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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

 

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.

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