Tag Archives: school

Using iPads in Literacy Rotations

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Many classrooms use the concept of Literacy Rotations in their classrooms, but struggle to find a way to keep each group engaged while they work with a focus group.

Below are some iPad-based ideas for Literacy Rotations, which of course you would use with a combination of non-iPad rotation activities, we know that just because you can do things on an iPad doesn’t mean it’s better!

  • ReadTheory – free to sign up, create classes and individual student logins. Students start with a pre-test to assess their initial reading level, by reading short passages and answering comprehension questions. By getting questions correct, students earn points and badges and teachers can consistently monitor progress. Fantastic for independent reading time. A colleague has been using this in her Year 8 English class and the students are loving it!
  • Pobble365 – free to use without an account, this website features a picture prompt for every day of the year, with a Story Starter for students to continue, or Question Time for students to answer questions about what they’ve just read. For independent Literacy Rotations, I would use either of these sections for the students to visit on their iPad – they could copy and paste the Story Starter into a Google Doc to continue writing, or create a Google Slide with their Question Time questions and answers. If students work in pairs, they could create an interview using the Camera app & iMovie, with one student being the interviewer and the other the interviewee.
  • Book Creator – there is a web version of this coming out soon, but the app works well for almost any subject! I loved using this in Literacy Rotations after the students had done a Guided Reading with the teacher to create a Book Quiz, for the other members of the group to answer. Students would take photos of the book, insert them into their book and then type their quiz question on the page. I then asked students to use the audio recording function to record the answer, so students completing the book quiz could find out the correct answer if needed. We often talked about Head, Heart & Hands comprehension questions to encourage more critical thinking. I also like the idea of creating an interactive dictionary using this app, by students recording words that are new to them, or really interesting words and using the audio function to record their definition, or explanation in their own words – plus images if they need! Other ways I’ve used Book Creator can be found here.
  • Popplet – I’ve used Popplet in so many different ways, from brainstorming character qualities, to spelling. I love Popplet as you students can use the pen function, insert images from the camera roll and export their finished Popplet. In my lower primary class, I use it to help segment words into their individual sounds.

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  • PicCollage – I used this for descriptive writing, in this blog post, but have also used it to create a collection of words that all start with the same letter, by taking photos, or looking for the same sound in magazines and newspapers.

This is just a tiny drop in the ocean of the multitude of different ways that you could integrate iPads in the Literacy block!

Setting technology guidelines

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This year, I teach Year 7 Digital Technology. For the first 3 weeks of school, there have been no devices for students to use due to updates, new configurations and a broken internet server, meaning that simple tasks such as checking emails have been testing the patience of all the staff!
These 3 weeks have given me ample opportunity to explore the type of technology guidelines that the students think are appropriate. It was important to me that these students formulate the guidelines themselves, giving them ownership.

Students will be using 1:1 iPads, but also have access to a class set of Macbooks. I gave the students a handout containing 4 examples of technology rules and guidelines from other schools. Their task was to highlight the rules that they thought would be important to use at our school and then use these to write their own set of guidelines. Most students came up with lists that were fairly similar to each other, but we needed a purpose to our guidelines.

Enter: our school values. This year, as part of the Positive Behaviour 4 Learning (PB4L) program our school is focusing on: Success, Respect, Integrity & Compassion.  As a class, we split the student-formulated ‘rules’ into those 4 values, which led to a great discussion about how most of them covered more than one value. My scribbled columns on the whiteboard weren’t going to make the most attractive poster to refer to, so I spent a few minutes after class putting it together as a Venn Diagram, which I used in the following class.

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This poster will be displayed in the classroom where we have all of our classes and I have encouraged all other teachers to develop a similar set of guidelines with their Primary School class, or their Digital Technology class. As we all know, technology is used across a myriad of subjects, so the guidelines need to be instilled and agreed upon.

How do you come up with technology guidelines or rules at your school?

My start to relief teaching in 2016.

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This year my weeks are planned as relief teaching on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and teaching all grades at a school from P-6 over Thursday and Friday as I provide release for school leaders and graduate teachers.

I’ve had 3 days of relief work at my part-time school so far, but went and visited 5 other schools to offer my relief teaching services. The results were all positive, but one school stood out. See if you can see why.

All of my conversations began at the school’s front reception, and went exactly like this: *smile* ‘Hi, my name is Fiona and I was wondering if there was anybody here I could speak to about relief teaching?’

School 1:

‘Tom’ is out at the moment, but I’ll pass your resume on. Thanks.

School 2:

Sure, come through and see ‘Tom’ in his office.

Tom: Lovely to meet you Fiona. I’ll pop your details in our file. Do you have your VIT card here with you so we can photocopy it? Speak to you soon.

School 3:

Oh wonderful, I’ll call ‘Tom’ over the speaker immediately.

Tom: Great to meet you, we’re looking for some reliable CRT’s this year. The days your available suit us perfectly. That’s excellent. Thanks.

School 4:

‘Tom’ is teaching right now, but I’ll give him your details. Thanks.

School 5:

Certainly, I’ll grab ‘Tom’ from the staffroom.

Tom: Lovely to meet you Fiona. Thank you so much for bringing your details in. Do you have your VIT card to photocopy? Actually, would you like to have a tour of the school? Here is the staffroom, tea and coffee available for all, plus there’s some lockers here to pop your handbag in when you come in. All of our student medical information can be found here, as well as in the staff toilets, which are here. There are 3 senior classes, so there’ll always be another teacher to ask if you have any questions or problems; the same in the 3/4 unit. We eat our recess after play and the same system for lunch, which we find works well. This is our principal, Mr X *shakes hand and smiles*.
So, that’s our whole school, plus the 4 different yard duty areas, which are A – here, B – out this window, C – the basketball courts, and D – down the end near the toilets, plus an inside first aid duty.
Now before anybody starts working here we have to do a 5 minute OHS induction – we can do that when you bring your paperwork back, like your bank details…or, do you have time to do it now? Excellent. Do you have any questions for me at all?

 

Now, School 5 might seem overwhelming to some people, but I had never felt so comfortable and at ease upon walking into a school for the first time.

First impressions – invaluable.

Do actions really speak louder than words?

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Do you socialise with colleagues outside of work?

I moved 5 hours from my family for the job I am currently in. I knew nobody in the town I moved to, except for a long-lost family friend who was nursing at the local hospital.

5 years on, I am engaged to a local guy. He’s a teacher at a different school. Let’s just say that if I hadn’t have socialised with my colleagues outside of work hours, I wouldn’t have met him.

Despite this success, I’m not sure if it’s healthy to socialise with the people I work with outside of hours. As I am typing this, I am counting the number of friends I have locally who are not my colleagues…and I can count them on one hand.

I mean, I’ve met people. I’ve been on 3 netball teams and a regular yoga class. They’re just not people I would call on a Saturday afternoon and ask to come and walk my dog with me while having a chat.

A lot of my friends are teachers. Teachers at the same school as me, at other schools in the area, or friends that I’ve had since uni. When we get together, the tendency seems to be to talk about school. I don’t actually mind talking about school – my students and the actual teaching.

What I do mind though, is the negative attitude people have towards school, that they feel they need to pass around and infect on the people around them. Yes, I’ve been guilty of this myself, I know. The thing is, if I stopped hanging around my colleagues, I wouldn’t be able to moan and whine about teaching. Better still, I wouldn’t have to listen to them carry on about how much they hate Mr Maths, or Miss Humanities. Or how Mr History needs a bigger belt for his pants…or bigger pants. Or how Mrs Administration’s new haircut makes her look 20 years older.

I’ve made a few changes. There are certain colleagues I refuse to spend time with outside of work. I can act collegial towards them at work, but once 4pm on a Friday comes, there is no chance I will willingly spend my time in their company. I feel it would be detrimental to my own health.

Their words are what I’m avoiding, but it’s my actions which are doing the talking.