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#DigiCon16 Presentation: Coding in the Primary Classroom

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 9.47.16 PMThis year I presented a couple of sessions at #DigiCon16, DLTV‘s annual conference.

One of the sessions I presented was Coding in the Primary Classroom: An Inquiry Into Gaming with Tamryn Kingsley. We took participants through the process of a unit we taught together with our grade 2 classes. The unit was an inquiry where students made their own games using the platform Scratch.

We have been contacted a few times since the conference to share the resources we used, so I thought I would collate them all here. All the slides and links to the resources we used are below. We would love to hear from you if you are creating your own gaming unit!

Introductory video of what scratch can do https://vimeo.com/65583694

Cheat sheets – guides for learning the basic skills of Scratch https://goo.gl/7PGfZU

Challenges – short tasks using Scratch designed to help learn basic Scratch functions  (We used About me, 10 blocks, It’s alive, Music video). http://goo.gl/CgOiO1IMG_4262

Blocks – printable Scratch blocks http://scratched.gse.harvard.edu/resources/vector-scratch-blocks

 

Classic Games

Pong http://www.ponggame.org/

Pacman http://www.playpacmanonline.net/

Tetris http://tetris.com/play-tetris-flash/

Supermario Bros. http://www.ozmogames.com/games/super-mario/mario-mushrooms.play

Space invaders http://www.pacxon4u.com/space-invaders/

Angry birds  http://freeangrybirdsgame.org/play/angry_birds_online.html

 

Scratch Games

Quiz https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/86004996/?fromexplore=true

Platform Scroll https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/1775702/

Punkin Chunkin https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/1445936/

Bridy https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/87143678/?fromexplore=true

Arc https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/2422227/

Maze https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/10128431/

Race https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/13042816/

 

Inspiration

Mel Cashen Festival of Gaming blog post http://melcashen.com/?p=955

Darrel Branson Game Making at Mildura West www.goo.gl/BeWDbt

Showbie and Evernote: Digital Tools for Assessment

I am sitting here in the middle of writing my final reports for the year, and am just SO IMPRESSED with my assessment and collection of student work samples and evidence of learning. I need to share two amazing apps that I use for assessment throughout the year. Using them provides me with a working record of learning that I refer to for planning (through my anecdotal notes and students’ samples of work) and also provides some beautiful summative assessment for when report time rolls around.

Showbie

Showbie is an app that allows students to share their work with me. It is designed as a tool that provides teachers with a digital space to set assignments for their classes and for students to submit their work. It is especially helpful if you find that work disappears when students use iPads.

In my classroom, I use it at a very basic level most of the time; I have really only used it to collect work in an organised (and digital) way.

To do this, I create a folder (or ‘assignment’) for the task we are doing, which is created inside the folder for my class, and my students use their own log in details to upload their work for that task in that folder. For example, I create a folder named ‘Information Report iMovies’ and all students upload their movie in that folder under their name. That way I have every student’s work from that task, and since it is stored online, their work doesn’t take up space on my hard drive and their books don’t take up space on the backseat of my car.

There’s so much more you can use it for than what I have been doing so far… Showbie is simple for kids to use and has lots of options depending on the task. You can upload photos and videos, you can leave comments on each student’s work, or send voice memos. You can also annotate a photo of their work and have them view it. A handy trick I figured out just as I was writing the last report (!) is that you can view work by assignment or by student.

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Assignments View

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A student’s submitted task and comment area between student and teacher

 

Evernote

Evernote is an note-taking app. It allows you to create notebooks (folders) and organise your notes. The notes can include text, pictures, video, voice recordings, inserted documents, tables and more. A great tool in Evernote is the ability to annotate your notes and pictures within the app. It also allows for sharing folders with other users and has a chat function, although I haven’t used those much yet.

For my class notes, I start by making a notebook stack (a folder full of folders) for my grade. Each student then has a notebook with their name attached, and inside that notebook I create a note for each subject area I take notes in, e.g. reading conferences, writing conferences, group work.

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My notebook stack for my class: 2D. It contains a folder, or notebook, for each student in the class.

The below is an example of the reading conference notes I take, with a photo of the running record (or voice recording) taken for that student. As you can see, it is a great source of ongoing, organised information about this student, and I have all the information I need at my fingertips when it comes to planning, conferencing or writing reports.

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This is brilliant for writing conferences! I take a photo of each student’s writing and insert it into their Evernote folder, then I have absolutely NO BOOKS to lug home at report time. I once taught Visual Arts for a short time and used Evernote to collect photos of their artworks and wrote notes on their skills beside the picture as they worked.

My previous school had students from grades 3-6 using Evernote as a learning journal (or digital portfolio) where each student shared a note with their teacher (and their parents) so that work could be submitted and tracked digitally.

If you are looking for a handy way to keep your notes organised, Evernote is it!

Any cool digital tools you use for assessment? Let me know! 

 

Integrating the Class Blog into Literacy

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Something I have been working on this term is making stronger and more efficient links between reading and writing, and authentically including the class blog into those sessions so we don’t need a whole session allocated to blogging each week. Here is an example of what I have done this week.

 

My students are learning about writing setting descriptions to use in narrative and descriptive writing.

 

In reading, we worked on identifying literal information about a setting. I modelled reading a setting description from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (first six paragraphs of this). Students visualised as I read and then noticed the way the Chocolate Room was described using some of the five senses.


IMG_2993In another session, we read a book called Anzac Biscuits (it describes a little girl and her mum making biscuits at home while her father is away in the war and the perspective swaps between the characters very vividly). Students noticed the various ways the setting and action was described, again through the five senses, and noted them on a sense-o-gram.


  • In writing I used the blog as the launch point for all the learning we would do for this lesson. Students read the learning intention from the blog and we used the picture prompt on the post about the five senses to refer back to what we already had noticed in the mentor texts.

    Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 11.52.02 amWe then travelled through The Secret Door from a link on the blog post. The Secret Door is THE COOLEST EVER tool! It takes you through the door to a real place that could be anywhere in the world! It gives a 360 degree view and allows you to walk around as you would in Google Maps Street View. The students were each taken somewhere different, including a theme park, underwater in the Great Barrier Reef, the South Pole, inside a telescope, and the middle of a baseball field during a game.

    From here students brainstormed some words they could use to describe the setting they ended up in, using the five senses as a prompt.

    In reading the next day, students looked for setting descriptions whilst reading independently, and in particular for phrases rather than just single words. They either marked them with sticky notes or took photos using their iPads.

 

In the next writing session, students went back through the secret door to a new location,  took a screenshot of the view and wrote a descriptive paragraph about setting, using the five senses as a starting point, and reflecting on the types of descriptions we had been discovering in books and mentor texts.

 

Students added their setting image and a description on a Padlet (an online shared pinboard) which was embedded into the blog post we were using. Here’s our setting Padlet. This way student can go back and access the ideas collected on the Padlet anytime they want to use an idea.

The class blog post is here.

I am really happy with this series of lessons; I linked literacy lessons so that what was covered in reading spilled over into writing through the mentor texts we read and analysed. The writing flowed easily from students as they had seen authentic author examples of what they were trying to do, and the blog fitted in perfectly. Students can now access the Secret Door tool on the blog, as well as their own and their classmates’ setting descriptions to use in the future when writing narratives.

Reflections on Digicon

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Wow! #Digicon15! My head exploded.

What a brilliant event with SO much going on in so many areas!

I need to reflect but my head is a jungle so I’m just going to get down anything and everything I am thinking here and see where it takes me.

These are my main takeaways and the things taking up space in my head!

 

My own presentation: Student Centred Learning in a Tech Rich Environment (with @ErinMacNamara)11249157_10152930196816479_2286937671627326159_n

  • I am super proud of myself for diving in headfirst to a terrifying experience that turned out okay and was actually kind of fun. Thanks for the push @BecSpink.
  • I have something valuable to contribute in my own tiny area of expertise. I presented on something I know about and felt comfortable to teach others about it. At first their blank stares were off-putting but after a while people started taking notes and even asked questions that I could answer with ease and eventually I felt like… “Oh… I DO know what I’m talking about”.
  • Here are the slides if you want to peruse.
  • I liked presenting and want to start having a go at doing it more often. Maybe some more Teachmeets. Heck, maybe I’ll run for president.

 

Keynote – Hamish Curry

  • “Curriculum is a guidebook, not a rulebook”. It’s so easy to get caught up inrecite-nb7q7v what the curriculum says that the meaningful learning can get lost. For me, I think this hinges on more of an inquiry approach across all areas of teaching which makes it student driven and most likely will tick off a lot of boxes along the way. This sounds very nice but it’s hard work and something I really want to improve on.
  • “Real things, real places, real people. If you can’t get those things in, you probably shouldn’t be teaching it.” Wow. This is such a great way of explaining that it’s important to make things come alive for students and to make it relevant. Should be second nature for teachers but I find once you’ve done something a few times it’s easy for it to get dry if you’re not careful (speaking from my 4th year of grade 2s in a row… sigh).

 

Keynote – Celia Coffa 

 

Explore the World with Google – Sam Vardanega

Awesome resources and ideas of what to do with them! There is so much potential in these few tools.

 

Don’t be a Textbook & Keynote – Corrie Barclay

  • Lots of reading into frameworks and models for learning to do!  Just some of them… new pedagogies for deep learning, 6C’s, The Solo Taxonomy, TPACK, ACOT2 Framework, ATC21S Framework, CCR, Competencies for 21st Century Learning.
    I always feel a bit behind when people talk about frameworks and models for learning. I am so busy at work all the time that I don’t feel like I have time to look into the ‘big picture stuff’ like this. This means I often feel like I am just ‘doing’ rather than ‘doing with intention’. I want to better understand some of the frameworks behind educational design new thinking to allow me to think more broadly and make some impacting changes to my teaching, and I think some of these that Corrie suggested are a good start. He was really interesting to listen to and challenged me to think bigger.
  • “What would irresistible learning look like?” Corrie said this was cliche but I’ve never heard it before and I like it!

 

Disruptive Thinking in Education – Anthony Speranza

Well this one still has me floored. It was simultaneously the most interesting and frustrating session I went to. There was so much to get out of it, but it all felt too big to properly process. Anthony himself said that he was still getting his head around the concept of Disruptive Thinking and what it means… glad it wasn’t just me!

  • Changing trends in what is needed in education… from content to dispositions. Teaching and modelling skills and thinking habits rather than content and knowledge is something I think I am getting much better at with experience. It is something I am working to get across in my team and sometimes this is difficult. This session reinforced that I am on the right track with encouraging this with my colleagues.recite-1q3uokg
  • “Looking at the rate of change in the world and the rate of change in schools, they’re not even close to correlating.” Most classrooms I see/have seen look exactly the same as they would have 200 years ago, except that now we arrange our tables in groups, not lines (sometimes not even this). The teacher is the dispenser of information, the students are the receivers. We have the knowledge to correct this, but not the… what? What are we missing that is stopping this from changing? Time… motivation… disinterest… fear… pressure… close-mindedness… set-in-our-ways-ness??
  • Time as currency. Could I do this maths in 20 minutes instead of one hour? Is this writing going to need more time allocated to allow it to develop? Should we work on this over a week or a month instead of moving on to the next topic?
  • What does disruption look like in my teaching? Bearing in mind that I’m still not totally sure about this concept, I think I’m doing just a little bit of disruption:
    • 1:1 iPads as a necessary and well-leveraged tool for learning
    • Blogs as a way to connect students with the world, still a long way to go here! (I’m thinking Twitter, Skype, Quadblogging)
    • “Do sharks have saliva?” “I don’t know, guys. Let’s Google it.” Teaching students how to access information that is at their fingertips, teaching them to evaluate its validity, teaching them the skills needed to decode and comprehend and assess what they find out.
    • Starting to trickle some coding into my teaching
    • Learning as the journey, not the destination… problem solving, valuing mistakes as a learning opportunity, developing resilience and nurturing curiosity.

 

Permission to Innovate (Spark Talk) – Adrian Camm

  • “The value of a curriculum is as a framework used to design meaningful learning experiences for students”. Time to get your heads out of the box, teachers. We’ve been told from day one that the AusVELS is designed as a guideline, so we need to stop treating it as a textbook. This might be scary for some, but we need to design learning experiences that reach students on a level that makes them suddenly take the wheel and take control and direction over their own learning. I’m pretty sure that’s where the valuable learning is at.
  • “This card entitles me to try something new. If it doesn’t work as well I as I wanted I will be free on criticism for my efforts. I’ll continue to pursue new ways to help my students be successful.” I would love to see my school be transformed by something as trusting, challenging and terrifying as this! In a school ripe with freshie teachers, we soak up a lot of learning sponge-style, and we’re provided with some great PD and introduced to some excellent methods as we need it, but sometimes I feel as though because we are somewhat fed what we need to know, we lose the onus to push ourselves and take control of our own learning, and begin to see improvement as something that is expected of us, that just takes up extra time at staff meetings or causes jelly legs before P&D time. I would love to see teachers with a passion, who discover something new that captures their imagination and try it out off their own bat, with time allocated to doing it throughly and in a considered way. And WITHOUT a bunch of grumpy faces in the staff room being judgemental about someone who just wants to improve their craft and transform learning for their students.

 

First up on my to do list:

  • Get blogging more with my grade! Make it valuable! Begin with Quadblogging.
  • Start a Twitter account with this year’s class, to connect with experts and other grades, to share and look outside our four walls.
  • Think of time as currency – be more flexible and smart with my planning, according to need.
  • Read about ‘student choice about how to learn’ (any article suggestions for me?)
  • Look more closely at the digital technologies curriculum and map it against the curriculum with my team. Implement lessons and blog about them as a reflection.
  • Get reading! Models, frameworks, inquiry, disruptive thinking… anything! Just take some initiative and learn something new and try it out!
  • Do my own blogging… to reflect and to share. My own workshop taught me that I have something to offer to the teaching community which made me feel all warm and fuzzy. 

Storytelling to Teach Subtraction

IMG_2358I always advocate for storytelling in maths as a way to engage students and apply some context to the skills being learnt. Last time I posted about this a lot of people were interested as the concept was new to them, so I’m sharing another lesson I did.

The What and Why:

The skill being taught in this lesson was applying subtraction strategies to find the missing number/the difference – we had been learning how to count back, use a double and make to a 10 (the three mental strategies advocated by King George Booker in Teaching Primary Mathematics) and when it is most efficient to apply each strategy.

In Teaching Primary Mathematics it is explained that that to develop the subtraction concept, students first need verbal action stories, to model with materials and to record with symbols. They then need to apply the addition mental strategies (outlined above).

The Story:

Students beginning to use the count back strategy.

Students beginning to use the count back strategy.

One morning, as the sun was coming up over the mountain, the little village of <insert silly name> was just waking up. All the villagers said good morning to each other and talked about how lucky all (“let’s all count them by 2s”) 20 of them were to live together so happily. They went about their days doing all the things they liked to do.

After a busy day, the sun was setting and the villagers were all turning in for the night, when suddenly a figure swooped down from the night sky and roared his terrible roar <kids do roar sound>! It was the most fearsome dragon of all… Scrumplybum! The villagers screamed and ran for their lives but some were scooped up into the greedy dragon’s mouth and swallowed whole!

The next morning, as the sun came up, the villagers counted their numbers… (“Who was left? Let’s all count how many villagers are still there.”). There were only 13. They wondered “How many of our friends have been eaten?”. 

We then discuss the strategies we could use to work it out, and each student has a go at how they might apply a strategy they know. This is all noted on an anchor chart to record with symbols as we go. This also allows differentiation, as you can guide students towards a certain strategy where needed.

To check our answers: Unfortunately for the dragon Scrumplybum, he had been way too greedy that day and he was full! He made a massive belching sound and out popped the villagers, still alive but very stinky! 

We repeat the story to practise again a couple of times, and each time the students take over the story a little more. This is the gradual release of responsibility, with the students becoming more and more independent each time.

By the end of our whole class focus time, they are primed and ready to go with their own story. Sadly, the villager puppets get shafted for counters but students are more than happy to pick a villain from the puppet box and get going.

The Evil Lion even got his own den for this story.

The Evil Lion even got his own den for this story.

Tips:
*These stories aren’t very pre-prepared. You could plan it out if you want, but I embellish as I go, and just make sure I have the important points planned so as to make the maths work how I need it to.
*I use materials to act out the story. If you’ve got puppets or soft toys, use them!! If you don’t, get to Ikea, stat!
*Make sure you keep it fun… I like to leave spaces for the kids to add to the story, such as adding in sound effects or music, and making up character names or situations. For this story the ‘Creepy Baby’ puppet was the hit. Vomit and farting sounds also do the trick.

 

How do you incorporate storytelling into your maths teaching? 

Any suggestions for me for the older years?