Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Bring Your Own Device

Around the same time I started to learning about flipping the classroom I also began to learn about the Bring Your Own Device or BYOD approach to education. This is a concept that many schools across New Zealand are putting into practice with varying degrees of buy in and success.

I am one of the first 'round' of BYOD teachers at my school. We have a pilot program of two form-classes (50 students) who stay together for social studies, maths, science and English (and PE, but two periods of PE a week does not lend itself to BYOD). I am one of the eight teachers of these two classes and have had my iPad since Term 2 of last year in order to prepare myself. During 2013 I attended a huge amount of BYOD professional development in Auckland, Tauranga and at Trident itself. While I didn't have an official BYOD classes last year I did use my iPad in class occassionally. It was especially useful for students who needed to watch a video in order to catch up. I was beginning to flip some of my lessons and a student might use my iPad to watch a video if they didn't have a smart-phone or tablet of their own. Over the year I did learn a lot, but ultimately you have to dive in to find out what works for you.

And it wasn't until I had 25 students in front of me with their own iPads that I could really begin to teach using the concept of BYOD. Before I talk about how I use this technology to improve the learning outcomes of my students, I think it is important to put rest to concerns about devices just being used as another fad or a way to engage students. iPads won't engage students any more than Smartboards will, it is still the strategies you use in your teaching that matters. And someone has come up with a lovely acronym to explain just this concept.

This link has some very detailed suggestions on what redefinition might look like in other subjects.

So you can see there is an acknowledgement that tech can be under-utilised if it is just seen as a replacement to pen and paper. At Trident we are finding the SAMR concept encourages us to review what it is we are really assessing at any given point and therefore how flexible the task can be. Sometimes it comes back to practicality and you may have to place limits on students to make your workload manageable. But ultimately, having 1:1 technology in your classroom can open up a whole new world. 

Next time I will write about how I have actually used this tech in my classrooms this year and what I have have learned. It would be great to see your questions below so I can use them to inform what I write about! Have you got a BYOD approach at your school? Do you have any concerns? Have you had any successes?

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
Pursue excellence – should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain

Friday, 23 May 2014

Who is flipping what now?

The inimitable Grace Helbig became famous through her YouTube channel My Damn Channel. Last year I learned all about flipping my classroom and as a result started a channel of my own. It seemed only natural, and incredibly clever, to call my channel My Flipping Channel and the email to go along with it myflippingclassroom. And so the puns begin!
Flipping is a reasonably new approach to teaching that harnesses the use of technology to use teaching and learning time more efficiently. I'm sure there's not much I could say to add to the discussion around the benefits of flipped learning, but here are some links to people and places that provide guidance and inspiration on how and why to flip your classroom. 

This first video is adorable and from the Flipped Institute.

This article tells you what Flipped Learning is and isn't. The videos below were created by one of the authors of the aforementioned article.

Both of these gentlemen are on the board of this organisation. And finally, here is the obligatory Wikipedia page. 

These are the few pearls of wisdom I can offer that might have helped me when I started this process:

1. This approach can lead some kids to be quite demanding of your time. You will need to work at having clear boundaries around your availability, especially if you have a 1:1 BYOD class.

2. You will have to teach students how to make the most of all of this. Start small.

3. Try to make videos that can be used for at least of couple of your classes. Start with skills videos first. These are easier to make brief and specific so students can work out for themselves exactly where to go when they get stuck. Content videos will take longer to create and be very specific to one class and one unit which is not the best use of your time.

4. Quality, not quantity. Don't try to make videos for all your classes all at once. Just focus on one class until you are comfortable with this style of teaching.

5. Flipping does not just equal making a video. Students might be asked to read an article at home or watch someone else's video. Challenge yourself to work smarter, not harder. How can you flip without going to the effort of making a new video every time?

6. Keep videos as short as possible, 5 minutes max, 3 minutes is even better. In one video you may only teach students how to write one specific kind of sentence, or how to choose the best essay topic.

7. Make them rewarding: insert silly photos or a link to an entertaining video as a reward.

8. Flipped learning won't suit all students, especially if they don't have access to the internet at home.

I'd love to hear your thoughts below - do you flip already? If not, is there anything holding you back?
Get out there and start flipping learning!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

My Flipping Blog

Robert Frost's words “I am not a teacher, but an awakener" resonate deeply with me. Before starting my teaching diploma I was not entirely convinced teaching was the best career for me. I thought I was too extroverted, not conventional enough, and I didn't think I would find it all that satisfying. It turns out the introversion and difference don't matter at all, and it's rare that don't have moments of immense satisfaction during my working day. 

The moments that satisfy me the most are the moments when I awaken my students; some literally, most metaphorically. I open minds and spark inquisition. I provoke reflection and advocate for the devil. I love to see students debate, puzzle of a concept with determination, pen an essay that articulates their unique perspective.

But there is the flip-side. The moments of boredom, discouragement, apathy. And unfortunately, these moments are all too prevalent. 

But! I am an optimist! In the classroom, anyway. Many students find me irritatingly upbeat and try to bargain with my unfaltering high expectations. And I refuse to give in. I'm the adult! I'm a professional! This is my job and I will do it well.

But... teenagers are persistent. The never-ending struggle between our high expectations and their lack of expectations can be mind-numbing. And that is why the current focus of my professional development is on my small Year 10 class. There are around 15 of them, but I usually only have 10 or so each lesson. There reading comprehension is a little low, but not terrible. Their writing skills are a concern. Their behaviour and focus is difficult to manage. But the main reason they are in such a small class is not because they are 'cabbage' or 'foundation' or naughty. It is due to their complete disengagement from their own education. They have shutdown. My job mission is to awaken them.

With the support of several highly skilled and knowledgeable colleagues, my goals are as follows:
1. By the end of the year each student in the class will care about their education.
2. By the end of the year each student in the class will have made measurable progress in their comprehension and writing skills.

Once our plan for these students has been developed, I will be able to make a goal as to how much 'measurable progress' each student ought to make in that time and how it will be measured.

These goals may be lofty, but it is our responsibility to practice what we preach and have high expectations of our own capabilities.