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An iPad is ‘just’ another tool for learning
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There has always been plenty of attention given to the Apple iPad, especially when it is mentioned in the same breath as education. But what we must always remember is it is just another tool for learning, like a dictionary, or a calculator.  We must always remember that if we can achieve better outcomes using something else, then use it!

We must not lose site of the end product, force ourselves to use the technology because you feel that you must; when actually the technology is slowing the process and is detrimental to the outcome.  Technology is great for engaging children, but if they don’t see a point in using it, the outcome will usually suffer.

We introduced 1:1 iPads in my classroom just after February half term with the idea being that we wanted them to be unnoticeable in the classroom. The children could choose when and how they used them to enhance their learning and outcomes. After the initial set up period and ensuring the workflow was understood by the children we set off on our journey. So what have we done so far?

Cricket:  Finding my own next steps

During our cricket sessions we use our iPads to review our performances. I allow the children to film a modelled example of a shot I perform and then use it to compare to their own performances.

If they need to check a certain part of the shot, the children can then watch it back to see were they need to improve.  They also filmed each other and reviewed their shots during the lesson, each time referring back to the example I’d given them.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.35.50

Here you can see one of the children have used Pic Collage to make a note of their next steps at the end of the week.  A great starting point for the next lesson – pick up from where they left off completely independently.  I really have seen the benefits of having 1:1 iPads for this as they have a record of their own performance.   I plan to use it for assessment purposes to track progress throughout PE sessions. The children have also uploaded them to Edmodo to share with parents. 

Blogging using Edmodo on the iPads

I’ve tried blogging before with children for years and now it finally makes sense when they have their own device. The freedom to write when they want to has enabled the children to write their blogs on the go, whenever they have a spare minute.

I chose to use Edmodo as a start to blogging with my current class. It gives them an instant audience, something we all crave as bloggers – someone to actually read what you’ve written!  The children have started to write comments and feedback for each other and improve their blogs. I’ve asked them to write at least one a week to keep the interest up.

One interesting thing is watching the children typing on the iPads.  Most use their thumbs or single finger in portrait mode. Very few actually type like you traditionally would on a keyboard using the iPads landscape view.  Something to watch and think about? Touch typing lessons on the iPads? It’s not as if they’re slow at typing, far from it, but is it something to develop?

Children Creating Maths Calculation Video Guides

We’ve been using video as part of our flipped classroom but I’ve always produced the videos for the children. I’ll certainly keep doing this as I’ve found it incredibly useful as it allows children to find their next steps and to know which challenge they are attempting each day.

The children have been using Edmodo recently to save and collect work and information and then store it in their online ‘backpack,’ Edmodo’s version of the cloud.

They have found this incredibly useful as they are not losing documents and can post work simply from their backpack without searching for it.  It also allows you to link your Google Drive account, which I have found incredibly useful. Easily share work from my library/backpack with the children.

So why ask the children to start creating their own videos and how did we do it? 

I asked the children if they could prove to me that they could use the four written methods of calculation for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  Their response was – it’s in our books. True, but I wonder if they can verbalise their calculations and show a real understanding, using the correct mathematical language?  

Through discussion we also decided that it could be useful to create a video when we got stuck. Basically, “this is the bit where I got stuck, help me!”  I liked that idea and set the children to work.

I use Vittle FREE A LOT when creating my short maths video guides. I find limiting my explanations to a minute enables me to get to the point. Its simplicity also stops me from spending ages ‘beautifying’ the presentation.

I simply speak alongside my screen drawings and then upload them to Edmodo to share with the children.  There is plenty of information on my past posts about how we use videos to help us learn.

How do you create the video in one go? You make it look so easy! 

This was a common comment during the sessions – they’re right, I have mastered the skill.  

This got me thinking during the session – this could be a great assessment tool as well! Can the children subtract competently using a written method? Their explanation would tell me – I’ve only watched a handful so far, but from what I’ve seen has been priceless.  I am watching 30 children calculating in real time, I’m not waiting to mark an end product and then trying to work out where they’ve gone wrong.  I can actually see and hear them!

In the future I can see children beginning to use this to build up a portfolio of evidence to support assessment without levels. Pictures of writing with annotations analysing what was good using explain everything; mathematical videos modelling understanding of a skill and a collection of videos and pictures created by me and other children in the class or school.

A Project Based Learning Opportunity for UK Teachers
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Pedagoo has teamed up with Dreamdo to offer an exciting opportunity to UK teachers. We’re recruiting teachers and their classes to talk part in a project-based learning pilot using Dreamdo’s fantastic resources.

What is Dreamdo all about? I’ll let them explain:

Dreamdo Schools is a biannual program that helps school classes all over the world do great projects in one semester. Participating in the program is free and any students from 7-19 years-old can take part. Any teacher and their students, anywhere in the world can join the program and become a part of a global network of teachers and students who dream and do.

Dreamdo Schools is aimed at inspired teachers who want to connect with other teachers and classes around the world to share their projects and learn from each other. Student projects can be used as part of a normal curriculum or as a complementary extracurriculum activity. There is no restriction on the theme of the project, as long as it is something students themselves decide to do.

Imagine how much your students would benefit from taking part in this online, international, project-based learning experience with growth mindsets underpinning the entire approach…for free!

What’s the catch? There isn’t one. Dreamdo is run by a not-for-profit in Finland and they already have schools taking part across Europe. They just want to increase participation internationally. All that they ask in return is that you give them feedback and, if you like it, to help spread the word amongst UK teachers.

How does it actually work? Check out this fantastic video guide to the site:

If this sounds as if this would be beneficial for you and your learners, please get in touch to by completing the form below.

Overcoming technological fear
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“The lizard brain, is a physical part of your brain, the pre-historic lump near the brain stem that is responsible for fear and rage and reproductive drive.” – Seth Godin

WBWKY1FQ2IThat pre-historic unwanted lump is what throws our brain into panic mode when faced with a new challenge or something that we don’t yet understand.  We’re all guilty of it, “Ah, I don’t get this, so freak out!”, and that is the precise moment our brain shuts down and we escape to the dark recesses of our grey matter.

This is a frequent scenario when presented with the gauntlet of embedding technology into our teaching practice.  “But I don’t want to try something new all of the time!” I hear you say, and I would agree!  We must be selective, but when someone else has pioneered how to weave technology into the fabric of learning, overcome the challenges and found solutions, we all benefit!  Therefore, the idea of embedding technology into aspects of our teaching practice becomes less daunting and more attractive, especially when it enhances our teaching practice and advances our learners.

My latest guest on the Inspiration 4 Teachers Podcast Show has won awards for his innovative approach to using technology to enhance his students’ learning and the quality of his teaching.  Scott Hayden, Specialist Practitioner of Social Media and Educational Technology at Basingstoke College, UK, has forged differentiated approaches to evidence submission, shaped schemes of work and assignments around the social media platforms that his learners engage with, and has developed collaborative narrative across curriculum hubs using Twitter.

Episode take-aways:

  • Ideas for embedding technology into your teaching practice
  • The best technology, apps and programmes to use to engage learners
  • Enhancing your professional teaching practice, where to find support and ideas

What next?

If you enjoyed this article, please pay the knowledge forward and share with your community!

 

Should I stay or should I Glow?
June 2, 2015
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If you are a teacher in Scotland you have no doubt already heard or experienced “Glow” first hand. If not, then a quick google will probably tell you all you would ever want to know about where it has come from and feelings towards it.

I was fortunate enough to attend the “Learning Through Technology” conference recently and one of the key messages I took away from that was “people’s views of IT and Technology are very different from the reality of what it is today”. This view seemed to be applauded and a genuine consensus that people’s viewpoints and feelings needed to be challenged and changed.

For whatever reasons, this was not allowed to be the case when it came to Glow. It seemed completely unacceptable to disengage Glow with where it has came from and its past.

This year I’ve been shocked by even Newly Qualified Teachers coming out of our system with the deep ingrained belief that Glow is useless and that they didn’t need to engage in it. Teacher discourses are fascinating things.

I now ask you to watch at least some of the video below that I have created to give just a taste of what Glow has to offer. Do so with an open mind and make your decision on what “Glow” currently is and what it can offer.
 

 

 

Using Thinglink to extend model making activities
Step 3 - Adding tags

I first came across Thinglink when introduced by a colleague who teaches MFL (@ProfeScammell), she said it would be excellent to extend the model making activities we do in Geography and she was correct! I began by having a play around with Thinglink myself by signing up and creating a couple of Thinglink pictures myself. I did this so I could create some instructions for the students and be able to help them in case they happened to get stuck. Luckily, for an ICT novice such as myself it was relatively straightforward.

The first use was after creating our own sustainable houses. The time it took to make them meant that we didn’t have time to assess them within the lesson so it was a perfect opportunity to try something new. At the end of the lesson I got them all to write their name on a post it and place it by their house so I could take a photo on my phone to upload to our shared drive.

I booked the IT facilities for the lesson after and made sure I had uploaded all of the photos to a communal area for all to access. It took about 10 minutes for all of the students to create their own account using their school email and me to resolve any issues. Note to self – make sure students write down their passwords for future use! They then began by finding and uploading their image and began to “tag”. Part of the success criteria was to try a variety of tags – highlighting key terminology, incorporating images from the internet and adding YouTube videos. Students were engaged and enjoyed figuring out the features on offer. Out of 28 students only one had heard of it. I think this added to the engagement as it was something new and different. They had the remainder of the lesson to finish their Thinglink ready to be peer assessed next lesson. The final lesson we logged into Thinglink again and students searched for their partner’s houses. They wrote a WWW & EBI comment online and published it.

 

Step 1 - Creating an account

Step 1 – Creating an account

Step 2 - Uploading images

Step 2 – Uploading images

Step 3 - Adding tags

Step 3 – Adding tags

Adding images into tags

Adding images into tags

Peer Assessment Criteria

Peer Assessment Criteria

All in all I think a very enjoyable two and a half lessons. I felt it added more purpose to the task of creating the houses, especially when some question the value of model making. It was a more engaging and interactive format than merely adding post its as labels.

Next time? I am definitely going to use Thinglink again – it’s use is infinite and across the key stages, it could be invaluable as a revision tool for GCSE and A level students especially due to its sharing and searching capabilities. Teachers and students can also create their own channels.  I’d get the students to write down their passwords! I’d also spend some time getting the students to look and search for other Thinglinks available on the topics we are studying for some alternative ideas. For myself as a teacher I am going to investigate and follow other Thinglink users for teaching and also subject ideas in addition to creating my own channel where I can create and upload images but students can also add theirs to a communal area.

Stop motion videos to demonstrate learning
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We recently have been lucky enough to get the use of five iPads in our biology department and we have been trying to integrate them into the classroom.  I recently came across the Lego stop motion app when making movies with my own kids and thought about applications for use in the classroom.  The app is free and I very easy to use.  My s4 class has used it to create videos to show their understanding of pyramids of energy, biomass and numbers.

My advanced higher class have used the app to demonstrate their understanding of cell and tissue culture.  

Both classes loved it.  They were very engaged in the activity and were on task throughout.  They shared ideas about what to add to the videos and showed me a few new features in the app that I didn’t know about.  

The advanced higher class worked in groups of 3/4 each choosing a different cell type to culture. They then shared their video with the rest of the class (using a vga cable and adapter linked up to the projector).  It made a great explanation tool for each cell type as well as a good revision tool.  It can be used in so many areas of the course and I plan to use it more and allow pupils to be creative in explaining what they have learned.  I have added a few of the videos (the ones without the kids in them) to let you see what they did.  We have to learn how to slow the videos down a bit but I’m sure the pupils can teach me this! Hope this helps

Sarah Clark

Technology crossover
March 1, 2015
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Image by flickr.com/photos/adactioImage by flickr.com/photos/adactio

I have been teaching for around 13 years now and this is my first blog post. I have been making great efforts to keep up with technology and all it’s exciting developments but, I must confess, I am finding it harder than I thought I would. Having recently acquired ‘Plickers‘, ‘Socrative‘ and ‘Memrise‘, I am ready to try new things out in the classroom.

Very recently, I used QR codes combined with Vocaroo to get students to hand in ‘speaking’ homework and, apart fom the obvious “my computer crashed” excuses, it worked very well and spurred me on to refine it and improve it in future. This is definitely a positive thing as I feel as though I am not just using technology for the sake of it, I am using it to enhance my practice.

This Monday, I will try using Plickers in the classroom for the first time and I am not hugely confident. The management of the individual cards plus the iPad plus the PC seems like a lot of things to manage but hopefully it will all come good and I will feel invigorated and enthused by this next step in using technology in the classroom. I will let you know how it goes…

Also, I have been very aware of stress levels at work lately and so am trying to focus on making staff feel valued and important. I already send out a positive message every Friday but am trying to develop this further following the example of someone else’s wellbeing bags (which include treats and motivators). Fingers crossed this has a positive impact!

I will let you know how the Plickers experience goes!

#DigiLearnScot
February 15, 2015
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ndlcweekwhatdoing

Scotland’s National Digital Learning Community is running a Digital Learning Week from the 2nd to the 6th March. The aim of the National Digital Learning Week is to:

  • share the innovative and exciting ways in which learners are using digital technologies in school
  • develop a National Digital Learning Community comprising teachers/educators across Scotland
  • encourage pledges from educators about what they are going to do next to change their practice

There are events taking place across the country during this week including the following two TeachMeets:

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What will you do for #DigiLearnScot week?

The Earth is Flat and Kissing Makes You Pregnant
November 29, 2014
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Flat Earth

When Hamlet says that “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” he isn’t too wide of the mark. We can think ourselves into all sorts of nonsense if we work hard enough. There are still Flat Earthers, people who think global warming is a myth, and that JFK was killed by the CIA (well, actually the jury may be out on that one…). Some people in my profession – teachers and parents – see the internet as a similarly polarising issue.  On the one hand we have the advocates who argue that the internet has democratised access to knowledge and information and has fundamentally revolutionised the role of the teacher. On the other hand we have the opponents who see the internet as an unregulated hotbed of disinformation that undermines the pivotal role of the teacher as guardian of learning. Just to be clear, and in a spirit of full disclosure, I fall into the first of these two positions, and I would like to say why.

Good schools (and good teachers) are in the futures business.

Schools do not produce stuff for the here and now. Our job is to help build the future, one learner at the time. What we do now should be as relevant as we can make it, but the gauge of what is relevant must be defined by what learners will need for the future, not what they used to need in the past.

Good schools (and good teachers) genuinely put learners first.

Today’s young people live in a world that is saturated with technology – and it is developing at an ever-increasing rate. We all have a duty to make sure that today’s learners grow up as adept, skilful, discriminating and ethical in their use of the tools available to us. That means each and every teacher has that self-same duty. It cannot be outsourced to Tech Support. It isn’t somebody else’s job. Simply put, if you do not help young people to develop their use of technology for learning in your classroom then you are not putting their needs ahead of your own. Likewise schools that do not find ways to invest in technology cannot be said to be genuinely meeting the needs of learners in the 21st century.

Good schools (and good teachers) are excited, entrepreneurial learners.

There is not a teacher preparation system in the world that has prepared teachers for the world in which we now live. Back in 1987 when I qualified as a teacher, nobody knew what was coming. Only the occasional wild-eyed futurist could have foreseen the revolution that Web 2.0 would bring. But now it is here and we need to deal with it. The way in which we do this says a lot about our preparedness to be part of the revolution. If we take the path of suspicion, mistrust and denial, deluding ourselves that we are “holding on to traditional best practice” (sic), then our profession has a problem. We each need to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset committed to taking personal responsibility for our own learning. We need to embrace our professional duty to be problem-solvers and inquirers. People who wait around to be “upskilled” will not only miss the boat but they will undermine the learning needs of each and every student they share time with

Good schools (and good teachers) identify and hold on to fundamental principles.

In a world where change is a constant it has never been more important to identify and hold on to the fundamental principles upon which we believe schools are based: schools put student learning first; effective teaching is a thoughtful, planned activity; intellectual rigour isn’t a passing fad; and skills and values trump content every single time (but it is a fallacy to think it is one or the other).

Finally, good schools (and good teachers) practice what they preach.

If we want our young people to grow up as creative, knowledgeable, skilful, ethical, technologically adept inquirers then we have to have those self-same expectations of ourselves and each other. And that is a big ask. In education we face probably one of the biggest challenges any profession has ever faced: reinvention.

If you are reading this as a teacher or an administrator in schools, which side of the divide do you fall on? And before you start to prevaricate, there really are only two sides: you can’t be a little bit pregnant. Then again, you can’t get pregnant by kissing either, but is doesn’t stop some people thinking you can, or that the earth is flat, or that global warming is a myth, or that JFK was killed by…

Who Owns the Learning?
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Alan November is an international leader in education technology.  He has been director of an alternative high school, computer coordinator, technology consultant and university lecturer. Alan has helped schools, governments and industry leaders improve the quality of education through technology.  

Tomorrow (Thursday) at 1pm GMT you can hear from and put questions to Alan about why he thinks students need to be at the centre of learning to develop critical thinking and receive continuous feedback.  Watch the live Q&A session here: http://thinkdif.co/emf-stages/transforming-learning-beyond-the-1-000-pencil.  If you can’t make the 1pm session (quite likely, I imagine!) then you can catch-up with this session at a later date.

Alan’s session is part of the Disruptive Innovation Festival (DIF): a global, online festival which is exploring emerging technologies and ideas that have an opportunity to reshape our economy.

You can also listen to (and put questions to) Sir Ken Robinson tomorrow at the Disruptive Innovation Festival in his session at 3pm, here: http://thinkdif.co/headliners/sir-ken-robinson.  Again, you can catch up with this session at a later time and date if you miss it live.