The Connected Classrooms Challenge

i4S-The Connected Class Challenge

EXISTING SKILLS

How might we develop young people’s obsession and engagement with social media and texting into a deep desire to learn and create together?

My first thought is to ask why people become so obsessed. In my digital citizenship programme, we cover social media addiction and why it effects people of all ages. One key issue is that when a post or message is sent into the system to people who can’t be physically seen, the unknown amount of time it might take for a reply keeps people watching. We all want to be appreciated and of course “Liked!”

HOOKED ON CONNECTIONS

People get locked into a “have I had a reply or a like yet?” universe and they develop habits for needing connection & recognition. Rather than worry and scorn, this might be a situation teachers can use to their advantage. I’m always keen on students working in teams for everything they do – Yes, an author might write a novel alone but they still need an editor and publisher to finalise it.

CONTINUOUS REFLECTION WHILE WORKING

connected-ClassesMy observation of teamwork in many classrooms, including my own is the lack of space and time for each member to contemplate what another has said or done. There’s often a rushed atmosphere of trying to get the work done quickly. More ongoing reflection from each member can result in higher quality outcomes. It is often the case that someone shy in public is confident online and this has a lot to do with the extra time they have to reflect and consider their responses. Social media creates a more level playing field where the more outgoing and confident are less obvious and the quiet can contribute fully.

THE CHALLENGE (C.C.C)

One idea to combine the positives of remote connection in social media and productivity at school is to physically separate team members and organise projects over 2 or more classrooms. Students from different rooms or even schools come together online to use their well honed social media and texting skills to build a more professional 21st Century view of workflow. It’s important to highlight to young people that these tools and systems are being used by adults to carry out projects around the world and that in many occasions this connects people in several countries.

students2

Yes, this is an iPad photographing an iPad filming an iPad – normal in my existence!

At first, you may have to allow a little more time for a project you normally carry out in one room but the students will develop these skills in a productive sense and experience the need to allocate roles and work efficiently. The students love feeling connected to the world outside the classroom, even if it’s people next door!! I also find they read and ‘listen’ to each other more intently due to the nature of these communications.

I can highly recommend it for some projects. It helps keep things fresh and connects both students and teachers. I suggest the teams ensure they are putting together a ‘package’ of all media types they can publish or present to both classrooms online. Another reason for trying this is that a teacher confident with technology can join their classroom to a less EdTechie teacher and help with the learning process. The irony is that social media removes much of the social distractions evident in face-to-face interactions. After some initial excitement, the communications eventually become more considered and task focused.

OTHER THOUGHTS & IDEAS

Don’t necessarily subscribe how they produce output or communicate. If they’re obsessed with Snapchat then have them sketch ideas with it. It will educate them into seeing anything as possibly productive and not just frivolous.

How about 4 teachers specialising in each of 4 rooms as mentors for Leadership, Research, Technology & Presentation. Each student team members are also divided into classes along the same lines. The teams can then rely on their team’s specialist knowing they have a mentor in their specific role.

Have one room speak a different language and use either Apple or Google’s translation tools. It’s good preparation for world collaboration. (I personally have sent several tweets recently in French without speaking a work myself!)

Evernote is also good at sharing all media types and having shared work spaces. It’s also cross platform too.

Google might be my preference but if you understand iCloud well and the devices are logged in. Then sharing video, photos and docs is already build into iPads and Macs.

The First 5s with iPads

This is just a quick nod to my EdTechTeacher friend Beth Holland, who has written another excellent post updating ideas around what teachers might do in the first 5 hours, days and weeks with iPads in their class. The original post can be found here on Edutopia.org.

Beth and the EdtechTeacher team are an excellent source of ideas and inspiration. Beth asked me to update my infographic for the post and so here it is:

i4S iPad First 5 v2

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

 

The Myth of Device fatigue

6660040845_df16b08be8_mMy wife came home the other day and started describing a new problem arising in her school, where students were claiming to be tired of using devices for everything. The students were apparently saying “Can’t we just do a lesson on paper today or you just teach us.” As she told me this, my wife didn’t notice that she was simultaneously picking up her iPad to check Facebook and that made me think.

Photo Credit

In my observations around my school, it’s those same students claiming device fatigue in the classroom that are not hesitating to turn to their device for ‘life updates’ as they leave that very same room. I would propose that it’s not fatigue caused by device use but that caused by the pain of trying to carry out conventional, 20th century classroom tasks on devices that are designed for a world that conducts itself very differently.

20BD (Before devices)

When I was a student and my teachers were handing out the standardised task to every student, I too remember asking, “please sir, can we do something different today?” I wasn’t asking that we not do something on paper, I understood that in those days paper was always going to be the prefered option, but that the challenge was different and looking back, any task that had me working with my peers was always more engaging but a rare occurrence.

Some classrooms don’t suffer

6660083573_140106428b_mI have evidence from my current workplace that two teachers teaching the same subject will share very opposite quotes from students on this topic. Whilst one shared with me that the students were tired of devices, the other shared that students were asking how the subject was ever interesting before devices. What makes the difference?

Photo Credit

Device fatigue would mean life fatigue

Touch screen devices of all shapes and sizes have become a part of our existence and the way we now conduct our lives is partly shaped by them. Why should education be separate from this. To focus on the positives, the combination of mobile device and social media has made young people experts in:

  • Sharing ideas and discoveries
  • Debating those ideas
  • Communicating in groups
  • Organising events and resources
  • Working on the move.

14183121963_78c1c34ffe_mSchools and teachers need to embrace this and design learning around these strengths rather than fight against them. They need to look at how the world now operates and not attempt to rein-in these developments as bad things and attempt to shape educational activities with outdated moulds. The world is moving on and learning has to do likewise.

Photo Credit

Many classrooms still use numerous approaches which do not reflect the practices the creative industries, businesses, universities or even individual professionals expect to see in their new recruits and don’t do much to prepare young people for the rapidly changing reality of life after school.

5 tips for avoiding claims of Device fatigue:

  1. Keep the learning Active. Ensure that at least part of the task involves moving around.
  2. Keep it Social. Kids must discuss their learning as it happens. Only through reflection will true learning take place. 
  3. Keep it flexible. Don’t prescribe the app they must use. Lay out your expectations but allow for individual expression.
  4. Keep demanding. Have high expectations and be clear about the depth of evidence required.
  5. Make it personal. Ensure the task allows the kids to personalise the result. Have them link topics to their own experiences.

Final Thought.

The western world is no longer paper-based, factory-based or slow-moving. please ensure your classroom reflects this.

 

Hopscotch 2 – Lesson 3

gameBGGame Backgrounds

When kids are learning to code, it’s better to get on with things as quickly as possible. In lesson 3 of my Hopscotch course, I get straight into making it look like a game. This involves adding sky, ground and moving objects. My students are keen to get the project looking good but in doing so, they learn the basics behind achieving what they want with logical thinking.

Life is Random

They key feature introduced is the Random option when adding numbers. Without the Random number option Games wouldn’t seem very realistic as background objects always appeared in the same places every time they repeated their animation.

Hopscotch-RandomHelp Sheet

In this help sheet, I colour in the background and add floating objects moving both right and left. Objects move 1000 or -1000 across the screen but have a slightly random Y value to change their height on the screen for each repeat.

HopScotch2-Lesson3-i4S

 

Adding Emoji Keyboard to your iPad

Here’s the step by step on adding the Emoji keyboard (Sorry that’s it’s in iOS6 format)

NUTSHELL_EMOJI

Hopscotch 2 – Lesson 2

How Hopscotch builds Abilities from Abilities.

The iPad coding app Hopscotch is now able to teach kids about the primary way coding is organised. Procedures (abilities) can be named and referred to by name when needed by multiple characters. My 2nd lesson shows how an overall task can be broken down into it’s smaller stages and these stages are called upon to perform the larger task.

Here’s my help sheet showing how procedures can be built from smaller procedures:

HopScotch2-Lesson2-i4S HopScotch2-Lesson2-i4S

Moving the ‘un-moveable’ teacher

i4S GAFESUMMIT

Google Inspired

I’ve just had the pleasure of presenting at the EdTechTeam’s Google For Education Summit and it was an excellent event. NZ Educators came away inspired and full to bursting with new Google tricks and tips that will change the way students across New Zealand learn. I had a great time meeting EdTechTeam and must give a big thanks to Mark Wagner & Kim Randall for their generosity in letting me present (especially given my Twitter name & blog :-)

I picked up many great new tips and tricks which I will implement  in my classroom immediately. I pointed out to many people I spoke to that although the device I use and help people with is the iPad, the main eco-system I use is Google. It is only Google apps and services that will effortlessly deal with all media types and integrate and publish them as single products.

The presenters were excellent and covered the wide range of Google apps and services at all skill levels. I particularly enjoyed Ken Shelton’s Google Sites workshop as he got really arty about colour schemes and layout and personalising the sites as e-portfolios. I also thought Jim Sill was entertaining, no matter what he presented. Even his 3 minute ‘Slam’ on undoing email sends got the most laughs.

Why Google carefully?

The benefit Google has over Apple is its more open-source style setup. Developers around the world are free to design and launch add-ons and improvements to Google products which makes the eco-system as a whole much more flexible and talented at solving people’s problems quickly. It was these 1000s of features, tools and add-ons that we were wowed with over the 2 day summit.

Knowing that  the Google environment can inspire the geeky EdTech’er that much more than the closed, walled-garden approach of Apple is evident at an event like this but this is why I decided to present a word of caution amongst this show of tech brilliance & enthusiasm. The question every edTech fan should be asking themselves is “How many of my colleagues would choose to attend a Google for Education summit, especially during school holidays?” During my 12 years experience, the answer would always be a small number and edTech teachers around the world need to consider why this is the case when trying to affect change in their school.

The special minority

Here is my recreation of a fantastic and popular metaphor that has done the rounds on Twitter for a few years. It explains the types of teachers you all know when discussing tech in schools. I think it also applies to discussion of pedagogies and new learning techniques too. Unfortunately, I am not able to track down the original creator, so if you know please let me know. I’ve tidied up the presentation a bit but stuck to the original teacher types.

i4s Pencil Metaphor

The main point this diagram illustrates for me is not so much the types of teachers in a school but the percentages of those types in existence. The sharp end of the pencil represents the teachers who choose to regularly update their knowledge and practice in teaching approach and use of technology and yes, it’s only 10-15%. Educations biggest influencers are the majority of teachers who either expect & wait for professional development to be delivered to them (wood), feel they require no PD at all (Ferrules) or try to reverse any example of progression from that which worked 20 years ago (Erasers). My own school has been BYOD for 4 years and can still claim the same percentages displayed in the pencil above (I’ve only been there a year). The first question that every teacher/leader at the summit should have been asking themselves is “How do I affect genuine change in the majority of those I work with?” This was the heart of my presentation.

Moving the “un-moveable” teacher


My main points were as follows:

  1. Just because 15% of teachers have a self-drive to improve their own practice including technical skills & knowledge doesn’t mean the rest do.
  2. The history of western education has not produced a world body of teachers that view themselves as part of a world-wide connected and well-researched profession. Teachers around the world have always had an opt-out option and are rarely held genuinely accountable for the success of their students, as doctors and lawyers generally are.
  3. EdTech leaders in schools will not impress and inspire with tech alone. Most people don’t have the intrinsic interest in tech to find the abilities of technology engaging.
  4. Incentives to use technology must be non-technical and focus on the personal gain achieved from making the switch if real change is to be achieved – teachers are only human after all.
  5. Although not advised by Google, I used a single account for 16 teachers. The benefit of this was that all new material appeared in one place meaning they often stumbled across each others practice and inspired progress and new uses.
  6. Focusing first on the time-saving and workload reducing benefits, I was able to make technology and particularly the use of Google apps the saviour for my teachers and have achieved almost 100% uptake in regular use.

Self-appreciation club

It’s easy for conference goers & Twitter teachers (like me) to look around them and imagine an exciting industry-wide progressive movement into 21st century learning. I literally saw teachers at the Google Summit patting each other on the back, which, figuratively speaking, I see daily  on Twitter and Google plus too. This isn’t a bad thing but does lead many of the back-patters to assume that when they return to school the ‘others’ will naturally be excited about the new tricks, tools and devices and then get angry that “they just don’t do anything about it.”

I love technology (have you noticed?) but I appreciate that most people don’t and we have to approach moving to 21st century learning from the point of why it makes sense as humans and not tech-enthusiasts. This is the only way schools will see true change in what the majority of teachers ask for in their classrooms. After all, we’ve had decades of PD and the pencil still says it all !

 

 

 

Why App Smash?

i4S - APPSMASHING.001

Inspired by the last #1to1iPadChat , I thought it was time to post on the world craze that is App Smashing. The term App Smash was coined by the great Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec) from EdTech Teacher fame. It is a hot topic in EdTech and obviously has its own Hashtag – #AppSmash.

What is an App Smash?

Content created in one app transferred to and enhanced by a second app and sometimes third. Preferably the final product is then published to the web – remember, digital presence is the new résumé (CV).

Reasons to App Smash:

  1. It demands creative thinking
  2. It demands more from the technology (value for money)
  3. It turns the issue of not having a ‘wonder app’ into a positive
  4. It removes any restrictions to take a topic as far as it can be taken.
  5. It often results in more engaging learning products
  6. It’s a fun challenge for ‘digital natives’

Key rules for successful App Smashing:

  1. Use the Camera Roll as your main conduit between apps
  2. Leave the app choice to the students
  3. Have a list of apps capable of smashing content together (See below)

Key Apps when App Smashing:

i4S - APPSMASHING.005

 

Examples I’ve used:

SMASH 1:

Comics Head + Explain Everything + Youtube = Thinglink
This creates an online interactive poster that launches extra content using hotspots.

i4S - APPSMASHING.002

 

SMASH 2:

Garageband + Soundcloud + iTunes = Student radio show
Give your students a voice and experience great digital citizenship with running a radio show.

i4S - APPSMASHING.003

 

SMASH 3:

Camera or iMovie or iMotionHD + Pages or Pic Collage = Aurasma Posters
Make video creations more accessible to other students using Aurasma posters that come to life on the classroom wall !

i4S - APPSMASHING.004

For more examples check out Greg’s excellent presentation from last year’s EdTechTeacher Summit.

Watch me here chatting about App Smashing

I had the amazing privilege of being the first guest on Courtney Pepe’s show “The App Smashing Chronicles”. It was a great chat full of ideas.

Final thought

The challenge of app smashing keeps students on their toes and can increase collaboration between them. It adds a layer of creative problem-solving and also can lead to competition around out-smashing each other. The key when encouraging App Smashing is to make very clear the assessment criteria and ensure the students know that the final products will be judged on their effectiveness to prove their level of understanding and not just in their technical wizardry.

Keep an eye on Twitter using the Hashtag #AppSmash for other ideas and apps too.

Other links:

http://www.edudemic.com/app-smashing-education/

http://edtechteacher.org/blog/?p=2191

Why & How to Green Screen in class

Green ScreenThis is my new must-have for all classrooms!

Finding interesting ways to evaluate, reflect and report on work and projects can be tricky. Many students struggle to engage with the reflection properly as it is often a dry, unentertaining end to any unit or project. But that’s where the Green Screen App can help. (How-to help sheet below)

Remember:
People don’t learn from experience.
People learn when reflecting on experience.
People learn more when they can witness their own reflection.

 

It’s not all about being Superman!

Hopscotch Green Screen reportBeing able to place moving images as well as still behind the student reporter / reflector makes the report far more engaging for the viewer. Any student work or objects can be filmed from all angles and got up-close to to show details. This footage will display large in the final product in a way that is not achievable in most other formats.

Making tiny reference points on your green screen (cloth) can also allow students to point at specific things behind them.

The possibilities are endless and can be used by any subject at any grade.

Ideas:

  1. Use the camera to simply record a computer screen playing a Youtube clip. Then interview the student about the clip.
  2. History footage is discussed
  3. The aims or process behind Art work is explained
  4. Students can analyse their own pre-filmed sporting performance
  5. Book reports can now include large shots of the illustrations
  6. 3D objects can now be walked around whilst they’re talked about
  7. School tour videos can include someone welcoming you to the school as the camera roams the site.
  8. Worlds built in Minecraft can now be toured with a tour guide pointing out features
  9. Still images can be used whilst a student narrates their own story.
    etc. etc.

Students who don’t necessarily write well or in-depth enough can be interviewed about their work, where teachers will often get more from them as they can tailor the questioning as details come up in the background.

Green Screen clothGreen Screen setup

The Green Screen app is made by DK Pictures (@DoInkTweets). It’s US$2.99 (NZ$3.79) and is a tiny price to pay as you only need green material on-top of the app purchase. Although the app allows you to select any colour, Green works best as it does’t interfere with skin tones. So far, I’ve only worried about having the app on my iPad and can record a whole class worth of reflections in one lesson.

 

HOW TO GUIDE

Here’s my how-to on producing the basic report with either still image or video backdrops.

Green Screen Helpsheets

 

Happy times.

Have fun reporting, interviewing and showcasing the best of the students output and projects.I run a technology department where our tech products from apps to robots to food can now be showcased in detail and given a face to regarding its creator. Evaluation is now fun for all.