Interdisciplinary learning in YEar 7 using STEAM concepts to drive it
One week. Collapsed timetable.
All Students and Staff in Year 7.
A task that involved students designing and manufacturing their own automata then pitching them to a group.
And one guide to help you do it yourself.
DEVELOPING UNDERSTANDING OF CONTEXT IN ENGLISH THROUGH DIGItal TECHnologies and makng
The development of maker skills, design thinking and digital technologies capacity is not the sole responsibility of a hand full of keen teachers allocated a subject that a few students are fortunate enough to enrol in. To prepare our learners for a world where problem solving, digital competencies and design thinking routines are essential we can have significant impact if we start to combine this and truly embed it across a range of subjects.
This project is one such example of this. Working with the Head of Faculty and the Year 10 English staff we brainstormed some ideas about how we could include fabrication in a meaningful way to help students increase their understanding of concepts connected to the texts they were studying. We came up wth the idea to use the laser cutter to collaboratively produce a large model of Maycomb County - thus helping the students understand the relationship between places in the text, promoting close analysis of locations and events. One of the teachers had the great idea to also include phrases and key ideas that ink to each place and suspend these above the model.
Our Year 10 students participate in a Signature Project - a timetabled series of sessions that tie in with Philosophy, Theory of Knowledge (IB) and more leading to the students developing their own question to explore. Initially part of this subject included running ICT workshops, however they were run in isolation and rather then being connected to the content they were skills based based on assumed relevant skills, identified by the teacher.
The series of discussion prompts below were developed for the team of staff to work through with me as the digital coach to help them draw links between the content and pedagogies they are delivering and what digital tools can help - as well as providing space for staff to explore what would support them and their students to learn. Essentially it was about positioning the technology as the champion for the skills, knowledge and understandings they wanted to develop in learners.
The Maths Faculty wanted to gather feedback from students every week on how their homework was going and to use this data to help plan their Teaching. They were asking students to complete a sheet and hand it in and then the teacher collated the data. However we worked together to use Google Forms instead and changed the way staff got access to a wide range of data - quickly and easily. Each week the students were sent a new form to complete and all responses were connected to a single spreadsheet for the cohort.
See the presentation below for more information.
And the best part about all this? It inspired other staff to take a look at how they gathered feedback to inform their teaching which is a massive win for the learners.
a mapped journey through changing classroom practice one topic at a time.
an unexpected reading and reflection task
I stumbled across this reading last week and thought it may explore what technology needs to be successfully embedded in schools – after all I do agree with the title “Why technology alone won’t fix schools”.
As I read though I realised it had some challenging perspectives contained in it – and important considerations for people working in iLearning/technology fields to consider. The data is American based however the messages can be reflected on in like countries.
Please find the link below – both the original and my Diigo annotated version for those keen to read my thoughts and musings.
2 points that particularly resonated included:
Technology at school may level the playing field of access, but a level field does nothing to improve the skill of the players, which is the whole point of education.
We need to look at skilling the players – which at times will include staff, students and community members if we want the use of technology to be amplifying education and improving outcomes.
Technology’s primary effect is to amplify human forces, so in education, technologies amplify whatever pedagogical capacity is already there.
Good teaching and learning needs to be at the centre of what we do. Then and only then can technology be used to greatest effect as one tool to enhance student learning outcomes. We have an obligation to our future workforce to prepare them for what lies ahead as best we can, to support them as adults to navigate the distractions and use of new emerging technologies just as we would prepare our learners to function in society. Digital realities and skills are part of this. What this comment and piece neglects to discuss is the capacity for technology to be used to engage and enhance learners potential when adult guidance combined with student choice, growth options, reflections etc is at the fore front of using technology.
Helping VCE Staff explore, adopt and use iPAd apps beyond the subject specific
Working with schools I often encounter iPad programs that are developed, explored and built around primary and middle years programs. But what happens when those devices make it to the VCE?
Staff may need help identifying Apps that they can use in class, but at this level of study content is so highly specialised this can prove to be a challenge. It is not uncommon to hear
"We have so much content to get through I can't possibly add more to it!"
"Why waste time using technology to do things when we can just do it by hand?"
"The exams are still done by hand and we need t practice this"
So I thought lets come at it from a skills point of view, rather than a specifics point of view. What this means is we identify what things unite all VCE subjects in terms of what we want to develop in our learners and what skills are we really building in addition to content understanding. That way staff could develop their capacity to enhance these skills using technology tools.
To give you some context the school I was working with already had a school wide Learning Management System that was used to access curriculum documents and resources. Every VCE student had an iPad and another device of their own choosing if they wanted to bring it, but there was very little evidence of the iPads in use in the VCE centre. There was no set Apps and if teachers wanted to use the iPads it was up to them to request the technicians to deploy the Apps. Some PD had been delivered surrounding finding subject specific Apps, but no follow up or action had occurred.
Taking some solid teaching tools and making them digital for teachers using Google Drive.
So to celebrate Darryn's awesomeness, I have taken some of the ideas from his strategies book and developed them into collaborative templates in Google Drive. The best thing? All the teachers using Google Apps for Ed at a school can copy them and use them with their students! This not only saves time for the teachers, but adds a whole new online, collaborative dimension to the learner's experience. And this in turn can move the learning beyond the physical classroom, into shared online spaces around the school, state, country and the world! Students can work together to share ideas with ease, can share these learnings on their blogs or class learning management systems and can revisit ideas and refine them with ease. And Google Apps for Ed is free. Brilliant.
MY MORNING BRAIN DUMP - THINKING ABOUT COLLABORATION, CONNECTION AND ACTION
As an educator the lessons I enjoyed most were not the ones I slaved hours over preparing, Those ones inevitably failed to be as great as I had envisioned - mainly because the lovely young folk I taught could not always understand why I wanted them to bask in my greatness and to feel the hours of works I had put into creating those resources for them... No doubt they left with some knowledge but it was knowledge I had isolated, crafted and homogenised into a single 48 minute lesson. My favourite lessons were the ones were I provoked the students - got them thinking, got the contributing, getting them excited, angry, passionate and they are the lessons we were empowered and remembered - and these collaborations often led them to more exciting art projects and even deeper, creative thinking.
The best collaborations (lesson suggests limited learning outcomes, collaboration suggests working together to discover and grow) were those where I did not underestimate my students capacity to think, challenge and engage with relevant intriguing content. The best collaborations are those where students work with me and their peers to identify what they want to learn about and I help them explore this - making mistakes and learning along the way. As a professional I know what is in the curriculum and I know how to help students learn - when to provide help, how to extend high achievers, how to ensure a text is accessible for a variety of learners, how to set up a task so learners of all ability can achieve, when to provide different perspectives - in short how to teach and to do it well.
Being a VCE teacher I understand there is a lot of content to get through. But if we could change up the way we did things using eLearning ideas, innovative resources and curriculum modelling that empowers learners, we could cover the content but also foster curiosity, metacognition, appreciation of diversity, reflection, empathy, entrepreneurship and all those other things that make confident, connected learners.
Yes - sometimes you do just need them to know how to do something skill based or do need them to know the content, vocabulary, formula and this is the reality. As a professional you know what they need to know and strategies and ideas to help them understand that. But if we could actually foster an ongoing, genuine interest in the content we could provoke the next generation into thinking and action using our thinking, questioning and structuring skills. What if the content was modern, drawn from real life and allowed for choice and scope in the topic explored and the depth required? I would argue the skills and content required can be crafted through genuine engagement and thinking around challenging ideas.
Learning is empowering when focussing on relevant, inquiry based questions we want to know more about, where teachers we set up the structures, the environments, the conversations, the challenges, the curiosity and act as a coach when needed, a collaborator when needed and a co learner with students. Learning is rad when all students have access to it, are engaged in it through thinking and creating and it is relevant to them - each one of them!
Not Underestimating Our Youth - Some Ideas link
Taking Hattie's ideas and making a practical, free and accessible tool for teachers, students and peers to collaborate with
There is much exploration and focus on feedback in schools at the moment - and for good reason. Feedback should be what drives learning and teaching, the direction learning takes and should help refine our practices and methods. Recently prompted to think about this by Assistant Principal and thought provoker extrodinaire Margo Edgar, I got started with these two resources;
From this I established the key points Hattie was talking about;
What type of feedback?
I think it would be great to simplify this model - to make a quick 1 minute format that allows students to provide instant feedback - a Google Form would work but it would need to be simpler - with one click and short text responses. Also using it with learners highlighted the ongoing need to foster understanding of why, when and how we use feedback with students. I am also thinking about developing a 1 page infographic for teachers regarding feedback for those using platforms like Edmodo so they can still apply Hattie's thinking but to a feedback loop they have already established.