Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Moment of victory for the BT

Another teacher popped into my room just after lunch today, she was requiring some help with Blogger but I was off to do some PD with the Literacy team and my class was off to play volleyball.

Some of you may remember my mentor told me that I needed to look at the sustainability of the class blogging. Well it looks like that is well in hand.

My colleague quickly told me she was interesting in loading some documents and looking at the views/hits on her blog. Step up one of my students who spent part of his volleyball time stepping my colleague through her issues. She was pleased with the help he'd given her and he got to see the value of his learning by teaching the teacher.

None of this could be possible without my student being given more freedom, my MT mentioning sustainability and a teacher who was willing to be taught. Thats worth celebrating!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Clone me

As a beginning teacher I'm still developing all my systems, both for classroom management and for planning. This week I used a tool that is going to help with both.

Week 2 ended with Room 1 running the assembly for Henderson North School, the class thought it would be cool to use a Voki for some of the assembly, I agreed.  After the kids had set up the voki for assembly, a child suggested "Mr Walker, you could use that for giving us instruction" and so I was set onto my "Clone Me" journey. I knew this can be done with Voki but simply haven't used it.

Week 3 saw Room 1 scheduled for ICT week and I was planning on creating movies using iMovies and one of my boys would be a class expert to support the children while I was busy. However, I also wanted him to have a task he could sink his teeth into and do some learning also. I was interested in him doing some screencasting, he thought this was a great idea and found the would give us the tools. My PLN on Twitter allowed me to check this though and as usual I got great support. After a bit of a play, Snagit was the chosen platform.

I made a video over the weekend so that I could see how it works. The class blog now has a Snagit clip explaining how to comment on a post for the parents.

But the real test was for the children, would they respond to instructions using Snagit? My release day was on Wednesday, so l I scanned a language activity for use on the smart board, set it up and after a few takes (much to the amusement of those kids present) had a video already for later in the day. I was in the staffroom next door when my release teacher played the video and I could hear the response, I checked the class soon after. Most agreed this was a fun way to get instructions (even if I had missed something out).

I know how to clone myself, this is an important lesson for a BT, I have a tool that can create more 'time' for students and therefore learning. When my kids become more used to my SnagitMe I hope to create some videos that they can access themselves for mini lessons with ICT, writing, maths and reading. I just have to work out the best way for hosting them!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Comic strips for writing - Teaching as Inquiry

Interesting day today. I visited 6 of our classes to observe the inquiries each teacher is undergoing as part of our writing PD. Remember I'm a BT but am also serving as the Senior Literacy Leader to aid in my own development. I was also visited by the lady responsible for our PD, so some serious juggling took part there.

I've been looking at integrating ICT to help some of writers to accelerate/achieve their learning.  So what did I show her and how do I feel about that now?

Yesterday, a group of 10 started to create some comics, the excitement was palpable. Today, it was all I could do to get the writers to be quiet long enough to touch on a DAT. Is this an issue, not really I need to let them soar, they're engaged and the teachable moments will be utilised along the way.

At the moment, some of them are planning on creating clay/plasticine models of their characters for photos, others are busy drawing and writing and a couple have planned themselves silly - today they worked on their weapon arsenal (should I be worried?).  Some characters they've created thus far are inspired by Lego, video games and there's a battle brewing between burgers from two famous franchises.

We've been using the apps shown below.  I'm planning on the kids helping me select other apps we'll use to turn photos into cartoons, there is plenty to choose from but if there are any favourites out there I'd love to know. Any general advice for a grateful BT is most welcome also.


The moment of clarity that convinced me that I was doing the right thing was the enthusiasm the whole class is showing, I had students hanging around after school to discuss next steps and others who aren't involved are begging to be included. To say they're engaged is an understatement!

I can't wait to finish this unit with my group and share all their writing and they're just as excited.

Maybe the next step will be a collaborative effort with other schools...

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Sustainable ICT practices in the classroom

I'm a sucker for punishment! This is my 2nd year of being a BT and in my wisdom I decided that I was going to start a class blog and Twitter account (@rm1hns). I recognised that these were both effective tools for connecting the class with the rest of the world and providing an audience for their work (amongst many other benefits). But let's face it there's plenty of other things that a BT could be doing but you'll struggle to convince me to not take on too much.

I enjoyed the learning that I encountered getting these things going and the class have loved the excitement that this has brought to the classroom. However, I was doing a lot of the work and hence the late term 1 entrance of my ICT-challenged mentor teacher (he admits this himself and claims that he and computers are allergic to each other!!!). He'd listened to my advocacy of the blog and resulting student interest for most of the term but he had some wisdom (that's what he's for!), what was going to happen next year when my year 5s went into his or someone else's room where blogging wasn't occurring? Cue scream! He needs to learn to blog but most importantly my student's need to be taking more ownership, the latter is not rocket science but my own enthusiasm was going to provide my downfall.

My class need to be take more of an active role in the blog's production rather than just producing the work for it. Furthermore, they're better at it than me!

In the last week of term I introduced a handful of room 1 to the blogger dashboard and posting things. The following day, the class had been through two voki's (discussed here) I spent my holidays playing with iMotion, a timelapse photography app and spent a good deal of time puddling about to get the backing track onto the video and the result is visible here in the Tae Kwan Do video.

Compare this with one student's efforts, he got told that he could take a timelapse of Jump Jam and I showed him how. By the end of 1 block, he had a far better product all ready to go (bar the sharing). His video is below also, unfortunately we realised after that the backlighting is hopeless but next time... He has now assisted one other student to produce their own.

I'll be introducing their own blogs to them very soon, I can't wait to see what they teach me and facilitating their efforts will be invigorating and a challenge. I don't think there will be an issue with the sustainability of blogging, at least not with my students, but my mentor teacher...