Since I’m working in the library I love the fact that I get to know new books from different countries and cultures. As a German I grew up with German children’s literature and I feel familiar with that part of the world. Due to this fact I try to take the chance as often as possible to let the students tell me about children’s books from other parts of the world.
For a while already I’m so proud of my Grade 4 students (and about myself) and finally I can tell you about it. The two Grade 4 German classes advanced level published their eBook about interesting facts about the brain.
The classes created, collaborated and contributed and it’s my hope that this publishing experience was something where learning started and future learning will happen.
Who can’t wait, here is the Link to the ebook on iTunes: Interessantes über das Gehirn.
Here a quick overview of what was happening in the classroom:
The students …
- read nonfiction as learning about the brain
- watched videos as learning about the brain
- inquired into features of a nonfiction page
- inquired into a chosen topic
- applied the reading strategy “determine importance”
- summarized nonfiction information
- organized and created a nonfiction page with Book Creator
- practiced and improved their German by using the language
=> experienced the publishing process of a book
=> created a resource that will be available for download across the world
Here again the link to the iTunes Store: “Interessantes über das Gehirn“. The students will be more than happy to see that people are actually download the ebook and maybe even write a review. Thx.
The whole planning started in mid december with an empty “Understanding by Design” unit template which was very helpful in terms of thinking through the entire project. I had done the unit before therefore I knew the content and could focus more on redefining and recreating the unit. If you want to have a closer look on the planning, feel free to do this here:
The whole project ended with a video which describes it and reflects on it.
The students, my colleagues who were involved and I indeed had great learning experiences – we were all risk takers and learners in order to go a step further in terms of teaching and learning. Many things like learning through a flipped classroom, creating and publishing an eBook as well as working with a limited amount of iPads or own iPads students brought to school happened for the first time.
My colleague and I were amazed by the high level of motivation of the students. The fact that they watched movies to acquirer knowledge about the brain; the fact that they could chose their own topic to inquire into; the fact that the eBook will be published to a real audience; the fact that they got the chance to work with an iPad motivated them immensely. The students were learning and improving the German language through using the same.
One challenge I didn’t expect: the parents. The majority agreed to publish it on iTunes and also to mention the whole or only the first name. One student in my class didn’t even want create a nonfiction page with the iPad. “And my parents don’t want this either.”, he said. He couldn’t explain why and the parents never approached me and until today I don’t know what the reasons are. The student create then the page on paper.
Another parent couldn’t understand why it has to be published on iTunes. Unfortunately it seemed to be difficult for them to articulate their concerns. I have an idea of their concerns and maybe I still will get a chance to talk to them.
Obviously I took it for granted that parents agree to authentic and meaningful learning, partly also because they chose a PYP school for their child. I see now the need to let parents now even more and in detail what our ideas of teaching and learning these days are. Creation yes, (internal) collaboration yes, but I wonder now how important is contribution to a real audience for the parents (and for teachers)?!
Thank you COETAIL for a wonderful and exciting learning experience!
What comes next? Well, luckily the Coetail experience won’t end here! I’m excited to read and watch about the other final projects as well as to follow other educators within Coetail and around the world. Contribution will be a bigger part of my online life and I hope that once in a while I’ll inspire other people like so many great teachers and educators inspire my life.
So let’s keep in contact through Twitter (@blaho_blaho), through Google+, and email (blahoblaho at gmail.com) or whatever will be invented. It became so easy! Btw. I was the only one at our school who did the Coetail Course so I wouldn’t mind a Google Hangout to celebrate a little bit. Who is in?
One of my COETAIL cohort members (Brett MacRury) created a short video and showed which direction we want to go and what steps as well as thinking processes are needed. We don’t want just substitution only anymore. Feel free and watch it for further explanation.
Since the beginning of this school year I observed an essential change of my approach of using the iPads for teaching and learning. I started to evaluate the app I want to use before I use it in the classroom. Usually inspiration came from somewhere (colleagues, twitter, Google+, etc.) and I thought: “Oh, there is a new app, that’s cool, let’s try”. But wait:
Does it really transform and enhance the learning of my students?
Let’s check. That happened with Thinglink and my Grade 1 German class this year. The current unit is about Materials Matters and it took us a couple of lessons to get the vocabulary (nouns/describing words). Afterwards I asked the students to be scientists. The goal was to understand that different materials are used for different purposes. Their task was:
- Find a random item you find in the classroom.
- What materials are used to produce this item?
- How does the item look and feel like?
- Why were those material chosen to produce the item?
But what does the a real scientist do with his or her results? It didn’t take long until the students had ideas how they are publishing the results: in a newspaper, on the internet, during a conference, etc. How do we publish now our results? – That’s where the app called Thinglink came into play. Thinglink allows us to take a picture and add text or short videos (Youtube, etc. or selfmade) for further explanation.
Their task was:
5. Publish your results and your understanding to share it with the world (meaning BIS community in our case).
If I look at the SAMR model – that is beyond Substitution. The app gave the students the possibility to express and explain their results using the right vocabulary and sentence structures. The results will be published on the community intranet. They couldn’t have done this in a f.e. written form, because writing is not the focus yet. Their results would have been stayed in the classroom.
Did I redesign the task? I’m still a little bit confused about this part. Would be great to get some feedback on this. 😉 Older students could have find some explaining videos on the internet. That was too early for 1st grader.
I have to admit there are still some open questions. It’s never a linear process. Would be great to have that discussion about it. Could we even create a interactive picture of the SAMR model with examples of our practice?
Probably it’s like Jeff Utecht described here:
“I talk about the SAMR model a lot in my talks and presentations because I think it helps frame for teachers the kind of transformation that is possible with technology in the classroom. The one thing I don’t like about all the diagrams I find is that they make SAMR look like a hierarchy of levels rather than what I think they really are which are stages that we all go through when we are presented with new tools technological or not.Based on my own thinking I created the above diagram because what happens is once we redefine something it becomes common place and we start over dabbling with the next great thing.I like to use e-mail as an example. As some point around 1995 some IT person somewhere thought it would be a great idea if all teachers had an e-mail address. So what did we do…we used email to substitute what we use to do, then it augmented the way we communicated, next it modified how we expect to communicate in schools until it redefined everything from in school communication, to communicating with students, parents, and the wider community. Today….email isn’t seen as a disruptor…but it was.As we head into the final weeks I want you to step back and think about how you use technology or how it’s used in your classroom. Hopefully you are a scatter plot on that circle above. A little here and a little there….Redefinition is difficult as stated in the above linkRedefinition: The Technology allows the creating of new tasks, previously inconceivable. Think about that for a second…..that’s tough. That is using technology in a way that there is no back up plan. If the electricity goes out, if the computer doesn’t work that day there is no back up plan. The task you were going to do can not be replicated with paper and pencil or other materials. This is tough! It is not easy to redefine learning at this level…”
Unfortunately there is a downside:
The whole experience brings me to other question:
First time I got in contact with coding/programming was at school (BASIC? I can’t even remember … ) early in the 90ties. It always interested me but for whatever reason I never got into it. Dad, why didn’t you buy me a computer? Just kidding. I became a primary school teacher – no programming at university or similar at that time at all. 2004 I got a second contact when I started working for a software company (Tcl, php … ) as a trainer for their software but I never really had to program. When I decided to go back to work as a teacher I was convinced that I will never get in contact with coding/programming again.
I was so wrong!
“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer
because it teaches you how to think.”
— STEVE JOBS, THE LOST INTERVIEW
First I read the following article (and so many more) few month ago: What 90% of Schools Don’t Teach and it makes it very clear: There will be a huge demand for programmer in future! Therefore: Are Coders The Scribes of Our Time? Interesting question as well. Do I teach the students to code? No. I could find excuses. Well, I never really learnt it. Well, I’m a language teacher. And so on. Not yet. One of my goals for the next school year probably will be to get into coding apps for the iPads for primary school students. So far I discovered a few apps:
Hopscotch allows kids to create their own games and animations. Kids unleash their creativity with this beautiful, easy-to-use visual programming language.
Kodable is a free educational iPad game offering a kid-friendly introduction to programming concepts and problem solving. For kids ages 5 and up, and tools for grownups too!
Cargo-Bot is a puzzle game where you teach a robot how to move crates. Sounds simple, right? Try it out!
Learn the basics of computer programming with Daisy the Dinosaur! This free, fun app has an easy drag and drop interface that kids of all ages can use to animate Daisy to dance across the screen. Kids will intuitively grasp the basics of objects, sequencing, loops and events by solving this app’s challenges. After playing Daisy, kids can choose to download a kit to program their own computer game.
The new Bee-Bot App from TTS Group has been developed based on our well-loved, award-winning Bee-Bot floor robot. The app makes use of Bee-Bot’s keypad functionality and enables children to improve their skills in directional language and programming through sequences of forwards, backwards, left and right 90 degree turns.
“Who says that computer programming should only be left to the adults?… although Cato’s Hike is geared towards children, it can definitely unlock the little programmer in all of us.” — AppAdvice
Move The Turtle is an educational application for iPhone and iPad that teaches children the basics of creating computer programs, using intuitive graphic commands.
And I just found www.kidsruby.com … So good that I’m on vacation at the moment …
Anybody any experiences with those apps? Which one do you prefer and why?
The second contact I got very recently is Google Apps Scripts.
It’s seems to be amazing what is possible and how much effort people put into the programming and then sharing it for free so everybody (every teacher) can use it.
I wish I would have learnt programming/coding on a deeper level. The apps will be a good start to get into it and let’s see where the journey will bring me. It is never too late, right?
Have you ever thought that you will code as a teacher?
My goal for the school year 2012/13 is:
“How can I integrate the usage of the iPads for teaching and learning language as well as for deeper differentiation and assessment in the classroom?”
I love technology and wanted to get more knowledge about differentiation and assessment. Thinking about the last 6-9 month … I can’t believe what a great learning journey I did and I’m still doing. I’m in the lucky position to have 6 iPads and over the past year I tried lots of ideas to assess and differentiate.
Here one example for especially oral assessment – formative and summative.
In the context of the unit Once upon an Imagination in Grade 1 the parents, the students, and myself were using technology in different ways.
Our big picture was to create a world map with Google Maps that shows fairy tales / stories from different countries of the world:
Märchen aus aller Welt
(Feel free to leave a comment for the students. It will make them happy!)
I kindly asked the parents of Grade 1, colleagues and a friend in Malaysia (Thx Etienne @VisserYa) to record a fairy tale from their family backgrounds and in their language. The parents could choose how to record it but I offered them to use Vocaroo – very easy and intuitive to use! I used Dropbox to save all the recordings.
My language focus for German on the one hand was to model two strategies how to take notes and therefore not to forget what I just heard. For the listening part the students used the iPads, for the note taking part the students used just paper. On the other hand the students wanted to record their own chosen fairy tale / story to share it on Google Maps. For recording they used a voice recorder, in this case Audio Memos, but any other voice recorder works as good as this one because we just need basic features.
The following things are the advantages I observed of using a voice recorder:
- The voice recorder allows to save and share their stories.
- The students, especially as a second or additional language learner, listen to their own voices and can improve their pronunciation.
- The students build their confidence by recording by themselves instead of speaking in front of the whole class.
- Listening to their own stories made them very critical with themselves and they really wanted to get the story right.
- After recording the students could share their stories with each other and retell the story if necessary.
- Listening to others give the students the possibility to develop their listening skills.
There are probably even more good reasons …