Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Guest Blogger as Part of the I Heart EdTech Blog Swap

Today's blog post comes from Selena Woodward (her blog) and is part of the I Heart EdTech Blog Swap.

Selena wrote in response to my post titled "My Dream Classroom".  This was a very cool experience and I was happy I participated.  Without further ado, here is Selena's blog post.  Her blogging, writing, and lesson planning skills are second to none.  Thanks again Selena!

Pupil Centred Learning with an IWB

Pupil Centred Learning with an IWB. A Dream or Reality?

My blog Swap partner has written a post about his dream classroom in which a small group of pupils is each gathered around an IWB investigating a problem and using their independent and group work skills to get information from a variety of sources.  This is his dream classroom.  I love the idea of pupils working on groups to achieve a goal together.  I advocate the idea that the IWB should be pupil centred and applaud his imagination for considering how pupils might be empowered by the technology.
I have used my IWB in a similar way in an English classroom.  My flipchart was written in Activ Studio and involves many of the same learning skills and aims that Jason has talked about in his dream classroom.  My students are exploring together, using different sources and media rich texts to come to conclusions.  These conclusions are guided by me, their teacher, but it is entirely up to them how they draw these conclusions together.
Unlike, Jason’s dream classroom my actual room has only one IWB. It’s at the front of the room, in what is typically known as the teacher’s domain; a domain that I have gradually learnt to share over the last 7 years. It’s now a place where teachers and pupils learn and share ideas. 

Inspired by Jason’s dream classroom, by his ideas of collaboration at the IWB and of pupils lead and pupil focused use of this technology I thought I would take the opportunity to briefly share with you how I planned and taught this lesson.  You can download my lesson plan and the flipchart if you wish.
You’ll see that there is one flipchart and that it takes 3 lessons complete.  You may also notice vague phrases in my plans where I am not sure what is going to happen.  Why? Because the pupils are deciding. This is something that I am sure Jason would agree with.  Teachers need to allow the pupils to take control sometimes.  In fact here I am in complete control. I have designed the flipchart in such a way that it contains everything the pupils need to reach a level of understanding that will match their target grade. I have pre-prepared links to website, video clips, images to explore, close exercises and worksheets to assess, maps and virtual tours.  All in one flipchart in which the wording of objectives and hyperlinks lead pupils on a journey of discovery which feels like their own and is their own.  It’s a journey they can take which has boundaries which guide them back to their learning outcomes and objectives.
The British educations system helps me with this.  Its curriculum is so driven by assessment and outcome that is very easy for my pupils to understand what it is they have to achieve and how they will know they have achieved it. In fact, to help differentiate the resource I have placed the grade descriptors on the objectives slide for pupils to look at. One click on the grade will tell them what they have to do to achieve that
All objectives are clear, are the focus which drive the lesson and are differentiated
mark; they can then click again to hide the information.  Pupils know which grade they are aiming for and now they know what they have to know to  meet that requirement.  It’s up them how they go about gaining the information.  One pupil at the front would act as navigator; the whole class decides where to go first.  

 This page contains 7 hidden resources for pupils explore
If the first objective is to “Understand what segregation means and learn a little about how it feels.”Then it would fall naturally that pupils will click on the words Apartheid to find out more.  It may be that a teacher needs to start be checking understanding of the terms in the navigational panel but pupils will soon realise where they need to go.  When they get there they are greeted by the option to watch a video (by clicking on an image), visit a website (by clicking on a title), look closely at an image (with the zoom tool), and pulling out facts from behind images.  The teacher, would only interject to give pupils a supportive worksheet which asks for the specific information required to achieve the first objective, it’s up to the pupils to discover which source of information they should visit.  They very quickly start clicking titles to see if anything happens, start clicking the magnifying glass to enable them to explore, together, images in more detail.  They begin to engage as they work out where the information is hidden and then raise questions from one text which are answered in another. This is whole class collaboration, controlled by the students, created by the teacher on an IWB.
Once they have completed that objective they might like to find out more about the place in which the poet lived.  This will help them to “develop an awareness of the history of district 6 and the culture that Tatamakhula Afrika shows us in his poem.” Again the objectives and the
Using "magic ink" pupils are looking through a map of the district 6 as it was to a Google earth image of what it is like now.  What's changed?
hyper link are similar, guiding pupils along. This time when they chose to access the page they are greeted with a map.  The teacher would need to explain what they are looking at and then use questions to point out that things have changed.  They will then have more questions about what there before the bulldozers arrived.  These answers are all in the flipchart in a virtual tour of district six hidden under “take a 
walk”.  Pupils lead themselves around the district completing questions given to them which will allow them to note the changes to the place where this poet lived.  Again, they are in control, they are collaborating and they are focused on a learning objective.  The teacher should be able to sit back and act only as support for complicated questions.  At this point it would also be useful to have one of Justin’s notebook laptops connected to the net for extra fact finding missions.
The Taktamkhula slide contains information about the poet himself with hidden questions in shortened
 Six different resources to explore are hidden on this page.
 text boxes.  The rest of the flipchart is made up of assessment tasks that the teacher can guide students to at the appropriate time in the lesson.  For example, once pupils have learnt about Afrika’s own personal history they might like to complete the interactive card sort.  This uses Activboard’s containers and so will tell the pupils when they have the answer right or wrong.  When the computer tells them they have made an incorrect choice a learning conversation will start, fact finding missions will begin and objectives will be completed.
All of this is made possible through the creation of a flipchart which guides students to sources of information which are relevant. Of course, they then need to apply this information to the poem.  That’s where homework, small group work and presentation come in.  Pupils then use the skills they already have in literary analysis and begin to explore how all of this information and all of the poet’s emotions are represented in the poem. Of course there are games and activities built into the flipchart to support this.
When a teacher is fully trained to use an IWB they can start to use their own professional skill to create resources which allow pupils to take full control of a whole lesson. To feel in charge and empowered as they learn.  Despite the fact the teacher has full control over what they are learning and how they are learning it – using their own professional judgement and training – the IWB allows the pupils to work together as a whole class and in small groups to solve a problem; the problem, in this case, being to answer their objectives at their target grade. 
I would welcome any comments you would like to make about how this lesson went.  I can see so many opportunities for lessons like this in all subjects across the curriculum; lessons where teachers are not simply imparting information but are empowering students to find it themselves. 

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