In this blog post I want to focus on a few Snapshots of Learning that have been shared by New Zealand teachers over the past 12 months. I hope that through these we’ll be able to join the dots a little and make the connections around using software effectively to support positive student outcomes; how we can adapt, adopt and change to meet the needs of own students.
Software for Learning has a wealth of information on software, where to find it, how to get it, What you need to get you started and some valuable first hand accounts of New Zealand teachers putting it into practice.
Our focus today will be on the teacher stories, or Snapshots. There are over 70 such stories on the site but we’re going to focus on just three of them.
Using video to demonstrate understanding of mathematics strategies – Looks at using Youtube to support student learning.
Increasing student engagement through a constructivist approach – Looks at how a school leverages myPortfolio.
Organising and taking part in a global forum – Considers how Skoodle can have students engage directly with known artists, illustrators and authors.
Emma, from Weymouth Primary School, Auckland, works in a decile 2 school with Year 6 students and encourages them in their learning through practical, multimedia learning. Her class has been accessing Youtube videos for educational purposes for some time. And since the advent of their ‘in-school’ TV show many are becoming familiar with the in front and behind camera techniques. The students enjoy creating video for the TV show so Emma thought it a good idea to build on this enthusiasm. Rather than simply sharing via a scrapbook Emma considered it much more engaging and rewarding having students share their thinking via video.
Students from each of the stages 5, 6, and 7 were asked to verbalise their chosen strategy while another expressed that strategy visually on the whiteboard. Both the explanation and the visual representation were then filmed, edited and mixed.
Heather from Avondale College, Auckland, was working with two Year 11 geography classes. There is a real multicultural blend in the classes. She identified that most students learnt best when adopting a constructivist approach with scaffolded learning; achievable ‘bite-size’ learning chunks with regular formative assesment built in. Pace and choice in their learning was also a motivating factor.
Developing a group space within myPortfolio is key to directing students productivity. Each student has their own learning space. They can message, blog and create pages and profiles but it is the class or topic pages that really give direction and purpose to the space.
These learning artifacts included PowerPoint presentations, pictures from their field trip with captions, graphs, maps, links to newspaper articles, diagrams and YouTube clips. The learning artifacts were then used to infer progress towards the achievement standard.
Student choice in task, pace of work and quality of ‘upload’ all play a part in giving students a certain level of autonomy in their own learning. Individual pages allow for all the different media a topic page does. So students can upload images. Likn out to further reading or embed a video or voicethread if they so choose.
Newmarket is a culturally diverse school of 300 students. They, like so many schools are trying to raise Maori and Pasifika student achievement.
The Assistant Principal interviewed a number of students, trying to make deeper links with them and their families. During the course of the interviews a recurring theme appeared. … BroTown, the TV series.
Instead of saying “that’s nice dear” and moving onto a topic about the Rocky shore or some such the Class teacher decided to run with the idea.
Skoodle, formerly Super Clubs Plus hosts a ‘authors forum’ and Newmarket had been involved with this project previously. It is these connections that led the illustrator of BroTown be asked to attend the school for the day as they hosted a Global Hot seat. The point of difference here was the fact that having Art attend resonated with these students.
30 students were chosen from the school to help host the event and they were involved in every aspect of planning and delivering the event.
The students were involved in the planning for the global forum which gave them a purpose for reading and writing. They carried out research on Ant Sang and his career path in order to create a profile poster to help advertise the event. A focus during this activity was ‘using symbols and texts’ where students learned how choices of language, symbol, or text affect people’s understanding and the ways in which they respond. The students worked with Virginia on reading skills such as using key words, inferring, making connections, evaluating, reorganising, reacting, and collating information when doing the online research.
For one hour the children asked their questions using ‘Author in the Hot Seat’ forum. The running of the session was a team effort. Sonya provided technical support and guidance as she managed the Skype session with Solway School and communicated using chat with SuperClubsPLUS Australia. Virginia acted as scribe and had to work quickly to keep up with the 176 online questions.
Virginia and I enjoyed working on the article with Suzie Vesper. We had some clear structure for the article. The day was a great success and allowed us to forge an ongoing relationship with Ant Sang. The process also enabled us to learn more about our children and their interests. The volume of traffic during the session allowed us to see what happens when we open our learning and share with the world. Next year we hope to run another Author in the Hot Seat. Thanks for including us in your discussion about 'using software for learning'.