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Archive for the ‘ICT’ Category

Following from our session on learning tools that encourage differentiation and inclusivity for all learners, our teacher aides have provided me with some feedback which makes for interesting reading. Top of the list of tools/apps the group were showed that they intend to use was Read Aloud. This makes perfect sense as our teacher aides work with students who struggle with literacy and are challenged with a range of learning disabilities.

This was backed up by reasons they supplied for the apps/tools they believed would have the most use for them. (I have deleted some of their comments to protect student privacy):

 

From my own viewpoint, the biggest take home for me was the need to share the basics first. I created a Class Notebook for the workshop participants to access material, share ideas and have a play without thinking that most had not even ventured into a Class Notebook. In a way, I should have started with that before delving into specific apps.

The other takeaway was the needs for consistency across devices in a school. Some of their learners have their own device and others use what is available within the specific department/learning space on a given day. Other things I take for granted such as using Office Mix also piqued their interest. Most know how to set up basic power point but were unaware of the record option. Others were not sure how to add music so a follow up session on Office Mix is top of the list.

Hopefully we’ll get some more time together next term to delve deeper into their first foray into the many ways Microsoft can enhance the teaching and learning experience for these vital support staff.

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Being open minded is key for learning new skills, self-reflection and professional growth as a teacher in 2018.

The MIEE 2018 (inaugural?!) Hui held in the April school holidays offered a smorgasbord of opportunities for teachers keen to develop their digital technology kete, extend their ability to use a range of tools available via Microsoft apps and programmes and connect with other educators.

The problem with a smorgasbord is it is sometimes difficult to know what to choose. We were truly spoiled for choice.

Initially, I wasn’t sure if Lynette Barker’s Creativity with Literacy sharing session would be to my palette. Me a South Island based secondary teacher of English and Media Studies in a large coeducational state secondary school. Lynette a teacher Librarian in a Catholic primary school across the Tasman.

Time to ditch the diet.

Not only did Lynette present us with an exciting menu of ideas, she backed this up with examples, resources and honest answers to our questions. The added bonus is that following the hui, Lynette has continued to share resources via the twittersphere.

Her ideas help bridge the gap between written text and digital technology with activities that seamlessly integrate both and, were clearly linked to learning objectives.

Some of those ideas were:

  1. Telling a story with music  – using MS lens and PPT, scan pages from a text and then invite students to match the words with music. Lynette used Red Fox.
  2. Reversioning a story – using MS Lens and OneNote with a free pdf of a children’s illustrated book (available here – http://mybirthdaybunny.com ), students use a stylus to “graffiti” the original version of My Birthday Bunny with their own version.
  3. Augmented reality – use MS Paint 3d to add moving images to a story. Take a  pic of object, import to Paint 3d then animate via power point. (@ibpossum has had hour of fun with this 😉 )
  4. Comprehension and creativity – Lynette used Using Cups Held Out byJudith L Roth. Read to kids then gave them cup. Students  were asked to tell how they could show support to others OR whatever they took from story via photography. Their photos were then collated using Movie Maker.
  5. Vocabulary extension, development of  connotative and emotive language via blogging- using Piranaha’s Don’t Eat Bananas, students were invited to finish sentences from the story with their own words.  Using Last Tree in the City, students were asked to supply 10 words they associated with this story about environmental damage to word banks. They then did the same with A Forest, a story featuring a contrasting message.
  6. Catering for students with special educational needs –  Lynette set up a series of activities on One Note pages which were code protected. The student, working with a teacher aide, had to complete each activity to get a code to “unlock” the next task.

Like any meaningful PD, the proof is in the pudding. My goal is to develop and deliver a workshop for our teacher aides and share some of these ideas alongside those gleaned from Crispin Lockwood’s Immersion Session MS Learning Tools for Differentiation. The aim is to broaden the range of literary related activities offered to engage students with special learning needs and ESOL students.

And of course there are plenty of ways to adapt Lynette’s ideas for a secondary learning environment.

“Cups” could be used in Junior Media Studies to teach the Rule of Thirds as well as camera shot types and angles, Red Fox could be used to apply visual and verbal matching techniques for Media Studies and English students while the vocab extension activities would work alongside a short story/novel study or as a starter for Creative Writing.

 

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Who doesn’t love a good infographic? They’re a great way to summarise data in a form that appeals to a range of learners.

While watching a series of tutorials on helping students get more out of Office 2016, I discovered the People Graphs add in. As an English teacher, what stood out was the presenter’s description of the add in as enabling “story telling with data.” Now that, I get!

Firstly, make sure you’re working with data that can be logically transferred to visual representation. Think data that would work as a bar graph. You’ll also need to have that data saved in an Excel Spreadsheet. In Excel, go to the Insert button then select Store then choose Recommended. From there, find the People Graph add in.

Once installed, you’ll find People Graph option under the Insert button. The add in will instantly create chart in the spreadsheet which you can edit using two icons in the top right of the chart created. The icon on the left allows you to create the chart with your data so you can select the columns you want used, change the title etc while the gear icon allows you to change the layout – colour schemes, icons used etc. Just keep in mind the audience and the type of presentation you’ll be using the infographic in before getting too carried away!

The completed chart is a jpeg so simply save it to your clipboard by right clicking and saving the image generated wherever you want to use it -Word, Sway, Powerpoint or OneNote.

I’ve been surveyed several times by our Economics students and imagine People Charts would be great for them when analysing data collected. The visual nature of the add in would also be ideal for young learners to help them grasp how raw data can be transformed and applied.

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Time to get the Emperor some Clothes

Like many schools, mine is heading down the path of offering our students more opportunities to use digital technology. I trained relatively recently and, in what now seems ironically like a blessing, spent the first four years of my teaching career in four different schools. This meant I’ve had to spend  lots of time teaching myself how to use a range of platforms, systems and programmes. From wiki first then to moodle followed by ultranet and now Microsoft 365. And those are just the LMSs I’ve encountered. I also spent a year teaching and learning with an iPad class. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention although it’s not a path I’d recommend.

Secondary teachers are often accused of lagging behind their primary teaching colleagues when it comes to adapting 21st century learning tools. But what I’ve observed over the past six years is that many are often totally overwhelmed by HOW to incorporate digital technologies in their daily teaching practices which is not the same as being somehow philosophically opposed to the idea. They don’t always have access to hardware in their classrooms in which to seamlessly integrate those devices into their lessons, there is next to no tech support and scant opportunities for PD. It’s a lot to ask of people who already work long hours, many of whom have families young and old of their own to support outside of school.

It’s no wonder many are left feeling overwhelmed (or worse underwhelmed) by decrees to use digital technology, more, now. The pressure caused by such demands should be addressed – surely as part of the current emphasis on teacher wellbeing because if we are stressed and overwhelmed than it stands to reason that our students, with less resilience and coping strategies, are even more so.

Solutions could include teacher release days to ensure staff have opportunities to investigate and explore what works for them, dedicated tech support staff in schools to take the onus of teachers with IT interests and ensuring those offering workshops (often suppliers of software) are up to date with issues faced by individual schools when it comes to adapting technology – wifi access, hardware access, financial constraints, infrastructure needs such as access to powerpoints etc. in short, funding and expertise.

Not everyone teaches in MLEs where devices are freely available to students 100% of the time. Not all of our students have access to the internet at home and no, they don’t all have smart phones (surely that’s a piecemeal solution anyway?).  Instead of pointing fingers at classroom teachers and putting so many under so much pressure, bigger issues around access to hardware, software, support and PD must be the focus.

Every day I see teachers achieving remarkable feats through dedication, intelligence, effort, talent and sometimes, sheer bloody mindedness. There are young innovators  and wise old(er) heads and every one of them has something of value to offer pedagogically speaking. But even the most passionate educator is no magician. If we are truly serious about giving students opportunities to become connected, collaborative, creative lifelong learners, than we have to ensure their teachers are afforded the same opportunities. If we don’t, the current inefficiencies, stresses and tensions will continue to fester resulting in burnout and more missed opportunities.

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I’ve been following with interest discussions around the concept of flipped learning.  Flipped classrooms were named after a paper published in 2000 (so not entirely new) by Lage, Platt and Treglia where the authors sought to encourage students to learn by doing by giving them access to learning materials before they entered the classroom. This is a concept readily used by tertiary institutions although often I suspect it becomes a way of catching up on missed lectures rather than actively choosing to bring something to the learning table… .

Flipped classrooms freak me out. Not because I’m against the concept which clearly resonates with the NZC value of creating lifelong learners who are active seekers, users and creators of knowledge. Not only do they need to learn stuff with us, they need to learn how to learn. My anxiety stems from concerns around access to technology both outside and inside school for many (most?) of our state educated secondary students. In others words, love the theory, can’t get my head around the practice.

So it was with some delight I came across the related concept of tilted classrooms vie www.edudemic.com.  The more I read, the more I saw opportunities for applying the concept as well as some aha moments where I recognised I have been tilting for several months! Edudemic sums up the difference between the two approaches as:

“…flipped learning is about transferring control to students to make them more involved and more responsible for their learning process, sideways learning is about making learning and study tools accessible to all students.”

Tilting a classroom still uses online resources but blends those with group work, classroom  discussion and after school learning. So far so good. But what might it look like?

1. Proactive use of a LMS: We use ultranet as an LMS. Others schools use moodle and/or wiki. Rather than an online repository for word documents, I aim to include videos, podcasts, quizzes and links to online sites to both extend and support students’ learning. I’m not saying they are all regular users but by showing them the site often in class, there are at least some using this option.

2. Reusable videos: There are some great sites around covering ideas, concepts, texts and can be included in lessons. Kahn Academy, Teacher Tube, TED Talks, the Vlog brothers Crash Course clips and  Upworthy are worth searching and bookmarking. Recently, I used clips off YouTube from a Sunday TV programme on boy racing as a starter for Year 10 formal writing. We also discussed the case of the 4 year-old boy who was killed by a boy racer in Christchurch. This generated a brainstorming session and then planning essays on A3 in groups. Their homework was to write an introduction independently.

3. Mini-lectures: I’ve become a fan of Showme this year. These presentations are easy to create and can be added to a LMS via a link so  students (yes with computer access OR smart phones with data credit!) can review in their own time. The combination of visual and oral cues works well especially with lower literacy learners who definitely prefer this to note taking. Be warned – you’ll need your best radio voice!

4. Interactive online resources: Why recreate the wheel? These are also a great option for tilting learning. This week, I used readwritethink’s persuasion map and essay map with my Year 10 class. We were half way through a formal writing assessment when I judged they were all still struggling with the basics. So I abandoned mission, lucked it with a booking for laptops, got them to complete both planners using their assessment topic and print the results. They have been much more focussed since. We also used the BBC skillwise site as a starter going right back to sentence construction and punctuation by talking about the rules then playing games. I did them first and then challenged students to beat my time. (Yes some did!)

So even in a learning environment where access to technology is not a given, there are ways to at least tilt learning. As well as promoting deep level thinking (SOLO anyone?), encouraging self-management and inquiry based learning, there are other benefits to teachers. This approach enables us to spend more one on one time with students (and let’s face it, core subject classes are large in most state secondary schools), is a less exhausting way to teach and once you have created/bookmarked a few videos/sites, you can reuse them so is less stressful.

None of this is rocket science. In fact flipped learning is based on core pedagogical tennants of relevancy, differentiation and engagement.  And whether you’re a cautious tilter or a committed flipper, developing new ways to enhance learning outcomes is at the very least pause for thought.

 

 

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Over the past few weeks, the #hackyrclass community have been sharing ideas about #blendedlearning and #differentiation. The challenge is how to walk the talk in the teaching and learning environments many state and state integrated secondary school teachers operate in on a daily basis. While it’s easy to get enthused sharing ideas with your online community of fellow teacher geeks (sorry guys) it’s often a different story back at school the next day. I think if we were to be completely honest, many of us would admit that our physical resources including access to ICTs often put a big hand brake on making these worthy ideals a reality.

That said, rather than focusing on what we can’t do in small spaces with minimal available technology, I’m hopeful it’s the little things we can do that will set in motion the paradigm shift needed to make blended learning the norm. So here are a couple of small things I’ve tried recently with a trusty data projector, internet and an iPad:

Creative writing
1. Brainspark app projected off iPad as starter – you can use words or pictures to get them writing
2. Storystart app’s photo gallery projected for students to select a setting to write about
3. Showme tutorial to reinforce the concept of showing not telling when writing creatively. There is a Showme app as well which has loads of potential for students to create their own tutorials too.
4. Gave iPad to student to take a couple of pics outside for a writing assessment. He just couldn’t find a way to start otherwise.

Reading
I’ve now got most of my Year 9s signed up to taierihotreads and they are starting to blog about books they are reading. We developed a set of class rules around commenting and these are displayed in class. I also developed a help sheet to get them going which included making the actual steps clear, pointers as to content, some starter sentences and a word bank. Quality and depth of reflection varies but I’m still hopeful this is a step in the right direction for encouraging reading, developing critical literacy and writing for publication. I have found the hardest thing has been getting them to remember passwords and logins. Think I’ll design credit card sized card for them all next time to keep handy.

It’s been great to have a few people outside the class commenting on posts. This really bolsters their confidence and helps give the students ownership of the site which is the ultimate aim.

Keeping it current
I couldn’t pass up these opportunities to make links outside class with seniors:
1. YouTube clip of well-known Americans reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings following Maya Angelou’s recent passing. Used with Level 2s who are focusing on texts that fit the theme of The Voiceless this term.
2. Used start of this Radio NZ flashback to 1994 including an  interview with Rena Owen prior to viewing Once Were Warriors today (heard it previewed in car on way to work – #alwaysworking)
3. Used The Boy Who Danced With a Tank poem by Adrian Mitchell to coincide with 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square rebellion. Watched TVNZ item broad cast last week for background.

It’s a start.

 

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A reflection for where digital learning sits currently at my new school…and a chance to refresh my prezi skills!

 

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