Posted in Collaborative, inclusive and supportive environment, Criteria 7, Uncategorized

Promoting student agency

For my class’s end of term task I wanted them to do something fun but also something that would be real. Our school is looking at designing a new website. So I thought, shouldn’t we get the students’ input? I created a resource with a few ideas, but very little direction. My idea is to eavesdrop and see what they come up with, and so promote collaboration, creativity and student agency.

I introduced it today and the first question was: “Why not get the experts to do this? Why ask 15 year olds?”

So I explained that their ideas mattered. That the website, while it is our contact with the ‘outside world’ should also be something that they refer to and use because it is useful to them. And who knows best what is useful to students than the students themselves?

One group spent pretty much the entire lesson discussing what photos should represent the school. They finally decided that a slideshow would be best. But they were adamant that the slideshow should represent all co-curricular activities.

Another group analysed our website and felt that the colours didn’t match. They also felt that we should have widgets for social media links. Yet another felt that the tabs should include the school app and frequently used contacts.

So that’s after lesson one. I think they will come up with some very useful ideas.

Posted in Collaborative, inclusive and supportive environment, Reflections, Respond to the diverse needs of individuals, Uncategorized

Going Digital: Reflections on our one-one journey

NZQA visited our school to make this short video depicting our journey after introducing technology into the classroom. The positives that I take out of this visit is that in New Zealand we have a qualification authority that is consulting with teachers who are at the proverbial coal face. But far more importantly than that, they are interviewing the students. If you want to know how a new initiative is working, ask the people most affected by it.

I was appointed as year 9 Dean, the year one-one devices were introduced to this year 9 cohort. As I reflect I feel immensely proud of these students. We have travelled on this journey of discovery for the last five years and I have witnessed their growth and their incredible potential to succeed in this ever changing digital world. At the start of this journey it was all about the technology. What we could do, now that we have a class of students with technology in their hands. All discussions surrounded possibilities: apps that would do the job better than before devices and websites that made work more engaging. Activities that were inconceivable before, were now a reality. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR scale was invaluable as a driving force to shift pedagogical thinking.

However five years on, with all students in the school carrying devices in their school bags, we have largely moved on from the discussion surrounding technology. Technology just exists in the class, along with everything else you’d expect to be there. It’s a given. Now I find that I am simply looking for the best tool for the job.

I feel so grateful that as a teacher we have so many options. I used to dread this time of year because most of my classes are immersed in revision. But we are actually having a great time. Our AKO OREWA drive is towards student agency. So I have given my students choice in the area of work they will focus on. Consequently I have some groups creating Kahoots for their extended texts, others are videoing instructions for their teach-back session based on their section of work. Still others are creating Google Forms for recall type questions. After our PD this week where a colleague, Annie Davis, gave us ideas about revision, I have groups playing “Bananagrams” which is a word game similar to Scrabble.

She introduced us to an excellent app called  Exam Count Down which I have found my students love. It shows them at a glance how many days they have left before the NCEA exams. For example:

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So yes, we do still share good apps. But it is far more about changing pedagogy to suit the situation. It is more about students taking ownership of their learning and finding out what works best for them, and working at their pace. And it’s about us being flexible enough to allow and promote student choice.

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 Collaborative, inclusive and supportive environment, Help with blogging, Uncategorized

Help with blogging

Download iBook here

I have updated videos for creating blog posts, adding categories and adding media. It is now easier than ever to add video, photos and slideshows directly from your camera roll. All these videos are embedded in my iBook and the link can be found at the top of this post. Download for free from the iBooks store.

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Posted in Collaborative, inclusive and supportive environment, flipped class, Uncategorized

NCEA revision using Explain Everything and YouTube

This is an example of how teachers can use Explain Everything and YouTube, to differentiate or flip their class. While some students are pausing and listening, others might be fast forwarding because they know where they are going. Teacher is freed up to work one-on-one with the students. Teachers building relationships and students taking ownership of their learning. Priceless.

Posted in Bicultural context, Collaborative, inclusive and supportive environment, education

Essay writing made easy

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Students write their essays. Some chose to hand write and type afterwards. All chose to listen and watch the YouTube link I had given them. A classic comment was: “Miss it’s like you are helping me all the way through the essay!” Yes! That’s the point.

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Others chose to type straight into their blog, swopping between the essay ‘how to’ and their work.
The most classic comment, after watching the YouTube link for a couple of minutes: “Miss! This is you! Hey guys, this is not some random lady on the internet!” Priceless.