After the excitement of nearly 3 years of BYOD at Orewa College it seems like time to catch my breath and reflect on the highlights. I have found myself in a place where using devices to transform teaching and learning has become the norm and, while I’m still loving it, I feel like I’m on a plateau. Perhaps it’s a good time to reflect before the next wave of inspiration and excitement crashes over me.
1. Getting my iPad
This was a transformative event in my life, I took to this device like the proverbial duck to water. I spent hours each day downloading apps that I could use to enhance my personal life. As a musician I was excited about using Garageband to write and record music and the Smart Budget app is still a favourite to help keep my love of shopping under control. It was great to have time to explore before beginning to teach with a device.
After I had learnt to use my device for personal reasons I began to find apps that could be used for teaching and learning. My colleagues and I used to annoy our workmates, who didn’t yet have a device, with our excited chatter about the apps we had found and how they could be used.
2. Using Google Docs
I first used Google Docs to get my year 9 class to write an essay collaboratively. It was not without challenges as, at the time, the website didn’t work well on an iPad and was quite glitchy. But we found a way around it and the class enjoyed seeing what each other were writing in real time as I projected it on the whiteboard. They also enjoyed making silly comments!
I haven’t used Google Docs this way for a while but when my learners are doing collaborative work I encourage them to work on a GD. My older learners who don’t bring a device to school are encouraged to use GD also so they can access the document at home and at school. Our department frequently use Google Drive to share and collaborate.
3. Making Film Trailers
What I love about the iPad is that if you want your class to use a certain app you need to know how to use it yourself. I made a film trailer about my class making film trailers so that I would know how to use it. I didn’t teach the class how to use it but learnt alongside them. We discovered stuff together which was cool because I was asking them questions and they would ask me also. We enjoyed the exchange of ideas.
4. Discovering Twitter
This has been the tool that has really helped me to accelerate my skills as a teacher. Being able to build a PLN of like-minded people has encouraged me to read more, share ideas, and try new things. In short, Twitter has inspired and I believe I am a better teacher as a result.
5. Project Based Learning
I read about PBL quite a while before I heard about SAMR and was pleasantly surprised to realise that PBL definitely covered the modification and redefinition parts of the SAMR model. My learners have really enjoyed PBL and it has engaged them more fully because they have choice about their learning, they can work in groups and they also have a voice. I love viewing their presentations, whether they be in front of the class or online.
6. Redefining with The Learning Matrix
After an early PBL failure I decided that some learners, who were not as self motivated as others, needed more guidance. The Blooms/Gardners Learning Matrix covered this need very well. It works hand in hand with a PBL set up and is particularly effective with middle-school aged learners. Combined with a device, learners are able to create a range of artefacts that showcase what they have learnt.
7. Creating using iBook Author
After years of using a Windows PC, I swapped to a Macbook Pro with iBook Author and was very excited to be able to begin creating interactive books. My first one was a copy and paste version but I did include my own photos!
I then created my own Romeo and Juliet study guide which I entered into a competition and came 1st equal. This included my own notes, photos and even a short opening movie which has an original song on it – created on Garageband. I remember thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if I could record a song and then make a little movie with images to put into the iBook. Then the realisation hit me that I actually could!
My most recent iBook is called Fundamentally Flipped which is full of info that can be used in English for flipped lessons. This is for sale on the iBook store.
8. Presenting at conferences
A few years ago I remember sitting in a staff meeting watching a colleague present and thinking: man, I hope I never have to do that! Well, I have had to do that many times since at our own school conferences, at a staff meeting, in front of HODS and at other conferences around Auckland. This would never have happened without the introduction of BYOD and the transformation in teaching and learning that I have experienced.
It’s not a career path that I particularly aspire to but it has certainly been worth doing and I’m pleased to have had the experiences.
9. Modern furniture
As Orewa College has begun transforming its teaching and learning, we have also begun to transform our learning spaces. I have had the pleasure of a classroom makeover this year. Gone are all the dull blue desks and chairs, instead my room is populated with couches, colourful tables and chairs, and even a whiteboard table. My learners love the transformation and have commented on how it makes them feel happy when entering the class. I have to say that it makes me happy also!
Having 1:1 devices enables each of our learners to create a digital portfolio to store artefacts they create, reflections, and assessments. All year 11 NCEA assessments this year have been published on a WordPress blog and links will be sent to NZQA for moderation. To keep track of all our students’ blogs we store the links either on Pearltrees or Get the Links.
My iPad has made it easier for me to blog also. As I write I am sitting in my nice warm lounge with my feet up, slippers on, watching tv. It’s 7pm and I guess I’m working but it doesn’t feel like work. I love writing!
So, upon reflection, even though I’m feeling that I’m on a bit of a plateau, I have had quite an eventful and exciting few years. I guess it’s okay to have a bit of a lull, I can always blog about it.