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Showing posts from May, 2014

Tech tool trial - Educanon

Twice within the last week I have heard good things about educanon.  When, last night, someone twitted about it again (apologies as I cannot remember who it was) I decided to have a look and try it out.  I was on my iPad and I did feel that I would be better placed to explore this tool properly on the computer but nonetheless, I managed to put a very little something together:
educanon trial with Grammar Buddy


As I said, a very little something - but I think you can get the idea.  The impressive thing is, it was very quick and easy to put together and can see how useful it would be in any class - not just MFL.  This is a tool that doesn't just substitute, it augments what happens in the classroom.  If we let the students make their own videos and quizzes using educanon who is to say that this tool cannot transform teaching and learning for our students.  


educanon is then a tool that is worth investigating.  Happy exploring!  Let me know in the comments box below what you think o…

What apps for the SAMR model?

In my last post I talked about the ability to transform what we do in the classroom using technology as opposed to simply substituting what we do as teachers in the classroom.  Of course, students can use a word processor instead of writing out by hand, or they can use email to submit work or they can do their research using google or safari instead of a book.  This is the first level where technology can play a part.  However, technology can do more than just substitute and in order for it to impact more effectively we must look at how technology can augment, modify and redefine tasks in the classroom.  The top level of the SAMR model calls for redesigning tasks where what can be achieved goes beyond traditional and takes tasks to a new level allowing students to go further in their studies and thought processes.  The other key, in my opinion, is to remember that technology is not the star of the show but is there to enable teachers to move learning on beyond traditional expectation…

Don't just substitute - transform

I am a relative newcomer to social media.  I tried Facebook for a couple of months a while back but couldn't see the point. After all, I could tell my friends what I was doing and how I was feeling at any point. I didn't need Facebook to do this. I then tried twitter at the recommendation of Kevin Wild @mflandbeyond.  I quickly saw the point.  So, my twitter birthday, my renaissance, if you will, was 12th June 2013.  With my new-found, on-going, CPD delivered by an ever-growing number of twitterers I was following (and continue to follow), it did not take me long to see the power of technology both computer based and via mobile devices.  What I am trying to say, perhaps in rather a clumsy way, is that I am not an expert.  I am an excited, enthusiastic participant who is eager to learn and to discover.  I want to seek out ways in which I can improve my teaching and discover how technology can play a part in that.  I am lucky in that via twitter I was introduced to the idea of …

Technology - helping them think through collaboration

At the risk of sounding boring I am still harping on about a constructivist approach and how technology is a perfect partner for it - an "optimal medium for the application of constructivist principles to learning".  I have made no bones about the fact that I am rather partial to a constructivist approach.  I truly believe in enabling pupils to discover and determine for themselves as I believe it leads to better learning and learners.
So if I truly believe in this approach and that there is a close relationship between technology and constructivism given that the implementation of each one benefits the other what can I do to ensure overall success?   Keep in mind too that whilst students might be motivated by technology use in class (that's not always a given) they don't necessarily want to have to think for themselves (as mentioned before).  Undoubtedly many of my students have enjoyed being passive recipients of knowledge for many years and they can find themsel…

Technology - helping them think

Previous posts have waxed lyrical about a constructivist approach and how this is going to actively encourage my students to think for themselves, engage with the content and produce their own work using their existing knowledge and moving it one step on.

However, I have been quick to see that there are some stumbling blocks on both sides of the classroom. There are no quick fix solutions.  Instead, a slow steady pace is needed to instil confidence in such an approach and a creative attitude to overcoming problems will be needed. To this end, in the first instance, I am going to call on technology to help me in achieving my goal.   'Technology as part of a learning theory is more than a tool; it becomes the framework for the methodology' 
It is said that 'constructivist teachers pattern their instruction after the old Chinese saying: "Tell me and I will forget; show me, and I may remember; involve me and I will understand'". This being the case, it is importan…

What digital technology has done for me and my pupils

How fortuitous that a colleague pointed me in the direction of twitter.  I have been teaching for nearly 20 years now and I have always felt that I moved with the times and kept my ideas fresh.  Indeed,  I have always enjoyed teaching.  However, upon discovering twitter and in particular the #mfltwitterati I feel that my teaching has become re-invigorated and I have discovered a whole new world out there about which I knew nothing.  The struggle to get pupils to think independently and access those higher-order thinking skills has been greatly enabled and improved by the use of technology.  I am not quite sure how I coped without technology beforehand!  Twitter has introduced me to a whole host of ideas and online resources that have helped me to guide my pupils to learn, think, collaborate and create in a way that was not so easy before.  Take for example linoit (www.linoit.com).  A web based sticky note service that allows you to post a whole load of sticky notes.  I discovered it …

Think for myself? I don't think so!

Ok, ok, I know my previous post was waxing lyrical about the benefits of getting the students to think.  The wonderful advantages of teaching students to become lifelong learners, to internalise knowledge in order that they might go forth and use this knowledge to create their own masterpieces. These are all noble ideas indeed and I do truly believe in an approach to teaching that embraces such thought.  For this reason I created a course for my Year 10 students using wikispaces that allowed them to think through threshold concepts and construct their own knowledge.  I approached the task with gusto and felt sure that my Year 10 students would greet this creation with similar enthusiasm and indeed a number of them did.

However, it was not to everyone's liking; there were issues and I am not talking about problems with logging on and learning to navigate round the wiki.  Of course, we did have a few hitches in that respect but the interactive whiteboard came into its own as I was …

How to make them think

In teaching there is so much to think about that it can be easy to forget about our actual approach.  Sometimes we give more thought to the classroom layout than we do to the actual design of the course that we are going to teach.  Often, of course, the choice is out of our hands.  As teachers of public examinations - whatever course that may be - the decision of course content is set in stone.  Sometimes the usefulness of the course content to our students can be questionable and sadly there is not much we can do about that.  
Nevertheless, it is possible - even within the confines of a syllabus - to expound your beliefs about the best way to teach.  I, for one, am a keen exponent of a more constructivist or cognitive approach.  Yes, perhaps there are issues about the teaching space and the time available to me but I am able largely to proceed without getting bogged down in these issues. 
So what is it about the cognitive approach that entices me?  I really like the idea of helpin…

Differentiation - enhanced by technology?

If we focus on the idea of content, process and product, educators, when differentiating, must think about the source material and employ a variety of source content that starts at different levels in terms of difficulty; for example: books, articles, newspapers, quizzes and vocabulary lists.Moving on there are multiple processes; teacher-led, cooperative, collaborative, individual or group-work and these processes can lead to varying outcomes or products such as posters, presentations, summaries and essays.At each stage consideration must be given to the modes of working as some pupils will engage more with audio material, others visual modalities, whilst there will be some who are happy to work with the written word.In all of these elements technology need not necessarily play any part in any of this.Furthermore modes of working can be differentiated; students can work in classrooms with peers, in carefully considered groups or pairs or of course, individually.Again, technology need…