where to next in 2011?

Its onwards and upwards as far as technology in my classroom for 2011 – well thats the plan anyway! It will be a year of consolidation of what’s already been tried and a year of adding of a few new ideas too. We use moodle at our school, so I see a greater use of that being integral in delivering our content, as well as the delivery and submission of assessments and will hopefully mean not having as many students chasing me to get information that they’ve lost or were away for.

So far, my focus has been on using technology in my theory lessons, but have done little to introduce it to my practical lessons. To help change that, I’ve made a few equipment purchases to help make it easier. As we don’t have a 1:1 laptop program in our school (it will be phased in in senior years from early next year), and a ban on the use of mobile devices, I took it upon myself to purchase a handful of the latest generation of ipod touches to use on the school’s wireless network, a couple of wii-remotes (thanks for the ideas Mr Robbo), and finally 4 sports GPS’s (they’re meant for cycling but come with an arm band too). All this goes with the Flip Cameras we purchased earlier in the year.

With our school holidays only 3 days away, I can see that I’m going to be spending a lot of time thinking about how to use these most effectively, but also, on how I can get the rest of my faculty on board. I think it will be hard to change their mindset on practical lessons but I’m hoping I can show them the importance of physical education rather than only physical activity in developing lifelong learners.

So here’s my initial plans for the use of technology in my PE lessons for 2011:

1. Ipod Touches – I see these as having plenty of uses and not just for providing music for dance routines.

a) EasyTag App – this allows you to set up templates that you can use to gather information during games (a great role for those that are unable to participate) that can then be analysed to provide feedback on the game. For example, you can count unforced errors (and where they occur on the field), succesful passes, the number of times a player touches the ball and so on. This information can then be collected, put into a google docs spread sheet and then shared with the class to analyse.

b) QR codes – using a QR code reader to watch skills at different stations is an obvious use of them, but I’d like to get the students creating instructional videos of fitness tests, games, skills etc that they can create a QR code for. Students could then view these videos at the stations they move to to get a demonstration of what they are to do.

c) By connecting to the schools wireless network, students could use them to access dance videos on youtube to teach themselves moves that they can then integrate into their dance routines. This means that they can choose styles and movements that they enjoy and not just those that we teachers can give them.

d) My long shot is to use a ‘Stop Motion’ to create an animated dance routine as an extenstion activity for a student who may struggle to move fluently but could use this to demonstrate an understanding of the use of the elements of compostition. This may take too much time but may be worth a try at the right time.

2. GPS – While scrolling through the numerous cycling websites that I frequent, I stumbled upon some Mainnav Sport GPS units on sale for $60 (what a bargain). I jumped at the chance to buy a few because I could see they could be a source of some really interesting data. At first glance the units have a complicated user interface, but once set up they should still give us great data. Files can be downloaded in different formats including an excel spreadsheet that could then be uploaded to Google docs for analysis. Primarily, I want to use them to track player movement during games to see how far they move, their use of space, their average and max speeds throughout the games. How good would it be to analyse the difference between defenders, midfielders and attackers in a game of soccer to see what their different training needs are? Or what about comparing the distance travelled in different games of different lengths – ie an hour of tennis vs an hour of soccer, basketball or whatever to see who works hardest?

The other idea I’ve been thinking of is strapping one to a student for a 24 hr period (or even just a school day if we have to) when we do our to see how far they travel during a day and to predict their energy expenditure/needs.

Mostly they’re still vague ideas that will hopefully become clearer as I test what these pieces of technology can do during the summer break. Wish me luck, and I promise I’ll report back on how we (me and my classes) go with all this.

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A year’s learning in review …

I’m only reasonably new at Blogging, and for that matter, trying to integrate technology into my teaching, and I’ve learned a lot, and still have a lot to learn. I’m thankful that my Boss thought it important enough to give one of our staff a generous allocation to support staff integrate technology. Without it I would have floundered and probably dropped the ball a few times – and maybe not even picked it up again. I have had some great people who have been at it for a while already though like MrRobbo, Jonesytheteacher and plenty more have inspired with their ideas and enthusiasm.

I’ve tried plenty of things, some which may not be called back into the game for a while, but many things that we’ve tried have shown enough promise to persit with them. My favourite ‘web2.0’ tools so far have been xtranormal, glogster and student podcasting. Apart from those, I’ve used Skype, Flip cameras to film instructions and to give feedback to students, used a metronome dowloaded to my Iphone to control exercise intensity when working with HR monitors, experimented with classtools.net to create some revision games, created a school PE blog and twitter account, created online embeddable magazines using Scribd and Calameo, screen captured presentations and instructional videos using Jing and have grown more aware of the uses of Moodle for my classes.

Some of the things that I’ve learned so far are:

I’ve learned that the 21C tools that we have access to shouldn’t be treated any differently to other classroom tools that we’ve used for however long, but need to be used carefully and planned well.

I’ve learned that it’s ok to let the student play with the technology rather than being shown exactly what to do. Most of the time, it didn’t take much longer than it would have for me to have explained to them anyway, and once they’d worked it out, their friends were asking them how they did it and they were able to show them what they did. The learning isn’t just about the information, but also the process.

I’ve learned that no matter how cool something is, if you overuse it, the novely will wear off and the students’ engagement will be affected.

I’ve learned that it takes some time to experiment and plan, but the payoff is having your students engaged in ways that ‘chalk and talk’ will struggle to do.

Finally, I’ve learned that these tools aren’t added extras, but necessary tools for engaging students in a meaningful way that allows their work to be shared with the real world rather than staying between the two cardboard covers of an exercise book. How good is it to think that our students can create things that people anywhere in the world could benefit from?!

The year ahead promises a lot, but I’ll talk about that in a different blog post. I will actually need to spend more time sitting down and reflecting on what worked, what didn’t and what could have been done to make it work next time, and how to make things work better.