Need a great way to engage your students? Need a last minute lesson plan? Try GeoGuessr…

Any Geography or language teachers stuck for something to start your lesson with – try using Geoguessr.

googleearth  geoguessr

Geoguessr is a fun game to interest your students and have them all participate in the one game by guessing where the google pin has been dropped – it could be anywhere in the world!

Either do this is as a fun 5-minute introduction to your class, or make it part of your lesson by choosing a country or city to concentrate on, by having the students fill in an observation table, or even by having the students create their own game!

Look at this link for some more ideas : 9 ways to use Geoguessr

Make your own with Geosettr.com

For some explanation and theory about Geoguessr

For a full lesson plan on incorporating Geoguessr click here

Language teachers – pause for a moment to think of the worth of this – take your students to the city they are studying about and read street signs, look at shops, have them write a creative story about the locations you went to!

As always, I am keen to hear your thoughts, experiences, or to receive links to useful ways of incorporating Geoguessr and Geosettr into your classroom.

Halloween webquest for TESOL high school students

halloween

Check this out if you are teaching TESOL/ ESL. A fun webquest for Halloween for secondary school students.

Halloween webquest from the One Stop English website.

Enjoy!

Week 8 – Digital Storytelling is a great approach to language learning

I was unable to do this workshop but I was kindly given the resource for digital-storytelling. Please download the pdf and have a go. Report back to my blog how you went!

implementing-digital-storytelling-with-teens-2-728                           digital-storytelling-is-not

Suggestions of how to use it are:

  • Take students to an old-people’s home and interview speakers of the foreign target language.
  • Take photos.
  • Use Microsoft Photostory3 which will take you step by step through the process of making a little film.

Language teachers, history teachers, ESD teachers, just think of the possibilities!

Week 7 – WebQuests revolutionise research projects in the language classroom, Geography and the Humanities

It was a very exciting and helpful ICT lesson today.  I learnt about WebQuests.

WebQuests are basically an exciting way to engage the students in a research project.  They are realistic research projects in which you guide the students towards the best information possible for them.

WebQuest is inquiry-oriented. Some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet, and can be supplemented with email, digital discussions and so on.

The teacher will have a fair amount of work to do as preparation for the WebQuest but once done, it is over to the students to do the work and you can use your time helping individual students and groups. WebQuests, when well set up, are designed to dissuade boredom and off-task behaviour.

The big difference with WebQuests and regular inquiry learning is that the WebQuest is heavily scaffolded and the students are given guidance for where to look and big questions to work on.

It is very important to have the students produce something authentic at the end of the project that you will be assessing. Remember that telling students you will be assessing their work will help keep them on track.

This could be an email, a petition, a letter to an MP, starting a forum…

A recommended format for a webquest is as follows:

Introduction | The Task | Background | Individual | Group | Feedback | Conclusion | Dictionary

WebQuests can be long or short – a long WebQuest could take a few weeks in a classroom setting.  It would involve students working collaboratively and progressively using higher order cognitive skills such as those identified in Bloom’s Taxonomy.

DO REMEMBER to always look what is available on WebQuest sites first! No need to start from scratch. There are myriad sites available to you. Here are just two which will give you more than enough to start with:

Webquests are free of copyright. You are simply asked to share any that you might create yourself. I would also welcome links to any web quests that you might create.

GO TEACHERS GO – make learning fun and have fun yourself.

 

Week 6 – Using e-quizzes in the classroom has multiple benefits to the teacher and students

Assessment in the classroom

  • Quick formative assessment in the classroom can be tedious but using IT can make it entertaining, perhaps more stimulating and quick.
  • There are multiple benefits for the teacher too.
  • The teacher should look at how does the data come out and how easy the back end is for the teacher to use?

Why do we test?

What does computerised testing do? Why should a teacher use it? 

Some testing tools which are more fun for the students and easier for the teacher to use:

  1. Kahoot   (Before creating your own I recommend looking to see what has already been created. It could save you lots of time!
  2. Socrative
  3. Plickers

All are free for the student and the teacher to use and do not require students to log in and create an account so you do not waste time doing this.

TIP – they all require some behind-the-scenes preparation from you, so don’t think you can do this last minute.  But once you have created your test or quiz it will be really fast to use. And you can add to what you have made and keep it for years to come.

 

Week 5 – Computational thinking and its use in the French classroom

Computational thinking sounds complex but put simply is a way of problem-solving.

There are 4 cornerstones of computational thinking:

DECOMPOSITION – the breaking down of a big problem into smaller manageable parts

PATTERN RECOGNITION – do I recognise something from prior knowledge ?

ABSTRACTION – what is the important part of information and what is the least important? Which detail can I ignore?

ALGORITHMS – what are the steps to solve the problem

Google 2015 has a clear explanation of computational thinking using videos here.

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Remember the AITSL standard 2.6 for ICT and incorporate ICT in your classroom.

To better understand computational thinking, I have put it into practice in a French classroom, where computational thinking could be used in the following manner when learning verb tenses.

For example, the passé composé is the French past tense. It is made up of 2 verbs, the auxiliary and the past participle of the main verb.

To understand the passé composé using computational thinking is very simple:

  1. Decomposition – break down the verb tense into the auxiliary and the past participle of the main verb
  2. Pattern recognition – what are the patterns of the past tense?
    • -er verbs end in é
    • -re verbs end in u
    • -ir verbs end in it
  3. Abstraction – which part of the 2 verbs is important – the auxiliary or the past participle?
    • the past participle is the important part as it gives the meaning to the sentence. The auxiliary is merely supportive.
  4. Algorithms – what steps do I take to form the passé composé?
    • check which auxiliary the main verb takes – avoir or etre
    • check what the past participle is
    • check if it is a regular or irregular verb
    • if it takes être remember to do the agreement with gender and quantity
  5. And Bob’s your uncle!

Using this method to break down a problem may seem very theoretical but it is necessary and computational thinking makes it simple.

You can also teach your students some basic coding starting with the hour of code  and then they can make up games for the language classroom such as these;

Spanish game

Chinese game

Japanese game

I would love to hear from language teachers what they think!

Week 4 – Do you have a difficult Year 10 class? How about trying collaborative learning with IT …

Today’s class modelled collaborative learning. Our task was to create an information document for TEACHERS on digital citizenship. This was done using Google docs and we managed to produce something worthwhile within 60 minutes.

Such a fast turn-around would be unlikely in a school classroom but it is worth trying if you give a deadline for the end of the class session.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you do this:

*all students need to be made accountable for a part of the document to avoid students slacking off.

*there needs to be time given for planning, writing scripts and thought in order for this to be a pedagogical exercise.

*ensure instructions are clear and on the board throughout the lesson for the visual learners

Can I use this in the Geography classroom?

Think of producing a google doc such as this instead of the classic reading circles. When you set a chapter reading for homework or a unit for homework, the next day the students could produce an outline in a collaborative document.

What about in the language classroom?

It could be creating a word list of new words learned, a list of idiomatic expressions, a running story, with each student writing one line.

My personal experience ( as has been in all these IT classes due to the steep learning curve ) was stressful, but a real sense of achievement was felt at the end.

Another thing to note is that the room is very quiet during collaborative work on Google docs so if you are in a shared classroom or the class next door is having a test, this would be an ideal time to keep the class busy and quiet.

For another blogger’s opinion and positive experience with Google docs in the classroom I encourage you to read this article: Coutts, N (2016) Collaborative Learning with Google Docs The Learner’s Way Blogsite.

And for some best practices for collaborative learnings, Miriam Clifford has an excellent article: Facilitating collaborative learning.

For a research-based article on Google docs and collaborative learning, Science Direct has a recent article which is well worth the read and helps explain the advantages and pitfalls of certain technology in the classroom: The impact of Google Docs on student collaboration: A UAE case study.

I mentioned in the title the need for some engaging teaching with a difficult year 10 Geography class. I will use some of the IT tools we have been shown and will report back.

Stay tuned for feedback!

Week 3 – Stop motion – utility in the classroom?

Continuing with the theme of finding pedagogical ways to incorporate technology in the classroom, this week we focused on STOP MOTION and making mini films. This is an example of the REDEFINITION part of the SAMR model as the students are using technology to create something new. At the same time a lot of skills are being employed and thus learning is taking place.

How many teachers are guilty of putting students in front of a film at the end of a long term. What about getting the students to make their own? A lot of time and fun is spent in making these films so it is a particularly useful tool for the end of term when students are tired, lethargic, passive or grumpy.

Making movies is engaging and if the students make a film on topic this is an excellent pedagogical moment.

Furthermore, the making of a stopmotion clip requires group planning and collaboration, project management, thinking skills and problem solving.

An example of its use in the Language classroom:

The traditional role plays can become a much more stimulating task by writing dialogues and then having little lego characters acting them out. This is merely a suggestion – the possibilities are endless!

In the Geography classroom:

Stopmotion could be used for the students to consolidate their learning about natural disasters, volcanoes, climate change, water – the possibilities are endless.

Again, I encourage you to give it a try or ask the students if they know how to make stop motion and i am sure the answer will be yes! You would need to allow a full 70 minute class for this or two consecutive classes in order for them to bring in props.

This youtube clip explains simply how they are done.

Ted Ed Talks gives a further idea of how it can be used in the classroom. Again, if you have creativity in the classroom your students are going to wow you.

The Teaching Teachers for the Future site provides helpful information if you are interested in incorporating more technology into your classroom in the most student-beneficial way.

My partner and I do NOT claim to be creative nor is our video educational, but we learnt how to make stop motion and saw its potential. See clip below!

Week 2 – Students making their own podcasts in the classroom is a sure way to encourage and enhance discussion

Today’s IT class introduced us to how to make a podcast but better still was the understanding of how to use podcasts in the classroom. As we know from Bloom’s taxonomy, creating is a much great learning tool than just listening.

blooms_revised_taxomony
Cindy, Briony and I worked together to produce a podcast explaining the SAMR hierarchy of introducing technology into the classroom, specifically in the Geography, Languages and Maths classrooms. In our podcast we look at each of the categories and give examples as to how these can look in practice in the classroom.

SAMR-model

Again, this blogger was skeptical to begin with.  However looking around the room I noticed how much discussion and learning was happening as students talked about what to include on the podcast.  I could then only agree with the benefits of podcasts in the classroom, and therefore of the use of technology as augmentation or modification to regular teaching. I also experienced this kind of learning first hand.

PODCAST – The SAMR model of incorporating IT into the classroom

 

Specifically, having students make their own podcast is a deep learning experience. Perhaps because they will be producing something for an authentic audience is enough of a motivation to ensure all pairs are working and staying on task. Recording requires agreement and discussion between the students to come up with an agreed dialogue and this collaborative work is what teacher’s dreams are made of.

The teacher needs to remind themselves that the actual product (i.e. the podcast ) is not where the learning is visible, but rather the process of making it. This suggests that the assessment of a podcast may not be recommended. Instead formative assessment throughout the production phase is preferred.

Research being carried out in the area of incorporating technology in the classroom such as the production of audio files is consistent with the emotions I felt in the classroom. For example, a study by Bolliger and Des Armier Jr (2013) showed that IT is not being used consistently in the classroom, and when it is there is a huge knowledge gap amongst students with some being IT savvy and others not having much know-how at all. This is a very important point to be considered by any teacher wanting to include technology in the classroom. One suggestion would be to pair up students who have very advanced IT skills with those who struggle.

On another note, recent Australian NAPLAN results being lower in literacy makes me ask big questions about the wisdom of allowing computers in the classroom to be used merely as substitution ( cf SAMR model). There must be little gained in having children type their work instead of handwriting. Indeed some research published in psychological science magazines indicates it may well be better for learning to handwrite notes.

On the other hand, having them produce work through technology such as PODCASTS can be extremely powerful as a learning tool through the awakening of all the skills needed and I again encourage teachers to take the plunge. And as always, I would love to hear any related stories from you.

Week 1 – The first MGSE ICT seminar opens the doors to a rich new way of learning

Initially very sceptical of the ICT class due to my firm belief that pen and paper is best, I was wowed within the first 10 minutes by www.plickers.com and the possibilities this opens to the IT savvy teacher in the classroom. Plickers is an interactive way of testing students’ knowledge and does NOT require all the class to have an electronic device. The teacher only needs an IPAD and the preparation is done in advance. Questions are devised and saved and can be added to and modified as required. I encourage you to try it out.

My mind whirled with ideas of how to use it in the language classroom and the geography classroom.

Next came www.padlet.com and apart from a few inappropriate statements appearing on the interactive screen I again had to admit that ICTs can completely transform the classroom if they are not only used as SUBSTITUTION for old technology.  Using the SAMR model we can use technology to improve learning.

What is SAMR?

SAMR is a model for incorporating IT into your classroom in a well thought out manner. Caitlin’s blog post explains this clearly.

SAMR

Note also that these applications are free.

Here an example of how you could make use of  the SAMR model in the Geography classroom:

Substitution: Show a map on a computer screen instead of an atlas

Augmentation:  use  Google Maps

Modification: Use interactive street maps to find a path or to look at a city which is not close to home. Go on an excursion using interactive street maps

Redefinition:  Students make their own 3D maps

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The class continued with the traditional “getting to know you” activity which was given spice by the use of personal devices and I was converted. Now it is up to me to correctly use technology in my classrooms.

A fellow student mentioned “FLIPPED CLASSROOMS” https://www.knewton.com/infographics/flipped-classroom/  For any content-heavy lecture try this – record the lecture and have students watch it at home before the lesson then spend the actual lesson discussing and doing activities as follow up!

I would love to hear feedback on my blog from any teacher who has tried the flipped classroom.

Stay tuned for next week –  I have something global to introduce you to.