Friday 1 July 2016

Digital Immersion - day #19

Today the MDTA's spent the morning visiting Manaiakalani schools, observing and seeing how other schools do things. 

I visited Stonefields School and Point England School.

Stonefields School

What was I looking for...
I wanted to focus on the 'create' part of the learn create share pedagogy. This is because I have gotten bored this term of giving students follow ups on their Google Drive - docs, slides etc. I have been feeling that students aren't getting the maximum they could out of their learning, as some of the things they are doing are very individualistic, very one person on one computer no talking allowed, and I want to change up my programme.

What I saw...
At Stonefields, it was breakthrough time and so students were working in groups on a project of their own choice. It was awesome to see them working towards something real - one group was planning their fundraising, aiming to get enough money to buy a defibrillator for the school and community. Another group was designing beanies, gloves and scarves with the school logo on them because they identified that students came to school very cold in the mornings, but aren't allowed to wear non-uniform items. Another group was making a to-scale model of their field, with rugby posts, a cricket pitch and soccer goals on it. That was their proposal for the principal to purchase the posts/goals/build the cricket pitch on the school field which is currently bare. Each group was making a proposal for the school principal to buy/do/support their cause, so they could be empowered to make positive changes in their own community.

It was awesome to see students working towards something real, where they could see real results. They had power in their own school environment, which is rare. They also got to chose what they wanted to do the project on, under the umbrella on 'giving back to the community'. 

At Point England School, I focused on how they use their Chromebook's for learning. The students gave me some of their favourite learning websites, maths games such as maths-whiz, pobble365, and other Chromebook extensions. 
Talking with the team leader, she discussed that the best way to have interesting 'creates' is to use a mixture of Macs, Chromebooks, Ipads and non-digital aspects. She kept saying "Chromebooks are boring" - which in this context, I agree with. Using them by themselves is boring - using different ways, a combination of different products (Macs/Ipads), each for a different purpose etc, that is interesting.

Overall reflections
I was really inspired by the level of choice at Stonefields, within breakthrough and in learning tasks. Students are often given the framework or structure, and given choice in how they approach it. For example, they could chose a book to read (at their reading level) and then use that book to answer generic questions, practice getting the main ideas, summarising etc. They also did things in a real context - making the community a better place, having a reading/writing focus about real topics such as should zoos exist? They had power.

Another thing I want to pursue more is getting and using Ipads for my lower learners, or maybe an suitable app or extension for their Chromebooks that would do the same thing. These particular students (almost a third of my class) can barely read, and do not understand what they can read. This limits them in accessing and using the class site, and using their Google Drives independently, literally because they can't read what they are clicking on. I want to try and source some Ipads to use with these students, in the same way the junior school uses them. My aim would be to improve their reading ability, and their ability to work independently and help each other in a group situations. 

It was very helpful and refreshing to visit other schools, get new ideas and get encouraged to open up my reading programme more as well. 

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