Category Archives: How to make the most of…
Hello my name is Stephanie and I’m an iphone addict.
I use my iphone in conferences, in meetings and *gasp* even in the classroom but I’m not using it to play angry birds.
Here’s 10 ways I use my iphone to make my teaching more effective:
1. Video – capturing learning as it happens
The main reason I got an iphone was for the video capabilities I’ll often walk around my classroom with my phone capturing student learning. Video can be used for students to check in on what they actually did versus what they really did. For instance, do students give each other time to talk or do they butt into conversations? I will frequently use interviews as an alternative for pencil and paper tests making assessment far less intrusive on the student. Moreover video is an effective way to put friends, family and sometimes even parliamentarians right into our classroom. Using an iphone means footage can be edited on the spot and then shared potentially with the whole world in a few minutes.
2. Posting pictures to the cloud
I’ve easily taken thousands of photos this year of my class. Some of them are the generic photos of kids at school events and on field trips but I also use the photo function as way to capture student learning and thinking. What makes the iphone awesome is that these photos can then be easily be shared even if I’m away on camp. I use flickr as my cloud storage of choice and will sometimes email stand-out pictures to students families.
3. Texting parents
You don’t need a fancy phone for sms and so this hardly seems worth mentioning. Nevertheless, I’ve found the best way to engage with my previously hard to reach parents, parents who don’t have email or might work odd hours, has been through text messaging. 160 characters keeps communication short and to the point. The asynchronous nature of text messaging also gives the parent time to think and then respond at a time that suits them.
4. Professional learning
I’ve got twitter, feedly, diggo, facebook, pinterest all on my phone. I often use my commute in the morning or my lunchtimes to scan my social network feeds for readings and ideas in the classroom. Professional learning for me isn’t a once a week meeting, it pretty much happens from the minute the alarm goes off on my phone.
5. Timers and reminders
The phone has a handy stopwatch and timer available. I’ve used my phone to time students speeches and also a countdown for tidying things up at the end of the day.If you are a bit like me and are so engrossed in teaching that you forget that your student needs to go over to the teacher aide room or need a prompt to photocopy something for class when you arrive at school, the iphone will send you reminder at a certain time or place.
Although I much prefer paperbooks to the electronic version. If I’m desperate for a book and New Zealand shops don’t stock it I’ll make a quick trip to Amazon and hey presto the book was there on my phone. Granted it’s a bit tough on the eyes and I wouldn’t recommend reading the entire of Moby Dick on your phone, but if a student is borrowing my ipad and I want to read a passage from a book, the iphone is great second option.
You are watching a news story with a reading group about kid’s school lunches. One of the students pipes up,” hey why don’t we see what things are like in our class?” The student takes photos of a quick survey, which is then posted to your blog and then let the journalist know via your class twitter account all from your iphone. No more mucking around waiting for the computer to load and finding the right cords for the camera, the sharing is seamless and the ability of my classroom to connect with the outside word is so much simpler.
8. Anecdotal note taker
If you are conferencing with a student or group of students, instead of writing down the conversation or taking a bulky laptop, you can use your phone to quickly record that conversation. I use Evernote which is an easy way to sort each child into folders and the app also has a nifty audio feature. When I’m talking about a child’s reading progress with another teacher, that teacher can hear the child read. The notes I make on Evernote are easily accessible from any device I’ve got the programme installed.
9. What the heck is that?
When I was out on duty when a group of kids spotted a rather interesting looking spider. I had no idea what the said spider was so I whipped out my phone a quick google confirmed the species of the spider and that it wasn’t dangerous to even if poisonous spiders aren’t exactly a huge problem in New Zealand. Point is we can access the information right then and there
10. Augmented reality
One of the most awesome features of the phone is augmented reality. Apps like wikitude, skyview etc. give kids a heads up display of what they are seeing in front of them. If you are on field trip you can learn point your phone in front of a building or a landmark and get a detailed history from wikipedia. Better yet, get the kids to start entering details for their area or make artwork come alive with aursama.
In reality there are hundreds of ways to use your iphone in teaching. What I love about my phone is that I mostly use it for a specific job and then *gasp* put it down again. It is the quick functionality of the phone, the unobtrusive nature of recording, the seamless sharing between channels and the fact it is small enough that I can put it back in my pocket when I am done which makes the iphone an indispensable teaching tool.
Moreover the ipod touch is the most common device students in my class own. Through using my phone, I better know how to help my kids learn effectively with the technology that in too many classrooms is at best sitting in a student’s pocket at worst outright banned from school.
So the next time you see a teacher hunched over their iphone in the staffroom, ask them how they are using it in their teaching and learning.
Whoops I better go, my phone is ringing.
How do you use your mobile device as a teaching tool?
I’m shamelessly stealing @krivett1 series of posts How to make the most of …. and doing a series on topics relevant to student teachers. My first will be on Visiting Lecturer Assessments if only because I’ve just finished my last observations and the experience is fresh in my head.
So without further ado, Visiting Lecturers. They come to watch you teach a session and write a report about it. Of course the whole is more than the sum of its parts so here are my tips:
1. It’s not an observation it is assessment for learning
These assessments have the potential to make or break your teaching career so it is little wonder student teachers approach these observations as a high-stakes test of teaching rather than assessment for learning. What helped me was to start thinking about what I would want my students to do if they were in the same position. I’d want them to show me what they know so that I can help them. Another words go in with the attitude that you are here to learn.
2. Your lecturers aren’t looking the perfect lesson
You know that old Hollywood adage about never working with animal and children? The reason they say that is that are putting on a show. Your lesson shouldn’t be a show but a snapshot of your teaching. Working with children means there will always be an element of the unpredictable. During one of my observations the classroom door literally came off the hinges while at another some students were not keeping hands to themselves resulting in some tears being shed. In both cases it wasn’t the incident itself that I was being assessed on but that I quickly responded and bought the class back on track. What your lecturer is looking for is how you respond to those challenges in classroom management not that things go wrong.
3. Teach like your lecturer isn’t there
For my first assessment I didn’t even introduce the lecturer because I had forgotten she was in the room by the time the year 7s came in. Since the students didn’t feel the need comment on the strange person at the back of the room I just carried on. For the littlies it was best to address the elephant in the room, the new person, and then go about my business. The lecturers aren’t there to see me at my best, just me at my normal.
4. Your lecturers want you to succeed
I get it more than anyone, you want your gold stars from your lesson observation. However basking in your awesomeness with your lecturer will only get you so far in this learning to be a teacher gig. Taking criticism that you might feel unwarranted and turning it around is where the real learning happens. I took some criticism from one assessment (that I needed to praise students more) which might on the surface seem a bit nit picky and turned it into a strength for the next assessment 2 weeks later. What was the best bit? Getting positive feedback on my praise of students made me feel good about putting in the effort into this area so now I know important praise is! So if your lecturer gives you some negative feedback on your observation, don’t get defensive or blame external factors (the students, the lecturer just doesn’t get it, I was feeling sick that day etc.). Start thinking about how you will turn your criticism into a strength by the next visit.
5. Sunlight is the best disinfectant
If you are feeling nervous, then name it. There’s no point in pretending that you are not nervous and then spending the rest of your lesson trying to cover up your nervousness. So talk about the elephant in the room, it might make it seem far less big and scary.
6. Be prepared to justify your decisions
What turned my last Visiting Lecturer assessment from a good one into a great one was that I could justify everything I did in the class. From the warm up to why I was using little teddies as counters (or indeed the counters themselves) I knew why I was doing things as much as what I was doing.
7. Teach to your lecturer’s speciality (from a course mate)
If at all possible try and teach the subject that you know your lecturer is teaching so you can get awesome feedback. Two of my Visiting Lecturers were maths lecturers so I taught maths. As a result I got very content-specific feedback that wouldn’t have happened if I was teacher reading or science.
What advice would you give students who are about to have their first Visiting Lecturer Assessments?