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Tablets – Do they really improve student learning – Part 2

I have spent the better part of the weekend reading up on the site, articles, document and blogs recommended to me by @danjjroberts and @ictevangelist.  My head is spinning with edtech information.

First @danjjroberts:

He directed me to www.itlresearch.com, I came across 21st Century Learning Design, a global project sponsored by Microsoft.  On their website they have provided 2 rubrics that teachers can use; one for the activity and one rubric for the work students produce.  It has come the closest to what I have been searching for.  I am actually quite keen on the idea of this.  Teachers have to take the lead on the evaluative and reflective process which puts their own learning in their own hands.  Essentially, a teacher will measure an activity on the rubric and redesign it to move it higher up the scale, and the same for the student work.

As much as I like it, I would need to almost rewrite it for the needs of the students at my school.  As a special school anything too high up the scale is beyond our students in the time frames we have, They would never be able to move off the first, maybe the second level.  I would need to add in smaller jumps, PIVATs/bsquared style.  I am starting to think that this is the only option, but having a guide such as this doesn’t make that mountain seem as high.  I would also want to rewrite the stages for teachers to be SAMR linked too.

I had a long conversation with @ictevangelist soon after my original Twitter question.  I was feeling quite worried as most of the research I had come across prior to asking Twitter is that student learning improves because the teaching improves.  I didn’t want to sell this to school as I had horrible images of staff being put under the microscope.  While I know that this was an unwarranted worry, that the leadership is not as fickle as that, I wanted staff to come to technology in their own time and in their own pace, I could only imagine management wanting to push the agenda forward faster.

In the beginning, when edtech is first introduced, the time it takes to plan for technology is much more than the time it would take to plan a lesson without it.  Of course it is, the teaching staff have been teaching without tablets for years, decades in many cases, they have resources for each lesson, tried and tested strategies for every misconception, lesson planning is a doddle.  I am the “elearning champion” in my school and when I have to plan a lesson in 10 minutes, I stick with what I have been doing for the last 7 years.  It is a learning curve for all of us, no matter how willing we are to accept technology, it is not going to be fully integrated quickly.

Mark directed me to a blog by Steve Wheeler, aka @timbuckteeth, on what he refers to as classroom dynamics.  It makes for interesting reading, I would recommend it, for those of you who just want the cliff notes, it is the summary of a study by Mandinach and Cline (1994) on the adoption of new technologies by school staff.  They state that there are 4 stages:

  1. Survival – staff wonder what to do with it
  2. Mastery – staff start to use it; “in meaningful and authentic contexts”
  3. Impact – staff evaluate how well it is being used
  4. Innovation – staff start to experiment with it: trying out risky ideas.

The researcher in me has linked these in my mind to Bloom’s Taxonomy.

If I can identify where staff are on this scale then I can help them to move on to the next stage.

The next big thing to come out of our discussion was Digital Leaders, at present I am the person that staff come to for troubleshooting.  I, however, can not be everywhere at once, and staff have to be able to handle the little things themselves.  But in the meantime, maybe Digital leaders will be that middle ground – not to mention all the other benefits that the role could bring to the individual student.  I had been wary of Digital Leaders as I am not sure how much our students will be able to handle (I have been in mainstream for 5 years and SEN for two – teaching PT: 0.2) but I won’t know unless I try and I have asked permission from the Head to start a project where I take volunteer MLD students out of lessons for one period a week where we go over the most common apps, how the tablet works and basic troubleshooting.  I will update on this project.  I am quite excited about it now :)

In terms of action research, as there are a couple of teachers who have yet to utilise the new tech in their classes, there is still time to compare the progress of a class using the tech regularly with a class that does not use them, if only for a short while.  As a Special School, we will have to account for the differing needs of the students.  The main thing that concerns me is, from my knowledge of the classrooms, the teachers that don’t tend to use the tablets (and there are exceptions, I am NOT saying that this a rule) are the teachers that I would not say are ‘good’ teachers.

Another easy thing to check is has literacy and/or numeracy improved since the introduction of the tablets?

In summary, I am going to do the following (or at least try to):

  1. set up digital leaders
  2. Introduce teachers to the Mandinach and Cline (1994) phase of adoption
  3. Start to create student work rubrics suitable for SEN students.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Thanks for reading this far – I know it’s a long one!

Jag

 

Tablets – do they really improve student learning?

Yesterday I put a question to Twitter that had been troubling me for a while:

 

I am very grateful to @ictevangelist, @buttonbashing @danjjroberts @gary_s_king and @naace for their responses.  I wanted to collate all the responses along with my interpretation of them and how I intend to move forward on this.

@buttonbashing:

Use before and after polls of digital leaders

A possibility, but we have yet to implement digital leader in my school, so no “before” polls.  I have however, been convinced of their need by @ictevangelist and will probably be putting out feelers for this over the next couple of weeks to kick off after Christmas.   This is an avenue that I can plan to go down though.

Data from time spent using edtech (like VLE/apps etc)

This is definitely doable, I will need to take into account the fact that staff are not using the tech consistently, but this in itself could be an indicator, is there a difference in the progress of students whose teachers are using the edtech compared with students whose teachers are not using the edtech? Is there a difference in the type of edtech being used, ie, does the VLE provide more learning opportunities than SAM Learning?  is access to apps actually helping (given it is a substitution (SAMR) rather than any great enhancement)?

@danjjroberts:

Dan directed me to http://www.itlresearch.com/ where I found some rubrics for student learning and teacher delivery.  I have printed them off but I have to admit I have yet to read them – next blog!

@naace:

  1. Suggested that the research question be broken down in to smaller parts rather than starting with the “whole school” – many others have agreed with this and I will break it down.
  2. Reminded me that qualitative research is just as valid as qualitative research; teacher and student anecdotes should be trusted – I agree with that in principle, but with a small school, and a special needs one at that, it just wouldn’t have the same validity, and when we are talking about tens of thousands of pounds, I want to be able to offer them something less subjective.
  3. Suggested looking at quantitative “time on task” research (along the same vein as @buttonbashing) – I will research into this
  4. Use local government and employability stats to push the need for digital literacy – not so relevant with our school, only 5 or so students will be capable of employment when they leave
  5. Increased efficiency means that staff can do more, quickly and will therefore get more done which will save the school money in the long run.

I feel Naace may have been a little ideological with their responses towards the end, but they do make some good points at the start.

@ictevangelist:

We covered so many topics and areas that I feel it is worthy of it’s own entry, plus I need to do some more research and reading around the subject, so this will also be part of my second (or third blog).  At this stage I should probably thank Mark as he convinced me to start blogging my journey, to share the trials and tribulations as I start to navigate my way through these murky waters.

I am aware that I (and my generation of edtech-ers) are incredibly lucky to have people who carried the edtech flag forward and are willing to share those experiences (and mistakes) with us through blogs and social media.  The first thing I do when I have an edtech question is Google it.  The second thing is shout at my computer as the school firewall has “…blocked it as web chat…”, thank goodness for smart phones.  I hope that my sharing of this will help other people, as it has certainly helped me start to sort through the ideas in my head.

This conversation is in no way complete and I suspect my journey to find the best way of answering this question at my school is going to be a long meandering path.  Please feel free to comment and share your experiences/opinion.

 

 

QR Codes – Interactive Learning Walls

This was mentioned in Tuesday’s post on Audio Files, however there are so many more ways to make your displays and Learning Walls interactive and I wanted to spend some time on the walls of the classroom.  I have had some success with response to feedback using QR codes in students that previously were uninvolved in the learning experience. Generally it has been was great way of getting classes excited about coming to the lesson if only to see which videos/articles I had put up this month and which of their video commentaries had made it to the board

More Information

  1. For subject displays you can link to news items, videos and photos on the internet
  2. A video file – of a book review, summary by a student of a related research project, interviews of students/by students
  3. Audio files – commentary on the display (like in a museum), example of music, podcast
  4. Links to student blogs

Feedback

  1. Teacher assessment in video or audio format
  2. Peer assessment – as a plenary students can create their own QR codes with feedback
  3. Example exam questions on the topic
  4. Revision websites specialising in the area that the student is weak in (according to this particular piece of work)

Making progress

  1. With model answers you can provide a commentary of why each part was important to include, alternative, valid points that could have been included
  2. Two stars and a wish as text QR codes.
  3. Links to forums to discuss work/ideas/learning

QR Codes – Games

This one will take a little time to set up – but it will keep them occupied for hours.

1. Essentially you make 9 QR codes that are coded questions of some kind in the 3 x 3 format of a noughts and crosses square.

2.   As in the traditional noughts and crosses format, they choose a square to mark off as a O or X.  However, first they have to work out the answer to the questions coded in the QR code in that square.  If they get it right, they win that square, if they don’t they have to wait until their next go before they can try again.

3.  The first person to win three squares in a line, wins.

4.  I give my classes post it notes for them to draw their O’s and X’s on when they win a square so that the sheet can be reused.

Some lesson ideas:

*   spellings – with audio recordings of the word you want them to spell

*   maths questions (simple addition and subtraction; solving equations; etc)

*   keyword definitions

*   To make the makaton sign for a word/phrase (SEN)

QR Codes – Treasure Hunts

These do take some time to set up, but they can be reused in so many different ways:

  • Rewards
  • Race to see who can complete the questions first
  • Assessing understanding
  • In groups students can design a series of questions at the end of one lesson as a plenary for other groups to complete as a starter next lesson.
  • Questions to think about
  • Collect objects for the next task (ie pieces of a jigsaw to make a picture they have to annotate, equipment they need for an experiment, definitions for keywords, task cards, answers to exam questions)
  1. Decide on your  goal (ie, where you want them to end up at)
  2. Create the clues – these can be audio/picture/text
  3. Convert them into QR codes (see previous posts on how to create links to audio, pictures are the same as audio, and you can also link to videos on third party sites like Facebook)
  4. Students then go around the classroom/school (depending on how big you want to make it) and solve the clues.  When scanned, the clue can be:

*  A question to answer

*  A phonic to repeat

*  An equation to solve

*  A picture to take

*  A clue to the next location

For big groups you may want to have them start in different locations – make sure you have enough for each group if you are providing objects to collect.

QR Codes – Audio Clips

I am sure that you can all think of lots of ways that audio files can be used in the classroom, these are some that jump to mind:

  • Interactive learning walls
  • Reading out loud
  • Phonics
  • Spelling tests
  • Feedback
  • Student responses
  • Peer feedback
  • Targets
  • Interactive IEPs
  • Posters
  • Comics

Record your own voice

  1. Record your audio
    1. You can do this on a computer, mobile, learnpad…anything
    2. I used the recording facility on my phone
  2. Locate your audio file
    1. If you make the recording on your phone, click the share button and email the recording to yourself
    2. If you made it on a tablet/computer, it will already be saved there so you can skip this step
    3. You can use any audio track – even music
  3. Upload to a website
    1. I use dropbox – lots of free storage…but it is PUBLIC so careful what you put on
    2. Many different websites will host file uploads, such as blogs
  4. Copy link to your audio
    1. On dropbox you click on the options and then click on “copy public link”
  5. Generate a QR code of the URL, I use www.qrstuff.com, (you may want to shorten the URL first)
    1. Take the link and paste it into any QR code generator.

Synthesised Voice

This is a much quicker way to create audio recordings but for some  students the synthesised voice will be a distraction.

  1. There are a few sites that offer this service, I use www.qrvoice.net
  2. Type in the text you want read out loud
  3. Copy the QR code image and printout however many you want.
  4. When student scan it, it will download the file which allows them to play it back as many times as they need to

*Tip – synthesised voices do not work well with foreign languages.

QR codes – Playing Shop

This is a really simple idea and kids love it – especially as most QR readers make a “beep” sound as they read the code.

  1. Gather empty containers of food
  2. Create QR Codes with the prices of food as text
  3. Stick these on the food containers
  4. As students scan food they will hear a beep and the price will come up on screen

Differentiation

  1. Prices can be adjusted to suit ability of student
  2. You can scan more than one food for addition
  3. You can add in money off vouchers for subtraction
  4. “Special offers” can be used for percentages
  5. Budgeting

I have used this technique in a special school, but the idea can be just as easily adapted to be used in mainstream, instead of food stuff and prices, you can have clues, coded keywords stuck on related objects (for example, on a piece of slate you can have a coded definition of metamorphic).

Ultimately, in the latter examples, it is about increasing independent learning as they would have the option to get a clue if students were stuck.

Making personalised Christmas cards

A short blog to share an idea I had last week that went down really well in my school.

To create a personalised Christmas (or any other card giving event) card:

  1. Download a comic book app – the colour ones are best, I like Comic Strip It on android (free)
  2. Decide on the pose and caption
  3. Set up the pose
  4. Add the caption
  5. Transfer picture to a computer
  6. Print, cut out and stick on a piece of card
  7. Voila!

You can do this without a tablet with only a couple of extra steps:

  1. Decide on pose and caption
  2. Set up pose
  3. Take the photos with a camera
  4. Download to computer and open with Powerpoint
  5. Download a comic book font (easy to find – just Google comic book font)
  6. Add captions
  7. Print, cut out and stick on piece of card
  8. Voila!

The kids at my school loved doing it and have promised to remind me (and their other teachers) at Easter time!

If you have any comments or ideas on how to improve/make simpler, please add below.

Thanks.

Training teachers to be good/outstanding in EdTech

I have been working in this school now for a couple of months and it has been a massive learning curve.  It is small enough to not have a ICT technician on site, my first month was spend reminding people that my technical skills are not that different to their own.  The second month has been learning the school and getting to grips with managing the iPads we have on site.

It has been doing my head in.  I have nothing against the iPads – against the monopoly of Apple, yes, but I can appreciate the wonder of the iPads.  I, however, have only ever owned Android and Windows based devices.  I have spent so much time Googling to troubleshoot everything.  But enough about that – in another blog I plan to write a bit more about the problems I had and how I overcame them (or what hack I used to make do)

One of my main focuses is to work with teachers and curriculum coordinators to help plan the integration and training of staff in some educational technologies.

When I decided earlier this year that I wanted to work with teachers in Edtech, I wasn’t aware that the role partially existed in that of a Learning Technologist.  Learning Technologists tend to be found in Universities and Colleges, and very rarely in secondary or primary.  I was bowled over when my current post was advertised and I have kept an eye out for any others, and I finally spotted one!

Most PGCE courses now have a module in Edtech, NQTs are coming into the classroom with some idea of how to integrate technology into their lessons, they are more likely to know the current and emerging technologies and this leads to a type of digital divide between older generations and younger generations.  However, it is not that black and white a line.  It seems to have a root in confidence levels, some of the “younger” generation are as hesitant as the “older” ones and vice versa.

Schools need to ensure that all staff are meeting a minimum level of competence in using technology in lessons – this needs to be built into to staff training and cannot (as is currently the case) be left up to the individual themselves to learn in their own time.  I am working on a set of skills to help measure progress, but given that much of it relies on you being a good teacher, it is not very specific.  If I manage to create something halfway decent, I will let you know.  If you have any ideas of “steps” to complete please share below.

Thanks,

Jag

EdTech – Work Smarter Not Harder

If we teach today’s students as we did yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow” – John Dewey

In 1986 Shulman stated that a good teacher needed to not only have good content knowledge and an in depth understanding of pedagogy but a combination of the two: what he termed content pedagogical knowledge –  knowing, and using, the best way to teach what you know.  Mishra & Koehler (2006) build on this with the TPACK Model:

 

TPACK Model

Mishra & Koehler’s TPACK model (Adapted from http://bit.ly/19M7Cds)

The yellow star in the middle represents the position that teachers should be striving for – to be able to use technology in a relevant way that will impact on learning.

There is a rule of thumb that I was told when I first started teaching: “a resource should not take less time to complete than it took to make”.  There  are obviously some exceptions – when you expect to reuse a resource, for instance, but the point remains the same: given how little PPA time we get, is this really the best way to spend your time?  I remember in my NQT year spending hours on a resource for heating and cooling where the particles vibrated and moved apart for an observed lesson.  It looked good (at least I thought so) and provided a concrete representation of a fairly abstract concept but it would have been better to do a role play.  In fact, it would have been better as the idea that particles colliding created a force that pushed them apart would have been more obvious. But I was determined to wow the person observing me with my technological skills.  It didn’t work out as well as I hoped.  On the plus side I did get a much better understanding of what could be done with PowerPoint.  Those skills I learned came in far handier than that resource did.

If you don’t already know how to use a piece of technology you will need to spend the time to understand it, and the best way to do this is to use it yourself.   You need to be able to know what that technology can do before you can imagine all the ways it could be used.  However, once this is done the use of it should be simple.

Using technology in your lesson is not about creating an all singing, all dancing festival of colours and sounds, it is about finding a better way of helping students to understand the content, build on skills and make progress.  I think that this is where a lot of teachers have got lost – by dazzling their students or by avoiding using technology as they don’t have the time to create the described extravaganza.

Simple changes can have a massive impact – instead of reading out snippets of student work, take a photo of it and put it up on an interactive white board.  Have your class identify the good bits and area for improvement.  The setting up of this will take a couple of minutes and can be done while you are talking to the class – but the resulting evaluative discussion will be worth it.  Something that would be harder to obtain by simply reading out the work.

Properly integrating technology will not make you work harder, it will make you work smarter.