I’m a father of two girls (7 & 10) and like many fathers in developed world in 2015, school holiday time has become “constant screen time” for my kids. Unless I painstakingly structure every minute of their day, given the choice, they pick screen time before considering other activities. They are kids after all and it may have been 1987 and it may have been an Atari ST, but I was just the same.
The 70s gave us screen time, the 80s brought it home, the 90s expanded the choice and the 21st century has now given many young people the power to download further screen time options when they feel like it.
What’s good for kids?
If most parents are allowing it, is it ok to deny your own kids (as a parent or teacher) the access other’s enjoy? What long-term effects will show themselves in 20 years? Will they be positive or negative? You can find news stories and studies to prove any case you’d like to.
So, what do we parents and teachers do with a generation who have increasingly higher expectations for how much screen time is considered normal? I have written before on categorising screen time to give more value to creative pursuits and this has helped family time in my house considerably. But here’s other ideas I’ve had that help in this increasingly challenging debate about what is good or not good for children.
Children generally think of the games first but are also naturally curious and creative and often just need reminders of the more productive activities available. Here are some ideas for how to structure these reminders.
Idea 1: Make rules & reasons clear
Realistically, most families I know would allow a couple of hours in any day for iPadding. Organise apps into folders based on family rules about screen time. As examples: 20 minutes playing games; 40 minutes playing ‘thinking’ games; 1 hour of these creative apps. Using the Control Centre (swipe up from bottom of screen) you can quickly access the timer to ensure the kids get an alarm to say ‘time’s-up’. I also use Emoji characters to help the kids remember why they’re categorised (see pic). It seems sometimes that screen time becomes the issue more than worrying about exactly what’s on the screen. and my kids will move onto more productive activities, if it means more screen time. (Sad, I know)
Idea 2: Make them earn this precious resource
Yes, they will do almost anything for screen time and so use this to your advantage and make them earn it. The parenting advice on this also changes week to week, depending on which book, expert or website you follow but generally, publishing a list of ‘good citizen’ tasks that all earn screen time works well. It puts the onus on the child to carry out good deeds before the earn device time. My daughters have very tidy bedrooms, we have an automatic filling dishwasher and the fire wood was transferred to it’s winter location all because of the desire for the screen. I’ve had no arguments about work around the house if it’s weighed up against iPad time.
Idea 3: Become master of the games you want your kids playing
Here are some games I’ve recently become very good at, so as to spark discussion and competition within the family.
Math: The Land of Venn – Geometric Defense This is a great game where young kids learn and draw geometric shapes as weapons against monsters. It quickly had my 7-year-old daughter using math vocabulary she might never have used at home. Lots of extras to win and spells to purchase with your winnings. Cleverly designed to award more power to the more complicated shapes. Great fun and sparks good conversation.
English : Sentopiary
This was a great distraction that both my daughters enjoyed as it reinforced things they’d studied at school and was interactive enough that even I learnt a few things regarding grammar. As the app states: “Guided by Common Core standards, it is intended to be used both at home and in classrooms and works well in environments where iPads are shared.” This is true as it also sparks conversation between 2 people looking at it.
Languages: Duo Lingo
We’ve made it a family challenge to learn Spanish using this app. My elder daughter has now decided that after Spanish, she’s ‘gonna learn Russian’ :-). Make it a weekly challenge to work through a particular number of lessons. The app is very carefully crafted to make sure you build your knowledge and skills in successfully in written, reading and spoken forms. There is discussion about the teaching of languages dying out in schools but this app and gasified online system could be the saviour for language learning.
Art: Sketchbook Express
This free app gives you advanced tools presented in a straight-forward fashion. Even I could reignite my liking for art with some nice first steps tracing a photo using the layers available (see pic). This immediacy and extra safety (kids don’t like to mess up their pictures) of this layering made it an instant hit with my 10-year-old daughter.
Movie making: iMovie
Using siblings, pets or classmates to put together a story introduction using iMovie’s Trailer option is a popular activity that I find with some theme prompting from me always gets my kids outside and ‘acting’. The other day, all I had to say was “what about using our chickens for a trailer?” and they were off!
Both these apps challenge the brain for logical thinking. They present themselves as games but in such a way that the kids have to pause and think rather than just react on instinct like typical gaming.
Kodable is a great introduction into coding that both my daughters will play for the full 30 minutes overtime they’re reminded of its existence.
Thinkrolls 2 looks easy to start with but quickly gets very challenging and is cleverly designed to deliver challenges in quick succession that my kids will choose to play this without reminding.
This means WAR!
Yes, as a parent or teacher you might feel you are in a constant fight and you may win some and loose some battles but if we are careful, I believe we will win the war. With some thought and a positively mindset, this screen time might create a generation of thinking, creative and collaborative people. By setting up structures to help the children self-manage their screen time, I am hoping that I can already see the benefits of what these apps have to offer transferred to ‘real-life’ with two girls who are happy to help, keen to solve problems and create projects of their own design. Make sure you make some time to showcase the results of their more productive device use and it will encourage more.
Good luck everyone !!!
I’ve just had the pleasure of being inspired by Keryn Davis at Core Education, New Zealand. Keryn was speaking to a selected group of talented NZ teachers and the not quiet as talented me, who are all carrying out research projects on teaching and learning in 2015. Keryn spoke to us about the power of play in schools and used research and her own data to convince all of us that this was a significant issue for educators to explore.
Starting with the work of Lev Vygotsky, Keryn highlighted that people naturally stretch themselves during play. Vygotsky said: “In play, a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behaviour; in play it is as though he were a head taller than himself.” This idea struck me as quite profound and had me hooked the rest of the way.
Next we were taken through some inspiring examples from her own research where play had been first introduced as a special hour at the beginning of the day, for “proper” school to commence afterwards. She explained how the positive results from this specially timetabled hour of play had led the schools to extend it and use elements of play throughout the day, making the most of opportunities that arose. Learners naturally started to organise, lead others and collaborate. I highly recommend you read more about her work here.
Play, Involvement & experiencing Flow
What I liked most was how she linked play to considering the level of true involvement a child displays in any school activity and finally onto the idea of flow, being a state of intense concentration on the present moment. As a tool for measuring activity and flow, we were introduced to the Leuven Scale for Involvement. Originally designed by Ferre Laevers. This is used by elementary school educators to grade students during observations regarding how involved they are in various activities during the school day. Normally data is gathered by recording the observed involvement in activities of one child at a time as they carry out the different types of tasks in one day. I can’t see why these wouldn’t apply in principal to a learner of any age.
Here’s my infographic version:
We were looking at her data that recorded both involvement and well-being at 5 minute intervals for a child during a school day. We started discussing the idea of flow as being the state that people attain when these 2 measures are at their peak. Karyn had actually discovered that flow was achieved when involvement was “Extremely High” but Well-being only had to be “Moderate.”
Here’s the Leuven scale for Well-being:
Nakamura and Csikszentmihályi identify the following six factors as encompassing the experience of flow.
- Intense and focused concentration on the present moment
- marking action and awareness
- A loss of reflective self-consciousness
- A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
- A distortion of temporal experience, one’s subject’s experience of time is altered
- Experience of the activity is intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience
Reference: Nakamura, J.; Csikszentmihalyi, M. (20 December 2001). “Flow Theory and Research”. In C. R. Snyder Erik Wright, and Shane J. Lopez. Handbook of Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press. pp. 195–206. ISBN 978-0-19-803094-2
All teachers have the opportunity to design school structures and activities with an aim that children will experience states of flow during their day. These two scales are also useful for a teacher to use in judging their own activity design and classroom structures.
What does this mean for iPads?
Combining the ideas behind play, involvement and flow, I believe teachers need to be open-minded when deciding how and/or when iPads will be used by learners. Allow learners to play and express themselves. Let them build their own learning experience and in doing so become more focused and absorbed in the moment.
App Smashing is a great example of this, as long as it’s not the teacher prescribing the exact apps to be smashed. Learners should develop their own workflows and styles of output. Having to conform to any generic structure for learning is always going to lessen the chance that moments of true flow might develop.
The flexibility and massive possibilities for expressing, creating and publishing from iPads means they can enable a learning environment that caters for every individual. Personal agency can lower self-consciousness and this might in-turn lead to deeper learning and students lost in moments of their own creation.
Design thinking is a powerful tool to really get your students thinking about and tackling a problem or topic at a much deeper level. It is a structured task that focuses on giving considerable time to thinking about and empathising with the people within the situation (Target audience or client), designing and prototyping a possible solution that is immediately challenged in order to improve it. It is used much in business and the design industry but can be used as a general classroom task within any subject area. It also gets students to work quickly without much introduction.
Design thinking promotes creative thinking, team work, and student responsibility for learning.
It is a form of solution-based, or solution-focused thinking; starting with a goal (a better future situation) instead of solving a specific problem. This keeps minds open to multiple solutions.
The core rules behind Design Thinking:
- The Human Rule: All Design Activity Is Ultimately Social in Nature
- The Ambiguity Rule: Design Thinkers Must Preserve Ambiguity
- The Re-design Rule: All Design Is Re-design
- The Tangibility Rule: Making Ideas Tangible Always Facilitates Communication
The infographic / poster above is a guide to a simplified version you can use in your classroom. This version can be carried out in an hour, over a week, or even longer.
This versions splits the task into 5 key stages. It’s good to set fixed time frames for each of these stages and for their sub stages.
1. Goal Setting (Whole Class)
HOW MIGHT WE DESIGN / ACTION WHAT AND FOR WHOM IN ORDER TO CHANGE SOMETHING?
The first stage is to devise an atoll goal to improve something. This is best started with 3 key words: “How might we …” Starting this way can have a powerful effect on successful classroom engagement. “How” is a word that has a bias towards action. It implied the something is to be done. “Might” acts as a safety blanket as it offers the students the freedom to fail. This ensures tham more are likely to give it a go. “We” pushes the collective responsibility and collaborative aspect meaning nobody will be alone. It also removes the classroom hierarchy, bringing the teacher onto the same level as learner alongside the students.
During this goal setting stage it is important to select as a class:
- “WHAT” = An object – E.g. App, Gadget, Speech, Toy, Campaign, Website etc.
- “WHOM” = A Specific Client/target – E.g playground users, garbage droppers etc.
- “CHANGE” = A better world – E.g. Target result, Improved situation,
- How might we design a toy for children to encourage recycling?
- How might we make school furniture for students better suit 21st century learning?
- How might we redefine the museum visit so that it’s student-led and more engaging?
As an extra idea, I have considered it even as a fun theoretical teaching task such as:
- How might an iPad app have helped George Washington win the War of independence in half the time?
There’s nothing to stop posting up a number of big ideas or challenges for teams to pick from but ensure the students have been part of formulating them.
2. Thinking – Individual then Group
Decide on an amount of time that students will individually think around the topic. This personal thinking space is important for letting quiet, reflective and deeper thinking take place to start the process off. This might only be 5 or 10 minutes but means more will come to the table when the group starts discussions.
The individual thoughts are then brought to the group. I recommend groups of 3 or 4 as bigger than this can become less manageable for the students.
a) Facts b) Opinions c) Interactions
This is the crucial stage where considering the people and situation that the solution will be dealing with is broken down into 3 stages to help the students allow for as fuller picture as possible. These 3 stages might take anything from 10 to 30 minutes.
- First the Profile the target as a list of facts. What do they do? What do they have? What are we dealing with physically?
- Second they imagine or research all the typical opinions and feelings that the solution will have to allow for.
- Thirdly they consider all the connections within the situation. Who talks to who? Who shares things with who? Who or what competing with what or who?
By the end of this stage, the students will have done far more genuine thinking about the situation than they might have done if asked to just “research the situation.”
4. Solution Design – “Ideate”
A minimum of 20 minutes is now needed for the group to dream up a solution. The important emphasis here is that no idea should be squashed too quickly. Let the students dream up ideas that may or may not be possible and allow the discussion and challenge evolve. The point of this whole process is for all possibilities to surface and be challenged. Sometimes the craziest idea can lead to successful divergent solutions.
App and gadget design can be applied to most situations and the fact that the students may or may not be able to make the final product should’t matter and allows them to focus on the needs that the product meets.
5. Prototype Critique – Feedback & Improve
This stage simultaneously develops multiple skills whilst also encouraging a more optimistic growth-mindset as teams present and challenge each other. The emphasis here must be on growing ideas and not judgements. One thing I would highlight to students is that designers and problem solvers always seek advice and feedback and so can use and appreciate anything that gets fed back to them.
Even after good thinking and empathising stages, there’s always a number of “what ifs” that any team will not have thought of. This also highlights to all students that there’s always another view and this feedback loop is key to any significant success that will last. Just keep asking why? why? why?
Which apps help with Design Thinking?
Essentially, the apps that help design thinking are those that allow students to collaborate around their ideas and creative output. Here’s a few to help.
Secrative can be used to canvas the class for foreseen problems to be solved and once target problems are chosen, it can then ask students to submit How might we… questions to frame the task around.
Nearpod can also be used to collate the class ideas for problems.
Drawp is another great collaborative system and app for class activities.
Talkboard is an instant and free collaborative drawing board for the group to scribble down ideas on. Might need a stylus to get the best from this.
Prezzi can be used to present a plan.
Design Think Links and Info
NoTosh are a key organisation pushing Design Thinking in education. Great info and resources.
Stanford Uni have produced a whole crash course in Design Thinking!
I am very excited to be collaborating with the great Steve Lai again (@sly111). We decided to celebrate the iPad’s 5th birthday with a quick brainstorm of our key lessons from 5 years of iPad teaching. Education across the world continues to evolve in its understanding of how 1-to-1 student device learning can and will revolutionise the industry. Photo Credit
We started predominantly with our 20th century mindset: “The teacher must be master.” This approach led many educators and schools to hold students back whilst they themselves struggled to master it first or feared the technology altogether. My recent evidence shows that a gradual development of this mindset has taken place and students are more often offered greater freedom to control how their learning might involve and benefit from an iPad.
Teachers are now accepting that the very definite hierarchy that existed in the classroom has been dismantled somewhat and students are now able to access information on demand then create and collaborate in ways that many teachers struggle to keep up with. The secret is to challenge students to prove just how talented they can be, but this requires certain freedoms.
Here are our 9 thoughts:
- Richard: “Never prescribe an app for a task. Let the students surprise you.”
I was introduced to Green screening and stop-frame animation by my own students. Students continuously discover apps and will be keen to apply them to class tasks. In a flexible learning environment the teacher spends less time hunting out apps for students to use and more time devising learning intentions.
Richard: “Green Screening was introduced to me by my students. It revolutionised my classroom!”Check out this slideshow describing how to use Green Screen Movie FX Studio
Check out this post describing DoInk’s Green Screen app
- Steve: “Know the ins and outs of how to troubleshoot potential roadblocks”
If you are the “go-to” iPad person at your school, your students (and some coworkers) will regularly ask you how to do even the simplest tasks. Try to predict potentials roadblocks by practicing on your own before any iPad lesson. Try giving some of your new and exciting lessons with your family and colleagues and see if they have any questions to stump you.Another consideration is to develop a small network of students that will help people in your class or even school with these common roadblocks.Here are examples of student-run tech support teams:
- Steve: “Always continue to learn and its okay to sometimes admit you don’t know how to do something.”
We should strive to be lifelong-learners. That’s why you’re reading this article! While you should be the best at your teachable subject, your students need to realize that we aren’t infallible. When tough questions arise, learn the solution as a class. The learning of that topic, on your part, is professional development in itself. Keep up to date with the latest teaching tools. Attend iPad pro-d’s if available.The views on iPad teaching have evolved over the 5 years and teachers are realising that the traditional view that they must be the master of the classroom content does not have to apply to the use of technology. Consider what you’d like the students to be doing but let them discover the best way iPads might help.
- Steve: “Be wise in what you share online”
Teachers are hopefully willing to share great creations made by students to other teachers, both within their schools/districts and also to a broader community. Take special care in how you share. Don’t publish full names, and make sure to get full parental consent if you want to post your students’ photos. As a professional, be careful and what you post about your personal lives as well, as it is an open book for all to read.
Read: How Teachers Should Stay Safe Online & Safe Facebook use in schools
- Steve: “Make the cloud an essential tool. Know how to use it efficiently, ie. back up student work”The cloud is a relatively new tool. Learn how to maximize its potential. Cloud storage is becoming more affordable, and free storage options still offer a lot of great sharing features. Discover sharing and collaborative features and learn about the different forms it comes in. Make sure what you upload is secure and safe. Educate your students, as cloud computing is here to stay. The iPads will operate with all main cloud platforms by Apple, Google, Microsoft and Dropbox.Read: Dropbox for Dummies, Why You Shouldn’t Need your USB again.
- Richard: “Understand that while the iPad is an incredible teaching and learning tool, it doesn’t change what works and doesn’t work in effective learning”
iPads don’t always change students’ engagement or desire to learn. True success in the classroom still requires a teacher to create the right atmosphere for deep learning. More success is realised by teachers who create flexible learning spaces and set student-driven challenges that demand deep thinking whilst allowing the iPad to help student collaboration and present this thinking.Read : iPad teaching is NOT about iPads
- Steve: “Don’t teach with an iPad just for the sake of it”
Teachers need to have (or develop) a certain passion for integrating technology (not just iPads) into their everyday teaching. If it’s not really your cup of tea, don’t feel like you have to do it. Find your niche and go forward with it!
- Richard: “Worry less about “Wonder” apps and more about Collaboration and Teamwork”
Why hunt for an app that can do everything, when tasks conducted in teams can demand each team member use the simplest of apps just to fulfil their team role.
- Student A: Camera for photo evidence
- Student B: Notes or Pages for text
- Student C: Simplemind for mind-map
- Student D: Blog setup & management for collating material and publishing
iPads also allow for collaboration between students in different classrooms or even schools. Here’s a “Connected Classroom Challenge” to test students’ ability to run projects whilst working remotely. This is great practice for 21st Century workflow.
- Richard: “iPads are still the most popular, flexible and successful device in education.”Whether it is the USA buying iPads in their millions or reports showing 86% of New Zealand schools have students using iPads, there is still a worldwide understanding that they are the easiest to integrate into classrooms. Educators around the world are often found discussing the benefits of active learning which the iPad continues to allow for in a way that laptops / Chromebooks don’t, keeping students rooted to one spot.Read: Why I still recommend the iPad for schools
Education’s landscape has changed greatly in 5 years and many aspects of teaching and learning that once were concrete are now being questioned. The iPad has played a big part in starting this questioning and challenging of old norms. Students are also challenging the system and their teachers as they take control of their learning. Education is no longer just about information and as the value of knowledge tumbles and access becomes more fair and democratic, the flexible talents of the iPad for creating, learning, collaborating and problem solving continue to shape this new world of connected learning.
Steve’s blog here: TeachingwithiPad.org
Has your child got an iPad from Santa? I may be an iPad teacher calling myself @iPadWells and running this blog on iPad use but I’m also a father of 2 daughters with all the normal excitement and fear that comes with that. One of my daughters soon reaches the magical double-figure age of 10 and there is talk of her maybe (insert usual “if she’s a good girl” rhetoric that usually gets ignored) having an iPad for her birthday.
The thought of her sitting alone in her bedroom with access to all that the internet has to offer scares me just as much as I’m sure will the day she steps into the first boyfriend’s car. But I’m calm. If there’s one person who can keep her safe on an iPad, it’s gotta be me or I may as well stop blogging. Photo credit.
Where to begin?
This topic is another reason I continue to recommend the iPad for young people, schools and families. The iPad has so many settings built-in to it’s iOS (Operating System) to keep children safe from both adult content and health issues like RSI and hearing loss. Google too has many filtering settings that can be applied to an account. These days, independence starts online before it might do in real life and online Apple and Google accounts seems scary but is necessary if a parent is to maintain a level of control. As a parent I can use the legal requirements that an online account creator needs to be 13 as a way to explain why both the iCloud/App Store account and the Google Account’s passwords must be only known by the parents.
Children still need to be able to explore the world online and also discover apps that might be of use. I think free-reign on purchasing from the App Store before 13 has gone wrong for many, especially if the child isn’t earning the money themselves. Saying that, I would want my child to be able to explore the store for potential tools and games and justify to me why they are worthy or productive. Given what we teach to 13 year-olds in New Zealand about sex education and the like, plus what will be discussed in the school playground, I decided that 13 would be the age I would start to relax restrictions on content but until then I’d like to know things were filtered a little. Photo credit.
Filtering & Restrictions
Make sure when you turn on iPad Restrictions (see help sheet below) you at least turn off restrictions on Safari, Camera & Airdrop. Kids need: the web to learn 21st century citizenship; the camera to make films, trailers and photograph events in their life and Airdrop is useful for transferring files (like photos) between devices. Once the iPad’s website filtering is applied, websites can be unlocked with a passcode and even listed as permanently ok. I will simply tell my child she can see me to unlock a site.
Music can be filtered for explicit content and under General – Music settings, the max volume can be limited which is great for anyone but especially young people who are proving around the world to be suffering from noise-induced hearing loss due to regular earphone wearing.
Why Google and Apple Filter?
The iPad will filter the sites from loading but not the Google search results. You need to separately log the child in to Google and turn on search filtering for the account so all searches show appropriate results only. This filter can then be locked with a passcode. (See help sheet)
Below is my quick click-by-click guide on getting started with filtering for safe iPadding:
(This is version 1.1 – no black arrows on step 4)
Once your child is using the iPad you might want to have a discussion about screen time and how it might be limited. Here’s a previous post and poster about the discussion/agreement I had with my kids: iPad Screen Time
I’ve outlined in a previous post, my findings that quite obviously, the moment that any individual learner is ready to listen, read, watch or even learn will vary. To expect any class to turn up at a scheduled hour and fully engage in the same learning activity is literally treating them like products on a factory line and not the humans they enjoy being. Photo Credit.
I have 2 daughters, both brought up by the same parents who approach everything in life very differently. Why would we expect 30 young people form different life situations to behave and have the same needs for an hour?
When I regularly divide my classes into groups, I often notice that a number of the groups have a member who seems distant or unengaged and I wonder how I can energise these kids to engage with the group or task during the short time that I’ve got them? (I teach in a high school still restricted by segregated, hourly subject lessons) Most of my class activities involve an element of problem solving. Examples might be, How are we going to reduce cyber-bullying in the school? What do the students need in a school app? Or even, How can I start my music career in New Zealand? It is the problem-solving part of the brain I want to activate in my students who are not in that frame of mind when I need it.
The other day, I noticed one of my daughters playing a puzzle type game on my iPad. It was obviously challenging and often frustrating but she kept at it regardless. The game was direct problem solving and my girl was deeply engaged. It was then I had an idea. If any learner who found themselves disengaged from a school task had permission to select from a list of problem-solving, “brain igniting” games, it might mean they return to the task more energised to tackle it or suggest other solutions.
To carry out an initial trial, I projected a problem-solving game on my board and invited individuals to have a single turn to complete the puzzle/level. After 2 minutes, pairs were coming up to have a shared turn. This turned into small groups and after 10 minutes had 8 people competing to make suggestions for the next move. What I noticed was that these 8 were not a normal grouping within the class but had selected themselves to share an experience. This had an immediate effect on the dynamics in the class. I have found that after this exercise, new pairings started appearing in the class and it definitely made it easier for me to suggest new groupings without any backlash.
Class gaming rules
- Time Limit: A set amount of game play per hour or per week might be allowed but there would be freedom to select when that time was used.
- The games would be form the endorsed “Brain-igniting” list.
- All games would be Problem-solving
- Gaming progress (levels) could be reported to class to encourage collaboration between students that might not otherwise connect.
- New Game teams are organised around individual’s favourite games
- Ads: “The Games have too many Adverts!” Airplane mode (in the control centre) will remove most, if not all the ads that pop up.
- 2. Student suggestions – Students should be free to make suggestions for adding to the approved list. I think keeping it to about 10 will encourage more discussion in the class about solving certain levels. With too many games, the classes attention can become fragmented. Suggesting games for the list will give them ownership over their problem solving world.
- Students are allowed to connect over a game to discuss strategies to beat levels. This builds strong relationships which spill over into class tasks.
Brain igniting Games
So I set about searching and inquiring after entertaining puzzle games I could issue as an endorsed game list. These are just suggestions but will give you a starting point.
- VERY BAD CUBE
This game builds in complexity from the most basic of starts. Join all the cubes of the same colour. Sounds easy but had my classes connecting into larger and larger groups trying desperately to beat a level.
T his game is challenging and demands a little math. Same number blocks collide and merge into a single doubled number block. Trick is to not fill the board. Even my senior students play this by choice.
Learn another language in a personalised, fun and accessible way. With an account, each student is automatically tracked and reminded to return to their 10 minutes a day if they forget. I’m learning Spanish along with the rest of my family!
- 2 DOTS
This game does not have a single solution for each level. This means it is less likely to bring students together but does quickly get an individual’s brain working. This too nicely grows in complexity and is good for the quieter students to work on alone.
This is good for younger students but fun for all. A constant rolling screen of quick problems to solve before the character can continue on. My7 year-old daughter played this game for much more than 10 minutes!
- MOVE THE TURTLE
This challenges with simple puzzles whilst teaching the fundamentals of programming. There are programming iPad apps but most allow kids to play games already made and Move the Turtle is the game itself and so is on my list.
- POP WORDS
This is a great twist on the game Boggle. It has a individual time-pressure game where you try to find words on the grid before your timer runs out. It also has a great puzzle mode where the letter tiles disappear when used to see how many tiles you can score with just one grid. This is great for building literacy skills and again naturally draws students together to find new words.
This is a bit different. At first you think it’s just a very simple memory game where you only have to remember which neon lights lit up for 5 seconds on a grid to complete a circuit. It seems quite tricky so you find yourself developing your own strategies for remembering which lit up. I even started remembering shape names to jog my memory. This really gets the brain working hard.
Sometimes we consider the term team-building as only something employers organise. I’ve found this to be powerful in my classes, especially with boys, who are often less social and likely to work well in new teams. You may have heard of Google 20% time, well this is an endorsed form of team-building / brain ignition time. Give it a try!
EXTRA LINK: Games are good for you
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
My 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.
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.
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:
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.
10 assumptions behind teaching a whole class (single-point delivery of content) are that:
- All listeners are listening. If they’re not, that’s their fault.
- If listening, all listeners can absorb information at the same pace.
- All students will be present for this once-a-year performance. If not, too bad.
- All listeners understand at the same level. (Your delivery caters for both slow and fast processors equally)
- All listeners only require the one delivery (or you’ll be repeating yourself any number of times)
- All learners hold the courage to stop you and ask questions publicly (Self esteem has no impact on learning)
- There’s not much that can be done as some learners are just better at ‘learning’.
- Delivery style can make teaching ‘entertaining’ and thus work for most. (after all, you can’t cater for all)
- 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’
- 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.
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.
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.
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