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.

just for starters …

In the last week of the school term, I facilitated a session on integrating technology to PDHPE teachers at the CEN 2010 NSW State Conference. Full of enthusiasm, I had created a list of what I thought would be useful ICT resources and websites. What I had forgotten to take into account was that many of the schools in attendance don’t have the IT resources that I am blessed with at our school. I get the feeling that many would have left wondering how they were going to be able to integrate many of these resources when their school has a poor wireless network or limited access to computers.

So what I’ve done (with the help of a few other PDHPE teacher blogs) is try to identify 3 ideas that PDHPE teachers can use to get started even when they have limited resources or access to resources. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Blog sites: I feel a blog site is an essential tool for engaging students. It makes their work public for others to see (even if it is only their own classmates). People other than their teacher giving feedback really helps get the process going. You could use a blog in a number of ways:
  1. To post individual student work (students email you a copy of their work for you to post) – this can help getting students engaged in higher order thinking analysis style tasks.
  2. You can post a statement and get each students to post their thoughts to the statement as feedback. Feedback can be set to be moderated by the blog’s author and if done publicly (ie through a projector in class) it shows the students how the process works.

NB – For both of these, the work can be done as homework and emailed to you if don’t have access to computers during lesson time

  • Text to movie websites (E.G. xtranormal) – many people would use this by getting the students to create their own scenario or short video. However, when you don’t have resources to do this, why not use it to create your own stimulus material? Create your own scenarios to show through a projector. You could leave the ending open and have students write a script for an appropriate ending. As the teacher you could then chose a number of these and add them to your original scenario to show the class in the next lesson. The advantage of this is that the students don’t get caught up in the novelty of the technology rather than spending time on the learning activity.
  • Video reviews – giving students a video camera to create an infomercial about the concepts that they are learning about and then uploading it to their MP3 players. One that I’ve used is to divide the class into groups and get the students to create an instructional video for each the fitness tests that explains how to set up the test, how you complete the test and what constitutes a good performance. The students video’s have been uploaded to moodle for the students to download. If you don’t use Moodle I’m sure that a site like podomatic would allow you to do a similar thing (I’m sure someone can confirm this or give me a better option!)