I had the opportunity to spend the morning in the Digital Lab at Norma Rose Point School with middle school students yesterday. There are just those days when just being in a buzzing room of completely engaged students fills my heart with an amazing sense of how much of a privilege it is to be an educator in this time and place in history. We are part of unprecedented change and possibility in the school system.
Adrienne Wood is our Digital Media specialist. Middle School students come to her for a three month rotation in the Digital Media Studio for 3 periods per week. At this time they are exposed to a variety of applications on the computers / iPads and Maker Space using Raspberry Pi. The teacher provides a link with the goals and expectations of this exploratory class. Students are required to complete ten projects in groups of three. Each project is done with different group members to give students experience collaborating with a variety of people with a variety of approaches to the project work.
Yesterday students entered the Studio with a clear sense of what they needed to accomplish. Students quickly broke off into groups to focus on completing their projects using:
3D design using Ignite
Coding using Scratch or Codecademy
Ignition to learn about Digital Literacy and Responsibility
Challenges included a broken wire on the Raspberry Pi, connectivity issues and the inability to edit existing work for the 3D designs but… the kids had a plan of what needed to happen next. They used a variety of strategies to problem solve, including the people in the room and online help. It was not enough to break anyone’s stride. I think of my response when learning new technologies and the exasperation. In some cases, students experiencing insurmountable issues shifted their attention to helping other students in the group with the realization that specific things would need to happen before they could get on with the project. The only prompt from the teacher required was a reminder to save their work to OneDrive before the end of the class.
A room full of Grade 6 students are well on their way to establishing the skills that will be an integral part of their lives. They will have a variety of ways to pursue their own interests and a full toolbox to pursue job opportunities. The opportunities provided in this class have been orchestrated by a curious educator who is willing to take risks in her own learning to enable her students to engage with technology in purposeful learning.
The energy in the room is palpable.
Thanks to SD38 and their SummerTech Institute at Westwind Elementary School, I’m inspired and ready to start to another year of tech learning with Tecumseh students. In my role as Vice Principal, I am enrolling a Grade 3 class and teaching computer skills to Grade 5-7 students this year. Last year I dipped my toe into using iMovie on the iPad with students. Students in Grade 3 and 4 had no difficulty learning to take and edit photos, plan video clips, insert audio clips, airdrop and use templates to make their movies more effective. We made movies for a variety of purposes:
- A way of showcasing Remembrance Day art in the school to the Last Post
- Highlighting some of the items not always easy to share during student led conferences such as friends in class,
gymnastics skills and presenting practised, low pressure oral readings of text to parents.
- Event sharing including student interviews about using BookCreator for content area projects and presenting at the Celebration of Learning
Video Jedi, Dylan, from the Apple store did a great session on making iMovies in Richmond last week. 3 steps to make a movie
Sounds pretty basic. I do find the process is easier on the iPad than on the computer but that could be because I’m more familiar with it. Dylan’s best advice was to BE ORGANIZED. The events folder is a good idea to hold content such as pictures, videos, voice-overs and other audio clips. The entire Apple team was very helpful and invaluable for their trouble shooting.
A fantastic online discovery has been the iMovie Trailer Planners. It provides the structure to help students storyboard their movies with fillable PDF’s for all 14 trailer templates that are included in iMovie for iPad, iPhone and the iPod touch. The planning sheet helps students to decide the appropriate trailer for the content and mood of the material being shared. The results are very professional looking and the limited amount of text requires careful selection of images. The sample of The Giver demonstrates how effectively the trailers can be used to demonstrate understanding of texts. Certainly a more engaging project than the book reports that I did in school. Virginia Bowden used the narrative trailer to have her gifted students to do autobiographies last year. Even the 4th graders came up with impressive results.
I am looking forward to sharing this material with VSB Teacher Librarians at their Kick-off/ Orientation / Speed Geeking event. It’s exciting that so many teacher librarians in the Vancouver School Board are enthusiastic about using technology to engage Kindergarten to Grade 12 students. I’m also excited about continuing the learning and discovery of possibilities with students and colleagues this year.
Student led conferences with a twist this year. Joanne Carlton, our VSB iMentor was fortunately available to come to the classroom to guide our learning in Division 11. She has a considerable amount of background knowledge in literacy instruction and technology. As luck would have it, Zhi Su, the VSB iMovie expert was also available to come as well. We had planned in advance of their arrival so we could make the best use of their time. The previous week, I has attended a session for teachers and administrators participating the iPad Cart inquiry with my inquiry colleagues. Although I’ve had some experience with iMovie, the facilitators broke down the process so that we were able to take photos and a short videoclip, then add voice and a music track. Very impressive for an after school professional development session. I posted the assignment for students (the list of photos and videoclips for students to collect) on the Showbie APP and explained the purpose with a voice note. Most of the kids are now able to log onto their Showbie account independently. With student led conferences on the horizon, my Grade 3/4 class were excited about sharing the Winter theme books they had created with their photos from the playground, their winter sense poetry, downloaded images and audioclips. However I decided to tap student interest in the iPad technology and allow my Grade 3 and 4 students to use the iPads to demonstrate and talk about their learning this term with their parents. Many parents at the first conferences of the year had expressed they wanted their children to spend less time using technology. I very much wanted them to understand the importance of being deliberate with time spent on screens. Students had each collected:
- a photo of himself or herself
- a photo with the friends he/she particularly works well with in class
- a videoclip of himself/herself doing gymnastics
- a videoclip of himself/herself reading a favorite passage from the book he/she was currently reading
- a photo of a piece of writing from his/her Thinking Book or Writing Book
- a photo of the the province/territory or Aboriginal group he/she is researching
Zhi took the leadership of stepping the students through the process. The first thing he did was show them how to pull up the picture of himself or herself and write their name on it. Students learned to share group photos via airdrop, add music and shorten video-clips. Many of our students attend Chinese School and decided that their Chinese calligraphy had to be part of their iMovie. The more proficient students in the class have been teaching the others Chinese writing to create Lunar New Year cards to deliver to the mostly Asian business owners down Victoria Drive on February 19th. Many students were proud to share their skill with their parents. We had lots of adults in the room helping the students and inquiring about their learning. However the sharing between students was readily apparent. If one student in a working group had music, then it was likely all of them did. Myles LOVED the ability to airdrop and single handedly taught most of the class. Jason, a big ‘”Frozen” fan downloaded an image from the movie as the final frame of his movie with the caption “Bye”. One group of students downloaded applause for their iMovies. The process was not without it’s glitches. However everyone had a movie and one more way to open up the conversation about their learning with his/her parents. Fortunately Henry emerged as our Grade 3 techno-wizard in the process of getting everyone ready for conferences once the mentors were gone. He became the expert on downloading from iMovie to Showbie so we could share the iPads with our other inquiry classes on conference days. Parents were simply amazed at how smart their children are and how much they have learned. As the teacher, the iMovies helped me to learn about my students and determine some of the focus areas for learning. The possibilities are endless and exciting!
Four teachers at Tecumseh Elementary committed to working together on PILOT. Our job was to engage in an inquiry using technology with our students. We were provided with an iPad cart with 20 iPads for class use, 3 iPads for use of Resource teachers, 5 desktop computers in the library and Apple TV.
Students and parents in all of the classes were taught about iPad care and signed a use agreement. For much of the term, teachers explored the technology with their classes with a focus on the tools. We had general discussions about developing writing and thinking skills but specific definition of an inquiry question was vague and the focus was how do you…
It was once we started to share what we were doing that our learning intentions became more defined. On teacher had started writing a Seasons Book with her Kindergarten students using Book Creator. Marion Collins started working with her Grade 6 students using keynote and Book Creator.
Virginia Bowden continued the work she had started with Kidblog with the Gifted students attending pull out Gifted programming in the district, used iMovie to have students create trailers on themselves and Prezi to develop research skills.
I continued the word I was doing with the Gifted students (in the district Multi-age Cluster class) during computer prep to develop their own blog on Kidblog and focused on having my Gr 3/4 class use Raz-Kids to support home reading and Book Creator to develop writing skills and explored search engines to answer questions.
Initially the focus was on learning how to use the tools and it looked like each of us were taking some very different directions. We narrowed the common elements down to the focus that each of us had taken in developing literacy skills.
Our discussion and questions were great:
- How can we develop fluency in writing?
- Adding pages encourages younger or less proficient writers to extend their writing. What about older and more proficient writers?
- Does a lack of a keyboard limit the amount that students write?
- Are templates available for report writing in Book Creator?
- Is Book Creator more conducive to writing picture or poetry books?
- Is the best way to teach note taking still having students write phrases with facts on paper; outlining / sort facts into groups, and creating their own paragraphs?
- Are library books still the best way to match ELL students with reading material at their own level?
- How can we get students to question the source of the information they read online? Hear on media or read in books?
- Does using iPads break down gender barriers in oral communication?
- Does adding sound clips lend itself to developing expressive reading skills?
Our inquiry question is still broad enough to let us pursue our individual interests but narrow enough to focus our discussion on how we are using the tools to support the language development of our English Language learners. Our intention is to make observations and reflect on the ways that technology is being used in our classrooms to develop oral language skills, reading skills, writing skills and the ability to represent ideas in visual formats. We have a general direction. The thinking and focusing continues. We’ll keep you posted.