When I started my current position as an educational technology coach for primary school almost 3 years ago I thought I had an idea of how my work will look like. I had no idea. As coaches we are wearing many different hats and we are constantly learning.
Who would have thought that my colleagues and myself are planning a professional day which follows the principles of participants first, by teachers for teachers and learning as a social act like one of my favourite and mind changing conferences called Learning2? At the same time I’m doing the ISTE U course “An Introduction to Computational Thinking for Every Educator” and suddenly I see a connection between the PD Day and computational thinking.
Having connections, being connected, getting new connections – it seems to be something which just pops up everywhere, all the time and in all areas our lives. It became so easy to connect to family and friends who live far away, to connect to other mothers, to connect to people with same interests, to connect to like-minded people around you. Having connections is very much a must for doing businesses in various cultures. Technology, social media and platforms with the purpose to connect make it easier than ever before.
I’m not gonna lie – like a friend of mine always says – : Teaching and education is my passion. It’s now almost 3 month since I stopped working mid of December at BIS in Munich/Germany. I love being in classroom with the students and I love to exchange ideas and thoughts about teaching and learning. I miss it. I’m not gonna lie.
Since I’m using Twitter, other social media and tools like Flipboard for professional development and I’m experiencing the amazing benefits of it for my professional life I wish to use Twitter in school with/for students and the whole school community as well. Somebody said that the focus at school isn’t only content and concepts it’s more and more the fact that we are living in a connected world. Twitter, other social media, and so many other tools allow us to connect and collaborate with others in order to learn, to create, to invent, so solve problems, to support each other and a lot more.
I’m sure you have heard of Padlet many times and probably often used it in a variety of situations. If you google Padlet it says:
My grade 5 students used Padlet several times this year for different purposes. We haven’t collaborated with the world yet, but definitely in class and with classes at school. I would like to share two examples:
1. Example: Unit – Migration // Padlet use for collecting and sorting quotes of a book
The students were reading “Milchkaffee und Streuselkuchen”, which is a book about two boys and the life of a German family as well a family that immigrated from Ethiopia. Sammy is born in Germany, speaks German very well, went to a German school, but after a racist attack towards him and his family, he realizes that he is different. He also feels the differences in school through the words and actions of his classmates, especially Boris. However, Sammy will gain a new friendship.
The students were asked to write an entry on the padlet each time they read something about the behavior of the main characters, Boris and Sammy. It was the goal to collect the quotes in order to find out the change of the behavior, change of the perspective of Boris and create a timeline to make it visible. It was a perfect way to work collaboratively in order to get the whole picture.
2. Example: Unit – Live is a Stage // Padlet use for comprehension of the ballade “Der Zauberlehrling” of J.W.Goethe
In the context of the unit Life is a stage the students get to know ballades. A famous ballade is “Der Zauberlehrling”. The vocabulary is not easy at all for language learner as well as young German native speaker. The vocabulary was used 250 years ago and additionally I wonder how often does a student in an international environment get the chance to read a German ballade? So comprehension is very important in order to create a modern version of it which will be their assessment.
What did I prepare? I cut up the ballade in 14 pieces and saved each part as a picture. I sent them those pictures by email and asked them to work in pairs and to bring the pieces on a padlet (one padlet for each group) in the right order. Additionally, in order to show me their understanding, the students were asked to write the content of each verse in their own words.
My initial thought was: “That is just substitution.” (SAMR model). My second thinking and repeated reflecting about it let me realize that there are good reasons for doing it anyways. I don’t have to waste to much paper, meaning copying the ballade for each pair. In my previous life as a teacher, the students had to cut the verses in pieces (or even I would have done it) and then glue them in the right order. No, not anymore. Third advantage was that I could integrate spelling practice and sentence structures with the students when they were writing their understanding in own words. Fourth, we could easily compare each others understanding of the verse by reading each others padlets. Fifth, as homework I asked them to write a summery. In my previous life of course on paper. No, they are going to use the padlet.
And now the real collaboration experience for my grade 5 students came up because they started to talk about how they will organize it. “Ok, you do the first half. I do the second.” or “Let’s do it together on Skype.” or “You write but I proof read the text and check the spelling.” or “We write and we check each others text” … Fantastic.
For a while already I’m so proud of my Grade 4 students (and about myself) and finally I can tell you about it. The two Grade 4 German classes advanced level published their eBook about interesting facts about the brain.
The classes created, collaborated and contributed and it’s my hope that this publishing experience was something where learning started and future learning will happen.
Here a quick overview of what was happening in the classroom:
The students …
read nonfiction as learning about the brain
watched videos as learning about the brain
inquired into features of a nonfiction page
inquired into a chosen topic
applied the reading strategy “determine importance”
summarized nonfiction information
organized and created a nonfiction page with Book Creator
practiced and improved their German by using the language
=> experienced the publishing process of a book
=> created a resource that will be available for download across the world
Here again the link to the iTunes Store: “Interessantes über das Gehirn“. The students will be more than happy to see that people are actually download the ebook and maybe even write a review. Thx.
The whole planning started in mid december with an empty “Understanding by Design” unit template which was very helpful in terms of thinking through the entire project. I had done the unit before therefore I knew the content and could focus more on redefining and recreating the unit. If you want to have a closer look on the planning, feel free to do this here:
The whole project ended with a video which describes it and reflects on it.
The students, my colleagues who were involved and I indeed had great learning experiences – we were all risk takers and learners in order to go a step further in terms of teaching and learning. Many things like learning through a flipped classroom, creating and publishing an eBook as well as working with a limited amount of iPads or own iPads students brought to school happened for the first time.
My colleague and I were amazed by the high level of motivation of the students. The fact that they watched movies to acquirer knowledge about the brain; the fact that they could chose their own topic to inquire into; the fact that the eBook will be published to a real audience; the fact that they got the chance to work with an iPad motivated them immensely. The students were learning and improving the German language through using the same.
One challenge I didn’t expect: the parents. The majority agreed to publish it on iTunes and also to mention the whole or only the first name. One student in my class didn’t even want create a nonfiction page with the iPad. “And my parents don’t want this either.”, he said. He couldn’t explain why and the parents never approached me and until today I don’t know what the reasons are. The student create then the page on paper.
Another parent couldn’t understand why it has to be published on iTunes. Unfortunately it seemed to be difficult for them to articulate their concerns. I have an idea of their concerns and maybe I still will get a chance to talk to them.
Obviously I took it for granted that parents agree to authentic and meaningful learning, partly also because they chose a PYP school for their child. I see now the need to let parents now even more and in detail what our ideas of teaching and learning these days are. Creation yes, (internal) collaboration yes, but I wonder now how important is contribution to a real audience for the parents (and for teachers)?!
Thank you COETAIL for a wonderful and exciting learning experience!
What comes next? Well, luckily the Coetail experience won’t end here! I’m excited to read and watch about the other final projects as well as to follow other educators within Coetail and around the world. Contribution will be a bigger part of my online life and I hope that once in a while I’ll inspire other people like so many great teachers and educators inspire my life.
So let’s keep in contact through Twitter (@blaho_blaho), through Google+, and email (blahoblaho at gmail.com) or whatever will be invented. It became so easy! Btw. I was the only one at our school who did the Coetail Course so I wouldn’t mind a Google Hangout to celebrate a little bit. Who is in?
I’m thankful that Coetail makes me think about the final project for course 5 early enough. Unfortunately I can’t say yet – Yeah, that is what I’m going to do and I’m very excited about it. Two weeks ago I started having conversations with colleagues about the upcoming units and I got quite different but very helpful inputs. I always tried to keep the following questions in mind:
Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?
What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?
What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?
What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?
I’ll probably focus on my Grade 4 German advanced class and the unit is called The Human Machine. Those students are already a little bit experienced with the use of technology. They already have certain basic skills like typing, being in the browser, and some searching skills. But I like them as a class very much as well …
The focus in German could be the brain and as one option the students could create an own Wikipedia about the brain (e.g. the following topics: Intelligence, Memory, Brain, Language, Logic, Creativity – let’s the see what the students come up with).
My learning intentions would be on one side the knowledge they get about the brain as part of the body system, but on the other side I want to let them experience to share their knowledge in a very collaborating way, meaning to edit an entry for a wiki collaboratively. I think it is a good possibility for them to understand the concept of Wikipedia, to create and edit an entry (insert links and videos, common sense, etc.) , to share knowledge collaboratively (working in a group) and globally (working and communication with others outside of classroom and maybe even school), and to be a responsible and knowledgeable communicator online. The content itself though is not the most important, even though as a language teacher I’m aware that Determining Importance as well as Summarizing/Synthesizing would be the important reading strategies in this unit. The process of creating the wiki will be the focus. There are so many other wikis than the original one so as an action I could imagine that they are going to use interest-driven wikies more often or even create their own in future. Something I have never done before is to create a rubric, which does not have the product or process as the main focus to assess. Here it rather would be about the collaboration and communication. My concern is that once the wiki will be created, how does it actually continue to grow? And – how meaningful is it really to share that knowledge that particular way?
I have to say I’m not sure about the wiki. Personally I’m using the original Wikipedia, but rarely a specific wiki like PYPchat Wiki or the Minecraft Wiki or 21centuryedtech) – they never really appeal to me. One the other hand I’m aware that people use it to share a interest.
Therefore I thought about a second option. What tool could be a more appealing to the students and to me to share their knowledge collaboratively and globally?
Thinglink.com? The students could be expert groups and create an interactive picture with information what they read about, with videos they found on the Internet; with audio and/or videos files they created using other tools like Explain Everything, iMovie, etc. to show their thinking and learning. The interactive picture can be shared globally and opened for others to add something.
Honestly, both ideas are kind of okay but for me not convincing enough yet. I have to admit that it would rather be a secure thing, although I’m ready to go out of my comfort zone. Ideas are unpredictable so I have to to be patient and creative to light the ideasis themostcolorful way. I try to keep in mind Tip#2 by by Rebekah Madrid:
Maybe you will mash-up gamification and digital citizenship. Maybe you’ll make a digital story with people around the world, tapping into your PLN. Perhaps you will have kids from around the world building in Minecraft or have a kindergarten inquiry sparked by Twitter. Perhaps you try Problem-Based Learning in an higher level math class, allowing for open books and open computers. It could be that you find a way for your kids to design something for that 3D printer your school bought.
Yes, that’s sounds exciting to me … Let’s see. Like always … I’m very, very thankful for feedback. Probably even more than ever. Thanks.
How would I evaluate my own practice of technology integration? How did the use of technology change my teaching and learning and the learning of the students?
My teaching career in primary school started a little bit than 7 years ago. Before I had worked for a software company as a trainer and I guess because of that particular experience and acquired knowledge I started to use technology from the beginning of my teaching. Reflecting on my students and my own use of technology based on the SAMR Model, which I first heard of maybe 1 1/2 years ago, I can see three phases:
1 desktop computer in the classroom & very few desktop computers for the whole staff to share
write articles for a news paper of the field trip
create posters for announcements
use a dictionary
use certain programs for learning
create a photo story
Me as a teacher
At that time my students definitely mainly used technology just instead of a paper, a paper dictionary, colored pencil, traditional printed photos, and so on. I remember that it was important for me that the students get familiar and independent using the PC because their life is more and more driven by technology. If they don’t know a word, I want them to check it independently. The aspect of creating also played an important role, although I just substituted other tools. As a teacher I just used the computer to save files. That’s it.
Laptop cart with bookable laptops for each child & my own laptop as a working tool
search for information
search for pictures
use feedback tools like VoiceThread
write / reflect on a blog
recording a story
creating a movie
I’m as a teacher, f.e.
– Use assessing tools like Evernote
The second phase was already a huge change and opened doors for using the technology. Probably I still substituted but new features created new learning possibilities. Information we probably would have found in a non-fiction book but are they updated? Pictures we might have found in magazines but would have there be a possibility to change and edit them? Feedback can be also given orally or in written from but would it have the same audience, would it have left the classroom then?
As a language teacher the way of assessing changed. To assess oral skills I usually just listened to the students. How helpful is it now that I can record them, listening to it again to get a deeper understanding of the needs? Aren’t there way more possibilities to personalize the learning of the children? The tasks for the students were still very similar compared to the use of technology at the beginning with only on PC in the classroom.
Laptop cart with bookable laptops for each child.
Six iPads for the use in the classroom. My own laptop as a working tool. My own iPad.
talk in Skype with experts
create with coding apps on the iPad
develop an own Wikipedia about a certain topic
search for / use information / pictures with the knowledge about copyright
create a book trailer to promote a book they like
create a world map to share fairy tails from a different culture on Google maps
show their deeper understanding by using apps like ExplainEverything
use GarageBand to compose music to a ballade
produce QR codes to provide more information
The change of the task for the children started here. Suddenly the students collaborated way more often or how would they have been able to create an own Wiki if not together? The students get the chance to meet and ask real experts or how could they all Skype to a real passionated writer of letters?
Above I wrote that the life of the children is driven by technology. Sure, they need to know HOW to use technology but they even more need to understand WHY to use one or the other tool. What is the advantage of using a particular tool? Is it easier to collaborate? Can I get meaningful feedback of others? Am I able to create something which will be a benefit for myself or others?
As a teacher I wish to personalize their learning and support the student’s needs; I wish to encourage meaningful collaboration locally and globally in the context of real-world situations and to get feedback of their actions; I wish them to be knowledgeable about how to search effectively to get the information they look for; I wish them to be able to visualize their deeper understanding and create something new. (History of Integration of Technology).
REDEFINITION like in the SAMR model described is for sure our goal. It requires a mind shift and an exciting way of learning. For my own learning I wish to reach that level. Coetail is again a great way to get support and to head to new dimensions.
It’s my 4th year as a language teacher at a PYP (Primary Years Programme) school now and I’m still learning. Sure, an online course “Making the PYP happen” 3 years ago got me into this curriculum but the real learning is happening in school and through constant (re-) discussion and reflection with colleagues.
During the preparation of the Parent Information Evenings amongst others we came across the “Strands of language” in PYP (Making the PYP happen, page 73). One of the strands is:
Visual communication: viewing and presenting Viewing and presenting means interpreting or constructing visuals and multimedia in a variety of situations and for a range of purposes and audiences. They allow students to understand the ways in which images and language interact to convey ideas, values and beliefs. Visual images immediately engage viewers, allowing them instant access to data. Learning to interpret this data and to understand and use different media are invaluable skills. In the area of visual communication, students will learn to:
– understand, critically analyze and communicate information and ideas through a variety of visual media – make informed choices in their personal viewing experiences – use appropriate technology for effective presentation and representation.
In addition as one of the transdisciplinary skills I found in the same document page 22 the following:
– Viewing Interpreting and analyzing visuals and multimedia; understanding the ways in which images and language interact to convey ideas, values and beliefs; making informed choices about personal viewing experiences.
– Presenting Constructing visuals and multimedia for a range of purposes and audiences; communicating information and ideas through a variety of visual media; using appropriate technology for effective presentation and representation.
I think I was kind of aware of it that there was something written in the curriculum. But on the other hand I have to admit it was not there consciously enough regarding planning, teaching and learning. The readings this week make me more aware of the importance Media Literacy. The students should have “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and produce communication in a variety of forms“, because I wish them to be a “thoughtful consumer and effective citizen” (Teaching Media Literacy Yo! Are you Hip to This?). Or even more like Jerry Christopherson said:
“A visually literate person should be able to
– Interpret, understand and appreciate the meaning of visual messages; – Communicate more effectively by applying the basic principles and concepts of visual design; – Produce visual messages using computers and other technologies; and – Use visual thinking to conceptualize solutions to problems.“
What does it mean for me as a teacher?
The slideshow of Terri Sallee gave me great thoughts and inspiration for my own teaching. The Unit “Cultures” in Grade 5 was a good start for me to get more aware of the importance for the students for their inquiry within the classroom and even more important for their life as a learner.
In the German advanced class we decided to integrate through a German aspect: areas of the German culture. Later as a summative assessment the students will create interview questions, speak to people from other cultures and compare between the German and the different culture. After a tuning in and brainstorm of areas of culture in general, amongst other topics the students chose to inquire more into gestures. Their question was What gestures exist in the German culture and what do they mean? My goal was to get them aware that there are same gestures but the meaning is different depending on the culture you are living in. Therefor we have to pay more attention using those gestures.
To make sure that the students have a meaningful interaction with the pictures I wanted them to follow the visible thinking routine I see, I think, I wonder. It was important for me that first each student thinks by him- or herself and then shares with the elbow partner and the whole class. The students described what they see (I see), they read the picture (I think) and they questioned the picture (I wonder).
I could have done the gestures myself. By showing pictures I had the chance to get an idea of the prior knowledge of the students. During their talks with the partner I was able to observe the conversation.
The outcome of the whole class discussion was wonderful. It is the German advanced class, all students speak German fluently but there is a variety of culture and language backgrounds. They discovered and discussed the different meaning of the certain gestures with high interest because they could relate to their personal lives.
After a great discussions I gave them choices of non-fiction texts about other gestures. They could choose what they were interested in and practice the 5 key-words-reading strategy which was one of the language foci of the unit. Of course they also good a chance to share their understanding of the text later.
So far I concentrated on viewing visuals. Later towards the end of the unit, as soon as the students are going to prepare their presentation of the interview, my and their focus will change to producing and presenting visuals. It was not so easy for me to find really good and appropriate pictures which are free for use and share. My outcome – I definitely should contribute pictures I took more often.
Anyways … I’m excited to see how the students will visualize and message their understanding and I will try to support them as best as I can.
To be honest – at the beginning of course 2 I had no idea what an AUP (Acceptable User Policy) is. During the four years at a German School I never got in contact with something similar. Probably I signed an AUP for teachers when I started teaching at an international school. I thought the reason for not knowing about it might me the fact that I’m new in this international environment and struggle with all those acronyms anyways. Another reason might be the fact that I’m a single subject teacher. Homeroom teachers might have given it to the students at the beginning of the school year. And six weeks later with the help and collaboration of Vivian Chow, Donovan Hall, Mark Villaflor and Carlene Hamley and all the wonderful resources out there on the Internet I revised and wrote remixed an AUP for the Primary School. How awesome is this! I even felt a flow of creating …
We were asked to collaborate with other cohort members. It reminded me of a blog post of Edna Sackson – What does collaboration look like? and what is the difference to working together? The main outcome for me is: If you collaborate you share a vision. She created a nice visualisation:
My vision in this context is to make sure that the students get knowledgeable to be safe on the Internet and with the use of technology.
One person commented on the above mentioned post and asked: What about goals? Do we need to share goals as well? Do the individual goals of collaboration lead to more effect collaborating?
During the course collaboration took place in many different ways. Quite at the beginning of course 2 somebody created a hashtag called #CoetailAUP. I was lucky to find a great group quite easy. We had the chance to get to know each other through a Google Hangout. We shared existing AUPs on Google Drive, experiences and ideas. Giving a feedback and commenting on each other’s work was the easiest job with Google Docs. Vivian took the time and effort to summarize our Hangouts and she also wrote the first draft of an AUP, which I’m still very thankful for because my part of the AUP is based on her thinking and putting it in words. I also collaborated with colleagues at our school. From the beginning it was my goal to create something, which is meaningful for our Primary School. I had a lot of support of my ICT colleague and also a reception teacher. I believe that we are all sharing a similar vision but I realized that our personal goals were different. Nothing wrong with that I realized, because it enriched our collaboration. You get different knowledge, a lot of experiences, a huge a variety of skills, great motivation, backgrounds, different learning types, … thinking – what do I want to ask for more?
The experience let me think about group work/collaboration in my classroom as well and especially about grouping my students. I always have been torn how to group them. Is it more important that they choose the partner(s) they want to work with or do I as a teacher make up the groups with the knowledge of their prior knowledge, abilities, learning types, types of learning, etc. and why do I want them to collaborate? I feel like I have to think about it more in depth. Later.
The following AUP is created/remixed with the help of the resources on the Internet and through the collaboration with great educators. Thanks again for that.
I really liked the idea of the 4Rs – Resources, Right, Respect, Responsibility. Hopefully it is a good way to promote the AUP within the whole school community as well as to develop a common language at school.
Three stakeholders will sign the AUP: the student – the parent – the teacher. We all share the responsibility to make sure we are safe on the Internet and when using technology for learning.
It is still a draft regarding the detailed layout (logo, pictures, etc). For me the wording was more important in a first row. The layout will come next with the heIp of my students (great idea Donovan & Carlene).
I have to admit that citing was a challenge. You work on something for weeks, you read about it on so many different websites, you speak to others and get the ideas – honestly, I lost track.
My goal is to get this AUP for the Primary School implemented. My colleague wants to create a Digital Citizenship Program combined with it. I’m excited to see what will happen in the next few weeks and after the summer vacation.