The try and fly generation

I have been a very naughty teacher. My year 9s had a really mean teacher today but we sorted it out! I am looking forward to seeing how the story unfolds and I have a week to watch it progress now. Learning in action…for all of us. I accidentally set them 4 hours of electronic homework on their language learning system. I know it tells me how long it will take when I set homework on this syLanguage Perfect Homeworkstem. I was in a new section and I wanted to pick a variety of verbs. I had forgotten just how thorough this language learning system is. My year 9s are really on the ball with technology. They had no sooner come into class than I heard , “Oh, you have set us homework!” They check their emails.  Then I heard , “4 hours?” reverberating around the room.

“Mrs. Woods, have you really set us 4 hours homework?”

“Mrs. Woods!!”

So, I confessed. I explained I was in a new area of the system, that I wanted to help them learn their verb tenses and that I had picked some verbs so that they had some good practice and it wasn’t like usual…it had added up to 4 hours and I was a bit embarrassed. I believe very strongly in negotiating with students and working out reasonable goals with technology. The key word being reasonable. I could have cancelled that homework. I could have changed it but I decided it is a good lesson to learn how to manage ridiculous and unreasonable and still come out on top. We had a 5 minute discussion. I said the best thing they could do was show anyone that life could throw them something utterly unreasonable and they would do their best to make it work. I also told them that I was not expecting 4 hours of homework!

I gave them 30 minutes of class time and said I could then work out how I would manage my own learning curve and lack of attention to detail on the screen. 25 minutes into it I could bring up the class and what they had done. They had completed 4% and then I could see what each student had done and 3 of them had done nothing. One student had not been able to access her account. Not  on her iPad, not on the iPad I lent her and not with more expert help. Nothing was going to work so we struck a deal that she would do what she could at home and I would allow for the iPad problem. The two others really had done nothing. So this learning system tells me who is doing what. I can show that to the students. We can look at it and by now, they know how to advocate for themselves in terms of being assessed online. We had a plan. We had a week to give it our best shot, I would get the email with the results and we would talk about it. I have just checked their progress. We are up to 8%.year 9 French

These students born after 2000 are really up for a challenge. All you have to do is put in a negotiating safety net and some agreed rules and they will just fly…the try and fly generation.

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Technology trains your brains

technology opens horizonsI am sure someone is doing research somewhere to prove than technology use improves your brain function. Students born in 2000 and after are different. They know a lot. They can absorb information very quickly. They make connections fast. My job as a teacher with those students is to access all that information in their brains and make it go to work in the name of real knowledge and education. I actually taught my year 9s yesterday some French grammar I had taught the year 11s the week before. The reason I did it was when I was marking their work I could see the year 9s wanted to make more complex sentences and normally I don’t try that until year 10. I could see what they were all trying to do in that batch of work. We practiced our big numbers and then I just said to them I was going to try something and that I had, in fact ,taught them modal verbs last term and they even knew what that meant, and that I would see how they went and they shouldn’t worry if it seemed hard because it was. It was year 11. I got silence. Some scrambled for their  pencils. Their iPads were under their chairs. I did my 5 minutes explaining but at every step I asked if they got it. Their faces were intent. They were looking at one bit and then the other bit and I could seem them trying to make connections. It’s easier when I do my daft drawings. My students seem to enjoy my lack of capacity to draw as I talk and they learn that way…visual, some text and voice overs!!! These students have grown up with technology. I only ever teach like that for a maximum of 10 minutes. Technology means I can create custom lessons, access what I need very quickly, create depth or amusement in an instant. I can see these younger students want to know. They ask intelligent questions. They do not switch off from knowledge and they don’t worry if they are baffled. The internet baffles them on a regular basis. Games baffle them at every level. They have no fear of not knowing because they also know you can level up or you can access someone on a site which will explain all. Next semester in year 9 I am going to have baffle your brain sessions of 10 minutes every week and see what happens. We are really going to hurt our heads with learning at a higher level. Having something which you cannot do easily, cannot understand easily forces your passive knowledge to become active. That’s my belief and this is my plan.

Technology gives hope

I cannot help but be totally inspired by Nick and Chris Fryer who have had Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy since the age of 8 and were not expected at all to live until the age of 37. Their interest in, and capacity to work with, technology has given them a life full of hope and inspiration. They are world changers and are enabling themselves to have an even bigger impact on the world by their creative use of technology. You can miss the first 3 minutes of this video and see just how much they can do and how inventive they are. Now they have got this far they are taking an interest in other MS affected people and creating a YouTube channel to show them that they , too, can have a positive, productive life. You can read the abc news article Muscular Dystrophy Robot Building Twins to understand better just what they have achieved through technology and how their use of technology is having a profound impact on the world of people who have Duchenne’s MS. Nick and Chris are showing us that we no longer need to be limited in any way. Technology offers a pathway to those who were previously marginalised because we thought we did not have a way of helping them. As it turns out, if you give them the tools they can help themselves and  us , show us the possibilities and create solutions to problems in a way we had never previously imagined.

Okay, I’ll play your game

game earningsActually, I probably won’t. The one thing about people who play games is that they are very particular about which games they play and which device or devices they use. Some play Facebook games, others console games. Some just want to play on their smart phone. Some want simple games, others action and multiuser games. We all have very strong preferences and so it comes as a surprise in some ways that some games make squillions of dollars and there are gamers out there who can make huge amounts of money from their gaming when the opportunities arise. Those who invested in Grand Theft Auto 5 a while back would have found it sucked up their bandwidth and their money in excess usage charges. Those on unlimited broadband would not have had a problem, but those tied to a capped plan were finding no one else in the house could do anything because the data allowance had run out. Grand Theft Auto 5 is a high performance, cutting edge, state of the art game. The graphics and everything else to do with it are top of the range awesomeness. It is why it was awaited with great enthusiasm by those who play it. Game developers have a significant impact on hardware and software development because their games test what we can currently produce and their ideas drive the creativity to develop better components and ways of doing things. So take a look at the numbers:

1. 10 highest grossing free to play gaming apps
2. Top Grossing iPhone Games – by country (You will need to log in.)
3. 10 highest video games ever

Games are about the money, the market and what people seemingly want to do. Clash of Clans can earn nearly 200 000 million dollars a day in the US at the moment. The money around games is huge, the market penetration massive and our willingness to play never ending. So , what does all this mean for education? We really do need to start that discussion and robust debate. Game companies are not going to be at all worried that students are playing games in class or endlessly at home. My first thought as a teacher is we need to get some balance into usage first of all. Then we need to deconstruct games to see what educational purposes they serve and what technology skills they develop. We need to think about putting our teacher input and  making observations about what games do and mean. We probably need to teach the skills to create games and have some educational input there. We need to understand what games are, what purposes they serve and what the impacts are and then contribute to what they can become and how they can be used. We need to play games ourselves and talk to people about the games they play. Until we start doing these things it will take more than me to look at games and gaming in education.

Social media is a current job skill

Your students need access technology and they need good technology skills. social media Today on Seek there are 2487 jobs which involve social media requirements. Social Media is a 2015 significant job skill.

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