Tagged: technology

Differentiation using Technology

Image created in Tagxedo

Another highlight of the ATEA conference I mentioned in a previous post, was meeting Jennifer Elsden-Clifton, who is the Lecturer for New Learning at RMIT University’s School of Education. She uses Blackboard Collaborate to support graduate teachers in their first year out. It will be my great privilege to participate in one of her sessions on Differentiation on 28th July. In addition to recommending the list of sites below, my tips to the graduate teachers with regards to differentiation will be:

1. Know your students well.
An effective teacher should be able to list a dozen points about each individual in their class – their abilities, interests and goals. I like to use a “letter to my teacher” at the beginning of the year, to get to know my students better. You could also use one of the many multiple intelligences surveys available to get to know how your students learn best. Tom Barrett has produced an excellent series of crowd-sourced slideshows, including “Interesting Ways to Get to Know your New Class”, which, at the time of writing, had 24 strategies from educators around the world. I often find that I get to know my students best during extra-curricula activities – camps, excursions and sporting events – so I try to be involved in as many of those opportunities as I can be.

2. Take the time at the beginning of a unit of work to find out what students already know about a topic.
I often have a class discussion, in which I draw a mindmap (or display a Bubbl.us concept map) which gives an idea of the scope of the unit. As we mention examples and ideas, these are added to the concept map. You could also ask students to create a Web Doc (mash up of text, images, drawings etc) about what they know about a topic. You might want to emphasize the literacy in a topic, and ask students to create a Wordle or Tagxedo word cloud, or a crossword or word search using key words from the topic. Educaplay is a site to create word puzzles, quizzes, maps and other educational games from keywords.

3. Give students a choice (especially in the middle years) of tools to use or ways of presenting their work.
Encourage students to use a variety, not just the easiest or most favorite each time. Open-ended tasks, that allow students to use their creativity and draw in their own experiences and interests are usually the most successful. For example, the 60second science video competition, in which students were asked to work in a group to produce a one minute movie that demonstrated their understanding of how forces act on an object. Some students used bicycles, skateboards, model boats, paper planes, insects on water, balls and trampolines. You could use Glogster for e-posters, which Kery Obradovich wrote about at “Using Glogster for Differentiation”, create digital stories (slideshows, photostories, videos or ebooks) or any of the online publishing tools (blogs, wikis, podcasts) to share student work. My “Digital Toolbox for 21st Century Learners” has lots of examples of how different web2.0 tools can be used for differentiation.

4. Agree on some criteria that match your learning intentions and make the goals specific.
You may like to show some examples of student work (or your own if you don’t have student examples) and discuss what is good, what is interesting and what might be improved. Develop a rubric with students so they know what is expected. Continue reading

Technoscience at Slide2Learn conference


This week I was fortunate to participate in the inaugural “Slide2Learn” conference, held over two days in Shepparton, Victoria. It was a fantastic event, organised by a committed and enthusiastic group of innovative teachers, to share their specialised knowledge with other teachers from Australia and beyond. The conference was held at the school of Louise Duncan, winner of the 2009 Lindsay Thompson Fellowship, for her Personalised Learning program. I was thrilled to meet Jenny Ashby, a leading teacher,  seasoned presenter and iPod Touch  expert educator. I also attended inspiring sessions by Jonathon Nalder (Key note speaker) Megan Iemma, Stacey Kelly, Kate Maccoll (fellow science freak) and Deon Scanlon. One of the highlights was the Ustream presentation by Tony Vincent, who gave practical, hands-on advice about how to implement mobile devices in schools.

Some of the applications we found out about that are relevant specifically to science teaching are:

  • 8Planets – animations, information and quiz about our solar system
  • CO2 footprint – a greenhouse gas calculator
  • Human calculator – add your birth date and time and find out how many breaths, heart beats, how much food eaten, urine produced and much more…….
  • Periodic table – beautiful images and information about of all the chemical elements
  • Biology core – glossary with biological definitions

In addition, there were many, many more applications with more generalised use that would be useful in my science classes:

  • Simple Mind Express and Idea Sketch for concept mapping
  • SWOT for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • Studystack for flash cards
  • iTalk and Voice memos for voice recording (with a microphone)
  • Posterous to send podcasts to a blog
  • Animoto and Sonic pics for slideshows
  • Etchasketch with colours, shapes, text and free-form writing and drawing
  • Cropsuey to crop, rotate and flip images
  • Colour magic and Glow for special effects on images

I’ll be writing more posts about using iPods in education soon – what an exciting time to be a teacher!

There is a more extensive list at  the ICTeD Services blog and on the ning.

The Futures Channel Movies and Activities

The Futures Channel movies and activities delivers hands-on, real-life maths and science lessons to your classroom.” This week’s great site is a collection of short, real-life movies that connect maths, science and technology learning to the real world. Each movie is coupled with learning activities that explore concepts such as algebra, measurement, probability, exponential growth and more. Students can design a ‘Ground Gripper’ sports shoe, explore population growth in black-footed ferrets or use percentages to create colours.

I’m going to add these two links here too, so i don’t lose them! Transfer Big Files is a site where (apparently) you can send large files free. Great for sending video, photo-stories, Powerpoints etc that are too big for email. Overstream is a site where you can add subtitles to existing videos – so for example if you wanted to narrate over an experiment, make a parody, send a personalised message……….