How to give a great lesson

This PowToon presentation gives you food for thought about how to organise content for a classroom. The students we teach now are visual.They do learn more quickly and better with animated and visual presentations. They do learn more efficiently if you keep the board clear except for two or three things and then move on. I have also used PowToon with students and they really like it. I didn’t use it last year because we were looking at other animation software to use in class. PowToon was easy for them to use and they produced some really good assignments with the content we were learning. Using a more visual approach needs rethinking and making the most of a visual approach need practice. Using a graphic organiser like the one I put up in my last post helps you to rethink materials and resources for lessons. This video has reminded me to think about something else again. It’s how you start a lesson. The first 5 minutes are critical. Once you have their attention by using technology, it rarely wanders off in my experience but you have to get those first 5 minutes right. I am going to focus on improving that and this video demonstrates when you keep the conversation going, you move the information and you build a narrative, you can gain attention quite easily and then deliver worthwhile content. I could do worse than decontruct this video to see how I could improve my presntation skills in a lesson.

Australian Curriculum : Digital Technologies

You may have missed it. ACARA put out a video explaining Digital Technologies in our new Australian curriculum. computational thinkingIt is about giving our students the skills, thinking and tools to comfortably sit in a digital world and understand the implications of that. It is the thinking which is important. ACARA has tried to focus on that and show a way to develop that because if we don’t have students who are hurting their heads with learning and who are not engaged in explicit interaction with technology then we won’t be moving anywhere. To me, Associate Professor Paul Newhouse sums it all up well. We have to be able to collaborate. We have to be able to find digital solutions to problems facing us in workplaces and organisations which are all part of a global movement now. Associate Professor Paul Newhouse is right. We need to engender knowledge, disposition and concepts all of which are readily available and highlighted in our national curriculum. The fact we look at general competencies and put ICT there means ACARA acknowledges technology is there and integral to all we do now.

Is technology a threat to our education?

My short answer ? No. It will change how we educate and what options we have for education. I was asked a question in a survey last night – How do we prepare people for the future of education? That is a tough question to answer in 2014. Technology is rapidly changing how we interact and how we can interact and what our daily lives look like. Watching this video makes it  possible to have a look at some of the implications of technology in an education setting. It won’t just be holograms and virtual objects instead of real ones. Augmented reality is going to play a bigger role as will voice, video and image. Streaming others into a classroom will be a distinct possibility and participating in online collaboration and learning will be ubiquitous. I dread the thought we’ll plug students into a port and download information directly to their brains. That will make humans no different from a computer. You might know things but that is not knowledge. You have to live learning to really know it. I know how to make Vietnamese cold rolls. Putting that information into practice was an epic fail of spectacular proportions last night. So I had to go through the inquiry approach and then the discovery learning and after four attempts I got a respectable Vietnamese cold roll. That is the concept 10, 000 hours of learning which psychologists have discovered you need to master something. I can see a mix of real classrooms and virtual ones. I can see classroom walls dissolving into virtual classrooms when needed and , as a result, learning no longer restricted by time and space.Legally that could cause some real headaches and keeping individuals safe will be an issue.  You might see it differently. We won’t be able to predict how it will be because we don’t know everything about current research. That will determine some of how education is delivered as will economic preferences. It’s a good question to ponder. The possibilities are interesting and the debate should be lively.

Collage apps

pic collage We are creating our dream bedrooms to label and write about. When you are learning housing vocabulary there is so much to learn. It is daunting. I soften it by using images in exercises and assignments. Students love working with images. With the iPads in Year 8 it’s been more of a challenge getting apps which will customise images so we can manipulate them for our own purposes. Two apps I recommended to the students which they love are Pic Collage and Photo Collage. Pic Collage has been a firm favourite for this assignment and the sorts of customised images the students are creating are both imaginative and have stimulated a lot of interest. This way they don’t mind at all when we do all the vocab practice. They want to know the words for their dream bedroom. They want to say them properly and they want to know the right word. Image apps can help you get the core classroom business in place very easily!

My iPad is having a spaz attack!

iPads in the classroom

iPads in the classroom

Well, that was fun. Friday double lesson is 2 hours of 31 year 8s and 31 iPads. We were week 1 , Term 4 and it was iPads behaving badly. Did I want to bring back the books and pens? No way ,but it was an interesting test of my skills to keep 31 students and their iPads on track no matter what. Unless things go wrong , you have no idea what you are capable of. I am capable of producing a lot of wires, talk and trouble shooting while I simultaneously keep my lesson going. To think I had given up multitasking. In crisis management mode you have to multitask and run the calm universe in parallel to the chaotic one. We were working. We were supposed to be creating a photo montage which we were labelling in French to load up onto the LMS . I had created the task that morning but the task showed Saturday’s date and one student spotted that. Well spotted and then it was on…

“Mrs. Woods, my iPad apps are jumping shut. Look! “ He appeared at my desk to demonstrate the offending iPad behaviour. “So, what do you think the problem is?” I asked. “My iPad is having a spaz attack.”

“Okay , so shut it down and start again and we’ll see. “ He did that but it was still misbehaving. It had 142 games apps updates to install and 15 other apps updates. He had numerous apps open. We closed those, cleared the cache and I got him to download a different document reader and all was fine for 5 minutes. “My iPad is flat.” I plugged in the charger and he sat on the other side of my desk.

My iPad has an exhausted stream. Look!” came the voice of another student. “Oh, now the battery has run out.” He borrowed my spare iPad and got on with the work. ” I can’t upload my file. Look, I’ll show you. “ This was another student. So we connected the iPad to my laptop, transferred the file and I logged into his LMS profile and he uploaded it in 2 seconds. That done, another student had exactly the same problem. Repeat process. In the meantime there was a student moaning and groaning because his iPad was so slow. “Close all your open applications, shut it down and start again.” Smiles this time. I thought that might have been it but this just kept going on all lesson and I had to keep swapping leads, connections, getting them to shut down and restart their iPads or use my laptop to transfer files and access things they couldn’t. The one student with a laptop couldn’t get on the Net so he had to see the technicians. Technology behaving badly. First week of term and it can only get better. It was a funny lesson , though. Year 8s will just adapt very quickly to any given situation and so you can manage these sorts of technology – based classroom chaos lessons quite well…if you just breathe deeply, smile lots and stay zen.

Josefine Grimm-Blenk

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