Making Great Television to Reinforce Social Studies Learning

As blogged about in 2014, St Andrew’s College has been running the only professional television studio in a New Zealand school for almost 20 years. What is particularly exciting for me is the potential of other subjects to utilise this fantastic resource to allow students to conceptualise, and create video content.

Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to attend a PD day that featured Dr Rueben Puentedura, that developed my own understanding about the SAMR model and its application in unit planning. An important aspect of this learning is that, as part of the redefinition of a unit, technology is allowing students greater opportunities to create meaningful content. With our fully functioning studio, students at St Andrew’s College have the opportunity to produce high quality video content, that both reinforces their own understanding, and displays their learning for others. One such recent example has recently concluded in Year 10 Social Studies.

Mr Simon Williams - Head of Television and Film

Mr Simon Williams – Head of Television and Film

Decade Study – The Swinging 60’s

A Level 5 Curriculum Objective in Social Studies requires students to study how the ideas and actions of people in the past have had a significant impact on people’s lives. This year, students undertook a decade study of the 1960’s; including aspects such as historical events, music, and fashion. This was a very popular unit with students, but, as always, the challenge was making their learning authentic.

Mr Simon Williams, the head of Film and Television, was interested in this new unit of work, and offered to assist the teachers to create some video resources to complement their classroom learning. Because the majority of students access learning in the TV studio as part of the Performing Arts course at either Year 9 or 10, there was no need to spend time on the ‘how’ to create such material. This meant students already had the skills to produce an interview style television program, and they could focus on the content.

Mr Williams wanted the process to be smooth and clearly beneficial for the Social Studies staff members, so he assisted by writing a simple script, and organising several interviews with staff that have fond memories of the decade, as well as a television cameraman who cut his teeth in Vietnam in the 1960’s; Mr Wayne Williams.

Student Involvement

The students’ roles included filming, performing, presenting and editing the final production – to create a number of professional standard videos that were ultimately edited into a 35 minute television program.

Students with varying levels of experience were able to contribute to the production of such a programme as the interview format is very familiar and accessible for them. This fact emphasises the potential of the Television studio to help students of almost any subject area to enhance their learning by creating resources of various forms.

Putting Social Studies Learning into Action

The head of Social Studies at St Andrew’s College, Miss Kerry Larby, was enthused by the activity.

One of the key aspects of Social Studies is perspectives, so it was extremely beneficial for our students to hear the authentic experiences of staff members they interact with on a daily basis, but may not realise their past experiences. 

Miss Larby also noted that one of the focuses of the unit was helping students to discover the wealth of resources that exist within people, rather than relying on the easy, often web-based, option. Each student was encouraged to identify, and interview, somebody who had clear memories and experiences in the 1960’s and make use of this information to supplement their learning in class.

Collaboration for Mutual Benefit 

Students at St Andrew’s College are extremely fortunate to have access to the remarkable television studio. SetWidth204-TV-Studio2What was particularly pleasing about this activity was the cross curricular nature of the production; utilising students’ existing television creation and editing skills to show, and develop, their learning in Social Studies.

There is certainly scope for more subjects across the College to implement similar tasks, and I look forward to reporting on them on this blog in the future!

 

 

 

 

Putting the R in SAMR

One of my on-going goals is based around the successful implementation of eLearning into my teaching of Year 13 Geography. In my role as eLearning integrator at the College, it is important that I am seen to be visible in this area, and that I can show that I too am implementing some of the strategies and tools that I am advocating to other staff.

SAMR

The SAMR Model

SAMR is a popular model used to help teachers infuse technology into teaching and learning. The man behind the model is Dr. Ruben Puentedura, an Argentinian academic. The SAMR model is based around a planning progression that aims to transform learning experiences so they result in higher levels of achievement for students. We have previously blogged about the SAMR scale here – a great post that thoroughly describes the model.

Alternatively you can listen to Dr Puentedura explain the SAMR model on this video. 

Hearing Dr Puentedura Explain his Model

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a presentation by Dr Puentedura here in Christchurch. During the presentation he spent time analysing the structure of the SAMR model, by modeling how the model could be used in the teaching of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

The way we were challenged to think about the model was as a SAMR Ladder.  A unit of work must involve a deliberate progression through the stages of the SAMR model, with each learning activity building on the complexity of student understanding generated by the last.  This ladder analogy was the crucial aspect of the presentation for me, and really consolidated my own understanding of the model and the most appropriate way to implement it.

The second part of the presentation was time spent working in small groups implementing the model into a unfamiliar situation. In my case it was helping Year 5 students consolidate their understanding of correct notation in Mathematics. While, as a senior Geography teacher, the context was unfamiliar, this actually proved beneficial as the exercise consolidated my understanding of the importance of a deliberate progression of learning activities required to move through the ladder, thus improving student engagement and understanding.

Takeaways from Presentation

I found Dr Puentedura’s presentation the most engaging I have attended recently. On reflection, my main takeaway’s are:

  • The SAMR model is designed to be implemented progressively across a long unit of work, rather than used to justify the planning of an individual task.
  • Think of the SAMR model as a ladder, and plan to progress your students and their learning.
  • The challenge for teachers is to move beyond Augmentation to Modification

Putting it into Action – Queenstown Tourism Development Unit

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My Ideas for a SAMR Unit on Tourism Development

Upon returning to school I felt compelled to put my new learning into action. Next week my Year 13 students begin work on a new unit of work; Tourism Development. The aim of the unit is to help students demonstrate understanding of how a Cultural Process shapes a Geographic Environment; in this case Queenstown. During this unit they will study the historic and contemporary role that Tourism Development has played in the life of Queenstown.

Whilst technology has previously played a part in my teaching of this unit, this will be the first occasion where I plan to implement the SAMR model this deliberately throughout a unit.

Four levels of Task Development

Because OneNote plays such a big roll in my class it was easy to identify tasks in the unit that are clearly Substitution. Particularly with the recently added Classroom Notebook Add-in to OneNote it is now incredibly easy to ensure that class notes are easily distributed to all students in an organised, and deliberate way.

The second level of the scale is Augmentation. These are tasks that technology acts as a direct tool substitute, but there is a level of functional improvement. A good example of this will be a task that I have previously used during this topic where students use the Placemark functionality within Google Earth to investigate the Spatial Patterns of accommodation and attractions in Queenstown. This task could just as easily be done with a paper map and felt pens, but the functional improvement comes from the ability of students to turn the different layers on and off, and add text detail to each of the Placemarks.

Task Modification is where the real challenge lies for me in this unit. Google Earth makes another appearance on this list, as the program is so useful for students to visualise an environment such as Queenstown; so there are two further tasks that utilise its potential. The third task is aimed at utilising the potential of the site Canva which we have recently discovered in our team as an easy site to use to create visuals.

The final step in my ladder is based around task Redefinition. At this level the technology must allow for the creation of a new task, one that was previously inconceivable. In this case I plan to have my students create a revision website that will be made public. We have previously blogged about student produced websites and I feel that this is an authentic purpose for the students to challenge their organisation and, most importantly, their learning.

The unit of work is planned to take approximately 5 weeks of class time – and with the amount of content material that is demanded of Y13 students it will be interesting to see the progress that I am able to make through this plan. I feel particularly optimistic at this stage however, as the substitution aspect of my providing notes for students to annotate, rather than copy, frees up huge amounts of time to complete more in-depth tasks.

At the conclusion of the unit I will revisit its success – watch this space!

Staff Profile – Bronwyn Radcliffe

During 2016 I have been profiling a number of Staff members from different departments to help to highlight the seamless nature of ICT integration into the vast majority of classrooms here at StAC. In Term 1, I began by profiling Donna Jones; a post which highlighted and celebrated the willingness of an experienced classroom teacher to innovate and model effective learning to her students. That post was followed by a profile of some of the great work occurring in the Mathematics department; focusinbronwyn radcliffeg on the strong collaboration occurring between Mr John Quealy, and Mr Mitch Howard as they work to raise engagement and success levels for some priority learners.

This week I am profiling Mrs Bronwyn Radcliffe, a member of staff who predominantly teaches in the Languages department. Over recent years, it has been pleasing to see the enthusiasm with which the Languages department has embraced the potential of eLearning tools in their classrooms.

Introducing Digital Textbooks

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An example of Digital Textbook Content

In 2016 the French department began a digital textbook trial. In an attempt to source the best product for the differing needs of each year level it was decided to use two different products; Studio for Year 11 students, and AQA for Year 12.

The allure of digital textbooks, for Mrs Radcliffe, is the range of interactive activities that are seamlessly linked to self-marking activities, and the detailed analysis of student performance that she, as the teacher, has access to. This analysis is replicated by the functionality of the second main online platform that Mrs Radcliffe utilises; Language Perfect. This product allows Mrs Radcliffe to personalise the learning of her students to the particular topic content by ensuring that the vocabulary lists that she requires students to learn are directly relevant to the classroom content.

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An example of the Language Perfect analytics that Mrs Radcliffe uses to track student progress in her class.

“I love that I can provide Language Perfect with the specific vocabulary lists that I need my students to learn, and in most cases, it is entered into the programme for them to learn within 24 hours”

This functionality of Language Perfect enables Mrs Radcliffe to run include elements of a flipped classroom in regards to students knowing in advance the vocabulary that must be learnt to enable their learning to progress more immediately in class.

 

Providing Students with Better Feedback

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An example of feedback utilising the strengths of the Surface 4 Pen.

As part of our three year teacher laptop lease, Mrs Radcliffe has recently been issued a Microsoft Surface 4. We have previously blogged about the efficiency gains that a Surface tablet affords a teacher in giving students timely and valuable feedback, and Mrs Radcliffe has been quick to implement such practice in her class, through the class OneNote notebook. Her students now receive handwritten feedback that clearly identifies the areas for improvement in their work and, as in the example above, they can use the highlighter function to record the changes that they have made.

A second feature of OneNote that is adding value to Mrs Radcliffe’s teaching is the Insert Audio function. As a teacher of language, it is imperative that students are exposed to the correct pronunciation of new vocabulary. By using the insert audio function, both students and Mrs Radcliffe, are able to record, and listen to, each other speak. This has clear benefits for the quality of the student’s speaking.

Technology in Language Teaching 

While researching this profile, it was again pleasing to see how fluently our teachers are able to articulate how technology influences their classroom practice. The confidence that they have to innovate, and more importantly reflect on the successes, and obstacles that ICT brings into a classroom, shows a real commitment to the flexibility and pride that they take in the development of their pedagogy. Mrs Radcliffe is a great example of this.

Re-imagining Staff Professional Development

In my role as eLearning Integrator at St Andrew’s College, one of my major responsibilities is to provide Professional Development to staff in a wide variety of eLearning, and more general ICT products. In 2015 I ran a series of lunchtime sessions, on a variety of different topics, as well providing individual PD sessions to staff who requested it. Attendance at these sessions was sporadic, with many commenting that the time the sessions ran, Tuesday lunchtime, was not convenient for them.

Early in 2016 I put a lot of thought into the best delivery model to follow to ensure that as many staff as possible could access eLearning PD this year. In addition, a clear goal was set, that all secondary staff attend at least one, optional, eLearning PD session during 2016. This PD contact is in addition to the informal eLearning support that I provide to staff on a daily basis.

Reflecting on the feedback that the flexibility of timings is important for staff engagement, I decided to embrace an extremely flexible approach to providing Professional Development. The model I decided to follow, in Term 1, was to have a weekly theme(s) for the sessions, and then run the sessions upwards of 10 times during the week.

Choosing a Weekly Theme

Teachers are busy people. One aspect of eLearning that I am extremely conscious of, is the dangers of exposing teachers, and students, to too many new products. I find that this can lead to a disjointed view of the benefits of such tools, and a general feeling of disengagement with eLearning and a possible perception that it is too hard to get to grips with.

With this feeling clearly in mind, I made the decision to only provide professional development for tools that had already been introduced to staff in some capacity. This doesn’t mean that these tools would not be new to some staff, but a significant number of staff would, at the very least, have a basic conceptual understanding of the product. The services I decided to focus on were eTV, Zaption, Office Mix, Moodle, OneNote, and our Appraisal platform; Appraisal Connector.

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Improving access to PD

By offering a variety of potential times for staff to attend PD sessions, I was hoping that attendance would improve. The typical week had a mixture of before and after school, lunchtimes and individual period sessions.

An example weekly schedule

An example weekly schedule showing the times and location of PD. This information was widely circulated to all staff.

In addition, all staff were emailed the full weekly schedule, and in certain weeks, daily email reminders were sent. These daily emails proved particularly effective, and were surprisingly easy to manage by writing them all at the start of the week, and then using the delay delivery function in Outlook.

 

 

Staff engagement levels and satisfaction

With the aim of all secondary staff to attend at least one optional eLearning PD session during 2016, I was very interested in how they would respond to this new delivery model. During Term 1, 62 different Pd session were run – over a 7 week period. With approximately 90 teaching staff in the secondary school, it was pleasing that, during the term, I had 68 attendees at my sessions, made up of 42 different staff. On reflection, I am satisfied enough with these numbers, as the PD sessions were deliberately marketed as being optional, and they are all in the teacher’s own time.

Positive staff feedback on the sessions

This week, all staff who attended at least one of my sessions were emailed a short survey to fill in.

PD SurveyResults are obviously still coming in, but over half of staff have responded. The results are pleasing. 85% of respondents have used the eLearning tool in their classrooms, 90% say that are extremely likely to attend a Term 2 session, and 95% would highly recommend an eLearning PD session to other staff here at St Andrew’s College.

eLearning Professional Development in Term 2

Based on the attendance at the Term 1 sessions, and the positive survey feedback I will run a similar model during Term Two; with a few possible alterations:

  •  8am sessions were not well attended, so fewer will be offered
  • After school sessions will be extended, with the possibility of running two on any one day – eg straight after school at 3.30, and then a later 4.30 session
  • Daily reminder emails will be sent consistently
  • Timetables of weekly sessions to be included on the weekly staff information sheet; ‘The Green Sheet’
  • Large format timetables to be produced and pinned on staff workroom doors each week
  • Target specific departments for topic eg: a week of Digital Static Image creation is planned for English Department

I am fully committed to the continued upskilling of staff, and I feel that there is ongoing value in this approach to providing Professional Development. I look forward to connecting with the remaining staff that could not find time to attend a session in Term 1.

 

Encouraging Growth Mindset in Students with Robotics

In 2015 our Preparatory School teachers began integrating robotics into the curriculum. We have blogged about it previously here, and here. 2016 has seen the continuation of introductory sessions with all year 7 classes, where they investigate the basic functionality of their EV3 robots – such as making the robots move forward, and turn.

Of particular interest to me, was how has this initial enthusiasm for robotics manifested itself into the everyday curriculum delivery of the Preparatory School. I was excited to hear about the way a Year 7 teacher, Mrs Kelly McBride, was

Mrs Kelly McBride

Mrs Kelly McBride

utilising the robots to help her students apply their knowledge of regular polygons.

Developing Growth Mindset Through Perserverence

Having spent some time teaching her students the characteristics and properties of various polygons, Mrs McBride set the class a challenge – ‘Can a robot draw a perfect polygon?’

In order for Technology to be appropriately integrated into planning, it is important that the tool selected complements the desired learning outcomes. Having introduced the new learning, the children were now required to apply it, and integrate it with their basic knowledge of robotics.

The development of a Growth Mindset is facilitated by resilience, and a love of learning. The first lesson in this series became a trial and error session as students had to persevere to respond to the slight differences in response between individual robots, in terms of the amount of turning they observed in response to particular programming commands.

“It was great to be able to develop a task that incorporated three different aspects of learning; a growth mindset, application of Robotics, and their learning about the properties of Polygons” – Mrs McBride

Robotic Polygon

Year 7 Students drawing a square with a robot

Getting the Robot to Draw

Once the students had ironed out the nuances of their robots they were able to meet their first challenge – to get their robot to draw a perfect square. This challenge required even more perseverance for the students to complete perfect right angles with their squares. Mrs McBride observed students completely engrossed in their tasks, as they strove for perfection.

“It was fun having to actually calculate the degrees and try and get the robot to do it – try and fail, try and fail….then finally succeed.” – Grace, Year 7

For the groups that tasted success early, they were presented with a second, and much more complex, challenge – to get their robot to draw an oval, or a hexagon. This challenged the students to apply their understanding of these different shapes, and the properties of each, before then programming their robot to produce the shape.

“Instead of boring old maths, we had fun working out how to get the robot to draw for us”  – Reeve, Year 7

Successful Integration of Technology into Teaching

It is easy to introduce an engaging tool like Robotics to students. What is more difficult, and what I am much more interested in celebrating, is when a teacher can take that tool, and create a series of lessons which authentically integrate that particular technology into the curriculum. I feel that that is exactly what Mrs McBride has achieved here. She has planned an engaging, relevant, and scalable task – which has challenged her students to contribute to their own learning.

“The students lost track of time they were so engaged – working until they had solved the problem” – Mrs McBride

Staff Profile – John Quealy

John Quealy

Mr John Quealy

Throughout 2016, I am going to be profiling a number of different St Andrew’s College staff. The first of these was a post that I wrote a few weeks ago about Ms Donna Jones, in the English department. The subject of this post, is Mr John Quealy, a teacher in our Mathematics department.

We have previously blogged about some of the great Teaching and Learning that occurs in this department. This week I had the pleasure of chatting to Mr Quealy, and the Head of Department, Mr Mitch Howard, about the work they are doing to redesign the content and delivery of the Year 11 General Mathematics Course. This course focuses on the practical application of mathematics in everyday life and achieving Numeracy. For students working towards level 5 of the New Zealand curriculum with the opportunity to progress to NCEA Level One Achievement Standards.

Mitch Howard

Mr Mitch Howard HOD Mathematics

Due to the nature of this particular Year 11 course, and the specific learning needs of the group of students enrolled in the course, a few deliberate changes have been made in 2016. As this group of students are in a 1:1 computing environment, the decision was made to increase the role of the device in the course. The pleasing aspect of this course development was that this increased use of technology was not simply as a direct substitute from the original textbook and exercise book model used in the past, but included the deliberate integration of technology into specific, and most importantly authentic, learning tasks.

Working collaboratively, Mr Quealy and Mr Howard identified that these particular students would benefit from more practical and hands-on learning. An example was the Number topic that they are currently working on.

Practical applications of Number in Mathematics

OneNote clip Maths

Example of a student’s food diary, ready for analysis

To give this topic a more practical application the decision was made to embed this important learning into a wider topic around food, and food labeling. Students have been using Microsoft Excel to keep a food diary, which they have embedded into their OneNote class notebook. The benefit of this was that it allows Mr Quealy to access the students’ work and provide the extra feedback, and assistance that certain students require.

The second benefit from using Excel in this situation was that the students were able to develop the basic skills required to complete basic formula, such as percentages and decimals, and data display within Excel through tables and graphs.

“It is great to be able to engage students with real life activities that they can hook onto and see the relevance of life long skills” – Mr John Quealy

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The content library in the class OneNote being used to model what is expected.

 

Mr Howard shares the same sentiments, particularly about the benefits of these students engaging with their devices.

“Numeracy is about being able to use numbers in an everyday setting. If this is the last Mathematics course that these students do, we want it to be useful and practical. We want to be able to teach these students how to use spreadsheets for calculations and organising their thinking. Also if a person is comfortable using a spreadsheet, they will be comfortable using most software that they might be asked to use in a workplace.” – Mr Mitch Howard

 

The benefits of Collaboration between classes

Another clear benefit of this new, computer based course, is that it allows the teachers of both Y11 General Mathematics courses, Mr Howard and Mr Quealy, to collaborate in the planning, delivery and reflection stages of the topic. By having access to each other’s class notebooks, they can keep in close contact, and share ideas, all while obviously maintaining the differences that their individual teaching styles, and student’s needs require.

“It’s also great to be able to collaborate with John, bouncing ideas off each other and seeing which ideas have worked or not. John’s architectural knowledge will be great for when we do our measurement unit on autocad.” – Mr Mitch Howard

A department constantly developing their practice

Within the Mathematics department there are an increasing range of eLearning tools being utilised. There are a small number of staff who run flipped classroom, while others are experimenting with Microsoft Surface tablets. What I particularly liked in this example was the fact that the technology is being used to allow teachers to work more closely together, and use their shared expertise and experience to improve the learning, and engagement, of their students.

It is great to see the increasing engagement with Technology within the department, and I look forward to documenting their innovations in later Blogs.

Collaborating With The Future Schools Expo

This week I was excited to receive correspondence from David Colville, from DataCom Australia. He was present at the 2016 Future Schools Expo in Sydney. His request was that a group of St Andrew’s College students could be made available to share ideas with small groups of students from Mount Sinai College, Sydney. These students had been taking part in one of four future challenges as part of the Maker’s Playground of this conference.

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Collaborative Skype Session with Mount Sinai Hill College

The 4 Challenges:

  1. There was a tornado in Sydney last year. Some houses were destroyed. What sort of house could survive a tornado?
  2. We know that you learn better at school when you are happy, but some times you come to school sad because you might have had a fight with your brother or got told off by your Mum. How can we cheer students up when they get to school so they are ready to learn?
  3. We love Lego, but cleaning up the pieces and finding the right one can be difficult. Is there a way to sort Lego pieces out quickly and make packing up our lego kits more effective?
  4. We don’t have enough refs for our netball games. How can technology help our shortage of refs?

After a quick bit of organisation from preparatory school eLearning expert Wilj Dekkers, it was decided that our recently formed Year 8 Gifted and Talented group would be perfect for this opportunity. This group are working with Mrs Julie Rogers as part of the College’s GATE program.

The view from Sydney: Mt Sinai College students at Future Schools conference on a Skype call to St Andrew's College

The view from Sydney: Mt Sinai College students at Future Schools conference on a Skype call to St Andrew’s College

With only a few minutes preparation time afforded, it was great to see this small group of students independently agree to use the Collaboration Space on a OneNote Notebook, set up a dedicated area of this space so that they could collaborate on their ideas during the Skype Call, and then test the functionality of this space. This setup was all done independently of any teacher input and took only a few minutes.

The structure of the Skype conversation was simple. A small group of Mount Sinai students explained their solution to one of the problems described above, and the St Andrew’s students responded with their critiques, ideas and encouragements.

During the activity the students from both school were extremely engaged. They listened carefully to the input from all students and the questioning and reasoning on show was impressive. This activity was a really great example of students, in two different locations, displaying their collaborative and teamwork skills in an unfamiliar setting.

I liked the future problem solving Skype, because I enjoyed helping them with their problems to come up with better solutions. I also enjoyed discussing these problems with our group. We all put our solutions together to make the best one. Our group of year eights all had an input to help improve their solutions, because even if we didn’t want to say out loud, we had our OneNote to write our suggestions on, so our other group members could say it for us. – Maya, St Andrew’s College Year 8 Student

Here, at St Andrew’s College, we enjoying using Skype to connect with other Educators or Students across the globe. We have enjoyed a number of Mystery Skypes, have engaged with a children’s author, and brought experts into the classroom. We all look forward to the next opportunity to use Skype to help complement the other great learning that occurs in our classrooms!

Staff Profile – Donna Jones

Throughout 2016, this blog will profile a number of different St Andrew’s College teaching staff, with a focus on the role that eLearning has had, and will continue to have, on their practice.

Introducing Donna Jones

Donna Jones

Since her arrival at St Andrew’s College in 2004, Ms Jones has become a valued member of the English department. Teaching English at all levels, Donna is always keen to try and improve her pedagogy through the use of technology in the classroom.

eLearning in class

Over the last few years Donna has, along with a large number of staff at the College, began to use OneNote in all her classes. Pleasingly, it is the Collaboration Space that Ms Jones finds the most value in, as it enables her students to establish strong relationships within the class, and discover the power of constructive peer assessment. From a teacher’s perspective Donna enjoys being able to monitor the reading of her students more actively, as the evidence the students provide on OneNote allows her to acknowledge their efforts more readily.  

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Example of students providing peer feedback on book reviews

A second example of task modification that eLearning has enabled in Ms Jones’s class is the production of visual text’s, in her senior classes. The further development of these tasks is a priority this year, and will be blogged about at a later date.

 

Cross Curricular Learning in 2015

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The news broadcast was so realistic that some students had to be reassured that it was not real!

In 2015 Donna conceptualised an innovative cross-curricular inquiry for her year 9 English class. The inquiry simulated an ISIS anthrax attack at location within the city. A College parent assisted hugely in the production of an incredibly realistic breaking news broadcast that truly set the scene for the students. They then worked in groups in their English, Science, Mathematics and Social Studies classes to formulate a counterattack proposal which was presented to a panel of experts, including the Rector, Mrs Christine Leighton, the College’s General Manager Mr David Evans and a representative from the anti-terrorist squad, and a Mr Tim Radcliffe, a member of the Christchurch Police Force. “The thing that impressed me was the level and depth of thinking that the students demonstrated in response to what could be a real threat to Christchurch. The use of OneNote across the four subjects enabled them to communicate across the curriculum areas and develop their ideas and responses collaboratively.

2016 Aims

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The College’s historic Strowan House will be reproduced in Minecraft

As part of a trip to the UK during the recent holiday period, Donna attended the 2015 BETT conference in London. As part of this conference, Donna was lucky enough to attend the launch of the Learning Tools in OneNote. A key takeaway from the conference was an exciting idea that Donna is driving, in anticipation of the College’s 2017 centenary celebrations.

The project involves a group of students using MineCraft to recreate the College’s main Historic building, Strowan House, circa 1917 and 2017. The challenge for the students will be to utilise historic photographs and floorplans.

“This collaborative project for both Preparatory and Secondary students to work in an innovative and exiting way to showcase their skills, whilst celebrating the history of the College at this important occasion.”

Post Graduate Study

In recognition of her enthusiasm, talents and dedication to teaching with technology, the College is supporting Ms Jones complete a Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital and Collaborative Learning). She is the first staff member at the college to complete this qualification, so we will be watching her progress with interest!

“I am aware that technology is going to be pivotal in reaching students as that is the medium most often defaulted too. I love Learning.”

 

Inducting Students into a 1:1 Laptop Programme

As the new school year begins, the 1:1 laptop programme at St Andrew’s College continues to grow. As the year begins, all Year 8-11 students are required to bring a laptop to school each day. With the number of Senior College students voluntarily bringing laptops to school growing each year, we are ever closer to all students in the Secondary School having a laptop with them each lesson.

Staff feedback from the first two years of the 1:1 program raised some concerns around two main themes:

  • The first was about the amount of class time that some teachers felt could be wasted at the start of the year, getting all student’s computers successfully connected to school systems, and the class OneNote Notebook.
  • The second concern raised was around the the lack of familiarity of some students with their particular device.
Students working hard on the task

Students working hard on the induction task

In response to these concerns the decision was made to invest some time in the first few days of the 2016 school year to actively try and get Year 9 students more familiar with their own computers, and the systems that we use here at St Andrews College. In consultation with Middle School leadership, it was decided that students would have four periods to complete such a task – with the time being split over the first two days of the school year.

Creating the task

With over 200 Year 9 students the range of ability and engagement with computers was always going to be extremely varied. For this reason I decided to create an induction task that used a single platform, OneNote, as the base, with a range of other resources linked into it, such as instructional videos and surveys.

In an attempt to gain some preliminary information all students were asked to complete a short online survey. Of most interest to me was their responses to the following two questions.

Initial Survey

The results from these two questions particularly gave me the confidence that such a programme was incredibly important for our incoming Year 9 students. While approximately half of our Year 9 intake are from the Preparatory School, where we know they receive a thorough grounding in all things IT; the remainder of our intake arrive from a wider range of feeder schools; from across the city and beyond. A major aim, when writing this task was to ensure that all students gained a basic understanding of both their computers (keyboard shortcuts, power saving settings, and our systems such as printing, emailing and online storage.

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The basic premise was to write a task that was based in OneNote. To make the task more contextual, the ‘how to use your computer’ material was woven into a basic inquiry-based task that required each student to design their ultimate teenage space in the Christchurch city rebuild. Within the induction task each student was required to complete a wide range of tasks including:

  • Accessing their College email to gain access to the Onenote Notebook
  • Access a variety of video resources around computer care, computer use, and IT systems used at StAC, and complete tasks to reinforce this learning
  • Add preliminary ideas to the Collaboration Space in OneNote about a potential Youth Facility in Central Christchurch
  • Collate and analyse the best ideas from the Collaboration Space, in their own area of the Class Notebook
  • Add audio to their own area of the OneNote, critically analysing their best ideas
  • Learn how to print their work
  • Hand their work in using the Assignment activity on their classes Moodle Page

Upon completion of the task the feedback from the students was extremely positive. A number of individual students commented on the benefits they saw from completing the task:

This task was good because it helped me learn how to use my computer.

I liked how we could try some of the things by ourselves and the demonstrations from the videos.

 

student feedback two

Similarly,Year 9 Tutor staff, who were involved in supporting the students during their induction sessions, were also asked to provide feedback. It was particularly pleasing to see the high regard with which they held the assistance that they received from IT staff during the Staff feedback.

Moving forward

On reflection I am very happy with how this task went. As with doing anything for the first time, I will continue to reflect carefully on all aspects of the task and try and identify the improvements that can be made. Obviously providing adequate IT support over 13 classrooms and over 200 devices is an acknowledged difficulty, but I really hope that the teachers of Year 9 will notice an improvement in the confidence, and capabilities of their classes as the school year gets underway.

Bringing Experts into the Classroom

One of the main purposes of this blog is to raise awareness within the college of innovative pedagogy, with the overall aim of inspiring others. I was excited this week to spend a bit of time in a Year 6 Religious Education classroom, where I saw evidence of exactly that.

At the recent conference of the New Zealand Association of Religious Education Teachers and Chaplains, our Preparatory School Religious Education Teacher, Mrs Jillian Fenton, found herself reflecting on the possibilities of tapping into the expertise of others, and bringing that into her classroom. This reflection was in conjunction with the 2016 Religious Education curriculum review which was aiming to continue to make learning in this particular curriculum area as authentic as possible.

As part of this process Mrs Fenton also thought back to her Year 6 student’s end of term reflections from Term 3. Within these she noted that a number of children raised some very interesting questions that they wanted the opportunity to ask.

Accessing an Expert

Mrs Fenton had seen what was going on with Skype in the College, with Mystery Skypes, intra-college lessons, and asking an expert; and she really wanted her students to have the same opportunity. She approached Dr Jennifer McLeod, a Physics, Science and Religious Education teacher at John McGlashon College in Dunedin.

Both Year 6 classes were given the opportunity to connect with Dr McLeod and have their questions answered.  My observations of one of these session illustrated the extremely high levels of student engagement as they asked questions such as

“Does God’s power have a limit?”

 

“What proof is there of God’s existence?”

Mrs Fenton notes that “It was brilliant to give children the opportunity to ask those questions of someone they perceive as an expert.”

I thought it was great to see this example of a teacher thinking carefully about how she could use approachable technology to give her students such an engaging and authentic learning experience.