I'll talk about Twitter and blogs in a later post, but for now I just want to reflect on a few bits of technology that I started to use / work into Schemes of Work over the last few months. Really this is just me being a bit selfish because I think I need to get a few things clear in my own head!
As in most schools the students were obsessed with their phones. At every possible moment they had them out. In fact they invariably tried using them even when they shouldn't be out. I've long believed that just banning phones in an educational environment isn't necessarily the way forward as our social environment changes, but that education needs to happen on all levels. The school's business studies department had begun to take a lead in their use- and fortuitously they were in the same building as me.
So, a few ways that I used them...
- recording me explaining grammar points
- Recording themselves and then sharing the recordings for peer assessment
- using as stop watches to play "Just a Minute" (a game which they absolutely loved, ideal to get them talking and extending sentences, especially when integrated from an early stage)
- creating QR codes to enhance display materials they'd created
- using QR codes to enhance wall reading activities. This was something I dabbled with when building year 9s up to a CA task on festivals. I wanted them to choose a festival to then research and write about. (Download Festivals discovery lesson Download Festivals wall readings Download Las fiestas de España vocab hunt Download Las fiestas de España vocab hunt diff )
- creating QR code displays to link to sites such as www.marca.com, www.20minutos.es, www.radiolingua.com (for Coffee Break Spanish), www.los40.com (for the top 40 songs from Spain). I wanted them to be able to access things immediately, for example whilst dawdling at berak time. (I'd share these cards but I lost them when my external hard drive died and I lost about 3 weeks of unbacked-up work. Yes, I sulked.)
- video / audio recording to create material for end of unit projects (I'll come on to those)
I love Voicethread, I just think it's so effective, so I built sharing materials on it into a few of the Schemes to encourage creative writing and peer assessment
Simply put, this was for short, sharp end of lesson reflection tasks and homeworks
End of unit projects
I wanted there to be opportunities for creativity and self-expression at the end of each unit rather than just assessments (yes, there were some of those as well). So at the end of each unit I incorporated a technology based project for 2 or 3 lessons to focus on either writing or speaking.
For those projects I used:
However, I felt that I was missing something. What other sites would lend themselves to a 2 or 3 lesson project but be simple and easy to use for non-technologically confident teachers?
Issues I found:
working on netbooks:
1) great to a certain point but major issues with saving projects.
2) limited opportunities for working collaboratively on a small screen / controls
3) difficulties in trying to create podcasts in a short period of time without access to shared drives to store project files- especially pertient when one partner was absent.
1) many of the students felt originally that using the netbooks meant games- because that's what they used them for primarily across the school. As such at first there were real behavioural issues when fairly thought-provoking tasks were set.
2) if it's not on a piece of paper it's not a real assessment. Strangely this was especially true at the lower end of the scale.
3) lack of confidence in using the sites. However, with time this improved as students became familiar with the tools on offer.