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Posts Tagged ‘quizlet’

Following my last post (soapbox more than sharing sorry) I realised something. Aside from the very real pressures preventing teachers from using digital technology effectively, have we been blinded by science? What if we all take a big step back, right back to the NZC, then maybe forward a bit to our curriculum area’s learning objectives and then inch forward slightly to our department’s goals. Is it possible to start from the purpose of the lesson and THEN consider the place of digital learning tools?

Here’s an example. My Year 9s are going to close view Ang Lee’s stunning film Life of Pi this term. Close viewing a visual text (being a critical media consumer) is a core skill in English. We want students to be able to infer meaning from a visual text, to consider how the director uses a range of film techniques for a specific purpose, to analyse how those big ideas are incorporated in the text and reflect on the importance of those ideas in their lives, their community and the world.

To attain those objectives we generally:
1. Watch a film and review key scenes
2. Explicitly teach a range of film techniques
3. Discuss and analyse ideas in the film
4. Discuss and analyse the director’s purpose
5. Relate techniques to purpose
6. Reflect on the film’s messages for individuals and for society

So, you watch the film, you do term:definition matches and you write an essay that demonstrates you can apply knowledge and express ideas.

How could digital technology enhance that process?

1. Close view – Use the best TV you can with best sound system available. Use pause and slow mo.

2. Techniques – take screen grabs using a snipping tool, print image to A3, get students in groups to label the techniques or use phones/ipads to go out and replicate a few scenes to help embed techniques and effects. Make the key literacy terms interactive and competitive – try quizlet, Kahoot, Edmodo.While it might take 30 minutes to make your quiz, if you make it generic, you can reuse.

3. Ideas – upload background notes on your LMS. Then give the students opportunities to work through a range of tasks (character analysis, themes analysis, narrative techniques) online, in any order they choose, over a week.
4.Director’s purpose – check: has your DVD got interviews with director at end? Are they on YouTube or the film’s official website? These can be viewed as a class or online with headphones as a close listening activity. I’m going to use an interview with Yann Martel (author of Life of Pi) on RadioNZ as an extension activity.

5 and 6. To consolidate their knowledge (moving from Bloom’s understand and apply to analyse, evaluate and create) students choose their groups (student choice) and complete an assignment requiring them to collaborate and create.

If you go right back to Bloom’s Taxonomy (or Solo or whichever theory resonates), it’s a matter of starting with basics then working up to the higher order thinking by creating opportunities to independently analyse and avalute. I’ll use One Note on 365 because that’s the platform my school uses. It took me about two hours to set up a shared content library, individual student folders and a collaboration space (the basic tenants of One Note). The aim is to use Office Mix (an add on to powerpoint enabling students to add audio, quizzes and drawings) to create a presentation they will then present to class providing an opportunity for some public speaking as well.

If we start with the big picture, consider core skills, learning objectives and key competencies and plan from there, then digital technology simply becomes a means of getting there – while also allowing students to develop digital literacy skills.

Of course it takes time to learn how to use One Note, Office Mix and Quizlet but it also takes time to create paper handouts and worksheets. My advice for the over or underwhelmed is pick one class or one unit of work. Start with a big bit of paper, mind map the big picture goals/objectives/competencies then consider possible steps. For me, taking time to make sure the folders I create for students in our class notebook match those in the content library and are in a logical order is vital to ensure students can navigate their folders easily. So forethought and curbing a tendency to add extra folders after I’ve set up the directory under the guise of “extras” are crucial.

And as for the essay? My students will still write essays this year (a core skill as that is how they will be assessed for externals in NCEA) via written text studies so will practice that skill again before exams. Risky strategy possibly but if they can see the assignment through, hopefully they will have gained greater insight into the text and thus have more to write about.

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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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