I’ve been planning to write this post for the past few weeks however time has been getting away from me recently, how dare it, but alas, here it is! As mentioned in previous posts it’s been amazingly wonderful to be back in a classroom again teaching and learning with the squids! Working along side and relating to these young people during the week, on a consistent weekly basis, certainly has given me a new lease on my teaching life.
Now, do not get me wrong, I love my eLearning Director role, however, lately the drain that is constant meetings and administrivia has definitely weighed me down somewhat. So down to business. Below I have shared just a few of the things that I have been up to in my room. Mind you, I am in class 2 full days per week and am enjoying the Challenge of attempting to squash everything in to what is already a super crowded week but also making way for the ‘extras’ I am wanting to implement, both from a learning and classroom management perspective, such as a few of the items mentioned below!
1. 2014 Middle Years (Yrs 5-8) Challenge Based Learning Unit: Digital Identity
We were wanting to run a unit, an introductory unit, for our Middle Years Students based on Cyber Safety, Digital Citizenship, Copyright, Creative Commons, and several other things! The challenge was not so much what to cover and when but how. Dare I say that covering the above topics with Middle Years students is a challenge relating specifically to engagement.
I wanted students to take ownership of their learning and drive what it is they want to know and hence what better way to do that than through a CBL, or Challenge Based Learning Unit. What I love about CBL is that students relate personally to their learning. They are drawing on real life experiences that effected them, either in a positive or negative way and can use these to guide new knowledge and understandings. Already I am seeing some excellent learning taking place via what has been created and shared with the students and facilitated by the staff.
The ‘proposal movie’ that was developed, under CC licensing rights, is embedded below. This movie was shown prior to our Middle Years Students undertaking this unit. The aim of this movie was to get students thinking about what having a ‘Digital Identity’ is and how this affects them as learners and users of technology in the 21st Century.
To assist the staff I developed an eBook, via Apple’s iBook Author Software, and has staff download this as a guide to assist them in running this unit. To develop this, I used Apple’s Own CBL Guide as well as several awesome resources that had been created by Adam Brice, an Apple Education Executive. If you would like to view the CBL Unit as well as the other accompanying documents such as the Assessment Rubric and Student Workbook, head to the shared DropBox Folder linked here: 2014 Middle Years CBL Unit Resources
2. Genius Hour Implementation.
I am not overly sure where I first caught wind of ‘Genius Hour, but I do recall being excited by the notion behind it! For those who have no real idea behind this, it all stemmed from Google giving their employee’s 20% time. This meaning 20% of their working week, which theoretically means one day, to work on projects which interest them as they please during this time. From this, Google Applications such as gMail, AdSense, Google News and Google Talk just to name a few.
In previous years we have implemented students undertaking ‘Passion Projects’ which is similar to the notion of Genius Hour however with fewer restrictions I guess you would say. The presentation below explains in simple detail what genius Hour is and this is what i showed to my students. Currently the students are working through the ‘finding out’ phase in answering their Guiding or Driving Question.
- How will I learn to create and mix my own DJ beats?
- Why is their cruelty in the world? (Tough One… but I am interested to see where this leads!)
- How should people react in a bushfire emergency? (I am hoping that a ‘how to’, or ‘what to do’ video stems from this!)
- How can I make a iPad Game App, on my iPad?
- How do violent video games affect the way people think?
- What is the best way to help endangered animals and what can I do about it?
To inspire my chargers I then showed this great You Tube Clip starring Kid President, which my students loved!
3. Google Drive
The joys of Google Drive! This is more than likely not a big deal to most however, having spoken about, presented about, coordinated PL about and modelled and demonstrated about, the positiveness of Google Drive as an App to assist iPad Workflow has thus far been amazing. All teachers within our Yr 7 Team are now planning via Google Drive and sharing all planners, resources, links, PDF’s, etc via this means. The real power is now having students use this effectively to share work, receive work, and access learning materials needed not only via teachers, but also with each other. Collaboration is a major focus as part of our eLearning Capabilities and to now be entrenched in this with my own class is great.
The best part? It’s ease of use and set up!
Lastly, and as an add on to this, I have just discovered Kaizena, an online program that accesses your Google Drive Account and all your files. From here, you can highlight text on documents and leave Voice Comments. Something that I think will save teachers a lot of time in allowing them to give quick, effective and thorough feedback! View the clip below to see how all this works!
4. Classroom Expectations.
I loathe classroom rules, not to be negative, but, I find them extremely negative, and more often than not against what a classroom should be about. In saying this, I believe there is a need for something to assist and guide students in demonstrating expected behaviours. The power from developing classroom expected behaviours is that these are student created and driven. If the ownership comes from the students then they are much more focused towards behaving in ways that are conducive to what a learning environment should be!
Below are the expectations that the students developed. Expectations which had to relate to at least one of our College’s values (Aiming High, Valuing Our Community, Respecting Others, Being Safe).