves. (Panda version)
  • Woman, without her man, is nothing. (Pro male version.) Woman. Without her, man is nothing. (Pro female version.)
  • Let’s eat, grandma. (Dinner version.) Let’s eat grandma. (Cannabilism version.)
  • A personal favourite: Grammar – the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit.

My grammar story today comes from one of my voyeuristically favourite shows Air Crash Investigations (as it’s known in Australia – known as Mayday in other countries), season 11 episode 8 Blind Spot. While there was a series of mistakes that led to the crash of PSA Flight 182, as explained on the show the final chance to avoid the crash came down to grammar. The captain said to Lindbergh Tower, ” I think he’s passed off to our right.” which comes across clearly in the black box recording. What you can hear in the Tower recording due to static is, “I think he’s passing off to our right.” Because the air traffic controller heard present tense, he thought the pilot still had the Cessna in his sights and didn’t say anything. 144 dead because the Captain didn’t make it explicitly clear to the tower they’d lost sight of the Cessna. That’s now my favourite story to make students take lessons on the finder points of literacy seriously.
I hope I have encouraged you to share your work because it is amazing to others, take a second look at twitter if you haven’t previously, and that I haven’t put you off flying!