Show and tell technology

computer technology I keep saying it. If you learn something with technology – pass it forward. Pass it on. Share it with someone. It’s the only way. It joins the dots and fills in the learning gaps. At school we are getting better and better at this and there is a noticeable lift in confidence and competence and then that real high you get from implementing something good in a classroom. Tips?

1. If you don’t know how to do something – ask!
2. Plan one on one or small group meetings where you are going to share what you know. Our faculty has planned to share its individual knowledge openly at meetings in the last week of term. That way we’ll all have a bigger pool of expertise to draw on.
3. Our technicians are very patient. They make sure each individual can do whatever it is they wanted to learn to do.
4. Our resource centre has implemented a media server and that means we are all now talking about how to use it and the resource centre staff are being rewarded for the time and effort they are putting into it. Everyone is in the conversation.
5. Students love to share. Teach them to ask and show too and include them in the learning loop.
6. Make technical resources available and let some people get good at them and then facilitate the learning of others. Spread the expertise by snowballing.
7. Show people what you do. Invite them to look and see. It generates some good learning conversations about how to use technology in a school.
8. There are no dumb questions. No stupid questions. Just things people don’t know or cannot do.
9. Use technology to circulate information. It keeps everyone in the loop and gets them to be a part of the learning curve.
10. Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing. If you are keen , it is very infectious and breaks down barriers.

Computer Basics

computer basicsGCFLearnFree has plenty of free online material to help you master your computer. There are written and video tutorials and then free mobile apps which you could make use of while you are waiting, on the bus, on the train – those times when you have to wait and you want something to occupy the time. As an added extra there is also help with Maths and Reading. This is an example of a well designed site which just offers what it says and then lets you get started easily. With computing it gives good instruction in social media, your computer , office applications and internet use. It is very clear and well thought out. When you know you are not very good on a computer then this sort of approach is invaluable. It is important to master one tool, one application at a time. A computer can do so many things. It is not possible to know everything. People who are good on computers know this and feel no sense of inadequacy when they can’t do something. Someone who feels like they are bad on a computer tends to think they can’t do anything. You can. One thing at a time!

Measuring Up

Measuring Up (3min, 27secs) from Graham Cousens on Vimeo.

This 3 minute video shows how powerful technology can be in getting a message across. It underlines the importance of working with others in a real way and using your talents and skills to unlock theirs. The Sydney Story Factory is an initiative to unlock the power of education for all.

Steve Jobs

I cannot ignore the fact the universe has changed and we have noticed. Steve Jobs is proof that people are not replaceable. He has inspired so many and his firm belief is that he has trained his team so well they will carry on without him. As teachers and educators we can learn a lot from this man who had the capcity to change the whole way we looked at everything and could value all he learnt. His speech at his commencement at Stanford University gets it very clear about how education and learning are to be valued and that lifelong learning is unique. He talks about loving what you do and doing what you love and within that he shows , as he speaks, how learning leads you to a life you love.

iMovie Tricks

iMovie is very popular with the laptop students. They love learning how it works. There have been some hiccoughs which I’ll deal with in another post, but by and large it has been relatively easy to introduce into lesson as long as I have allowed time for problem solving and one to one learning so they can master the software. Their final products have been really rewarding and student feedback tells me they want to get better and better. This YouTube clips gives some clear instruction on some of the lesser known features of iMovie.

TeFL Domain 3 Challenge 8

TeFl Domain 3 Challenge 8 Challenge 8: Have you helped them to appreciate the input of others? Students are swamped with information from television, the internet, social media and school . For me the challenge is to make sure I am not competing with a lump of plastic with connections so they drift off glazy eyed into the screen and I am just a droning hum in the background. I believe teachers are irreplaceable and have a crucial role to play in a technological world. One of my prime jobs is to ensure students know where to get valid and valuable information. Teaching them to consult and check and double check has become important since a lot of information is misinformation and a number of things are just plain wrong. I used to be able to use song lyrics and know they were fine. I now have to check and double check because some lyrics are wrong and some lyrics are very poorly spelled. One of the things I do these days is put the lyrics on the whiteboard and correct them as I go along to explain why they are wrong. The world is full of willing collaborators but they haven’t all had a good education so you appreciate their input but know there is stuff to fix. For students this is a valuable lesson. Tomorrow’s song is a perfect example because the person has written foie instead of foi – liver instead of faith!! Last week it was ninjas falling from the sky instead of angels and I am proud to say one of my students was very quick to point that out to us all. In my classroom there is open contribution to factual information and correction of errors. I teach check, double check then triple check. I ask them to consult with other teachers and their parents. I encourage them to check with each other. I also show them how to verify information they have accessed. Today I was showing one boy on his laptop how to type the information into google.fr so he could verify the spelling of the stadium he was writing about. Students use Facebook to get help and verify information from each other and their Facebook friends. I use Twitter. Social media is very good at getting immediate help when you are not sure. I have even known students to email authors, artists, chefs to verify something or other in their work or life. Often they get a warm response. Sometimes they are ignored. You teach them just to try the next avenue. We live in a connected world so teaching the value of this is important. No one has to wait to be sure..they can ask and, sure enough, the planet gets back to them.

Challenge 7

iPod Touch saves the day

picture of mac and ipod Touch running keynote remote I was ever grateful I had packed my iPod Touch and had loaded and set up Keynote remote. Stroke of genius, actually, and made me look good!On Thursday evening I participated in the one to one laptop rollout this year for our school. I had two classes accompanied their parents to do. My venue was one of the prime spots in the school but when I got there it had been set up to fit all the parents, students and Macbook deployment items . I had to put my Mac on top of the computer case, attach it to the white board and that is about all the space I had to do the presentation. Enter my iPod Touch. In 30 seconds I had gone into the settings and set the wifi to the school wifi , picked it up and had connected with the slide presentation , which , thank heavens, was a Keynote presentation ( I could have used Remote Tap on Powerpoint but it takes a little while longer to set up and a bit longer to respond). It meant I wasn’t squashed in the corner trying to do the presentation. It meant I was free to wander, talk and help and then swipe the slides back and forth as the audience needed. It meant I was living Challenge 2 of teaching for Effecting Learning and asking myself to take risks and learn for myself just as I had blogged about! Keynote Remote shows the current slide and the next one and because it seamlessly integrates with a Keynote presentation there is no delay in going from one slide to the next or swiping further forward or back. The parents and students could also see if they had a Macbook and an iPhone or iPod Touch, they too, could do clever things. At one stage I was thanking my lucky stars because one parent came in and was oblivious to the fact I was presenting and wanted to resolve their child’s immediate problem. It could have considerably disrupted the proceedings, but I could see the slide show on my iPod Touch, I could still ask if it was okay to go onto the next slide , I could still help the student I was standing next to and I could help this parent with their problem. Without the iPod Touch we would have been totally held up. All I can say is present in Keynote and use Keynote Remote on your iPod Touch. Takes all the worry out of presenting!

Five One to One Basics

one to oneWorking with students with laptops means you have to rethink your approaches and genuinely involve yourself and students in a new approach to learning or it is more web surfing , more spreadsheets and more word processing…at what cost? Rethinking it all if you have a joy of running the class from the front and watching and interacting with your students can be a bit of a challenge. After nearly a year of one to one learning I have these basics to offer:

1. Be clear about the real and genuine problems in your class in terms of individual students, the group and the environment. Work out how you are going to address them. Can you trust them all to do the right thing on their laptop? How will you solve that? What will you do if you have flakey internet access? What will you do if everyone works really well on a laptop but you have one student who is a technophobe? What will you do if the students start telling you how to use your computer?

2. Draw students in gradually to their laptop lessons. What do you plan for them to do? What might it look like when it’s finished and how might it help them in real life or later on? Do you have some good examples of what you want them to achieve? Do you have a poor example of what you want them to do and challenge them to do better. I find the latter works really well with laptop lessons! Students love overcoming mediocre!

3. Make things easy. Show them on the whiteboard the things they think they might not be able to do. Get them started on the first bit . Ask them to do a dummy run for 5 minutes and then compare notes of how the approach could be improved. Make it light hearted and uplifting but tell them when they will have to try really hard to accomplish or achieve something. Literally organise the one to one and let them approach you one at a time for 10 minutes or whatever you say until all the bugs and problems are resolved. The others need something clear and precise to do.

4. Never assume. What you value and like on a computer is not necessarily what they like and value and each students will have their likes and values. This is the basis for sharing and part of your job is to help them value their own way of being on a computer. It really is individual. Your second job is to get them to accept there are different approaches and ways of doing things with technology but you will have to agree on the core approaches for any task. Will it be recorded? Will it be a movie? Does it have to be a doc? Is acknowledging pictures important? How many pictures? How many slides? All these things can be agreed to. Allow them an opportunity to suggest ways of doing things. Share and get feedback.

5. Keep asking them about their experiences and ways of looking at things on a computer until you understand blocks, blind spots, knowledge gaps, things they love. Talk through what you are doing as you are doing it so they understand how you are approaching and creating as you use a computer. In lots of ways it is a about patience and tolerance because people really do use computers quite differently and we move forward by sharing our approaches and ideas. Make sure they know why you are saying and doing what you are saying and doing.

Starting the year with Twiducate

Last time I looked at Twiducate it was after a 6 month trial with my One to One students and it had worked very well. This time I have a chance to start it from the beginning with some interesting twists! Twiducate is a perfectly safe site for training students in social media skills without putting them at risk. I wrote my classes in and then transferred the number passwords to “petits papiers” – little bits of paper – which I gave to a student to issue as I did the roll. I have 3 classes. One is a class who used Twiducate last year, have laptops and 3 new members. The second class won’t get their laptops until next term. The third class is new to the school and new to French. I assumed the year 8 (youngest students) might jump at the chance to be able to use Twiducate. Assume nothing. These are lovely students and when I showed them Twiducate there was a resounding flop sound and I couldn’t even get them to tell me why. I’ll find out eventually so I have shelved that for now. The second class is year 9s who are waiting for their laptops. They were excited and agreed to sign on at home and update their profile in French and pick their avatar. I shall use it as a homework site and may well use that Twitter rubric I mentioned in the last Twiducate post to assess them. Already half of them have done what I asked and I had given them until next Tuesday. They must have left school and got straight on their computers at home! That is how much they rate and value Twiducate! So I’d like to suggest a spot on Twiducate for students to be able to comment about Twiducate or offer suggestions. I have even received a note from a student who was going to change out of French that he is no longer going to do that.Twiducate power! My year 11 class was so glad to be back on Twiducate and most of them have updated their profiles, got their avatar and their first responses in French to my question on Twiducate were far longer and more accurate. They even loved the chat function which is new to them. I found out I can send a chat message and it goes to them all. We have promised to find out more ways of using that.If we leave Twiducate open they will be able to ask me questions and send me messages. This class loves to “chat” in French. So my class of new students has got me stumped. I won’t push them into it. I shall have to try and work out why they were not impressed when every other class has been so excited about it. I actually have a really solid basis for assessing Twiducate and giving it a good run this year.