My Final Course Reflections!(for now)

•April 21, 2009 • 1 Comment

Well, as I replied on Tom’s blog, he’s right about this being the beginning for many of us and not actually the end of using and applying the tools and skills we’ve learned and discussed. I look back over these different course components and I reflect on the work, ideas and suggestions from all my fellow bloggers and course takers!; I see a way ahead for me to use the tools and ideas I have acquired and integrate them more frequently with my students.

I will outline below some of the changes I plan to implement next school year, starting afresh in grade 6 as I begin my new role in the grade 5/6 Middle School Program; (in no particular order by the way!)

1) I have discussed this with Dani in my goal meetings but I’m aiming to move away from the portal next year and create my own MS Math blog/wiki site, along with continuing the current grade 5 ‘Ning’ accounts (cheers Jillian) as a forum for the students to interact with one another and support each other’s learning in a more meaningful way than currently occurs on the portal. Keeping track of their contributions sounds very manageable to do as Julie Lindsay points out on her comments back to us; “If the student is not engaged and does not contribute or respond, there will be nothing worthwhile posted online….this also makes it very easy for assessment purposes.”

2) I look forward to working with Tara and Jillian on our ‘Sustainability’ wiki and see it develop and grow into a useful and meaningful resource for both students and others who visit it. As we discussed in our mini presentation, we already have an idea to expand and share it with other grade levels across the school should it be successful and perhaps as many others have already done, expand beyond these ‘walls’ and start a flat classroom project of our own!

3) I plan to use the CamStudio program to make simple tutorial videos for my students close to them taking assessments but with the new upgrade of machines planned across the school, my ultimate aim is for the students to create tutorial videos for one another and poste these on Ning!

4) My Pecha Kucha presentation is pretty much ready to go for my Open House presentation for new parents next year. Maybe I shouldn’t be admitting this on here but I may change the time on some of the slides to give me some extra valuable seconds here and there but I think the message that we took away from seeing all of each others presentations was really powerful. It’s certainly made me more critical of presentations that I see now!

5) Lastly, and on a more personal level, Adam, Mike and I are hoping to get our “Lawro’s Losers” podcast done on a fairly regular basis- even once a month would be an improvement on what we’re managing right now and if we get it up and running, we’ll also have our own blog site which will encourage users from around the globe to post their predictions for the English Premier League’s fixtures.

So, that’s it from me for now, sorry for not being a more supportive blogger to you all, but thanks for being a great group to work with and thanks for all of the ideas which I have taken on-board. Last of all, thanks to Stale for making this a great course with so many practical applications to improve not only our teaching but also the learning which goes on within and hopefully beyond our classrooms.

Bonjour, Steve (aka- The First Lawro’s Loser!)


PPT Presentations

•April 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

By the way, I wrote this a while back but realized I had only left it as a draft and never got round to publishing it so here it is now, despite the fact my blog posts are now out of chronological order!

My reflections on PPT presentations-Pecha Kucha;

Choose your purpose and audience-message/main ideas/purpose

Minimal text, use bold type, colour or CAPITALS to punctuate points

Pose questions such as “is the correct mathematical answer always the best answer?” or statements that provoke thoughts and discussions in your audience.

Use advanced search on flickr for images, choose appropriate file size for your audience.

20 seconds per slide as Pecha Kucha recommends

The Flat Classroom (Part 2)

•April 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Make the projects authentic, related to the real world, should be contextual and relevant to the students.

According to research, 3-4 team members is ideal -roles can be switched between leaders, monitors, time-keepers and followers- the beauty of the flat classroom projects is of course that you have a wealth of evidence to analyse how much (or how little) your students have been actively participating.

For my MS Math students, they could help to monitor one another’s participation also and I think my role in this is, among other things, to ensure that each team member realizes his/her value to their own team. They could create study notes on a wiki for example on concepts we are covering over a particular unit so they build an effective study resource to use when an assessment is due. They can share their ideas on a wiki, but they may still end up producing their own individual media project such as a CamStudio tutorial vid/podcast etc etc using one anothers comments and suggestions as a guide.

And this leads me to the point about the importance of on-going student-peer reflections so that each project is not only valued and appreciated but also assessed against a set of criteria and improved upon each time so that each project become more and more effective for supporting student’s learning.

Students can then of course contribute their reflections through a range of media such as blogging, chatrooms, discussion forums, podcasts, reflective paragraphs etc etc and this can cater for different learning styles and needs along with helping students with learning difficulties/ESL to take part in some way also.

(Note to self- check out Marie Knee and Chris Craft)

The Flat Classroom

•March 30, 2009 • Leave a Comment

It seems the first thing that you have to begin with is a purpose, as Kathy Funk said today in the MS meeting; have a vision for learning before you get started but be prepared for your vision to change or not be achieved the way you first thought

Step 1- Get connected- through blogging, facebooking, twittering, get your ideas out there,I think contacting past colleagues and teachers from home could be a good way to start

Step 2- Choosing a tool or a variety of tools is important, and be aware that as you collaborate across the world, someof the contact won’t be in ‘real time’ but Ning’s and Wiki’s may be utilized also, along of course with real-time tools such as Skype and Chatzy’s.

Step 3- Importance of being global citizens, show empathy and respect to one another, celebrate one anothers points of view

Step 4- Contribute and Collaborate- be a good team player, realize your value in the team; teachers should emphasize this role and have students realize that they have valuable ideas to contribute.

Step 5- To be continued!

CamStudio Videos

•March 12, 2009 • 2 Comments

When we were first instructed to write a script for the Video, I didn’t think it was necessary as I had in my mind what I wanted to say anyway. However, after doing a couple of takes on the first slide, as soon as you try to commit something down to record, you realize the importance of it being spot on, concise,to the point (as with our preentations later today)

So I set about writing a script and even during this process I found myself re-reading and re-drafting until I was saying exactly what I wanted to say, in the easiest way possible as my ‘Math Portal Video’ was intended for my grade 6 & 7 students. Once I was happy with my script, I began to set up CamStudio and fiddled around with the settings* and was ready to go! I recorded my video in one take BECAUSE I had a good enough script to guide me along the way which kept the flow of ideas and thought processes as logical as I could make them.

*It was a good job I had scripted it too as when Stale tried to view the video in a program other than CamStudio, the images and audio were out of sync due to me not clicking on a specific setting. When I record this again I will have my script to rely on once more and this will dramatically cut down on the amount of time it would have taken me to re-do this had I not had the script recorded! So I learned something valuable from this exercise and will have a go at encouraging my students to attempt recording (and scripting) some peer tutorial videos themselves!


•March 4, 2009 • 2 Comments

Well, here are my reflections on the Podcasting session I had with Adam and Mike;

Firstly it was great to choose a subject we were all passinoate about and it made for easy flow of ideas and discussion and it felt as though we had a real purpose behind what we were doing.

Mike’s film background helped us immensely as right from the beginning we kept minuted track recordings of our attempts so that when we later came to the downloading stage into acquisition we knew which files to erase immediately and which files were keepers and where they fitted into our presentation.

Frustration!!- we were literally 5 minutes away from completing our podcast when soon after we’d tried adding a couple of sound bites into out Podcast, the files became corrupted and parts of our discussions were no longer audible. This led us into a lengthy process of trying to retrieve data and in the end led us to actually re-record part of our Podcast, this time using the Apple Italk.

This was not devoid of difficulty either though since getting it from my Ipod could not be done at school as my Ipod was synced to my mac at home and not compatible with the PC’s here. However, we eventually got it sorted out and it has inspired us to try to create a weekly football Podcast named “Lawro’s Losers”!

Most importantly of course being involved in the process has enabled me to better advise students on making podcasts and also see the benefit of producing podcasts to help students understand concepts better and to support them in their learning.

For me, an effective podcast must have the following  components;

1) A clear purpose (well thought out with an agenda in mind but not necessarily scripted)

2) An intended audience that is able to engage in some way with the Podcast material.

Clay Burrell Blogging

•February 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Here are the main messages I got: the notion of thinking aloud and reflecting on practice I like the way we skyped with him and while he was chatting to us he sent us a useful link which we then accessed etc etc- so much use for the students if they got into the habit of doing this when preparing for assessments etc and would enable them to collaborate with one another more effectively. I also see huge value in taking notes such as these as these sessions are going on and should this be the road that our school heads down with personal laptops etc so kids can take and share notes with each other etc etc Needs balance- we all need to lose ourselves in our own worlds now and again, blogging is a more productive way than drinking copious amounts of gin of doing this. Classroom applications: Need to provide kids with greater choices of what they do- in Math this could be exploring their own methods for solving problems and sharing this, or completing open ended tasks such as using specific integers such as -5, -8 and 6 and 4 and any operation to create the greatest and least values etc etc Students could also set one another challenges such as this for one another and set each other targets of how many challenges to complete within a week- they could then pick and choose which challenges they were most interested in; each student could try to create challenges involving different math concepts such as measurement, probability, algebra, probability etc etc It has inspired me also to create a wider range of discussion forums for my students to ponder and discuss with one another, rather than just setting up discussion forums for “Fractions Test this Friday” I could pose problems such as how many fractions can you find between one half and one third? What strategies did you use to find these fractions? Can you show this in diagram form or use a number line to illustrate your findings?”

I also liked his idea of re-writing the textbooks- this could easily be done with the Math textbooks we currently use, with kids using their own examples/explanations and record the kids explaining and showing one another and upload these to the wiki/portal to use as future resources for one another etc etc.

They can then self reflect on their own presentations and so the cycle continues…as the videos and presentations improve, the students become more and more supported in their learning. I also liked the fact that the kids could search for useful videos and links to help each other out futher.

WIKI- Informational
BLOGS- Reflective

How do you provide more effective differentiated assessments?- I may post this on my blog and see what responses I get!