Following my last post on Active Learning I thought I’d blog an example from my own experience.
Investigate the effects on the environment from the generation of electricity, that’s the challenge our new CfE S1 Technological Inquiry sets the pupils. They are instructed to do this collaboratively in groups of 2, 3 or 4 and to present their findings in a form that suits their group.
As a class we spend a few minutes chatting about their options (recalling what they did in Primary to present findings and what might be possible in my class) I also introduce them to Prezi as one option. In demonstrating Prezi to the class I simply showed them one I had made and one that was on the website. I then suggested that they sign-up and practice at home (flipping the classroom). Of my three classes about a third (5 groups) has chosen to use Prezi, about half of those pupils have chosen to learn this new software by build their own at home. In most cases they chose a hobby or personal interest, the results were very encouraging.
One group of girls (Joanna, Alice, Dawn and Lois) overcame a particular problem by creating their own Facebook group, this is their story in their own words.
“The investigation was about the effects on the environment from fossil fuels and the pros and cons of renewable energy. We had to do it in groups of 3 or 4 and we had to present our findings in a media presentation of some sort.”
“We used a number of different websites, one of which where you had to build a town which was eco friendly. The other websites gave you lots of facts about renewable energy and fossil fuels.”
“We had used PowerPoint in primary schools and Mr Surgey introduced us to Prezi as one of the options we could use. Our group chose Prezi.”
“To make the Prezi together, you can invite the rest of your group into the ‘edit together’ feature by sending them an invite then you can all work together on it. We also phoned each other and we used Facebook.”
“We chose to use Facebook because you can communicate at the time that something isreally happening, if you are both, or if the people that you want to communicate with, are on. So, we managed to discuss it over Facebook and it does not cost us anything.”
“Since Prezi didn’t allow you to have a ‘chat box’ to write in, to communicate, we went on Facebook so you could create a ‘group’ for the Prezi to talk to. All of your members could talk with it, and me and Lois managed to chat on Facebook while doing the Prezi. On Prezi there was a little icon for the other person who was on Prezi so that showed you that they were editing.”
There are a number of challenges to collaborating with the limited ITC in school. This did not deter one group who, having decided to do most of the work from home, found the solution to the problem was to create a Facebook group. I was very impressed with their solution as it showed a degree of creative thinking and problem solving, something that probably would not have happened in the classroom environment.
So, here’s the Prezi in question, unedited by their teacher (there are one or two errors):
I picked this group because they stood out, but the rest have done remarkable well too. I’ve been very impressed with my S1 classes this year, more so than in any other. They seem more engaged, switched on and willing to have a go. They are certainly not passive. There is a maturity, in many cases, beyond their years and I can only thank their Primary School teachers!
So it saddens me when I hear comments about our youth, like - “You know what they’re like? If you take your eye off them for a minute…”. Yes, I know what ‘they’ are like and as ‘their’ teacher I would (do) trust them to behave when my back is turned. I would not punish the well behaved majority for the odd indiscretion of one or two, so I would allow them to use Social Media in class – if only I were permitted! You see, the vast majority of the children I teach are well mannered and well behaved and can be trusted. And who, if not me, is going to teach them how to use this tool responsibly, effectively, confidently and successfully?
When children are left alone they can behave, so trust them … they may just surprise you!