This blog is a reflection on what I have done with my BYOD classes over the last 2 years and how I have done it. It also details what I hope to focus on in the near future.
Where I’m at
Over the last 2 years I have realised that it is extremely important to have all my resources available on our LMS, the Ultranet. This means that I am prepared for every lesson because when a student has finished a unit of work they are able to begin the next unit regardless of whether the rest of the class are finished or not. It allows students to work at their own pace and allows for differentiation in the class.
Parents are also able to access these resources and help their child, if needed. I often have parents emailing me to say that their child will be away and asking what work they can do at home. I am able to point them to the Ultranet to access the work and let them know which slides of a PowerPoint that we are working on in the periods that their child will miss.
Students and parents are able to see a description of assignments and also when assignments are due with the Task Bar. The students really like the visual representation of the bar as it starts green and then nearer the time the work is due it turns red to warn them that time is nearly up.
Where to now?
I have heaps of resources on the Ultranet and some of my pages look like the ‘scroll of death’! My next plan will be to tidy up my pages and organise the information so it is easier to look at.
Learning Activities: SAMR
Where I’m at
At the beginning of our BYOD journey I was definitely in the Substitution phase of SAMR which was to be expected. I remember the first thing that I created for my year 9 class was a type on workbook for the study of the novel, The Cay by Theodore Taylor. I modified it slightly by including links to websites, and images that moved. Later on that year I moved into the Augmentation phase by having my class complete surveys on Survey Monkey. We also used Google Docs to collectively write an essay which was projected on the whiteboard so we could all see the essay being written. We have modified many tasks in our department, especially our Wide Reading tasks. Insteading of filling in a template, students can now use apps to create newspaper articles; use iMovie to make book or film trailers and digital essays. These are just a few of the activities and they are so much more engaging for them.
Project Based Learning and the use of 1:1devices has allowed Redefinition of tasks. My students now complete much more group work than I have ever encouraged before and they are developing 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity to name a few. The inclusion of a Driving Question gives a focus to the work that they are doing. Researching, creating a product, and presenting it to an audience has become seamless with the use of devices.This year I created an iBook for the study of The Cay for students to download and use as a textbook. They also completed an activity matrix based on Blooms taxonomy and Gardner’s intelligences.
Where to next?
I am enjoying teaching and learning the PBL way and I want to continue doing this and becoming more effective. I will continue to read relevant literature and trial different ideas. Of course I will also be reflecting on my journey via this blog also.
My role in the classroom.
Where I’m at
At the beginning of this year I ditched my desk because I wanted to become more of a roaming teacher. I felt that it was too easy when students were on task doing something for me to retreat behind my desk and get lost in the world of marking. It was quite a change and I found it took me a whole term to get used to, but I would not go back now. I still have times where I sit in my armchair and catch up on myself while my students are working but I do spend a lot more time interacting with my class. This has positive spin offs: I get to know my students better and build better relationships with them. As a result I have found that classroom management is not as big an issue as it has been in previous years. This is not just because I ditched the desk but also because the students are more engaged because of their devices.
I have never been that good at standing and delivering in front of the class for a long period of time so I am pleased that I am no longer expected to! I am much happier being the guide on the side so long may this philosophy continue to be fashionable! Having devices has enabled the students to be more creative and they now have the internet at their fingertips so I don’t have to be in charge of knowledge. Very liberating!
Where to from here?
I would love to have a go at team teaching. It would be great to knock out a wall in between 2 classrooms and have a sliding door that could be closed when appropriate. I would love to share the teaching of 2-3 classes to give the students the shared versatility and experience of 2 teachers. It would also be great to have funky chairs and tables, bean bags and ottomans to create a modern learning environment for our students. It would be interesting to see the impact on the students and ourselves as teachers.
What sort of ‘artefacts’ are my students producing in their learning?
At the beginning of 2012 my students were producing typed essays and the ocassional Keynote to showcase their work. More recently my students have been creating their own books using Book Creator; films using iMovies; presentations using Keynote and have reflected on their learning using Blogs. They have created posters using Phoster or Piccollage; made Educreations presentations to teach an aspect of the work studied and created word clouds using, you guessed it, Wordcloud!
It is fantastic to have so many apps and websites to create and showcase work!
After attending a conference last year called Making it Mobile, I learnt about creating a Blooms/Gardners Matrix of activities for students to complete as part of the unit of work. This matrix is completed in small groups and each activity is assigned a point value with the highest points awarded to the higher level thinking activities. Students are given a due date and then are able to choose which activities to complete and they can work at their own pace as long as they complete a certain amount of points. On the matrix I added the apps or websites they could use to complete each activity. The work is then collated and presented via a choice of apps such as Keynote/PowerPoint, BookCreator or their blog.
I don’t have students completing matrices for every unit of work as this would be boring but I have included them in 2 units this year.
I am an enthusiastic advocate for collaboration so my students collaborate in most units of work. This has the benefit of allowing them to share ideas and brainstorm together. They then learn valuable skills such as conflict resolution and working effectively with others. I often get them to reflect on how well their group is working together on their blogs so then I am able to find out if anyone is not pulling their weight and help the group to deal with it. Some students don’t like working in groups so they can work in a pair or by themselves. I think it is important to cater for those who like to work alone.
Learning Intentions and Success Criteria.
How are my students reflecting on their learning, level of thinking and setting goals when they are working independently?
As part of one matrix I created I included a link to the Edutopia website which had a quiz on learning styles. The students completed the quiz and then had to explain which of the learning styles best reflected them and explain why they believed that. The students really enjoyed finding this out.
I found some great reflection questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy from Peter Pappas so 2-3 times during a unit of work I get my students to answer some of these questions on their blogs. This gives me an insight into how they are finding the work and where they are up to.
This term I plan to trial Genius Time. This idea originated at the Google headquarters where it was called 20% time. The employees are given 20% of their work time to research something that they are interested in. Many schools have adopted this idea and it is called a variety of things such as Passion Hour or Genius Hour. Because my students will be doing it for the last 2-3 weeks of school I have chosen to call it Genius Time.
The plan is to introduce the idea and show some examples and then have students choose something to research. They will present their research to the class at the end of the term and we will have a shared lunch to celebrate their work. The students can choose to present their work using Book Creator, their blog, iMovie or Keynote.