A couple of light bulb moments have marked my first week back at work after travelling overseas on leave with my family.
Before we went to Italy, I set up a blog to record our adventures. When I say our, I was more interested in how my boys would use it. They were a kind of experiment I guess, because blogging for kids is an area I want to develop in my work with students, but so far my attempts at getting kids interested had not met with too much success. This ended up being an exercise in illumination for me, not so much in working out how to get my sons to blog, but in the other part of the process, that being the importance of the comments and feedback that they got. They were inspired to write when they knew their friends and family were reading, and commenting on their posts. The Topic/Blog/Feedback process became automatic when all three conditions were present. You could write about anything really, and as long as readers contribute to a discussion, the motivation to keep writing is there.
LIGHTBULB #1 – Feedback drives the blogging process for our social network driven kids.
Before I left, I created a quiz with Wondershare Quiz Creator The beauty of the software is that I can then pack up the final version of the quiz into a SCORM package and upload it to my school’s Moodle site. Once deployed, the quiz is available 24/7, it has a closing date and time and, best of all, the quiz self marks. The marks are then collected by Moodle and put into the course gradebook.
The quiz I created had stimulus material like video for some questions, a time limit and I included a feature that scrambled the order of the questions, and the answers within the questions to foil any cheating by kids as they took the test over the 2 days it was open.
The feedback from staff and students was interesting. Beside some log on issues, the staff were positive about the ease of administering the quiz. They were very impressed with not having to mark 130+ papers! The students I spoke to described the experience in positive terms, but by far and away the greatest impact they reported was the use of powerful stimuli like video, sound and image in the questions. For example, the students watched an advertisement used in Australia to highlight the effect of alcohol on driving. Some students (all boys!) commented that they hadn’t paid much attention to the ad on television before they saw it in the quiz. The question in the quiz suddenly showed them its meaning.
LIGHTBULB #2 Even exams can be transformed into powerful learning experiences by using appropriate technology.
Last one. So far my teaching with technology has been a hybrid affair, as it is for many people I suspect. Syllabus requirements, public expectations based on a traditional view of schooling and external exams of all pursuasions mean that many teacher’s classroom practice tend to be traditional, rather than innovative and edgy. Technology for me has been a way to engage students, but still seems to be additional to my practice, rather than integral to it. Browsing my feed of educator blogs, I came across this from Shelly Blake-Plock (AKA @TeachPaperless). This literally turned on a lightbulb for me, notably the casual ease with which he uses technology and the exciting possibilities for the classroom that this clever teacher discusses. I think it’s charted a course for my future use of technology in my classes.
LIGHTBULB #3 Ask the kids, and keep it simple.
What lightbulbs have lit up for you lately? Make sure you share the light.