Tuesday, 15 April 2014

BYOD Journey

Last year HNS started down the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) path with my beloved room 1 and the neighbouring room 2 trialling this strategy. Both f us teachers love technology and were looking to integrate it into our programmes more regularly and believed it would be beneficial for our teaching and learning outcomes. Next term we're planning to present some of our work and its effect on engagement at a WAPA e-learning strand but I feel the need to share my own personal journey for the benefit of other schools and teachers who are thinking about adopting a BYOD policy. We are now looking at moving BYOD into other classes and, naturally, there is apprehension among some of our teachers which is another reason for me to share some of this journey.

Before we first started last year we conducted some questioning of our children, what devices did they own (tablets, phones, laptops) and what platforms were they using (Android vs Apple being our main concern). Initially, we started pretty slowly but this year both classes have steadily had increases in the number of children using BYOD and naturally this has affected both the classroom management aspects as well as the pedagogy.

Currently I have 14 of my 28 children signed up to a BYOD agreement, this agreement outlines proper use and the responsibilities of all people involved. Not all children bring their devices every day nor do they get to use their devices for everything, that is still at my discretion.

Key lessons
App decisions:
I always try to avoid telling the children which Apps they use to do their work but Pic Collage is a firm favourite, while Book Creator and Flipagram are getting more use. Dropbox is an absolute must, while we get some use from Socrative also. The children have a range of different apps on their devices and I have had to exercise some restraint as I don't want anybody feeling pressured into purchasing particular apps.
We have slowly been working on creating our own HNS App chart but it is definitely a work in progress. There are a number of Apps that I feel the children could be working with successfully such as Explain Everything, other digital writing tools or even things such as Sock Puppets or Puppet Pals but the cost of them has been put a dampener on recommendations, hence the emphasis on the free side.
My biggest problem has been trying to navigate my way through the Android store to find equivalent apps as I am far more familiar with those available in iTunes.

When we started out the children weren't too sure about what to do, what to use or what to do when they're finished. Layering of Apps still isn't a regular occurrence but I'm hoping that this will improve as the year continues and the the children become more confident in their ability. My BYOD regulars are now more self-managed when it comes to full BYOD tasks, with an understanding that the work needs to be shared or published at least to their teacher. We have set up a shared BYOD folder that we use for issuing tasks/instructions and each student has an individual shared folder with me to upload their work or for any individual tasks they are given. Twitter regularly gets used to share their work also. We ought to be publishing work straight to our class/individual blogs also but I think that will be the next step.
Reflection still hasn't become a regular part of their learning which is something I need to push more in the future. A simple exit task is easily managed through Socrative, Google Forms or Exit Ticket.

Class Management:
Thankfully, the journey to 14 students has been gradual! It has definitely been some trial and error and I have found that it has had an impact on my instructions. I need to be far clearer about my expectations, the success criteria and the time expected to be used. Dropbox has assisted in this greatly, as I am learning to make instructions/tasks available electronically.
Naturally, the introduction of more browsers and publishing tools has had a positive impact on some disruptive behaviour. There are more ICT resources to share, therefore less frustration as we're not waiting as long to publish our work or do the research to create work. This also has an impact on differentiation, it is now relatively easier to give students tasks that suit their personality and learning needs/style.

Where to next:
I know I don't have BYOD working perfectly in my class, sometimes I still ask/invite them to do something off the cuff. But there are far more BYOD notes in my planning, more kids asking for agreements to take to their parents and more kids clamouring to show what they've just created.

Time to do set up another task for my kids...

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

MLB Opening Day & Maths

March 31 in the US is celebrated by baseball fans everywhere, its Opening Day for Major League Baseball and I love baseball! I'm not american, have never played baseball but I love the game and one day will be heading off to as many games as I can afford.

Anyone with a limited knowledge of American sports will understand that there is an obsession with statistics in all of the professional leagues and amongst other aspects, this makes US sport an amazing tool for maths lessons. This post is to share some of my resources, successes and some failures (professional & otherwise).

I have a very sporty maths class and I'm a sports nut, so it makes sense that I utilise this to engage the children. Yesterday, I let my passion for baseball spill into class a little in order that I build the anticipation of today. I explained that tomorrow was Opening Day and that it would be baseball, baseball, baseball.

Teaching Tools Planned
Dice baseball: There are many different versions available online but I use the following dice baseball game rules. After trying it last year, it is simple for even non-baseball players to pick up. I introduced a scoresheet also but in the end concentrated on teaching it to a couple of the more-able children.
Success: Engaging, quick addition practice, allows for high turnover of games, great for fraction work as children build toward 3 strikes = out, 3 outs = innings and 4 bases = run.
Failure: Should have scaffolded the scoresheet but was too excited.

Range of computer games: These are too practice maths skills and continue to engage the children with baseball themed maths. I found two free game sites with the appropriate type of games: Math-Play which had good decimal & fraction work; and Maths Playground which had some good maintenance work and word problems.
Success: Independent, enjoyable and ability to tailor to different needs using both sites.
Failure: n/a

GloSS cards: I prepared a set of Gloss assessment cards that were baseball themed, I did not prepare a full set of the 22 cards that we now use but just for the Stage 4 - 6 area.
Success: Some kids had a look at the cards and found them engaging. I will have these available at any stage to use for maintenance, revision or with kids struggling to engage in maths.
Failure: I spent way too long preparing these (don't ask), with a small number of kids using them this was a poor investment of time.

Baseball gloss cards from reidhns1

Baseball Stats Card: I also had decided created a template for a baseball card so that the kids could investigate some of players in their allocated teams. Any stats based research was considered valuable and this would get the kids further engaged in the whole theme. We didn't even get these out.
Success: Template made, little time invested, can be used at another time.
Failure: Inability to recognise that I had already over-overprepared!

Like all passionate teachers I arrived at school this morning excited about the day & eagerly anticipated the coming maths lesson. I even had a whole heap of popcorn to add to the Baseball Theme (I plan to take some hotdogs along at another stage - nothing says Baseball like hotdogs). In my excitement I decided that enough wasn't enough and quickly downloaded some photos to use with protractors to study angles. Surely, we would have enough work to engage & immerse everyone in baseball mathematics?

Over-planned = Yes!
Worklifebalance = So far out of kilter that my wife joked as I got off the computer last night "Oh look my husband has just got home!"
Successful lesson = Baseball - yes; teacher excitement - yes; engagement - yes; maths - yet to be decided but kids were excited and starting to see potential.

I'm planning to teach the scorecard tomorrow, that way we can investigate batting averages. I'll use the GloSS cards as an activity for some independent work as I'm not wasting them. But I've also thought of a better way to use the Baseball Stats card...

Time to go, as I'm still trying to be allowed out on the golf course!