Engagement is the Key. Making school fun.

Michael Fullan

It’s wonderful and exciting how separate actions can lead to one destination. I have been reading Stratosphere by Michael Fullan in preparation for my new role this year as an ICT integrator and I am finding lots to think about as you can see by my yellow sticky notes popping out.
At the beginning, Michael states four criteria for integrating technology and pedagogy.
(i) irresistibly engaging for students and teachers
(ii) elegantly efficient and easy to use
(iii) technologically ubiquitous
(iv) steeped in real life problem solving

I’m really engaged by problem based learning and found Lee Crockett’s Solution Fluency a great way to structure a unit of work incorporating technology and literacy. I believe this unit covered three of the four criteria. The initial scenario is outlined below.

The students understood this was a hypothetical situation but in reality it gave them a great vehicle for finding out what was great about our school and celebrating it with their peers and parents. They were incredibly engaged and came up with great promotional videos after weeks of organising, structuring ,capturing the right shots and interviewing. I was uplifted by their efforts and believe that the Solution Fluency backbone made it successful.

working on promos

I was reminded of this project when reading this Integrating Education Technology post by Michael Boykin this morning and the statement that technology could be used by students to ‘show what they know’ which is one of my favourite mantras for Ed Tech.

Oh and as I have taken up the #bloggermore2015 challenge I have also tried to improve my blog post by adding some power words in the hope that it will improve my writing after reading Jon Morrow’s post. See more here.

SWOT – Feedback with a difference.

I can’t remember when I first learnt about SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis but I do know that I find myself using it again and again. As a classroom teacher I used it for three way meetings with parents and students and as an IT teacher I pulled it out again recently to reflect on the progress of my Year 6 start stop animations.

It’s six weeks into their semester project and I interviewed each pair. We identified the strengths of their partnership, their skills and their animation. I loved it when they identified having fun as a strength! Then the weaknesses were identified. They were very thoughtful and realistic. The next step is where I find the most critical thinking occurs as the students use the opportunity heading to work out how to resolve the weaknesses.

One group of three students identified that it was difficult having three group members as there were only two roles in the animation and they had coasted a bit because one member was always the third wheel. As our discussion proceeded to the opportunity section they quite naturally worked out how to all have a job to do. This involved bringing another device and building the next set. I sat there and made encouraging noises. It was wonderful seeing them problem solve and becoming excited about it.

I find threats a very useful heading because it is a handy way to get them to identify what it is that may stop them from completing the project. For some students it was the admission that they had been absent or forgotten their equipment. Others realised that playing with the Lego could be a threat if they didn’t stay focused. Speaking about the threats means we can get it out in the open and work to make sure they finish.

During the interviews I wrote down their comments and gave them to the students as a record of their progress. This process helps me as I can troubleshoot some technical difficulties as they arise, provide guidance or just compliment them on their progress. I enjoyed spending some one on one time with each group as it can be so easy to be constantly on the move in an IT lesson.

Now to make sure I give good feedback to my other ICT classes.

How do other people give feedback?