Posted in Ongoing PD, Uncategorized, Use critical inquiry and problem solving

Design Thinking for Senior Students

My colleagues and I have returned from the uLearn17 Conference brimming with ideas and philosophies to teaching. These ideas came from the wonderful keynote speakers like Abdul Chohan and Brad Waid . Their message? Technology must be simple and reliable so that we can focus on teaching and learning. And the other great take away was when we remember that technology is powerful when students start to do things, create things. Linking all of these ideas was that the relationship with the student is more important than the tool- this won’t change. We also enjoyed the wide range of workshops. But the fantastic ideas were also sparked while in casual conversations with friends and colleagues.

I strongly believe that a dynamic, thought provoking conference has been a waste of time and money if we don’t implement something new and different in our classes. It might be something you’ve always done, but you add a new glossy edge to it. Or it might be a complete change in direction. Teachers of senior classes in New Zealand face two and a half weeks of revision before external exams begin. So I’ve decided that I’m going to apply the Design Thinking model to my revision lessons. I have to thank Richard Wells for the following graphic representation of this plan:

My plan is as follows:
1. Get students to form groups of four. Give them post-it notes and sheets of paper or white boards.
2. Give them the issue: a range of essay topics, a different one for each group.
3. Give them time to reflect on aspects of the issue, and then share their thoughts with their group.
4. Build up a series of facts (evidence) around the issue using the whiteboards. They will need their devices at this point to access their evidence.
5. Get students to think of ways to empathise with the characters or the themes. And then share these ideas with their group. In this way they can build up the idea of judgements and can look at the author’s intention: what impact did this issue have on them, on society?
6. Select what they think would work best to define the issue, with evidence.
7. Iterate the ideas that work best together.
8. Pitch their ideas to the class.
9. Get the class to critique their ideas.

In this way, instead of simply rote learning ideas for the exams which seems pretty fruitless and boring, they will be honing their key competencies, and at the same time learning, sharing and growing their ideas. I will put a time limit on each aspect of the activity. Pace and speed are important for innovation, so I’ll put pressure on the students to come up with solutions.

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HOW THE LESSONS HAVE PANNED OUT:

The first important step was that I allowed students to work with someone of their choice, then I put pairs together, forcing them to talk to a new group of students. But more importantly, we discussed why this would be important and they came up with sound and logical reasons.

The result: I actually saw and heard students help and talk to students they had not interacted with previously. I did have to remind them after lesson one to draw out the shy voices, and perhaps shut the loud ones up. Lesson two worked far better in this regard. They seemed to “really get it” after trialling it lesson one. Today the classroom was buzzing and there were a number of positive comments. I had to remind myself that they were doing revision which is typically quiet, introspective and boring.

Next important step: Stick to the time limit given. For all nine steps, I gave a time limit. This was good as it made students work under pressure. And they produced some impressive solutions.

The result: We had FUN! Their pitch (stage 8) was the most pressurised of all. I gave them a time limit of 30 seconds to do their pitch. What I asked of them was: what is the one golden nugget you can give the class? What is the one thing that you really want them to take away? We haven’t heard from all groups yet as we ran out of time. But so far I’m pleased to say that each group has had a brilliant golden nugget. And one group actually got a standing ovation. From their peers. For revision.

Design Thinking is well worth doing, and can be adapted for so many curriculum areas. I had to really stop myself from over-using exclamation marks in this post.

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Posted in Effective professional relationships, Ongoing PD

Apple Distinguished Educators Unite…again

 

melbourneThis will be my third post reflecting on an ADE Academy. I loved the first two held in Singapore and then in Berlin. 2017, hosted in Melbourne, lived up to all the hype and expectation. I learnt a lot, from both the product developers and my colleagues. I came back to school busting with good ideas. But I have given myself a cool down period to see if these ideas really have taken hold in my practice. And they have. What were these good ideas?

        1. 1. I loved the workshop on the app called

      CLIPS.

clips

    This is a fantastic movie creation app. Think of it as a little sister to iMovie. It’s designed for quick, on-the-go visual story telling. Add voice-to-text, voice-over narration, photos, stickers and music in a few simple taps. Students love the instant nature of this app. I recently attended a course where we had to create some form of media on leadership styles and we were given 30 minutes to do so. Using CLIPS, my group was able to publish a slick presentation, and slip out early for a cup of coffee.
              2.  Next there was a workshop on Podcasts. These are reminiscent of the old school radio serials. But this workshop also reminded me that not all students want to create visual resources. Many of them like doing the voice-over and playing with accents, rather than being ‘actors on screen.’ So students creating their own podcasts gives them another avenue for self discovery. I have recently taught a novel and was not surprised at how many students followed the words in the book, while simultaneously listening to the audio version.

podcasts

      1.           3. I gained real inspiration from two of my Dunedin based colleagues,

    Donna Smith and

      Shannon Prentice.

       They are actively pursuing cross-curricular task design in their school. They currently offer integrated studies to their year 9s, which means that one teacher offers a combined English- Social Studies curriculum. In addition to this, their drive for ensuring cross curricular links are established, has driven a collaboration between the science and English teacher. They have also established a media hub which means their students have an authentic audience.
      In addition, what really grabbed my attention was what they do with their year 9 and 10 classes at the end of the year. The year 10s are involved in a dynamic and hands-on film festival. They are given a few props, a genre, and three days of solid scripting, storyboarding, filming ad editing. To accomplish this, they are taken out of all classes for three days. This means that they had to get buy-in from a number of staff members. You can’t be the lone nut to get this one done. At the end of the three days, the films are showcased and there is a winner.
      The other really exciting initiative is that they debated the validity of year 9s doing end-of-year exams. When no one could come up with a really favourable argument in favour of exams, they replaced them with a social justice, cross curricular project. Students were given a week to brainstorm ideas for what they felt passionate about, and how they’d make changes in their community. It was no mean feat, with a developmental focus being followed every day. Again it required buy-in from a number of staff. But I think it is safe to say that the students learnt and grew far more than they would’ve if they’d been stuck in a classroom writing a two hour exam.

    social justice.png

    Finally it was time for the guest speaker, James Cuda. His story was not new. He struggled at school, not because he couldn’t understand the work, but that it simply did not appeal to him. He was an artist, a really good one. But growing up. teachers did not recognise this as a talent. Luckily he did not let this dissuade him as he went on to create one of the best art-based apps on the app store called Procreate. Not only does it allow students to add layer upon layer to create their artwork, it also runs a time-lapse in the background, capturing every brush stroke. So it is fantastic as a mind mapping tool, showing exactly where the ideas have leapt and journeyed to.

    Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 11.24.21 AM.png

    As I reflect on this ADE Academy, I believe it is the passion which we as educators instil in our students which results in committed, connected and in their turn, passionate students.

     

     

    Posted in Ongoing PD, Show leadership, Uncategorized

    What blogging has taught me

    I’ve been blogging for a number of years now. And what it has taught me is that I actually love writing. I often blame having not enough time for not writing. That’s simply not good enough. I have also learnt that it is important to reflect and act on those reflections.

    In addition to my personal blog, I’ve also written a number of articles for Fractus Learning, an educational blog coming out of Ireland. I loved the reaction from the editor on my last article so I include part his email along with a link to my article:

    Woweee Linda! That was such an incredible read! So much experience, heartache, success and inspiration have been poured into that post. Just magnificent! It really shows how much a rollout like that is about culture as it is technology. What an amazing professional experience! NICK GRANTHAM

    And here’s the rather lengthy article based on our one-to-one device journey, five years on.

    Link to my published article

    screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-1-27-52-pm

     

    Posted in Collaborative, inclusive and supportive environment, Mindlab, Ongoing PD, Reflections, Uncategorized

    Mindlab Reflections

    I am currently doing the MINDLAB post grad course which focuses on digital and collaborative learning in context. On reflection, I have found the theory behind what we are already implementing in our classrooms is really reassuring. It is important to know that the direction that we are actively taking in class is a movement that is being followed by many teachers and education leaders globally. You will always have those people that complain about the readings and assignments, because let’s face it, adding to an already busy schedule, is challenging. However it is the academic pursuits backed up by practical, coal face ideas, which make this course worth doing. Besides which, it is a post grad course so you’d expect quite a heavy workload.

    The biggest change I have introduced into my daily teaching is giving students more choice. I have long been an advocate for allowing students to find their own learning path with the tools they feel comfortable with. But now I find I’m questioning them on HOW they learn best. Particularly with my priority learners I am helping them develop strategies that work best for them. And allowing a variety of submission methods.

    In the above video I looked at identifying and analysing the 21st Century skills and key competencies, examining my specific area of practice, namely English for year 10 students.

    Transcript:

    My specific outcome for them is as follows: After reading a novel I would like my students, in groups, to create a video based on the topic: crime associated with gangs, as read about in their novel (The Outsiders by SE Hinton) Creativity and collaboration would be needed to plan, storyboard and finally script the movie. They would need to research the requirements for a news report style for an authentic teenage audience. Once the iMovie has been created it should be embedded onto their blogs. The blog post should be crafted for a global audience.

    This goes deeper than simply writing an essay as it should draw on the following skills: Collaboration to create the video. Interdependence as each group member has a role and function. The video will not succeed without input from all members in the group. They will need to construct knowledge based on their findings in the novel and go beyond that to what we find in society today, New Zealand and beyond. They will need to research the news report genre. They would then use the skill of ICT use and video editing to construct the final product.

    The main stakeholders:  are the students and their teacher. Students should be interdependent and rely on each member of the group to create and publish the video.

    Students should download the iBook I have created  to flip the work, students come to class with prior understanding and knowledge. Google docs are used for planning and collaboration, and Google Classroom to signpost work. iMovie is used to create their video after the planning, storyboard and script have been developed.

     

    However the next step is where the plan tends to falter. That is, publish the final product on the student’s personal blog. Why create a Google doc AND publish a movie AND post to a blog? This is why: Because students with 21st Century tools should be connecting with an authentic audience.

    According to the 21st C Learning Design Activity Rubric, students should “communicate their ideas to someone outside the academic context.”

    This is where teachers with a more fixed mindset fear the online world, outside of Google Classroom that is. In addition, setting up and using blogs can require more sophisticated ICT skills, particularly when setting up categories. And over decades, teachers have been conditioned to believe that they have to be experts before implementing a new tool or a new topic in class. However, the sooner we realise that there is more than one expert in the class, the better!

    As Hattie’s 8 Mindframes video suggests, we should “teach through dialogue not monologue.” So even if a blog site is not thoroughly understood by the teacher, it doesn’t mean that it should be a tool that is ignored. Give the students the courage to master it.

    In 2012 Hattie said that “schools should have systems in place to ensure that educators are working as members of a team; students are then provided with multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning.” (Deeper Learning by Bellanca, James A

    If we the teachers rely on each other and the so called student- experts in our classes, we’ll accomplish so much more. And if we trust our students to problem solve, they will develop a flexible mindset.

    Besides which, technology and tools are evolving at such a rate that we can never be expected to know it all. Having a flexible mindset and being open to moving forward with tech tools is far more important. Understanding the capabilities of the technology, as opposed to intricate knowledge of the workings of the tool is all that is required.

    In so doing students publish their work to a global community. And it includes parents into their digital work, which is something lacking if Google docs is the only digital submission required.

    This type of work: namely going from a novel study, to a creative script and storyboard, to a movie. And finally to a globally published artefact develops interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies as students learn to work as a team.

    According to the paper: Towards Reconceptualising Leadership: The Implications of the Revised NZ Curriculum for School Leaders (Wayne Freeth with Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti ) students are accustomed to being ‘networked.’ “Teenagers create media content and then share it. They feel their contributions matter and feel some degree of connection.” So we should harness this and allow them to publish ideas to a digital portfolio in the form of a blog. This should also encourage “peer-to-peer learning.” Who needs to make the change? Students? Or their teachers?

    A well run blog gives students a digital portfolio to be accessed and used for applications, scholarships and employment opportunities. Or if it is never used in this way, at least it would give each student a  portfolio which grows and shows their personal progress over the years. Unlike many other sites, parents can follow their child’s progress over the years. Problem solving is also developed when the blog site raises challenges.

    The idea of posting to a public forum like a blog site makes proofreading and editing authentic. It’s one thing to hit the ‘send’ button as soon as the word count has been reached if the teacher is the only one reading the work. But having potentially a global audience reading your work means that spelling and grammar actually does count.

    In James Bellanca’s 2014 publication entitled, Deeper Learning he says that:

    “Good intentions aren’t enough…if students are to learn at deeper levels, schools must create the conditions that allow for the ongoing, deeper learning. “So while it is evident that some teachers are put off by the complexity of some blog sites and movie creating tools, we owe it to our students to allow them to strive for deeper learning. We need to develop a culture of sharing expertise and ongoing PD.

    Goodlad is quoted to have said, as far back as 1983, p.557 :

    “Remove teaching from the “cloak of privacy and autonomy” and develop a new culture in which what and how teachers teach becomes the ongoing focus of peer analysis, discussion and improvement.” Just as students are encouraged to collaborate and work as a team, we should strive for this with our teachers. There are enough teachers on any given staff and students in each class with so called 21st century skills to help those that feel less confident.

    I do believe that students would benefit from a more consistent approach across their school experience. A transparent blog that caters for all their learning areas would start breaking down the silos of learning. Teachers and students could start seeing cross curricular links and this could make for a more holistic approach because all stakeholders see what is being taught and learnt. And we’d be fulfilling the NZ curriculum which has as its vision to have “connected, international citizens.”

     

     

    Posted in Effective professional relationships, Ongoing PD, Reflections

    ADE Global Institute – Berlin 2016

    unknown

    In July I felt very fortunate to be chosen to attend the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute in Berlin. The process involves submitting evidence to show that you are implementing technology seamlessly into your everyday teaching practice and how this improves the learning experience.

    Berlin is awash with history and I soon learnt that it truly is a city of contrasts. The institute consisted of 380 educators from across the globe. This was my second institute and, like the first, it was a week of professional development that was innovative and inspiring. The institute ran from Sunday to Friday and was jam packed with ideas that could be picked up and implemented in our classes. There were educators from all backgrounds from across the globe and a lot of the best ideas came from discussions across year levels, subjects and cultures.

    berlin

    The structure of the institute was as follows:
    1. ADE Central
    This consisted of a large lounge where we met informally to collaborate on global projects, play with STEM toys like Spheros and generally share good practice ideas.

    stem-toys

    2. Apple sessions
    These were run by the product developers of Keynote, Garage Band and Final Cut Pro. It was awe inspiring to see how far we could go with these tools, delivered by the app developers themselves.

    3. Workshops and spotlight sessions
    These were hands on sessions where we got to experiment with coding and advanced video production. Coding is an essential skill and is quickly becoming more accessible to all students. I feel very excited about sharing my new found knowledge with both my colleagues and my students. I also went to sessions on sketch-noting and advanced presentation techniques.

    workshop

    4. ADE showcases
    This is where teachers from America through to Russia, and everywhere in between, got three minutes to present an innovative technique that was working with their students. It reinforced my belief in the potential that exists when you feel passionate about getting the best out of your students.

    I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Berlin. More than the ideas I came away with, I developed global connections with some of the most inspirational teachers. I am currently part of a global project where we are developing a website with tools for teachers who are wanting to break the invisible boundaries that exist between subjects, in order for students to reach deeper learning.

    Posted in Ongoing PD, Professional development, Uncategorized

    LoopEd conference in Wellington 

    I felt pleased to be invited to Wellington to present a session on blogging for students and teacher registration. I divided the session into the following sub sections:

    1. Why publish work to a blog when you are using Google Classroom
    2. The three way split between students, teachers and parents when work is showcased on a blog
    3. How blogs can vary across the year levels
    4. Examples of student blogs
    5. Teachers’ blogs for TAI and Teacher Registration
    6. We looked at the conference theme: Connection. Collaboration. Courage.

     

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    So this is what we discussed:

    1. If blogs are used wisely with categories for posts, students will create wonderful digital portfolios. This will make it easy to refer back to published work. Having an authentic audience does mean that students need to proofread very carefully. This differs vastly from the stream of tasks in Google Classroom, useful in itself. But different.
    2. Blogs provide a link between teachers, students and parents. This is one of the big  bonuses to using  a combination of Google Classroom and blogs.
    3. The way we use blogs can vary across year levels. Middle school students can be encouraged to blog about topics that interest them. Media rich posts are very convenient as students can post video and photos directly from their camera roll. Publishing to YouTube is not necessary. NCEA students can be more selective, choosing to password protect certain blog posts. TurnItIn is used to check for authenticity.
    4. We looked at the differences between the genders with regard to their blogs.
    5. We spent some time looking at teachers’ blogs. We looked at TAI and Bundles of Evidence. We also looked at the 12 criteria for teacher registration. We spoke about blog-able moments and what evidence could look like. We also spoke about professional readings and reflection to improve practise.
    6. Finally we looked at the conference theme: Connection. This would be following and reading each others’ blogs. I suggested that teachers look at Twitter to develop their PLG. Collaboration. This could develop across schools, across the country and globally. Courage. We finished with this. It does take courage to encourage students to blog as some teachers do not feel fully confident with the process. Teachers also need to be courageous to put their reflections “out there.” But taking the first step is the best way to move forward. Have faith in students as they are the ones that trouble shoot and figure things out. You then end up with a couple of experts in the room.

    IMG_2918

    Wellington did not disappoint, dishing up some glorious weather for us to enjoy after a well-run conference.

    Posted in Ongoing PD, Professional development, Uncategorized

    Teaching a thesis statement

    Written text Essay

    For our morning PD Gavin went over the best way to teach a thesis statement for written text essays. The main point he made for level 3 was that students should not feel afraid to disagree with the statement provided in the exam. They can also partially agree with the statement. But whichever stance they choose, they should spend a good amount of time planning so that they are clear on where they stand. The powerpoint he provided gave clear steps to take for classes ranging from year 9 right through to level 3.

    Posted in Ongoing PD, Professional development

    Fun and laughter as we learn: Term 2 PD at OC

    We have had a productive time in our PD sessions this term. The greatest value I have found is in the cross curricular discussions. We have shared and collaborated and had fun along the way. Our focus has been on:

    1. Blogging. This is used by our students and our teachers. The gem is that you can add video directly from your camera roll, cutting out YouTube. We also looked at easy ways to embed presentations

    2. We looked at Explain Everything and the multitude of ways to use this brilliant app 

    3. My colleague Christine Wells helped teachers to develop a matrix to give students ownership of their learning path

    4. Another colleague Korrina Kracknell helped us with Kamar and the powerful tools which help with data analysis 

    5. Pearl Trees, Kahoots, Avatars, Talking Avatars and Video Star have featured strongly as possible apps or websites to enhance student work and engagement, as well as enjoyment

    I include the following short video as a note to self to always allow students to learn through laughter. We all had a good laugh, and then my class started adding their own Video Star to the adverts they are creating.