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.
Thinking about ray nashar's leading innovation clip
CONNECT - "It's not coming up with the ideas, it's spreading them" is the point that resonated with me. I have so many ideas about how eLearning could be used to enhance learning and teaching, reporting, the delivery of curriculum, the process' we use in schools and the list goes on. And what is a priority for some staff is varied from another - how do we enable all staff to grow in their eLearning at the point they are ready to? How to get others on board with this is always an important question, so it's not just powerful, connected eLearning for some but for all students.
EXTEND - The notion of occasionally dipping into the top carriage made me realise this can be done using ICT - why not set up a learni.st board for those top users to tap into when they need inspiration? What about a PD twitter feed for those keen to find out more? What about a monthly Techie Breaky aimed at top users and advancing their skills - or even better supporting them to present their ideas as well? This would work especially well at multi-campus colleges.
CHALLENGE - The next challenge that springs to mind is once you have people moving into those first few carriages how to you ensure you continue to challenge and grow their capacity - essentially rearranging the carriages again? The dynamic, behaviour and norms will have shifted but how to sustain that is interesting and exciting. Another challenge is how do you celebrate the courageous first middle car movers to encourage and "..influence but not directly" without alienating the other 2 carriages? It highlights the importance and value of peer sharing and peer modelling aside from having just the eLearning leader as the expert.
Using the golden circle method to understand why we do things before the how and what
creating curiosity and problem solving skills using augmented reality in the classroom
In early 2015 I attended a PD focussing on Middle Years readers run by Kate Barletta. I left with so many new ideas and notes I did not want to loose focus of over the course of the year as I empowered readers. Coupled with Kate's PD was my reading of Chris Tovani's I read it but don't get it - a quick read for Middle years teachers about her journey teaching reluctant, disengaged readers.
About half this stuff worked!
I realised a lot about how I learn through completing this task - a task which I still see as being in progress.
To start with I made Keynote slides with each topic on it. The Keynote slides I made were too clean, you need complexity to activate the auras! So then I created the infographic version you see above to give the imagery more complexity.
Partway through I discovered you could make auras using the laptop version of the App found here www.studio.aurasma.com To be honest I found this much easier. Not only did I have greater ability to match images, I also could add greater levels of interactivity such as adding links and actions once tapped or once loaded. I had to turn off auto enlarge as if you scan an image that you don't want to view you had to close the App to get back to the scanner view.
I also discovered the images need to be very high res to be read. To get around this I made the images enlarge if you tapped them. That way even if the App picked up multiple auras on it's scan, students could pick which information set to view. You can only access these settings in the laptop version. I am still working on exporting high res images for all the links.
Linking to Prezi is tricky - but not impossible! For now I have placed another Popplet in the pace of the Prezi. It is possible to link to Prezi using the Aurasma Studio actions button and adding an action which links the overlap to a URL when double tapped etc.
There was hours of trial and error learning that took place with this, but I found this highly engaging and interesting as it was a great way to discover what can be done with AR. One thing that took me such a long time to work out was why when scanned my stimulus using the App it would not work! To view Auras (even those that are public) you need to follow the creator! Simple yet so frustrating when you don't know this! To avoid this happening to my peers I designed a quick 1 page summary of how to get Aurasma-ing in my classroom!
I'm looking for new ideas to create interactive wall displays with, with a focus on essential skills and knowledge and providing the capacity for self-directed learning. I am also keen to look at linking not just images to trigger points, but videos, interviews that students have created. We could also explore the school as a self guided Aurasma tour using pop up videos and files etc relevant to areas visited in the school.
I have this urge to share with educators rad things they can learn about and use to improve their own learning and teaching. We celebrate when learning opportunities become personalised and at point of need for students, we get excited when they get to move beyond their classrooms and into others. Yet as teachers we sometimes forget that we can grow and learn in a similar way. So this prompted me to start thinking about how I could deliver PD to my colleagues so that it suited them - when they wanted to know it and across a variety of platforms. And the best thing about it? Hearing the conversations staff were having not only about what they were learning, but also about how they were learning it and why they could apply the ideas to their classes - epic PD!
Curating cybersafety resources using Learni.st - After our first parent information session it became apparent we needed to look at making cyber safety a focus in our teaching as many parents had justifiable concerns surrounding this from Years 3 - 6. The challenge based learning moment for me was how to share ideas and resources with our staff without dictating what they should do, yet still supporting them to address cyber safety in the classroom. So I created free learni.st account - you can too here - and generated a board of resources, mapped to all students and then specific Year levels for staff to tap into. When staff are ready and in a headspace to explore these resources are ready for them. This worked well for resources I had not created - there is so much out there already for Australian Primary aged students so why not curate it for my staff to explore? Check out the board here
Walk & Gawk then grow - I was discussing with a colleague the concept of Learning Walks recently. In my experience when I had participated in Learning Walks previously and I was that teacher who meticulously planned my lessons, structured them so the class looked awesome and generally had little to fear. Then I moved to a primary school context where I had little idea what I was doing. The thought of someone being in my classroom was terrifying. I was not so cocky anymore! Not only did I feel I did not know enough to show anyone else what was going on, I felt like I should have known better after the number of years I had been teaching in a secondary context. Give me a class of 25 teenagers and I've got it sorted. 24 little people is a whole new ball game. OMG ball games with 10 year olds, that's a whole new skill set...
My colleague suggested why not use this trepidation and reluctance as my starting data - get someone to come in and have a look and to see what I was doing well and what I could grow in. That way I could identify things I am already doing and find ways to do them differently. Then I had a lightbulb moment. This is what it feels like for many teachers when it comes to ICT and eLearning. So I developed a framework around the shared purpose of an eWalk & Gawk as shown below.
TO BE CONTINUED
I really liked this model as it meant I could work with staff starting at the level they were starting at - be it beginner through to high end user and through empowering them with 2 - 3 new skills they could then use these and model them for their peers - thus having wider impact and a longer impression. Rather than me just showcasing how my classroom works using eLearning I was empowering others to become eLearning mini experts in fields they wanted to explore starting at a place they knew with high relevance.