Saturday, 4 March 2017

More on collaborative learning


As teaching is such a vast world of planning, techniques and assessment. In order for us to keep up we must sometime magpie ideas from eachother. This week I took an idea that was shared on Teacher Toolkit #teachertoolkit. I have adapted it slightly but it is working well in my class.

Learning Zones

The article layed out a blueprint for different classroom zones. One area for adult support, another for working independently and the other for working collaboratively. I have adapted this in my classroom so the collaborative zone has large bits of paper for the children to share their ideas on. It has been really effective for getting children to discuss and develop their learning through conversation. Children in the class of all abailities have chosen to work in the one area and astonishingly it seems that all of these children seem to discuss and develop ideas at a level field.

Already you can see the LA children wanting to achieve what the HA children are discussing and likewise the HA children are keen to help others, leading to them developing their own deeper understanding.

“While we teach, we learn,” said the Roman philosopher Seneca

Seneca definitely has a point and I am really relishing the use of collaborative learning. 

Taking IT further

February saw Nearpod (A leading teacher tool app) release a new interactive feature to their presentation creation software. It is called, yep you guessed it, 'collaborate'. The feature allows children to post their ideas on a virtual clipboard. Meaning that all children can access the notes of others. It has proven to be a really useful app for assessing children's prior knowledge at the start of a topic, and great for sharing concepts and discussing/addressing misconceptions. There is still some teething problems to iron out i.e allowing students to delete a post and allowing a teacher to organise the posts for data analysis. But there is certainly potential here.

Chromebooks: Excuse me banging on about these. But they are really so very effective. Collaboration on these is so useful. Children can edit documents simultaneously and this just seems to inspire everyone to pick up their work to it's very best. So far we have created slides presentations on Victorian inventors, research docs on toys and worked on Maths sheets together.

It is certainly an exciting time. I can't wait to see what comes next and to see where else these features can take us.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Chromebooks and collaborative learning

So our chromebook journey continued today with me team teaching with a fellow colleague. All part of my leadership project of using ICT to improve KS2 writing attainment.

What strikes me so much about Chromebooks?
It's the pace at which these little beauties can load up and be ready to use that strikes me the most. Within 5 minutes even a class of 31 year 2 and 3s can get logged on and be ready to learn.

Power, the power that google have built into these with google classroom is phenomenal. Today we had 3 groups of 12 year 3's collaboratively creating a slides presentation about Victorian railways. The finished product was fantastic and the vocabulary learnt from using the 'explore' button to research content was amazing. When an SEN child from the class came to me and explained how the pistons on a steam engine worked, in such a clear and detailed way. I knew that learning in this way is perfect for so many children.

How will doing sessions like this improve writing?
One of the key aspects to getting children to write is getting the child to be inspired by the topic. That is why 'texts that teach' has been such a relevant discussion for so long. But why must it be a book that teaches? In some cases why can't it be a quality  Internet article that inspires the learning? It certainly did for the children in Y3 today.

So inspiration achieved, how does this translate to writing progress? Well i guess this is the trickier bit, but when you tactfully match a lower ability (LA) child with one of a higher ability (HA), something magical seems to happen. Suddenly LA can see the work and slides  (on the collaborative slides presentation, set up through google classroom) that HA is doing, and over time (in 9/10 cases I have studied over the last 2 terms) LA raises their own aspirations and belief.

Does it always work this way? I have only experienced one negative session where a learner became jelous of others work and deleted their slide, once ground rules had been put in place, that same child later on really praised the effect the activity had on their subject knowledge of the topic.

Mr LA is now writing using precise vocabulary (learnt from the inspiring research at the start of the topic) and is including writing features (that they have picked up from reading and sharing ideas with Mr HA over the term) leading to them creating a much more complete final write up.

Writing progress achieved. Would this have been possible without IT? Possibly via peer marking of books, but would that have had the same inspiring effect?

Today's questions for debate...
Should collaborative mixed ability learning be more widely used? Or are your experiences less positive than mine? Or have you seen positive outcomes also?

How do you use collaberative learning within your own classroom?

Supporting SEN and EAL with the chromebooks
A slight side note. The Chromebooks have been wonderful for SEN children in our school. We have been specifically using seesaw so that children can mind map their thoughts and ideas through speech and drawings. This has allowed some of my more reluctant writers to get their thought processes down and the added bonus of translating tools in chrome has also unlocked doors for our EAL children. They then turn these mind maps into a boxing up plan (talk for writing) and then draft plus edit their work, before writing a final. This process has seen 4 of my class boys, change their attitude from I can't write, to I want to write more. Simple steps but huge impacts on learning.

I love these devices. I truly do. They have already been revolutionary in our school.

Monday, 20 February 2017

So here it goes. My first ever blog post.

I suppose I ought to introduce the blogs purpose;


I am currently an ICT subject leader and Year 4 Teacher in Exmouth, Devon. I am about to embark on a leadership journey.

In the last few years I have been busy preparing myself for leadership through completing the DFE young leaders course and am now currently studying an NPQML.

Blog purpose

I am hoping to use this blog to share my journey into leadership and hope to gain some followers and like minded people to share ideas and questions with along the way.

 I would also like to use the blog as a thoughts bubble base for sharing my ideas for developing teaching and learning, as well as developing the use of IT in schools.

I hope that you enjoy the blog and please do feel free to comment and share.

Today's thought

Does leading ICT count when applying for leadership positions? Or will schools only be looking at how you impacted on the core subjects? I guess this is something I am going to find out on my journey.

Wish me luck.......