It’s a different light now – Course 5 final project thoughts.

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When I wrote my last post about ideas regarding the final project of my COETAIL experience I already had a feeling that my ideas still have to develop. I was inspired by Rebekah Madrid’s (@ndbekah) blog post Taking the Leap: Thinking about Course 5 and by talking to amazing colleagues I luckily have at school. Huge thanks for that already.

Following now a first summary of my planning.

Unit: The Human Machine – The human body is a complex organism, which is made up of many systems that work together.

Integration in German:

  • Form and function of our brain
  • Features/elements of a non-fiction text

The students will know about the brain as one of the most complex systems of the human body by watching the video(s) and taking notes. They will understand the importance of the brain for the functionality of our body.

They will inquire and analyze the elements of a non-fiction text answering the following questions:

  • What is it?
  • What does it look like?
  • Why is it important?

In order to show their deeper understanding of a chosen aspect about the brain (or the human body?) the students will create a non-fiction page using non-fiction features and new technologies. There could be the option to create and publish an ebook together.

The students will be able both to read visual elements of a non-fiction text and also to organize and summarize information by a visual text. They will be able to use technology in order to create a visual text, to collaborate and to share their understanding.

The students will use the German language as their prime medium of inquiry (learning through language). They use the language for creative and effective information processing, organizing and summarizing.

Let me explain how I got there …

Tip#1

Choose a unit that interests you and redesign it in a way that excites you.

I always wanted to inquire more into Visual literacy and it is already part of my appraisal topic (How can I develop more proficient reader in the digital world?) this year. One morning on the way to school my friend, colleague and amazing teacher Wendy @wenfor and I spoke about the final project and she suggested why don’t you focus on features of a non-fiction text? Now in our digital world it is more important then ever. She gave me the following book: I see what you mean. Thanks Wendy.
The unit about the human body with the focus on the brain in German is a good unit because to be visual literate and understand elements of a non-fiction text helps to comprehend and explain readily even more complex aspects of science. Additionally the students use the tools and elements of non-fiction texts to create and show understanding.

Tip#2

Take what you have learned in all the prior courses and put it into action.

I have the feeling that the year 2013 was the peak of my professional learning ever! A reflection of it could be a single blog post. There are so many options but I decided to give it a try implementing the Flipped Classroom. I’m still torn regarding the Flipped Classroom and there is the chance! The focus won’t be the brain only. Therefore the Flipped Classroom gives me the chance that the students get the content beforehand and we focus on the features of the non-fiction text during class.

Tip#3

Think about how you are using technology to support learning in ways that we inconceivable without technology.

The students will inquire into the topic itself through the Flipped Classroom, meaning watching videos. But they will also get choices using technology to show their understanding about elements of a non-fiction text. My concern is that this might not be the redefinition level of the SAMR model, so I will have to think about it more in detail. Publishing a non-fiction eBook would be though.

Tip#4 

Make sure you are showing them that you are a learner too.

With them Rebekah meant the students but implementing the Flipped Classroom means to involve the parents as well. I want them to see me as a learner as well.

Tip#6

And the two questions that would make me really think would have to be:  ”Is student work authentic and reflective of that done by real people outside of school? ” and  ”Is student work reflective of their interests or passions?”

I love the first question and it always drives my planning. The answer to this question and my final project I found in the above mentioned book:

We need visual literacy in order to get by in our everyday lives – when we read a magazine, go shopping, visit a museum, visit a museum, catch a train or bus, browse the Internet, text a friend, check today’s weather, or plan a vacation. The visual texts associated with these tasks include diagrams, maps, graphs, and tables. We take for granted that they are part of everyday literacy; but we don’t yet take for granted that they should therefore be a part of the literacy program. (I see what you mean, S.14)

Tip#10

Take risks. Ask for help when you need it. Take control of your learning and let go of control in your classroom. And have fun!!

It’s definitely out of my comfort zone but YES as much as I want the students to be a risk taker I will be a risk taker as well.

Okay,
what are the next steps …

It would be great to get some feedback. Small advices, inputs, encouragement, opinions, tips, etc. are more than appreciated! I will read the expectations again and again and again like Rebekah recommended. And feel encouraged to use the Understanding by Design Planner to keep going.

Let’s light the bulbs!

Warhol's Light Bulbs
Photo Credit: zetson via Compfight cc

I’m thankful that Coetail makes me think about the final project for course 5 early enough. Unfortunately I can’t say yet – Yeah, that is what I’m going to do and I’m very excited about it. Two weeks ago I started having conversations with colleagues about the upcoming units and I got quite different but very helpful inputs. I always tried to keep the following questions in mind:

  • Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?
  • What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?
  • What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?
  • What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

I’ll probably focus on my Grade 4 German advanced class and the unit is called The Human Machine. Those students are already a little bit experienced with the use of technology. They already have certain basic skills like typing, being in the browser, and some searching skills. But I like them as a class very much as well …

The focus in German could be the brain and as one option the students could create an own Wikipedia about the brain (e.g. the following topics: Intelligence, Memory, Brain, Language, Logic, Creativity – let’s the see what the students come up with).

My learning intentions would be on one side the knowledge they get about the brain as part of the body system, but on the other side I want to let them experience to share their knowledge in a very collaborating way, meaning to edit an entry for a wiki collaboratively. I think it is a good possibility for them to understand the concept of Wikipedia, to create and edit an entry (insert links and videos, common sense, etc.) , to share knowledge collaboratively (working in a group) and globally (working and communication with others outside of classroom and maybe even school), and to be a responsible and knowledgeable communicator online. The content itself though is not the most important, even though as a language teacher I’m aware that Determining Importance as well as Summarizing/Synthesizing would be the important reading strategies in this unit. The process of creating the wiki will be the focus. There are so many other wikis than the original one so as an action I could imagine that they are going to use interest-driven wikies more often or even create their own in future. Something I have never done before is to create a rubric, which does not have the product or process as the main focus to assess. Here it rather would be about the collaboration and communication. My concern is that once the wiki will be created, how does it actually continue to grow? And – how meaningful is it really to share that knowledge that particular way?

I have to say I’m not sure about the wiki. Personally I’m using the original Wikipedia, but rarely a specific wiki like PYPchat Wiki or the Minecraft Wiki or 21centuryedtech) – they never really appeal to me. One the other hand I’m aware that people use it to share a interest.

Therefore I thought about a second option. What tool could be a more appealing to the students and to me to share their knowledge collaboratively and globally?

Thinglink.com? The students could be expert groups and create an interactive picture with information what they read about, with videos they found on the Internet; with audio and/or videos files they created using other tools like Explain Everything, iMovie, etc. to show their thinking and learning. The interactive picture can be shared globally and opened for others to add something.

Honestly, both ideas are kind of okay but for me not convincing enough yet. I have to admit that it would rather be a secure thing, although I’m ready to go out of my comfort zone. Ideas are unpredictable so I have to to be patient and creative to light the ideas is the most colorful way. I try to keep in mind Tip#2 by by :

Maybe you will mash-up gamification and digital citizenship. Maybe you’ll make a digital story with people around the world, tapping into your PLN. Perhaps you will have kids from around the world building in Minecraft or have a kindergarten inquiry sparked by Twitter. Perhaps you try Problem-Based Learning in an higher level math class, allowing for open books and open computers.  It could be that you find a way for your kids to design something for that 3D printer your school bought.

Yes, that’s sounds exciting to me … Let’s see. Like always … I’m very, very thankful for feedback. Probably even more than ever. Thanks.

 

 

Learn for real!

learn
Photo Credit: Mark Brannan via Compfight cc

Project-Based-Learning, Problem-Based-Learning, Inquiry-Based-Learning, Challenged-Based-learning are all pedagogical theories which all have something in common. Their approach is the real-world approach.

One of my goals for daily life teaching and learning is that it has to be authentic and meaningful for the students. As a PYP teacher, as a technology teacher, as a language teacher and as a person I don’t want to separate school from life outside of school anymore like our teachers did 20 -30 years ago. Difficult enough because often old structures and fixed mindsets are still there.

Authentic and meaningful problems, projects, inquiries, challenges motivate me as a learner and I strongly believe that this is also the case for students. Secondly I (often together with the students) always try to find a way to share our learning. Students present their learning, take some actions, give tips for our language learner (in my case), make aware of something, reflect on their learning – I don’t just want to collect the learning in the classroom or even worse just in the notebooks of the students.

Technology / the Internet as well as our local environment provide us a way to make the learning authentic and meaningful, to find projects or real problems to solve, and to challenge ourselves.

Some examples:

Grade 1 German Advanced
Unit: Fairy Tales
Learning Intention: All countries in the world have fairy tales or stories.

The students asked a non-german speaker to tell a fairy tell or story from their culture. The recorded it with vocaroo.com (fantastic tool) and then retold the story in German. Again those stories were recorded and finally shared on a world map, so everybody can listen to it. Here is the link to Märchen aus aller Welt.

Grade 1 German mother tongue level
Unit: Material Matters
Learning Intention: Materials have certain attributes for certain purposes

As a scientist the students inquired into a chosen item and looked at it with the following questions:

  1. What materials are used to produce this item?
  2. How does the item look and feel like?
  3. Why were those material chosen to produce the item?

After the research the students published the results for their results by using thinglink. Due to privacy policies I can’t publish them here. Following they were asked to show their deeper understanding by choosing a certain material for a certain purpose. Even more it would have been authentic if we had the chance to actually build something. Next year …

Grade 3 GAL 1 (German as a additional language – beginners)

At the end of the unit the students reflected on how they are learning new words. The fact that the students are beginner language learner it was definitely a meaningful and authentic reflection for them. But we wanted to go a step further and share our reflections. Students came up with the idea to create something for the blog. Finally they asked me to create a little video. They created the tips for other language learner.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/RgTSz-AMd2c[/youtube]

Grade 4 German Advanced
Unit: Inventions continue to impact our world
Learning Intention: Deeper understanding that inventions can have a positive as well as a negative impact on our world.

The students inquired into a chosen German inventor with the following prompts:

What is the invention?
How did it improve our daily lives?
What negative impact the invention might have on our life and environment?

To share their learning outcome the students chose to film themselves with the iPads and share it by using voicethread. Following a short part of it (and I learnt how to blur the faces 😉

[youtube]https://youtu.be/cT71C6X6rRU[/youtube]

Grade 4 German mother tongue level
Unit: Video killed the radio star (focus in German: written communication)
Learning intention: Different kinds of written communication are used in different situations and for different purpose.

The students are surrounded by technology and they communicate in a way different way than we did at the same age. They see their parents or older siblings using devices to communicate. Inquire into written communication (using Todaysmeet for the TuningIn; using the learning Links on the Intranet to find more information about different type of written communication), attending a contest writing a letter to a hero of a children book (found on the internet), using Skype to communication with somebody who still writes a lot of letter, touches the reality of the children. They will become experts and can share their knowledge.

Sometimes I get the question: And what is the language focus of the unit? Yes, there has to be a language focus. But especially the German classes learn through using the language. On top of it, even though it is the mother tongue class the learning needs of the children are very, very diverse. Project-based, Problem-based, Inquiry-based, challenged-based learning gives me the possibility to differentiate and support individually so the learning of the language will be as meaningful and authentic as possible. Maybe it is not problem-based, project-based enough … I would love to go out of the classroom walls even more.

How do my pipes look like?

The quote I read in Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age

The pipe is more important than the content within in the pipe.

sticks to my mind since I started to read about Connectivism.

How do my pipes look like?

I’m still amazed by the fact that we decide what to learn, where to learn, when to learn, how to learn, and from who to learn. Recently I attended several sessions and listened to keynotes at the Global Education Conference. It was totally my decision what information and knowledge I want to get. It took place all over the world and definitely enhanced my learning through the diversity of people who presented and shared something. It was also my decision how I want to learn. Depending on the topic I sometimes was just a listener but if possible I tried to contribute to the learning experience within that specific setting.
But the pipe always has two directions, right? While attending one session called Students as Creators or Makers: Tools to foster Higher-order Thinking Skills I thought, next year I could give it a try as well. I’m getting there …

19th Century emails
Photo Credit: cicciodylan via Compfight cc

The more familiar pipes for me are of course blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. To many people I try to explain it and compare it to an old fashioned post box. You are interested in something; you subscribe it and the mailman brings the mail to you.

But: Too often it goes only one direction, right?

 

A great experience on Twitter was for me when I first time had a question and I got answers. Or there was a question and I could contribute to it. There is the flow in the other direction. Vivian (@chezVivian) describes on her blog a professional conversation about assessment on Twitter. The knowledge is flowing back and forth through the pipe therefore it’s a really good learning experience. #pypchat – I’ll join you very soon.

Flowing in both directions
Photo Credit: m4r00n3d via Compfight cc

Facebook more than Google+ but they are both platforms for me to get inspiring input and to share worth reading articles, blog posts or ideas.  Collaboration and creating together with other educators and experts doesn’t happen yet to the extent that I imagine it to happen. One idea would be to connect with other German teachers at international schools in Germany. Let’s get together.

The wish to collaborate and connect more with other teachers led me to the question: Did a job description change? How? What kind of teacher I would like to work with if I had the chance to hire somebody?

Inspired by Ceci’s blog post Ceci 2.0 as well as by the table in What Is Web 3.0 And How Will It Change Education I wondered how a job description for a teacher could look like. I haven’t seen any since my mind shift regarding education has started. I’m not in the position of hiring people but I asked myself what kind of teacher I would like to be and what kind of teacher I would like to work with. Experiences and knowledge are important but not the most important anymore. In my opinion, one very important part is how much somebody is connected to get the flow of knowledge and information in both directions and within the whole community of learners.

The following pictures (on thinglink.com) shows my first thinking about it. A colleague brought up the ISTE standards to add. Sure. What would you add?

Let’s reflect …

What does integration of technology actually mean in the context of education? Already a while ago educators (Technology Integration in Education) and also companies (Google in Education) started thinking about it.

The SAMR model explains the single steps very well. Here a video: SAMR in 120 Seconds.

How would I evaluate my own practice of technology integration? How did the use of technology change my teaching and learning and the learning of the students?

My teaching career in primary school started a little bit than 7 years ago. Before I had worked for a software company as a trainer and I guess because of that particular experience and acquired knowledge I started to use technology from the beginning of my teaching. Reflecting on my students and my own use of technology based on the SAMR Model, which I first heard of maybe 1 1/2 years ago, I can see three phases:

1. Phase:

Situation:
1 desktop computer in the classroom &  very few desktop computers for the whole staff to share

Students, f.e.

  • write articles for a news paper of the field trip
  • create posters for announcements
  • use a dictionary
  • use certain programs for learning
  • create a photo story

Me as a teacher

  • organize files
Substitution
https://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/

At that time my students definitely mainly used technology just instead of a paper, a paper dictionary, colored pencil, traditional printed photos, and so on. I remember that it was important for me that the students get familiar and independent using the PC because their life is more and more driven by technology. If they don’t know a word, I want them to check it independently. The aspect of creating also played an important role, although I just substituted other tools. As a teacher I just used the computer to save files. That’s it.

2. Phase:

Situation:
Laptop cart with bookable laptops for each child & my own laptop as a working tool

Students, f.e.

  • search for information
  • search for pictures
  • use feedback tools like VoiceThread
  • write / reflect on a blog
  • recording a story
  • creating a movie

I’m as a teacher, f.e.

–       Use assessing tools like Evernote

SubAug
https://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/

The second phase was already a huge change and opened doors for using the technology. Probably I still substituted but new features created new learning possibilities. Information we probably would have found in a non-fiction book but are they updated? Pictures we might have found in magazines but would have there be a possibility to change and edit them? Feedback can be also given orally or in written from but would it have the same audience, would it have left the classroom then?

As a language teacher the way of assessing changed. To assess oral skills I usually just listened to the students. How helpful is it now that I can record them, listening to it again to get a deeper understanding of the needs? Aren’t there way more possibilities to personalize the learning of the children? The tasks for the students were still very similar compared to the use of technology at the beginning with only on PC in the classroom.

3. Phase:

Situation:
Laptop cart with bookable laptops for each child.
Six iPads for the use in the classroom. My own laptop as a working tool. My own iPad.

Students, f.e.

  • talk in Skype with experts
  • create with coding apps on the iPad
  • develop an own Wikipedia about a certain topic
  • search for / use information / pictures with the knowledge about copyright
  • create a book trailer to promote a book they like
  • create a world map to share fairy tails from a different culture on Google maps
  • show their deeper understanding by using apps like ExplainEverything
  • use GarageBand to compose music to a ballade
  • produce QR codes to provide more information
AugModificationRedifinition
https://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/

The change of the task for the children started here. Suddenly the students collaborated way more often or how would they have been able to create an own Wiki if not together? The students get the chance to meet and ask real experts or how could they all Skype to a real passionated writer of letters?

Above I wrote that the life of the children is driven by technology. Sure, they need to know HOW to use technology but they even more need to understand WHY to use one or the other tool. What is the advantage of using a particular tool? Is it easier to collaborate? Can I get meaningful feedback of others? Am I able to create something which will be a benefit for myself or others?

As a teacher I wish to personalize their learning and support the student’s needs; I wish to encourage meaningful collaboration locally and globally in the context of real-world situations and to get feedback of their actions; I wish them to be knowledgeable about how to search effectively to get the information they look for; I wish them to be able to visualize their deeper understanding and create something new. (History of Integration of Technology).

Redifinition
https://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/

REDEFINITION like in the SAMR model described is for sure our goal. It requires a mind shift and an exciting way of learning. For my own learning I wish to reach that level. Coetail is again a great way to get support and to head to new dimensions.