This weekend I attended my first ever TeachMeet, #TMLoveLibraries which was held in the Edinburgh Central Library. The format to this TeachMeet was different from the traditional approach in that rather than a collection of serial presentations, there were a number of smaller group workshops running in parallel dotted all around the venue. For me, this approach gave a much better opportunity for dialogue and discussion.
My afternoon began by leading a couple of 40 minute discussion sessions after which I was able to attend two further sessions. Into the evening we changed venue to The Canon’s Gait pub where we were each given a 2 minute slot to share an aspect of good practice (much easier after a few beers, although probably much less coherent!).
I’ve documented much of our 1:1 tablet pilot on my blog and elsewhere, so I won’t repeat it all here, but I felt it was worth sharing the ways in which learning has changed at my school as this formed the main focus of our group discussions:
- Learners have opportunities to become much more engaged with their learning. Interactive tools / apps, camera, web, simple apps like Skitch as a show me board, Minecraft used to build real world models etc
- Workflow improvement with tools like Edmodo and Wikispaces. Teachers and learners are much better connected, learners can ask for help with homework outside normal timetabled hours. No paper homework planners
- Opportunities for learners to be more reflective through blogging (aided by camera for capturing work)
- Greater independent learning and research skills by having connectivity to web (although perhaps not as much in S1 as it would be the case in older year groups)
- Greater responsibility
- Not a replacement for pencil and jotters. Instead it is a tool which supports learning. The key is to find ways in which the technology can enhance learning. Although digitising existing content should be a short term aim, it’s not the long term solution (see SAMR).
In addition, it’s probably worth sharing what we have learned from the project so far:
- The vast majority of staff say the 1:1 program has had a positive impact on learning
- Toshiba do not make good quality tablets or provide suitable support
- Sharing of good practice is key to the success of the project. We have set up a digital champions group to come together and discuss. We have a blog where staff can share good practice. We held a whole staff speed dating exercise where everyone had to contribute one aspect of good practice. We have an #FHS1to1 Twitter hashtag which is contributed to by staff every Friday
- S1 is not the best cohort to launch a 1:1 project due to single period contact time in so many subjects. Better to find a year group where students have greater subject contact time.
- If parents don’t have to make a financial contribution to the project, they may be less concerned when damage occurs
- We are only 10 months into our 1:1 project. We have made some great progress, but there is still a long way to go. From next session we will be rolling out iPad Minis to an additional year group.
I was also fortunate enough to attend two further sessions in the afternoon. Sarah Vaughan described the work that Preston Lodge have been doing linked to Carol Dweck’s fixed and growth mindset theory. It is an area I was hoping to look at next session and it was clear from the work that Sarah and her colleagues have done so far that building a growth mindset philosophy can have a significant positive impact on learners.
The second session which I attended was on Digital Leaders and was led by Robert Drummond. This is another area that I would like to develop in my school, and it was great to hear the way in which Robert has been able to build a group of digital leaders who can support the school in so many ways (eg staff CPD, KidsMeet, technical support for each classroom, ICT clubs and so on). Plenty of excellent ideas for me to take away and consider.
In summary, a great day, two great venues, and special thanks must go to the
@pedagoo team for organisng James Connolly marching band for providing such a rousing audio backdrop to my sessions.
Photo: David Gilmour vai Flickr, licenced under Creative Commons