Today I was tasked with completing a research based lesson with a class of mixed year three and four pupils. The context was Historical. The learning objective of the lesson was for the children to be able to ask questions about the life and works of Aesop, of fable fame.
Almost immediately after I was passed the exceptionally detailed lesson plans by the teacher, I wanted the end product to be a class eBook. This task presented me with a tailor made opportunity to get the children to work in groups, collaboratively. Book Creator was the obvious choice. Undeterred by the 40 minute duration of the lesson I sat at home and quickly uploaded and shared the resources using Showbie. Easy.
Then I began to wonder, was I doing the class and injustice by not preparing them now for their possible research based lives ahead at school. Did these children need to know about plagiarism? Or about copyright or the legalities that go with taking someone’s idea/intellectual property. So I turned to common craft a well-known and excellent source of educational tutorial/videos designed specifically for the classroom. These short animations are well designed and clearly explain all things technological. I often use these as a model for the classroom especially when asking the children to make their own Explain Everything’s or short stop frame animations, they are a valuable template for ideas.
So by now my quick sharing of resources on Showbie had turned into quite a expanded thinking process. I planned to show the children what plagiarism was and why it was important to only use images that were able to be shared. Being shown how to search pictures that have the correct usage rights is an essential part of being a responsible digital citizen. I looked at Creative Commons and saw the different ways in which images and published work was credited and licensed.
In my present role as a digital integrationist pupils digital fluency is paramount. I aim to be the embodiment of good practice for how other teachers should utilise iPads and mobile technology into the classroom. So it felt like the right thing to do to take a little bit of the lesson to explain about these important aspects of undergoing research. The children to their credit could appreciate that an image shared on the web may have once been taken by a single individual and that individual deserved to be credited for their work. As one child said “Mrs Bacon if you put someone else’s name on my work up on the wall I wouldn’t be very happy either!” – quite right.
So what was the outcome of the lesson? The children understood that there was such a thing as plagiarism and that they should only write in words that they understand and that these words could be based on somebody else’s idea. They were able to look at text and pictures as evidence and write their own conclusions from these. However, I’m not sure that a schools’ inspector would agree with me -that it was time well spent. There wasn’t much ‘hard’ evidence written down to show the progress. The dilemma is that the time it takes to discuss properly and to really listen to what the children had to say took time away from getting their ideas down. Thankfully, we all managed to make one page in Book Creator that we will combine into a whole class scrapbook. But the independent work was not as extended as I would’ve liked to have presented back to their ‘real’ teacher. Perhaps what the children learnt was more than could be proved in a page of text with an attached image. But a page with a recorded voice note of opinions and discussions; that’s a different matter.
I’m left with the nagging question, which skill was more important?
Writing an extended piece of text or the lively insightful discussion centered on ideas and who owns them?
What have I used in the classroom today?
Numbers by Apple
Numbers by Apple
As an Apple Distinguished Educator I have created a course in iTunes U to expand on ideas surrounding this mathematical skill and concept.
One of the major benefits of having iPads in the classroom is for me, the fact that it truly allows different types of learners to engage in the lesson. Being a visual learner myself I appreciate that text can be daunting for some learners. Today was an opportunity to show this new set of students how they can be part of the lesson contribute, achieve and feel comfortable learning by utilising the tools that are available on an iPad.
I love teaching maths. My absolute favourite subject is the times tables, weird I know, but the cornerstone for any confident mathematician. Flexible thinking is as important in maths as being able to speak and explain what you’re thinking. Feeling able to explain in pictures words diagrams how a solution has been reached lays the foundation for mathematicians to be resilient and approach the rigours of GCSE A-level and beyond. I believe that this skill can be taught and should be taught in primary classrooms.
The class today were looking at the patterns created when the products of the times tables are reduced to their digital roots. These patterns repeated patterns are then used as a way to program a floor or screen turtle to create a visual image. These visual images are usually closed spirals and have their roots in Islamic arts tradition.
So today the class were able to practice those basic number skills show confidence and see in identifying repeated patterns, use them in a cross curricular way to visualise the relationships and strength and understanding.
Many curricular now include digital literacy. This should be celebrated!
Taking photographs on the surface is quite an easy skill especially with the high resolution cameras that come on the mobile devices. However, teaching the children to be discerning about the photos that they take will be a fantastic foundation in their lives.
Year two are presently studying the great fire of London, many primary schools up and down the land are doing exactly the same. As part of our computing curriculum these children are tasked to look at photography. So dutifully, today our class took their first steps into composing professional shots. Having started with selfies and now moved on to Tellagami’s. The aim was to research the Great Fire of London and use this as a scaffold for making a end product presentation to camera. This could utilise the green screen or their own version a Tellagami (an animated voice over.)
Tellagami Edu by Tellagami Labs Inc.
I am always mindful of the SAMR model when planning lessons which incorporate iPad. Straight substitution is easy to achieve. It has its place and when utilised properly is very effective. Augmentation is harder to achieve. Aspects of working with Tellagami’s fall into this category. True placing a voice with an animated avatar is not transfirmational. However you could argue that modification can be achieved when the child who uses the app finally finds their ‘voice’ and expressed opinions that would not normally be heard…
Redefinition of the task has to come through how the task is set up, effectively challenge based learning. Giving the students the skills and ability to transport themselves back to 1666 is quite simply incredible. The green screen technology gives children a passport to anywhere that their imagination allows! Eat your heart out Dr Who!
At a time when schools are asked to continuously prove progress in students (and rightly so) in very short timescales; within a lesson, perhaps even over a term or year. Teachers also need to prove themselves. Professional management reviews or personal review systems are put in place in schools as a way to measure smart targets and confirm professional diligence. Accountability is key. Headteachers are asked to oversee and manage the professional development of their staff and in turn, the potential achievement of the students. Those teachers who have the ability to see beyond the day-to-day routines of the classroom and accept that students within the school are being taught thoroughly and professionally also need to prove themselves.
I have experienced a wide range of appraisal systems. The most conducive and effective are open and honest in the way they approach teacher appraisal. The transparency communicated from the top of the school down enables every teacher to feel part of the bigger picture. Proof however is still needed at each stage. How do I prove that a child has successfully moved from starting point A to a skills mastery B in a particular curriculum area? This is where I believe technology can change the game. It can enable moments to be captured that previously were inadequately recorded on paper.
A headteacher whose vision spans all the teachers and includes all stakeholders will empower the school to fully utilise technology as a tool to support both teaching and learning. Understanding the power of a digital portfolio which includes snippets of video and voice memo evidence will be a force to increase the professionalism of teachers and more importantly the status of their judgements. Alongside this be instrumental in freeing the children in the school to do what they do – to learn. In a supportive and caring environment; ultimately to feel valued and to be happy.
What have I used in the classroom today?
Book Creator Free – make books with photos, video and sound by Red Jumper Limited
Explain Everything™ Interactive Whiteboard by Explain Everything sp. z o.o.
Cloud Tables Game,
Times table cloud click game by Lumpty Learning
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