Category Archives: Collaboration

Do I Need to Date Again?

Photo Credit: You Me Now Promo Pic by Radio New Zealand via Wikipedia

I’m not gonna lie – like a friend of mine always says – : Teaching and education is my passion. It’s now almost 3 month since I stopped working mid of December at BIS in Munich/Germany. I love being in classroom with the students and I love to exchange ideas and thoughts about teaching and learning. I miss it. I’m not gonna lie. Continue reading

Twitter – No thanks!

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Photo Credit: via www.pixabay.com

Since I’m using Twitter, other social media and tools like Flipboard for professional development and I’m experiencing the amazing benefits of it for my professional life I wish to use Twitter in school with/for students and the whole school community as well. Somebody said that the focus at school isn’t only content and concepts it’s more and more the fact that we are living in a connected world. Twitter, other social media, and so many other tools allow us to connect and collaborate with others in order to learn, to create, to invent, so solve problems, to support each other and a lot more.  Continue reading

Padlet as a Great Tool for Collaboration

I’m sure you have heard of Padlet many times and probably  often used it in a variety of situations. If you google Padlet it says:

padlet

Picture via a Google Search

 

My grade 5 students used Padlet several times this year for different purposes. We haven’t collaborated with the world yet, but definitely in class and with classes at school. I would like to share two examples:

1. Example:  
Unit – Migration // Padlet use for collecting and sorting quotes of a book

The students were reading “Milchkaffee und Streuselkuchen”, which is a book about two boys and the life of a German family as well a family that immigrated from Ethiopia. Sammy is born in Germany, speaks German very well, went to a German school, but after a racist attack towards him and his family, he realizes that he is different. He also feels the differences in school through the words and actions of his classmates, especially Boris. However, Sammy will gain a new friendship.

The students were asked to write an entry on the padlet each time they read something about the behavior of the main characters, Boris and Sammy. It was the goal to collect the quotes in order to find out the change of the behavior, change of the perspective of Boris and create a timeline to make it visible. It was a perfect way to work collaboratively in order to get the whole picture.

2. Example:  
Unit – Live is a Stage // Padlet use for comprehension of the ballade “Der Zauberlehrling” of J.W.Goethe

In the context of the unit Life is a stage the students get to know ballades. A famous ballade is “Der Zauberlehrling”. The vocabulary is not easy at all for language learner as well as young German native speaker. The vocabulary was used 250 years ago and additionally I wonder how often does a student in an international environment get the chance to read a German ballade? So comprehension is very important in order to create a modern version of it which will be their assessment.

What did I prepare? I cut up the ballade in 14 pieces and saved each part as a picture. I sent them those pictures by email and asked them to work in pairs and to bring the pieces on a padlet (one padlet for each group) in the right order. Additionally, in order to show me their understanding, the students were asked to write the content of each verse in their own words.
My initial thought was: “That is just substitution.” (SAMR model). My second thinking and repeated reflecting about it let me realize that there are good reasons for doing it anyways. I don’t have to waste to much paper, meaning copying the ballade for each pair. In my previous life as a teacher, the students had to cut the verses in pieces (or even I would have done it) and then glue them in the right order. No, not anymore. Third advantage was that I could integrate spelling practice and sentence structures with the students when they were writing their understanding in own words. Fourth, we could easily compare each others understanding of the verse by reading each others padlets. Fifth, as homework I asked them to write a summery. In my previous life of course on paper. No, they are going to use the padlet.

And now the real collaboration experience for my grade 5 students came up because they started to talk about how they will organize it. “Ok, you do the first half. I do the second.” or “Let’s do it together on Skype.” or “You write but I proof read the text and check the spelling.” or “We write and we check each others text” … Fantastic.

Here you are:

 

So proud of my students … Course 5 Final Project

For a while already I’m so proud of my Grade 4 students (and about myself) and finally I can tell you about it. The two Grade 4 German classes advanced level published their eBook about interesting facts about the brain.

iTunes

Screenshot from the iTunes Store

The classes created, collaborated and contributed and it’s my hope that this publishing experience was something where learning started and future learning will happen.

Who can’t wait, here is the Link to the ebook on iTunes: Interessantes über das Gehirn.

Achievements

Here a quick overview of what was happening in the classroom:

The students …

  • read nonfiction as learning about the brain
  • watched videos as learning about the brain
  • inquired into features of a nonfiction page
  • inquired into a chosen topic
  • applied the reading strategy “determine importance”
  • summarized nonfiction information
  • organized and created a nonfiction page with Book Creator
  • practiced and improved their German by using the language

=>  experienced the publishing process of a book
=> created a resource that will be available for download across the world

Here again the link to the iTunes Store: “Interessantes über das Gehirn“. The students will be more than happy to see that people are actually download the ebook and maybe even write a review. Thx.

Planning

The whole planning started in mid december with an empty “Understanding by Design” unit template which was very helpful in terms of thinking through the entire project. I had done the unit before therefore I knew the content and could focus more on redefining and recreating the unit. If you want to have a closer look on the planning, feel free to do this here:

Reflection

The whole project ended with a video which describes it and reflects on it.

YouTube Preview Image

The students, my colleagues who were involved and I indeed had great learning experiences – we were all risk takers and learners in order to go a step further in terms of teaching and learning. Many things like learning through a flipped classroom, creating and publishing an eBook as well as working with a limited amount of iPads or own iPads students brought to school happened for the first time.

My colleague and I were amazed by the high level of motivation of the students. The fact that they watched movies to acquirer knowledge about the brain; the fact that they could chose their own topic to inquire into; the fact that the eBook will be published to a real audience; the fact that they got the chance to work with an iPad motivated them immensely. The students were learning and improving the German language through using the same.

One challenge I didn’t expect: the parents. The majority agreed to publish it on iTunes and also to mention the whole or only the first name. One student in my class didn’t even want create a nonfiction page with the iPad. “And my parents don’t want this either.”, he said. He couldn’t explain why and the parents never approached me and until today I don’t know what the reasons are. The student create then the page on paper.
Another parent couldn’t understand why it has to be published on iTunes. Unfortunately it seemed to be difficult for them to articulate their concerns. I have an idea of their concerns and maybe I still will get a chance to talk to them.

Obviously I took it for granted that parents agree to authentic and meaningful learning, partly also because they chose a PYP school for their child. I see now the need to let parents now even more and in detail what our ideas of teaching and learning these days are. Creation yes, (internal) collaboration yes, but I wonder now how important is contribution to a real audience for the parents (and for teachers)?!

Thank you COETAIL for a wonderful and exciting learning experience!

What comes next? Well, luckily the Coetail experience won’t end here! I’m excited to read and watch about the other final projects as well as to follow other educators within Coetail and around the world. Contribution will be a bigger part of my online life and I hope that once in a while I’ll inspire other people like so many great teachers and educators inspire my life.

So let’s keep in contact through Twitter (@blaho_blaho), through Google+, and email (blahoblaho at gmail.com) or whatever will be invented. It became so easy! Btw. I was the only one at our school who did the Coetail Course so I wouldn’t mind a Google Hangout to celebrate a little bit. Who is in?

 

Let’s light the bulbs!

Warhol's Light Bulbs

Photo Credit: zetson via Compfight cc

I’m thankful that Coetail makes me think about the final project for course 5 early enough. Unfortunately I can’t say yet – Yeah, that is what I’m going to do and I’m very excited about it. Two weeks ago I started having conversations with colleagues about the upcoming units and I got quite different but very helpful inputs. I always tried to keep the following questions in mind:

  • Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?
  • What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?
  • What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?
  • What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

I’ll probably focus on my Grade 4 German advanced class and the unit is called The Human Machine. Those students are already a little bit experienced with the use of technology. They already have certain basic skills like typing, being in the browser, and some searching skills. But I like them as a class very much as well …

The focus in German could be the brain and as one option the students could create an own Wikipedia about the brain (e.g. the following topics: Intelligence, Memory, Brain, Language, Logic, Creativity – let’s the see what the students come up with).

My learning intentions would be on one side the knowledge they get about the brain as part of the body system, but on the other side I want to let them experience to share their knowledge in a very collaborating way, meaning to edit an entry for a wiki collaboratively. I think it is a good possibility for them to understand the concept of Wikipedia, to create and edit an entry (insert links and videos, common sense, etc.) , to share knowledge collaboratively (working in a group) and globally (working and communication with others outside of classroom and maybe even school), and to be a responsible and knowledgeable communicator online. The content itself though is not the most important, even though as a language teacher I’m aware that Determining Importance as well as Summarizing/Synthesizing would be the important reading strategies in this unit. The process of creating the wiki will be the focus. There are so many other wikis than the original one so as an action I could imagine that they are going to use interest-driven wikies more often or even create their own in future. Something I have never done before is to create a rubric, which does not have the product or process as the main focus to assess. Here it rather would be about the collaboration and communication. My concern is that once the wiki will be created, how does it actually continue to grow? And – how meaningful is it really to share that knowledge that particular way?

I have to say I’m not sure about the wiki. Personally I’m using the original Wikipedia, but rarely a specific wiki like PYPchat Wiki or the Minecraft Wiki or 21centuryedtech) – they never really appeal to me. One the other hand I’m aware that people use it to share a interest.

Therefore I thought about a second option. What tool could be a more appealing to the students and to me to share their knowledge collaboratively and globally?

Thinglink.com? The students could be expert groups and create an interactive picture with information what they read about, with videos they found on the Internet; with audio and/or videos files they created using other tools like Explain Everything, iMovie, etc. to show their thinking and learning. The interactive picture can be shared globally and opened for others to add something.

Honestly, both ideas are kind of okay but for me not convincing enough yet. I have to admit that it would rather be a secure thing, although I’m ready to go out of my comfort zone. Ideas are unpredictable so I have to to be patient and creative to light the ideas is the most colorful way. I try to keep in mind Tip#2 by by :

Maybe you will mash-up gamification and digital citizenship. Maybe you’ll make a digital story with people around the world, tapping into your PLN. Perhaps you will have kids from around the world building in Minecraft or have a kindergarten inquiry sparked by Twitter. Perhaps you try Problem-Based Learning in an higher level math class, allowing for open books and open computers.  It could be that you find a way for your kids to design something for that 3D printer your school bought.

Yes, that’s sounds exciting to me … Let’s see. Like always … I’m very, very thankful for feedback. Probably even more than ever. Thanks.