So the Coetail Course closes with my redefinition of the grade 9 Kinematics course. I have to admit this project was a little daunting to start with and on reflection there are some improvements I would love to have made, for example including video clips of the students performing the experiments, but I am happy with the final product and how positive an experience it was for all in the classroom.
The Coetail course has immersed me in technology, I’d been meaning to get a blog going, use imovie, RSS reader, tweet etc and Coetail encouraged me to do these things. It all about having the confidence and seeing the use. These can only be got by participation and experience. No room for lurkers.
I anticipate that the skills learned will be used and modified in years to come. I have many positive takeaways, for example e marking and flipping the classroom.
The course has definitely helped me grow as a teacher, it had professional development stamped on the box and that’s exactly what it’s done!
I have been finalizing my ideas for my project and have settled on the topic of motion. Traditionally I would drive the pace and development of the ideas from the front of the classroom, using worksheets and the Physics book for reinforcement as well as additional questions and extension material. There would also be a fair amount of practical work. Assessment would be in the form of written lab reports and responses to mathematical & graphical questions.
This time round I will be using an interactive e text book and flipping the classroom. I see myself setting homework as a block of time rather than numbers of questions to be completed. It requires the students to learn responsibly, for example using their time and the worked solutions appropriately. Students will learn at their own pace, a truly differentiated class with all students learning at their own pace and level. Class time will be spent individually helping students and performing the practicals to cement the concepts. I will insist data logging equipment and graphing programs are used. Assessment will be submitted and marked electronically.
I want to develop and embed an e marked quiz with feedback. I am still fine tuning this as I may be able to utilize a program that can respond to number inputs rather than just multiple choice type responses. I hope my colleagues will utilize this assessment.
Having produced the flipped classroom videos on The Story of the Atom in a previous course (see 19th October post) I decided to trial them and get some feedback from my students in order to help me improve them in the future.
My big takeaways are:
- The students enjoyed the ability to stop and replay at their leisure.
- They enjoyed learning when they wanted and having less distractions particularly when using earplugs and the screen.
- They appreciated have an activity (a table) to fill in while watching, this kept them engaged.
- The material was interesting and well presented with clear explanations.
- I should talk a little slower and include some gentle pauses particularly when they are required to fill in their tables.
- Use a better camera/lighting and write clearer/larger.
- Wear a microphone so the sound is clearer, useful particularly when turning around.
Food for thought……
For my course 5 project the unit I am looking to embed technology into will be the Grade 9 Physics trimester on Mechanics. This is an easy choice, indeed the only choice as I want to trial it during the induction. Currently I only teach two sections; grade 12 and 9. In the next semester I will be preparing the former for their I.B Diploma final exams, this will entail finishing the course content, reviewing, revising and plenty of practice exam questions. I do not feel these activities or the timing is optimum to initiate new technology. I do have some new technology I want to try with them, for example instant electronic grading and feedback of multiple choice questions, however in my opinion the stakes and pressure are too high to be doing too much ‘testing’.
On the other hand my Grade 9 classes will be moving from Biology into my specialist area thus strengthening my understanding of the conceptual requirements. I plan to teach their Mechanics unit as a flipped classroom. This will be supported by online materials, I will use booklets for them to refer to write in revise from and cover the likely case that at some stage their will be a technology problem. I also want to look into setting up some kind of online work that they can submit and I can mark, grade and give feedback on. I would like to get some kind of discussion group/networking going that each student contributes to, showing their thinking, asking questions, responding to others, giving suggestions.
Another activity I certainly want to include is class practical work, I will definitely be incorporating technology into these activities.
I am curious to see how they will take to this, will they get immersed or want to fall back on the more familiar teaching style they are used to. This is a key aspect for reflection. I am also considering how I will assess and grade certain aspects of their involvement. I will need to think carefully about setting the correct tasks as they will need to hit our broad learning categories with the correct proportions.
A few other concerns are how many technical problems there will be, how the students technical abilities may undermine their progress and how best to deal with these unpredictable issues.
This is the first year I have taught every student having been issued with a Lap Top. I am pleased to report I really like it and think it has created far fewer problems that I expected. All students have the same Macbook pro with programme suite and can get quick, reliable support; this is vital.
During class when we are having a discussion or developing a key conceptual idea I like to have the lids firmly closed this encourages focus. There are other times when I like to have them open, sometimes I station one student to be on lap top duty to search and add comments during the lesson.
Some students work better with their computers than others. I think flexibility of use is the key to success. You do have to be aware that the box of technology in front of them can be distracting. I have ‘caught’ some students off task but a correcting word and an explanation of expectation has so far been sufficient. I do not see this as much of a problem in my class.
I still regularly insist that hard copies are brought into class as a myriad of technology problems, genuine or otherwise, can contrive to hinder progress. It can also be more efficient to give instant feedback and write a comment. I must admit I am yet to try electronic marking; something for the future.
These residual problems can often impinge on my lessons, I always have a plan B and have used it more often that I would have liked.
I am very open to use the students as a technology resource. It is amazing how much they know and how much they can help each other, for instance the submission of work to turnitin. An activity I would like to try when the subject matter lends itself would be to use a class discussion page.
I believe bring specialists into my classroom enriches student learning. I have invited a technologist and a librarian in for specific activities (the later for correctly researching, presented and referencing the periodic table project that I refered to in an earlier blog post).
I find good apps can be really powerful tools. I like using online multiple choice questions with immediate feedback response and applets that allow you to preform impossible experiments like lauching cars as projectiles.
Three common theories of learning Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism were developed when technology did not have such a powerful impact on education. We are only talking twenty years but boy how things have changed. In a word it’s the ability to connect or network that I see as the game changer. Technology is rewiring our brains because it’s changing the way we learn and how we demonstrate learning. For example some traditional information processing is almost becoming obsolete. Currently in grade 9 I insist my students draw at least one table and graph by hand, but that is far less than ten years ago. Then I would never have believed that now I would only insist on one! How long will I continue with this?
Know where is more important than know how. With excessive information available the skill is becoming recognizing recent, relevant and useful information from the rest.
So along comes a new educational theory called Connectivism, trying to take on board these technological changes. The learning is not internal and individual but open and shared. The knowledge is distributed and participatory through networks. It is modified and continuous.
MOOC or Massive Open Online Course as well as UoPeople University of the People are two new examples of the potential seismic change about to hit education. As university tuition fees soar here is free education (excluding nominal fees and payment for credits). Students select courses, which admittedly are rather limited in choice at the moment. Then a cohort of 20-30 are required to perform weekly online readings, watch lectures, respond and comment on their own and others blog posts, contribute to forums, complete written assignments, quizzes and exams. Providing the weekly work is completed on time the flexibility of online courses allows student to have a job if required.
The nature of this learning and assessment reflects Connectivism (as does this COETAIL course) and while I can see many advantages in this model I still have a few unanswered questions. How can you be sure of the validity of the student’s work? How can practical subjects be taught this way? Nevertheless, revolutionary times ahead brought about but technology.
The flipped classroom aka reversed instruction is a fairly new idea to the educational world and one that might seem rather radial but does appear to make a lot of common sense.
The basic mode of operation of the flipped classroom is that students do not come into class to be lectured to. This content bit happens at home for homework and could take the form of a virtual lecture, screencast interactive site or activity. Class time is used for practical work, increasing engagement, assimilation, enhancing content, problem solving, guidance, questioning and more. The nature of the flipped classroom enables teachers the time to focus and ‘teach’ individual students rather than lecturing to the masses. It also allows students to chose their own time to receive instructional information with the added bonus of pause, mute and repeat button. This method builds in greater individualism and differentiation which has ultimately got to be a good thing.
Although there are many fine sites where you can find lectures, The Khan Academy is probably the most famous and comprehensive but there are other ways to deliver content, for example there are many fine interactive science activities on the Phet University of Colorado site and these can be used with worksheets, instructions and questions.
One of the pitfalls of the flipped classroom is students not doing homework. In the traditional classroom this is not ideal but in the flipped world this halts any possible progress. From my experience for flipped class success the teacher must ensure each student is regularly given class time to ensure there is steady and satisfactory forward movement. Accurate feedback and individual goal setting also leads to success. For example I might assign homework in minutes to be spent rather than questions to be completed.
I believe integrated technology in the classroom means using any technological tools (hardware or software) to enhance learning. These can be used in many different ways and to many different extents but to use them effectively they must sit in context and be purpose serving and engaging. They can reinforce, enrich or extend learning. They can encourage planning, collaboration and discussion but they absolutely must have teacher input.
Using the SAMR model of technology integration I have been examining my levels of integration. According to this model there a four basic levels:
1. Substitution: the computer stands in for another technological tool without a significant change in the tool’s function.
2. Augmentation: the computer replaces another technological tool, with significant functionality increase.
3. Modification: the computer enables the redesign of significant portions of a task.
4. Redefinition: the computer allows for the creation of new tasks that would otherwise be inconceivable without the technology.
Substitution and Augmentation I do routinely; the minimum expectation I have for all students in grade 9 and above is consistently produce word processed lab reports with diagrams, tables, graphs all having been spelt and grammar checked.
Modification is developed in grade 9 & 10 – using logger pro sensors and graphing programs to measure and manipulate data in the lab. By grade 11 most students can do this but it is very common to find they need a little help. We would also perform some online experiments and discuss the benefits and limitations of both types of experimentation.
Redefining is less common but it is something I have been thinking about recently. I think there are opportunities for this to happen and it is will one of my goals for course 5.
Footprints leave a trace by Garry
It is estimated that each one of us has an average online footprint of about 45GB, (calculate your digital footprint
), about half of which is active; purchasing bills, travel information, pictures etc that puts the total size of the digital universe at about 3 x 10^20. Given this fact it would seem reasonable enough to expect this vast source of free and easily accessible information to be used by potential employers and that is exactly what they do. It is estimated that 92% of potential employers actively search the net and in particular facebook, twitter and linkedin (readwrite
) for information. In today’s connected world it is virtually impossible not to have a digital footprint. That’s fine/inevitable but also highlights the importance of managing it and ensuring it reflects positively on you.
Your digital shadow is probably larger and more important than you think! Organizations have a responsibility to privacy and data leaks, but much of this footprint is uploaded by individuals and friends. Our students need to be made aware of the potential personal & financial dangers of carelessly sharing information about themselves and others. However, on the other side of the coin, they should also be encouraged to present themselves in a positive light; for example a monthly blog post on something they are proud of doing, or progress they feel they have made.
There is a need for a responsible internet safety program and advice on how to build a positive digital profile as well as how to deal with issues that compromise it. There are some great standards for both teachers & students at ISTE’s NETS
. As for when and how to deal with this education; I can deal with any issues that may arise in my class as best I can. However I am not a specialist and not trained in this area so do not feel I am best placed to delivery the message. I believe a well planned vertical approach from a coordinated IT department would be the best way to move forward. If it can be incorporated into the syllabus and taught in context that would give the message even more power. We recently used my grade 9 research an element activity to teach about citing work and reliable sources.