Within this post, technology is mainly referring to the use of computers.
One of my students brought in a little device to share with the class made of two old plastic cards, sticky tape and a single rubber band. When stretched open, folded over and released it snapped and jumped into the air. We dubbed it the Card Clapper. Another student happened to also bring in a solar powered fan cap.
This had direct relevance to our Central Idea, Energy comes from many sources, exists in different forms, is changed, stored and used in different ways. I immediately took a picture on my iPhone and posted it on our class Weebly website posing, “How does it work?” as optional homework.
Needless to say this was a hit, receiving quality responses and even a positive comment from a parent seeing the value in this form of communicating. When I was reading the student’s comments on the blog, I only then realized that this was an initial assessment that demonstrated their prior knowledge. I now knew what students knew, the vocabulary they were using and any gaps that may be present in their understanding, such as, thinking that the wind made the Card Clapper move. Also students had opportunity to read and learn from each others responses and if needed rethink and re-post a comment.
However, I was a little disappointed that all the on-line fun was left for home. I wanted the same powerful platform for learning in the classroom; an environment that would make use of productive group learning. Theories needed to be hypothesized, debated and tested. I asked if I could borrow 3 MacBooks for the period of this Unit of Inquiry in addition to the 2 permanent student iMacs. This would give me a chance for Energy to come alive - I needed to use video. I grabbed my iPhone again and borrowed the Card Clapper to make a mini video clip followed by some guidelines for a structured Inquiry and quickly uploaded it to our class website. Their responses to this prompt needed to be submitted via a form on our class website.
I then used Inside/Outside Circles so students could organize themselves into productive groups. Then groups used Participation Pie Plan each to plan how to work together at the Finding Out Inquiry stage (see Kath Murdoch’s inquiry cycle). During this time students were given access to books, websites, paint, classroom space, markers, paper, recording devices and anything they asked that I could provide them. The next stage of Inquiry was to Sort Out but first each group completed a Presentation Pie Plan to agree on how to show what the group had discovered and learned together. I have blogged about this in more detailReflective Learner meets Effective Group Work and Being Reflective While Learning in Groups.
I was surprised and inspired with what my students created. Each group took a unique path to express their learning of the Central Idea, although, they all seem to pass through the gateway of iMovie.
One group collaborated on a collage using symbols to demonstrate what they new about the energy web of the Card Clapper, I snapped a picture with my iPhone, then they imported it into iMovie, quickly learned how to place voice-over to add a commentary explanation to their piece and acknowledge sources used at the Finding Out stage.
Alternatively, a group turned their notes from the Finding Out stage about the energy web of the Card Clapper into a Game Show Quiz script, filmed themselves performing on Photo Booth and added sound effects, titles and source acknowledgments in iMovie.
Another group watched the Discovery Channel Boom De Yah Da song on You Tube, rewrote the lyrics to demonstrate their understanding of the energy web of the Card Clapper, used Photo Booth to record themselves singing and then iMovie to add their lyrics to a ticker title across the bottom of the screen including source acknowledgments.
The final group used their notes to create a time-line movement piece where they acted numerous roles to tell the story of the Card Clapper’s energy web. They used Photo Booth to record their movements, iMovie to sequence them and add sound effects and voice-over plus acknowledgments of the sources used.
I uploaded these four group responses to a blog page on our class website. We then discussed the original inquiry’s criteria and the key elements of their Participation and Presentation Pie Plans. We sorted, grouped and chose a total of 13 criteria spread across content, social skills and presentation to create a Peer Assessment. We agreed on 3 simple achievement levels, Yes/No/Sort Of, which is something the class is used to using in our Writer’s Workshop assessment feedback based on the6+1 Traits of Writing. I then took this and created a form on our class website. For homework next week, students will watch each video, take notes and complete a Peer Assessment for each group.
Weebly exports this data to excel where I can sort the feedback for each group to graph, analyze and reflect on in preparation for their summative assessment ahead. This will also provide me with valuable formative assessment in each groups’ understanding of the Central Idea, their presentation skills and social skills.
Going Further and Drawing Conclusions
The next stage of the Inquiry cycle is Going Further. I feel this requires us to analyze each response and synthesize each groups newly constructed meaning to a collective understanding. Again, this is providing an opportunity to compare and contrast each students’ developing understanding of the Central Idea to then form further conclusions.
Stay tuned as I’ll let you know how next week’s Peer Assessment goes - although it may be sooner than later. As I’m blogging, I can already hear beeps as my in-box fills up of notifications on students submitting their Peer Assessment forms.
Being a Reflective Practitioner: What made “technology integration” possible?
Access to hardware. My students and myself had access when we needed it and how we needed it in direct support of and central to the student’s learning.
Access to help. We can pretty much work on the assumption that, “If you think it can be done then the technology can probably do it.” It being the form or function your learning is taking or needing. However, it made initiatives move forward rapidly by just being able to ask colleagues or students how to do something, such as, adding voice-over in iMovie or exporting a smaller movie file size for quick and easy uploading and viewing.
I am not a gadget guru, however, I do feel that I’m an IB Learner, particularly an Inquirer when it comes to tech. My curiosity outplays any fears, uncertainty and lack of skills or knowledge (I have plenty of those). My approach is that you jump in, hope for the best, know clearly what it is that your trying to achieve, keeping that upfront and center, and in time, what ever aspect of technology is needed to be learned and even mastered, will come.
Support from PYP Coordinators, Leadership, Colleagues and Kids. Support comes in the form of hardware, help, space to learn, encouragement, space to fail, interest and excitement. This allows me to try new things in different ways.
Hi, I am Natasha Hutchins an international teacher collaborating, exploring and sharing ideas with others, like myself from around the world, for our collective professional development and enjoyment of learning and teaching.