Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A glimpse inside a BYOD integrated curriculum class

I was asked recently what a BYOD class looks like - how do students use the devices? I was also asked what the integrated curriculum class at Year 9 looks like.

Here is a photo I took last week that captures the students in the process of learning.

An explanation of what is happening:
Our context for learning are the United Nations Sustainability Goals (SDGs)
Students are working on an inquiry around Goal 13 - Climate Action. 

  • On the TV in the background is an interactive map from Before the Flood, 
  • The whiteboard has some instructions. 
  • Each student has a specific role within the group
  • This table has 1 device, they are tasked with trying to come up with 'potential problems in Christchurch if our sea level rises due to an increase of 2.5 degrees global average temperature. They are thinking and working together on the cultural, environmental, and economic impacts.
  • The computer has a template to assist the students which has been distributed through Microsoft Teams/Assignments to only one student in the group - you can see this open and it is this students responsibility to fill it in and submit it later in the week.
  •  Another student is the scribe for the group and you can see her writing down the ideas shared by the other members. These are going A3 sheets of paper to be used at a later lesson in another activity. 
  • You can see another student is explaining her thoughts to the other students in the group.
Our curriculum with this class is integrating at Year 9 (age 13): Science, Social Studies and English. Students work on student led inquiry. Currently, they see each teacher in a different timetabled slot rather than teachers teaching at the same time. The curriculum specialist works with students on their inquiry however, sharing and teaching to their specialist subject. For example, I had students ask about the release of gasses back into the atmosphere when trees die. This is not something as a Social Science teacher that I am particular knowledgeable about. This was passed on to the Science teacher to explain in more detail. 

This picture to me, shows students: communicating, collaborating, managing their learning,and working with appropriate tools to deepen their understanding.

Friday, March 8, 2019

My first step in including coding in Social Studies

 I am trying to integrate technology into my teaching and learning programs that: engage, are relevant and build skills. I am also aware of the digital curriculum that comes into NZ schools next year. So, I find myself playing with games and codes in order to learn how to integrate this all into the learning programs for students. With the purpose that students can learn  within a relevant context that provide them with skills for the future. I have not played with code since the mid 1980's as a kid, and I really havent played computer games since the early 90's  - are they still called computer games?! Coding and gaming is not something that comes easy to me and I feel outside my comfort zone with even the idea of coding!

Last year at the MIE f2f workshop in Auckland I was given a Micro-bit. When I got home I had a play. I then gave it to my 9 year old to play with and teach me.  The coding is quite simple. It is all colour coded and step by step. This little Microbit was a way to introduce coding to the class at an ability level I could cope with. We are framing our learning around the UN Sustainability Goals. I found a board game that students could play and instead of just giving them the dice I realised I could have them create the device through coding the Micro-bit.

It has been interesting talking to teachers and one question that popped up, 'why not just give them a real dice?" I could have given the students a 'real' dice but this was the perfect place to create an opportunity for learning code. The start of integrating some computational thinking and the digital curriculum. It involved students problem solving such as when the dice stopped changing numbers when shaken. 

Another question was around the 'sustainability' of using a microbit over a 'real' dice. This is a little tricker due to batteries, plastic etc. I think here it is about providing the students with skills and in the future they can apply this skills to solve some of these issues created by a lack of sustainability. The Microbit is a tool that can be used over and over in a variety of ways- giving it a long life, longer than other materials used in teaching.

A light bulb moment: I had one student who said he couldn't code and I should get someone else - his opinion was transformed and his confidence in coding dramatically improved in 6 minutes. 6 minutes was all it took to download the app, follow the tutorial, code the microbit and download and change a students approach to their own learning.

Overall, it was a brilliant learning for the students and myself.

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