Shaping ICT Policy and Future Practice

2013-10-07 15.19.49

Since joining my school just six months ago, I have been working on a number of projects alongside my ICT teaching and integration role, including:

  • Collaborating with the CEO ICT team to complete the technical set up Google Apps for Education, and planning for staff professional development and student use in 2015.
  • Providing feedback on the design and content of our new school website
  • Revising the school’s Strategic Plan, ICT Policy and Internet Access Agreements, with an explicit emphasis on modelling positive digital citizenship, publishing student work online, and promoting global connections and perspectives.
  • Developing a Digital Technologies / ICT Scope and Sequence for K-6 (very much a work in progress)
  • Researching and negotiating the Policy Framework for the development of classroom blogging across the school in 2015, and advising Admin on the advantages, disadvantages, and costs of various blogging platforms.
  • Planning for the creation of a small-scale Student Digital Leaders program from early 2015.

What have I learnt?

I consider myself fortunate to have a supportive, open-minded Administration, who are extremely keen to build our school’s digital presence into the future. I am extremely mindful of the fact that I am helping to collaboratively shape the future direction and practices of a school community, and endeavour to provide clear, explicit feedback and research-based recommendations to guide decision making and practices – with the long-term goal of bringing about sustainable, lasting change.

Helping negotiate ICT plans and policies has been a challenging learning experience, and 2015 will likely be a very busy and interesting year as I will be working alongside my colleagues to help translate these ideas into their classroom practice. Implementing change may not be easy, but it certainly won’t be boring!

A Little Adventure in Teaching ICT

Grade 1 Kidpix "Imaginary Creature"

Well, some of those visiting the blog over the past few weeks may have noticed a subtle change to the title of this blog. It is hard to believe, but I’m four weeks into a temporary ICT Teaching & Integration role at a wonderful girls’ school in Perth, Western Australia. 

It has been a busy time, in which I’ve been exploring digital citizenship with my students, helping prepare our new iPads for rollout (next week I hope!), and working with colleagues to set up collaborative iPad project plans.

I am extremely grateful for the warm welcome I have received at my new school, and now, as I start to settle into my role, I feel like I’m on an exciting little adventure into the wonderful world of teaching and learning with ICT for the remainder of 2014.

Here’s to an interesting journey, wherever it may lead.

 Netiquette Activity

 

 

AudioBoo & QR Codes in the Classroom

Compiled for BPS teachers after discussions at today’s staff development day, this short guide to AudioBoo & QR codes in the Classroom might be helpful to others. If you have any questions, please ask! (And if you think I’ve missed a great resource, please let me know in the comments).

AUDIOBOO IN EDUCATION

audioboo

  • AudioBoo (http://audioboo.fm) is a free tool for creating 3 minute voice recordings (short podcasts) which are then shared online, usually via a class account.
  • To create recordings in class, you need to download AudioBoo for iPhone OR AudioBoo 2 for iPhone, NOT for iPad. (Sorry for the confusion!)
  • This app/tool has huge potential for educational use (see examples listed below), and is a great way of sharing students’ writing / learning with parents using QR codes attached to student work.
  • After struggling to remember how to create Audioboo QR codes during the session, I finally found out how, with the help of @karlyb in the USA. It’s simple, but you will need to log in to the desktop version of Audioboo to download and print the codes:

audioboo

audioboo2

EDUCATIONAL APPLICATIONS – AUDIOBOO

 

QR CODES – SOME RESOURCES TO EXPLORE

The best tool for creating your own QR Codes is Kawya (desktop) – http://qrcode.kaywa.com/dashboard/ (just create static codes – free), and there are several great apps for scanning codes on mobile devices.

I am a big fan of the QRafter app, the Pro version of which enables you to create QR codes on your phone/iPad. The links below contain some fantastic examples of how teachers are using them in classrooms around the world.

 

Scootle 101 – Resources for the Australian Curriculum

On Monday, I had the opportunity to present about Scootle, and the Scootle Community at a local school’s staff development day. As a follow up to the session, I’m sharing my slides, and links to some useful resources for teachers interested in exploring further.

Scootle 101

What does it offer?

  • Scootle is helping enable teachers to integrate digital technologies into their curriculum, assist in the discovery and creation of Australian curriculum resources, and provides a stepping stone for building professional networks beyond the school community.
  • Search for Australian Curriculum Resources by strand, year group, key words, topic, and Australian curriculum indicators.
  • Access Copyright free resources, photos, videos, units of work, and digital learning objects for all learning areas, good for literacy, numeracy, history.

  • Learning objects can be used on IWB, some will play on iPad (HTML5 objects).

  • Can share resources and learning objects with students/staff using PIN codes, or PDF export of Learning Paths (recommended option).

  • Scootle Community network is a great stepping stone professional learning network for Australian teachers.

Learning Paths

  • A learning path allows you to create folders around concepts, topics or learning area. You can classify resources or paths into folders. We created a learning path focusing on Measurement in Maths for F-2 students. The PIN is LCRFEQ.

  • PIN codes are found when you click on the Edit tab of Learning Paths

Notes for Local Teachers

  • Access via the BPS school network is best done on teacher computers or personal iPads. Sadly the Scootle app doesn’t work on the local WiFi network. 
  • Staff can access scootle.edu.au via the DET Portal in the iPad Safari browser, but the inability to access Flash content is quite irritating.

Downloadable Resources / Web Links

Thank you to Jan Clarke, of AISWA, who kindly shared some of the following resources.

Science, ICT, and the Global Classroom (#CONSTAWA33 Keynote)

Last weekend, I presented the Dinner Keynote at the Science Teachers’ of Western Australia conference, exploring the topic: Science, ICT, and the Global Classroom: Exploring the Possibilities. 

Our Challenge: Engaging Students in Science

As a primary school teacher & global education specialist, being asked to present to secondary science teachers was an interesting experience 🙂

The central theme of the presentation focussed on the use of technology to enable teachers and students Engage, Connect, Communicate, and Collaborate in secondary Science – via connections with external organisations, experts, and science educators around Australia, and around the world.

Building Bridges with REAL Science

My most memorable science teachers were those who were passionate about their subject, and who went out of their way to CONNECT their students to REAL science. As was posited to me on the night, these connections should, and indeed MUST begin, in the primary school classroom, but I was interested in exploring the possibilities at the secondary level.

You DON”T have to be an Expert (when you’re part of a community)

I was also very keen to point out that teachers don’t have to be ICT experts to engage & connect their students in Science. The keys to success lie in keeping an open mind, and and being willing to learn and collaborate with colleagues and experts beyond your classroom walls through engaging in online communities, such as the Scootle Community and Twitter.

I finished up by sharing a crowd-sourced Google Doc, containing links and ideas for Secondary Science teachers interested in exploring the possibilities of ICT and global connections in their teaching. You can access (and contribute) to that document via the short link: http://bit.ly/CONSTAWA2013.

 

Post Conference Reflections

I was rather pleased with the reception I received at the CONSTAWA Conference. It was rather challenging to walk into an unfamiliar conference audience, but the feedback was very positive.

I’ve learnt a great deal through the experience … not just about how much work and preparation goes into these kind of presentations, but how I can personally integrate ICT and global connections into my own Science teaching in the future. The connections I’ve made … the lessons I’ve learned … will help me a great deal when I eventually find my own space and own classroom – one day.

Thank you to the long list of teachers, scientists, and experts who helped make this presentation possible. I am indebted to you – for your support … and inspiring example of what is possible when you ‘explore the possibilities’ of Science, ICT, and the Global Classroom.

Struggling to Teach Creative Commons

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Scott McLeod


Would you believe that our education department ICT policy makers, in their infinite wisdom, have blocked student access to Flickr.com?

And that this means, that no less than four out of five Creative Commons images sites, which are SUITABLE for students, don’t WORK AT ALL? Even the site recommended by the Department doesn’t work properly due to these restrictions!

How I’m supposed to teach students ‘appropriate and ethical’ ICT practices regarding copyright, I don’t know …

The ONLY site I could get to work was Google Advanced Image Search; however, this makes it exceptionally difficult for students to a) check the terms of the CC license, and b) attribute the image.

I mean, students can access these sites from home, but how am I supposed to teach and model appropriate use if I can’t access these resources in class?

Suffice to say, I am (still) not particularly happy about this!! I’d love to hear about potential workarounds (other than sharing my 3G connection with students …)

 

#WLPSict – Weeks 2 & 3


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Saad Faruque

While the past two weeks have passed by in a blur, I can honestly say that I look forward to my #WLPSict teaching days. I’m starting to build meaningful relationships with the teachers I’m working with, and my students eagerly anticipate my arrival in their classes.

It’s been tough knowing that my initial four weeks are nearly over, yet I’m starting to see some of the rewards of my paced, collaborative approach.

When I walk into my classes, I’m starting to see classroom teachers taking the initiative … actively preparing their students for their ICT time. For example, our Year 3 teachers have encouraged their students to develop story plans for their PuppetPals animations; and have been excitedly brainstorming ways to integrate the app into their Jungle theme.

I’ve learnt a few technical & management lessons the hard way (particularly in the Year 4 class), and have struggled somewhat working with the Year 1 students … but I feel that I’m getting there, slowly.

 

Weeks 2 & 3 looked something like this …

Years 1-3

I’ve introduced an ICT rotations scheme to ease management issues, and ensure easier access to mobile devices. I now take a cart of laptops, and as many iPad 1 & 2s as I can get my hands on (they are in hot demand!). Half the class does Mathletics / Reading Eggs, while I work with the students using the iPads. This has had the side benefit of allowing teachers to ask questions about how to manage their students’ tasks, and monitor their performance.

The Year 1 students in particular will benefit from this long term, for as indicated by one of the teachers, a number of ESL students were unable to keep up with the whole-class activities.


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Ευτυχία (Jim is Nice)

Two of the Year 2 classes are researching old fashioned toys and games, with a view to creating iMovies and an assembly item. One of the Year 2 teachers is an early adopter of iPads and ICT, and she basically plans the lessons, with my input as needed.

The Year 3s, and the other Year 2 class are continuing to work on PuppetPals. This past week, I introduced these students to the Character and Background import options in the Puppet Pals Directors’ Pass.

I have also showed them how to import / export photos via Dropbox, as we are using iPad 1s (without cameras) and iPad 2s. I have been warned that the use of Dropbox can put pressure on the school’s internet upload/download limits, but I think these skills are too important to ignore. I’ll see how we go 🙂

Next week, the Year 3s will be creating Jungle poetry / information reports using PuppetPals; importing custom backgrounds and characters that they have created in Art. This will be the culmination of several weeks work, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the final results. It seems that taking things slowly has paid dividends … 

Year 4

The technical problems I was having with a whole class Google Doc continued in Week 2 … I won’t be doing that again anytime soon. It seems too many users accessing a document from the same network is a big no-no. I did actually fix the problem last week, but the class had moved on to other things. Fair enough.

In Week 3, we introduced students to WordFoto, and dropboxed their creations – with the intention of printing them off next week. I am hoping to introduce this class to Aurasma, an augmented reality app, next week … not sure yet! I don’t want to overload the teacher…

Years 4/5

Sadly, I’ve only had two opportunities to work with the Year 4/5 class  … due to the Swimming Carnival, and their upcoming class excursion next week. We spent our second session completing their “Sculptures by the Sea” presentations, and exploring options for a future animation project.

These students deserve a special #WLPSict mention for being on the receiving end of Mr Graffin’s rant on effective presentation design in Week 1 … fluorescent colours and overblown animations were NOT on my wish list! lol.

Years 5/6

Last week was the first time my Year 5/6 class had their full allocation of ICT time, after missing out on most of the past two sessions due to catch up science lessons with the Year 6/7 class. We are making progress!

My students have all entered their questions into our Asia Inquiry Google Doc, and we’ve received responses from students and teachers in Cambodia, Nepal, India, Japan and Thailand! The challenge to connect with Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam is still ongoing! So if you happen to know someone in these countries, could you please send them a link? Thanks 🙂

The students are currently working on their project presentations, choosing to present their research using Pages, PowerPoint, or Comic Life.

While my students are very new to ‘learning with the world, not just about it’, I’m actually pretty happy with our attempt to connect with Asia. Yes, we’re barely scratching the surface, but its a positive start. And I’m working in a school environment which is open to these connections … and that’s more than I’d hoped for.

Year 6/7


cc licensed ( BY NC SA )  flickr photo shared by totallyradshow


While we missed last week’s session due to the Swimming Carnival, almost all our students are ready to film their green-screen movies. Did I mention that the green screen kit ARRIVED!!??? (Very excited!).

We’ve spent a total of two lessons on planning and experimentation, and students’ scripts and sound effects are practically ready to go. Unfortunately, it seems I’ve been dragged in as a character in one group’s movie … Not sure if I’ll be able to wiggle out of that one! We’ll be filming and editing over the coming week.

I am hoping to share students’ videos on the school blog / wiki, and invite warm and cool feedback from international viewers (via Google Docs). The idea is that students need to understand that they are creating work for an authentic, global audience – not just their teachers.

Notes – 

In Week 2, I had my first opportunity to meet the student ICT Angels, learning about their roles and responsibilities. They manage the charging of laptops & iPads (when they don’t forget!), and run the school blog. Having seen the blog, I’m looking forward to introducing the ICT Angels to some multimedia creation tools, such as Animoto, VoiceThread, PhotoPeach, etc. All in good time.

A key consideration, which I’ve noted for future reference, is the need to explicitly clarify when students are released for ICT Angel work, i.e. during silent reading time, and on Tuesday afternoons prior to Assembly. Also mentioned was the need for Angels to support teachers’ use of ICT, rather than doing the work for them.

The strict guidelines and rules for the ICT Angel program help to minimise the impact on students’ learning time; and the students’ know that they can be replaced if they don’t fulfill their responsibilities! The application process for these positions is EXTREMELY competitive at this school!

Other things on the agenda have included (finally) starting work on the #WLPSict Staff wiki, and starting to identify apps to remove from the school’s mobile devices. There are literally 120+ apps on the iPod Touches and iPads at the moment, and we need to sort out the mess before we start using Apple Configurator to manage our devices.

As far as I can tell, there’s one week to go. Here’s to a good one 🙂

#WLPSict – Week 1 Reflections

 

Last week was a big week, in more ways than one.

I completed my contribution to a major sideline project that I’ve been working on for months (details coming in a month or two), and I started work as a temporary ICT Support teacher at a school in Perth.

I’m working 3 days / week, for 4 weeks, and I’ve been given (mostly) free reign … in a school where the admin actively interested in the use of ICT to connect, communicate, and collaborate beyond classroom walls. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to apply my ICT knowledge and skills locally; and I am hopeful that I can make a positive difference with the teachers and students I’m working with.


cc licensed ( BY )  flickr photo shared by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

So Week 1 was spent something like this:

  • Meeting and getting to know staff (Yrs 1-7). I was relieved to see that this went rather well, and I’m looking forward to developing deeper relationships over the next few weeks
  • Creating and distributing an ICT survey – exploring staff skills, learning interests, and literacy priorities for the term
  • Deciding my ICT /literacy focus for each class
  • Working out school systems for ICT access, which includes iPod Touches, iPads, and MacBooks; and getting to know the ICT Angels (student ICT leaders).

Grades 1-3

As I hadn’t had a chance to talk to teachers prior to my first day, I decided to introduce teachers and students to Puppet Pals, a digital storytelling app. Teachers’ skills and confidence with ICT varies significantly;  however, I found virtually all of them to be very keen to learn and experiment. One of the Year 3 teachers is very skilled in the use of iPads, and gave me some great ideas for using PuppetPals – which I’ll take to my other classes this coming week.

At this time, I’m focussing on using iPads to support literacy – in particular storytelling, oral language, and writing. I’m also taking pains to encourage students to collaboratively problem solve how to use all the features of the app. My point is that there is no need for the teacher to be the expert in the app – so long as they know how to use it to support teaching and learning (i.e. focus on the pedagogy, not the tech).

The level of students’ excitement about Puppet Pals has to been seen to be believed – I was even stopped in the playground by a Year 2 student who’d downloaded the app on his iPod Touch, and was planning his story for next week 🙂

In one of the Year 2 classes, the classroom teacher was extremely surprised to see a little girl, who never talks in class, actively communicating with her partner, and contributing to the audio recording. And to top it off, we found two boys, who normally can’t work together in class, quietly problem-solving in the corner.

On a note for future, audio recording in class can be challenging – when there are lots of students working at once. I had expected this, but will plan for it more carefully when students practice recording more prepared stories later this week.

Grade 4

Students had been learning how to use Mac Pages to record their Science research; however, a string of technical problems led to an interesting experiment with a shared class Google Doc. It works, once students get over the shock at being able to watch each-other type (and deleting other people’s work – sigh). Normally, I’d have set up individual docs – but this was a last minute idea. We’ll see how we go.

Grade 5/6

Students are working on presentations about Asian countries. The teacher freely admits to not knowing much about ICT, but is happy to support my experimentation. After some discussion, the students and I decided that they would present their work using (their choice of) Pages (brochures), PowerPoint, or Comic Life.

We are also working on a Google Doc, where students are sharing 5 questions they’d like to ask someone in their focus Asian country. We should have that finished by next week, when I’ll tweet it out & request responses from my PLN throughout Asia. There are a few challenges (e.g. Laos, Myanmar), but we should (hopefully) be able to get answers for most countries.

Grade 6/7

Students are working on (movie) comic sketches about the Western Australian election, (reluctantly) learning how to write scripts, organise props and characters, etc. My chance remark that we might be able to experiment with green-screening in iMovie was so warmly received that the Deputy Principal (and ICT leader) ordered a green-screen kit off eBay later that afternoon!

After attending @paulfuller75’s presentation at the ECAWA conference in 2011, I can’t wait to get my hands on this kit! I’m going to have a LOT of fun 🙂  Next week, students will be exploring and experimenting with camera angles, and rehearsing their presentations.

 

Ongoing Projects

There are a few things which I’ll be working on – on and off during the next four weeks, and hopefully beyond –

  • Establishing a school ICT wiki for staff
  • Helping the student ICT Angels with the school blog, which I’d like to see become more iPad friendly & include more multimedia.
  • Working with three classroom teachers to help develop class blogs
  • Introduce as many teachers as I can to Google Docs and @edmodo, although more many this will be a long term goal.

We’ll see how we go.