Final thoughts…final project

With my final project wrapped up I wanted to make some comments about what I consider the success and things I would do differently next year.

If you would like to view my final project it is embedded at the end of this blog post.


Youtube and the flipped approach:

Creating detailed videos of both giving instructions and then details about the features at the different sites along the river was very effective.  It save a lot time and frustration for me and allowed me to do a lot more one-to-one work with students in the classroom with questions they had about their own written work.  In the past I would often have to repeat the same instructions or answer the same question as students reached different stages of the assessment at different times, with the clips in place I simply referred students to them.  As outlined in my video these clips were also very useful for EAL students.

For next time:  

These clips were put together by a couple of my students, next year I think all the IA students would benefit from creating clips and ill probably split the task between them so each has a role to play, this could create some good competition on who can do the best job and give them greater buy in to using the clips, not to mention the skills they can develop and fun they can have making the clips.


The integrated map and data on the .kmz file worked really well, students created some very innovative integrated data presentations.

For next time: 

The only issue I had is with this system of using the .kmz file is that there is no live updates like a Google doc, which means I had to collate a lot of the student observations and the actually .mkz file myself.  This was then a fixed/locked file and could not be changed or improved   I would have also like the students themselves to be part of this creative process a lot more, next year ill be looking to integrated Google fusion into the process which may allow for this.

I also want to further develop the use of smart phone apps in the field for geography and am looking at the accuracy and viability of using a clinometer app (used to measure gradient, which can help explain velocity or speed of the river).

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Some Early Refections- Final Project

As the “learning” part of my remodeled unit is coming to an end and the students are starting to submit draft copies of their first sections of their IA’s so I thought it was time to reflect on some of my final project COETAIL strategies.

Flipped videos:

While on my geography field-trip (see my last blog for more information on the unit) I made a series of video clips using a flip camera, great hardware- so easy to use, both in terms of capturing images and uploads.  The idea was to document each or the river sites so students could refer to the clips back in the classroom for analysis, I found last year students forgot or confused what features had been at each of the sites, making analysis of data very difficult.  I got some students to edit the clips and create digital stories for each of the sites, a massive time saver for me and by working their way through the footage the students got to review the content further.  Although I am yet to discuss the value of these clips with the students, anecdotal comments and the view numbers tell me students have been watching and using the clips.

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A crack at Google fusion:

Thanks to the mystery person (see below for this tip)

I had a trail of the new Google table “Google Fusion” that enable you to use latitude and longitude data to integrate various data sets onto Google maps.  See my attempt below:

This is a cool new application and would have been useful for students to play with as a bit of an intro to creating their own GIS, however I found the interface difficult to use and some the location data mapped incorrectly, so instead we created a .kmz file using Google earth which students could use to share detailed information about the different river sites.  This worked very well, as it gave students a great base map to manipulate for their data presentation and refer to for site descriptions.   Google fusion is still in beta form and I am sure it will become more user-friendly in coming months as it does have some great application potential.   I was discussing it with an artist friend of mine last week and he plans to tag his sketches to various locations around the world and share the map with potential clients to show off his work, it sounds very cool.

More reflections on different strategies will follow.

The next phase of my final project will be to do some work with my students to assess their thoughts on some of the strategies I have used.

Final Project- Plan of attack

So final project time and I though it might be a good chance to touch base with my COETAIL community and share some of my ideas and hopefully get some feedback.  I have decided to take my geography internal assessment and improve the use of technology within the unit.

Next week we head up to Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand to investigate the characteristics of a river, for example how does volume of water and velocity of the river change downstream.  This data is then applied to a geographic model for comparison.

I am breaking down the unit into three sections.  What I am trying to do at this stage is link various technological approaches to the different elements of Ruben R. Puentedura’s Transformation, Technology and Education reading from course 4.

So here is what I’m thinking- Feedback and more ideas welcome. 

Part One:  The set up- Explaining to students the IA and expectations

  • Introduce unit and methodology using Zen presentation- Augmentation
  • Google site and Google docs for students to be able access all documentation and make their own copies as needed- Augmentation
  • Introduction of animations and short clips which students can use at home to improve learning of key geographic theory and explain their hypothesis and geographic context of the study (this is introducing a flipped approach as student will complete this learning at home and bring their questions and clarifications in to class)- Modification

 Part Two: The Fieldwork/ Data collection

  • Students will be encouraged to use smart phones while in the filed to plot locations of the sites for later map work, this should be easy enough using a pin drop function- Redefinition
  • Students will use cameras/phones to video and photograph elements of the sites which may help explain their results-This replaces the more traditional field sketches.  I will encourage students to make voiceovers with these clips as notes.- Modification
  • A Google spreadsheet will replace the paper we previously used for data collection and collation.- Augmentation

Part Three: The write and analysis- explaining results and evaluating the fieldwork. 

  • It is at this point I will look to ‘Flip’ the classroom, I would like to introduce more video that I have made during the trip to Chiang Rai and hopefully get a chance to edit while I am up there, these videos will help to explain why students get certain results and help explain why anomalies may occur.  The idea being students can refer to these during the ‘write up’ phase of the IA.  Class time will enable me to carry out discussion of group issues and more one on one work.   Modification
  • I would also like to introduce an info graphic maker at this stage to give students interesting methods to present their data and right now I’m playing with infogram – But if anyone has any suggestions for cool ways to make data interesting please let me know.  Redefinition
  • I am hoping that the Math (come in Dan Bentley) or Science (Neil Lewin) may be able to help me here as well with some software programs for greater data analysis.  Redefinition

Thoughts- Course 5 project

I am currently considering two options for my final project both will involve my IB geography classes and relate to the topics they will be studying in February/March next year.

Option one:  Collaborative revision website (Year 2 IB geography)

Creation of a collaborative revision website which would run off the Google sites platform.   The idea here will be that students will be creating and sharing resources and ideas around their revision for the May 2013 IB exam.  I have been working with my own site this year and feel it is a good platform to allow students to embed their own work, maybe in the form of practice essay’s or other past exam questions and then peers or myself would review the material and provide feedback.  Other sections of the site could be set aside for links to good online resources students find and areas where they could post questions for me or others to answer.

Students would be required to peer assess, post feedback (thinking about digital citizenship), evaluate source materials, work collaboratively.  My role would be to moderate the site activity, establish the template for the site and encourage and promote its use.

The down side for this is it is not a set unit, more a collection of everything the kids do over the two year course so I am not sure how that would fit with what COETAIL is looking for, maybe Clint you have some ideas?

Source Wiki Commons
Author Carlos Botelho

Option two: Flipping the Internal Assessment (Year 1 IB geography)

The geography IA involves teaching students a wide range of skills, from graphing/mapping, evaluation and analysis through to statistical tests (Spearman Rank anyone?).  Perfect for a flipped approach, I would develop screencasts and video clips around these skills, students would watch them at home and come to class ready to apply them to the data they have collected whilst on the IA fieldtrip.

For me the concern here is time, this takes place for the students throughout February and I am not sure of the timeline for course 5 project so would have to see how this works.  I feel I have a good skill set for this and have a couple of willing colleagues who can up skill me further on the video editing and flipped approach.

Students would be expected to do their part on the homework front, the IA being high-stakes (up to 25% of final IB grade) should be motivation enough for the students and I would not really have the issues of students not doing homework and therefore missing out on learning, as was expressed on many of the blogs about this approach.

As mentioned above this approach could be high risk, which does not always mean high reward. Could this approach potentially jeopardize my students’ achievement and final grade? This is something I will have to consider this in the coming weeks.



This year our grade 9 and 10 students have gone 1:1 with Macbook Pro’s so as we approach the end of the first semester this is a timely chance to reflect on my own management of the students use of this new learning tool.   Reading through Dean Groom’s 23 Things about Classroom Laptops was a useful place to start providing several good tips.   One that really caught my eye was:

8. Learn to use ‘mass’ collaboration tools and create learning spaces

 Find ways in which one or two students can ‘share’ work with many. Create online spaces where students can use ‘friend-networks’. Do not expect or ask students to work alone as they used to – that is the last thing they find motivating. Teachers will not be provided with these spaces – they need to be created in context with the needs and preferences of their learners.

This is my mantra at the moment and I cannot get enough of it.   My students know that my lessons these days generally start by showing your homework task to the person next to you and explaining your ideas and then making yours better by using what they have produced.  This is easily done through shared Google docs, Google chat function or an old school email.

Source: Posted to Flickr as victoria teaching
Author: laihiuyeung ryanne


Since joining my current school last August and adopting an integrated approach to tech use, my philosophy regarding management of laptops in my classroom been that of a very high trust model.  In terms of classroom management of laptops I give no overriding set of rules and regulations with regard to how and when laptops are being used, instead I prefer to discuss issues if and when they arise.   I have found that on the whole, through setting high standards around learning and the expectation that students are required to share their output with peers and me they are generally on task and if anything, are less distracted by the use of their computers.  Does this mean that the odd kid is not checking Facebook or watching football highlights?  I’d have to say no, but is this any different than pre 1:1?  On the occasions when I suspect off task behaviour I will sit with a student and ask them to show me their history (most browsers time stamp searches and page visits), not a bad idea anyway to help refine search options and track how students are researching information.   I tend to have a quiet word and at this stage and discuss the wider school policy around inappropriate use of laptops.   Over this semester I think I have only had to do this three times.

Practical Management

I am a big fan of the lids down management tool, and there are two times when I ask students to close their lids:

i) When I want them to look at me, focus on what I am saying or look at a visual on the whiteboard.  I find the fact they have a screen in front of them draws their attention away from the speaker, even if they are not typing or watching anything on the screen.   I have become more aware of this in meetings which I go to and now make a big effort to close my own computer lid when a colleague is talking.  I think if one of my students ever attended our staff meetings they may be horrified by the amount of people tapping away on their computers or checking their own Facebook.

ii) When I want them to discuss in small groups or peers.  Again this gets them recalling and thinking about their ideas in new form, not just reading their ideas from their own notes.  Lately I have been setting aside time after these discussions to allow students to add to their notes and it seems to be working really well.

Overall I have found the 1:1 roll out has improved my teaching dramatically, student engagement is up, I have less issues with missing homework and I find online marking of work, tidier, faster and feedback is near instant at times, but most importantly I facilitate cooperative learning much more efficiently.

Change is a coming…. or is it?

As I reflected on this weeks performance task I thought 15 years…what a long time, I wonder how things will change by the time my son hits high school in another 15 years, then the realisation hit me that I am fast closing in my first 15 years in education…how has my own practice changed in that time?

Fundamentally what goes on in my classroom has not changed much, students work collaboratively to create solutions to problems, they use inquiry skills, present findings and discoveries and voice opinions amongst a host of other things.   Sure, no longer is there time in the “computer room” to word process and create presentations using powerpoint and I am not finishing work covered in chalk, but at the end of the day students still arrive at 8am and leave at 3pm, sit in groups of 20-30 in a classroom, learn and eat lunch, much as they have done for the last 1000 years.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
Wiki Commons
This work is in the public domain in the United States

So is this about to change? Are we on the cusp of a major shift away from this tried and true system?  Most likely not, due to the conservative nature of western governments regarding education policy.  BUT what is exciting is that we are now in a position where a shift away from this traditional system, which does in fact, work fine for a lot of people in the developed world, could take place.

The location of future education is an interesting one, many organisations are offering free online courses, Yale, Stanford, Carnegie Melon etc are all running free courses through MOOC- Massive Open Online Course and the fantastically named University of the People is doing something very similar.  But the question has to be asked is this truly a paradigm shift in education?  The Open University in the UK was established in 1969 and has been running distance course in higher education successfully since then.  The difference I suppose is the accessibility people now have to these forms of higher education.   I see the real potential for change through online courses in the developing world, where education can be expensive and inaccessible.

On a personal note the big changes for garden variety classroom teachers like me will be the further growth as the role as a digital curator; I now spend a large amount of my prep time creating resources to point students in the right direction.  In the early days of my career I used to spend this time selfishly studying up on the content material myself, young people today do not need me to be an expert on everything, they need the skills to find that expertise themselves.

The Old Switcheroonie

I first heard of the flipped classroom last year at ISB when a colleague of mine, Michael O’Shannasy, under the expert guidance of Jeff Utech, was ‘flipping’ his South East Asia class in an attempt to cover large amounts of the required content without boring the students to death.  At the time I remember thinking the concept to be complicated and looked like it required large amounts of preparation and planning.  When talking with Michael about this he did make the point that the initial set was time consuming but once the students were into the task and the route he found he could take more of a backseat and the outcomes were really successful, he has refined the approach further this year and again had some great results, a true flipped convert.
Educause’s  THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT……..FLIPPED CLASSROOMS makes it clear that there is no single model or formula to the flip, instead it is a paradigm change in the approach to teaching and learning.  Concepts taught at home through video posts or other tools are then applied during lessons under the tutorship of the teacher.  A lot of the literature out there on this topic really makes it clear the flipped classroom is not students watching videos at home, in fact in Michaels approach, mentioned above, there was not one instructional video.  The flip came from the fact students were expected to arrive for the lessons in a position to debate and discuss certain elements from the assigned time period.

Over the last year I have been taking small steps towards flipping some of my content and to a certain extent always have.   I very rarely show a video clip in my class over about 3 minutes now, I set these as homework and normally will require students to make some notes as they view these for discussion in the next lesson.

A few factors have allowed me to do this easily and with success:
1.  The availability of quality produced video clips- TEDKnowmiaKhan
2. The fact all my students have computer and Internet access at home (not a given outside private or international schools) 
My attempts have been a very basic form of flipping and I am yet to truly embrace the ethos.  I am using the clips to support content we have already covered in class or add depth through examples.   The true flipped approach would put a lot more of the responsibility for the learning on the students and this can be a risky game in high stakes courses, but the more I hear and talk to people about the more it truly sounds like best practice.
What I have not attempted yet and plan to in coming months is the creation of my own instructional videos and given the buzz around the flipped classroom at the moment, within our school and wider educational theory, it may form the basis of my final project.

Tim and Sam. R

This week we were asked to evaluate our own practice of technology integration against the frameworks of “Substitute, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition (SAMR)” and/or The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM).  As I read through these evaluation models I was drawn back to the readings from course one around Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, a hierarchical approach to thinking tasks in a digital setting.  See my early blog post for some more information on this – Its not what’s in the pipeline….. .  The links I saw were particularly strong at the top levels of thinking and our implementation of tech.   We as teachers should be facilitating and encouraging students to make their own choices with applications, working collaboratively and sharing what they have created.

By suttonhoo
Dayna Bateman
Some rights reserved
Request to license suttonhoo’s photos via Getty Images

Both SAMR and TIM set out goals for teachers and schools to strive towards in terms of technology integration or “….the use technology to introduce, reinforce, extend, enrich, assess, and remediate student mastery of curricular targets.”(What is Technology Integration? Stratford Board of Education)

In evaluating and reflecting on my own teaching and technology integration I feel I personally have spent the last 10 years working my way through the various level’s of the TIM model.  Technology has been part of my teaching since I first entered the classroom in 2000.  At that time it was important I bought my students along for the ride.  Back in the early 2000’s I used to try and incorporate skills around word processing, inserting images, graphs from excel etc into my teaching (TIM would consider this entry and adoption), I did this because the average 15 or 16 did not necessary have those skills, they were not digital natives and in many cases I could not assume that prior learning on these ‘basic’ skills had taken place, thus the bulk of my tech integration was fairly low on this scale.

Now the client I am faced with in an average year 10+ class comes equipped with the skill set to get straight into what TIM calls adaptation, infusion, transformation.  All three of these fall nicely into what The edutopia blog  Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many says about effective tech integration, (it)….” must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts”.   More and more often I am asking my students to collaborate on tasks, this often involves students to break up big concepts into manageable chunks and feedback to the wider group.  I no longer proved any structure to how they do this.  In past years I would have specified PowerPoint, number of slides, what must be included etc.  Now they just go for it, often using a range of presentation techniques or collaboration opportunities, ie Google docs (the comment feature is great) live chat or skype.   I am finding the work the students complete has more meaning and the students are more engaged with the content.

I still feel I have to direct my students to appropriate “world experts” through good web links as their evaluation skills of online resources needs further development and this can be a very time consuming skill to teach, however in years to come I feel this will also become one of those ingrained skills integrated throughout schools and students will arrive in classes with.

Nothing but NETS

The National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) are the standards for learning, teaching, and leading in the digital age and are widely recognized and adopted worldwide.

Who’s job is it to teach the NETs standards to students

The fact that the International Society for Technology in Education has created a wide range of resources for students, administrators and students makes it clear that the implementation and monitoring of NETS within schools is the responsibility of the wider school community and all stakeholders share this responsibility.

In the document based on implementation and planning from ISTE an important point is made about the need for a systematic plan which is inline with the schools vision.   This means the administration plays a key role early on in the implementation process of NETS and must embed these into overriding school policy (goals, vision, mission etc).   ISTE also stresses the importance of ongoing support, funding for tech infrastructure and training for staff to be in a position to integrate and embed these standards in a meaningful manner, so again, administration is responsible for directing funding and resources into these areas.

Apple II and VisiCalc
photo by Jean-Edouard BABIN
Attribution, Noncommercial

As teachers, our role with regard to NETS is no different than any other element of the school policy.  We must make the policy come alive for our students and our responsibility is to embed tech within our curriculum and schemes of work, create learning activities and adjust our pedagogy to allow for meaningful delivery of the NETS and of course assess and evaluate the achievements of our students against these standards.

What does this look like……

At International School Bangkok where I have taught for the last year we attempt to integrate technology throughout our curriculum.  Although not explicit in our school vision and mission it is now well accepted that effective use of technology within the classroom would lead to many elements of this vision and mission being met.

This is the first school I have worked in without a defined computer studies, IT or ICT subject option, instead teachers are expected to integrate technology throughout their teaching.  This model is discussed and supported by David Warlick in his post What Difference Might One “S” Make?  Instead of teaching students specific skills on spreadsheets and word processing this is done as and when it is needed within a variety of subjects.  I really liked the quote from Warlick  where he discusses the diminishing need for specific computer application-S classes “I suspect that they know enough that they could teach themselves what they’d need to know to accomplish immediate goals.”  More and more I am finding my students arrive with a great skill set or more importantly they have the ability to learn for themselves, taking online tutorials or trouble shooting from  YouTube clips.   There are of course some issues with this model, primarily around staff training and resistance to technology as mentioned earlier this is where the implementation of these NET’s becomes a school wide issue and we are lucky at ISB to have an administration which recognises this and actively promotes staff training and professional development around tech PD (this COETAIL course funding from my PD fund is a case in point).

The story of paper one- Final Project: Course Three

Once again COETAIL your timing is impeccable.  Last week during our early release, we were given PD time allocation to work on creating e-learning solutions to teach our students during times of school closure, what better form of e- learning than digital story telling so I thought I would get the jump on my video.

In the post- Educational Uses for Digital Storytelling British photographer, educator and digital storyteller, Daniel Meadows defines digital stories as “short, personal multimedia tales told from the heart”, from the heart, not my strong point.  Then in the post 7 Things You Should Know About Digital Storytelling a publication by Educase Learning Initiative it mentions the need to for digital story telling to have “a strong emotional component” both of these concerned me a little, so reading on I was relieved to see it does go on to say….“The topics that are used in Digital Storytelling range from personal tales to the recounting of historical events, from exploring life in one’s own community to the search for life in other corners of the universe, and literally, everything in between.”  I am taking that literary and trying to hone the tech skills of digital movie making and story telling with this project, so for my first attempt there will be very little in the way of personal tales.  Within my subject area I use a lot of polished very well made emotional video clips to take my students on emotional journeys, however I feel my attempts at such a movie would fall on its face, so my approach is a little more instructional and will hopefully have some practical applications for my students as well.

My concept- I am going to walk my IB geography students through one of their exams; format, timing, mark allocation and what examiners are looking for.  The idea is that students could use this resource over the next two years as they prepare for any tests we do and the final exam.

I plan to use a range of media including recorded video clips (QuickTime player) and screen shot presentations.  (Recorded with QuickTime player from Google presentations)  I will also use notebook to annotate questions on a screenshot.  The final ‘cut’ will be edited using i-Movie.  This will all be done on a Macbook Pro.

I have elected to start a new YouTube channel to display this video, this will also mean I can track the traffic of how and when my students are using the clip.  I also plan to start posting more digital stories, hopefully not as dry as this one.

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