Tag Archives: Google

Flipped Learning for the first time

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For the last few years, I’ve seen LOTS about flipped learning in the classroom. I didn’t get it and thought it was way too much effort, for not a whole lot of visible result.
I tried it today. For the following reasons:

  • My Year 1 students are researching different countries from a list that we devised. I wanted them to be collecting information, but they cannot read well enough to sift through kid-friendly geography websites, or books from the library.
  • There are 6 different countries being covered by the class. How do I have 1:1 time with each group of kids, whilst keeping the others engaged, without using meaningless time-filler activities?
  • We have 1:1 iPads, so students have access to video content.
  • The students are researching the these 6 specific questions:
    • What is the name of the country? 
    • What language is spoken in this country?
    • Which other places is this country close to?
    • What is the weather like in this country?
    • What do people in this country eat?
    • What is one interesting fact about this country?

Here’s how I implemented flipped learning:

  • I wrote a short blurb about each country, covering the content needed to answer the questions, plus a few interesting facts including capital cities and sports.
  • I whipped my phone out and recorded myself using Apple Clips, with captions appearing as I spoke. Each video was no longer than 50 seconds. I added filters, to be fancy and disguise the lack of makeup I was wearing in some of them. Ha.
  • I saved them straight to my Google Drive.
  • In Google Classroom (which we use regularly) I created announcements for each group of students researching each country.
    Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 8.41.29 pm
  • Students were given their paper proforma, with 6 boxes to write in. They sat next to their other group members, even though they each had their own iPad and headphones to listen and write independently.
  • Students watched the video once right through. As they finished, I asked them to use their pencils and start to write down some of the answers in the boxes. I showed them how to pause the video to give them time to write, which was helpful as they could copy the spelling from the captions if they needed!

What did I notice?

  • Students were helping each other. They were sharing their answers and thoughts, teaching each other how to rewind and pause and showing their group members which box to write their information in.
  • Every single student was engaged – the only conversation happening was about the videos, or their countries!
  • Every single student filled in every single one of their boxes. Sure, I assisted each of them in various different ways, but even the boy who struggles the most to stay focused and get anything on paper managed this task.
  • They were so excited to share their new information!

Will I use flipped learning again? Absolutely. Yes, it took me probably 30 minutes to make the videos, upload and assign to Google Classroom, plus about 20 to type all my country information up. 50 minutes in total, the same time as my actual lesson. But if I hadn’t done it this way, I would probably have spent at least 3 lessons reading information to them, repeating it 6 times, helping them spell it and driving myself crazy!

Flipped learning for the win!

What is eSafety & how do I teach it?

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If you attended my DigiCon17 or EdTechSA workshop, please find my presentation below!

https://app.emaze.com/@AORRCFFQL/what-isand-how-do-i

GAFE with 5-year-olds.

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Yes, they can do it!

How? With your help.

This year, I am responsible for helping implement digital technology across the school, including in the Prep/1 classroom I teach in every afternoon. At the beginning of the year, all students from Years 2-10 were set up with their own Google account. After following Christine Pinto on Twitter for the last 12 months, I was fully convinced that students in Prep & Year 1 needed their own Google account too. We have 1:1 iPads, so I didn’t see how it could be a problem!

I asked our IT tech to set them up for me, and patiently waited. Within a week of the Prep/1 students having their own Google account, here’s what I did:

  • I placed all of the GAFE apps into a folder, and positioned it in the bottom bar of the iPad, for easy access. (Yes, I could have taught them how to do that, but at the start, I just needed to save myself some time. I’ll make sure I teach them how to create and move folders when the moment arises!)
  • I signed into Google Classroom for them (after school, the day before I needed it). (I am fully aware that this is not logistically possible for every teacher in every classroom. The class I’m talking about only has 13 students. But there are other ways around it – Year 6 Buddies to help, giving students their email address & password on a card, setting up keyboard shortcuts that inserts your school email address after the @ symbol…problem solve, you’ll get there!)

But how did I get the students to USE the GAFE apps? Well, the beauty of being 1:1 is that each student uses their iPad over & over, so they can stay signed in on the one device – no signing in and out constantly.

The first step was Google Classroom. I learnt from Alice Keeler & Christine Pinto that keeping your assignments numbered is a great way to keep track of them – and for students who can’t read yet. Despite many of them not yet being able to read properly, I still added written instructions for each assignment and I read them aloud for the students. I would ask them to look for the number 1 and press on the number. We would talk about the ‘plus’ button to add different things, like the ‘camera’ button to take a photo immediately, or the ‘mountain’ button to add a photo that we had taken earlier and was sitting in our camera roll.

A lot of the time, I add a Google Slide or Sheet to the assignment and allow it to create a copy for each student, so that each student would have the same template, but could input their own information. In Integrated Studies, we are looking at Friendship and the qualities of different people, so each student made an Introducing Me page in a collaborative Google Slide. They learnt how to find the slide with their name on it (all of the boys slides were green, all of the girls slides were orange), double tap in the text box, place the cursor after the words that were already there, and type their name, favourite colour and age. On the same slide, they learnt how to press the ‘plus’ button and take a photo, insert it and then use the ‘blue handles’ to change the size of their photo so that it wasn’t covering the text. We still had a few minutes left, so they also inserted a shape and changed the fill colour!

Introduce Me 1

Introduce Me 2

Yes, I use the proper vocabulary, most of the time. I talk about the flashing stick line being called the ‘cursor’ and the plus button being called ‘insert’. I talk about the writing that we do as ‘text’ and talk about the ‘text box’. I talk about Google Slides being the white app with the orange square being named ‘Google Slides’, so they’re getting a visual and a name to learn and relate it to.

They CAN do it! I use Google Classroom at least twice a week in my Prep/1 lessons (I’m only in there in the afternoons, and we also have Music, Library & Garden in my timeslots!), but my next step is to empower the other classroom teacher to use it more confidently. I have added her to the classroom and she can see everything that I post and that the kids submit, but so far, she’s just an observer!

I like to tell my colleagues that Google Classroom is another platform for collecting student work, without collecting piles of paper. One of the added benefits (believe me, there are HEAPS) is that students can submit more than just written work – my Prep/1 class have uploaded videos they’ve created using Explain Everything and Chatterpix, so they are learning oral language skills by recording and listening to their own voice.

My challenge is to integrate GAFE into each of our classrooms seamlessly, so that it’s not something ‘extra’ to use or facilitate, but that it becomes second nature to students and teachers!

Our Interschool STEM Day

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In 2016, two of my colleagues worked together to hold an Interschool STEM Day, to encourage local Year 6 students to work in teams to create a solution to a problem.

Using resources from the IET Faraday website, they adapted and orchestrated a mammoth day for the students to build a device to move one litre of water from the Stadium floor, into a bucket which sat on a platform. It was a challenge designed around pumps, water wheels and water pressure.

This year, one of my colleagues was on paternity leave, so I stepped in to help his teammate. Together, Jodie and I researched a new challenge for the day based around medical engineering – build a device to conduct a remote operation to pick up a ‘kidney’ and a ‘heart’ and place them in the correct place on the body.

We had 75 students from 12 different school register, 24 teams in total. The ideal team number was 3, however a few schools only had 4 Year 6 students in total, which we allowed. The stadium was set up with medical themed decorations, x-rays, lab coats, and medicinal charts. There were ‘Research Stations’, with laptops playing videos on loop with ideas and strategies that may give students inspiration. A hot glue gun station was set up, as was our STEM shop, where all of the building materials for the day were ready to be purchased by the teams.

The day started with a video about medical engineering to put the day into context, how operating theatres rely on robotics and other technology to assist them in procedures. Students were asked to sketch in their Challenge Workbooks a way to move an object from one place to another without physically touching it with their body. We introduced the ideas of forces – push/pull, levers, scoops, suction etc.

Each team was given a budget of $150 STEM dollars. They were required to plan their design, keeping their budget in mind. They were to assign roles to each group member and also create a ‘Learning Log’ using an assigned iPad, to create a documentary-style video of their manufacturing process.

Our school Kitchen Garden coordinator provided us with lunch and students received a small show bag with water and snacks for recess and their workbooks. We operated on a continual scoring system using Google Sheets so that both of us organisers could access to add scores and annotations throughout the day. Students received scores for their design briefs, their sketches, accuracy of their account balance ledger, effectiveness of their design and their teamwork skills.

After lunch, students packed up their tables and we sat down to perform 24 mock heart (ping pong ball) and kidney (ping pong ball) transplants. An iPad was placed above the operating table, where our cardboard cutout body and his foil tray organ chambers lay waiting. This iPad was to live-stream the action on the table, not just for the audience, but for the ‘surgeon’ operating the device. Just like in an operating theatre, the surgeon would be using the large screen to guide his actions while his vision to the cardboard body was blocked by a curtain.

Students had to work around certain parameters – the device must be able to reach a distance of 50cm, it must be able to pick up and drop objects accurately and both heart and kidney must be transplanted in just 90 seconds – it’s life or death for our cardboard body!!

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The winning team was gifted with a set of 6 Makey Makey kits to take back to their school to encourage creative and critical thinking to assist on their STEM journey!

There were many different designs – some more successful than others. There were many levels of teamwork and many different conversations that filled the stadium. The teachers who accompanied the teams from their school were pleased to see such collaboration and skill – not just for those students who excelled in the classroom.

Go Team STEM!

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Digital Technology Mentoring

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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!

Using Windex in the classroom.

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windex
Image courtesy of http://www.ebritic.com

In the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Toula’s father Gus has an addiction to Windex. To him, it is the solution for everything.

“My dad believes in two things: That Greeks should educate non Greeks about being Greek ad every ailment from psoriasis to poison ivy can be cured with Windex.”

It was his go-to answer. He didn’t think twice about it, didn’t listen to others and didn’t consider any other options.

It got me thinking about how often do you use a ‘Windex solution’ in the classroom?  A Windex solution I often hear these days is ‘just Google it’. Google, Google, Google. Even my not-so-technological father is a culprit for over-using this term.

By just ‘googling it’ we are admitting to students that no, teachers aren’t all powerful, bottomless pits of endless knowledge (even though many students think that!). Yes, we are assisting them in finding the answers to their own questions…or are we?

How else can we find out the answer? Resorting straight to Google is not the answer!
Talking to others, posing follow-up questions, making charts & tables, reading books, using prior knowledge…all valid options!

Let’s make sure we are encouraging other methods and solutions rather than just resorting to the Windex.

‘Independent’ research

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Technology is making it all too easy for us to access a multitude of information whenever we want. As teachers, it is up to us to empower students with the skills to conduct meaningful research on their own, with some scaffolding and guidance along the way.

I had firsthand experience with this the other day as I guided my students to use the iMathskids website to collect information for their maths investigation. They were to click on links to lead them to websites about famous Australian landmarks to identify their location and the population of the nearest town. Very few of my students were able to discern which information was important on the website. There were so many titles, subtitles, icons, pages, maps and words in bold that my students had no idea how to find the information they needed.

How do you conduct independent research? I know at my school, many sites are blocked. This requires teachers to create a ‘hotlist’ of suitable sites for students to conduct their research on. Great in theory, but when I am running Genius Hour and I have 25 students wanting to research 25 different topics – creating a hotlist of 10 suitable sites for each of them is not sustainable.

Re-thinking my maths investigation, I was lead to 2 technology tools that I am planning on using this week to help up-skill my students for future independent research. The first one is a website, “Into The Book“. My students have used this site before, both on PC and iPad, and I have found that they are engaged AND learning. In the Student Area, there is a section on ‘Evaluating’ which has a few activities on understanding websites – absolutely perfect for the task my students were required to do last week.

I also came across this blog – A Turn To Learn – which had a fabulous post How to Change the Reading Level of Your Google Search Results. I had no idea that this was even possible! My students are often struggling with how to research topics and questions – what words to write, what words to omit – but this looks like a simple process to teach each and every student in my class. 

How do you encourage and implement independent research? Is it truly independent? Or is it ‘independent’?