At the beginning of the school year, I was thrown all types of technology, which was definitely amazing. I feel so privileged to have such access to technology. At the same time it was a bit overwhelming. Well now that I survived my first semester at my new school, I’m feeling a bit more settled and ready to try some new things. I am finally putting my IPAD to good use.
For professional development a few weeks ago, we had an IPAD slam, where numerous teachers presented on their favorite IPAD apps. It was a great opportunity to get to know about various education related IPAD apps. One of the apps I was introduced was called Show Me. It is a great app to use in math class. The students talk and it records what they say, while they use their finger to draw and write on the ipad. Afterwards, they have this neat little video clip that can be uploaded to your online account. Students can embed their video onto the student blog.
So I tested this out with my students last week. I gave them very little instructions and they were able to complete it independently during class. I only have 1 IPAD, so I had them pass it around. They recorded their video during our class time. The task I gave them was to come up with a “difficult” order of operations problem and explain how to solve it.
We are excited to start off 2013 with our guest blogger Jackie. She took the leap of faith and started teaching internationally at a school in Jakarta, Indonesia this past year. I had the privilege of meeting her in person in Singapore a few months ago when she was visiting during her vacation. She is a faithful reader of our blog and currently teaching 7th & 8th English and technology. We are thankful for her thoughtful contribution!
Seventh grade students in a growing English proficiency literature class struggled to comprehend Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman until the setting and social issues came alive through their compositions of pecha kuchas.
What is a pecha kucha and how did students compose them in our classroom? To begin, Pecha Kucha is the Japanese word for “chit chat.” The term refers to 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each. The idea originated as a way to prompt presenters to create thoughtful, compelling representations as an alternative to a popular presentation method that tempts people to be wordy, not in a good way.
Our class took a cue from a previous teacher at our school, Jabiz Raisdana, to attempt amini-pecha kucha (10 slides shown for 20 seconds each) as a way to familiarize ourselves with the setting of Boy Overboard, Afghanistan. Because students appreciated the visual aspect of pecha kuchas, we decided to expand it to examine the themes of the book, Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman. Also, the Middle Years Program (part of the International Baccalaureate program) at our school, requires a “Visual Literacy” criterium for English Acquisition Learners which pecha kuchas provide an opportunity to demonstrate.
“Pecha kuchas helped me understand the book better,” was overheard by one student in the middle of researching this project. Boy Overboard proved to be somewhat challenging with its vocabulary referencing war and its Afghan setting. When asked why and how pecha kuchas helped her, the student responded that the slides allowed her “to see” scenes from the book.
Students gravitated toward the social issues surrounding the book as well. We tied the theme of gender equality, prevalent in this book set during Taliban control, to the UN Millenium Development Goals. Students followed the unfolding story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban for her BBC blog and views on education for girls–and connected this to the characters in the book as they are forced to leave Afghanistan because their parents run an illegal school for girls.
We capitalized on the text-to-world connection and the visual nature of pecha kuchas to build a scaffold for students. My hope was not only that the students learn about Afghanistan and themes of the novel, but how to comprehend written and visual texts.
Here are the steps we took to compose our mini-pecha kucha reader responseassignment:
Discussed the elements of the book: characters, setting, theme, etc.
Identified setting or themes that would help students better understand the novel. (Made a list.)
Partners chose a theme and began planning by copying and sharing this planner.
Carefully evaluated and selected images that supported an understanding of the topic.
Here is an example of a finished mini-pecha kucha on the topic of Desert Life in Afghanistan by 3 seventh grade students; Holly, Elaine and Da Ran.
Reflections: After the assignment, I had these thoughts:
We are still working on beginnings, middles and endings when writing. Although the pecha kuchas encourage writers to focus on the specific image shown, we are still thinking about we can incorporate a “wrap-it-up” ending and tie the topic to the novel.
Many students struggled with selecting images that “looked” like they fit the topic, but they were not sure if they were taken in Afghanistan or Pakistan or elsewhere. We discussed how Flickr images often include a description of the photo and could provide more context than a simple Google image search.
Students shared the citations with me on the planner, but where should they include them on screen in the final project? Rolling credits?
Imagine being the teacher of over 1000 students all in the same class. Yes, it sounds a bit crazy. Yet, it’s possible today in the technology driven world. Melody and I have started taking this FREE online class from Stanford University, more of a learning experiment on my end. It’s called designing a new learning environment. I blogged about it here. At first, I was intrigued by the idea of offering “free” education. You know that economic theory how they say there’s no such thing as a “free lunch”. Well, I wanted to see what a free online class from Stanford would be like.
The hardest thing so far is keeping on top of my deadlines for assignments! They don’t really send us reminders about assignments, so you need to be on top of it. Well, this class is obviously not my number one priority right now, and I’ve found myself in a panic when I realize my assignment is due in the next 17 hours. Good thing I’m in a different time zone, it helps me a little bit. So far, the time commitment has been reasonable and I’ve been reflecting and learning already. There are short video clips of lectures we watch, weekly assignments, and a final group project. It has been interesting seeing how this whole online class thing works. It’s weird not really being graded and assessed on every assignment especially by the teacher. Our assignment we just submitted will be “graded” by my peers. I’m think of posting some of my assignments as a blog post as well.
I wonder if this is the direction education will take in the future, where there’s no physical classroom, but being connected to your teacher and classmates through the Internet and various technology driven learning platforms. I’m not sure if I’m ready to let go of my notebooks and pencils. I’m not sure if I’m ready to let go of giving my students high fives. I’m not sure if I’m ready for the change that will come.
Have you taken any online classes before? If so, what has that experience been like?
This weekend, I attended a google apps for education summit held by my school here in Singapore. It was pretty nice to have it hosted at my school campus! There were people from various schools in Asia here for the conference, plus a lot of amazing google presenters. Here are a few fun videos shown at our first keynote by Suan Yeo and some important nuggets of information from the workshops.
Two funny follow ups to that…
One of the workshops I attended was called Harnessing the Power of Youtube by Patrick Green, who is our middle school technology coordinator. Here is his link for the presentation:
He goes through the steps of how to create your own youtube channel and making your own youtube playlist! It was a really helpful and useful session. I really liked that he gave us time in the workshop to actually do some of the things he said. So I updated my youtube channel profile and started subscribing to a few different educational youtube sites! Take a look:
One of the best ideas I heard today was using google forms as a way of assessing students. You can use them for short start-up/do now questions, and get the instant feedback. You can also use them for quizes and exit slips! I’m definitely going to try that with my students.
Learn with us by following the twitter #gafesummit and/or checking out the google summit’s resources pages. I have a few more technology related blog posts in my head to write this week! Stay tuned for more from the summit.
What are some ways you use google apps in your classroom?
For the final project in our landforms unit, I have my fifth grade students teach our book buddies class (Melody’s 2nd grade class) about volcanoes. The students are expected to teach the second graders what they learned about volcanoes. This is fun to see them take on the role of a teacher. Not only do they realize how hard it is, but it helps them make sure they really learned and understood what we studied.
One of the requirements for this project is that they integrate technology. In the past, I used to require them to make a power point or use a specific type of technology. However, something our I.T. specialist has encouraged me to do is to leave it more open, so the students can choose how they will use technology. So for this project, I let them decide how to incorporate technology. Many of them created I-movies, Powerpoint, Glogster, and used iPads. The students also have to create an assessment to see if the students learned what they taught. For the first day, my students went in to teach about volcanoes, and the next day they will give them the quiz! The final part of the project is to erupt volcanoes with them.
One of the groups came up with a fun board game!
Here’s a link to one of the glogster’s they created!
My all time favorite poetry read aloud books are Sharon Creech’s, Love That Dog and Hate That Cat. These two stories follow Jack on his journey with poetry and the teacher Miss Stretchberry that pushes him along the way. It’s a story that kids and adults can appreciate, smile and learn from. On Sharon Creech’s website, you can find some good teaching resources for using both books!
Another fun poetry read aloud book is Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston. This book was recommended by another 5th grade teacher. I did get to read the book, but didn’t get to read it to my kids. It’s a fun fantasy story written all in rhyme. It would go well during a poetry unit for upper elementary kids!
We had a chance to share some of our expertise on blogging a few weeks ago at KORCOS. We have some of the tips we shared here on our blog. Since then, there is one really helpful tip that I wanted to add. This is actually not hard to do, but I finally found out how to add a gallery to your WordPress blog. It’s too bad that it took me so long to realize that we have this function on WordPress. It would have been so helpful if I had known earlier. Well, instead of making you scroll down a million pictures, I can just embed this simple gallery or slide show into my post!
1) Click on the ADD MEDIA button. Choose and upload all the photos that you want in your gallery.
2) After they have all uploaded, click on save all changes.
3) If you want them as a gallery, decide how many columns you want and the order. Then, click on INSERT GALLERY.
4) If you want them as a slide show, just click on INSERT SLIDE SHOW.
Here are how the two options work! The first is the gallery option. If you click on the thumbnail version, it opens up. The second is the slideshow option. I hoe you enjoy some of my photos. The musical one is taken by Melody and the rest are from a recent field trip we took to Seoul Tower.
Which one do you prefer? Do you have any other tips for beginner bloggers out there?
Last summer, I had a chance to go to the ISTE 2011 conference in Philadelphia. This was amazing as I heard great keynote speakers including John Medina, the author of Brain Rules, and Chris Lehman, the principal of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. Plus, it was a great opportunity for networking and hearing about the latest trends and updates in technology.
This conference happens every year, and this year it takes place in sunny San Diego from June 24-27th, 2012.
“Now in its 33rd year, ISTE’s annual conference and exposition features an amazing array of professional learning and collaborative networking opportunities. As part of your conference registration, you can choose from three inspirational keynotes and more than 700 concurrent sessions including: lecture, panel, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), model lesson, research paper, poster, student showcase, and Birds of a Feather discussion formats. Also be sure to check out our special focus playgrounds and networking lounges for even more hands-on exploration and one-to-one connecting.”
Even if you are not officially an I.T. teacher, it is beneficial for all. I do wish I could go again this year, but things are going to be a bit busy for me this summer. Hopefully, I can go in 2013!
One of the things that I love about technology is that as an international teacher it allows me to connect with classrooms all over the world! One of my professional goals this year was to find more opportunities to connect and build relationships with other teachers and classes outside Korea through the use of technology.
This past September, through the Global Read Aloud Project, I connected with classes from Canada, Arizona, Wisconsin, Australia, and more. It was really fun for my students to connect with all these different students while reading the same book, Tuck Everlasting. We communicated through edmodo, skype, wikispaces and blogging.
I know it’s a bit early, but I would highly recommend you start thinking about whether you want to join and sign up for the Global Read Aloud Project 2012 here!