Friday, 20 February 2015

One classroom, one iPad - more ideas

It seems like just a few months ago that I penned my first post on this topic area.  In fact it is over six months and already there are more ideas for making the most of your one iPad in class.

One oversight in the first post was the absence of Plickers.  Wow! What an app!  If you are looking for a way to assess your learners in a way which gives you detailed feedback the Plickers is it.  I have written more about it here, but suffice to say, with some simple downloadable cards from the plickers website and the app on your iPad you can get a full breakdown of just what your students know (or, indeed, what they do not know) and thus plan the next steps in class accordingly.

Another app that at the time I knew nothing about but that I now use a few times a week is post-it plus.  This tool takes an already excellent classroom idea and builds on it in a way that only technology makes possible. Students give feedback or write their ideas on a post it note in the normal way.  Post-it plus allows you to capture these gems, annotate them if you wish, straighten them up, make them clearer and export in a number of formats including PDF and PowerPoint. You can also share the post its to a number of social media forums such as Pinterest.  Either approach allows you to give your students access to their classmates' ideas or to complete some assessment work with the class itself at the appropriate time.  In fact, once you have done some peer assessment and annotated the note you could then share the notes with the class.  I love its flexibility and I certainly appreciate not worrying about throwing the notes away at the end of a class as I know that I have kept the information for longer term use.   For more information do check out the website.

These are simple ideas that can help advance learning. In a similar vein just using your iPad to take a photo of a piece of work being completed in class so as to discuss ideas or to spot errors can allow you to push along the learning and allow your students to make greater progress.  If you are not able to mirror your iPad to a screen in your classroom you can quickly email the work and display it as a picture.  

Up to this point I have suggested ways forward that leave you firmly in charge of the iPad.  However, as mentioned before there is nothing to stop you letting your students use your iPad to create content in ways that are not possible without technology.  Whilst the class are preparing mindmaps on a grammar point, connectives or key terms in chemistry why not let one student (or perhaps a pair) do their mindmap on one of many easy to use mindmap tools.  There's PoppletMagicalpad, iMindMap HD and many more and all of these are also available on the internet too.  For more information on mindmaps look here. With any of these tools students can add photos of examples, or relevant objects or indeed links to further details on the Internet and add extra depth to their work.  Here's my yr 8 example on the perfect tense in French:

Mindmaps are not the only tools that give students the opportunity to redefine classroom tasks.  Look at posters or perhaps consider using a video making all such as Vidra. This tool is easy to use and means that students can focus on content as opposed to how their work looks. Writing out a summary about the Tolpuddle martyrs could be tackled rather differently with the chance to make an easy video with text, pictures and diagrams.

For modern languages using an avatar remains an important tool behind which students can hide and thus Yakit kids remains a firm favourite for me.  Recently year 8 have used it to create imaginary interviews with Justin Bieber.  They had fun and they really hammered the grammar point too!

I hope you have a go at using your iPad in class.  Yes it is an excellent management tool but it can give you so much more than that too.  How do you use yours? Let me know in the comment box below.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Going global

I was so lucky to go to Bett2015 and even luckier to attend #TMBett15.  There were some great presentations on a variety of topics.  Sadly I did not get to do my presentation as there just was not the time.  If I had had the opportunity to present this is what I would have said.
As an MFL teacher I obviously have a vested interest in running cross channel projects.  An online exchange can be an excellent way to work in language skills, getting the students to correct each other's language and then ultimately to work together to negotiate meaning to produce a final project. 
However, a global project is not just the domain of the languages teacher.  A project such as this can be of great benefit in other subject areas too.   It can bring to students an intercultural understanding which in this day and age is absolutely necessary.  As teachers we should make it our business to educate our students about the need to understand one another and other cultures.
To get going on a global classroom project there are three steps to follow.
1. An information exchange - get the students comfortable communicating with each other.
2. Comparison and analysis - this is the part where they really learn about each other in a way that they could not learn from a text book. Not only that they also gain an invaluable perspective on how others perceive them.
3. A final collaborative project - the two sides work together to produce a final product to sum up what they have learnt about and from each other.  A blog perhaps, or a PowerPoint presentation. 

All that remains now is to consider the tools we might use. Here are some of the tools I would use for written and oral communication and collaboration. 

 I am enjoying some interesting projects at the moment.  I would love to hear your thoughts too.