Category Archives: RTC 11 – Assessment
My twitter feed has been quiet of late and there is one simple reason for it.
At best most teachers tolerate writing reports as a bureaucratic necessity and at worst they see it at a medieval torture device due to rigid formatting requirements and the lack of sleep that go hand in hand with report writing season.
If I spend an hour analysing data, thinking, writing, drafting and proofreading for each child adds up to 30 hours on top of normal teaching duties as well as the multitude of other tasks bureaucratic that pop up at the end of the school year. If you happen to teach students who are at an age where they transitioning to another part of the education system, there will be reports to fill out to add to the paperwork.
Aside from the legally mandated statements about a child’s progress against National Standards, my school has been experimenting with reporting to parents. This experimentation has left us with a lot of wriggle room to try out Instead of ticking boxes my syndicate has put a greater emphasis on qualitative feedback. Sure this has has been more time consuming for me as a teacher however the process has been less painful because I have more ownership in the product.
Alongside my comments the students have written their own comments about the year on a google form, selected a picture from the class flickr account and next week will film the final part of their video time capsules which will be included as a QR code on the paper report. Sure it’s a mishmash of old and new technology and the report is not standardised to the whole school.
We don’t all learn the same and we don’t teach the same.
So why should school reports the same?
I’m sure that there are a lot of educators that view reports as a relic of bygone era where communication between parents and teachers was largely limited to official bits of paper going home at mandated times of the years. These days I will phone, email and text parents about concerns and also victories in class.
Nevertheless the end of the year marks a milestone. Reporting for me is part of the process of taking leave of the time I spent with my students. I found it rewarding thinking about how my students have grown in this last year. This is particularly the case for my Year 8s who I have taught for two years.
Like many things in life reporting is what you make of it.
Our jobs as educators is try to find the awesomeness in every kid and nurture it.
Reports are time to see how we’ve both done in progressing towards that goal.
Over the last week I’ve been conferencing with the students over their term 4 writing assessment. With the results still in moderation, I wasn’t all that keen to share the level with my students. Nevertheless, I was keen to give the kids some formative feedback of areas that went all and areas to work on.
For the most part the conversations went well. Most of my students were able to identify an area of strength as well as an area to work on. There has been some fantastic improvements from some of my students and what was more fantastic is that the kids themselves could talk about what has been going well for them.
This positivity all came to a grinding halt as I conferenced with one student who seemed distracted and agitated during the conference.
Eventually I asked if there was a problem.
“When are you going to tell me what I got?” was the reply.
I was disheartened but instead of going on a long rant, I asked the student how getting the numbers would help improve the quality of their writing.
And then it started, the academic pecking order. If I’ve done better than my friend, then I know I’ve done well. I’ve spent a lot of time in class talking with my students about why feedback is important, why test scores aren’t a measure of who they are, just a snapshot in time.
However that urge to compare, to make yourself feel better, often at the expense of others, is so ingrained.
I doubt my feedback made much of difference that day.
The end of the school year comes with rituals.
Prize-giving, leavers dinners, writing reports and end of year tests.
Even though I know that standardised tests aren’t completely accurate at measuring students learning growth, there’s something reassuring – dare I say gratifying – in seeing those numbers going up. It backs up your judgements and observations of kids learning. It’s a pat on the back that says hey yes your programmes are working or perhaps you need to tweak this area. Most of my students had some good gains this year in reading. Nevertheless, I found myself beating myself over a few results that hadn’t gone as well as I expected.
And there was one particular whose result I was eager to see.
Over the last few months I’ve been working with an RLit (A resource teacher of literacy) to help a student improve in literacy. On paper it should be easy, the child is diligent, has a highly supportive family and gets 20 minutes 1 on 1 with me a day. I’ve been doing running records with this child on a regular basis and seen improvements in inference, decoding and finding information.
But there had been no movement at all.
To say I was disheartened would be an understatement.
All that effort by both the student and myself had not a single bit of movement.
Fortunately I had appointment with the RLit that afternoon to talk me down off the ledge so to speak.
My Rlit reminded me that often it takes a while for the intensive work to show up in standardised tests like asstles and PAT. Moreover when faced with stressful testing situations low-achieving students will often resort into old habits of using background knowledge to answer questions rather than comprehension strategies they have been taught. I was also reminded that are so many variables that kids take in with them to tests. They might not have slept well that night, had a fight with their friend, are hungry or, dare I say it, are just sick of taking tests.
As the RLit and I went through a couple of the test questions to look for instructional points, we laughed that if it took us, two highly educated adults, a good couple of minutes to skim and scan for the correct information how hard it must be for kids who have trouble with reading.
However bad I felt about the result I know how much worse it is for students. Putting in effort and not seeing numbers go is hard enough. Living through the inevitable post-test comparison that happens as results come in are so much harder.
I left my RLit with an action plan. Areas to work on with the kid including some test-taking strategies and some re-affirming that there had been progress on other measures.
And it is those other measures that we often lose track of that make a real difference.
More than anything I want my student to leave my class with a love of reading. Even for high-achieving students it seems like a huge waste if kids leave school with a hatred of reading. For some kids in my class just reading a book from cover to cover for the first time ever might be their big achievement. Striking a balance between that short term gain that show up on test scores and the more long-term end goal of developing happy well-adjusted adults.
Our educational system loves to deal in absolutes.
Right or wrong.
Above standard or below.
As I watched a video of my 2 year old nephew on Facebook this weekend I was reminded that progress isn’t always linear and easily measurable. He started taking his first few steps this time last year and is pretty confident but he still falls over on his butt every now and again.
At what point do I say with certainty he can or can’t walk?
Does a test score determine our fate?
I’ll freely admit that when using google docs for the formal writing assessment my primary purpose was actually to make my job a teacher a whole lot easier.
I loathe marking paper tests with the fire of a thousand suns. No matter how hard I try, I end up swimming in a sea of paper and I am overly paranoid about losing the tests. Then there’s the wasted time spent entering data into some of the world’s most user-unfriendly computer systems which I then enter into a spreadsheet so I have the information I want organised in the way I need (which is really another rant for another day).
There were some benefits for the kids from moving away from the traditional paper and pencil tests. Handwriting legibility isn’t an issue which means kids can read their work. When the students make mistakes, there is no messy crossing out and the writing still flows when they go back and correct their errors. Some kids like that they can move ideas around or go back and write an idea later.
What I was unprepared for is by using google docs for a simple writing assessment was that my students would use technology to start redefining assessment.
Even at a rudimentary level a word processor comes with a spell-check. Kids won’t be able to control themselves and will use the spell check to cheat. But here’s the thing, I used a spell check a few seconds ago because I didn’t know how to spell rudimentary. I had a guess that got me close (rudametary) but that red dotted line turned up to let me know I needed to go back and check my work.
Am I cheating or using the tools available to me?
e-asttle, New Zealand’s standardised writing assessment tool, forbids the use of dictionary and word cards on account that spelling and vocabulary are two elements of the assessment. While I agree that accurate spelling is important so that others can understand what we write, if we want to assess unassisted spelling then why not have a separate spelling test?
Moreover after two writing class-wide writing assessments, my observation is that kids with low levels of spelling are the same ones who have frequent spelling errors even when they have the option of using a spell-check. My opinion is that students with low spelling levels often don’t know have enough spelling strategies to get them ‘near enough’ for the spell check to work effectively or they select the wrong word when prompted. I’d argue that learning how to effectively use a spell-check is more important than memorising the i before e except after c rule because those spelling rules we teach have a whole raft of exceptions.
As I marked the students writing, I was surprised to see pictures and links to videos appearing in the students writing samples without any prompting from me. I worry that many teachers would see using a finding images and videos as off-task behaviour. I was concerned too but more because one of the students had used a copyrighted image in the work without any accreditation. In fact I was impressed that students had taken onboard the idea that we should use images and videos to enhance the power of their words. In every case the image or video used added another layer of communication to the students words. Yet there is no element for using visual images appropriately in the writing rubric as it currently stands.
The more conversations I have with my students, the more I’m aware that our assessment practices aren’t in line with our reality in the classroom much less the real world. I’m sure there are those that would argue that all this stuff just shows the need to go back to pencil and paper assessment in order to standardise our writing assessment. But maybe the writing assessments aren’t capturing what it means to communicate effectively through text in the 21st century.
I also learned that when you set tasks over the cloud, a whole new world opens up. While I have argued in the past that teachers shouldn’t assume that students are going to be the ones leading the way there’s something awesome when kids start using the tools available to start repurposing assessment. It’s going to make assessment more authentic but far more complicated.
I love Google Apps for Education. However managing workflow can be an absolute nightmare with students sharing new docs and not naming the correctly which can make it hard to find work. Moreover keeping an eye on your data can be even more cumbersome.
But what if there was a system that easily shared documents with students, gave you an overview of the class and stored the data effectively.
Doctopus (document + octopus) essentially acts like a giant photocopier which can send files out to individual students, project groups or the whole class. There’s a nifty little chrome extension called goobric where you can enter levels and feedback onto a form which then is magically pasted back to a spreadsheet giving you a view over your whole class while students have access to the class.
I’ve used Doctopus for formative writing assessments and rolled out through the specialist teachers reports. The downside of the script is that it doesn’t like to do more than about 100 kids at a time. However in terms of managing workflow in Doctopus is the bomb.
Before you get started make sure you are using Chrome. create a Doctopus folder which contains
- A spreadsheet with the names + gmail addresses of your class (you can export from your contacts) in two separate columns. You can create a 3rd column which groups students. If you want the kids to be in the same group, assign them same letter in this column. You might not want to share to all the kids in the class in which case just write exempted in the group column.
- The document/s you wish to share
- A folder for all the student docs you’ll be creating
- A rubric in spreadsheet form (optional)
Right lets party.
The first thing you need to do is to install the Docotpus script. In the spreadsheet with your student roster click on tools then script gallery. Doctopus will be right there. Install the script. You’ll get a couple of pop ups asking you to authorise the script for your account. Go ahead and authorise.
Once the script has been installed you’ll notice an extra tab on the top of the spreadsheet with doctopus go ahead click on it and launch installation.
The first choice you’ll be asked to make is what kind of ‘share’ you want.
Project group shares one document to a group of students to work on.
Individual all the same shares the same document to each student individually. Useful for whole class tests.
Individual differentiated shares different documents to kids based on groups that they work on individually. Useful for writing groups or giving extra scaffolds for some kids and not for others.
Whole class shares the same doc for the whole class to access.
Once you’ve decided on the sharing type, you’ll get some options about sharing. You can give editing and commenting rights to other kids automatically. There’s also an option of sharing these documents with other teachers which is useful moderation purposes.
Click on ‘save settings’ and you’ll get a weird octopus come up. That means the script is doing its thing.
The next thing you’ll be asked for is what document/s you wish to share and with what group. This is where the folder comes in handy. First click on the folder then select the documents you wish to share.
After that, click save settings again.
This brings us to step 3.
First you need to select where you want all these docs you’re about to create filed. This is where the ‘student work’ subfolder comes into play. This dumps all the files in the one spot making it easy to find when you are looking for tests.
Next you have to name the file. I always put $name (which creates a named file for each student) and then the project they are working on. You can also send a little message out when you share the file to let the kids know which assignment to find.
Now your final step, sharing the document. Have a quick check all the information is correct and hit the ‘Run copy and share’ button. This will send the document out to your class. You can redo step four if you have students that might have been exempted that you now wish to have the file.
You’ll get a little doctopus dancing as the files are being shared. Just leave the computer to do its thing.
Once you are done, you’ll notice some extra cells on the spreadsheet. The hyperlink will take you to the doc that’s been shared with the student. The ‘last edit’ lets you know when the student last edited the document. You can lock down the documents in the doctopus tab by hitting the embargo for grading.
Speaking of grading.
The chrome store has a nifty little extension called goobric. This basically puts a pop-box in each document for you to mark a students work and then give some comments. The comments paste into the doc and back into the spreadsheet you’ve been working on.
First install goobric onto your chrome browser. You know you’ve been successful when you see this little eye on the right hand corner of your address bar when you are a viewing a google doc.
Now that goobric has been installed, go back to your doctopus tab and hit attach goobric.
Now you need to select the rubric you’ve put into selected earlier. Here’s an example of the e-asstle (a New Zealand writing test) that I’ve converted into spreadsheet form. You need to make sure you’ve got the criteria going down one column and the levels going across the other.
Select the spreadsheet then wait a few seconds your pop up should have the spreadsheet in the window. Hit on the ‘attach Goobric to this assignment button.’
You’ll notice now that your spreadsheet has more columns filled in with the different criteria. Those will be filled in with grade. Click back to sheet one and then you can start grading.
To mark a piece of work, simply click on the eyeball thing in the corner and you’ll get a pop up.
Enter the levels and the comment and then hit submit and paste into the document. You need to make sure you’ve hit submit before going to a different page otherwise you’ll lose the comments. You can choose to email the grade to the student or perhaps you might want to wait if you are moderating work.
Once you are finished, the goobric will be pasted into the students work.
But what makes goobric awesome is that those marks and comments are also pasted back into the central spreadsheet. You can mark a piece of work multiple times and decided between an average mark or a last mark.
This lengthy post probably makes scripting seem hideously complex. But once you learn the process, you can set up a copy in a few minutes and it makes managing data, particularly for teachers of multiple classes so much easier.
I also like that teachers can easily share student work easily for moderation purposes.
Scripting probably isn’t a sexy topic for normal people. Moreover doctopus probably sits more down the modification end of the SAMR spectrum. The technology is doing the same stuff we always did on a computer but with a few functional improvements, making data and online workflow easier to manage for teachers. But hey sometimes teachers need to make life easier for themselves.
Stay tuned for what happens when the kids start using the task…
A paper-based e-portfolio.
Sounds like a contradiction in terms.
I’m not a huge fan of paper portfolios.
In fact it is fair to say that I loathe filing bits of paper into folders with the fire of a thousand suns. Supervising a class full of kids updating portfolios feels like a form of medieval torture. Bits of paper are almost always missing or in the wrong place and my patience is in short supply.
Moreover I can’t help but wonder if all those countless hours spent updating, checking, re-checking all those bits of paper are actually worth it. Real learning is messy and doesn’t always lend itself to being filed away in clear files.
Enter digital portfolios.
In theory digital portfolios should be easier to create and curate content for the purposes of showcasing student learning. However in practice clunky content management systems and limited time on computers often add work to teachers workload particularly if you don’t have 1:1 access.
I do not teach in a 1:1 environment. Computers are a resource that I constantly have to ration in class and negotiate with other teachers to get to 1:1. Given the shortage, I’d rather have the kids spend their time creating content or connecting with others. Kids doing the same stuff on computer that has always been done on paper seems downright wasteful in this context.
My school is experimenting with different ways of reporting to parents. I decided my goals were to make my reports multi-media, child-centric and, dare I say it, less labour-intensive on me. More importantly I didn’t want to waste too much class time curating learning at the expense of actual learning.
So I came up with a plan. The kids got a Google form where the reflected on the key competencies, successes, challenges and surprises on the year so far. Those responses are automatically logged by Google and were then merged into a separate document for each kid. No faffing around with codes and an no worrying about kids accidentally deleting parts of their portfolio.
The kids also found a photo of themselves from the class Flickr site which they emailed through and I copy and pasted into the merged document. No faffing around with layout and the entire class was able to get through a session. After a quick proofread the reports were ready to go.
The students reflections were for the most part amazing. What was particularly gratifying was seeing kids who don’t normally shine in the 3Rs able to talk about successes at school. Monday tech challenges, documentary making, quadblogging and passion projects all featured in my students’ reflections.
At this point I had saved myself a whole heap of time and if I was a smart teacher, I would have called it a day and pressed print. But oh no I just had to create more work for myself.
The kids in my class have been interviewing each other once a term so I chucked the footage so far on YouTube and then created an individual QR code for the student, which I copied and pasted into the document for each kid.
And thus with a major FAIL on the creating less work for myself goal the students and I created a multi-media paper-based e-portfolio.
Last year I lamented the process of making my first set of Overall Teacher Judgments. I would like to say with a year of experience that I would be a lot more at ease of the process but instead find myself more uncomfortable assessing students as being ‘up to standard.’
The problem is that while National Standards deal in absolutes learning does not. Two different reading tests showing a clear mismatch in data on a number of students while I also had the displeasure of sitting through a learning conference where the National Standards judgements of the previous school didn’t match that data I had in front of me. Does my experience show that teachers and schools judgements are just ‘ropey’ and we need to spend millions of dollars and countless hours on moderation or even worse move to a system of national testing.
Ultimately too many variables that effect students performance on standardized tests. They could have had a bad night’s sleep, a disagreement with a friend and just being in an unfamiliar classroom which might throw kids off their best. Ultimately I found the most effective assessment I conducted over the course of this year was when I sat down and did a GLOSS or PROBE on the students. I could hear them thinking and see them struggle. There was no guess work, and the observation aids how I approach teaching the child far more than having them fill in multichoice bubbles.
Because in the end I’m more interested in where to from here than where the kids are now. However as has pointed out on twitter more and more the levels do matter. Reporting to the Boards and the Ministry demands robust data however in the search for robust data there comes a point the kids’ disappear into numbers.
Yet we know each child is different.
When children learn to walk, we accept that they do so at their own pace and might not crawl before they learn to walk. As adults we can model, guide and encourage but in the end it’s up to an individual child. Some are walking at 9 months while others might take up to 18 months to master this physical skill. We accept this as a difference which has nothing to do with a child’s future yet when it comes to complex mental tasks like reading, writing doing maths, we now demand that our kids progress uniformly.
To counter some of this standardization I’m getting the kids to document their year on video. Twice a term I’m getting the kids to interview each other and the story gained from this will tell a far deeper story than any report. Instead of worrying about tests and where they are the first few weeks were about getting to make friends and worrying about their teacher.
This week has been dominated by assessment. If I haven’t been giving assessments, I have marking assessments and then spending time moderating assessment. What I am not looking forward to is the ranking that students inevitably do to each other once the assessment is returned.
Half way through last year, I got so fed up with the kids ranking each other after every test that I grouped my students by height for the first two weeks of the third term. I was so brazen that I even called the groups giants, tallies, shorties and dwarves. During that time the most amazing thing happened. Kids who often pulled back from class conversations were suddenly talking. Kid who usually dominated pulled back. ‘Ohh I never get anything right’ a tall child who was always in the ‘bottom’ literacy groups muttered incredulously.
I started playing games. I let the shortest child in the class choose a game to play against the giants and vice versa. The students quickly developed a group identity based on their height. They liked the feelings of power that came when their team got to decide on the system which tended to favour their own physical characteristics.
It took a few days for the kids to twig to my system. Some were outraged at the suggestion that I was grouping kids by physical features. After all, kids can’t control their height but they can control their learning through hard work. An excellent point. They also pointed out that some kids might find the work too hard or too easy. Another excellent point. However I asked my class this, why is me grouping kids by height any different from what students do to each other when tests come back?
This provocation led to an interesting discussion about learning. Why it was that knowing someone else scored lower on a test make you feel better? What does it feel like to be at the bottom of the group? What about the top? How come the middle felt left out? Most importantly why we feel the need to rank ourselves at all?
Do levels actually matter?
As my students found out letters and numbers don’t really mean anything at all until there are privileges associated with them. Scoring Stage 6 on NuMPA doesn’t really mean anything (and is certainly gibberish to many educators outside New Zealand) until a Stage 7 comes along and passes judgement on your inferior number. If you are lucky you won’t be the one with the lowest number in the class in which case you get a boost from knowing you’ve done better than someone else.
How often does this academic ranking by students go unchallenged by teachers?
Is this helping students succeed?
My problem isn’t so much with the labels themselves, but when the labels become the defacto feedback. I have deliberately not written the levels, nor have I fixed errors on the students writing samples I am about to return. I want the students to do the heavy lifting on their work before we sit down and talk about what level I think they are and where they need to go next.
In fact as I was sitting in a moderation meeting I silently wondered if the people that needed to learn how to moderate writing are the kids themselves.
What is it about this piece of work that makes it outstanding?
What does the writer of this story need to do go to the next level?
Those questions lead to more interesting outcomes than the more popular refrain heard in classes, ‘is it good?’
When I first became a stepparent one of my friends remarked that once you become responsible for a child, the days are very long but the years are short.
I was reminded of that comment as I was grabbing my belongings in my empty classroom and realised that although there were some very long days, this year has been incredibly short.
If the first session of the first day was the longest hour of my life, the lead up to the final day of the school year just seemed to pass in a blur.
Like my many of my students I couldn’t wait for school holidays to start. I counted the weeks, marked off the days on my calendar, and went down my list of things to get finished in the final hours. But now that the end of the school year has gone I’m winging my way to
Bangkok Burma I feel sad that I didn’t take more time to be in the moment with my first group of students.
As we watched some of the crazy videos we made this year, I looked out and felt very fortunate to have taught such a great group of kids in my first class. We’ve had our shares of ups and downs, messy projects that never seemed to run to schedule and yes there have been times of frustration we’ve I’ve wondered if I am actually making a difference. Sometimes in those long days progress can be hard to measure. But as one year ends another is just on the horizon and I’ve learned that empty classrooms are bookends, it’s what you do in between that counts.
Over the last week or so I’ve been gathering together all the photos and videos that I had on my hard drive and was staggered at how much digital content the students have created over the year. So much I couldn’t fit it onto a single DVD.
Putting together the content for my students reminded me that despite my many meltdowns into misery, my class has had quite a year.
We produced two awesome assemblies, had some fun with the Daily 5 in literacy blocks, set up individual blogs, we’ve read two novels out loud, made a youtube submission to parliament, redesigned our learning space, built an igloo, went to camp, had a go at some real-world maths, completed an impact project and a bar camp.
On a professional level, I really enjoyed participating in the educamps, ignition2012 and making a contribution to Teachers Council Social media guidelines. I wish I had more time and blog and my attempts at getting an educamp in Wellington were a bit of a F.A.I.L.
Next year I’ve been asked to be a keynote speaker at SocCon on the work that the class did on the digital learning submission. If feels good to be giving something back to the education community that has supported me in the last few years.
Over the last year I’ve had labels like, techie, creative or innovative attached to my teaching and frankly I don’t get it. Nothing I’ve accomplished this year has been as the result of any inherent talent of my own. I’m forever pinching ideas off people and adapting them to suit my needs. If anything this year has taught me the importance of nurturing those connections.
My main problem is that I seem to have far too many ideas and far too little time to implement then. As a teacher I often feel like I am being pulled in two opposite directions. Between those messy and crazy projects and all the must dos that need to be checked off. While I appreciate the importance of those signposts sure schools must be more than factories that spit out kids with NCEA credits at the end of it.
Because when all is said and done the students aren’t going to remember my lesson on inferencing or using place value to multiply decimals but I’m pretty sure they’ll remember the igloo or the day they showed up to find that half the desks had been removed or the year that they caught the reading bug.
It has been a good year.
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?