When I get the chance, I have been looking into some fairly exciting developments/possibilities for the use of digital technology in the classroom. Here’s an update.
My starting point has been to try to find things that could make a really difference to the school lives of both students and teachers. I have tried to avoid the temptation to experiment with something simply because it looks good. Instead, I have tried to identify what I would like to be able to do and have then tried to see if there is anything out there that can deliver.
I identified two priorities.
1. Instead of phones being a distraction, how could we use phones to make students more engaged in their learning?
2. How can we use technology to make marking – the bane of all our lives – less irksome, more meaningful and more interactive (and formative)?
Could mobile phones act as a hi-tech,low maintenance alternative to use of mini-white boards. I like the idea of students being given a chance to reflect and then share an answer as an alternative to the hurly-burly of ‘hands up if you know the answer’. The same hands go up and the same hands stay down.
I know that the English department have been trying to dispense with hands up altogether, and I have seen effective use of mini-white boards in other parts of the school. Personally, however, I have always been put off by the palaver of passing the boards around, making sure that there are enough pens and rubbers/cloths. I also feel that students don’t necessarily see each other’s responses and unless the teacher happens to pick them, there answers are essentially redundant.
Here’s the idea. At the end of the question you ask the students to send a text in which they summarise what they have learned in the lesson. Or perhaps, you ask them a very open-ended question that builds on the learning that has taken place. They send a text in a matter of seconds (no need for passing around those whiteboards) and lo and behold, all their responses appear on the teacher’s screen at the front of the class. Responses can be discussed, challenged etc. Everyone feels they have contributed. What is more, if the question has thrown up interesting ideas that could be useful in a subsequent lesson, it is easy to share and distribute this electronic record of the class’s ideas.
Can it be done. Yes – just about. There is a site that does it perfectly – http://wiffiti.com/. It’;s free and incredibly easy to use. Unfortunately, however, for the moment in the UK it is only possible for students to share ideas from a PC to the class screen. The SMS option is not yet available outside the US. Still – a useful option for a computer room , or as a piece of homework. Another site, textthemob does pretty much the same thing, but a little less stylishly.
There is another option, however, that does this….and a bit more. It;s called polleverywhere. You can set an open question and then get students to send their response to a screen. Cleverly, you can also set multiple choice questions or polls, and then see the results as a bar graph on the class’s big screen as the results come in. For example: When was the Battle of Hastings:
This can of course be used at the culmination of a lesson to assess learning, or as an ‘opening shot’ to try to generate discussion, or indeed as a homework task. It’s possible to ask (and answer) more than one question in any one poll.
There are a couple of other sites:
Lesson Management & Collaboration
Free Texting From PCs
Free Group Texting
Automatic Grading with Google Do cs
Thank you to the 25 people that came to this inset and also for the positive feedback. This was the first inset with both triads.
Watch this clip and think about visible signs of engagement and challenge
Activity 2 Arrange these sentences into 2 groups: 1 I have seen this and 2 I would like to have seen this (leave out any irrelevent sentences)
Here are the sentences – engage and challenge activity 2 sentences
Activity 3 – to follow
Some staff comments
“Many staff present are already ‘open’ to improving practice or on their journey. It would be good to reach other staff …”
“Giving challenge to every student in a group. How this would look and how we could plan for this without taking as long planning as delivering the lesson”.
“I feel this session could be repeated in different groups – it is clear that the challenge and engagement exercise throws up a lot of useful discussion – for me many subject areas unable to move from the teacher / task based approach to the new learning styles for challenge. I think this is why learning is less compelling….”
“A few colleagues stated they had really seen the difference for the first time during this conversation”.
“Would like to see more videos of a range of lessons/subject areas that could be discussed in the positive groups that were at the last meeting”.
Here’s the presentation that Richard, Kate and Sally delivered in Dec 2011.
We are keen to become involved in as many areas of the school as possible. As we stated in the Inset at the start of term, we are keen to help by:
– discussing difficult groups/challenges
– exploring ideas and possible innovations
This is when we are free. Please contact us directly if you think we can be of assistance:
|Week 1||Week 2|
|1Mon3 LP1Mon4 JLW
1Fri2 JLW, LP, AR
|2Tues2 AR2Tues5 JLW, LP, AR
2Thurs 1 AR
2Thurs 3 AR
We thought it might be useful to identify particular areas of expertise where we might be able to offer assistance. Please don’ t feel you need to limit yourselves to the thinks listed here. Let us know if there are particular areas/issues that you would like us to explore on your behalf.
|Justin Lewis (Music)||Laura Perry (MFL)||Adam Robbins (English & Media)|
Rewritten sentances for INSET on 14th Dec, to adapt new focus.
Called a meeting with new triad for Thurs lunch to discuss OTP with them.
Draft INSET activities to propose to new triad formed.
AR contact SB regarding new avenues (depts. Wanting OTP input)
Plan to use meeting time (once INSET is finshed) to go to outreach in school.
Link people: (from Questionnaire at INSET)
Julie Lee, Julie Parsons, Katrina Bailey, Lance Taylor, Rob Durant, John Gould, Sam Taylor, Zoe Sharpe, Claire White, Rachael Flower, Morgie Mouat