Archive of ‘ICT’ category
Firstly, apologies for not updating my blog in an entire year! Although I feel incredibly lazy for not doing so, 2014 has been a HUGE year for me, both professionally and personally.
As you may, or may not, be aware Skype in the Classroom is a big passion of mine. I began Skyping with my class in 2013 when I was thrown into the deep end… A classroom without 1:1 devices (shock horror!). Since then I have had my classes connect with numerous locations around the world including the UK, US, Sweden, Ireland and most recently Cambodia.
This year I organised and held Manor Lakes P-12 College’s 2nd Annual Skypathon. At the beginning of term 2 I created a lesson on Skype Classroom and away we went. We had teachers and schools signing up immediately and within a few weeks we already had 10 schools signed up!
School Council approved the event unanimously and notes went home, they were returned quickly by some very excited grade 3 students.
Last year my grade 3 class and Michelle Meracis’ grade 6 class were apart of the big event, this year however only my grade 3 class participated. I had the assistance of Michelle on the evening as well as another colleague Mark.
Students arrived back at school at 8pm and our first call was underway within an hour. We spoke with a school in Ireland, it was a Mystery Skype. Students took turns asking yes/no questions in order to guess the country each class was from. We then connected with our friends at Norbridge Academy in the UK and after that had a short 40 minute nap. Then we were up and Skyping with Canada and 6 different schools across the US. We didn’t stop Skyping until 5.30am, when 19 students and 3 extremely tired teachers made their way to their makeshift beds in the performing arts room. Students were collected at 8am and much needed sleep was had by all.
Once again my students were extremely excited to hear the accents of all the different countries we connected with, having a giggle every time somebody mentioned we ourselves had an awesome accent.
We kept parents and the wider community updated throughout the night with posts and photos on our class Twitter @3JessMLP12C.
I believe that #mlp12cskypathon14 provided my students with not only an authentic learning experience, but also a chance to explore the world from the comfort of their own school. And if we hadn’t stayed overnight, connecting with places such as the UK and the US becomes almost impossible due to timezone differences.
A massive thank-you to all of those who signed up to our Skypathon, my PLN for their support, Michelle and Mark for having as little sleep as I did and my students for being passionate and inquisitive learners.
For the first 2 years of my teaching career I was fortunate enough to be involved in a 1:1 iPad program. In 2013 I moved from grade 6 into grade 3… And I had no 1:1 iPad program anymore. At first I panicked. I knew how to use iPads as an effective teaching tool, how on earth was I going to provide authentic, exciting and engaging learning experiences without them?
This move was the biggest blessing in disguise. I very quickly learnt to think outside the box, stepping away from my comfort zone. I got my hands on some iPods, we began using Twitter heavily, started to blog, explored new tech tools each week… And we ventured down the path of Skype in the classroom.
We dived straight in the deep end! Our first call was to a class from Norbridge Academy in Nottinghamshire, UK and it was absolutely amazing. My class couldn’t have loved it more and didn’t stop raving about it for weeks. Our students communicated in a question/ answer format and I found that I needed to do very little ‘crowd-control’, the conversation just seemed to flow. And it continued to do so for almost an hour, an amazing effort for a group of 9 year olds!
I came across Norbridge’s ICT Coordinator, Camilla, via @SkypeClassroom on Twitter. I soon learnt that Skype in the Classroom is a massive network of teachers keen to connect their students with other students all around the world.
Norbridge Academy were taking part in an overnight Blogathon, they were making Skype calls to all different parts of the world and blogging about them. After this call I knew what my next big aspiration was, to organise and hold a Skypathon of our very own.
I got the ball rolling straight away, drafting a proposal for School Council when I got home that night. It was enthusiastically passed and I soon placed the ‘lesson’ onto the Skype in the Classroom website. This allowed other educators to sign their classes up to our Skypathon. I had registrations almost straight away, many from the UK and the US, even one from Sweden and Argentina!
After a term and a half of organisation and planning, my colleague Michelle and I (and our classes) held the very first Skypathon of Manor Lakes P-12 College on a Friday evening. Students came back to school at 8pm and we were off! We had set up two Skype spaces so we could speak to as many students around the world as possible. We spoke to several classes in the UK and the US, a class from Ireland and some university students from Sweden. Our students were absolutely fantastic, even at the early hours of the morning! They were engaging in conversations about culture and education, music and art, food and landmarks.
We were keeping parents and other interested parties updated throughout the night via our class Twitter accounts, which led to other classes signing up to the Skypathon on the evening.
The students were incredibly excited to hear the accents of different countries and learn about the things that are important to those students as well as what school life is like for them. There were some very intriguing similarities and differences.
I believe that Skype has allowed my class to learn in a way that is exciting and authentic. They can put faces to names of towns and countries and have been told first hand what people eat and do for fun in these places.
Skype has shown me that there is always, always, always a way we can provide exciting opportunities for our students no matter what resources we are, or aren’t, provided with. It’s all about thinking outside the box.
Recently I introduced ‘Tech tool of the week’ in my classroom. The purpose of this is to provide my students with a greater knowledge of websites and apps that they can use to present, publish and share their work on. Each week we have one technology tool to focus. At the conclusion of the week, once this tool is mastered by the class, it is added to ‘Tools we know how to use…’.
Students learnt how to use Dropbox, Twitter, Tourwrist and QR reader throughout semester 1. This week our ‘Tech tool of the week’ was Storybird.
On Wednesday afternoon I ran a lesson which was split into three parts. Firstly I explicitly taught my class about the aspects of the tool, what it could do and how they could use it via the digital projector set up in my room. Next a few students modelled what they now knew about the tool. This was my favourite part of the lesson! It was great to see these students playing the teacher role, calling on other students and speaking with clear and confident voices. The final part involved students pairing up and creating a digital story using Storybird on the class laptops.
We are using one account, which is a teacher/class account. I have logged into this account on each one of our laptops. We spoke about responsible use of the program, students are aware as to why they are not to use names or addresses in their work. I also made it clear that nobody was to publish their story without me looking over it first. Luckily, I have a fantastic class and I can trust that they will follow this instruction. I also spoke to students about creating their own accounts at home. I explained that they needed to do this with their parents, not by themselves. However the only Storybird account that will be used at school is our teacher/class account.
On Thursday and Friday my class was in the process of publishing their Alphabet poems they had written earlier in the week. Of course many chose to use Storybird, and they did so with great confidence! They were happy to solve problems themselves, or with peers. Not one student came to me for anything other than to sign into our account or to look over their work before publishing. This gave me some of an indication that ‘Tech tool of the week’ was a great success!
Posters where we display ‘Tech tool of the week’ and ‘Tools we know how to use’.
Tara publishing her Alphabet poem using Storybird.
The homepage of our teacher/class account, displaying the front cover of our digital stories.
Yesterday’s Skype session was a complete success!
At 11.30am on the last day of term 2 3Jess eagerly awaited a Skype video call from @CCMercer‘s class in Nottinghamshire, UK. And it came right on time.
It was 2am in the UK, so the students began by telling us they were very cold and sleepy. They were having a bit of trouble with their webcam, so they switched it over and from there the connection was fantastic! Discussion quickly moved on to the location of our school and the current temperature. They couldn’t believe that it was winter yet still 12 degrees. My class were very excited and began asking many questions, including ‘What’s your favourite sport?’, ‘What do you do for fun?’, ‘What’s your favourite book?’ and ‘How many students in your class and school?’.
We learnt a lot about our new friends. We found out they have 300 students in their class, they were quite impressed with our 1600! They barrack for Manchester United and love Harry Potter. They learn French at school and wear a navy blue school uniform. They love to eat pizza and they have a class pet (dog) named Izzy. We even got to meet Izzy! We showed them outside our classroom window, they got to see the streets and houses and around our school. The students seemed fairly impressed.
There was a little bit of confusion when they told us they helpt the younger students at dinner time, but we soon figured out that they call lunch dinner in the UK. That caused quite a few laughs amongst all of us.
Our chat lasted 45 minutes, a fantastic effort by all of those involved! I was so proud of my students. They were all so patient and listened beautifully. When they wanted to ask a question they put their hand up and spoke in loud and clear voices. And there was never any fight over who was going to answer the questions being asked of us, it was if they were all in sync. Of course I had set clear expectations prior to the Skype chat, but their enthusiasm and behaviour just made the experience that much more rewarding.
Thanks to Class Six at Norbridge Academy, it was great to meet you! Be sure to check out their class blog!
3Jess can’t wait for term 3… Hopefully we can hold a 24 hour Skypathon of our own!
Recently I spent some spare time on Twitter and came across @SkypeClassroom, a global community of educators all wanting to connect with other classes around the world. This Twitter account led me to their website where I created a Skype in the Classroom profile for my class.
After I had created this profile I was able to view, and join, Skype lessons. These Skype lessons have a ‘looking for’ section that lets the reader know if they are suitable for that particular Skype lesson. For example, Norbridge by Night is looking for a class with students aged between 6 and 11 to connect an collaborate with. There is also a brief paragraph about the finer details of the lesson. I was able to read that Norbridge by Night is having a 24 hour blogathon from 9am GMT on Thursday 27th June to 9am on Friday 28th.
I also have the ability to create my own lessons, which I will definitely be doing next term. I plan to create a lesson for our Inquiry unit ‘Where in the world is Werribee?’, asking other classes to share their historical knowledge of their own local area.
Tomorrow @3Jess are very excited to be connecting with @CCMercer‘s class in Nottinghamshire, UK. And in July we will be connecting with students in Argentina, South America and Leeds, UK.
My class have been glued to the world map in our classroom, identifying where their new ‘friends’ live and go to school. We have been discussing what questions we will ask and what we expect they will ask us. I highly recommend using Skype in the classroom!
On Saturday I attended a TeachMeet at Scienceworks, hosted by Simon Kelly. It was the first TeachMeet I have attended and it was AMAZING!
I heard from many educators sharing the interesting things they’ve been doing in their classrooms. From book drives to QR codes, all fantastic! We then spent 40 minutes in the Planetarium while Simon showcased the new projector system. That was completely mind blowing!
I left that afternoon completely inspired. I had a vision! This morning when I got to school I placed QR codes around the classroom, all linked to our new unit of Inquiry ‘Where in the world is Werribee?’. I spent some time showing my Grade 3 class how to use a QR code reader and we set class expectations for the technology. I was also lucky enough to get my hands on some iPods, with cameras! Which means students can use these MANY iPods to read the QR codes, rather than just my one lonesome iPad. As a class we decided that these iPods can be used during independent reading sessions, students will scan the the QR code and then read the material that is linked. Unbeknownst to my class we will also be using QR codes to display the work that the class does throughout this unit. Exciting stuff!
We also discussed cloud technology, many students were already familiar with iCloud so it was quite an easy concept to explain. I plan to set up a class Dropbox (as I have done in the past in a 1:1 setting) during the holidays so students are able to save and share their work with one another quite easily.
So as you can see exciting things to come for 3Jess in Term 3!
As you may have noticed in my previous blog post my class, 3 Jess, has recently begun to use Twitter PROPERLY. I say properly for 3 reasons that I will outline and explain in this post.
Reason 1: We now have a Twitter wall. It’s a window that looks into an office. I backed this window with black paper to give it a chalkboard feel, bought some liquid chalk markers and VOILA! a Twitter wall. I also added a clipboard and paper for those students who don’t feel comfortable using the markers. Throughout the day students are free to reflect on their learning at any point. We have discussed expectations and responsibilities, so I am not at all worried about students wasting an excess amount of time at Twitter wall. Students initial their tweets so their privacy is protected but still feel a sense of ownership over their tweet. I then upload these tweets onto our class Twitter account (@3JessMLP12C) using the iPad. This Twitter wall also has a space for ‘Tweeter of the week’ and ‘Tweet of the week’. At the moment I am the one who will choose these lucky winners, but next term I’d like to leave it up to the students to select a winner for each of these categories. There is also a space that lists the number of accounts we are following, the number of accounts following us and the number of tweets we have posted.
Reason 2: I have made time for us to read and reply to tweets each day. Each morning, after we have marked the role etc., we connect the iPad to the Apple TV. We go through any tweets that came through overnight. As a class we discuss replies and post these. We also go through our Twitter feed and look at what our ‘friends’ have been doing. These short sessions generate interesting class discussions amongst my students. I also stop students throughout the day when necessary to show them something that somebody has replied or posted.
Reason 3: We have made approximately 20 global connections in the past week. My students have become thoroughly excited by the fact that they are talking to teachers and students in places such as Ireland, New York and Canada. We have tweeted them, discussed similarities in learning and looked for their locations on maps. At the moment we are trying to get our Prime minister, Julia Gillard, to follow us so she can see the fantastic learning taking place in our classroom. 3/6/13 UPDATE: Julia Gillard followed my class. They were all extremely excited!
As a class we have discussed cyber safety. We have spoken about why we don’t put photos of our faces up or give away our home address or personal details over social networking sites such as Twitter. They understand that we only initial their tweets in order to protect their privacy.
We have spoken about hastags and tagging other twitter accounts in our tweets. Some of the tags we have been using are: #vicpln, #literacy #science #mathchat.
We also have several parents following our account, which is fantastic. We discuss their tweets and replies in class, which the students love.
I highly recommend using Twitter in the classroom, it’s a great and exciting experience… If you put in the effort and do it properly!
Again I’d like to thank Bec Spink for inspiring me at ICTEV13.
Here is a few of our tweets from Tuesday and Wednesday!
I first attended ICTEV in 2012, and as a first year graduate it was a fantastic starting point for the professional learning journey I have been on over the past twelve months. I made many connections with likeminded teachers via twitter, I learnt how to incorporate augmented reality into my teaching and strengthened my use of technology as learning tool.
This year however I took my involvement with ICTEV to a new height, and presented ‘Learning with iPads’ with my colleague Michelle Meracis. Our session focused on how we have used iPads in a 1:1 setting and how I am now integrating technology into my non- 1:1 setting this year. It was fantastic to hear how many people enjoyed our session!
Some key ideas and thoughts I took away from the day:
• ‘The device should not become the driver’: In other words, technology should enhance the learning of students, not replace the fundamentals of education. Students need to know how to use technology to their advantage, how it can assist them in creating a better quality of work.
• Practical Knowledge Triangle: Knowing what it is, knowing what it does and knowing how to do it.
• Social Media in classrooms should be used for global communication, collaboration, sharing ideas, researching, reflecting, asking questions, sharing links, and creating a digital footprint.
ICTEV13 has led to 3 Jess creating a Twitter Wall (see image below) and making many links with other classrooms and educators all over the world, in only 3 days! A MASSIVE thank-you to Bec Spink for inspiring me!
I began my journey at Manor Lakes College in 2011 as a pre- service teacher in a 1:1 grade 6 classroom. I was lucky enough to have Michelle Meracis as my mentor, an inspiration to say the least. She is innovative, creative and encourages student voice. She has been a great professional support for me, and I have no doubt she will continue to be for many years to come. Michelle has defintely helped shape me to be the teacher who I am today.
In 2012 Michelle and I were given the opportunity to present at uLearn, an international educational conference held in New Zealand. We presented on iPads and how we integrate them into our 1:1 setting. Our hands-on workshop was fully booked. This was a truly rewarding experience, as a first year graduate I was extremely flattered that other educators wanted my advice on the use of ICT in their classroom.
This year, Michelle and I are presenting a similar session at ICTEV, another educational conference. Shortly after we submitted our session abstract, we were approached by ICTEV to write an article about mobile devices. We are both flattered that we’ve been recognised as innovative educators wno effectively integrate ICT into our classrooms.
Please read our article below.
Learning with iPads
Manor Lakes P-12 College is a government school in Wyndham Vale, a rapidly growing residential area. The school opened in 2009 with 450 students. Today, the school has approximately 1600 P-11 students and 200+ dedicated staff. The College is set amongst large grounds with numerous active and passive play areas.
Manor Lakes P-12 College strives to provide a personalised learning program through a rigorous curriculum that integrates the use of Information and Communication Technology. Currently, students in years Prep, 1, 6, 7 and 8 participate in a 1:1 iPad program and students in years 9-11 participate in a BYOD model. This allows for learning to take place anywhere, anytime. Mobile devices have not simply replaced pen and paper; they have rather enhanced student creativity and collaboration.
iPads were first introduced to grade 5 students in late 2010 when the college was asked to take part in the DEECD iPad trial(http://www.ipadsforeducation.vic.edu.au/). In the very beginning, apps were mainly used to support and reinforce concepts covered in classes. They were introduced during warm-ups as a way of tuning students into learning and, in some cases, to front load students. Now, iPads are a tool used to support the learning process when and where students see fit. Teachers set learning tasks and students choose how to complete and present them.
Staff and students at Manor Lakes P-12 College use a number of apps to support and reinforce literacy skills, particularly in the areas of vocabulary building, note-taking, planning, drafting and publishing. Many of the apps have been suggested by staff, but most have been discovered, tried, tested and shared by the students.
Some of the apps we use during the first 10-15 minutes of literacy lessons, our warm-up/tuning-in time, include Chicktionary Lite, Whirly Word, Story Spine, Mad Libs, Words with Friends and Hanging with Friends. All of these are free. Chicktionary Lite and Whirly Word are both anagram based games. They require students to create a number of words out of the given letters. Story Spine and Mad Libs both focus on the strategies and skills required for creating an interesting narrative. Mad Libs reinforces parts of speech too. Words with Friends is a game similar to Scrabble and Hanging with Friends, as the name suggests, is similar to Hangman. In our classrooms, we alternate between using the Apple TV to explore these literacy apps as a whole class and giving students quiet time to work independently.
Many students prefer to take notes on their iPad using apps such as Popplet Lite, SimpleMind+, Corkulous and Lino. These appsallow students to record notes in a speedy manner, move them around and alter where necessary. They are also popular for planning written texts, as are Bamboo Paper and Idea Sketch. Sound Note is another great note taking and planning app as it allows students to verbally record their ideas, as well as type and draw them. As teachers, we love that our students are planningand organising their ideas using these apps, but we encourage them to write in their books too. There is a time and a place forwriting straight on the iPad; it is all about the purpose of the activity.
In terms of publishing, iMovie, Storyrobe and Explain Everything are at the top of our students’ lists. Students find it easy to import text, images and photos into these apps and voice record over them. Toontastic is another app that students enjoy using. Its layout complements the 7 Steps to Writing Success program and reinforces the sequence and strategies necessary for composing acorrectly structured narrative. We have heard some students say that they like how Toontastic has clear steps for them to follow, making the process of writing and publishing so much easier.
Another great publishing app is Wattpad. This app allows students to publish their work to a global audience and read thepublished pieces of those also signed up to it. We have noticed that students who generally refuse to write anything are suddenly motivated to write and publish their work. The published pieces are sorted into genres, making it easy for users to locatesomething of interest.
During independent reading, students have the option of selecting physical or digital texts to read. In many cases, students read pieces from Wattpad. They also read iBooks, eBooks, online books and material from web sites, such as newspapers and history based texts. As teachers, we roam and engage in conversations with our students to ensure the texts they are reading are appropriate for their reading level and age group.
Similar to literacy, we use a number of apps to support and reinforce numeracy skills. Many of these apps are discovered by students and shared on a daily basis. In most cases, these fun and addictive games are played during the warm-up/tuning-in time at the start of each lesson. Currently, the most popular math apps include MathBoard, Mathletics, Math Dragon, Math Ninja, Math vs Zombies, Number Battle, Pick-a-Path, Shuttle Mission Math and Speedo Math.
One particular app we have found to “stand out” from the rest in terms of supporting and reinforcing student learning is Virtual Manipulatives. This app is an interactive fraction wall that can be viewed in fraction, decimal and percentage form. Students can drag tiles out to a main working space for simple comparison and manipulation. Equivalent fractions, decimals and percentages are all in the same colour too, making the connections easier to see and make. Students of all ages and abilities have benefited from this app.
Drawing apps have been useful during small teaching focus groups. Rather than students writing on paper or a small whiteboard, students complete equations on their iPad in a drawing app and save their work directly to their camera roll. This image is then inserted into their digital portfolio or used as the background to a voice recording that outlines the steps undertaken to complete the problem. In the beginning, students used Reel Director, Splice, iMovie and Storyrobe to create their tutorials. Over the past two years they have moved onto screen recording apps like Explain Everything, Educreations and ShowMe Interactive to producethe same result.
In the beginning, students kept their tutorials on their own iPad, sharing their work with their peers and teachers only when prompted. Now, students export their tutorials to their camera roll and either email them to their teachers or upload them to a shared folder in Dropbox. Our students really enjoy watching and listening to the different ways they each learn. We are currently collecting the student made tutorials so we have a bank to select from to support student learning across the college, as well as tofront load students in a way similar to a flipped classroom; the main difference being that these tutorials have been created for students, by students, using “kid speak” rather than “teacher talk”.
An idea we have been looking into is having a student video record their teacher on an iPad during the introduction of a lesson to later post to a shared space, i.e. Dropbox, YouTube. At present, students take photos of the examples completed on the board to refer to, but if someone records their teacher, an immediate tutorial can be created for students to watch and listen to again, anywhere, anytime. As an alternative to this idea, because not everyone likes to be videoed, teachers have started to connect theiriPads to an Apple TV and then record themselves using a screen recording app introducing the lesson. A tutorial is instantly created and, during the lesson, it is uploaded to Dropbox for students to refer to. Students are encouraged to view the tutorial prior to the following lesson to reinforce the concepts and skills already covered.
For inquiry based work, students select the apps they feel best meet their presentation needs. This may include using one or a number of apps. Over the years, we have seen a big shift from a picture and some text in Keynote to top quality graphic designs created in PicCollage. Some students take these designs one step further by importing them into iMovie to produce digital masterpieces including voice recordings and original music composed in GarageBand. Like all lessons in each learning area, as a class, we discuss the apps that can be used to complete certain tasks, to model thinking about our thinking, as well as to assist those who may be a little unsure of where to start. Ultimately, though, the choice is up to the student as to how they present their work.
A very popular app amongst students of all ages and abilities at the moment is Haiku Deck. It is very similar to PowerPoint and Keynote, yet adding images as backgrounds, positioning text and rearranging the order of slides is much easier. Its simple features make it an effective and powerful app to produce impressive presentations.
Since the beginning of the 1:1 iPad program, we have been amazed by the natural transition towards collaboration and peer coaching amongst students. It is common for students to sit on the floor in small groups to assist each other and discuss the tasks they are completing. The design of the devices lends themselves quite easily to students passing iPads around to share andshowcase what they’ve done and how they’ve accomplished this.
This has been particularly evident in the iBuddies program, where classes in grades prep and 6 pair up and participate in purposeful lessons that provide students with opportunities to work collaboratively on their iPads. Over the past two years, we have observed the preps learning and practising foundation skills and the grade 6s strengthening their peer coaching and leadership capacity. A bonus from last year’s experience has been the way this year’s grade 1 students have supported theircurrent teachers with using the iPads to enhance their learning by selecting appropriate apps to complete class tasks. This has been very helpful in supporting the grade 1 teachers, many who are new to the college, with effectively integrating the technology in their learning and teaching programs.
It is evident that student voice is a strong component of our 1:1 program. A large part of its success stems from students having the freedom to choose the app/s they want to use for a task and then being able to explain why they chose it and deemed it to be appropriate. This emphasis has really strengthened our students’ abilities to articulate and reflect on their learning.
With a major focus on digital learning environments, we have needed to explore ways for students to share work completed on their iPads with their teachers and peers. In the very beginning, this was through email. Every student at Manor Lakes P-12 College has an email account. Over the past two years, we have moved across to using Dropbox. Within Dropbox, teachers create one shared class folder that all students in that grade are invited to access. Teachers also create individual folders for each student that only them and that student access. This set up is made possible by students having their own Dropbox account. Managing work this way has proved to be less time consuming as teachers don’t need to scroll through and open copious emails to download attachments, they can rather access student folders and view submitted work on any connected device.
A number of classes are also using Edmodo and Google Drive as mediums to share and submit work. Teachers at Manor Lakes P-12 College work with their students to select the preferred space to use and work within, again demonstrating the college’s focus on student voice.
The use of iPads in classrooms at Manor Lakes P-12 College has certainly opened up new and exciting ways for students to create, collaborate, connect, share and reflect. They have allowed students of all abilities to feel immediate success and produce work of an outstanding quality.