As term 3 comes to a close, and we have our final Learnscope meeting, I’ve started reflecting on the journey.
Firstly I’ve decided that if you know where to look, theres a Web2.0 tool to do just about anything you want, and in that, a tool that facilitates just about anything you want – or students need. The way to look for these is from your peers outward. I kind of see each of the people I’ve connected with (or aligned myself with) as a a little whirlpool, each sucking in information and experience. I now look at the whirlpools first. Before I looked at Google.
I’ve found that my class (appear) to enjoy themselves, so classroom management has become a matter of trying to help everyone out and not having to make sure people are doing the right thing. This has lead to me being able to get to know more of the students and give me time to try and give them more individual support (the stuff of Uni theory, but in a distruptive classroom, hard to do). So our 5 hours a fortnight have flown by this term.
Students are achieving more than I’ve experienced before in the same topic area. By giving them access to tools that give them fast-rewards, they grasp concepts quicker, so my once lengthy powerpoints have become 10-15 minute briefings (and I use Keynote as it’s way better). So I’ve got more time to create better resources – using Web.20 tools.
I can give them a paper test, and measure the learning. I can see their levels of effort through their blogs and journals. I can see who is putting in the hard yards, and so can they. They can compare and reflect on old and new ways of doing things. They now seek out ‘a better way’ for themselves, and now they are showing me new stuff.
If we take Blooms model, we ripping through the lower order stuff and spending far more time on higher order stuff. They are very creative and enthusiastic on the whole, and several students have become defacto-IT staff this term helping out in plenty of other areas. I am sure that many senior assessment tasks in 2007 have my year 9 crowd to thank. The seniors see the 9s as being very switched on, which is great.
We have cut down the lead in time to projects, and in the case of this term, we ditched the formal 3 week assessment task in favour of a short test and prac, as we (Karyn and myself) can see the work through their blogs and see how they apply this through their use of Web2.0 applications such as Wufoo and Zoho Creator. This leaves us time to add value to IST, rather than lumber to the end of term hoping 75% of the students have managed to grasp the outcomes.
Perhaps the most rewarding was a short comment by a student. He thanked me (rare) as he had just got full marks for a website he had created in Science. It looked great (WordPress/Flicr et al), was filled with multimedia and he had obviously had far more time to investigate the subject rather than battle his way through learning HTML and the terrible code written by Front Page.
He and others, have migrated the IST theory and tools to other KLAs. Great! This means that other teachers are faced with dealing with technology they are pushing back to the teachers. Grass roots activism.
They have abandoned Office as a primary method of production. They are investigating solutions rather than Google-ing them. I have got better at asking questions that they can’t Google perhaps.
Term 4 – a new step forward. It’s time to let them apply their new found skills and autonomy to solve a bigger problem. We start the topic of ‘Websites and the Internet’, which seems a little passe. So rather than pre-teach > issue assignment > re-teach as they do it (why do we end up re-covering what we have already done?) and then mark, I’m going to launch (yuk sounds American) the project on Day 1 and run for 5 weeks.
I’ve installed Scratch (the MIT game/app tool) and Google Sketch on some 50 PCs. Its important to use tools that students can have at home – remember if it needs buying, then its probably dying.
They are going to create a ‘virtual arcade’ and publish it using a website. So they will need to research games, cabinets (Mame!) and figure out as a group how to make games and include them into a graphical arcade. So theres a lot in there – multimedia – programming – languages – html, ICT history – graphics. I hope something for everyone.
In the second half of the term … and this is ‘out there’ I want to get them onto TSL (come on Pat, wheres my island?) and work as a group to construct a TSL virtual arcade, based on their designs and graphics using SURLs to get to their Scratch Games.
I know I’m supposed to being doing HTML 101 and Front Page … but do I think I should … no … HTML is just a convenient language to use, if the BOS was serious, we’d be teaching XML. Will they meet the outcomes – sure they will – in about an hour! if I was to compare ‘end product’ between Teaching 1.0 and Teaching 2.0.
So there’s the 10 week objective – to have 28 kids build a TSL video arcade with about a dozen Scratch applications and chill out zone. If the CEO won’t play, then I’ll just rent the space myself … guess it’s like giving out stickers in Primary …
Look forward to it …
Lastly I’d like to thank the staff at PMHS who have been doing well above and beyond this term in terms of IT. The level of student participation (especially English) is highly visible. I’ve seen so much innovation and enthusiasm this term that it is very rewarding. It’s a little chaotic – well it’s not – but to those who are still holding out in Teach 1.0 it looks like chaos – but the student population is busy with MacBooks, iMacs, Web2.0, Blogging, Podding and YouTubing … so Im quite happy to sit and watch at this point.
As the Bloodhound gang said ‘The roof is on fire” … but theres learning and innovation going on … stucture will come later.