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Posts Tagged ‘BBC Skillwise’

Funny sometimes how the classes you lose the most sleep over end up being the most rewarding. Last holidays I tried to devise a new approach to teaching formal writing with a class of 28 mixed ability Year 10 learners which features an ORS student, 2 ESOL students and 8 SENCO tagged learners with a variety of learning challenges.

As a group BOY formative testing showed they struggled to unpack ideas in reading, and without an idea, it’s hard to form opinions and without opinions it’s difficult to be persuasive – you get the drift!

I recalled that at the end of Term 2, the entire Year 10 cohort had workshops with guest speakers from Police and other agencies about cyberbullying. It struck me I should start with something they had discussed recently and were likely to have an opinion on. In an aha moment, I came across two FREE DVD teaching resources on the NetSafe website complete with downloadable worksheets. Perfect – these guys love visual starters. So the seed was sown.

My objective was to help students progress their formal writing skills by developing ideas around a class wide topic – the perils of cyberbullying. As well as watching the DVDs, I provided opportunities to develop ideas and conduct research together to ensure they ALL had facts to back up their opinions while at the same time exposing them to a heap of valuable online resources. The lesson outline was a mixture of core skills and ideas development that went something like this:

Lesson 1 – SEXY para revision via reflective writing in journal based on TVNZ reporters sharing their experiences: Do celebrities deserve the same rights to privacy online?, formal vs informal language, paragraphing using BBC Skillwise site.

Lesson 2 – SEXY para revision based on Sexting clip: Why is sexting dangerous?, Tone – rewrite a bogus school report, Research Skills discuss ACC (authenticity, credibility, currency) show tree octopus and the “True” Martin Luther King website, show students how to conduct keyword searches, show students how domain names give clues to authenticity, research trash and treasure hunt – find 3 facts about cyberbullying in New Zealand

Lesson 3 – Watch Tagged, write own definitions for bullying and cyberbullying, check actual definitions, friend request worksheet from Tagged, Role of bystander – write a SEXY para in journal: Why don’t people stop bullying when they see it?

Lesson 4 –  SEXY para The dangers of stereotyping via YouTube Clip Other People’s Shoes. Class discussion Why do people follow the Queen Bee? Watch Tagged webcam character interviews, complete timelines, profiles and what’s the status worksheets/activities.

Lesson 5 – Watch Let’s Fight it Together, answer focus questions in groups, devise solutions as mind map, watch character interviews on DVD, blow up character questions to A3 complete in groups, share. Hand in journals for feedback on this week’s reflective paras. (Give feedback on SEXY structure and explanation of ideas)

Lessons 6 – Complete THINK worksheet and discuss as class, revise language features via Pimp My Writing ppt, write two pimped sentences in journals. Issue task: We need to get tougher on cyber bullying.

Lesson 7 – Complete research worksheet in pairs in class using websites supplied.

Lesson 8 – Spelling rules starter, draft intro and BP1: What is cyber bullying and how big is the problem in NZ?

Lessons 9 – Spelling rules, Draft BP 2: What are the effects of cyber bullying? and BP 3: What is being done to stop cyber bullying?

Lesson 10 Draft conclusion (think about causes, effects, solutions) hand in for feedback, discuss feedback with students

Lesson 11 and 12 – craft, edit, publish, submit

During the five assessment sessions, our ORS student was working on his own presentation about cyber ullying using MySimpleShow which he presented on the last day of term – and it was awesome. He told his teacher aide what to type, they selected pics together and he presented it. The other students were gobsmacked!

As for those completing the essay assessment, their results showed some incremental improvements in terms of summative assessment but for me, the real results were less tangible and included:

  • addressing issues within the class between different clicks by using THINK
  • establishing who specifically their own “trusted” adults are
  • reaffirming the sanctity of their own bodies and how they most respect themselves
  • crossover with Health and PE. Students were getting double exposure of key concepts and ideas

Here are extracts from some of my favourite essays – regardless of where they sit on the curriculum scale, I’d like to think they learned a few valuable lessons during the process:

We definitely have to get tough on cyberbullying. The victims of cyberbullying are getting younger and younger. Cyberbullying is no game. It’s not something you do as a joke; it’s serious and pointless. Cyberbullying destroys people and makes them feel unimportant.

Cyberbullying is when someone uses social media or technology to bully and put someone else down. By using this method the bully can hide behind the screen instead of having to confront the victim face to face. My opinion is that if you have a problem with someone, you should sort it out then and there, face to face and not cower behind a screen and bully others without having the guts to say things to their face.

Cyberbullying is when people decide to bully other people online with technology and turn it against each other to make a horrible situation for the victim or victims. Cyberbullying gets worse at high school where 25% of students report they are constantly cyber bullied, 30% say they have sexted and 67% say they have been asked to sext. The most common type of cyber bullying is using cell phones because 80% of high school students use them.  Cyber bullying is most common with girls. An example of this is in the Tagged film when two girls start cyberbullying the victim as a “joke.” Clearly, cyberbullying is a vicious game that needs to be taken seriously.

The effects of cyberbullying are long term and potentially deadly. In Dunedin, a 14 year old girl received 150 threats to kill herself in three hours. In another incident, a 15 year old girl on tumblr was asked for tips and messages on how to kill herself. People who get cyberbullied fell depressed and can end up self-harming. Most of them can’t handle being cyberbullied. In my opinion, cyberbullying is pathetic and cowardly. The victims have a whole life ahead of them. They shouldn’t have to put up people bullying them. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

There are now multiple places for victims to get support such as websites like nobullying.com or helplines like 0800WHATSUP. There is also a programme called Sticks and Stones started by young people in Alexandra. These are all for people in need of someone to talk to and get help to prevent further problems around cyberbullying.

In conclusion, I think cyberbullying is a gutless way of putting someone down. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it at all. Cyberbullying ruins lives and you don’t want that sort of guilt on your hands.

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It’s been an exciting start to the year at a new school, topped off with the privilege of being allocated a trial ipad class of Year 10 students. This post is really an extended reflection of where I’m at, there they’re at and where we might be heading with ipads in an English classroom.

The first challenge was setting up the device. This entailed getting myself online via the school server as well as ensuring it would work at home. This was made simpler by my Year 11 students who completed all of the above in about 15 minutes – how they remember all the relevant settings is beyond me but I was grateful for their help!

The next step was familiarizing myself with navigation. Enter two ipod touting sons who quickly showed me the in and outs of finding my way around the device, uploading apps and creating folders on the desktop. 🙂

So what have we achieved? At this stage baby steps.

My class has access to a dedicated Koodle page via the school website. I update this weekly and promote it visually in class. Having an LMS is one thing but as I’ve learned, getting students to use it is another. To be specific – be explicit. They need to see it to connect with it. I also promoted the site to parents via email. Their page includes an introductory section with a document featuring links to websites I recommend students bookmark on their iPads. This includes online dictionaries, visual thesaurus, reading support sites, writing support sites, search engines as well as grammar and punctuation sites with interactive games – such fun!

Now this might not seem ipad specific yet but hang in there! At this stage my aim was to integrate the ipad with existing technologies in a bid to ensure students could hook into technologies relevant to their needs. I should add they are a mixed ability class. One of the big pluses of ipads has to be helping teachers provide differentiated learning opportunities. Now you’re interested?!

Next I set up a wide reading blog. Initially this was private and I emailed students invites to their school accounts. Part way through the term, take up was just two students out of 24 so I made the blog public to make it easier to access. This blog has examples of wide reading responses, suggested texts, links to sites about reading/books and the odd You Tube clip students could use for a visual response.

Although I later discovered we don’t accept posts as responses (schools have different policies on this – it is permitted in the Achievement Standard), the blog is a good resource if students are stuck for inspiration. I also promoted the blog to parents during interviews, many of whom were unsure what a reading response was.

In the first term we covered creative writing and a novel study. My big goal was to use a web adventure based on CSI investigation for them as a starter to their creative writing assessment. Unfortunately, I planned this unit of work over the summer holidays before I had the iPad so was gutted to learn the website wouldn’t load on an iPad because it needed flash 😦 Note to self: never talk up a digital learning opportunity until you’ve tested it…

I really think the class would have enjoyed a game-based approach to learning about characters and setting, and using that as a starting point for their writing. Similarly, the fantastic BBC Skills website I intended to use for grammar and punctuation doesn’t work on iPads so I had to find alternatives. Moving on (!) I incorporated iPads into lessons for:
1. Grammar and punctuation – Grammar Monster
2. Poetic devices testing– Quia
3. A shared glossy for novel – used EverNote to create and asked students to do the same using Evernote, Penultimate or Scratch. I placed a link to my glossary via Koodle in case students were away/behind.

Term 2 planned uses:
Now that I’m aware of applications and shortcomings, I plan to use the ipad more regularly in lessons. My aim is to do this as seamlessly as possible. At this stage I’ve earmarked the following apps/websites:
1. Quizlet – novel terms and content testing
2. Spell City – interactive games using the glossary created in term 1
3. Prezi – for a presentation on theme for film study
4. Animoto – as above
5. Four Pics One Word – general starter
6. Cartoon Studio – plot summary film/character study
7. Auto rap – turning film reviews into rap.
8. TED – as a start for non-fiction writing

9. Socrative – range of uses but the great thing is it can be used in real time by teacher and students.

Later in the year, I hope to use the ipads for sharing/analysing essays via Drop Box or Noterize. I‘m also hoping to create a private twitter feed for a character study of Romeo and Juliet, and would also like to use iPads collaboratively when preparing for exams.

So has it been worthwhile? I guess it’s early days. For me, the biggest thing has been upskilling in “my spare time” but as with all digital learning, sometimes trusting students to sort out small glitches i.e encouraging them to be the experts is the best way forward. Being brave and giving things a go is also really important. Not everything I planned worked so you just have to move on and find an alterative.

Not surprisingly, the biggest challenge to date is not technological but around appropriate usage in the classroom. If you thought FB was bad, wait until you have to deal with snapchat/tumblr. That’s an issue we’ll be working through this term with discussions underway about developing consistent rules across all subject areas. I’m not sure what that will look like in practice but if we don’t address that issue, the ipads are doomed to become just another device to police in the classroom which would be a real shame.

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