Writing , writing and writing

writing Image 10 Best Writing apps

Devices offer a diverse array for writing practice in all its varied forms. You can painfully type your way on a mini touch screen and embarrass yourself publicly in quite a spectacular way like I do if you wish or you can nimbly glide across a touch screen and insert images and sound as quick as lightning. Writing doesn’t have to just stare back at you. You can make it move, talk, connect to a website, a clip. You can add animation and annotations. One of the great experiences I discovered on my iPad was iPad magazines. I still read paper ones from time to time but an iPad magazine might include video clips, text reading, QR codes to go elsewhere on the Net, interviews. The whole thing just jumps into life. It means there are also a variety of tool where students can practise the art of writing, planning writing, publishing, multifaceted writing and a number of literacy skills. When there is a smorgasbord of how you can write and develop your writing then the chances of your writing well and being creative are probably quite high. Some of the “cooler” apps are paid for. It is important to research them well to see if they meet your needs or the needs of your classroom. Any app I plan to use in class I research first and then test it out with a couple of students if I plan to use it. They value participating in reviews. TeachThought has 15 e-book writing apps which seem to be paid but which do come tested, so to speak, and so you can look at them to see the sorts of things the e-book writing apps can do. I can see my students using some of these and loving it. There are also 10 best writing apps recommended on NextWeb. Some of these are free and some of them practise and utilise hand writing skills. My favourite writing app is Notability but I also like Documents Free. Now that I have seen all these other apps I want to try them out because each app creates a different impact. Bottom line? Don’t go anywhere without Evernote! Cross platform, cross device , always there and pretty comprehensive.

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.

Be the change

Drive change

drive changeAt some point a teacher needs to work out that they are the one who is driving change and leading the people they are associated with onto newer and better ground. They have to have the confidence to be that kind of teacher,leader and influencer. Teachers have to have a methodical way of feeling so secure in themselves and what they are doing that they can be those sorts of change agents. It is not surprising some teachers feel confused, swamped, isolated or abandoned. It is a big, complex job and when you realise they are the people who can profoundly change others then it should not come as a surprise that it feels daunting and extremely challenging to be a teacher. Changing the lives of others and being an influence for positive growth is a demanding task. You need to address those feelings and perceptions methodically. You need to remind teachers they are the ones who can make a depressed child more at ease, a struggling child more comfortable, whole classes full of children who want to be a somebody that somebody they want to be and then they are also the ones who can inspire their colleagues, assure parents in a difficult , disrupted world and who can make breakthroughs in the delivery of curriculum so that it more meaningful, useful and more accessible. Teachers need to be held up, supported and encouraged to understand that they are profound influencers and need to take control of that. The internet is  full of great professional education sites which are supporting schools and educators both locally and internationally. Teachers can connect and be part of virtual groups and initiatives which will hold them up and move them in a safe way to be the leaders they are capable of being. The feedback loop is essential but part of that means teachers need to be able to identify, clarify and express the sorts of help and support they need. They need to participate in discussions so they can drive those discussions further and deeper. They need to collaborate with others so they can share their ideas and thoughts in order to grow them. They also need to feel sufficiently strong and competent that they can walk in and start developing the  ideas they have so they can make them reality. As a teacher you are responsible for a lot of lives and involved in so many interpersonal transactions. You have to know, without a shadow of a doubt , that you are the one who can be the change and that waiting for things to happen won’t bring that change about. You need the professional educational input and development but you also need the personal strength training so you feel you can make a difference and just go ahead and do it. It’s about learning how to be an independent operator who has a way of engaging positively, and in a considered way, with those within  your sphere of influence.

lily tomlin quote

einstein quote

Study sites for older students

We are all into lifelong learning, right? So these websites might not just be for older students enrolled in courses. They might be for all of us. The tumblr blog Study your heart out , where I found these links, is full of good information an tips for older students. It is a site which is particularly strong in literacy and literature links but there really is something there for everyone.

Progressive disclosure

All teachers know about chunking the work. All teachers know about planning lessons and assignments around the steady and controlled revelation of information and knowledge. Step by step teaching and learning is second nature to them. Now they are using technology , it’s time for them to meet the UX and UI experts and learn the term progressive disclosure. It’s not that they don’t know it. There has been IWB software which includes spotlight or hidden screen functionality. There have been Powerpoint presentations where you reveal the learning material a bit at a time. Progressive disclosure is a familiar term and concept in UX and UI and software designers these days think in this way. Apps and software are designed with this in mind so that the user is not swamped with information and can navigate their way through the app , site or software in an intuitive way. Teachers, then, need to be able to talk about progressive disclosure. They need to be mindful of it as they design digital materials and they need to be able to have those conversations with people who are designing educational software and apps so they can explain to them what sorts of stepping processes influence classroom learning and learners. My students were always complaining very loudly if they had software which would not let them progress in any way unless they could write exactly what the software wanted as an answer. It was a big turn off for independent learning. They didn’t like being swamped with a whole array of things to do either. I would ask them to let me know if there were things which deterred them as they learned. I asked them to be able to explain that clearly and with their reasons for being put off. I would then have conversations with the companies supplying that software either on the phone or via email/support to try to explain that from an educational point of view. It often did boil down to the way the software was operating in terms of progressive disclosure. We are still developing tools and techniques for the classroom. We need to keep the conversations going and students need to be encouraged to be a part of that ongoing development so they understand how to improve their virtual world.

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