We recently got a set of six iPads for our level (Grades 3/4) to use. As I am the ICT coordinator I wanted to test out some of the apps to make sure that they ran smoothly for when others in my level used them. This meant I had to think of some quick activities I could do. I decided to use the Explain Everything app for our first project. I really love this app and wanted to encourage others in my level to use it too.
We have just started investigating addition and subtraction in my class. We began by looking at adding/subtracting 10, 20, 30 or 40 from a range of two digit numbers. We have a huge focus on mental strategies at my school and we encourage our students to record their thinking in a variety of ways. One strategy we use to record our thinking is the jump strategy. The students had only been learning about this strategy for about a week but I thought it would be good to use the Explain Everything app to have them create videos explaining what they know.
I have shared some of the videos they made below:
The Jump Strategy EE 1 from Aimee Gale on Vimeo.
The Jump Strategy EE 2 from Aimee Gale on Vimeo.
The Jump Strategy EE 3 from Aimee Gale on Vimeo.
The Jump Strategy EE 4 from Aimee Gale on Vimeo.
The Jump Strategy EE 5 from Aimee Gale on Vimeo.
I love that these videos are examples of the students learning, including errors. They show what my students already know as well as their misconceptions. It’s also interesting to listen to the language the students use. I can hear that some students haven’t developed the language required to explain the jump strategy in great detail. They are not referring to tens and ones, rather just a jump of ten. I can also see that some students are mixing up where they need to put their numbers and jumps. You may notice that some students are far to worried about where the ‘dot’ goes rather than thinking about the equations!
I am going to use this example of my students learning to help me plan for the next part of our addition and subtraction sequence. I am also going to put them on our class blog so that the parents can see how the students are going. I don’t want our blog to just be a showcase of the best work my class can do, but rather an example of our learning journey. Towards the end of term , after a lot more learning my students will create new Explain Everything videos and the students, their parents and I will be able to compare them to their first attempts. We will have a great measure of progress.
Posted in Assessment May 1, 2013
This year my personal goal to improve my teaching is to further develop my assessment techniques. I have always used assessment to guide my teaching but this year I want to refine what I do and keep better records. I also want to focus on the growth the students make and track if what I am doing is working.
I have been researching some different assessment ideas and thinking about strategies I already use. My aim is to blog about each of the strategies as I use them in my classroom so that I can reflect on how useful they are in giving me the information I need to assess my class’ understanding.
Some of the strategies I am going to focus on are listed below:
Exit slips are a simple strategy of asking your students to record a reflection at the end of a lesson. Often they are used as a ticket out of class. It is important that enough time is allowed at the end of the lesson if you want the students to reflect deeply on what they have learned. It is a good idea to give the students a prompt for their reflection to help guide their thinking.
- What was the most important thing you learned today?
- What questions do you still have about …?
- How can what you learned today be used in real life?
- What do you think we will learn next on this topic?
- Summarise today’s lesson in 25 words.
- What would you like to work on in the next lesson on…?
- What stuck with me today?
You can also use this strategy at the beginning of a lesson to gather information on the students prior knowledge. The Read Write Think website has more information on exit slips as well as some printable slips.
I am hoping to use Evernote as my go to tool for recording students thoughts and reflections. I have started by using it for recording running records but I would like to use it to also record interviews with the students on particular topics as well as samples of explanations of strategies that they are using.
QT – Quick Test
QT is a strategy from Whole Brain Teaching. It stands for Quick Test and the idea is that you have the students close their eyes and then ask them a series of true/false questions based on the material that they have just learned. Students put their thumbs up if they think the statement or question is true and they put their thumbs down if they think the statement is false. In an ideal setting you would record on a checklist the students who were unable to correctly answer the questions. If they get less than 90% correct then they need intervention possibly in the form of a focus group or targeted work on the topic.
Explain Everything (or a similar app)
Explain Everything is a great app for recording student’s thinking. It is an interactive whiteboard app with many functions such as simple annotations, inserting media, pointers, drawing shapes and adding text. You can also record audio over the top of what ever you do in the app, making it very effective for recording reflections and the students teaching strategies we have worked on. We have it installed on the iPads that are available for class use next term, so I am looking forward to using it more effectively.
Prove It! is another strategy from Whole Brain Teaching. In this strategy you choose sample test questions (NAPLAN or other state tests) that relate to the content that has just been covered. The students must prove which answer they think is correct as well as proving that the others are incorrect. This can be useful when state tests are coming up as well as preparing students to justify their responses for multiple choice questions. I have also used a similar strategy where you give four maths problems that have already been solved. One is correct and the other three are incorrect. Students must look at the working out as well as the answer to work out which one is correct. They then justify their answer.
Choice boards are used when you want to give students different options for the assessment task. The number of options are up to you. I have seen lots of choice boards based on multiple intelligences but they don’t have to be. It could be something as simple as “Write a persuasive piece based on one of the following 4 choices”. I want to work harder at giving my students choice when they show me what they know. Choice boards can also be created with the students input. You will be amazed at some of the ideas they can come up with for how they can show you their understanding.
I have started to take photos of my students work more and more often. Sometimes I will even quickly grab the camera and take a photo of the task and then take the photos home instead of the pile of workbooks. I sign the students work to highlight that I have seen it, but I am not always correcting it. Sometimes instead of the time I would spend on correcting the work I look at the photos and record “next step” statements for each student. This way I know which students need revision of the topic and those who are ready to move on. I find this is a much more valuable use of my time than correcting every misspelled word and ticking each part. Obviously spelling is a focus at other times.
Another quick strategy from Whole Brain Teaching, Yes-No Way is used when you want to quickly gauge whole class understanding. You simply ask a yes/no question based on the topic and the class passionately respond with either YES or NO WAY. One thing to keep in mind with this strategy is that you are only getting a snap shot of the whole class and some students will just go along with the majority rather than show their true understanding.
End of Unit Review
The ‘old’ end of unit review strategy is something I have been using for years, often in the form of a written test. I will use this strategy at the completion of a topic or term to find out what the students know about particular content. Often I will use this strategy for maths. For example when we finished a term’s work on Conceptual Place Value I gave my class a test to see what they had retained. This strategy is even more effective if you can do a pretest first so that you have a clear indicator of growth.
Edmodo is a safe social networking service that can be used with classes. I used it with my class last year and I am hoping to have it ready to go for next term with my current class. A feature of Edmodo is that you can assign tasks for students to complete. I used this last year to have students reflect on their learning and also to give me a quick summary of where their groups were up to with projects. I hope to expand on how I use Edmodo this year.
Do you have any great assessment strategies that have been effective for you?
Please share in the comments section.
I am always looking for new ideas for how I can improve my assessment. Hopefully by reflecting on what I am doing on this blog I will be able to challenge myself to improve.
Posted in Assessment Tagged: Assessment April 4, 2013
Throughout Week 3 of the Creative Commons for K-12 Educators course I have been searching for content that I can use to teach my Year 3/4′s and the staff at my school about Creative Commons. You can see the content I found in my previous blog post.
Did you find what you were looking for?
To begin with I used the suggested sites to search for resouces. These included:
I found these to be very useful and easy to use. I had used most of them before but without specifically narrowing the search options to only show Creative Commons licensed work. I had never used OER Commons before and found this to be a useful site. I think I will be going back to that site in the future to look for resources. I also used You Tube to search for videos. I found this quite useful as you can narrow the search to only include work licensed under Creative Commons.
I found quite a few resources but would like to keep searching for more. I would like to find some videos that are suitable for students to view. It has been difficult to find any videos that sum up Creative Commons in a simple way for kids. I am thinking that a project for my class could be to make their own videos that explains Creative Commons simply.
How did you know if you could use it or not?
Share what worked and what didn’t for you.
I found searching for Creative Commons work easier than I had expected. I think that from now on I will use this feature more often and I will be encouraging my students to do the same. I also tapped into my PLN to find more resources. A few people sent me links to their Diigo accounts and I discovered more sites through that. There wasn’t really anything that didn’t work for me.
Posted in Professional Development Tagged: Creative Commons April 1, 2013
“Image used courtesy of Flickr’s jorgeandresem”
I am getting a head start on the Creative Commons for K-12 Educators course this week as I am on holidays. Week 3′s task asks us to find some content on a topic of our choice that is licensed under Creative Commons. I decided to find content on Creative Commons as I want to be able to teach my class and the staff at my school more about it.
Below is a Linkroll from Diigo with the links I have found so far. I have also made annotations in my Diigo account that highlight the Creative Commons license for each site.
Do you have any resources on Creative Commons that could be shared?
Posted in Professional Development Tagged: Creative Commons March 31, 2013
This is the post I wrote for the task in Week 2 of “Creative Commons for K-12 Educators”:
For this task I chose to teach my class about Creative Commons. The reason I am taking this course is to further my understanding of Creative Commons so that I can teach my class about it and then as ICT Leader inform the staff at my school. I teach a Year 3/4 class of 8-10 year olds. I think it is very important that my students have a grasp of Creative Commons as they use and create online content almost every day, often without a thought for the laws that apply.
Before the lesson I was wondering how they would go with the topic and how I could simplify it enough so that they could understand the content. I knew that they had very little prior knowledge except a vague understanding that Copyright protects content. Most of their understanding applied to movies and music created by organisations and famous artists. They didn’t have any understanding about Copyright or Creative Commons in relation to their own work.
My class responded really well to learning about Creative Commons. I thought they may find it boring but they were actually very interested and excited to be learning about it. I used lots of examples in the lesson to try and express how different people want to license their work with different options.
One student asked: “What happens if they don’t catch you?” This was a great question and led to a discussion about the ethics behind using other peoples work. We discussed the similarity in using online content without permission to shop lifting and not getting caught. My class agreed that taking online work without the correct permissions is not the right thing to do, even if they don’t get caught.
Some of the questions my class still have are:
- Will they change the Copyright laws?
- Will there be more Creative Commons symbols?
- Who made the Copyright and Creative Commons law and when was it made?
- Why is Copyright international?
- How many people have been caught not following the law?
- What if you copy a photo or music into your presentation but you don’t share it on the Internet?
- What happens if you want to use a photo that you are not allowed to and you ask the person, but they don’t respond?
Creative Commons and Copyright is definitely a topic that my class will be revisiting. I hope that every time we create and use online content we will think about and discuss these laws. I also hope that my students might start to use the Creative Commons licensing tool to share their work.
Posted in Professional Development Tagged: Creative Commons March 31, 2013
I have joined another online course. This one is called Creative Commons for K-12 Educators and is run by P2PU which stands for Peer to Peer University. I have had a lot more success with this course compared to some of the other MOOC’s I have signed up for. The other MOOCS have not been user friendly for Australian time zones and I don’t think my heart was really in them. This meant I dropped out fairly early on and missed out on fully appreciating MOOC’s.
I had been wanting to learn more about Copyright and Creative Commons so when the opportunity to do this free course came up I thought I’d give online learning another go. This course has been structured in a really simple way with each week’s lessons set out concisely with clear expectations for each task.
Last week we were introduced to Creative Commons and this week’s task involved teaching my class about what I have learned so far. I told my students that I was doing this course and that part of it required me to teach them about it. I also told them why I was doing the course and how important it is that they know what Creative Commons is. My students thought it was great that I am still learning just like they are and wanted to help me do the course.
I hope that I can gain a good understanding of Creative Commons and use this knowledge to teach both my students and the staff at my school.
Posted in Professional Development Tagged: Creative Commons March 31, 2013
As part of the #etmooc course which is starting tomorrow we have been asked to introduce ourselves. The idea was to make a visual introduction and publish it on our blogs. I have made a Toontastic story as a way of telling you a little bit about myself. I wanted to use a creative tool that I hadn’t used before. I am hoping that Toontastic will be a fantastic tool for my class to explore further this year.
Posted in #etmooc Tagged: #etmooc January 14, 2013
Next week #etmooc begins! I am looking forward to joining in my first MOOC – Massive Open Online Course. Etmooc will be covering a range of topics, including: connected learning, digital story telling, digital literacy, the open movement and digital citizenship. You can find more by visiting the etmooc website here. It is not too late to sign up! I will be posting about my experiences on my blog using the category and tag #etmooc. I will also be tweeting during the course using #etmooc.
Posted in #etmooc Tagged: #etmooc January 12, 2013
Goal 11 is going to be a shorter entry. We are asked to work out how many students we have taught in order to feel the weight of our impact. I worked out that over 7 years of teaching I have taught approximately 180 students. I have also taught quite a few students twice, but I haven’t compensated for this in the total number as I like to think I have have had twice the impact
This task has made me realise that over such a short time I have had the opportunity to work with a large number of students. I am thankful for all the experiences these students have given me and I hope that I have made a difference to their lives.
I am looking forward to beginning the school year and getting to know my next 25 students. I hope we can have a fabulous year together with lots of great learning and reflecting.
Posted in 30 Goals Challenge 2012 Tagged: 30 Goals January 12, 2013
Goal 10 is about sharing information and resources about a topic.
I have decided that for Goal 10, I will share the tools that I use for storing all my online resources and how I keep on top of the constant flow of ideas that come from my wonderful PLN.
The two main bookmarking tools that I use are Diigo and Pinterest.
I like that I can save all my links in the one place with Diigo and that I can share these links with others. I use the Diigo extension in Firefox and Chrome to save links as I am browsing the Web. It took a long time to find an RSS Reader app that would allow me to save links directly to Diigo, (most had lots of other options of where to save the links) but now that I have found Mr Reader there is no going back! I get most of my bookmarks from ideas that I read in blogs I am following so having the feature of sending bookmarks straight to Diigo through Mr Reader is important.
The most powerful feature of Diigo is the social element. I haven’t used this as much as I would have liked to but I have joined some groups and I share my bookmarks using Enhanced Linkrolls. The Enhanced Linkrolls enable me to embed a list of links sorted by tags, into my classes website, this allows my students to gain quick access to links for a particular topic. I am hoping to explore the social elements of Diigo more this year.
I love Pinterest. I like the way it displays links as images. This is great for me as I am a visual learner. I tend to use Pinterest as a stand alone service. I haven’t got into the habit of saving links to Pinterest that I find in other services or while searching the Web. I would use Diigo as my go to bookmarking service when searching. I use Pinterest as a place to go to find resources and then I save them from there by ‘repinning’ links I like. There are many great teachers on Pinterest that you can follow so that as they ‘pin’ ideas you can see what is being pinned in your homepage. You can have as many boards as you like in Pinterest, I use these to sort my links into categories.
Here is an image of my “boards” section of Pinterest. I have other boards that don’t fit onto the screenshot.
You can follow me on Pinterest by searching for Aimee Gale in ‘pinners’ or by clicking on the following button:
I use Instapaper to save anything that I want to read later. Diigo does have a read later feature but I prefer to use Instapaper. I can use Instapaper from services such as Twitter and Mr Reader (RSS reader) as well as using it as an extension in most web browsers. If I find a link on Twitter that I think might be worthwhile having a closer look at later on I will just click the send to Instapaper button. This option is available on most Twitter clients, I use Tweetbot and Hootsuite. When I log in to my Instapaper account, my links are all there waiting for me to explore.
I think having tools such as Diigo, Pinterest and Instapaper help to keep me organised. I feel like I have control over the constant stream of information that I am receiving. I can search for teaching ideas and keep them all sorted in a way where I know that I can find it all again.
Posted in 30 Goals Challenge 2012 Tagged: 30 Goals, Tools January 12, 2013