On the AR road

Over this last week, I have been working tirelessly at creating my curated collection.  The first battle was deciding on a topic and me being my indecisive self, spent way too much time thinking of a topic.  Lucky that I did, because after perusing the technology curriculum for what felt like weeks, I stumbled across the topic of digital systems and augmented reality, also known as AR.  After conducting a Google search, I stumbled across Terri Echholz.  After adding her to my PLN via Twitter, reading her blog and making initial contact, I was then directed to Brad Waid and Drew Minock.  These wonderful experts who are regular Twitter and Blog posters, have an arrangement of AR specific resources.  Written in easy to understand language and in a way that makes you want to try AR in the classroom, I was instantly hooked.  I didn’t even know what AR was prior to constructing this curation.  I had heard of Google Glass, but that was as far as my knowledge was in this area.  However, this was an additional reason for taking on such a topic, in the bid to increase my technological knowledge.  So far I have managed to increase my PLN and get in touch with many other experts in AR integration via Twitter.  Again, this is increasing my understanding of the educational benefit of Twitter.

Please check out the beginning of my curated collection below by clicking on the screen shot of the curated collection.  Feel free to comment and I am open to additional resources that will assist me to provide a curated collection that assists educators to integrate digital systems and more specifically AR in to the classroom.

Screen shot 2014-03-13 at 2.13.57 PM

 

Screen shot 2014-03-13 at 2.02.25 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ping pong

As the title suggests, this post is about the game – ping pong.  The next Scratch activity required me to create a ping pong game by following explicit step by step instructions.  I must admit the making of digital games has never been my forte, however I was willing to give it a shot.  The initial instruction I did with ease, thanks to a similar experience in a previous Scratch activity, which required me to delete the cat Sprite.  Similarly, thanks to earlier experiences, I was able to easily navigate my way to the backgrounds page and use the functions to paint my ball, line and paddle.  At this point I recognised the importance of ensuring students have a reasonable understanding of terminology used within specific digital programs.  If I had not been given the definitions of Sprites, motion, palette’s etc., I would have struggled to comprehend the commands.  However, I experienced a small hiccup with changing the colour, however after some experimentation, I found that by clicking the sequence tile and then clicking on the particular colour (in this instance the line), I could change the colour to match the exact colour of the line.  This was a must to ensure the command would work when it hit a certain colour (as I found out later).  At this stage, I also recognised the importance of trial and error and realised that despite instructions, I needed to ‘play’ with the functions.  After following the suggested sequences and step by step instructions, I tested out my game, to find that it was a success.  You can view pictures of the game below.

My next challenge will be to complete the challenge activities associated with this activity.  Perhaps I can take some inspiration from Kandy, over at mrskgatfield.  Kandy has successfully completed the challenge activities for this activity.  In a classroom situation, I could easily see how challenge activities could be used to further extend those students who are able programmers.  Furthermore, opportunities could be afforded for students to create their own games, without explicit instruction to encourage creativity and ownership.

Ping pong

Race to the finish line

Yesterday, I finally managed to program a simple racing car game using Scratch.  The programming started well, with the simple drawing of a race track background and a car sprite.  Of course, frustration was around the corner, when I experienced difficulties in placing the car onto the race track, even with step by step instructions.  Me being me, decided to give up for the night and thought I would tackle it again the next day.  Out of desperation I phoned a fellow peer and she too shared her difficulties and suggested I clear the screen and start a fresh.  This time, with nothing to loose, I slowly followed the instructions step by step and with one simple alteration I managed to place the car onto the race track.  This boosted my confidence and it was full steam ahead from this point forward.  Armed with new terminology (Sprites, stage, sequence and commands) and prior success, I managed to complete and test out my new program.

This activity was an interesting learning curve for me, one that I feel students would experience when experimenting with new digital technologies.  Despite step by step instructions, I still managed to experience feelings of failure, fear and frustration.  For me, the collaboration with a peer proved timely and provided me with the motivation to continue.  The explicit instructions offered confirm the importance of providing students with suitable scaffolding during the experimentation phase of new digital technologies.  In addition, I found the complexity of the instructions increased with each sequential step, which I feel is an important consideration when experimenting with digital technologies.  Mastery of simpler commands, is important to ensure a basic understanding of the specific program is achieved prior to the completion of more complex commands.

You can view evidence of my successes below.

Racing car

Car crossing finishing line

Finished car product

 

Scratch, isn’t that something you do when you have an itch?

No, it turns out that scratch isn’t only something that a person does when they have an itch.  Scratch is a computer programming environment that requires users to think creatively, reason and work collaboratively, to create animations, interactive stories and games.  Mrs Poulter in her blog, suggests Scratch allows children to meet two content descriptors within the Technology Curriculum.  However, it appears that Scratch is a suitable programming environment that aligns with a plethora of content descriptors within the Technology Curriculum, in particular the digital technologies subject.

Scratch

This week, I have made an early start on the on learning activities, which saw me step into the world of Scratch.  Designed for children, I was surprised to read that this wonderful program was free of charge.  I spent some time reading through the ‘Getting Started with Scratch’ instructions, as provided by the University of Southern Queensland and began to familiarise myself with the terminology used in the program.  Some of the new terms included:

  • Sprite – images controlled by the program (the cat is the standard Sprite)
  • Block palette – constructs programs
  • Scripts – assembly area for sequences
  • Stage – where the Sprite performs actions

So, after reading the new terminology associated with the program, I was feeling rather uneasy.  Why is it that with each new program, you have to learn a ‘new’ language, just to decipher how to operate the program?  Luckily for me, there are instructions that I can refer to and a limited amount of new terms to recall.

It appears that my Facebook PLN is still holding strong, as word of new Scratch programming flood the EDP4130 private page.  Mrs Poulter, Katie Reed, Jenni Brown and Corinne Owen are only some of the many who are sharing their experiences with Scratch.  Click on their names, to be directed to their marvellous creations.  I look forward to sharing my next post with my PLN, which will show some of my experiences with Scratch.

Making a technological ‘come back’

This post marks my return to the blogging world, to share my experiences in a technology education pre-service course.  I have spent orientation or ‘O’ week, perusing the course material to make a start and to understand the course objectives.   The first question I had was, how is technology different to information communication technologies (ICT)?  This question was answered relatively early in the piece, as the University of Southern Queensland [USQ, 2014] writes,

 “Technology as understood in the school curriculum is a much broader concept than ICT and has a focus on the nature of the processes associated with particular technologies” (USQ, 2014, p 1)

This broader interpretation, is supported by the Queensland Studies Authority and Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).  Currently, the Australian Technology syllabus is awaiting ministerial endorsement and can be accessed here.  Comprising of two subject areas, Design and Technologies and Digital Technologies, the syllabus aims to provide an integrated program between technology and other key learning areas.  The picture below summarises the integration of overarching ideas, key ideas and technology subject areas (ACARA, 2014).

key ideas and technology

Going outside of the four walls

It is the final week of my practicum and this week so far has been one of the most exciting yet.  This week marked my move from connections within the four walls of the classroom, to connections beyond the four walls of the classroom.  On Thursday, of week 2, I introduced students to the Haiku form of poetry.  Now, don’t get me wrong creating Haiku poetry as a compressed form of language could be an interesting collaborative task to do with a peer.  However, I wanted to extend this.  I wanted students to connect with an industry professional.  I was fortunate enough to have a very well organised mentor who outlined which lessons I would be teaching prior to my practicum, to enable sufficient planning time.  So, using this to my advantage, I conducted a simple Google search titled, ‘Poet’s on Twitter’ and I was taken to a blog written by Collin Kelley.  Here, Collin mentions a list of poet’s using Twitter.  At the top of his list was a talented woman by the name of Laurel Snyder.  The blog post listed the Twitter user names of those who used Twitter.  So, using Collin Kelley’s recommendations, I searched for Laurel Snyder, an American poet and writer of children’s books.  After a bit of independent research I found Laurel’s email contact details, in which after a little hesitation, I emailed her asking for her help.  I had an idea, what if I could use the simplistic Haiku form, to collaborate with a professional poet to jointly construct a class Haiku using Twitter.  My first thoughts were, would Laurel be able to do this?  Would I be able to pull this off?  How would I get around the Twitter block by the department?  Kindly, Laurel agreed and I discussed that the class would collaborate as a whole class to determine the first line of the Haiku, in response to an Autumn stimulus picture.  Now, to carrying out the process.  This is what I did, I:

  • Showed students a stimulus picture of a beautiful Autumn image
  • Paired students off to construct the first line of  a Haiku
  • Joined the class back together to re-construct, share and analyse suggestions to collaborate together to formulate a strong first line of poetry
  • Posted this to Laurel via Twitter (with a follow-up email) using my own Twitter account on my iPhone
  • Took a screen shot of both my posting and Laurel’s response (2nd line of the Haiku) and uploaded it to the edStudio that I had created for this unit of work
  • Showed students the screen shot image and had them pair off to create a third line for the Haiku.  They then formed back together and re-constructed, shared and analysed their suggestions before conducting a class vote to determine the best third line for the Haiku
  • Posted this to Laurel via Twitter (with a follow-up email) using my own Twitter account on my iPhone
  • Awaited feedback via Twitter to share with the students (uploaded again to edStudio)

I am pretty proud of what I have accomplished.  The engagement levels of the students were very high, as soon as I mentioned connecting with a professional poet/children’s writer in Atlanta, they were hooked.  Don’t get me wrong, these children have connected virtually with other students outside of the four walls of the classroom before, however not via Twitter and not with a professional children’s writer/poet.

I did encounter some hurdles, such as extended time required to formulate the Haiku (due to high engagement levels, increased discussion and excitement).  The learning place, in which I uploaded the screen shot and more specifically the edStudio within the learning place , was at times incredibly slow.  This is mentioned by one of my peer’s Michelle,  in her blog post titled ‘The ICT Professional Experience’Here she mentions the frustrations associated with the often slow learning place and its embedded learning objects.  This is definitely a problematic area.  I found myself only having access to designing and altering my edStudio during school hours and during limited times on the weekend.  After school however was a different story due to maintenance on the site that is undertaken on a regular basis, which proved difficult.

I have included a screen shot below.

Twitter Laurel 1

 

Overall, I think the engagement levels and success of this lesson speaks volumes about my integration of ICT’s in this instance.  While students didn’t get to ‘use’ Twitter themselves, I worked with the constraints that I was given.  All in all, a very successfully and rewarding sequence of lessons.

References

Kelley, C. (2009, May 11). Collin Kelly: Modern Confessional [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://collinkelley.blogspot.com.au/2009/05/poets-on-twitter.html

Snyder, L. (2007). About [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://laurelsnyder.com/?page_id=2

My personal use of ICT’s during my practicum

So, it is week 2 and I can safely say that I am thoroughly enjoying my practicum.  I have a great, supportive mentor and a beautiful bunch of Year 6/7 learners.

I am in a very fortunate situation.  I have a mentor who in a previous role was an ICT co-ordinator and a classroom which is equipped with some great ICT resources.  In the classroom, the students have access to iPod’s, 5 laptops, 17 desktop computers, an iPad, a digital camera, a printer and an IWB.  Hence, I have been able to experiment with integrating ICT’s.

The students are what I would like to call ‘tech savvy’.  It was a fear of mine that they would be more ‘tech savvy’ then myself.  However, I have used this to my advantage.  When confronted with little hiccups using the IWB, I find myself calling on my ‘tech geniuses’ to show Mrs F what to do.

I thought it would be a good idea to mention some applications that I have used and integrated whilst on prac.  These include:

These are just some of the applications that I have managed to use whilst on prac.  It truly has been a great experience thus far and I can really see the positive impact effective integration of ICT”s is having.

Improving behaviour with a little help from Dojo

At the suggestion of a friend, I decided to look into an application named ‘Class Dojo’.  My friend gave me a brief run down and quite obviously I was captivated enough to investigate it prior to going onto prac.  Over the course of my prac, I have implemented the Class Dojo as a way to manage and record behaviour.  My mentor already had a behaviour management system in place, one based on a points system.  In this point system, each week an auction takes place where the teacher auctions off items and students can bid according to their behaviour points.  These points are recorded in a green folder, where each child’s name is listed.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this system but when I went into prac, I was actually unaware of the ‘green folder’ and thought to myself, how can I record behaviour and make it my ‘own’? So working with my mentors system, I set up a ‘Class Dojo’.  For those unaware of this application, Class Dojo in a nutshell is a behaviour managements system that you can set up to record student behaviour by awarding or deducting points.  These are the steps I followed to set-up my behaviour system:

  • Created 3 separate classes: Year 6 class, Year 7 class and a separate class for two students who are segregated and visit the SEP regularly
  • Added each student to the Dojo, from here it allocates them an avatar
  • Added the behaviours I was looking to monitor (on task behaviour, working collaboratively etc.).
  • Printed out the student codes
  • Sent an email to each student with a link to the Dojo and provided them with a student code so they could go in and monitor their points and change their avatars (a student function)

I must mention that my prac class is a 6/7 composite and I had heard that Dojo was highly suitable for the early years as opposed to the upper primary years.  It seems that this isn’t just an application suited to the younger years, my students absolutely love the Class Dojo.

I have managed to get into the routine, of starting each lesson with the Dojo up on the IWB.  As soon as students sit down and look at the IWB, they are on their best behaviour and I have noticed an improvement in the self-management of behaviour.  It really is a great tool, when awarding students it lets out a ‘beep’ and students can see and hear the point that was just awarded.

When I originally spoke to my mentor about the possibility of implementing this system she mentioned that she had signed up for an account but was yet to implement it because the green book was quite practical.  This made me think, she definitely had a point.  Would I always have access to an IWB to enable me to award points?  No, not always.  What could I do to get around this curveball?  I decided to search for a Dojo app and was lucky enough to find a free Dojo app.  Now, I find myself awarding points via my iPhone when I am not situated at the IWB.  The other day I conducted a lesson in the staff room as my year 7 group were doing NAPLAN and I found myself using my iPhone to award points.  In comparison to carting a folder around, the iPhone app seemed like a more convenient and portable option.

It must also be said that my students from day 1 of being given their individual codes, have leaped in and created their own student accounts.  They love being able to view their points from home or before school and of course have loved being able to change their avatars.  When you think about it, you can’t take the ‘green folder’ home, however you can login to the Dojo, so this is definitely an advantage.

I see myself continuing to use the Class Dojo with my students for years to come.  The response has been fantastic and it is so simple to use.  I would highly recommend it.

Dojo

The flipped classroom

During my studies for this course so far, I have come across the term ‘flipped classroom’.  I have really wanted to investigate this ‘new’ classroom for quite some time, however now seems like the right time.  This post provides a great summary of what to expect in a flipped classroom.  Click on the picture to get an idea of what a flipped classroom may look like.

The infographic partially pictured above is a great representation of the flipped classroom. At the core of the flipped classroom, is technology.  Interactive and teacher created video’s allows teachers to move learning to outside the traditional walls of the classroom.

The benefits of a flipped classroom are:

  • Encourages collaboration
  • Encourages the sharing of information with all stakeholders (parents, community, teachers)
  • Students can view instructions at their own pace and rewind or review learning as required
  • Students can ‘work’ one on one with the teacher and receive more individualised attention
  • Suits a variety of learning styles
  • Students enjoy it

While there are advantages, there are also disadvantages:

  • Not every child will have access to the technology required
  • All of students time is spent tuned into the computer screen

Get ready to hear more about the flipped classroom, as it is infiltrating the classrooms of today.  As educators of 21st century learners, we have but no choice to keep up with the times and that means flipping our classrooms on their heads!

 

References

Knewton. (n.d.). The Flipped Classroom Infographic. Retrieved May 6, 2013, from http://www.knewton.com/flipped-classroom/

Sophia. (2013). Flipped Classrooms Turn Everything Around. Retrieved May 6, 2013, from http://www.sophia.org/flipped-classroom

Another recommendation from ‘The Connected Teacher’

I have had yet another great recommendation from ‘The Connected Teacher’ AKA, Simon McKenzie.  Simon suggested that I check out iAnnotate and mentions that he uses it in his paperless classroom, as a means of assessing student learning.

I have done a little research and found a blog that reinforces how iAnnotate can be used to create a paperless environment.  In this example (check out the video here), you will notice that teachers use iAnnotate in the following ways:

  • To annotate student assessments
  • To return drafts to students
  • Reading and sharing PDF documents
  • Access student assignments through dropbox, Google docs or Moodle
  • Text, voice or video notes can be added to the assignment

At such a small cost of only $9.99, I will be sure to try this app out.  I can only imagine how efficient it would be to run a paperless classroom, something I will keep in my sights for the day that I finally have my own classroom.

References

Baker, L. (2013, January 13). How we use iAnnotate PDF on our iPads at MHS [Web log post]. http://larryrthoughts.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/how-we-use-iannotate-pdf-on-our-ipads.html

McKenzie, S. (2013). The Connected Teacher [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://theconnectedteacher.edublogs.org/

Oddvik, M. (2010). Search feature [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mortsan/5068588339/

Edmodo

This week, Simon McKenzie (a PLN connection I made through Twitter) kindly responded to my post regarding assessments and ICT’s.  From what I have seen on Twitter and the conversations I have had with Simon (via Twitter), I knew he would have some great tools to add, given that he is running a paperless classroom.

I had heard of Edmodo but had never checked it out.  After Simon mentioned that he had been using Edmodo in his junior classrooms (including Google forms), I decided that now was the time to check it out.  I must admit at first glance, I was hooked.  I was actually preparing to implement it in my upcoming practicum until I took a deeper look at the ethical considerations.   I signed up for an account and then proceeded to create a group for my students.  However, I discovered that parents would have to read the privacy statement and then agree to the statement.  Edmodo has thought of everything and even provide teachers with a sample note to send home to parents to accompany the privacy statement.  Now don’t get me wrong, this looks like a great tool, but working within a time limit of 3 weeks, I have decided to put Edmodo off (for now) and use the virtual classroom on the Learning Place.  This was due to concerns such as:

  • Would I get the forms back in time?
  • Would parents agree to the privacy statement?
  • Would parents feel the site was a safe?
  • Would I be able to get my head around Edmodo in time?
  • What would I do if a privacy issue popped up?

Now in my eyes, these are all valid concerns and hence my reason to not use Edmodo this time around.  However, I am extremely keen to give it a go and I am intrigued by the things that it can allow you to do.  Here are some of the functions of the application:

  • Create quizzes
  • Facilitate peer discussions
  • Involve parents in the learning process
  • Create a calendar with events
  • Secure closed network
  • Sharing digital media
  • Award students
  • Upload homework assignments
  • Upload assessments
  • Send feedback to students
  • Differentiate by creating sub groups of students
  • Online polls
  • Message students and teachers
  • Provide information to students who may have been away with illness to avoid them falling behind
  • Peer reviews
  • Book clubs
  • It is free!

For more ways to use Edmodo, please check out the Edmodo site and in particular cast your eyes over ’20 ways to use Edmodo’

 

References

Edmodo. (2013). 20 ways to use Edmodo. Retrieved May 6, 2013, from http://help.edmodo.com/teachers/teacher-rollout-resources/twenty-ways-to-use-edmodo/

These are just some of the very many functions of Edmodo.  It looks like a wonderful application, I can’t wait to have a classroom of my own to try Edmodo out.

Multi-age/composite classrooms and ICT’s

The second topic I have decided to delve into this week was titled ‘ICTs in a multi age/composite classroom’.  This is a key interest of mine given that I am about to enter a Year 6/7 composite for my upcoming practicum.  First of all, I thought I would mention how I have seen ICT’s used within my practicum context to illustrate what can be done with them.

It must be said that the context I am about to enter for my upcoming practicum is rather fortunate.  In the classroom they have a double learning space (equivalent to 2 standard classrooms) and within this space they have one end which contains the ICT’s.  Here, they have 17 desktop computers and 5 laptops and an Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) at the other end of the classroom as well as a department laptop.  This class is very fortunate indeed and I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to have so many ICT’s at my disposal.  Currently the teacher differentiates instruction regularly by separating the Year 6 and 7’s.  At one end this gives her the opportunity to use the IWB to explicitly teach concepts and at the other end she uses ICT tools such as edStudio’s for the other year level (using the desktop computers and laptops).  This allows the teacher to effectively differentiate instruction according to age and allows the upper primary learners to work independently and without explicit instruction from the teacher, as this is contained within the designed edStudio.  In this instance, you can see how ICT’s have been used in a way which facilitates independent learning.  While not all classes may have access to this many ICT based resources, I have thought of an alternative.  In a multi-age class I could use the interactive whiteboard with one year level to conduct a live web conference, while simultaneously working with the other year level on learning that meets their age based needs.  This way of teaching would be useful where desktop computers are scarce (which is often the case in my previous practicum experiences) and would be making the most of the limited resources available.

What did I learn about the topic and what have I learnt as a result?

It seems there is limited information on ICT’s and multi-age classrooms, I wonder if this is because some consider it no different to a regular classroom, in that you use ICT’s how you would normally dependent on the needs of the learners.  My information was sourced from a simple Google search.  One teacher mentions here that ICT’s allows for engagement and enhancement of learning in a multi-age setting and was achieved by inclusion of PhotoStory.

You can see what learning in a multi-age setting may look like by accessing this resource.  From this resource you can see that inquiry led investigations are often seen in multi-age settings.  ICT’s can be used effectively to facilitate such inquiry led investigations by using ICT tools such as edStudio’s created by the teacher or Webquests.

After doing some more research, I found reference to using ICT tools and technologies individually and in pairs while the teacher took large groups of learners to work with them explicitly doing more hands on experiences.  This website, mentions using technologies in an effective manner where students have access to the curriculum and the “web-based teacher”.  This reinforces the importance of using ICT’s in multi-age or composite classrooms and how they can be used effectively to facilitate learning.  In essence, this article considers the use of ICT tools as an additional teacher.  It must be remembered that ICT’s cannot replace the teacher, however in a multi-age or composite class, with mixed ability and mixed aged learners, ICT’s can be effectively used to ensure instruction is appropriate.

The benefits in this article showcase how ICT’s can be used to develop learner autonomy, which the article exemplifies when students get a briefing or explicit teaching from the teacher before breaking away to use ICT’s independently or in small group situations.  Learners rely on one another and work collaboratively in this situation.

Overall, I am not sure that it matters if you have a composite, multi-age or straight level class.  You work within the constraints of the environment.  You differentiate regardless of whether it is a multi-age or straight level class.  You work with the ICT’s that you have and provide the best learning experiences for your students.  From my post you can see that I have now compiled a variety of ways that ICT’s can be used in multi-age or composite settings, however these could easily be implemented in straight level settings.

I have put a shout out to my PLN on Twitter to share the ways they use ICT’s in multi-age or composite settings, so hopefully I will be able to explore this further.

 

References

Department of Education and Training. (2010). Smart classrooms: 1300 teachers gain ICT accreditation. Retrieved April 30, 2013, from http://education.qld.gov.au/projects/educationviews/smartclassrooms/2010/apr/profdevframework-100414.html

Dodge, B. (2007). Welcome. Retrieved April 30, 2013, from http://webquest.org/

The State of Queensland (Queensland Studies Authority). (2006). Early years curriculum materials: Multi-age learning and teaching. Retrieved April 30, 2013, from http://www.qsa.qld.edu.au/downloads/p_10/ey_lt_multi-age.pdf

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH). (2003, December 5). A class of their own. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/index.html

 

Expanding my assessment toolbag compartment

This week we were asked to identify two areas that we would like to concentrate on, in a hope to achieve further information and confidence prior to commencing our practicums.  I nominated ICT’s and assessment (including Google forms) as an area of weakness and one that I felt I needed more guidance with.  My plan within this posting is to mention some wonderful tools that I am unfamiliar with and unpack them to figure out how ICT’s can be best used to assess student learning.  I have very limited experience in using ICT’s to measure student learning as an assessment tool, so I am very interested to delve deeper into this area.

Three Ring App

How did I learn about the topic and what have I learnt as a result?

I was guided to enter the Diigo group where it was suggested to view the Three Ring App post.  This app,  can allow you to organise, collate and store artifacts and share them with others.  It got me thinking, how is this app relevant to assessment?  How could I use the Three Ring App for assessment?  As the app description mentions, exemplars can be shared and artifacts can be compared to encourage self or peer assessment.  As a teacher I could use this tool to assess student learning.  This app also would allow me to comment on student work and provide descriptive feedback to students directly.

Google forms

How did I learn about the topic and what have I learnt as a result?

A great post written by fellow peer Jennifer Walsh, sparked my interest in Google forms and how they could be used for assessment.  Check out her detailed, yet insightful post about Google forms here.  From Jennifer’s great post, I learnt about some of the functions of Google forms.  I discovered that as an assessment tool, Google forms could be used to as a multi-dimensional tool to  plan, survey, quiz and the collate information.  I decided to further my research and found a great You Tube clip which talks about how Google forms can be used as a self-evaluation tool.  You can view the video clip here.  This clip delves into self-assessment and how Google forms can be designed in a way to encourage learners to self-evaluate their learning.  This great presentation titled, ‘Creative ways to use Google forms’ also was at my disposal after a simple Google search titled: ‘Creative ways to use Google forms for assessment’.  You can click on the image below to be taken to the presentation.  In the classroom, I could see myself having students record reading logs, peer and self-evaluate, take quizzes, design quizzes for their classmates etc.  I have found out that I am able to change the settings of the form to meet my specific needs, such as accessibility and the emailing of responses.

This is a Google form that I just created to show you an example of what a very simple one may look like.

 

I also came across a great site which lists 6 ways to use Google forms and includes a list of ways that Google forms can be used within classrooms, you may like to check it out here.

Today I have only mentioned 2 of the many tools out there that can be used to assess students learning.  At the end of the day it depends on your context, desired outcomes, resources and needs as to what tool is right for you.  This wiki may provide you with a variety of other tools that you may like to draw upon when looking to use ICT’s as a means to measure student learning.

I have put a Twitter post out there directed at Simon McKenzie, as I know he is keen to implement a paperless environment.  Hopefully he will have some other wonderful tools to share.

References

Cassinelli, C. (n.d.). Integrating Google Tools 4 Teachers: Spreadsheets/Forms. Retrieved April 30, 2013, from https://sites.google.com/site/colettecassinelli/spreadsheet

Jonson, J. (n.d.). Formtastic! Creative ways to use Google Forms in the classroom. Retrieved April 30, 2013, from https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1bHF-ZaXbJ1zjpNySsTepOT-6Sbihscbe_lXXesgPlPo/edit#slide=id.g1132e7f5_1_0

McKenzie. (2013). The Connected Teacher. Retrieved April 30, 2013, from http://theconnectedteacher.edublogs.org/

Teaching Palette. (2009, May 16). Google Forms for Student Self-Assessment [Video file]. Video posted to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZJVFiOIIMc

 

 

Somebody has put a ‘spell’ on me

This post isn’t about witches, magic or spells, rather it is about a professional development session I was lucky enough to attend this afternoon.  Fitting in with my learning place professional development sessions, today’s session saw us embark on a live web conference offered via the one channel program on the learning place.

Before I go into what the session entailed, I would like to talk about how effective the live web conference was and how I could use something similar in the classroom.  I watched on as 50 or so teachers logged onto the live web conference.  It was hosted by an experienced teacher with an obvious liking for ICT’s.  It gave the teachers an opportunity to do the following:

  • connect with other teachers
  • attend a professional development session that could be used towards their required professional development hours
  • use digital technologies
  • choose professional development sessions to meet their needs

As one channel mentions, viewers can either log in to live sessions and be active participants or they can view the recorded sessions at their leisure.  I was shown how to find sessions and book sessions via the calendar.  In this instance web conferencing removes barriers such as time and money, as it can be viewed from the comfort of the classroom or home.  My mentor mentioned that she often uses live web conferences with her class and as the 6/7 cohort enjoy becoming involved in live conferences where they can collaborate with others outside of the barriers of the classroom.

Now onto the purpose of the professional development conference.  The focus was on spelling and caused me to re-think my current views on spelling activities.  Here a couple of questions that I found myself asking:

  • Do I find spelling a tad boring and repetitive?
  • Am I running out of ideas to engage learners?
  • Am I using ICT’s to teach spelling?

The focus of the professional development was presented in response to 7 core areas, these were:

  • Multi-modal hooks – check out the Electric Company on you tube, it makes for a great stimulus
  • Super cool tools
  • Connect with kid culture
  • Playing to learn – games
  • iOS apps
  • Online tools
  • Challenges

In this I was introduced to a variety of websites, apps and tools to engage learners with spelling.  It turns out there are no more excuses, spelling should not be BORING!

A few apps that caught my eye included:

A few websites that caught my eye included:

A few tools that caught my eye included:

I would highly recommend checking some of these out.  Spelling does not have to boring.  Spelling is much more than just conducting a simple pre and post test, it doesn’t have to be this way.  I realise time is limited, but with some great resources (as mentioned above), you can engage learners and as the presenter said, connect with kid culture.  If we can connect to their interests, we are one step closer to having engaged learners.

 

edStudio is about to become my number 1 tool

To date I have attended 2 professional development sessions on the Learning Place’s edStudio.  The reason for this is crucial, during my practicum I would like to implement an edStudio, as this is a key application used in the classroom for teaching of units of work such as History and Mathematics.  In the professional experience setting, edStudio is used as a very effective way to integrate ICT’s into teaching and learning.  As the class is a composite class consisting of 27, Year 6 and 7  learners, edStudio is used as an effective way to teach learners separately according to need.

First, I feel I must talk about what edStudio is and some of the functions that I have witnessed during my professional development sessions.  It must be said that I have only completed 2 of 5 sessions on edStudio’s, so I am very much in the beginning phases of learning.

It must be said that the learning place  is the Department of Education, Training and Employment’s secure digital environment for teachers.  Therefore, if you are not a Department teacher, you will not have a login.  Without a login you cannot access edStudio’s, so major problem if you do not have a logon.

For a brief breakdown of what you can do within an edStudio then click here.  An edStudio in my eyes, is a place where teachers can design digital units/lessons for their students by inclusion of a variety of digital tools such as learning place learning objects, materials, content and other web 2.0 tools.

At first glance of edStudio, I failed to see the ‘big deal’.  However, as I uncovered the edStudio with my mentor, I was amazed.  Not only could teachers embed video’s, links, images and text, I was about to uncover much more.  These are some of the exciting things I witnessed:

•Students blogging within the edStudio

•Students collaborating with others, via a discussion forum

•Students sharing and editing work via a dropbox embedded within the edStudio

•Students engaged and working independently through inquiry units

It would seem that edStudio is much more than a place where a teacher places links and information.  Students actually DO things in edStudio, however this is dependent on how you choose to use the tool.  The functions available are huge, if you choose to utilise them.  I can’t wait to have a play with the edStudio I created during the professional development session, because via exploration I am sure I will uncover some additional functions of the edStudio.

I am going to place a link to this post on Twitter to see if I can gather some ways other teachers are using edStudio’s.  So if you have used edStudio, I would love to hear from you.

Professional Experience – this weeks hot topic!

It seems that this weeks hot topic is professional experience.  There have been some great blog posts from the 3100 cohort already about getting ready to embark on professional experience.  Jenni ,over at Adventures in Technology has compiled a great blog post where she makes reference to Practicum Online.  What a great resource that sets out some key ideas to consider prior to embarking on professional experience.  I particularly liked her formula: planning+learning+reflecting=growth.  Encompassed within the planning, will be those frameworks that we have been introduced to during EDC3100.

Another great post compiled by Michelle, over at Keeping up with the Times delves into a list of considerations prior to going onto professional experience.  I can relate to Michelle, as I too am a busy mother and professional experience involves much more than just organising myself and my lessons, it involves the organisation of my children.  At times I sit back and think, why on earth didn’t I do this straight after school, prior to having children?  Having to ship them around and disrupt our routines is a lot to ask, yet something that I hope is very worth it in the long run.

As these ladies have mentioned, I am very grateful for the depth and preparation that David Jones (course examiner) has gone into this week.  He has really made a conscious effort to make us as prepared as possible in the lead up to professional experience.  While I am feeling anxious of what lies ahead, I am feeling a little less stressed knowing that preparation has started early.

In light of preparation, David had us compile a list of things we needed to consider prior to going into our professional experience settings and post it to the Week 9 forum.  I have compiled a list of some of things that I have already done and those yet to be achieved.  Please see them below:

I already know:

* The working use of the technology in the classroom

* The amount of computers/laptops  within the classroom

* The printing facilities

* How the IWB is used in the context

* The Internet facilities

* How ICT savvy the students are

* The teachers thoughts on ICT integration

* The students feelings towards ICT’s

* Some ways ICT’s are integrated in learning

I need to find out:

*How many computers/laptops are located in the library?

* How much library time do the students have per week, to enable full class use of ICT’s?

* How can I make best use of the computers/laptops I have and practice differentiation (Year 6/7 composite) at the same time (the teacher teaches them separately quite often).

* How do I go about accessing the school iPad’s?

* How and where will I access the contexts digital cameras?

* What types of sites do students have access to, which are blocked and what I can do about this?

* More about edStudio, so I can implement it on prac (as it is used regularly within the context).

* What are my plans for if technology doesn’t work?

* How have ethical, privacy and other related issues been considered?

* How are the needs for all students being supported?

* What other hardware/software will I need

* How often are specialist lessons?

* How many hours per week do the students with special needs spend in the SEU?

* What days are staff meetings usually conducted on?

* Are there any special events during my prac?

* What behaviour management system is used within the classroom?

* What do I do if the behaviour escalates and cannot be managed in the classroom, what is the procedure?

* How are students rewarded and can I use my own reward system?

* What will the focus of the PD sessions be on during my 3 week practicum?

 

I have some work to do, some of which I plan to find out prior to commencing professional experience.  The more information I can get prior to walking in the door on Monday May 13, 2013, the better prepared and less stressed I will feel.

 

Creating ICT rich lessons, with a little bit of help from TIP

Yes you read it correctly, another framework.  This time, The Technology and Integration Planning framework, also known as TIP will be used to guide learning experiences.  I will be taking an adaption of TIP offered by Mike Wheadon (2011), to guide the development of rich ICT experiences.  This framework has some similarities to others that I have been exposed to during this course, however it also has its differences.  The course examiner has reinforced that the reason for the variety of frameworks that we have been exposed to can be attributed to the different learning design focuses that each framework focuses upon.

I am liking the look of the adapted TIP framework, it uses questions to guide the development of lessons and relies heavily on the initial identification of a problem to solve.  This framework isn’t meant to be used in isolation, rather it should be used in conjunction with other frameworks to implement rich ICT lessons.

Wheadon states (2011): “At all points in the framework it is essential to ask questions which keep a focus on why ICT is being integrated into the activity or unit of work. If the integration of ICT is not being used to enhance the learning experience in some way, but is merely a substitution for existing techniques, then opportunities to improve the learning experience are lost. It is also important for teachers making a change to integrate ICT that they see its benefits”

This quote very much sums up the significance of asking questions during the planning phase to ensure effective and efficient integration of ICT’s.

You can check out Wheadon’s (2011) adapted TIP framework below. Please click on the picture to be taken to Wheadon’s (2011) adapted model.

I will now be taking into consideration two principles:  enhancing and changing.   Have I made provisions of advantage (enhancing) and have I done something new that may have not been possible prior (changing)?  These two questions will allow me to evaluate my lessons prior to implementation.

This weeks learning path encouraged us to consider a learning problem, its technology solution and advantage in the weekly forum.  I decided to reflect on a problem I had seen earlier, during some volunteer work with my mentor.  Here is my post:

Kelly
Students cannot see relevance of concepts to their lives (maths-area and budgeting)
by Kelly Frintzilas – Monday, 22 April 2013, 9:34 PM

I have witnessed the use of a scenario where students were required to use the Mitre 10 site to design a kitchen within a specified budget.  Doing this, they were able to apply knowledge in a way that allowed them to form a connection between learning (area) and real life.  Working out the areas of appliances etc., and using the visual website, allowed them to design a kitchen and demonstrate their understanding, something they would have not been able to do otherwise.  They were able to manipulate the appliances, cabinetry etc., to not only meet the budget specified by the teacher but to demonstrate their understanding of area.  They were given a specific area to work with, in which they had to ensure they had sufficient and required appliances etc. within the area of their kitchen.

From this posting, you can see the identification of a problem (students cannot see relevance of concepts to their lives, maths-area and budgeting), the technology solution (Mitre 10 site – kitchen design) and the advantage (allowed them to do something they wouldn’t be able to otherwise and allowed a connection between real-life concepts and the mathematical concepts they were learning).

I think it is useful to use a problem as the basis for learning activities when looking to incorporate ICT’s.  If I can use this framework among the many others I have been introduced to, I will be well on my way to creating some superb ICT learning experiences on my practicum.

 

References

Wheadon, M. (2011,September 26). The Technology Integration Model [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://blendingict.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/the-technology-integration-planning-model/

 

 

 

 

5 characteristics of good teaching and learning with ICT’s

This week I was introduced to the document “Key characteristics of good quality teaching and learning with ICT” (National Association of Advisers for Computers in Education [NAACE]& British Educational Communications and Technology agency [BECTA], 2001), which detailed 5 key characteristics to consider when teaching and learning with ICT’s.  It seems that there are in fact many frameworks out there claiming to enhance learning with ICT’s.  I really liked the 5 characteristics listed within this document as they were simple, logical and explained well with relevant classroom examples.

The document does a good job of answering the following questions:

What is effective teaching practice with ICT?

What can ICT do to assist the teacher?

What might pupils be doing as a result of this good practice?

Another thing I liked about this document of 5 characteristics included a reference to not being the only document relevant for effective ICT practice.  The document encouraged those to add suggestions via email and was open to feedback based on experience.  These comments highlight the vast amount of strategies available to assist teachers to integrate ICT’s effectively.

In my opinion it is not suitable to use just one framework to guide the implementation of ICT’s in teaching and learning.  I must draw from a variety of frameworks, to develop the best possible teaching and learning strategies that will assist me to effectively integrate ICT’s.

Reference

National Association of Advisers for Computers in Education (NAACE)., & British Educational Communications and Technology agency (BECTA). (2001). Key characteristics of good quality teaching and learning with ICT. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from http://revolution.caret.cam.ac.uk/pdfs/bectaadvice.pdf

Have you seen TIM?

Before you say, are you referring to a person, think again.  TIM is the acronym for the technology integration matrix.  I stumbled across TIM during a simple Google search for ICT’s and assessment.  I wish I had seen this earlier, TIM shows how technology can be effectively used to enhance learning.  This matrix of 25 cells includes, 5 characteristics of meaningful learning environments and 5 levels of technology integration.  For your convenience I have listed the characteristics and levels below:

5 characteristics of meaningful learning environments

  • Active
  • Constructive
  • Goal-directed
  • Authentic
  • Collaborative

5 levels of technology integration

  • Entry
  • Adoption
  • Adaptation
  • Infusion
  • Transformation

If you click on matrix below (only part of the matrix has been displayed), you will be taken to the full copy of the matrix.  NOTE:  actually click on those cells with the word more and you will be provided with additional information.  By clicking on the right arrow within both the characteristics and levels of integration you will also be taken to additional information that further explains the matrix.

My plan is to use this matrix to analyse my ICT integration.  It is a wonderful tool that can assist me to determine whether I am using ICT’s to enhance learning by considering both the characteristics of meaningful learning environments and the levels of technology integration.

This find in my eyes is definitely worthy of a Diigo bookmark and a mention on Twitter, so that is my next job for today.

References

Florida Center for Instructional Technology. (2011). Technology Integration Matrix. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/matrix.php

 

Assessment – are you thinking about all possibilities?

A question posted by our course examiner, David Jones (as a sidenote you can read his blog here) on the weekly learning path looked something like this:

Now, my first initial thoughts were, is this some sort of trick question?  Of course the answer is 19cm 2, no doubt about it.  This question wasn’t designed to trick us out, rather it was to get us to think of the possibilities.  As David mentioned, how would you grade a student who decided that the green shape had the greater area.  He asked how this would be marked on a pen and paper test, quite obviously incorrect.  Now what about if you asked the student for an explanation behind his/her thinking.  He/she explains:

The red shape has the greatest area, and if you rank the shapes great, greater and greatest in terms of area, then the green one has the greater area.

That sounds logical right?  Pretty interesting explanation and reasoning.  It shows an understanding of the mathematical terms, ‘great’, ‘greater’ and ‘greatest’, yet it would be marked incorrect as it is in fact not the shape with the greater area, meaning largest area.  The point of this activity was to get us to think of the way authentic assessment can be created and the importance of allowing students to make their thinking visible to all.  As I posted on the discussion forum, I wonder if the student would have perhaps gained partial marks had the teacher placed a section on the test where the student could explain his/her reasoning.

These are a few key things I have achieved from this week’s learning path in regards to assessment:

  • Keep it authentic
  • Give students the opportunities to explain and share their answers and reasoning
  • Gather and make judgments about learning
  • Clear goals need to be understood by both student and teacher
  • Both ‘how’ students are learning and ‘what’ students are learning should be evident as the learner completes assessment
  • Assessment is much more than getting the ‘right’ answer
  • Provide assessment that allows for student choice
  • Create assessment that provokes a variety of responses to encourage creative thought and reasoning

Also a shout out to a fellow peer, Natalie Todd who has written a blog post titled: “Three important aspects within assessment”.  She lists validity, reliability and authenticity as key considerations when designing an effective assessment piece.  You can check out her insightful post here.

I now have a big task on my hands.  I need to have a look at my assessment ideas within my unit plan and consider the above.  I am looking forward to ensuring student thinking is visible to all during the formation of responses to assessment pieces.  Think I may need to sleep on it first though.