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After seeing a similar blog post from Jess Mcculloch I thought I would put my blog through the word cloud generator Wordle to see what the most prevalent words were. It’s indeed good to see that Students feature quite strongly and so to do Mobile and Nintendo, two of my special interests. So what does your blog word cloud look like? Are students still at the root of your work?
Last Night I stumbled across a fantastic little mobile tool called Qipit. Now I’ve talked before about tools that have instantly got me thinking about the possibilities they present for classroom use, but this one takes the cake. So what does it let you do? Well say for instance you only have a hard copy of a particular document or you have just drawn a fantastic mind map on the white board in one of your classes, or maybe one of your students has just handwritten an excellent story that you want to share…… Well simply take out your mobile phone and take a picture using its digital camera, send a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org and your picture will be converted into a crisp, clean, electronic PDF file that you can fax, email and store right from your mobile phone.
So why do I find this exciting? Well think of the possibilities within a classroom, you could digitally record copies of the white board before rubbing it off, take a snapshot of a students work and store it within a digital portfolio, covert old resources taking up valuable space into digital archives for quick and easy reference. Best of all it can be all done completely from your mobile phone. Imagine creating an on the fly worksheet while taking your class on an excursion to the zoo. Better still the kids could use their own phones to create digital records of all text they discovered while on the trip. It would be like having a scanner in your pocket except it would be truly mobile and highly flexible and least I forget, super cool.
What a truly unique and exciting tool, how else do you think you could use it?
On Monday the students in my VCE Outdoor and Environmental Studies class completed their end of semester exam. Now I’m opposed to the idea of high stakes testing in an exam format, but it is however how they will be assessed in the final year so they need as much practice as they can get. Anyway throughout the year I’ve been using SMS technology to send assignments, homework reminders and general information to my students concerning our class from my laptop. Overall it has been a highly effective way of communicating and certainly engaged them during different times of the year.
With the success of the SMS tool in the class I decided to use it within the exam preperation. Here’s how I did it.
1. Using smsexpress I preset text messages to be delivered to students automatically over the course of the week leading up to the exam.
2. Each day students received a text message with a question from the exam (Before this process I asked each individually when they would like to receive their questions, some chose early morning, others chose mid afternoon etc)
So why is this method valuable? Well I feel it allowed students time to revise and research the necessary information from their notes throughout the semester and with myself. It encouraged them to talk with and share their knowledge and understanding with others within the class, it also prompted further investigation of the concepts they didn’t understand. It also allowed important time for reflection and evaluation of their own responses to questions and how they could be improved before completing them within the exam.
So as I sit and mark the exam, it is quite clear that by using this particular approach that the student’s have significantly improved their depth of understanding. The most enjoyable thing to note is that their learning has been shared as its clear they have discussed what they feel the most appropriate answers to the questions should be. Overall a very powerful learning tool that I will be sure to utilise again.
So what do you think? Am I cheating them? Or simply teaching them the more valuable skills of networking and reflection within their learning?
If you’ve been following me on Twitter this week you would have heard my ravings about creating an Interactive Whiteboard using a Nintendo Wii remote. As you may also be aware our school recently purchased a Nintendo Wii, which gave me the perfect opportunityto test out this exciting concept. To make this happen you will also need a projector and a Bluetooth enabled computer or laptop. To put it simply this is how you go about setting it up;
1. Connect your Nintendo Wii REMOTE to your computer using bluetooth (You don’t need the entire system, just the remote). (How do you do this?)
2. Connect your computer to a projector as you normally would.
3. Position the Nintedo Wii so that it can see the surface you are projecting onto (the Wii remote can see at an angle of 45 deg. The Wii remote will pick up the infra red pen even if its off to the side)
4. Run Johnny Lees free calibration software which can be download from here
5. Using an Infrared pen, which can be made or purchased for around $5
6. Calibrate the board by touching the dots on screen with your infra red pen
7. You now have an interactive whiteboard ready for use
Now the most exciting thing is that the Nintendo wii remote is multiple touch, so unlike your commercial interactive whiteboards that can only detect one pen, the wii can detect up to 4 pens at the same time. The wiimote can also be projected onto any surface so no longer are you bound to the front of the room as per the traditional expensive alternatives. Why not project your image from a tripod onto a white table top and you can then have a fully interactive table for up to 4 students. Why not project it onto someones white t-shirt and teach an anatomy lesson highlighting and colouring in the different body components. The possibilities are almost endless.
You can also download other 3rd party software such as annotateprothat will give you the same features as a commercial whiteboard. Now im sure with the amount of publicity this alternative is receiving it wont be long until an entire software package exists for the wiiremote. So how can you use it within your classroom? Well a very helpful youtube video will give you some ideas on how to integrate this cost saving tool into your classroom to improve student learning
What a perfect addition to our school this has been, not only is it a great educational tool but the cost saving alternative is excellent for schools with tight budgets. You can grab a few more resources and tutorials at my jog the web Nintendo in school’s track.
A couple of days ago I was in a Coffee Shop buying a foccacia (I don’t drink coffee) and while I was waiting I noticed a blackboard that had mystery song lyrics written upon it. The challenge was that if you could guess the lyrics you would get a free stamp on your loyalty card. Now I consider myself to be pretty knowledgeable with song lyrics but I simply had no idea what these were. I reached into my pocket and brought out my mobile phone, a quick google search of the lyrics and I had the answer before my foccacia had even reached my plate.
So what does this mean for teachers and students? Well we now have the possibility to access information anywhere, anytime simply from our mobile phones. In this case knowledge was given a back seat to the ability to seek out useful information. These are the skills we need to be teaching in our classes.
Whether we choose to use these devices in our classes, well thats up to us, but one things for sure our students WILL be using them in their own lives. We can’t afford not to embrace this opportunity.
Yesterday I ran into an idea through a tweet that got me really excited. Some of you may know that I have just returned from a trip where the students used mobile phones to record audio blogs that then transfered to our class blog. Well on the discovery of www.qik.com I was wishing I could go back and integrate this within our trip (ohh well there’s always next time)
So what does it do?
Qik lets you set up a live streaming feature from a phone that allows you to make video calls. You can then embed the stream into anything that allows embedding such as wiki’s, blogs etc etc. The process is quite simple to get started and you can be streaming live in no time at all.
1. go to www.qik.com
2. Register and choose the SMS option
3. Enter your phone number and details, country etc and you will receive a text message with the unique address you need to follow on your mobiles browser.
4. You will then be asked to install the application, and place a shortcut button on your main screen if you like
5. In live time the registration process on your computer will be following along with knowing when you have installed the program it asks for a few more details
6. Once completed you are ready to stream live, simply start the application and then once connected press “STREAM”
7. Watch your stream live at your qik page (www.qik.com/ you username)
8. If you cant make the live stream, no worries all streams are auto recorded so you can watch them later. Simply Superb.
As you may be starting to think, the possibilities within the classroom are countless. Tommorow im going on a bike ride with a group of students and plan to use qik to stream to a student who has a broken leg and sadly cant participate. That way she won’t miss out on the action and the brief outdoor lesson. You can view my stream at www.qik.com/mrrobbo
Would love to hear how you think you could use it in your classes.
I was over at Classroom 2.0 the other day and was reading some interesting posts from people who have been transforming their classrooms into video games. It instantly got me thinking about how I could adapt this idea to suit my classes and just how engaging something like this would prove to be. Throughout the course of the year I have been utilising a mastery model with my students, in fact we don’t move to a new topic until I am sure they know the content as well as they possibly could. One example of this was my students completing a pre, mid and post test on sports nutrition. The test was hosted on-line and was created using the wondershare quiz creator (highly recommended). The same test was issued at each stage and I simply marked on the difference between the initial and final tests, all student’s recorded a grade of 100%. I’ll come back to why this model is important for this idea…
So here’s how im going to introduce it to my year 7 (13 year old) Student’s next year….
1) Each unit of work will be broken into levels, as per a video game. Levels will be top heavy in that most of the work will be within the initial stages. The game will last 10 weeks in total and cover about 4 separate topics.
2) Student’s work through at own pace completing the requirements of the levels. Students decide when assignments are due, when they should sit tests, when they should complete skill building activities etc. Student’s cannot move onto the next level until all requirements have been stamped off in their game booklet but can tackle the activities in the order they desire. Activities can be completed over and over until they demonstrate the required understanding. Much like how a video game works.
3) Each levels requirements are explained in detail within the game instruction booklet that all students will get on the first day. The booklet will indeed look like a game instruction booklet. It will include all of the details on work, lessons, assignments and tests that the kids need to complete and where to find the information they require at www.mrrobbo.com. I’m thinking the booklet will be released in stages so I can make changes to things throughout the course of the 10 weeks.
4) Students will have a game pass that they must stamp on completion of levels. I will also create a mini progress tracking program that uses avatars the kids create to show where they are in the game.
5) “PE Land” as it is tentatively titled will include all of my favourite Web 2.0 tools such as Ning, Wikis, Blogs, Polls, virtual worlds, mobile phones etc.
6) To assist in the motivation of the students I will incorporate the money scheme I used this year with the Year 7 students at Boort SC. The idea was they earn money for things, lose money for things and at the end of the term we had an auction where the fake money we designed as a class could be exchanged for small items. It was tonnes of fun as students begun to see real consequences to their actions, some teachers argued it was bribary but I would argue it was teaching students how to be responsible, along with the skills they might need to manage their own money.
7) I would include vodcasts, podcasts, slidecasts of myself that detail sections of the instruction booklet or activities. Could even include a Voiki that introduced new levels from my website @ www.mrrobbo.com
8) Would include bonuses such as opportunities to earn free lunch passes, free time passes etc throughout the course of PE land. Could include cheat codes, much like a game where students earn answers to questions etc.
9) Levels would align with certain grades, completing the game would result in an A+ for the unit (However we don’t use this criteria in Victorian schools so it will need to be modified to suit). Students can only move forward they cannot move backwards a level
10) I would encourage teamwork and co-operation within the game as this is not unlike how kids play video games in their private lives. Other students can assist those to move through levels.
Why do I think this will work? Well part of the reason why games are addictive is because they provide the opportunity to level up and improve your score. This idea simply blends video game theory with the classroom in a way that will be sure to motivate younger learners. The mastery model which would be employed isn’t much different to a video game. When you die in video game, you get a new life, you simply try again and again until you pass the level…. This is the attitude I want my student’s to have as they move through PE Land in a completely self paced and personalised manner. Now that’s learning..
So what do you think? Any additonal ideas or things i’ve forgotten? Please share your comments.