Tag Archives: blog

Digital Technology Mentoring

Standard

Part of my role this year is to meet weekly with each Primary School teacher for mentoring them in the area of Digital Technology. Last week was my first week actually carrying this out and I found it so exciting!

What does it involve? Anything the teacher wants – whatever sort of technology skills they are hoping to improve, or implement in class with their students

As a GAFE school, the focus on using GAFE properly is high. I helped one teacher create a Google Doc, name it, locate it in her Google Drive and create 2 folders for different subjects. Within the Google Doc, she inserted a table AND merged cells. And boy, was I proud of her! She didn’t write the instructions down, because she made 3 Google Docs and we’re going to continue it this week. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

I chatted with another colleague about where she’s going to fit the Digital Technologies into her weekly timetable. Her class will have 1:1 iPads and we looked at integrating them into problem-solving in maths, through coding. She told me that she didn’t really know much about coding, so I directed her to the Hour Of Code. We talked about using ReadTheory in the classroom as well, which some of her students used last year.  For those higher achievers in Literacy groups, I suggested using Book Creator with the task of creating a book quiz to promote higher comprehension thinking skills.

One of my colleagues was busy running the SRC last week during our meeting time, so I’ll be meeting with her for the first time next week. She got started with Google Classroom last year and I’m excited to see what plans she has for it this year, especially as her co-teacher in the adjacent classroom has Google Classroom on her agenda – how can she use it, what can she do with it, etc. That’s her goal, so I’ve been busy delving through Alice Keeler’s blog and emailing her some links for her to check out before we meet next.

Unfortunately Primary School swimming interrupted my meeting with another colleague, so we’re taking a raincheck. It’s her first time teaching the year level she’s got this year, so she’s looking for new ideas and ways of doing things – I’m keen to see where this takes us.

Which leaves me with one colleague – the lady I’m co-teaching Prep with this year. We’ve already set up ClassDojo purely for the Class Stories feature, instead of sending home a paper newsletter full of photos from the week. We’ve already had most parents join and interacting with the photos. I started the week of by uploading the photos myself, but my colleague uploaded photos herself yesterday – win! Last year, she was logging onto the 4 classroom computers for the students – but this year, we’re going to get the students to do it themselves. Yes, it will be slower to start, but upskilling them in the process. We also discussed the BigCat book iPad apps for Literacy groups, and Book Creator for creating a book about numbers to 10.

What else is on my agenda? I’ve been encouraging a few staff to check out the Google Certified Educator Training – not necessarily for the ‘title’, but for the skills. I’ve also been given a timeslot at our weekly staff meeting to talk about technology – new apps, websites, ideas…and hopefully getting staff to present at these too!

I love my new role!

EdTechSA presentation

Standard

For all those who were at the @EdTechSA conference in Adelaide and were in my workshop, you’ll know we had some technical difficulties – ha, yes – at a technology conference.

EdTechSA 1

As we all know, flexibility is the key, so after 15 minutes of me talking with a blank screen, various cord changes, menu options, adapter swaps…we had lift off!

If you’d like the links to the resources I talked about in the presentation (ipad resources, apps and websites, please feel free to download the PDF version. You’ll notice that I’ve removed the videos and photos which had identifiable students in them – sorry, I don’t have permission to share them further than the conference.

Enjoy!
P.S. The lovely @JessOttewell actually filmed 11 minutes of my presentation – so if you want to experience some of it…you guessed it, jump on to Twitter, search for (and follow) Jess and you can see for yourself!

Technology Tuesdays

Standard

During Term One I attempted to run “Technology Tuesdays” at school to help assist staff to integrate technology, in particular iPads into their planning, teaching and learning. Other schools have “Techie Brekkies” which I feel is a great idea, except the part that means I would have to get up early. After school works better for me!

I had grand plans and ideas. But as the term wore on, there was very little interest in the after school sessions. 

Following a staff survey about iPad use at school, I decided to give Technology Tuesdays another go for Term Three – with a few adaptations.

A term schedule – These sessions will only be held on Tuesdays that we do not have a full staff meeting. Our meeting nights are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but there isn’t a meeting scheduled for every staff member each Tuesday. I’m also going to add the schedule to the school calendar and invite staff to attend. To see what my plan is (so far) for Term 3, have a look here: Technology Tuesdays

Options – I’ll be uploading the content for each session here, onto this blog. That way, if staff can’t make it – there’s always the option to catch up later! Which leads me to the third adaptation…take-aways.

Take-Aways – Although I’m trying to reduce my paper usage, I’ve learnt that staff love to have a piece of paper with instructions on it to take home and look at later. Yes, I know they can take a photo of it, or just take notes on their iPad, but it can also work this way too! Because I’m aiming to create independent staff members my handouts will be more like step-by-step guide so staff will hopefully be able to teach themselves. The handouts will be uploaded here in the blog post here each week.

 

The first Technology Tuesday’s topic is ‘Twitter‘. I’ve designed a 3-Level Challenge for staff, ranging from beginner, to novice, to expert. These Challenges were based around @mrrobbo‘s 14 Day Twitter Challenge, but adapted to suit my school and the staff who work there.

Feel free to use or adapt! Perfect for anybody new to Twitter as a PLN (Professional Learning Network).

Twitter 101: Twitter Level 1

Twitter Know-How: Twitter Level 2

Twitter Extra: Twitter Level 3

BONUS – Twitter + AITSL

 

I’d love to hear about your success stories about staff PD for ICT use at your school!

Students teaching students!

Standard

Image

I had a student complain to me today, “Miss T, I can’t get my work done because everybody keeps asking me for help”. We were working on our weekly Genius Hour project. This particular student is creating a blog with step-by-step guides on how to do various things on computers – edit your background in Powerpoint, add a hyperlink to a Powerpoint or Word document, etc.

The 4 students who were working in the same area as him had identified him as an expert and were constantly asking him questions of how to do things on their blog: “How do I change this sidebar?”, “How do I add a hyperlink to my blog post?”, “Can I have a picture as my background?”.

I told him that it’s an honour to be asked, but agreed that it can be frustrating to be constantly distracted. I asked him how he could help them without having to go over to their computer each time. Within a few minutes, he had given each of his peers his blog address, so they could read his step-by-step guides for themselves. It helped to answer some of their questions and allowed him to continue his work. Did they still ask him questions? Of course! But after our conversation, he viewed it as feedback on what his future blog posts might be about – “How to insert pictures into blog posts”, “How can I get a map on my blog?”, “How can I take a picture of what’s on my screen and put it into my blog post?”.

This student has blown me away with what he has already done and what he plans to do with his blog. He is already a teacher in his own unique way and I am so very proud that his peers view him as an expert and respect his advice and guidance.

Check out his blog, Cool Computer Things – you never know, you might learn something!

Making half of the universe.

Image

I am giving my Year 4 students the opportunity to have their own Genius Hour this term.

One hour a week to pursue a passion of theirs, based around a question – something they’d like to find out. Today, I asked them to complete a short quiz on Edmodo as a formative assessment on their Genius Hour journey. What they’ve decided to focus on, what their plans are, what they’ve done so far and what should come next.  It gives me an idea of who might need some extra guidance, or resources, or some encouragement that it’s ok to get it wrong the first time, As I sat at my computer tonight reading some of their quiz answers, I came across this…which was too good to ignore:

IMG_0013_2

It really made me wonder how far our students would be willing to go if we didn’t stand in their way and stop them. If we didn’t bombard them with rules, guidelines and curriculum necessities. If we didn’t breathe down their necks saying, “No, we don’t have time for that because you have to get that narrative published before lunchtime”.

Seriously, one of my students has told me that he has made half the universe. He’s only partly joking, as his Genius Hour project is an investigation of the solar system, but he is thinking big picture! He knows that things like this are possible! I’ve got other students who have decided to create their own blog, one is writing her own recipe book and another is trying to see if he can power a lightbulb using a potato.

Technology is evident in all we do and one day, it may even see some of our students making half (or more!) of the universe.

Should you blog in the classroom?

Standard

At the beginning of 2012, I wanted to do something different with my students.  I wanted to share our successes with their parents, as many parents didn’t make it into the classroom. 

I started a classroom blog.

Inspired by Kathleen Morris, I embarked on a blogging journey – all self-taught. I signed up at Edublogs and used their User Guide to find out the nitty-gritty of what buttons to press and what their purpose was. I watched videos like this one, and looked at other blogs and info graphics like this. Setting up my classroom blog looked a little bit like this photo I saw on Twitter earlier, posted by @dendari.

My school allowed me to use Edublogs as my blogging platform, as it is the ‘world’s most popular education blogging service’ (http://edublogs.org). 

Safety and privacy was my number one priority, so I began to set up a leaflet to hand out to parents, including a permission slip and frequently asked questions, adapted from the one that Kathleen Morris had developed.  Click on the following link to see my Blog information for parents.

I explained the concept of blogging to my students and they weren’t really sure what it was all about. I spoke to my associate Year 2 teacher and helped her set up a blog for her class as well. We both had doubts, questions and concerns…

  • Is Year 2 too young for a classroom blog?
  • Is it necessary to have photos on the blog?
  • Would commenting be too tricky for 7 & 8 year olds?
  • Would anybody visit our blog?
  • Was it going to be too time-consuming for an already time-poor teacher?
  • How would I encourage parents to A) look at it and B) leave a comment?

At first, it was exciting and nerve-racking as I tried to figure out what the purpose was of having a classroom blog. Sure, I wanted people to see the amazing work my students were producing, but then what?  We learnt about reading posts – posts that I had written about our lessons – which inspired my students to show their parents when they got home from school. As each post ended with a question, we talked about the importance of a conversation. A good conversation always involves questions, so people have something to respond to. So too, does a good blog post.

Commenting was the next challenge, as it was important for the students to reflect on activities in class. We talked about how a comment was a little bit like a letter – it began with a greeting, was always related to the post and ended with a salutation. Sometimes, a comment might even have a question in it, to encourage conversation!

An early comment

Both of the Year 2 classes held a Blog Launch towards the beginning of our adventure. It was a great chance for the students to teach their parents about what they had learnt about blogging so far – how to navigate the blog, where they could find comments that people had left and how to write their own comments. 

Since my first classroom blog last year with Year 2’s, I have learnt many new elements of blogging. My Year 4’s have taken blogging to a whole new level and we had had the opportunity to be involved in Quadblogging, links with other schools, Skype chats and the idea of using individual student blogs as a type of digital portfolio.

Advantages of blogging:

  • Increased communication between school and home
  • Authentic purposes for reading and writing
  • A wide variety of opportunities to share learning in different ways
  • Improved quality of student work – students trying to show their best work because a photo of it may be shown on the blog
  • Links to other schools to compare, contrast and share activities done at school
  • A greater awareness of geographical locations due to having a blog visitor map – watching the location of our visitors
  • Improvements in mental maths as students add and count up and down to visitor number milestones
  • A sense of pride among the students (and their teacher!)
  • Advances in student confidence with the use of technology, but also typing skills and the willingness to teach others.

I’d love to hear your success stories about blogging in the classroom, or any questions or queries you have about beginning your own. It’s a very worthwhile journey!