Beginning to flip learning

I am SO lucky! I’m at a Distance Education school where, flipped learning is pretty much the norm. However, until recently students have been asked to read long amounts of text in science.

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This is no more as far as I’m concerned.

Yesterday, the day that changed my educational future, I discovered an invaluable web tool called Video Scribe. And began making awesome looking videos instantly.

MY FIRST VIDEOSCRIBE VIDEO on SIMPLE MACHINES:

Taking advice from the greats of video lessons I made sure that it was:

  • less than 5 minutes long
  • catchy and relevant to my students
  • animated!
  • focused on lower order thinking skills (knowledge and understanding).

Enjoy the first video I produced and I will be making all my video lessons available on my website under “For Teachers“.

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Year 9 – Redesigned

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OR: I’ve just scrapped everything I’m doing this year for something WAY MORE AWESOME

There is nothing worse than attending an incredible professional development as a teacher and then carrying on with your routine as though nothing has changed.

I have decided – NOT THIS TIME!

I was absolutely determined to make use of the incredible week I had at STEMX in Canberra as soon as possible.

 

Have a look at my year plan: mushing PBL and STEM together to make one beautifully awesome educational baby.

Rough Driving Questions in the order which students will be asked to do them:

 

1) Devise a Rube Goldberg machine that takes at least 1 minute to run that, when videoed will deliver the message of “welcome to Year 9 Science”. (Audience: each other, and current Year 8s) (Approx 2 weeks)

2) How could you use what you learned at the Observatory to create a device that improves your mobile phone reception for under $20? (Audience: Observatory staff) (Approx 8 weeks)

3) Using a programming software of your choice, model aspects of ecosystem interactions in the form of a game that will be presented to primary school students in years 5 and 6. (Audience: Local primary school) (Approx 5 weeks)

4) Prototype methods of mitigating tsunamis that are triggered by the warning signs of tsunamis and design a scientific experiment to test their effectiveness. (Audience: Geoscience Australia) (Approx 5 weeks)

5) Measure the happiness and wellbeing of your local community and create a plan to improve this by 2020. (Headspace) (Approx 5 weeks)

6) Create and refine a unique recipe that utilises at least two chemical reactions with evidence of experimenting with different ingredients, proportions and cooking methodologies to produce the desired product. (Audience: local TAFE Cookery students) (Approx 7 weeks)

7) Create a piece of artwork that is based on a scientific concept that you have studied this year which incorporates the use of electrical circuits. The design must allow you to give a three minute presentation explaining how you made it and the scientific concept you are illustrating. (Audience, parents and community members) (Approx 8 weeks)

What do you think?

Stuck what to say about the Draft Earth and Environmental Science Syllabus for NSW? – here are my views

If you care about the future of English, science, mathematics or history education in NSW, you’ll make your views heard. Here is where you can do that before August 31. http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabuses/curriculum-development/senior-years.html

Read more for selected comments I made on the Draft HSC Earth Syllabus for NSW. *Caution, emotive language used.

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Rocky Biasi – Teacher Professional Learning

Rocky Biasi talked to us about “Accidental Counseling” because at one point or another, we need to respond to a person in need. We are in no way counsellors, and as teachers we know that there exist critical situations which need to go to counsellors. But your everyday situation when someone is a bit down, you as a teacher might be in a situation when you need to say the right things.

So what are they?

  • Match the person you are talking to’s level. If they are positive about their misfortune and not ready to talk about it – then it’s not your job to bring them down
  • We need the balance of conversation to be 20% focused on problem 80% focused on solution to the problem – look for the next best step.
  • Ask “scaling questions” about where they are at on a level from 0-10
  • What’s one thing I can do that would make everything else easier or unnecessary?
    • Big Picture Question: What is my ONE thing?
    • What’s my ONE thing right now?
  • Perception is reality – your perception is their reality. If you rush in to challenge that perception then you’re not listening. This goes with the concept that Gen Y do not hold the view of “absolute truth”. How do you know if you have a different mentality to Gen Y? Do you catch yourself saying “You should”? If yes, you see things in black and white. Right and wrong. And the new generation of learners don’t see things this way.
  • You need to help the person you are talking to soften their perception. If you challenge their perception outright, they will just defend it.
  • Protecting our kids from any pain or disappointment. We are reducing their resilience.
  • How would you like things to be? – Paint a picture of how you would like things to be?
  • Three process Questions:
    • How much do you want this to change? (1-10) Yes I want it to change BUT
    • How much do you think “they/ it/situation” will change? – related to external system
    • So who or what needs to change?

“Are humans wild at heart” by Bianca and Lee Hewes

hb7392Finally! An Australian Book regarding Project based learning (PBL). At the school I’m at now, we have been embarking on a PBL quest to address the rising level of students who need greater awareness on the importance of their mental health. This has been a trend increasing all over Australia and a fantastic key note I attended recently by Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg told me I wasn’t alone.

Now, the Buck Institute of Education website and the online PBL course run by Dr. Thom Markham have been fantastic in shaping my understanding of PBL. I was beginning to be confident about it and keen to implement it.

But I still felt like this wasn’t enough. I wanted an Australian example. Was that too much of an ask?

“Are humans wild at heart” was recommended to me by my wonderful friend and collaborator – Kelly Pfeiffer.

These are some notes I took while reading the book. I hope you find them useful and inspiring.

  • make a project outline using an infographic so that it is visually stimulating
  • in the students’ weekly work, we will include a self-assessment asking them to reflect on how they are progressing towards answering the Driving Question
  • In the Driving Question, it is important to have the content focus and final product within the question so students understand what they are going towards
  • Include other “need to knows” in the project outline. This comes from your syllabus documents and means that we can dictate to some degree the learning that goes on. It’s not so open ended that students are not mastering core outcomes. You’re allowed a LONG list of “need to knows”. Maybe this can be a growing list?
  • The three stages of PBL as seen by Hewes are “Discovery”, “Creation” and “Sharing”
  • Teachers need to make links to “Rockstar experts” who can either be part of the discovery stage or the assessment/ sharing stage
  • An interesting way of discovering prior knowledge is a trivia game using terms students will likely encounter in the upcoming unit
  • Celebrate peer feedback and drafts on the “Project wall”
  • You need to teach students how to self and peer assess
  • If we as a school do PBL throughout Year 9 in science, we are giving students the opportunity to excel at something – they are going to be working towards their personal best if we use the same rubrics. They should see themselves improving each time.
  • Authentic audience to present my STEM unit of work “Making a musical instrument” is music camp during Term 2 Residentials
  • It would be cool if music students had to guess what “unqiue instrument” was making that noise
  • In formative assessment make sure you acknowledge what the student has done well and their “mission” for the future
  • Instead of 21st century skills lets call them “skills for life”
  • Be careful with wording – it should be “peer feedback” rather than “peer assessment”
  • Make sure your project outline stands out from the masses of paper that they are going to receive in this unit – make it colourful
  • I love love love their 6 pointed start technique. Who, What, Why, When, How, Where?
  • Students should be able to answer the need to knows

 

 

ICT Tools I love

Organisation:

1. Blendspace: Allows you to curate resources and then share it as a package with your students. Allows collaboration amongst your students and allows you to ask questions of your students. Basically my favourite way to organise lessons to share with my students. 
2. Pinterest: One of the best ways to find new content on the internet. I see it as a curated Google because it’s what other people find interesting so basically it sifts through all the low quality material and gives you the creme of the crop. 
3. Evernote: 

Collaboration: 
1. Google Drive: THE best way to collaborate online. Allows you and your students to share work and be constantly up to date. Allows you to upload from within the site and share with people you want to collaborate with either as a View Only option or an Edit option. 
2. Brainscape: Creating flash cards in an easy to use platform. Also has a neat feature to “remember” which you got correct and which you got incorrect and retest you on those you aren’t sure of. 
3. Curriculet: A way to annotate passages of text. This would be fantastic in class when we are reading a new bit of information and it’s got a lot of new terms in it. Students can comment and ask questions on the text. 

Creativity:
1. Spicy Nodes: Absolutely stunning way to create mind maps. Students can collaborate on them and add images and websites. 
2. Venngage: Creating infographics! So gorgeous. So easy. The only downside to this site is you can’t export it to a PDF unless you upgrade your account but you can still view them online. 
3. Podomatic: Creating audio podcasts online. Students will love using this platform as a different method of submitting assignments. Students need to create the audio file on their devices and share them using this site. 
4. Make beliefs comix: Creating comic strips using templates has never been easier. The graphics are great and students can add speech. I can’t wait to use these. 
5. Label59: Allows you to add labels to diagrams. 
6. Edpuzzle: Allows you to edit, crop, add audio, add quizzes and totally transform videos either found online or that you’ve uploaded to the site. Totally flipped classroom worthy. 

Getting To Know My Students

 

00This is my own multiple intelligences chart.


We’ve been told numerous times (and I’m sure that you will agree from your own personal experience) that rapport with your students is one of the most important things to build in a classroom. So many issues that arise in class that relate to classroom management stem directly from a poor teacher-student relationship. We have to know them! We have to know what they like or don’t like. How they learn. What their learning background is. So how the heck can we learn all of that while on Practicum? We have basically less than a week get to know our students.

I used this get to know you template. But I’ve tweaked it to suit my needs. Some of my students were quite offended about the Mothers occupation and Fathers occupation section so I’ve removed that and some other generic questions and tried to target questions that really tell me how my students are as learners.

To make the task less daunting I volunteered information on myself. In the updated version I’ve also added the Gardners Multiple Intelligence quiz and fill-in-the blank scaffold. It is my intention to use this template in my upcoming Practicum in order to facilitate group work. Students will be assigned particular roles in groups that align with their preferred intelligences. In a survey I had my Practicum 1 students complete 78% of them said they understood the purpose of the activity and most said that it was a positive way to get to know them. One student commented that she would have liked to get to know her usual classroom teacher in this way also! This task allowed me to build a rapport with students who were then more comfortable with me as they knew I was trying my best to treat them as individuals (Buskist & Saville, 2001).

You can download a PDF version here. or if you’d like to tweak it yourself: Here’s a Word Document.

Buskist, W., & Saville, B. K. (2001) Creating Positive Emotional Contexts for Enhancing Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from http://www.socialpsychology.org/rapport.htm

What my students say about me.

One of the most useful things I did on my first practicum is invite my students to complete a Survey Monkey about my teaching methods. I used the AITSL standards as a basis for my questions and tried to keep it nice and sweet. For each question it was a Yes or No with an option to leave a comment. The questions I asked my students were:

1) Did you feel like you knew the purpose of the Facebook get to know you activity?

2) Do you feel like I challenge you enough in class?

3) Do you feel like you can ask me questions in class?

4) Do you feel like I explain things well?

5) Do you feel like you learn in my classes?

6) Do you feel like the class environment is well managed?

7) Do you feel like I give you enough feedback on whether you are achieving the learning outcomes of my lessons?

8) What do I do in class that you like? Or what would you like to see What do I do in class that you don’t like?more of?

9) What do I do in class that you don’t like?

Obviously I kept it anonymous. However, I wanted to bribe my students to do it with candy so I added a second page that they could screen shot to show me that they did the survey. Side note – I would never give out candy as reward for doing class work. That should be a reward in itself. *off my soap box now*

You can view the results of the survey.

There are some things that arise from this survey

  • students felt that they knew the purpose of the get to know you activity however some questions were irrelevant
  • I don’t challenge my students enough. They feel like I’m just cruising them through on the bare minimum that they need to know. This has a lot to do with my inexperience at differentiating lessons. I don’t go into enough depth with the content sometimes.
  • I encourage students to ask questions in my class and I’m approachable
  • I explain concepts well but sometimes I go too fast. Using different methods to get my point across e.g. videos helps my students to understand better. The use of analogies was very helpful in explaining difficult concepts.
  • I try to explain things a number of times to ensure that my students understand.
  • Students need more guidance as to what to write down.
  • I don’t give my students nearly enough feedback on whether they are achieving learning outcomes.
  • Students overall liked: animated descriptions, humour in class, mini-whiteboards, videos, class discussions, guided note taking, practicals, fun facts, the questioning methods I use.
  • Students didn’t like: comprehension worksheets, that I didn’t challenge them enough, when I explained things too quickly, too much information, not revising previous lesson or outlining learning goals.

What makes a good teacher?

  1. Patience: teachers need to give each student a fresh chance every single day. Teachers also have to be patient when explaining concepts to their students and try to explain it in different ways.
  2. Organisation: There is nothing worse than a teacher who is unorganised, because it gets transferred to your students. Similarly,
  3. Passionate: Teachers who are passionate transfer this passion to their students. They want to know why you think your subject is so amazing.
  4. Are firm but fair: They are compassionate and try to understand their students but lay down the law when needed.
  5. Have high expectations of their students: They will meet whatever expectations you set them.
  6. Model a love of learning: They seek new ideas and ways of doing things and don’t do the same thing year in year out.
  7.  Good communicators: They build networks with other teachers, they ask and seek advice.
  8. Ask the good questions: They help their students become critical, self sufficient thinkers.
  9. Plan activities that meet students needs with FUN at the core of them.
  10. Reflective: On their own teaching practices.
  11. Engage their students: by making it relevant to them.
  12. Have routines for what goes on in the classroom
  13. Timing of lesson is well thought out.
  14. Assess their students constantly and use this to inform (a) future teaching of this class (b) teaching the same topic to future classes. It’s not good enough to just teach the content. You need to know that your students know the content.
  15. Fantastic pitcher: So that the questions or activities that you ask of your students are just beyond what they are capable of doing comfortably now. You want them just outside their comfort zone.
  16. Approachable: You want your students to feel like they can ask you questions and not be ridiculed.
  17. Clearly outlines the aims of the lesson: The worst question your student can have at the end of the lesson is “So…what were we supposed to learn then?”. Make it super clear.