We weren’t downloaded

This clip by jiayong puts  things into perspective. Technology provides a whole new way of thinking about teaching and learning. We are in the real world making connections with real people but so many of us now have the capacity to engage online and have a virtual world which can seem limitless. I have students who build computers and learnt that from the internet. I have students with YouTube channels who promote their talents. I have students who write and publish their own books. Those are the ones I know about. Should I know what sorts of online success students are having? Is it something I could incorporate into my teaching and learning programmes? I know from getting my students to blog they can better understand the value of accumulating knowledge across 2 years and seeing how they have grown. They can also connect with each other and members of their community. It then becomes exciting for them when they realise that their blog can connect with the wider world and that people out here will support them positively in their learning. We do have to teach them how to live in the real world but benefit from the opportunities provided to them by the virtual world and connectivity is part of that. Sharing and getting feedback. I have had to teach students how to email me work or send me messages or work over the learner management system. With younger students I have to keep refreshing the screen to show them their work is uploaded onto the learner management system. In lots of ways they trust technology less than older students and older people…and in this case it is one year older! Year 8s are quite different form year 9s. It is also because Year 8s love seeing technology at work. The video makes you think about whether you are moving with the times, so to speak, and whether adaptability is part of your everyday life. Things are changing quickly and so adapting is becoming a very necessary skill and much of that is to do with knowing how to demonstrate your growth in learning through technology and also knowing how to recycle digital files and knowledge into new platforms and approaches. I have files from back in the early 90s but I can easily upgrade that information into a 2014 format when I want to. I am never stuck with a jaded and passé look. Students need to learn to save work so that they can grow it in future years. We haven’t really worked on a concept for doing that and we need to.

Social media level up

Social media has levelled up and brought us now a way of connecting so we can benefit ourselves and encourage each other. The video is 25 minutes but will explain how Fitocracy works. The notion of a small empire has now been created so we can build  virtual empires and collaborate for the benefit of members. Fitocracy is a fitness programme which is based on game theory but has the added bonus of allowing you to be part of a supportive, positive social community.This is a new way of looking at social media. It’s not a diversion or entertainment or the way to pass time. It is now possible to use the benefits of games and social media to generate apps and communities which can make a good difference in your life and where you can participate and make a difference in the lives of others. Fitocracy is free and can be used to improve your fitness on either Apple or Android devices. Fitocracy has around a million participants. Good way to motivate yourself and use your dead time to motivate others.

Focus on your classroom space

Mr. Jai Gun transforms his classroom for younger students into a colourful and vibrant learning space. He has also put some good thought into how he made this video for us all to see. You can’t help thinking that this man is thinking about his lessons and performance standards as he is renovating his classroom space. It’s based on a creative use of paper and colour but the technology he has available can be seen. In a technology based classroom the whiteboard is usually the centre of attention at least for a good part of the lesson and then the students are using their own technology. You have to make that classroom real estate go to work and use the IWB in different ways for different purposes. There is a good post here from an IWB trainer to show you some basic concepts in rethinking how you use the space on your screen. We could do with more sharing of information as to how teachers use their technology and real spaces. The ways we interact with students using space is an interesting one to explore and would have better pedagogical benefits if we could share and grow ideas about productive uses of screens and rooms.

Augmented reality cards

So, what do you offer a techie, a geek or a nerd as their birthday card? An augmented reality card! If you watch the video you can see how the future is going to develop in the classroom and at home. Augmented reality is going to play a greater role and we are going to have a lot of fun with what are now our print artefacts. We’ll have augmented reality cards, books, business cards, menus…You can see how science, art and literacy are bonding to create our new world. Is there at app for it? Yes! Try the birthday card AR.

Use Powerpoint as a Learning Tool

aitsl In Australia teachers have the Professional Teacher Standards which are available on the aitsl site along with a great number of other documents which you can download to support you with working with the standards. On the site there is also plenty of material to engage with which will help you understand what the standards look like in the real world with real teachers and students. There are also the iPhone and Android My Standards apps which you can download so that you have the standards handy on your phone or tablet. I have done all of that and downloaded the Demonstrating Impact pdf from the aitsl site and Demonstrating a Professional Mindset pdf. Both of these are interactive workbooks for teachers to work with the standards. First, I need to get this all clear in my head and even though I have been looking at the standards for quite some time now, if I want to seriously engage with them and make a solid effort to reflect on what I am doing I need to organise the material very clearly in my head. Just looking at documents and reading it all isn’t how I learn to put standards into practice and know my content. I have started a Powerpoint about the standards because it is the best way I know of learning complex material using technology. As I play with the layout and animations on each slide I am thinking about the content I am displaying. As I choose colours, backdrops, order of presentation I am forced to think about what the content means. This image is my first slide . In real life it is animated and as the information comes up the content is revealed in a way that I am neither swamped nor intimidated by it. When my Powerpoint is finished and you can see what I am doing I’ll share it with you. I get students to present information I want them to learn. Sometimes they can just take a photo from the board but if I want them to involve themselves with the material I get them to create a presentation. I then start to get very particular questions about what something means or whether they have it right. Powerpoint presentations encourage you to consider each and every aspect of what you are presenting as you compose the material on each slide. It naturally forces you to break learning down into bitesize pieces. KeyNote on the MacBook does exactly the same thing. By using Powerpoint as a learning tool I become immersed in my learning. It is not a clockwork exercise where I can tune out because I am creating visual learning. My next step is to look at individual indicators in the seven areas of Professional Standards:

1. Know students and how they learn

2. Know the  content and  how to teach it

3. Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning

4. Create and maintain supportive and safe learning

5. Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning

6. Engage in professional learning

7. Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community

Think

tony robbinsAnthony Robbins is a life coach and a motivational speaker and this quote really meant something to me when I read it. This is a follow up to yesterday’s post on mastering your classroom because if it takes 10, 000 hours of practice to master something then with 30 students and 30 devices we have to be careful how we implement and organise everything. No time for faffing! So I started thinking and, as it turned out I think THINK is a good way to keep your technological classroom under control and vibrant:
Think

 

 

 

 

 

 

T  Time your information, presentations, activities.
H  Hone your skills and theirs. Be good at what you do.
I   Innovate and inspire. Don’t fear change.
N  Nudge them along and nudge yourself to do something different..
K  Know what you are doing and what you want to achieve.

Master your classroom

mastery Image: EnhanceTV

In his  sociological studies book the Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell states we have to do something for 10 000 hours before we master it. For arguments sake, if you teach 30 1 hour lessons a week that will be1230 hours of lessons in a 41 week year. It would take you 8.13 years to clock up the 10 000 hours. Do teachers who have taught for less than ten years feel as though they have mastered their classroom? Depends on the school, depends on the classes and depends on what you are teaching. What about 30 students with 30 laptops or 30 iPads? Would you master that in 8.13 years? Distractions are then everywhere and part of mastering the technology classroom is mastering the art of harnessing the students AND their distractions. That is really complex. It becomes a matter of teaching them how to be selective about the media they consume so that it doesn’t swamp them and take over their cognition and time. The same applies to them: 10 000 hours of doing before they can master something. According to the findings  :

“The psychologists found a direct statistical relationship between hours of practice and achievement. No shortcuts. No naturals.”

It’s a matter of falling in love with practice. Being there and doing whatever it is you want to master. This is where the skills and knowledge of a teacher come into play. You have to know  clearly what you want to achieve and you have to have the time to do it. You have to know how to co ordinate 30 students and 30  devices for an hour or more at a time. You cannot do that without a plan nor without a mapped out curriculum and standards. If you want to be good at something it really is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.