Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Presenting work at DNI

At my visit to DNI we were looking at ways that teachers could use ICT tools for students to use to present work in different ways, most teachers felt that PowerPoint had really dominated as a presenting tool. We looked at several ways of presenting work on a wiki, through Comic Life, Glogster a web2 tool which creates digital posters and one of my favourites Blabberize. Blabberize is a really cool tool, kids love it and it is technically pretty simple. It is a shame that a lot of the time the fun and learning really stops at working out how it works and laughing at the end result. Blabberize can be a tool that the author presents information to an audience through particularly characters, making an impact about an important short message- for example sun-safety or any safety information.

It is also a great tool to present perspectives.
Working with Chris at DNI with Blabberize we discussed using this tool in Social Science. Students can take different perspectives and speak on each characters behalf on an issue they have been studying. One example we thought of was related to ANZAC day as Chris had just finished some work on this, the first picture the students upload could be soldiers, who give their perspectives, then perhaps family at home, then perhaps the generals who sent orders to attack the beach etc. If you haven’t heard of Blabberize have a play it is great fun, Vokis can be used in the same ways. A voki is an avatar that you create and then speak through.

Strath Taieri Wiki

Addie at Strath Taieri is using the class wiki to share the weekly homework with the class, she has made a homework blog to do this and has put the blog into the class wiki in an Iframe. This decision was made so that the homework files did not need to be managed and the students could see the homework sheet without having to download it, also the blog made it easier for the student to comment on the homework or perhaps share sites etc that helped them to complete their homework with their classmates. The senior class are doing speeches. The plan is to use a video camera to record the speeches and then share these on the class wiki. Warwick the classroom teacher liked the use of video exemplars for assessment he saw in Andrea of DNI’s Action Research Project last year at the Mini-Conference.

I Frame- Blogs in Wikis at St Leonard's School

At St Leonards two of the classes have been using wikis in 2009. Both had decided over time that they would like a place to put news or share work. As time went on they wanted to archive this work and things had started to get messy. Their wikis were not originally intended to have this information on them but as their skills have grown they now wanted to use them in this way. A blog is really a better tool to use to update news and have it archived as the blog does this for you. So we made two blogs and went over how these worked which was easy for these teachers as they were able to relate the skills and understandings from their wiki to learn to blog. The parents are well trained to visit the wiki and they didn’t want to manage two online spaces. We could have linked the blog into the wiki with a button but we decided to use an Iframe. We used some html code to put a window in the wiki which you could see and interact with the blog through. Check them out, they look great. Room 1 and Room 3.

Lianne at St Leonards has been thinking about using her class wiki for news board, she will get students to write onto the wiki and at the top of the writing she will write DRAFT so parents know it has not been checked by the teacher. Thanks to our National Facilitator Jill for this idea.

We talked about then using the children’s writing at newsboard to edit this work as a class, taking responsibility for the wiki’s presentation as a class. This would mean Lianne doesn’t have to do this after school in her preparation time and the students benefit from an authentic editing experience as newsboard time.

Instructions at Lee Stream

I had a great day at Lee Stream working with a group of students on Comic Life. Bilinda has a great system set up for the students to coach/teach one another ICT skills related to different tasks. Bilinda teaches a small group of students to do something, they work with peers to teach these skills until everyone in the class can do/use whatever the target learning was.

I worked with the students to teach instructional writing. Comic Life is great for teaching anything procedural or sequential. We made finger puppets and the students took photos of each step in the process and then used these pictures to make their comics. I had planned to then use the puppets in graphic narratives using comic life but not everyone had time to do this. I’ve taught instructional writing several times without using photography and it is very difficult for the children to remember the steps in the process. I think in taking the photos they can recall and understand the concept of a step in the process, as it forces you to pay attention to what is changing each time you take a picture. I was really impressed with the comics the students made; we put these on their school wiki (which is a closed protected space) for family to look at.

Outram Term 2 2010

I had two really positive days at Outram School this term. There was a noticeable development of a positive attitude, improvement and excitement about the work we were doing from all staff. Many staff members had new teacher laptops that seemed to almost have them singing, they were so pleased to retire their old laptops after years of report writing and lesson planning they were not what they used to be.

Many teachers are using audio recording to meet students’ needs in writing. Writing is the school’s focus for all of their action research projects this year. Stacy is using this both to motivate and support some writers in her class. She observed how powerful this audio recording is for her as a teacher also. When she is marking the children's work she can hear exactly what they have tried to write. I’m sure many teachers particularly junior teachers, have had experiences of having no idea what the students writing says when they come to read the work. This enables Stacy to mark the work and identify what to bring up with the students without having to decode the writing with the student. This avoids a situation that can so often result in the child feeling as though they have failed, as their message is illegible to the teacher. The independence and success the student is experiencing is having a positive effect on their attitude to writing.

Audio as a tool to scaffold students

At Liberton Christian School Alan is working on an Action Research project with students during writing. He has selected some students to use audio recording during the composition of their story. The students will record their stories orally and then play these back while they write this message down. This supports students to be independent writers, separating the tasks of content generation and remembering their message from actually transcribing their story. We also discussed other strategies that effective writers use particularly self-talk. Alan will make up a self-talk sheet to prompt these students to try to scaffold themselves through challenges before appealing to peers or the teacher.

Hermione the Year 3 and 4 teacher is also using audio recording in her action research. She will be recording herself and some selected students reading text and will put these onto her class wiki. The students will be able to listen to these at school and home to become familiar with the text and to independently manage their learning when they are not with the teacher.

Applying knowledge at Ravensbourne School

Ravensbourne School is has both PC and Mac computers. The children in the senior room are more familiar with the Mac computers and know many shortcut keys. Much of this knowledge is transferable to the PC, most shortcut keys are the same as Mac but instead of using the apple (command) key you use the control. The task I set the children was to make their own posters help-sheets on the PC computer with the shortcut keys for both computers in a t chart.

One thing I noticed, when observing the students making these posters about shortcut keys, was that some of them were not using the shortcut keys to their advantage in this task. I stopped them and pointed this out, there is no point having knowledge if you cannot or do not apply it when appropriate. For these students they realised why knowing the shortcut keys would benefit them and were worth remembering. I loved working with these students they were so enthusiastic and worked so well together.

Later I worked with the junior class and their teacher, taking digital photos with the cameras and learning to load these onto the computers in their classroom. We also did some work on comic life. The ideas was that there will be something the children can do independently with their pictures while the teacher is taking groups etc. Comic life lets students tell a story through images, perfect for New Entrant children who can attempt to write using the speech bubbles but their story is still obvious in the sequencing of the images.

Time Lapse at NEVNS

The teachers at NEVNS are working with various blogs and wikis. One teacher is well on her way to putting together an interesting action research project.

Tracey wants to monitor independent on task behaviours during reading time. She is doing lots of things to improve and scaffold independence at reading time, but what is different is how she is measuring this. She has been using time-lapse photography in the classroom. The class had a chrysalis which they set up next to a webcam and used a free download from Powertools Webcam Timershot (get at the bottom of the page). If you have a Mac the free download Gawker can do the same thing. If you want to learn more about time-lapse photography click here.

So time-lapse photography will be set up in the classroom to collect the data at the beginning of the research and then again at the end monitoring on task independent behaviour. What an easy and engaging way to monitor actions over time.

Another teacher Michael is presenting his action research project at another school outside of our cluster in a staff meeting. They are interested in buying interactive whiteboards, screen or projectors and to help them think about how they will make the most out of these resources Michael will share his journey about ways he used his screen in the classroom during the 2009 school year.

2010 at GSNS

I have visited GSNS three times so far this year but have seen many of the teachers also at some of the Expert Workshops. There has been a lot of new equipment purchased by the school so teachers are learning lots of new things. Each classroom has a new Ipod touch which they are learning to use as a staff. At this stage everyone is working to get these to sync with their computers and learning their way around the world of ipods, itunes, applications etc. Later the teachers should be able to receive news and updates around the school when they are on the move. Teachers are beginning to plan their ‘Teacher Inquiries’ (action research) projects for the year. There are a few more blogs that have been started and these are being used increasingly with the students as the blog authors. Some blogs are being used for reflection on learning in senior classes. Although all of the students reflect on their learning, a few are selected to publish their reflections on the blog, as a reflector of the day.

Many teachers used their time with me to try to solve problems they have been having with equipment compatibility. Different cameras often create files that are not always compatible with their computer software or applications they want to use on the Internet. This can be very frustrating and is something to be mindful of when you purchase new equipment. One useful and free tool to use to convert files so they are compatible for your uses is Zamzar. It is an online site that you can upload a file to, select what you want the file to become and you are sent an email when the site has completed this change. You have 24 hours from the time you receive your email to download your converted file.

Although file problems is a frustrating way to be introduced to files types, this was an effective lesson for teachers in paying attention to the file type and realising that file problems such as these are often what is causing their problems. On a Microsoft Word document for example .doc is the file extension. The file extension tells the computer, which programme can open that file. Getting to know and paying attention to these file extensions is a good habit to get into.