Stop Teaching – Start Learning

lecture

Do you ever teach a class?

By ‘teach’ I mean talk to the whole class to share instruction or discuss content. If the answer is yes, then I would like to examine your aims in doing so. The three common reasons for talking to a whole class are:

  • Task instruction;
  • Delivery of content/concept/facts;
  • Class discussion.

I believe that only the first of these 3 can be said to succeed in it’s aims and even then fails often. All forms of learning should offer equal opportunity to all, not only to be involved but succeed in the learning intentions. Every learner deserves to maximise their time available to ensure they definitely learn and grow. People are different and so any one-size-fits-all mechanism is guaranteed to fail to be fair to all. I have spoken to people of all ages who agree that teacher verbal + visuals delivery of content to a large audience (more than 5) only suits a small minority who can focus, retain and process the information as it is shared. Photo Credit

Let’s examine each one in turn.

A. Task instruction

A task instruction should be 5 minutes at most. Even if a list of instructions are verbally delivered to the class, at least they are static, surface level information that can hopefully be easily repeated and spread through the class by the learners themselves. I’ve seen many teachers upset that tasks were not carried out as per instruction but this is solved by ensuring their is a mechanism or practice designed to receive and record the instructions. This is the least of our worries.

B. Delivery of content (big topic!)

Question: Why is traditional class teaching / lecturing still so popular?

Answer: It’s the easiest option available to any teacher. They know their topics, they know their script, they did the same lecture last year (most of the time) and thus it requires no preparation, no planning of student activity, no thought as to the current relevance of the content and in most schools, nobody will complain as students will be blamed for not ‘studying’ if they fail. Easy!

An important aim should be that every moment in the development of young people in schools is fully inclusive. Even the idea that a variety of teaching techniques is ok suggests that waisting the time of 50% of learners for 40 minutes is ok as we’ll cater for them later on. This is not good education.

Stop Teaching - @iPadwells

10 assumptions behind teaching a whole class (single-point delivery of content) are that:

  1. All listeners are listening. If they’re not, that’s their fault.
  2. If listening, all listeners can absorb information at the same pace.
  3. All students will be present for this once-a-year performance. If not, too bad.
  4. All listeners understand at the same level. (Your delivery caters for both slow and fast processors equally)
  5. All listeners only require the one delivery (or you’ll be repeating yourself any number of times)
  6. All learners hold the courage to stop you and ask questions publicly (Self esteem has no impact on learning)
  7. There’s not much that can be done as some learners are just better at ‘learning’.
  8. Delivery style can make teaching ‘entertaining’ and thus work for most. (after all, you can’t cater for all)
  9. Students ask for lectures, they like them and these requests have nothing to do with a desire to passively disengage during the teacher’s ‘performance’
  10. Some kids are just cut out for school more than others and can concentrate. That’s life!

Even if you accept that only some of the assumptions above are not true then you have to accept that by not catering for all, delivery of content to any audience larger than about 5 people, fails immediately in it’s aim to include all in the learning. Education must move on and take much more flexible, student-centred forms if it is to fulfil its aims for all learners.

First Step

The next question for most teachers is: how can I get through all this content whilst catering for all types of learners and offering flexibility?

Your first step into student-centred learning is to remove the one-size-fits-all delivery and “Flip” the content online. Flipped teaching is a few years old now and has been presented as a structured programme of: “watch the lesson for homework, then do activity in class.” I prefer to not structure it so much. Once I’ve said and shown what I need online, I can feel confident to handover the designing of activities to the student.

Some students share headphones to watch the teaching videos in class, some watch at home and some don’t need the lesson at all. Everyone goes at their own pace and I challenge the whole class to only prove certain understandings or solve certain problems. The time freed up by not teaching the whole class allows me to dedicate all my time to individuals or small groups requesting extra assistance. This also allows the students to involve more people outside the class in their projects.

First App – Teach the way you’ve always done but more efficiently.

Here’s a little intro into the Explain Everything App. My first Flipping tool 2 years ago. All teachers need to know their year long courses are actually only 3 hours of teaching, once you remove the pauses,  tangents, diagram-drawing time, mistakes etc. I’ve recorded 7 high school courses for ages 14 to 18 and they all came under 3 hours. 1st time Flipped teachers don’t know what to do with themselves.

i4S-Explain Everything-iPadWells

C: Class Discussion

This is a grey area and can depend on the skills of the teacher. Designing how the discussion will include all and then how to manage the discussion as it takes place is tricky.  Very few people have the skills to really have everyone in the room feeling confident they can be involved. Large group discussion can be heavily influenced by personalities, which can act as obstacles to the aim that all learn equally. Unless you divide the room into smaller discussion groups and help structure how each individual will feel included, discussion can rarely succeed in all its aims.

Conclusion

If your young or old learners have devices, they are free to access your teaching when and however it suits them. It is time to open up learning as something they do in life, tackle and enjoy together and not just something they receive from a single point at a single time. Learning is also something every teacher should be doing and it is most important that every teacher model good learning behaviour. Technology has quickly changed the educational landscape and it’s time for all teachers to learn to navigate and be part of this landscape.

I posted more ideas about why this is important here: iPad Teaching is NOT about iPads

Teacher’s iPad 2015

iPadWells iPadDuring this coming academic year, the iPad will celebrate it’s 5th birthday. I decided to take a look at my own iPad and what systems, apps and activities fill up my school day as an iPad teacher 5 years on. I’ve produced a breakdown of my home screen and realised it can be summarised in 5 points.

  1. Being relevant as a professional
  2. Being relevant to my students
  3. Collaboration with students
  4. Collaboration with teachers
  5. Production of Interactive material.

My teaching emphasises the fact that I’m still a learner and still creative. I overtly discuss this with my students every week and showcase my own productions amongst their various presentations. I also showcase my collaborations with other teachers and the fact that reflecting on my professional life on my blog is important to personal growth.

I’m very proud that creative writing, Music, Art, Media and Coding all have a presence in my iPad teaching. You’ll also notice that each of the major social websites are utilised for different reasons.

I hope it helps some teachers new to professional iPadding. For more information about how I use the apps, use the search facility on the blog.

i4S 2015 iPad

 

POSTER: 20C to 21C Learning

I was asked by Tanya Avrith (@edtechschools) for some graphics to illustrate the new approach to teaching young people in the 21st Century and how the source of information and how we build knowledge has changed. I thought I’d rework them into a poster (as I normally do :-) and post it. Here it is:

I4S-FillingTheVessel-iPadWells

Bring schools to life with Aurasma app

The Magic of Bringing Information to life.

AurasmaI’m assuming you’ve seen at least one of the eight Harry Potter films. In the films, one everyday magical experience is that photos are always moving as if they were video screens, even though they are ‘printed’ on paper. Newspaper photos act out the news event as film too, whilst you walk down the road reading. It seems so magical and yet, like so many things these days , there’s an app for that!

The Aurasma App (free) allows you to create what’s known as Augmented Reality (Real life with extra info added)

Here’s a great intro into the world of Augmented Reality.

And here’s Aurasma’s own demo video of it in action:

Before I take you though how to make your own, let’s look at the potential uses for learning.

Lets start with possible posters on the walls around your school or classroom that come to life and

  1. welcome visitors and introduce the school.
  2. animate mathematical problems being solved.
  3. explain how to use school equipment (useful in my technology or science classrooms)
  4. bring famous people from history to life with students acting out their most famous moments or words.
  5. explain famous paintings on demand
  6. introduce apps with demos of students using them.

What about the school newsletters? Every photo could be the first frame of a video and showcase performances and sporting moments.

What about worksheets or project introduction sheets that come to life and guide the students through the process.

The possibilities are endless! The idea that all those posters that have been unnoticed on classroom walls for decades could now offer a real interactive experience on demand is really exciting!

Getting started with your first “Auras”

Below is a step-by-step guide but here are the essentials:

  1. Record a video using the iPad’s Camera or animation app like iMotionHD.
  2. Pause the video on the first frame to grab a screenshot of it for the poster
  3. Make a poster using your screenshot and add words, titles and the Aurasma logo to indicate it being interactive but also to make the poster’s layout unique enough to be recognised by the app.
  4. Run through the process in the guide below of adding the video to Aurasma and taking a photo of your finished poster as the ‘trigger’ image.
  5. When finished, name your aura and add it to a class / school channel within you free Aurasma account. This will make it public for the students to subscribe to in their Aurasma apps and so interact with all the posters in the class / school.

I will have a fun 2014 with this app. Here’s the guide: (PNG links to PDF)

School Aurasma

And thanks to Serena Davies (@serenadavies1), here’s the info in Welsh!….

School Aurasma-Welsh

A Teacher’s 3 Twitter Accounts

shareButtonTwitter is the simplest system available to interact with the web and share resources. Twitter is built into the iPad’s operating system and so an account allows you to share any photo, website or resource immediately without fuss. Its system is the opposite to Facebook and expects you to operate numerous accounts for different purposes. Once you have something to share, the iPad will allow you to pick which account to Tweet with and thus which group will receive it. Below are 3 account ideas for how iPad teachers can get the most from Twitter.

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@EDUCATOR – Tweet as an Educator

TwitterAcThe first account is your ‘Educator’s’ account (mine’s @iPadWells) with which you interact with other teachers and share resources. This is the account you build your personal learning network with and discuss matters and ideas with other educators. Here’s a list of the benefits and uses for this account:

  1. Follow other like-minded teachers doing exciting things.
  2. Follow the world leaders in education to inspire your pedagogy and approach to teaching.
  3. Ask teachers directly how they achieved success in their classroom.
  4. Share your own teaching resources and inspire others.
  5. Share photos of good practice and successes in your classroom.
  6. Share useful websites, video links that have inspired you.
  7. Follow your subject’s multiple hashtags such as #EngChat for English teachers.
  8. Follow the weekly chat hours for teachers in your geographical area or school subject such as #EdChatNZ for New Zealand teachers or #1to1TeChat for 1 to 1 device teachers.

@TEACHER – Tweet as a classroom teacher

TwitterTeachCreate an account for your classroom activities with your students.  Use this for quick, live sharing of photos and and resources to the kids you teach. It’s important to remember that it’s available to the whole world but can be useful for creating a live news feed of the work going on in your classroom. This account is separate to your professional connections so as to not annoy other teachers with day-to-day classroom activity. Here’s a list of classroom uses:

  1. Take photos of good student work during any day. Sets example to others.
  2. Share a new resource or website discovered during the day for students to try or read.
  3. Share websites and video links for class preparation and future lessons.
  4. A Dropbox account allows you to instantly share links to your files too. Great for those last minute things you forgot to pre-upload.
  5. Senior students can use this account to ask extra questions directly after a lesson either publicly or privately.
  6. A class or topic #Hashtag can instantly create a discussion group.
  7. Senior classes can set up small group accounts with which they can easily blog their progress with all 4 or 5 students logged-in and sharing their team’s project.

@Dept – Tweet as a Department or School

TwitterDeptThis is something I’m just setting up now. All the staff in my department (15 Tech teachers) can now publish the successes as a department. This works well for many schools but I think it’s going to be useful to present my subject of Technology as a team effort and as such, create a stream of examples for both the students and the staff to see. It will be important though to make staff aware of issues regarding privacy, spam and general good social media conduct.

Here’s the list of ideas so far:

  1. All colleagues get to see best practice within the same department / school. This is great for starting professional conversations in the staffroom.
  2. Parents can follow if they have their own account or just view the account’s web page to see great work completed or in progress,
  3. Students get to see what’s going on in your area of the school and this helps future choices of subjects and careers.
  4. The best work in one classroom can inspire those next door.
  5. Announcements that effect more than one class can be given using this account. Good for trips and deadlines and last minute changes.

Conclusion

The whole iPad is now designed to be the perfect management tool for organising these 3 streams of information as you go through your day. Activity on one account can influence what you do with the others. The Twitter system is simple and a great start for those new to iPadding or professional use of social media. It doesn’t have the considered organisation of running a website or blog but for minute-by-minute live updates and interaction with like-minded individuals, it’s perfect! Connect your accounts within the iPad’s settings and connect your teaching with the world.

Here’s the summary Poster (PNG links to PDF with links)

Teachers 3 Twitter Accs

Managing those iPad videos

VIDEO IS THE NEW PEN! (…and it’s mightier too!)

The thought makes many people think the world has ended but for 21st Century kids, videoing their thoughts and creations and experiences and then publishing it to the world is as easy as picking up a pen. In fact, most are more likely to have a device ready to film, edit, add subtitles and music than a pen or pencil. I like to think we only ever used pens because we didn’t have a video camera in our pocket, sorry if that upsets anyone. For example, my kids do write poems but performing them as videos makes them really think about the effect their words have on an audience.

MANAGING THE NEW PEN’S SCRIBBLINGS (How to manage all the video)

The new issue that everyone in education is how to manage and share all this video content. I have all my colleagues and students uploading to the same account. The teachers use this one account for videos:

  1. Recorded by their iPads
  2. Recorded by Student iPads (Teacher Logs-in, uploads, logs-out)
  3. Explain Everything (App) whiteboard lessons
  4. Video tutorials for practical tasks
  5. Youtube videos discovered on Youtube itself and added to course “Playlists”

This allows the teachers to manage all the videos from one place. It also helps them share ideas and showcase work between classrooms. Here’s a 3-page outline to how we do it using Youtube’s management tools.

managing-ipad-videos

How to organise an iPadded Department.

NUTSHELL_Dept_iPads

I recently became head of a large enough department that centrally organising media and resources as a department has become more important. It’s also nice as the manager to see this organised media to get an overview of what’s being taught. The starting point is to setup a department Google (gmail) account. This account then operates many systems for sharing files, videos and pictures. All the staff can then permanently log in to several apps and systems and load, share and view the department files at the touch of a button.

app-flickrFlickr allows the Google login and offers brilliant editing and organising tools for photos. The album sets can be used for either courses or topics. They can then be embeded in your school LMS systems or any website as a slideshow. I run a weekly update on a class’s project work by simply taking the photos of work with my iPad and uploading them into the existing course album, knowing they will appear in the schools Website/LMS. This is a great solution of your school systems don’t do iPad uploading particularly successfully. Because the uploading is easy, staff are more willing to do it and:

A) The HOD gets a regular update of activity.

B) Student work is showcased more often

C) Marketing the courses becomes much easier.

YouTube-for-iOS-app-icon-full-sizeYoutube is well known but with all my department’s iPads permanently logged into by all teaching staff, videos of student work, video lessons, and course playlists start to appear much more readily. The iPad’s camera, iMovie and most other video apps will stay logged in and upload immediately, including Explain Everything (Whiteboard App). See my Help Docs like this one or this one to get more setup information.

dropbox_iconMany school servers are difficult to access from iPads and sharing files across the department without lots of emails is challenging. Dropbox is a solution that works well on iPads and shared folders are easy to setup and free. Using the Department Gmail account you can setup a free department Dropbox account and use it to share folders will all the department staff’s own dropboxes. This makes sharing any type of file between iPads much easier as the department folders appear in everyone’s dropbox and nearly all apps will send material and files to the Dropbox app to share with the department.

Google-Drive-iPad-Icon_thumbShared documents for group editing. The creation of Department policy docs, for example, is often a shared duty for a number of department members. With the same Department Google account, you are offered Google Docs (Online Office apps). The new Google Drive app now edits Google Docs and Spreadsheets on the iPad. This is also good form recording Meeting minutes and agendas.

Poster: 21stC Mobile Social Learning

Here’s my summary of how I aim to teach but appreciate this will change rapidly over the years.

…and thanks to Nicolas Chauvin (@nxchauvin) for this French translation:

Lapprentissagesocial

New Flipped vs Old Flipped

IPads in classrooms offer such a new learning environment that they demand a shift from the idea of students being passive receivers of learning and demand real engagement and learning ownership by the students themselves. However, even the original 90s design of the Flipped Classroom designed by pioneers like Eric Mazur is still teacher centred. Although students are individually watching the video lessons in their own time and at their own pace and then arrive in class with more specific questions, the approach is still driven by the teacher and focused on the linear course of study that the teacher designs to start at point A, travel through to point Z and then sit an exam in that specific content. This is the Flipped Classroom that receives attacks from teachers as just “lecturing in disguise.”

This original version of Flipped Classroom is an improvement on the one-size-fits-all traditional lecturing but does not encourage students to take full responsibility for their learning. It still demands that every student follow exactly the same linear path through fixed content and pushes the idea that to learn, you must follow your teacher.

This is not how I have Flipped or why I have Flipped.

I have all my teaching of both concepts and skills videoed so the students are free from a linear, fixed path and can get on with exploring larger projects of their own design, knowing everything is there when they might need it. The students work on at least month-long projects, which demand real-world focus and problem-solving. The students design their own projects within criteria that I design that keep expectations high. These projects, for example must be managed in a professional sense.

Quick Example:

If I was an English teacher (from the quality of my writing, you can guess I’m not), I would video my teaching of writing techniques, themes, composition and writing narrative using examples etc. The students would then start writing and publishing online as quickly as possible. They receive informed feedback from their fellow students comparing elements with the examples in my videos. I could then just monitor the discussion both in the classroom and online. I would then point individual students to specific videos based on either their work or feedback, if I felt they didn’t understand an idea or skill. The students could then develop quality literature, poetry and articles and collate the work together in digital books, blogs or even publish to Amazon. This personalised approach makes writing seem more real and meaningful. Teamwork’s also made much more significant when students are in the driving seat.

Removing the traditional class teaching from the process is still important as it frees up time for both teacher and student, allowing everyone to get on with in-depth, creative projects that are driven by personal interests. Any exam or test material is covered by the videos and students can request one-to-one tutorials on lesser-understood topics if needed. My exam results are much improved whilst the students’ class time is much more engaging. I even allow the students to manage their own time and do not demand that they use their Computer Science 50 minute period to work on Computer Science. If they’ve got important physics work to do, they do it. They know when my project deadlines are and stick to them.

Flipped teaching is crucial in giving time back to the students to get on with more creative work but should not be seen as just simply a twist on the traditional teaching model. The student output should be of a high standard and should only reflect an understanding of the videos’ topics, not mirror them exactly. Specifically, no two students should ever produce the same output!

My version of Flipped is not a 20th Century teacher replacement but an opportunity for real 21st Century practice.

A 21C Teacher in a 20C School

I teach to the exam. There, I’ve said it!  After all, doesn’t everyone smile when the student gets an A grade? Isn’t graduating what’s life’s all about?
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But what does A mean?
It means that when given:

  1. An exam date;
  2. A fixed list of topics and themes;
  3. Last minute, panicked revision;
  4. A table and paper in a large silent hall;  ..the student can perform! Wow!

Thank God, life outside schools and every workplace is both silent, organised in straight rows and has no technology beyond the pencil! Thank God working life only means working alone within fixed boundaries. ….Oh that’s right, it’s not. And many of these A grade students prove to be useless when given any creative challenge in a real workplace scenario, something universities and employers complain about. Fortunately most develop many skills outside school that allow them to cope.

Solution: Make the exam the side-project

One joy of working in this crappy system of 20th Century factory education is that now with the Internet and video I can record each of my full-year courses’ exam lessons into about 4 hours! Yes, 4 hours and yes, it’s the full course of teaching! See this for details.

The direct teaching of the exam is now outside the classroom. I can ask them to complete an amount of the course by a certain date and check this with traditional assessment while they spend all the class time working on a related project of their choosing and design. If there’s a practical element to the course then all projects and time can be based on this practical work, within the context of a real-world scenario.

These projects can be long, the whole year for all I care! They can also work in groups if it suits. As long as the project is engaging for the student and they take real ownership over it. They should also set their own check points to monitor their own progress. Ownership, creativity and variety is what the iPad does best. Hopefully the project connects directly with the outside world directly. I like to pitch the possibility of making money in any area using the internet. For example, any student can publish a book for free.

Examples: (Off the top of my head)

  1. Biology: Produce a set of videos covering the relevant experiments to compile in an ebook to sell online.
  2. Geography: Film a documentary on the local geography for the school to use.
  3. Computing: Make $million with your first iPad app!!! (I heard the “Pocket Whip” app was making $30,000 a week and it doesn’t do much!)
  4. Mathematics: Learn how to produce a website of embedded web-based Maths tools that your peers need for the course you’re all doing.
  5. English: Publish a short story on Amazon that contains the same themes as X.

Conclusion

The important thing is that they are engaged in your subject and see the exam as an unfortunate extra rather than the whole reason for school. If they need to learn how to do something during their project, they find it themselves on the internet  (this is what they should do, it’s what we do!) or if the teacher can help then great, as the teacher now has time to work one-to-one!