Naplan Testing

acara naplanACARA has done some extensive work to get the Naplan testing up and running online. It has used the input from staff and students to improve access to and engagement with the Naplan testing and the results have been very positive:

“In NSW alone, 2,500 schools participated in the readiness tests in the past five weeks. Results from a survey of those taking part showed that schools felt students were more engaged with the online tests compared to pen-and-paper assessments. In NSW, with over 460,000 tests having been completed, feedback over the past five weeks has shown:

  • 76 per cent of students liked doing the test online
  • 87 per cent of schools indicated a level of confidence to transition to NAPLAN Online.”

It is important to match testing techniques with the people who are being assessed or you end up in that testing a goldfish to climb a tree meme we all know. Currently there would be many teachers who have not really participated in exam systems because they would have been assessed by continuous assessment techniques. The world has changed to technology and so there is now a disconnect between pen and paper and cognitive flow. Students have grown up with smart phones and tablets and so paper information is less relevant and accessible  to them.

We have yet to address the linguistic issues in benchmark testing in a nation where so many languages are spoken and English might be the second, third or fourth language of the student:

“In 2016, there were over 300 separately identified languages spoken in Australian homes. More than one-fifth (21 per cent) of Australians spoke a language other than English at home. After English, the next most common languages spoken at home were Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, and Vietnamese. Tasmania had the highest rate of people speaking only English at home with 88 per cent, while the Northern Territory had the lowest rate at 58 per cent.”

Australian Bureau of Statistics

The ACARA site explains clearly how it has gone about its preparations for moving testing online and it has very much adopted a consultative approach and  has provided plenty of online information and support for parents and other key stake holders in this process so that they can inform themselves and become a positive part of it.

Good standards of literacy and numeracy improve communities and the economy of the country. Unesco has completed plenty of research on that. There was also a field study research paper published in 1998 by the University of Nebraska : Benefits of literacy field experiences: Three views which concludes:

“We continue to alter our field experiences as we seek to improve
our teacher education program. Even though we each set up our field
experiences differently, we agree on some important tenets of field
experience. First, we think that being reflective about this process is
an important part of improving the product. Secondly, we think the
notion of practicing what we preach is particularly important for not
only preservice teachers to see, but also classroom teachers. And fi
nally, we think that preservice teachers are more apt to remember their
field experiences and learn from them when they are allowed to con
struct their own learning in a realistic classroom setting.”

This is what ACARA is doing. It is helping teachers , parents and students to construct a realist approach to benchmark testing in 2017 and beyond because the world has changed.

 

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Wireframing digital lesson planning

digital lesson planning

Teachers probably need to wireframe assessment plans and lesson plans on a reasonably regular basis. Wireframing means you can get the block areas of the document easily so that you are covering all the current requirements. I have put an example up from i21zone because one of the key features of this is that it covers technology in a sound way. A lesson plan (or assessment plan) now needs to include so many elements:

lesson goals/outcomes

lesson content

digital resources

cross curriculum links

other resources

acara subject

acara general capabilities

student performance standards

teacher performance standards

inclusion

accessibility

school site plan

There are other things which should and could be added and that is my point. Lesson planning and topic planning in the 21st century has become complex and mostly for good reason. It would be a good exercise, then to sit and map out a wireframe for the perfect lesson planning document to suit your needs. It would also be an interesting exercise to sit and group plan a wireframe for the most suitable lesson planning document. Wireframing could just be done with pen and paper. but there are free apps you can try for wireframing. You need to get a list of the elements first. Once that is done the blocks need to be designed and the y have to fit an A4 page. It’s all part and parcel of aitsl encouraging teachers to base their lesson planning on reason. It is also why the innovation unit in the UK has done so much work around getting the right lessons for students. In the end it is about getting a template which suits your needs and the needs of whom you are teaching. Without it you are carrying all that stuff around in your head and it’s draining.

Assembly app

Techgen has created a pretty good review of the Assembly app and the video goes through the key points of using it. I have been using it on my iPad and haven’t, as yet, encountered the problems he had on his phone. I can manage the shape choices across the bottom bar of my iPad Air quite well . What I can’t do is find out how to put in my own backgrounds as he did . There doesn’t seem to be an option for that. Maybe it comes with the subscription to Assembly Pro.

assembly app

Yesterday’s image

I am running the free version and have plenty to be working with and the shape packages are now all free. You can easily download them as you want them. I run it with the snap to grid functionality because it creates very precise placement and image manipulation. It is easy to change the colours and add text and to bring pictures forward or put hem to the back. It is an app which fits in well with the ACARA Digital Technologies curriculum requirements because students can learn how to manipulate objects, how to apply graphic design ideas , how to collaborate and how digital systems work to create meaning. It’s a great app for creating logos, simple designs and not so simple designs when you get good at it. There are tutorials on You Tube and the Assembly app site itself points you in the right direction. Currently it’s an iOS app. There is a review of it on stuff.tv . It saves the created images  in HD and the size is about 4000 pixels square , so a good size for manipulating further and reducing them will not disturb image integrity.

Learn coding

vivaLucci is straight to the point and explains clearly how to go about learning code. Code is problem solving. Get a good project and learn to code. Get a reason to code and learn to code. Start with one code and dedicate yourself to that learning and you’ll find a lot of the knowledge and approaches are transferable. I started coding because I was there when Commodore 64s came on to the market as the first home computers. They were clever but to get the best out of them you had to code. The manual came with some codes to learn and I built on that. The school I was in introduced BBC computers which could run some software but we had nothing for languages. I used my Commodore 64 language, borrowed books on BBC computers and learned to write scripts to run programmes to teach languages. I was coding the images, the sequence of events and then collaborating with interested students to develop those programmes further. That’s a point vivaLucci makes. Coding gets you collaborating and collaborating improves your coding. Students couldn’t write the scripts I was writing but they could add to them. We were a mini coding team and grew our knowledge by helping each other. We had a purpose. We were trying to make cool things for the class to use in the computer lab. I have grown from that point and add to it when I want to. Forbes has a good article as to why students should learn coding :

“It also has the potential to bring about a fundamental shift in the way we view technology, turning us from passive consumers into active producers. “There is a massive difference between consuming content and being able to create it,” Sutcliffe adds. “It is important to have agency over the tools you are using.””

Entrepreneur has some good sites to help anyone learn coding. There is so much free material to help you learn and you can go back to it and learn some more when you are ready. Lifehacker has some good recommendations for apps and sites for children to learn coding. For children to learn coding adults have to know what to safely recommend and have a degree of comfort with the software and apps and teachers need some good training which enables them to feel at ease with coding and see the purpose of it:

“But if coding is to become embedded in schools it is going to take a massive effort in terms of teacher-training. Kirsop attests to the shortage of time lack spent on programming skills on her own training course. “There is a long way to go before teachers feel confident enough to teach these skills,” she says.”

Teach kids how to code and you give them a skill for life

Why teach coding?

teach coding

 

This image was doing the rounds on the net earlier on the week and it was surprising how many teachers supported it. That said a lot. It means they do not feel comfortable with coding. Teaching code does not in any way mean that you ignore or replace other curriculum content, personal and social capabilities or wellbeing. As one of the people says in the video if you want to make money or you want to change the world then you need to learn coding. Coding is everywhere and in every part of our life. Healthcare is one of the biggest growth areas for IT development skills and programming skills. Coding is saving lives but we don’t currently have the source code to save the planet. Something to work on.

Kodables has a really good infographic as to why we should teach coding but it supports that with some very helpful downloadable materials to teach it. coding skillsEducational Technology and Mobile Learning

why learn coding

Why learn coding?

has looked at the skills students learn from coding . The video explains it all well, though, and teachers need to be able to find a level of comfort with teaching coding. That cartoon could not have been broadcast and shared on the internet without coding. Researchers collaborate across the planet to solve problems and develop ideas. All of that requires coding. Someone else in the video said that if someone had told her that software was about humanity she would have been able to approach coding in a better way earlier in her life.

coding joke

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