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 working in the library I love the fact that I get to know new books from different countries and cultures. As a German I grew up with German children’s literature and I feel familiar with that part of the world. Due to this fact I try to take the chance as often as possible to let the students tell me about children’s books from other parts of the world.
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.
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!
Over the last several years I’m observing a change of my reading habits. I read more online than printed material. Often I’m rather clicking through a webpage than sticking to a text and read it from the beginning to the end. For professional purpose I read more nonfiction material online than ever. Sometimes I have the feeling that I read a lot but what did I get out of it? Where is the action? Do you know the feeling not to be that proficient anymore?
Wöchentlich 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
10:30-11:10 BLOCK B
11:15-12:15 Speed Geeking Sessions
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
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!
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:
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.
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.
Here you are:
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.
Who can’t wait, here is the Link to the ebook on iTunes: Interessantes über das Gehirn.
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?
When I wrote my last post about ideas regarding the final project of my COETAIL experience I already had a feeling that my ideas still have to develop. I was inspired by Rebekah Madrid’s (@ndbekah) blog post Taking the Leap: Thinking about Course 5 and by talking to amazing colleagues I luckily have at school. Huge thanks for that already.
Following now a first summary of my planning.
Unit: The Human Machine – The human body is a complex organism, which is made up of many systems that work together.
Integration in German:
- Form and function of our brain
- Features/elements of a non-fiction text
The students will know about the brain as one of the most complex systems of the human body by watching the video(s) and taking notes. They will understand the importance of the brain for the functionality of our body.
They will inquire and analyze the elements of a non-fiction text answering the following questions:
- What is it?
- What does it look like?
- Why is it important?
In order to show their deeper understanding of a chosen aspect about the brain (or the human body?) the students will create a non-fiction page using non-fiction features and new technologies. There could be the option to create and publish an ebook together.
The students will be able both to read visual elements of a non-fiction text and also to organize and summarize information by a visual text. They will be able to use technology in order to create a visual text, to collaborate and to share their understanding.
The students will use the German language as their prime medium of inquiry (learning through language). They use the language for creative and effective information processing, organizing and summarizing.
Let me explain how I got there …
Choose a unit that interests you and redesign it in a way that excites you.
I always wanted to inquire more into Visual literacy and it is already part of my appraisal topic (How can I develop more proficient reader in the digital world?) this year. One morning on the way to school my friend, colleague and amazing teacher Wendy @wenfor and I spoke about the final project and she suggested why don’t you focus on features of a non-fiction text? Now in our digital world it is more important then ever. She gave me the following book: I see what you mean. Thanks Wendy.
The unit about the human body with the focus on the brain in German is a good unit because to be visual literate and understand elements of a non-fiction text helps to comprehend and explain readily even more complex aspects of science. Additionally the students use the tools and elements of non-fiction texts to create and show understanding.
Take what you have learned in all the prior courses and put it into action.
I have the feeling that the year 2013 was the peak of my professional learning ever! A reflection of it could be a single blog post. There are so many options but I decided to give it a try implementing the Flipped Classroom. I’m still torn regarding the Flipped Classroom and there is the chance! The focus won’t be the brain only. Therefore the Flipped Classroom gives me the chance that the students get the content beforehand and we focus on the features of the non-fiction text during class.
Think about how you are using technology to support learning in ways that we inconceivable without technology.
The students will inquire into the topic itself through the Flipped Classroom, meaning watching videos. But they will also get choices using technology to show their understanding about elements of a non-fiction text. My concern is that this might not be the redefinition level of the SAMR model, so I will have to think about it more in detail. Publishing a non-fiction eBook would be though.
Make sure you are showing them that you are a learner too.
With them Rebekah meant the students but implementing the Flipped Classroom means to involve the parents as well. I want them to see me as a learner as well.
And the two questions that would make me really think would have to be: ”Is student work authentic and reflective of that done by real people outside of school? ” and ”Is student work reflective of their interests or passions?”
I love the first question and it always drives my planning. The answer to this question and my final project I found in the above mentioned book:
We need visual literacy in order to get by in our everyday lives – when we read a magazine, go shopping, visit a museum, visit a museum, catch a train or bus, browse the Internet, text a friend, check today’s weather, or plan a vacation. The visual texts associated with these tasks include diagrams, maps, graphs, and tables. We take for granted that they are part of everyday literacy; but we don’t yet take for granted that they should therefore be a part of the literacy program. (I see what you mean, S.14)
Take risks. Ask for help when you need it. Take control of your learning and let go of control in your classroom. And have fun!!
It’s definitely out of my comfort zone but YES as much as I want the students to be a risk taker I will be a risk taker as well.
what are the next steps …
It would be great to get some feedback. Small advices, inputs, encouragement, opinions, tips, etc. are more than appreciated! I will read the expectations again and again and again like Rebekah recommended. And feel encouraged to use the Understanding by Design Planner to keep going.
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 ideas is the most colorful 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.