The World’s Biggest Theatre Ensemble

I am really excited about this new project I am apart of.

It’s called World Theatre Video. You can check out the website here.

I’m excited about it for a number of reasons. Most importantly though, I’m excited about the way in which it was created.

I’ve posted before about the enormous benefit of starting a PLN (Professional Learning Network for the uninitiated). I cannot stress how isolated I felt in the classroom for so many years, desperate to connect with someone who understood how I was feeling, what I was going through and what I needed.

Now, I will have had my PLN for almost three years this coming January. This blog and now the Facebook page are both products of me starting a PLN. The motivation it has provided me, the support and encouragement it has offered me, has kept me engaged in my profession as a teacher. It is always challenging me to try something new.

It’s a place in which I feel ideas, as lofty and undeveloped as they may seem, are not scoffed at but encouraged and may actually eventuate.

Things, such as this project, World Theatre Video.

Earlier in the year, I made a rather fleeting request on Twitter to see if any drama teachers would be willing to collaborate with me on a World Theatre Day project. You can read about what happened here.

Due to that tweet and everything that happened in its wake, I have had the pleasure of meeting both @MoAsh245 and @edtech4theatre in real life.

It was a rather exciting moment. To connect from half way around the world and another state entirely is a really remarkable thing.

The organic nature in which it all came about was a wonderful thing to be a part of. It made me think how easy it is to connect with those that are willing from anywhere in the world not just from your region or immediate community of schools. Why do we have to keep it to our immediate environments?

In reflecting on that time it was a fun, simple project that engaged my students. Thankfully they were all willing and excited to be seen by students around the world. It made theatre and their own performance real to them. It made them accountable. I also think it is a fabulous way to expose drama and to celebrate the awesomeness that is drama teaching and live theatre.

I’m proud of Nick for expanding the project and incorporating his knowledge of Google Apps to make it a credible, worthwhile project that demonstrates how creative and tech savvy drama teachers can be. That we don’t need to be entering into million dollar software deals. That there are free resources at our fingertips if we just leave the bureaucracy and red tape out of it. Also, it shows how well we can collaborate, particularly virtually! That technology is not something we are afraid of embracing as we move into developing 21st Century learners and the face of theatre as we know it.

Many people still scoff at PLN’s and the use of social networking out of work hours to expand and develop their knowledge of teaching. It does move at an extremely fast pace but I guarantee that I wouldn’t be half as knowledgeable about education “stuff” if it wasn’t for my PLN. It makes me feel that sometimes schools are just so slow and really behind the eight ball. It really is up to the individual teacher to make 21st Century learning happen in their classroom despite the system and the people who are happy to ride along in cruise control in their old beat up Holden. If you catch my drift…

I encourage you to get involved in this project. It is fun. It poses so many questions as to the validity of social media and technology in our classrooms and in theatre as well as the possibilities for it in the future. This may be the opportunity some of your students need or are looking for. It may be what you have been needing or looking for.

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We’re Now on Facebook

Stage Door

I finally created  a space for posts from the DTN to be made available in your News Feed on Facebook.

If you would like to keep track of all your Drama related stuff through here, please like us.

https://www.facebook.com/dramateachersnetwork

Thank you for your support of the blog.

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4 Theatre Podcasts You Should Check Out

I’ve always been a bit hot and cold when it comes to podcasts. Sometimes I’m all for them and other times I’m not. I think this is because there are so many out there and you can’t be sure on the quality and I guess, in the past, some have let me down. There are so many, on every conceivable topic so it’s hard to narrow down exactly what it is you are looking for. I feel overwhelmed every time I hit the i-Tunes store!

I recently had the opportunity to be a part of the Edreach Network’s TheatreCast program with @edtech4theatre and @msfilas. It was a fantastic professional development opportunity. I finally got my act together and got a webcam and headset so that I could use Google+ Hangouts properly. It was also really nice to finally connect in real time (if still virtual) with some of the contacts I’ve made through my Twitter PLN. In listening to their podcast, I could hear the passion and the struggles that these teachers from the other side of the world were feeling just like me. It was nice to be able to share conversation with them even though we are thousands of miles away. I now subscribe to the podcast and enjoy listening to it in my car on the way to work.

In recording this podcast, it really prompted me to find out what other podcasts are out there that could be useful in our classrooms and you know what? It was tricky. Particularly finding ones about theatre and theatre education that were of repute and quality. So to fill out my list I’ve had to think laterally(??) about how some of my favourite, quality podcasts could be used in the classroom. As they say though, where there is a will there is a way, so if you find something that works, go for it!

1. National Theatre

These podcasts, seriously, are probably the best out there for drama teachers. They are resources you can actually use with your students. They have collections on acting, voice, costume, playwriting, theatrical styles and their various productions that they’ve put on over the years. From such a credible, respectable theatre, I’ll say it again, these podcasts are an invaluable resource. Search for “National Theatre” at the i-Tunes store.

2.Ted Talks

You’ve seen the videos, well now you can get the audio as well. There are talks on everything and The Arts is not forgotten. I’ve mentioned some of the clips before in a previous post. These could be used as stimulus, extension work or discussion. Or maybe just a little inspiration for your commute to and from work perhaps? Search for “Ted Talks Audio” in the i-Tunes library.

3. This American Life

I love these podcasts because of the topics that they talk about. It promotes discussion and thought. I really think you could use some of these as stimulus for playbuilding and devising. Search for “This American Life” in the i-Tunes library.

4. Edreach – TheatreCast

Edreach is a database full of podcasts, videos and posts from all areas of education. It provides passionate and outspoken innovators in education an outlet with which to express their highly innovative ideas for education. It’s great to know drama, theatre and the Arts is being covered by Danielle and Nick. Search for “Edreach” or “TheatreCast” in the i-Tunes library. You can check out the You-Tube link to the podcast I was involved in below:

Are there any podcasts that you swear by? Share them in the comments.

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the DTN

I’d like to take this opportunity to say thanks for reading my blog this year. I have appreciated all the comments and feedback and definitely take it all on board when trying to think of new posts to write. I hope you have had a personally and professionally successful year and I hope this continues into 2013. As my gift to you, I have a guest post that I have been sitting on for quite some time written by my PLN colleague JF Cameron.

Funny Pictures

Image Credit: Christmas Buzz

#PLNlove

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day this week and my great desire to “pay it forward” and achieve some of my professional goals  this year (I’ve posted about this before here), I am offering a blogging workshop for my staff after school for four weeks this term so they can feel, in my honest opinion, the great love and enjoyment blogging can bring. We are starting this afternoon and I’m excited!

It is a variation on the fantastic free professional learning I took part in in the school holidays of January 2011 as part of the Edublogs “Kick Start Your Blogging Challenge.”

In Week 1 we are looking at:

  1. What is a blog?
  2. Creating a brand new blog.
  3. Changing the theme and appearance of a blog.
  4. Commenting.

Today the teacher’s will be setting up their blogs in a one and a half hour session. The first part of the session will be a guided demonstration of how to do the things listed above. The second part of the session is an opportunity to take some time to play with their new blog and have someone on hand to guide them through any troubles they may be having. Many teachers often comment that they never get enough time to just “sit down and play” so many are glad that they have allocated the time to some professional learning for themselves today and for the next four weeks.

As part of the activities I have set, each participant will be posting a comment on this post with a link to their newly created blog as well as answering the following questions:

  1. What part of this first activity did you find easy?  Or the most enjoyable?  Did you find any tasks easier than you expected?
  2. What parts of this activity did you find hard and why?  And if you are stuck with a step(s) — tell us in your comment so we can give you some help!
  3. Make sure you leave your blog URL in your comment so we can drop by and visit your blog and leave a comment!

It would be really wonderful if you could click on the links, head on over to their page and let them know what you think. Comments are always appreciated and this is how we learn and grow through blogging: sharing and commenting.

About the Blog Post Title: For those unfamiliar as yet to Twitter and the use of hashtags, this is a very popular tag followed by many teachers when talking about the affection they have for their blog and the professional learning network.

The notes provided for these workshops are modified from the Kick Start Your Blogging Challenge. Copyright of @SueWaters and @edublogs.

See the full notes at http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/challenges-2/30-days-to-kick-start-your-blogging/

Image Credit: Big Heart of Art – 1000 Visual Mashups, qthomasbower, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Why Every Drama Teacher Should Try Twitter in 2012

Hands up if you’ve had the thought that Twitter is totally pointless? You know the one where you think to yourself, “why do people insist on telling everyone what they had for dinner?” We have all had that thought. Rightly so. There are people out there who tweet about dinner. Maybe even post a photo or perhaps link to a YouTube clip showing them preparing the meal. You think I’m joking.

I was a sceptic too. I thought, “How much social media does one person need?” It all seemed a bit too much and a little too hard to add another thing to my list of sites to surf when I got home from work of an afternoon. I was immune to swimming in the deep end of the pool on my own trying to keep my head above water, desperately needing to connect with others about my teaching but not knowing how.

But every web tool has a purpose if used in the appropriate way to get what you need. It ain’t called social media for nothing. What can this word “social” imply? Is it just to tweet about what you’re having for dinner or can it be something more?

That is why now I am a huge Twitter advocate. In January last year I participated in an Edublogs.org free Teacher Professional Development course.  It was called the “Kick Start Your Blogging” Teacher Challenge and it was showing teachers over four weeks how to create a blog and use it either as a personal Professional Learning Network (PLN) or as a class blog.The tutorials are still available and if you have not considered blogging before either personally or with your class I highly recommend this website. The tutorials are simple and easy to follow.

In the final weeks of the challenge we looked at building readership and one of the ways suggested was Twitter.

The advice I remember taking was sign-up and start with spending no more than 5 minutes a day on there. So that’s what I did.

Initially I tweeted to some of the other Teacher Challenge participants. Slowly I found links about Drama and bravely shared them using bit.ly to make them short links and therefore easier to tweet (tweets are only 140 characters long). Maybe someone would find what I had to share interesing?

Soon I built up the courage to respond to other teachers tweets. I started following a lot of teachers from all teaching areas as well as primary and high school teachers both in Australia and abroad. Eventually I struck up some friendships. Friendships that have become real life, face-to-face friendships, void of any psycho tendencies. True.

Teaching can be incredibly isolating. Particularly if you are the only teacher in your school teaching your subject. Or perhaps you are first year out or teaching out of faculty. We have our support networks within school but sometimes the day is so frantic you have barely had time to scratch yourself let alone sit down and discuss any ideas you may have or get resources and support from your colleagues. Twitter for me has become an added support system. It has provided me with inspiration, encouragement, support, as well as links to some excellent resources and discussions. About everything to do with education. I learnt about the TeachMeet project through Twitter and it has been another fabulous support network and resource that I encourage all private and public sector teachers to consider becoming a part of.

Whilst the Drama Teacher contingent is growing on Twitter it is still rather small and it would be wonderful to see more of us connecting.

So if you’re looking for a larger support network, new ideas for your teaching and learning practice then Twitter may be for you. Do the same thing I did: sign-up, log on for 5 mins a day and PLAY! Fail, tweet about your dinner and see what comes of it. You may be surprised by what you find.

My drama teaching has felt more invigorated and inspired since finding a larger support network. The collegiality and friendships I have formed through Twitter mean a lot to me.I don’t know what I was doing living in an isolation bubble for so long.

An Introduction to Twitter can be found here.

If you are already a Drama Teacher on Twitter and I have not connected with you I would love to.  Find me at my handle @karlao_dtn.

Share your thoughts with me in the comments. They are appreciated.

Image Credit:Tiny birds in my hand.. / Ilse / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Reflections on TeachMeet Sydney

I did something spontaneous recently. I signed up to the TeachMeet Sydney wiki and signed myself up to attend TeachMeet Sydney on Tuesday 6th September.

Since participating in the Kick Start Your Blogging Challenge back in January as part of the free Professional Learning Edublogs provides users, I have connected with many teachers through Twitter. I was unaware at that point that they actually have TeachMeets all around NSW! TeachMeet Sydney was an opportunity to meet many of the people I had connected with over Twitter for the first time…

…and I’m so glad I did 🙂

TeachMeet has a really great format: two blocks of three 7 minute presentations and two 2 minute presentations about anything teaching related. The presentations are streamed over the internet and can be followed on Twitter using the hashtag #tmsydney.

These presentations aim to connect participants with new ideas to use in their classroom. The great part is that at the end of the presentations there is an informal time in which participants can just connect and chat with each other about their schools and their ideas.

I was a little apprehensive at first I must admit but I have to say I’ve not met a more welcoming bunch of people in such a long time. The best part about it is putting faces to the names and tweets you see each night online. It was kind of like meeting long lost friends who are just incredibly accepting and supportive of what you do.

Since creating a PLN and connecting with other teachers worldwide on Twitter I have felt better supported and positive about the work that I do in the classroom each day. It stimulates my creativity, gives me hope and makes me feel valued.

If you’re feeling isolated in your school or are simply looking for a network of teachers to connect with I strongly recommend Twitter and attending a TeachMeet meeting near you.

Go HERE to find out more about TeachMeet in your local area.

For some fabulous educators to connect with, try some of these great people I met on Tuesday: @EduSum, @townesy77, @7Mrsjames, @whartonag, @Poska, @cpaterso, @henriettaMi, @betchaboy, @ajep, @mylescarrick, @FionaR_B, @malynmawby