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Empower the students to drive the change at your school

Since the first time I heard about the Techsperts (@TechspertsEDU) at SAIS (Stamford American School Singapore) I really wanted to start this at our school as well. The initiator Craig Kemp (@mrkempnz) wrote in a blog post about his approach and experiences here: ‘Techs-perts – Utilising the skills of Digital Natives’. Another EdTech Coach from Dulwich College Singapore encouraged me so finally that got me sit down and plan.

At our school they are called Tech Tree Team and in secondary they are already in action for a while. So why not initiating this in primary?

Why the Tech Tree Team?

Students get empowered and will drive the change regarding technology use at GESS in order to enhance the learning of parents, teachers and students. 

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Spoil yourself with excitement!

Photo Credit: Creativity Poster via flickr.com
Photo Credit: Creativity Poster via flickr.com

It felt like when I was a child.
It felt like Christmas and birthday together because there were so many presents.
It felt like never ending exploring and endless surprises.
It felt like being a(n) artist creator again.  

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Information Literacy – Pushing my own limits

Iceberg
Iceberg by Uwe Kils via Wikipedia

It has been an very exciting start of the new school year and my new job as a Library Media Specialist. Thanks to Coetail and supportive colleagues as well as understanding leadership the school created a new position for me. I’m very thankful for the chance to build the library as a fun place to be. Joyce Valenza put her vision in her Manifesto for 21st Century Teacher Librarians very well in words and I can only support this:

You understand that library is not just a place to get stuff, it is a place to make stuff, collaborate on and share stuff. Not a grocery store, but a kitchen!

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Sinnvolle Weiterbildung an der Schule für ALLE

EdchatDEWöchentlich findet nun schon seit einiger Zeit auf Twitter (#edchatDe – Website: Edchat.de) ein professioneller Austausch unter Lehrern und Lehrerinnen sowie anderen Interessierten statt. Initiiert wurde dieser Austausch von den engagierten Lehrern Torsten (@herrlarbig) und André (@tastenspieler). Für mich bedeutet sowohl der #edchatDe als auch andere eher englischsprachige Chats pure Weiterbildung und Inspiration. Ich kann entscheiden, was ich lerne, wann ich lerne und wer meine Lehrer sind. Ich lerne Pädagogen und Vordenker kennen und da ich nun schon seit 4 Jahren an einer internationalen Schule arbeite, ist es für mich höchst interessant, Lehrern und Lehrerinnen in Deutschland zuzuhören bzw. von ihnen zu lesen.

Vor einigen Wochen (13.05.2014) gab es einen Austausch zum Thema Lehrerfortbildung (Hier eine Zusammenfassung: #LEHRERFORTBILDUNG #TEACHERTRAINING: SMORE-REVIEW ZUM EDCHATDE NR. 31). Unser EdTechTeam an der Schule hatte gerade eine Fortbildung organisiert, die in Form eines ein wenig abgewandeltes BarCamps / Konferenz abgehalten wurde. Ich hatte in diesem Zusammenhang versprochen, dass ich den Ablauf einmal in einem Post zusammenfasse. Tut mir leid, dass es ein bisschen gedauert hat (Zeugnisse, usw.) und ich ein wenig Druck brauchte – der heute EdchatDe, der zum Thema Barcamps an der Schule stattfinden wird.

Unser EdTechTeam besteht aus mehreren Personen: Eine EdTech-Person für die Primary School, eine EdTech-Person für die Secondary School, ein Media Specialist / Librarian aus der Secondary School und nicht zu vergessen unsere ganze IT-Abteilung, die auch einen sehr wichtigen Anteil hat. Inspiriert waren wir durch einen Google Summit in Prage, zu dem wir letzten Herbst gemeinsam gefahren waren. Während der Rückfahrt wurde über nichts anderes gesprochen und allen war klar: Klar können wir so etwas organisieren! Es ist toll mit Kollegen zusammen arbeiten zu können, die etwas verändern und bewegen wollen. Danke Kim (@techiehouse), Fred (@TeachWithMoodle) und all die anderen.

Hier nun einige Details:

Das Motto war recht eindeutig. Ihr Ziel war es, dass alle etwas lernen, was sie schon am nächsten Tag ausprobieren können.

“Every attendee should leave every session with something they can use, straight away”

Our PD Day will focus on using and integrating technology into classroom practice as well as enhancing your own productivity as a teacher. The sessions will be led by our BIS colleagues and are aimed at specific tools. The goal is to focus each session on what’s practical and immediately useful for you in the classroom.

Im Folgenden der Zeitplan:

Each attendee will receive a personal print-out of their schedule on the day.

8:00-8:50         Meet and greet (coffee and croissant)

8:50-9:20         Opening Keynote & Logistics of the day

9:30-10:15       BLOCK A

10:15-10:30     Break

10:30-11:10     BLOCK B

11:15-12:15     Speed Geeking Sessions

12:15-12:45     Lunch

12:45-13:25     BLOCK C

13:30-14:10     Super Slam Session

14:10-14:20     Wrap-Up and Feedback

Im Vorfeld wurden Kollegen persönlich und durch eine Umfrage gefragt, welche Themen sie interessiert und wer bereit wäre,  eine Session durchzuführen. Das so wertvolle Wissen von so vielen Kollegen kann auf diese Weise weitergegeben werden. Außerdem erfährt man durch eine Umfrage, wer welchen Weiterbildungsbedarf hat. Folgende Themen sind nur einige Themen der großen Auswahl:

  • Collaborative learning & Teaching with Google Docs
  • iPads in ANY Classroom
  • Producing with your Mac
  • The Flipped Classroom
  • Digital Storytelling and using Video in the Classroom
  • Evernote

Nachdem der Bedarf und die Themen feststanden, konnte sich alle Kollegen (online) anmelden, so dass der Zeitplan am Tag selbst individuell für jeden ausgedruckt werden konnte.

Es gab folgende Blöcke:

Block A – 5 Sessions a 45 min
Block B – 5 Sessions a 45 min
-> jeweils ein oder zwei Präsentierende

Speed Geeking Sessions a 60 min
-> 4 verschiedene Kollegen, 4 verschiedene Themen, jeweils ca. 10-12 Minuten

Bei Wikipedia liest man darüber:

Speed geeking is a great way to quickly view a number of presentations and demos in a short while. For example, one hour is enough time to view 12 presenters if you spend 5 minutes at each presentation. The 5 minute limit also keeps presentations short and interesting.

Block C – 5 Sessions a 45 min
-> -> jeweils ein oder zwei Präsentierende

Super Slam Session

Eine Slam Session habe ich das erste Mal auf einem Google Summit erlebt. Am Ende eines Summits, einer Konferenz, eines BarCamps sind die Teilnehmer aufgerufen, innerhalb von 2 Minuten etwas vorzustellen, was sie an dem Tag gelernt haben und was so richtig nützlich ist. Die Zuhörer stimmen dann am Ende ab (meist durch ein Google Form), welche Slam Session die beste war. Der Gewinner bekommt einen Preis.
Zusätzlich hatten die präsentierenden Kollegen ihre Ressourcen, Handouts, Links, usw. zum EdTechTeam geschickt, so dass diese online für alle verfügbar gemacht werden konnten.

Eine der besten Fortbildungen, die ich an einer Schule erlebt habe. Falls Fragen offen geblieben sind, bitte einfach kommentieren. Ich werde sie so gut wie möglich beantworten!

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When are students ready for a flipped classroom?

Startblock
Photo Credit: Startblock by Schneewittchen via Flickr

Do I like the concept of the Flipped Classroom (The Flipped Class: Myths vs. Reality)? I’m not sure yet.

The idea that students know already the content by mainly watching a video, but also reading a text, listening to a podcast, asking an expert, reading a website, etc. when they come to the lesson
          and
during class the students get the possibility to go further, to ask question, to make connections, to share their thinking, to show their deeper understanding, to get into a concepts, to inquire in different directions, to make conclusions, to think about action, etc. makes me curious.

I wonder what is more challenging for a teacher: to provide appropriate content in advance OR to find the right activities to support above written goals? Both are important and probably must not underestimated. Appropriate content – what does it really mean? Especially with an inquiry approach in mind and all the differentiation which is need in a classroom?!

Amongst others I’m teaching Grade 4 advanced German. The current unit is about discoveries and explorations and how it continues to change our world. Through a Visible Thinking routine called Generate, Sort, Connect and Elaborate the students developed great questions about space. Most of the questions were content related. I provided them a preselected websites with texts, videos, games, and visualizations to find answers which most of them did successfully. It was during the lesson in school. Now I’m questioning: Could they have done this at home (and I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of homework)? Would we have had more time to go further, f.e. to answer the question why astronauts and astronomers explorer the space? And how did it change our world or will change our world?

Would this have been a first step in the direction of flipped classroom? My students answered their questions during the lesson and developed even new questions. My role was to support them with searching, reading, understanding, note taking, formulating the answer as a sentence and with their own words – learning the language through using the language. The students got the support they needed individually. I wouldn’t have gotten that chance if they had watched something at home. I was interacting with the students instead of lecturing. It was student centered and the students were able to inquire into topics they are interested in.

In secondary school and even more at universities (Umgedrehter Unterricht and Umgedreht lernen und lehren: „Inverted Classroom Model“) I rather imagine the flipped classroom like this infographik describes. In primary school the students still need too many pre-skills to know how to get most out of it by this method themselves, f.e. how to take notes, how to read a non-fiction text, searching skills, etc. There is probably way more the students have to be ready for before they can go for it.

In addition I’m wondering now how it looks like to teach and learn a language in terms of “teaching the language” (German in my case)? My next step to inquire into …

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Gamification everywhere?

This week was an eye opener for me again. I love this. I thought I have an idea of gamification but that was not even half of the game. Google gives us the following definition:

Gamification Def.

Here a 100 second explanation (in German): Gamification. Basically the idea of gamification is to use elements of the game in a non-game-context.

Being a teacher I thought games are used in school to motivate and educate children. Students always want to play, to compete, to win. Already at university I learnt that playing is learning and a game has certain criteria to be a real game: Goals, rules, challenges, feedback, feeling of success or sense of achievement.

But I didn’t imagine at all and I was very surprised that it becomes more and more a tool for companies, websites, and even scientific institutes … actually with the similar goals: To motivate (Zombies, run! or Superbetter), to increase engagement (practicallygreen.com), to educate, to let employees collaborate, to inform (Gamification im Gaza-Konflikt: Social-Media-Spiel der israelischen Armee – or manipulate?), to build a relationship, to let participate, to let find solutions (Fold.it & Foldit – Gamification pusht HIV Forschung), to give an additional appeal to something, to increase the company revenue, to get more traffic on their website or to solve real-world problems, which is Jane Mc Gonigal’s goal who coined the word for the first time. Listen to her very interesting TED talk, where she explains how she wants to solve the problems of the world through gaming.

Obviously playing games gives us something with many of us don’t experience in real life like confirmation, recognition, status, awards, fun, exchange with others, self-fulfillment, competition, … people are gaming several hours a week I read somewhere. Are you a gamer? I don’t have any people around me who are crazy for games. I’m definitely not a gamer. It does not appeal to me or motivates me at all to run away from zombies (see above). Are you a gamer and even more interesting for me: What is it what makes you play a lot?

As a teacher on the other hand I’m very interested and curious to use digital games for teaching and learning. Last year I realized how popular Minecraft amongst my 4th and 5th grader is that I questioned my students over and over again. Over the summer I tried to get into it. I played two days and lost interest (or time or just different priorities). The benefit for the students is definitely there – it’s motivating, engaging, learning, it’s fun, it is rewarding, it gives a different approach to deal with failure, etc. – I would love to give it a try this school year. As long it is a choice for them because not every student is a gamer. And in addition for me as a teacher it still very important for me to give the students the possibility to find and live their passions, to experience the joy of learning so they are doing what they are interested in, so they are motivated and engaged, so they experience confirmation and success to build a healthy self-confidence.

My next question will be: How could gamification look like in education? How could it look like in my classroom as a language teacher? I’m also curious now whether any colleague at our school is going in the direction of gamification?

Like this?

– very interesting to hear his learning!

I’m excited to see more examples …

PS: Did you opened several links and they were all in German? Two reason why: First I just was too tired this week to inquire into the topic gamification in English. I started in German and I mostly sticked to it. Second I was very curious to read what is going on in the German spoken educational landscape.

 

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Doing New Things the New Way

This week I got the chance to read a very worthwhile and useful article called “Shaping Tech for the Classroom” from Marc Prensky who wrote his thoughts already in 2005. The article definitely describes my own steps regarding technology in education the last 6-7 years. Dabbling was the start, I tried technology and did something here and there. If I look back I surely did old things in old ways by f.e. using Word for story telling. I already felt great and very much confirmed that this is the right way when I started to do old things in new ways. I was proud of my students using the search engines for children, using a dictionary they needed, practicing with any kind of teaching software and I also was proud of myself using the projector showing movies about a certain topic instead showing a projector slide on the Overhead Projector. And Prensky mentions possibilities I have never thought of like online simulations.
But Marc Prensky also speaks in his article about an additional step we need to do: Doing new things in new ways. He asked us to listen to the students more often und more carefully which reminds me of the following young lady called Adora Svitak:

That brings me to my first next steps – trying new things the new ways. Following are the possibilites:

  • Explore Google tools and applications and how I can integrate them in teaching?
  • Contribute more often to the network I’m creating right now and let the students experience the benifits for learning through networking.
  • Observe and ask students what and how they use technology. (questionary/research at school?)
  • Starting a Tech Tuesday to share my ideas with people who are interested.

 

 

 

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Waiting for Superman

The movie is great and very touching. It’s about the american school system, it shows what is going wrong BUT also that we actually have the power. It motivates me to go for it – for the revolution, like a comment on Youtube says:

Why improve an education system that’s already broken? Education Revolution!

Anybody has other good recommendations for documentaries like this?

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Are you ready? Educators everywhere in the world?

One thing I really appreciate almost the most is that I find through COETAIL people who are likeminded. At school (LS) there is one person who is as interested in the revolution like many COETAILers seem to be. By the by she just thinks we should do a geek weekend. 😉 I feel free to speak about my visions and passions and this is something I rarely ever experienced before.

Today I started getting into the ISTE Nets for Teachers. WOW – I’m so fascinated by the fact that something like this already exist for a while. It took me 2 1/2 years working in an international school environment to find them. I really recommend to have a look.

My big question is:           Are you ready? Educators everywhere in the world?

Are you ready

  • to facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity?
  • to design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessment?
  • to model digital age work and learning?
  • to promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility?
  • to engage in professional growth and leadership?
From my perspective it all starts with the willingness to get engaged in professional growth. It will open our eyes by itself. Second step probably is to share your own professional growth, your learning and your visions as well as to model digital citizenship.
And the moment I feel like a bubbling bottle of coke (thanks Astrid for this expression). I would love to speak the whole day about nothing else. But how can I reach others? I wish to be somebody who is opening eyes. What kind of support can I give?

The ISTE organisation also provides Essential Conditions. The document showed me that probably everybody of us does already a lot. But still everybody could ask the following (and even more) questions:

  • Do I really live the shared vision? How?
  • How skilled am I? (Here a test of Edutopia.)
  • How can I make sure that I develop myself professionally?
Let’s get ready!

 

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Ready to jump into the writing experience!

Reading “The Age of Composition” on Jeff’s blog let me reflect about my own history of writing and how it changed in my personal and teaching life.

I have never felt very confident writing about something, no matter whether it is in my mother tongue German or now in English. The worries about being superficial, not to say anything new, not finding the right words or just about spelling conventions are always there. I don’t have any good writing memories of my own school life, but I do remember seeing my parents writing letters. For a while as a teenager I had a lot of pen pals so I got a letter each single day. I loved it. I also wrote letters in notebooks with female best friends and a personal diary. It was obviously very, very meaningful for me. Since then I think writing was more or less always for assessments at university or resulting of work. Sure, once in a while I’m writing a personal postcard or email. But that’s it.

It seems to be clear where the insecurity is coming from. BUT I’m ready to jump into a new writing challenge, to become more confident and to build my network which enriches my life so much. It is sometimes overwhelming and it means being out of the comfort zone. But that is the way where learning is coming from, right?

In this case writing this post, it happened exactly what Jeff was describing in his blog post:

  1. I’m reading REACH, page 28, about Literacy Development.
  2. Followed the link he mentioned on that page
  3. Reading his blog post about “The Age of Composition”
  4. Created a timeline about my own writing experience in school, at home, my past years
  5. Yes, sat down and started composing (luckily I don’t get sick reading and writing in the car)
  6. and will publish the post as soon as I have internet connection again. NOW 😉

Am I on the way to develop what Jeff called in his book Network Literacy?

And how to I support my students to develop writing skills which are driven by ideas and content and not just written for the teacher? The most important point for me is that it is meaningful for the students. When I’m reflecting on few past units especially with Grade 4 & 5 I always tried hard. They wrote f.e. an instruction for a self-created magnetism game (which was presented during a short exhibition), they wrote old fashion letters to an older person to ask about the change of written communication in their life, they wrote appeals to the community to get awareness of the impact of inventions and at the moment the students are getting into the community of a wikipedia. I always aiming to keep in mind that is has to be meaningful for students as learners or for ourself as learners.