Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Observations Week 6 Clevedon

Rebbecca's students are working well with the Digital Toolkit and enjoy making their own choices about how they present their work. A particular favourite is Pic Collage

Some of the other  tools they have used are
  • Kerpoof
  • Pages
  • Comic Life
  • one child has downloaded  Instacollage and uses that (I like the way students are finding apps that work for them)
Rachael had set several tasks using Google Docs today. I suggested setting up an 'Expectations' chart with the tasks so that the students would know what they were going to have to do next. She added this to her wiki along with the success criteria.
We showed the students how they could add a shortcut to the class wiki by bookmarking on the iPad home page.

Rachael's students did a journal play in a different way today. They went outside and went over it twice, and then they made a Puppet Pals movie with all 7 children participating by reading their parts. One of the students had only one line to say in the play so she made the characters move when the students read their parts. They came back in and shared through the Apple TV. The rest of the class thoroughly enjoyed the play. The children said their learning from that activity was that they could hear that they needed to add more expression to their voices and they needed to speak loudly and fluently.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Developing Self Management

What has happened since last week?
Diane's class has been trying out some of the ideas from last week and the students have particularly liked the different ways of mindmapping.

Here is an example of their 'Writing on the Window'

And an example using Post-it Notes.

What did I notice today?

Students working on nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs using
Popplet on
 the computer (Individuals)
Writing on the IWB (Group)
Using Notes on the iPad (individuals and pairs)
Writing in Books.

 Comfortable Learning Zones with couches and comfy chairs.

Self managing and organising where we need to be by moving name labels to the device we are going to be using.

Sarah has the Year 7 & 8 students. She has noticed how quickly they learn new skills and then adapt them to their learning. She wants to try a flexible timetable with them where they have to self manage themselves. I noticed with their work throughout the day that some could get distracted, so we need to set up a self management continuum where students move their avatars to whichever expectation they are working at. These would be aligned to their learning goals and intentions and whatever expectations that have been set up  for the students to work from.

In my travels through lots of schools, I have noticed in classrooms when students get involved in a task, that they take no notice of time unless the teacher is prompting them '10 minutes to go!' etc. In longer tasks where they may have several days, students are used to being told by teachers where they should be up to. Recently, Sarah has been saying to the students when she has set a new task to be completed in one session, "You have 'x' amount of time, it is up to you to manage this time." She is finding that most students are improving their time management as they don't want to run out of time to finish their work.
It will be interesting to see how the 'Self management Continuum' will work, particularly as I think it will encourage students to revisit what they should be achieving in their tasks.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Management and more options

Digital Toolkit
Rebecca and the students have created a Digital Toolkit display for the classroom wall and it is a great reference tool for students who are not sure what tools they can use. This will grow as more apps and programmes are added to it.

 Drafting and Mindmapping
The classes are writing autobiographies at the moment and the students have been drafting in their writing books. I showed Rebecca a way that she could use Inspiration to map out the draft and pull more ideas out, then the students can use this to help them write their drafts.

Publishing tools
Students were using a variety of publishing tools today.

Reading Options
We talked about how to give students choices at reading time. I suggested creating an Options Log where they can indicate by typing in the day they do each option. This way the teacher and the students can see what options they like the most. You can put in a compulsory component where the students know that they have to do the minimum of each option each term.

 Rachael from the other class is doing something similar using the Daily Five. She uses a tumble where she teaches a group, has a related activity and the 3rd choice is one of the Daily Five. She is going to incorporate the above idea and add different ways students can do the Daily Five in the same way.

Sharing great ideas
I suggested that the teachers make a point of letting the other one know when there is something great happening in their classroom. They could do this via Skype or send a messenger between the rooms. I think it is important that teachers see what is happening in other rooms so that they can share what works well.

Maths and management

Rebecca made a Keynote slide that had a Place Value chart on it, students retrieved it from Dropbox and she used it as a  group teaching moment.

I suggested a time management technique for students getting ready in the middle block. Rebecca has a warm up maths activity where students have to solve 20 problems in 5 minutes. I suggested that she sets the timer for 3-5 minutes and in that time students have to get ready for the subjects in that block of time,  like getting books, pens, rulers, pencils, iPads etc. Once the timer stops, restart it for the 5 minute math activity, if the students are not in their seats ready to start then they will have less time to solve the problems. They will very quickly learn to get organised early as they will not want to record a lower possible score due to being unorganised.

What has been interesting to note over the last week?
  • students are opting more often to use laptops rather than choosing iPads all the time
  • Dropbox has been an invaluable tool both to teachers and students for moving files between computers and iPad, students are teaching each other how to use it
What hasn't worked so well?
  • not all of the children have the 'paid' apps yet, which means they have less options to choose from
Student Centred teaching and learning
Rachael in the next room has been able to get her Plasma TV and Apple TV working. I like the way she has set up the tables so it is a very functional learning zone. Students can sit around the tables looking at each other and they are also able to view the TV as well.
Today Rachael started working with the children on their 'Peer Editing'. She made sure they knew what the focus was and students displayed the drafted/edited work from their iPads on the screen. All the students made suggestions on how to improve the writing.

She then left them to carry on, on their own. It was interesting watching their reactions to this type of learning, they were engaged, reflective and taking ownership of their work.

Later she used Showme in the same way where students had to show her a place value strategy on the screen. The advantage of the plasma is that the screen is very bright and clear and works really well in a group situation.

What works well?
  • students using Notes and Notability for their long vowel work
  • Students are using Notability for their Homework Diary and their weekly spelling words are recorded in there
  • the Plasma and Apple TV is a great 'Learning Zone'
What have we learned today?
  • all children need to learn how to troubleshoot their devices see Crashing Devices
  • all children need to come to school with iPad updates, otherwise some of the apps won't work and will crash

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Choices and Options

Today I was at Holy Cross School in Papatoetoe. They have  2 e-Learning classrooms.
Diane has a year 5/6 classroom with 8 standalone Windows computers and she can book 15 iPads. Sarah has a Year 7/8 class with 12 standalones and 8 iPads. We spent a day in the holidays talking about what e-Learning could look like in their classrooms.
As with everything at the beginning of a new school year there are still a few problems that need to fixed.
  • wireless issues in one class
  • iPad apps that were recommended still need to be downloaded

Diane was going to teach her whole class how to make an Inspiration mindmap; they had to find dictionary meanings to some words and then explain how that related to the topic they had been talking about. First thing we discovered was that Inspiration was not on all of the iPads. So I suggested taking a small group and using my 2 extra iPads. I demonstrated how I teach students Inspiration which takes less than 5 minutes. Soon the students were all buzzing away and I moved amongst them showing one student how to change shape and colour and suggested they group their ideas. This travelled like osmosis, and soon all of the students were expertly moving between 2 apps, finding meanings and then adding how that meaning related to their topic. They then went on to teach other students in the class how to do it. Once I saw that those students were independently working away, I noticed that other children were on computers typing up information. I suggested to them that they might try SmartArt on Word or PowerPoint...once again in less than 5 minutes those students were independently creating Mindmaps. After a few minutes I showed one student how you could change colours, look or diagram, and before you knew it each child had a different look to their diagrams.
This lead to a discussion on different options for mindmapping

    • Inspiration on iPad
    • Word or PowerPoint using SmartArt on computer
    • large piece of paper with vivid feltips using colour to organise ideas
    • coloured post it notes on the window or on a large piece of paper
    • window writing pens
So rather than having all the students doing the same thing, give them the choices of how they might like to record their learning.

The students had been working on Narratives and the teacher wanted them to make a short Puppet Pals movie that showed a problem, solution and consequence, all based on their R.E (Religious Education) topic. The students already knew PuppetPals quite well and of course wanted to get straight into it. They were encouraged to storyboard their ideas onto paper and then they proceeded to make their movies.

One boy who is a reluctant writer quickly completed his storyboard, explained it to me and then created his PuppetPal movie (with a friend). About 5 minutes later they came over to show me very proudly. I said how well they had worked and asked them, after watching it a couple of times, was there anything else they could do to it...he replied 'Improve it!' So off they went together and they found themselves a quiet space and worked on it again. Diane said this boy would normally never say that and would pass the work in finished.

Another boy who stood out when using SmartArt for the mindmapping (his mindmap was very creative and showed off the extent of his learning) didn't want to make puppets from photos of other students, he decided he wanted to draw his main character with coloured pencils on paper, photograph it and remove the background. This whole morning session was the most engaged she had ever seen him. He was making his choices using what tools he had available to him.

Sarah's year 7/8 were doing a variety of activities. Some were working on magazine covers for their fortnightly magazine, others were making PowerPoint presentations about what they had learned in Health.
I moved over to one group who were doing the usual PowerPoint one picture and text box to a slide. I suggested they try out using Inspiration Maps as part of their presentation, again in just a few minutes I showed them how to use it. They made all of their slides using Inspiration. The students aren't setup with emails yet so they couldn't email the maps to the computer and insert into their PowerPoint, so in less than 2 minutes I showed them the basics of Book Creator, they made their book in just a few minutes, shared it to iBooks and then they were able to show it as a book at presentation time.

Another group of girls were working on the IWB in Word. They had put their Weemee picture in the middle of the page and were making textboxes all around the image. I showed them how they could put that information into SmartArt and they came up with this.

What I particularly liked about Sarah's room was how there was no 'front of the room' and no teaching station. Sarah moved around the room and sat down in lots of different areas to work with the students.
Some of the pointers I gave her were
  • self managing tip...tell students they have X amount of time to do______. They have to work out their time management and manage it themselves. (Sarah did this with the students and it was interesting to see how conscientious they became once they knew they had only a limited time and that they were not going to get any reminders.)
  • try not to be so explicit in what you want them to 'produce', let them know what tools are available and let them choose. Set up a rubric with expectations.
  • add Inspiration Maps, Smart Art in Word/PowerPoint and Book Creator to your Student Digital Toolkit. Sarah is going to create a Visual Digital Toolkit that will remind students what tools they have available to them for their learning.

Sarah's final comments for the day was that it was cool to see all the kids engaged and doing different things. 

She came up with this statement that she is going to use with her students
' What could you use? rather than 'This is what you have to use!'

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Beginning the e-Learning Classroom

This term I am mentoring 4 teachers in 2 different schools who have started e-Learning Classrooms.
It has been interesting to see in my first 2 classrooms what the issues and successes are so far.
In setting up an e-Learning class after all the class rules, routines have been covered there has to be a fair bit  of time spent learning about the digital tools. Students need to know the  safety and care rules and be exposed to Digital Citizenship. Digital Toolkits will start being organised and alongside this is how to deal with troubleshooting.
Clevedon School has 2 e-Learning classrooms
  • Year 5/6
  • iPad each (BYOD)
  • 1 iMac
  • 2 Windows computers
  • 6 laptops
  • projector
  • apple TV
  • Large screen tv
Some of the Issues were
  • Apps crashing (this is a help diagram that I have made in Inspiration, it can be printed out and put on the wall and/or screen captured and put on a wiki or a blog as a reference) Download as a PDF or Inspiration 9 file
  •  children wanting to listen to music (which the teacher was able to fix by giving the group a splitter and they plugged in their headphones and listened while they worked)

  • Wireless dropping off or defaulting to another network that will not work which leads to students constantly telling the teacher that something isn't working. To help students become more independent they need procedures that they can follow for when 'Things just don't work'! I suggested a flow diagram that students could refer to when they lose wireless.

  • Students getting excited when they find something that is cool (and it is actually helping their learning) 
  • Rachael and I trying out how Notability could be used for Spelling and then Rachael coming up with the idea of using Notability as her modelling book for writing and sharing as a PDF to Dropbox everyday as it gets updated. Students can look up what were the teaching points for that day
  • Students smiling while they are listening to music and working on their writing at the same time
  • Students asking questions about how they want to do something that looks like this, and how could they do it?
  • Students sharing when they find out something new. (I suggested to the teachers that they show one child first how to do something then that child will have have to go and pass it on to another)
  • Me sharing tips and tricks to one child and then telling them to pass it on 
Rebecca has been talking about Digital Citizenship and students have mindmapped, made lists, discussed and now they are going to  make Cybersafety posters. They were given a choice of tools that they could use
  • any of the apps on the iPad
  • Standalone computers using Paint and/or Word
  • Laptops using Kerpoof or City Lego Comic
  • Paper, pencils, felt tips
 At the end of the day Rebecca summed it up, 'Well that went better than what I thought!'
We as teachers have to let go of the traditional way of thinking that all students have to produce the same product. Let them have the choice of how they want to present their findings, they will find it more engaging and interesting. The atmosphere in the classroom was great that afternoon, everybody was busy, working on their own individual task but there was a collaborative buzz as they talked about what they were doing and asked for help from their peers and teachers.