COETAIL Project Reflection Part II

The Positives
Deeper learning. I’m not referring to Wiggins and McTighe’s Six Facets of Understanding when I say this, I’m simply saying that deeper learning in the students happened as a result of this project. How do I know this? Because I observed it.

In one particular case, a student was teaching how to prime factorise a given number using the tree method. He was near the end of the procedure when, instead of multiplying all of the end nodes (i.e. prime numbers) together to show this equals the top node (i.e the given number), he incorrectly adds together all of the end nodes. As you can presume, it didn’t work out – the end nodes when added together didn’t equal the given number. It was a “aha!” moment for the student.

Maybe I’m using the wrong term. Maybe I should be saying “aha!” moments instead of deeper learning. Anyway, making video tutorials elicit “aha!” moments in students. (This idea could be what I base my thesis around. Or perhaps simply the effects of video tutorial making on student learning.)

Engaged students. This was another positive. I don’t think I’ve ever seen students as “into” math as I did during this project. The following tweet fairly accurately sums up the student interest level through out the project.

The Negatives
The “tail” of the project was to centralise the videos, now that they had been recorded. I suppose it could be argued that the videos were already centralised as they were all up on ShowMe, but I wanted them more centralised – I wanted to create our own Khan Academy (or, at the very least, the beginnings of.) We centralised the videos by creating a blog (which we named tinytutes) and embedded the videos there. The negative is that WordPress and ShowMe don’t play together nicely. ShowMe embed codes simply don’t work in WordPress. The workaround was to manually download the videos from ShowMe and then upload them to WordPress. This works but takes much more time than copying and pasting an embed code. The other downside is that all WordPress blogs come with limited storage – tinytutes is a free WordPress blog and therefore it came with 3 GB of storage. At some point in the future, as more videos are added to the blog, we’re going to need to upgrade to the 10 GB account or hope that WordPress and ShowMe settle their differences.

There may still be a Part III to this reflection. I’m not sure yet.

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COETAIL Project Reflection

Last week was Khan Academy-style Video Making Week in my two grade 7 math classes (otherwise known as KAVMW. j/k) The students were given two 55 minute periods to make a video that teaches a concept/skill that they have learnt this year in math class. The video was to be no longer than three minutes in duration and was to be of a similar style to the videos up on Khan Academy. (In fact, the latter was really a non-requirement as the app we used, ShowMe, only makes videos in a Khan Academy-style.)

Here’s the link to the UbD planner and assessment rubric for this unit. (They’re not quite finished yet.)

One of the big questions I need to ask myself is, in this unit, does the use of technology reach the redefinition level of the SAMR Model? That is, in this unit, does the use of technology allow for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable?

In my last post, SAMR Model Revisited, I discussed two fairly straightforward uses of technology that reach the redefinition level of the SAMR Model: using technology to enable collaboration and publishing media to social media sites. In this unit, students are publishing their videos to the social media site, ShowMe. There, the videos have a real audience, potentially in the thousands. So, yes, the use of technology in this unit does reach the redefinition level.

It’s worth pointing out here that a use of technology that scores redefinition level today may not and probably will not score redefinition level in a few years time. All uses of technology slowly slide down the SAMR Model.

Stay tuned for part two of this reflection.

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  • Untitled by me

SAMR Model Revisited

Today, I attended the EARCOS workshop, Technology in the Classroom, which was presented by Chris Toy. Being the good COETAILer that I am, I thought I would reflect on those parts of the presentation that resonated with me.

At the end of the day, we were asked to jot down three words that summed up the learning that had taken place. I wrote down “Collaboration equals transformation.” When I say “transformation”, I’m referring to task/activity transformation – the kind of transformation referred to in the model below. It came to me today that using technology to enable collaboration, whether across a classroom or across the globe, is a transformative use of technology. It’s transformative because two classes, half a world away, collaborating in real time simply wasn’t possible before. So, yes, collaboration equals transformation.

Another example of technology-enabled task transformation is publishing media to social media sites such as YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr (to name a few.) It’s transformative because social media sites, such as YouTube, have audiences numbering in the millions. For a student 15 years ago, simply publishing, let alone publishing to an audience numbering in the millions, was impossible.

Do you have any examples of technology-enabled task transformation?

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From ICT to Computer Studies

Last year at Saint Maur, the Technology Department decided that, starting in the 2012 – 2013 school year, we would offer the IGCSE Computer Studies course to grades 9 and 10 instead of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) course – the course we were offering at the time.

In the ICT course, students learn to manipulate a typical office suite (i.e. word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, web design and database software.) We were finding, however, that students taking the course at Saint Maur already possessed half, if not all of these skills. We needed to find a more challenging technology curriculum for grades 9 and 10.

In addition to this, we’ve noticed a real interest in computer programming from the students who frequent the Mac Lab everyday and computer programming simply can’t be learnt through the ICT course.

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The Computer Studies course is quite different to ICT in that it doesn’t prescribe a particular type of software that needs to be mastered. Rather, it places emphasis on the Systems Design Cycle (some times referred to as simply the Design Cycle) and leaves it up to the individual classrooms to decide the software or programming languages they will learn.

This year, we will be teaching Computer Studies through a number of software development projects using the Java-based Greenfoot development environment. (If you are interested in finding out more about Greenfoot, start by visiting the official website at www.greenfoot.org.) We are all very excited here in the Technology Department at the prospect of students developing their own games and simulations.

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Weighing Up My Project Options

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog – roughly two months I think. Anyway, it’s good to be back.

In the style of my other posts, let’s get straight into it.

Over the past week, my project has undertaken some major changes. (It feels really good to be blogging again, by the way.)

Originally, my plan was to have my grade 7 math students make imperial to metric converters (and vice versa) using Google Forms. Next, the students would embed their converters into either their own blog or into the class blog.

I feel this task would score quite high on the SAMR model, as the use of technology is transforming the task itself. In fact, this task would be impossible to complete without the use of technology.

Students would also be learning how to use Google Docs and WordPress – two things I’m a big fan of.

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But then some time this week, a better idea came to me – have the students make short two minute tutorials using ShowMe on their iPads and then upload them to some video sharing site. The plan is to then embed these videos in a site called Kids Academy, which has yet to be set up.

I’d like the students to make a video, or a couple, on something they’ve learnt in Math since the start of the school year – operations with negatives, HCF and LCM, prime factorisation, and sequences are topics they’ve learnt about thus far this year.

This idea scores high on the SAMR model too, in my opinion, as the use of technology in the task transforms the task itself.

I also really like the idea of this Kids Academy site – a site where kids can teach other kids (and no doubt adults too) practically anything.

Anyway, it’s been good getting these thoughts down on blog.

Any comments and/or questions, please leave below.

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