The book “The Innovator’s Mindset – Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity” by George Couros (@gcouros) was on my shelf for a while before I started reading and devouring this book. Often I had to stop and think, reflect, rethink and honestly, check the hashtag #InnovatorsMindset on Twitter and Instagram (btw. my first Social Reading experience) because I wondered how other readers commented about certain quotes, ideas and thoughts. It is one of those books which you have to read if it is your vision as an educator to innovate the learning experiences of the students.
Project-Based-Learning, Problem-Based-Learning, Inquiry-Based-Learning, Challenged-Based-learning are all pedagogical theories which all have something in common. Their approach is the real-world approach.
One of my goals for daily life teaching and learning is that it has to be authentic and meaningful for the students. As a PYP teacher, as a technology teacher, as a language teacher and as a person I don’t want to separate school from life outside of school anymore like our teachers did 20 -30 years ago. Difficult enough because often old structures and fixed mindsets are still there.
Authentic and meaningful problems, projects, inquiries, challenges motivate me as a learner and I strongly believe that this is also the case for students. Secondly I (often together with the students) always try to find a way to share our learning. Students present their learning, take some actions, give tips for our language learner (in my case), make aware of something, reflect on their learning – I don’t just want to collect the learning in the classroom or even worse just in the notebooks of the students.
Technology / the Internet as well as our local environment provide us a way to make the learning authentic and meaningful, to find projects or real problems to solve, and to challenge ourselves.
Grade 1 German Advanced
Unit: Fairy Tales
Learning Intention: All countries in the world have fairy tales or stories.
The students asked a non-german speaker to tell a fairy tell or story from their culture. The recorded it with vocaroo.com (fantastic tool) and then retold the story in German. Again those stories were recorded and finally shared on a world map, so everybody can listen to it. Here is the link to Märchen aus aller Welt.
Grade 1 German mother tongue level
Unit: Material Matters
Learning Intention: Materials have certain attributes for certain purposes
As a scientist the students inquired into a chosen item and looked at it with the following questions:
- What materials are used to produce this item?
- How does the item look and feel like?
- Why were those material chosen to produce the item?
After the research the students published the results for their results by using thinglink. Due to privacy policies I can’t publish them here. Following they were asked to show their deeper understanding by choosing a certain material for a certain purpose. Even more it would have been authentic if we had the chance to actually build something. Next year …
Grade 3 GAL 1 (German as a additional language – beginners)
At the end of the unit the students reflected on how they are learning new words. The fact that the students are beginner language learner it was definitely a meaningful and authentic reflection for them. But we wanted to go a step further and share our reflections. Students came up with the idea to create something for the blog. Finally they asked me to create a little video. They created the tips for other language learner.
Grade 4 German Advanced
Unit: Inventions continue to impact our world
Learning Intention: Deeper understanding that inventions can have a positive as well as a negative impact on our world.
The students inquired into a chosen German inventor with the following prompts:
What is the invention?
How did it improve our daily lives?
What negative impact the invention might have on our life and environment?
To share their learning outcome the students chose to film themselves with the iPads and share it by using voicethread. Following a short part of it (and I learnt how to blur the faces 😉
Grade 4 German mother tongue level
Unit: Video killed the radio star (focus in German: written communication)
Learning intention: Different kinds of written communication are used in different situations and for different purpose.
The students are surrounded by technology and they communicate in a way different way than we did at the same age. They see their parents or older siblings using devices to communicate. Inquire into written communication (using Todaysmeet for the TuningIn; using the learning Links on the Intranet to find more information about different type of written communication), attending a contest writing a letter to a hero of a children book (found on the internet), using Skype to communication with somebody who still writes a lot of letter, touches the reality of the children. They will become experts and can share their knowledge.
Sometimes I get the question: And what is the language focus of the unit? Yes, there has to be a language focus. But especially the German classes learn through using the language. On top of it, even though it is the mother tongue class the learning needs of the children are very, very diverse. Project-based, Problem-based, Inquiry-based, challenged-based learning gives me the possibility to differentiate and support individually so the learning of the language will be as meaningful and authentic as possible. Maybe it is not problem-based, project-based enough … I would love to go out of the classroom walls even more.
The quote I read in Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age
The pipe is more important than the content within in the pipe.
sticks to my mind since I started to read about Connectivism.
How do my pipes look like?
I’m still amazed by the fact that we decide what to learn, where to learn, when to learn, how to learn, and from who to learn. Recently I attended several sessions and listened to keynotes at the Global Education Conference. It was totally my decision what information and knowledge I want to get. It took place all over the world and definitely enhanced my learning through the diversity of people who presented and shared something. It was also my decision how I want to learn. Depending on the topic I sometimes was just a listener but if possible I tried to contribute to the learning experience within that specific setting.
But the pipe always has two directions, right? While attending one session called Students as Creators or Makers: Tools to foster Higher-order Thinking Skills I thought, next year I could give it a try as well. I’m getting there …
The more familiar pipes for me are of course blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. To many people I try to explain it and compare it to an old fashioned post box. You are interested in something; you subscribe it and the mailman brings the mail to you.
But: Too often it goes only one direction, right?
A great experience on Twitter was for me when I first time had a question and I got answers. Or there was a question and I could contribute to it. There is the flow in the other direction. Vivian (@chezVivian) describes on her blog a professional conversation about assessment on Twitter. The knowledge is flowing back and forth through the pipe therefore it’s a really good learning experience. #pypchat – I’ll join you very soon.
Facebook more than Google+ but they are both platforms for me to get inspiring input and to share worth reading articles, blog posts or ideas. Collaboration and creating together with other educators and experts doesn’t happen yet to the extent that I imagine it to happen. One idea would be to connect with other German teachers at international schools in Germany. Let’s get together.
The wish to collaborate and connect more with other teachers led me to the question: Did a job description change? How? What kind of teacher I would like to work with if I had the chance to hire somebody?
Inspired by Ceci’s blog post Ceci 2.0 as well as by the table in What Is Web 3.0 And How Will It Change Education I wondered how a job description for a teacher could look like. I haven’t seen any since my mind shift regarding education has started. I’m not in the position of hiring people but I asked myself what kind of teacher I would like to be and what kind of teacher I would like to work with. Experiences and knowledge are important but not the most important anymore. In my opinion, one very important part is how much somebody is connected to get the flow of knowledge and information in both directions and within the whole community of learners.
The following pictures (on thinglink.com) shows my first thinking about it. A colleague brought up the ISTE standards to add. Sure. What would you add?
What does integration of technology actually mean in the context of education? Already a while ago educators (Technology Integration in Education) and also companies (Google in Education) started thinking about it.
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
- organize files
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.
When I for first time read about “online collaborative projects” this week I was reminded of a conference (European 1-1 Learning Institute) last November at the FIS (Frankfurt International School). One of the keynote speakers was Ian Jukes. He spoke of a new book and mentioned that he wrote that book with two other people who he has never met in person. The whole process took place online as a collaborative project. I was impressed and I remember thinking: Probably that is the future.
It is not the future – it’s already happening. Last week I asked around mostly non-teacher curious about whether they are working somehow collaborative online. Several examples in a business or programming environment came up and I was confirmed that it’s already happening. Additionally my mother sent me by old-fashion mail an article Die Ungeduldigen. Eine Geschichte über Neugier und Fragesteller (in English: The Impatient. A Story about curiosity and questioner). The article describes three young teenagers who are already involved in programming projects. The author also ask what impact it has for teaching (Yeah, also in Germany is a mind-shift going on!) And guess how they are working: online and collaborating through their network. It’s already happening.
Of course I was curious what is going on in education:
- How are teachers involved in online collaborative projects?
So far I know about two groups of teachers at our school. Both collaborative projects are happening within their professional development. They are inquiring into new concepts, exchanging their findings, their opinions and conclusions, their learning as a group at school but then also and as much as important online on a specific platform. It’s already happing.
- How can we involve students in online collaborative projects?
It’s also already happening. There seems to be endless websites already to create projects and to find projects. Teachers and classrooms from all over the world create, inquirer, find out, exchange and a lot more. Here are some websites: CIESE, theteacherscorner.net, Kidlink, … There are tons of projects already going on. I even don’t know whether those links are the most popular amongst all options. So please feel free to add links you explored and you want to share.
So how is technology changing the learning landscape and global education?
Using technology for online collaborative projects gives students the possibility to get meaningful and authentic learning and live experiences. It allows sharing knowledge and experiences with other students from all over the world. Automatically they are having an audience that is like-minded and driven by the same interest. Learning doesn’t happen exclusively in the classroom anymore – it’s global. And it should be global because we have to solve global issues locally. Students get the chance to be involved in something. It will be the start for being active and creative for a network, for a community or for the whole society. If students/people get to know each other, if they know from each other their way of living, the obvious and the hidden part of culture (The Cultural Iceberg), we can take responsibilty together for our world like Plant for the Planet.
I definitely see myself being involved with one of my classes in an online collaborative project. It’s just a matter of time and opportunity. I will make it happen.
Inspired by the fact that I’m working at an international school, by the video Where is home?, by the phenomena of TCK (Third Culture Kids) and a project called Where do I live? I could imagine a project called Who am I? to let the students get to know each other and themselves better, to get a deeper understanding of their family background and their own identity.
The next question came up immediately: What tools are already out there? There is a List of collaborative software, collaborative plattforms, and a List of Wiki Software … but that goes to far for me at the moment …