I wanted to share a few of my thoughts and ideas on how to best transition to this new type of schooling, whether you call it ‘remote learning’, ‘online learning’, ‘learning at home’ or something else, it is a big paradigm shift from all-day face-to-face teaching and we cannot expect to be able to perfectly replicate that in the home without adjustments and changes to how we think and how we teach.
We can learn from those teachers that have gone before us in countries overseas that have been doing this for weeks already, and many are saying don’t over plan! So, for what it’s worth, here are some of my tips and thoughts for consideration:
Don’t go reinventing the wheel if you don’t have to! Look online and curate content where you can. Some teachers and schools are sharing amazing ideas and resources. Two standouts here from Australia with Corpus Christ in WA and St Peter’s College in Adelaide (who have a series of books on the Book Store) https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook…
Don’t over plan – it will take time for everyone (teachers, students and families) to get into a routine, so try not to overload hours per day to match what is happening currently in school. Think about the time taken in school for behaviour management, assemblies, breaks etc. It will be frustrating when so much of your planned work never gets attempted
I think project-based learning and extended learning type tasks, are much more practical than trying to plan the same equivalent hours of lessons every day
Not all families have internet or printers at home, and some will have multiple children sharing one device, so being online all day is not achievable. Thought needs to be given to how to include all learners, perhaps with printed worksheets or booklets
Think creatively – we need to reimagine learning and not try and replicate the classroom exactly. Think about ‘flipping’ your classroom
Use tools you are familiar with (where possible) eg If you already use Seesaw, keep using it but look at new ways of using it
My favourite tools that will work well for remote learning on many devices and platforms are Seesaw, Showbie (now with QR code log in), Nearpod, Microsoft Teams and G Suite
Students will love hearing your voice and seeing you, so consider creating short videos where you demonstrate a concept eg using screen recording on iPad or apps such as Loom or Explain Everything or even just a video saying good morning and checking in
Consider setting up daily timetables eg allocating skill and drill activities, reading time, mind or physical exercises so there is a sense of routine
Some teachers are questioning how to mark attendance. All day online attendance is completely impractical, perhaps checking at the start of the day and/or the end, with students commenting in Seesaw or submitting something in Showbie or Nearpod can provide evidence of engagement. You will need to check with your individual school policies here.
But most of all, hats off to you all and THANK YOU! Teachers are awesome, and there are so many pressures in these trying and unprecedented times. We are all learning together. And your hard work and dedication IS appreciated!!
Whilst the year is not finished yet, I have been reflecting on how busy I have been and how far and wide I have travelled in the last few years, so I have updated the map below. The city and town names show where I have presented Professional Learning in 2017-2019, either with workshops or providing in-class support and training, and the red dots show where teachers have come from to attend this training.
I am very proud to be able to reach teachers far and wide, and continue to support teachers in Public, Private, Catholic, metropolitan, regional and remote schools. I really do love my job!
I don’t know how I missed it, but I was introduced to this book this week, and it should be given to all new Primary teachers! “Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!” was a book started by Dr Seuss, and finished in his style based on his drawings and notes.
It is all about celebrating individuality and creativity and teaching kids to THINK for themselves rather than go to boring Flobbertown school, where everyone is the same.
I don’t want to be a spoiler, but it is announced that every student at every school must sit the same test, to check what they’ve learned and see which school teaches best. What happens when Diffendoofer students have to sit the same test as everyone else at every other ‘normal’ school?
You will have to read the book to find out, but you can probably guess, given the story celebrates individuality and those special teachers we all remember.
Let’s all remember to celebrate creativity and individuality and encourage students to think for themselves.
After seeing an Instagram post, I was inspired to try something similar, and also thought it would be a great idea to show the new functionality in iMovie’s green screen capability. This was my end result, but there were many hurdles along the way that required me to trouble-shoot and problem-solve.
iMovie reformats portrait videos and cuts off top and bottom.
SOLUTION: Rerecord in landscape
iMovie only layers green screen videos over another video, so would have to make the photo a video for this to work.
SOLUTION: Make a video of the photo for a few seconds in iMovie, export as video file and then insert photo as a video.
With all those trees it was a Green Screen FAIL! Clearly not working in this instance.
SOLUTION: I tried Green Screen by Doink and masking, but really the amount of green was problematic in this instance. Why not try Keynote?
Cannot crop the video in Keynote. Could get it to work in landscape format, which was fine, but (being a perfectionist) I really wanted the look of the insta photo.
SOLUTION: Try videoing in Clips for the square format
This did work, and if I reshot the footage with a different sized piece of cardboard, would have been fine, but I was still sure there must be a way to achieve my goal.
SOLUTION: Try masking shapes in Keynote for Mac
Can only combine shapes to exclude overlap, not photos.
SOLUTION: Create a shape and fill it with the image of the photo. Then select both, and choose the exclude overlap option in Arrange – Combine Shapes.
I really wanted to show how this could be done on Keynote for iOS on iPad for use in the classroom, not on Mac.
SOLUTION: Try it on Keynote, see if it now works on iPad. It does! Then it was easy to add the video, layered behind the combined shape.
So the video wasn’t too long, I sped it up in iMovie, but this distorted the sound (and you could hear my thongs clicking). I wanted to add a soundscape.
SOLUTION: Use Voice Memos to record the sound of birds and the ocean, then add that as an audio track in iMovie after detaching audio from the movie. This also allowed me to have it fade in as the ocean grew closer.
So, while it wasn’t quite the Green Screen activity I was planning, I was very pleased with the end result, and learned a few things along the way. One of which, is that Keynote never ceases to impress me with its versatility and functionality, and another is that problem-solving IS a part of creativity and the creative process. App Smashing is a great way to get students creating and thinking about how best to combine app features into a final product. It is also important to share these ‘fail forwards’, so they understand it is all part of the process.
In the end this activity uses the Camera, Camera Roll, iMovie, Voice Memos (optional) and Keynote. All free apps!
Proud to be able to add another certification to my tool kit – that of official Sphero Hero!
Sphero is a fantastic robot for teaching coding to students of all ages. I have been using and promoting Sphero for many years with teachers and students and am very pleased to be recognised for spreading the word.
As I look at my other certifications, I am proud to be associated with such quality products in education technology!
I have visited regional and remote schools before, but nothing as remote as Imanpa! 200km drive from Alice Springs, I pull up at Erldunda to call the Principal, Steve, as this is the last phone reception, and let him know that I am on my way, 70km to go. I drive 7km off the highway on a dirt road and meet him in the school bus at the football oval (red dirt, no grass) and after introductions, he says “interesting choice” of my bright red Commodore SV6 hire car, “they’re going to love it”. He immediately makes the decision that he will lock it away in his shed! Oh dear! A teacher, Lauren, from another remote school has come for the week PD also and Steve’s partner, Carolyn, is also a teacher at the school. I meet their 2 boys and have an afternoon hearing about the community and their lives as remote teachers. Some of the stories make me nervous. As there is no accomodation for 200km, Lauren and I share a 3 bedroom house in the community.
I watch the teachers go about their daily duties – opening up, checking the grounds, cleaning the toilets, blowing the dirt off the verandahs, cleaning, vacuuming, disinfecting, washing uniforms, checking for snakes, turning on air-conditioners, checking emails, doing paperwork, talking to the kids as they come in, the jobs are never-ending and teaching hasn’t started yet. As the students arrive, they go inside to their shelf and put on their uniform before playing outside. It is hot! 40 degrees on the first day with a strong, hot wind like it is coming off a furnace. Most of the kids prefer being outside in the heat rather than the air-conditioned classroom, but even they come inside for lunch. Last week they found snake tracks in the dirt, but they hope it was a python and not a brown. The water in the shower and taps smells strongly of sulphur and everything is covered in a thin film of red dust, Then the news that they have picked some lice off their kids’ heads – I am instantly scratching my head!
Day 1 we have 6 students, the teachers’ 2 kids and 4 indigenous students (one of whom announces “You got a red Commodore”!). I will admit I am a little disappointed, given the enrolment numbers are 16, but we have a fantastic day. For some students it is their first time ever on an iPad. Day 2, news has got out of the new iPads, and we have 11 students, and 13 on Day 3! Some students come who haven’t been for 3 weeks. They don’t even want to go home at the end of the day and ask at lunch when we are going back in. They learned so many new things, always asking me questions or for help (“Bev”, “Veb”, “Vev”, “Bronwyn”) and were willing to give everything a go with such a great attitude and much enthusiasm.
Over the 5 days, we go through iPad basics, set up some Accessibility settings for personalised learning (a shame we can’t use dictation or Siri or anything that requires adequate internet on the satellite setup). We set up learning journals for reading and Maths in Book Creator – the teachers love the evidence of learning with videos from Explain Everything! and all the multimedia that can be included. We took the learning outside for photos and videos, and AR (Augmented Reality) was a big hit, as was Green Screen and Stop Motion. For a Maths activity, we get them to organise themselves into height order and then we time lapse while they build a Lego Duplo tower to measure themselves with informal units. We then use Numbers to graph the heights and the older students experiment with which graphs best represents the data. They loved using Maths apps and particularly enjoyed drawing their own self portraits in Keynote. And on the last day I got out my Spherosand they had so much fun – they were ecstatic when I said I was leaving them with them as a donation.
For most of these kids, English isn’t even their second language, but their third or even fourth! Most speak Pitjantjatjara or Yankunytjatjara, and don’t speak English at home, but there are 4 or 5 languages spoken in the community, so their efforts in school are all the more impressive.
The challenges of a small remote school are many; one of which is internet and WiFi! The iPads were set up by Winthrop in WA https://www.winaust.com.au/education-solutions/ , understanding the unique needs of remote schools. For example, MDM to push out apps is just not an option with the limited bandwidth and even apps authenticating the first time they are used is an issue, so they have them all set up and authenticated before being sent to the school, so they were literally ready to go from the time we turned them on – brilliant! This school is lucky enough to now have a 1:1 iPad program.
Very remote teachers are a special breed! There are numerous challenges, isolated from family and friends, yet they work very long hours, and want to make the kids’ time at school the best learning experience it can possibly be, as they know how important education is.
What a privilege to be a judge at the first Coffs Harbour regional First Lego League (FLL) competition this week. The buzz in the room was palpable! Such excitement and enthusiasm from all the teams. Some were experienced, some there for their first competition, but all walking away with huge smiles.
The 2018 challenge was Into Orbit and challenged students to find solutions to real-world problems in space.
Students didn’t just learn about coding, maths, science, space and robotics, they also learned about:
trial and error
dealing with disappointment
In addition to FLL’s trademark coopertition:
Coopertition is displaying unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition. Coopertition is founded on the concept and a philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete. (from https://firstaustralia.org/about-us/vision/)
the students are also marked on CORE VALUES:
As the emphasis is not just on the final challenge product, but the fun and learning along the way, students have a well-rounded experience, and all can achieve a level of success.
I spent a very productive 2 days of my school holidays at the ACCE (Australian Council for Computers in Education) 2018 Conference in Sydney. The theme of the conference was ImpaCT – how to ensure we are using technology to its maximum effect on student learning. (I also made an impact with my T shirt – very popular!)
As at any technology conference, one of the best takeaways is the people – networking, meeting some of those amazing innovators you’ve been following on Twitter and social media for years, catching up with friends and colleagues and meeting inspirational teachers, who just quietly do amazing things every day. Here are a few of my other standout takeaways from the 2 days:
We don’t write programs for computers, we write them for people – Programs are for people to use, the User Interface is important, and programs are written ON a computer but they are FOR the use of people.
DT vs ICT – Knowing the difference between Digital Technologies and ICT Capabilities. ACA (Australian Computing Academy) have these fantastic cards to get teachers thinking about which is which. The actual cards are awesome, but you can print your own here https://aca.edu.au/teacher-resources/
Be a master of the media not a slave to the screen – Kristy Goodwin – Inspirational speaker on Teaching the iGen, learning new terms such as infobesity, techno tantrums, moral panic, digital dementia. We adults/parents/teachers need to lead by example with technology use and digital distraction https://drkristygoodwin.com
Micro:bits – I have been waiting for the time to explore Micro:bits more and had the opportunity with 2 workshops. I have already ordered mine and am ready to tinker!
Creativity now is as important in education as literacy – Dr Ken Robinson. Creativity has gone from the 10th to 3rd in top 10 skills to thrive in 2020. https://cvdl.ben.edu/blog/top-skill-2020-creativity/ This ties in beautifully with Apple’s new Every Can Create Curriculum #everycancreate
Unpacking the Digital Technologies curriculum – James Curran did a fabulous unpacking of the National Curriculum and showed the great resources available on the DigiHub https://aca.edu.au/curriculum (Wishlist: It would be fantastic if we could have something similar for the new NSW Science and Technology curriculum)
Now to start putting it all into practice in the classroom …