Tag Archives: iPads

My ePortfolio Learning Journey: Part 2

Here is a ‘Down and Dirty’ Summary of my work towards my Eportfolio goals/Final Project since my last post:

  • Liaised with staff, Upper Primary Ed Tech Coach and PYP coordinator to revamp Portfolio Essential Agreements:

ISZL Portfolio Agreements

  • Co-planned and co-led 2nd ePortfolio Staff meeting , where we looked critically at portfolio posts in teams/cross grades and cross platforms (Blogger).
  • Filled out Ambassador PD form, and requested free Seesaw Swag.  My T-shirt has arrived!

    My Seesaw swag arrived!

Our Portfolio Post Framing Questions:

  • How has the teacher or student shown the context for the learning? (What? Where? When? Why? How?)
  • What would help you to understand more about the context for learning? (What questions do you have?)
  • Is the individual student learning evident?
  • In what ways has the teacher scaffolded the post?
  • Is there evidence of teacher voice? Is it necessary? Is there evidence of student voice? Is it necessary?

Staff Meeting Critical Reflections:

Adobe Spark Page

Staff Portfolio Meeting, Created in Adobe Spark Page. All Photo Credits: Holly Fraser. Click to view! 

  • Led several training sessions for Assistants (KG, EY1, Gr1) on Seesaw & finding the learning, using the PYP essential elements framework (looking for specific skills found under the 5 Transdisciplinary Skills Heading; Attitudes)
  • Created Wallpapers for class iPads with Seesaw ‘Wow’ Work Poster to act as visual guide/reference 

Grade 1 iPad Wallpaper

  • Continue on-going discussions and work with grade 1 pilot class on blog option (set up blog, ‘advertised’ in Google + community of Seesaw Ambassadors for a Seesaw connected blog; communicated with parents, liaised between class teachers involved…plant to intro to students…forgot to consult admin…snap. 🙁
  • Created/Collated Resources ‘Seesaw for SLCs and beyond’ in a Padlet (I can’t get enough!) and shared with Staff 

Made with Padlet
  • Met with visiting Ed Tech Leaders to show/ walk them through Seesaw/how our school is using it and discuss with them the possibilities/limitations as they are currently making a decision about a platform for next year.  Walking someone else through our process was a nice reminder of just how far we have come!
  • Proactive effort to work with students using Seesaw: Modelling use of voice recorded comments and drawing tool in classrooms; recruiting students during Outdoor Learning to review their journal and begin to make comments on their own and other’s posts.
  • Continue to contribute to and update my ‘Course 5 Padlet‘ 
Students looking through their ‘journals’/portfolios at Outdoor Learning. Photo Credit: Holly Fraser

PBL and how things have(n’t) changed

“The first thing you have to do is to give up the idea of curriculum.”  Dr. Seymour Papert

My heart did a little flip when I read this statement in Seymor Papert’s Project Based Learning, an article 15 years old and yet many of the ideas are still so true and relevant, and sadly have largely yet to come to fruition.

Papert clarifies the above statement by wanting to do away with students learning a particular thing on a particular date, often for no particular reason.  Instead he insists learning should happen in context, with real problems and with immediate application.

Over the years my students of all ages have always done some sort of environmental unit or focus on a problem: litter; energy consumption; e-waste. These “problem topics” naturally lead to students wanting to find a solution, or to find out more about the problem.

Last year my Early Years students (4 & 5 year olds)  looked closely at how our devices and electrical items are built by taking them apart. They noticed all the waste and electrical pieces that came with a broken item.  

Now these children couldn’t solve this problem–but we upcycled by making all sorts of structures and robots out of the pieces and later visited a local recycling centre.  We learned more about what materials can be recycled, and we were happy to note batteries could be recycled.

We also learned more about the metals and minerals in our cell phones with the help of our 5th grade buddies who were studying similar problems for their Exhibition Project.  We worked together as a class learning about these problems, articulating them in different ways and documenting our learning together with the App, Adobe Spark.  

PBL in Early Years: Look Closer… at our Devices

I think about how our cross grade learning supports Paperts bold suggestion of doing away with grade/age segregation altogether:

“We’ve given up the age segregation which is just as, I think, wrong and harmful as any other kind of segregation….Kids working in communities of common interest on rich projects that will connect with powerful ideas.

Great minds working together.

Great minds of all ages working together. Photo courtesy of UnSplash.  No Attribution needed. 

The Buck Institute for Education (BIE) Introduction to PBL “defines standards-focused PBL as a systematic teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks… students are pulled through the curriculum by a Driving Question or authentic problem that creates a need to know the material. “

My school’s PYP curriculum with its Central Ideas and Lines of Inquiry can potentially complement this definition, but at times I have struggled with feeling like I have successfully implemented PBL in my classroom.  It’s the assessment piece and still having to report on a set of Learner Outcomes that I feel can hinder teachers from feeling free (enough) to explore PBL. Papert goes on to discuss portfolios as an improved form of assessment:

“ So, as I see it, the trend towards portfolio-based, so-called authentic assessment is very good, but it’s very limited unless it goes with throwing out the content of what we’re testing.”

My school’s portfolios are a move in the right direction.  First of all, we have portfolios as a form of assessment (in addition to traditional report cards, and formal and standardised tests, etc.) with basic agreements about what goes in them to maintain some consistency.  We are currently in the process of moving away from paper based portfolios to digital portfolios.  Teachers are spread out on the continuum of acceptance & readiness, oddly enough, it is our Early Childhood Educators leading the way.  

On the path to success.  Photo courtesy of Picography, by Dave Meier. http://picography.co/

On the path to success. Photo courtesy of Picography, by Dave Meier. http://picography.co/

This is perhaps not so odd, when one considers we had been looking for a platform that would support our focus on Documentation of Learning that was individualised, & often child directed, and with a focus on concepts and skills over specific “Learner Outcomes.” The assessments are on-going, formative and include elements of a project based or problem solving approach. Early Years teachers quickly embraced the platform Seesaw, which allowed them to document all of the above.

Many teachers in the primary school, whose teaching may be described as more traditional (all students working on same task) are working out how to best use the platform.  Many are taking photographs of pencil and paper assessments and uploading them to our digital portfolio system where there are right/wrong answers.  Some are beginning to show pictures of kids actually doing, solving, creating, inventing, making meaning, etc. But many are reluctant to get too creative with posts as they want to know the portfolio system inside and out before introducing elements to the the kids.  They are not (yet) open to the idea that they could be learning right alongside the kids and figuring it out as they go.

Which brings me to Papert’s idea of the importance of teachers learning alongside the students:

“What we need is kinds of activity in the classroom where the teacher is learning at the same time as the kids and with the kids. Unless you do that, you’ll never get out of the bind of what the teachers can do is limited by what they were taught to do when they went to school…. We don’t allow the kids to have the experience of learning with the teacher because that’s incompatible with the concept of the curriculum where what is being taught is what’s already known.”

We must be open to new ways of teaching and learning.  Photo courtesy of Picography, by Tasja. http://picography.co/

We must be open to new ways of teaching and learning. Photo courtesy of Picography, by Tasja. http://picography.co/

How true the above statement is: How often have I avoided introducing a topic or tool to students when I wasn’t fully comfortable with it yet myself.  This is only natural, but with the pace at which things change and technology develops, this practice and mindset needs to shift.  Teachers need to be seen as co-learners and co-constructors of knowledge, not simply bearers, because we can’t possibly know it all, and the curriculum can’t possibly keep pace with today’s changing world and reflect the interests and abilities of its students.

I can only hope that 15 years from now someone will read this post, find it true and relevant, and note how much things have changed.

Photography Collaboration: From Deciding to Acting, Course 1 Final Project

Last week I was busy thinking about, deciding on and planning a meaningful collaborative project with my young Early Years students and another class at my school.  Now, my “school” is actually 3 separate campuses somewhat spread about in Central Switzerland: 1 small Elementary School in canton Luzern (mine) a larger Elementary/Middle School and a High School, both in canton Zug.

As I mentioned last week, our small campus is closing at the end of this year, due to declining enrolment, and most of students will next year attend our much larger campus in Zug.  We have been encouraged to begin the process of a meaningful transition for our students, which include in person/on site meet ups–a recent field trip went really well– but I am hoping to continue these “meet-ups” online through a joint photography project.

We were actually initially inspired to look into photography a little more deeply by a fellow Coetailer’s (and ISZL’s own amazing High School English teacher, Tricia Friedman) invitation to collaborate:

https://www.coetail.com/triciafriedman/2016/02/28/lets-give-them-something-to-blog-about/

Screen shot from Tricia’s Padlet

So far this year my young students have taken hundreds of not so great, slightly out of focus, thumbs in the way of pictures of the floor using the ipad.   I am hoping through this project our understanding of what makes a picture good, interesting and meaningful will improve, but also that contributing to this “movement” is a great way to improve the feeling of community and connection across our campuses, which otherwise share little more than a name, despite its promise:

3 Campuses, 1 International Experience

The more I have thought about the nature of my planned collaborations across campuses, I realise they are really 2 separate learning collaborations…the first one being a response to a specific blog prompt set by Tricia on her Blog Prompt Padlet.  I had to choose a prompt appropriate for 4 & 5 year olds, (not so easy), so a prompt involving the obviously highly visual medium of photography jumped out at me.

World Photography Organisation,

World Photography Organisation, Shortlist contender

Now, this World Photography Organisation contest may well be over by the time we actually get around to making our choices, but it is of little matter.  The website itself is sweeping and the amount of different categories is a bit overwhelming, and I knew clicking around and waiting for web pages to load while my wriggly 4 year olds squirmed was not going to cut it, so I chose some relevant photo categories (Nature and Wildlife, Panorama, Smile and People) and pre-selected a few photos in each category that I thought would particularly resonate with the kids (photos of children, animals and landscapes similar to those of our own beautifully situated campus).

While choosing a favourite to win the contest and defending their choices using some newly learned insights into photography and story telling is part of the goal of this project, it is really only the jumping off point.  I am actually interested in how members of the High School English class (and anyone else who responds to the blogging prompts) respond to our posts about photography. And more so, I would like this exploration to inspire my students to become better picture takers and therefore better story tellers, using the medium of photography.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

This brings me to the second part of my collaborative project.  Our beloved campus closing, while a sad event, is also an opportunity to make sure our story is told, and our small voices heard.   Part 2 of my planned collaborative Photography Exploration will be to challenge my students (and EY at Zug campus) to capture the essence of our campuses–taking pictures of favourite locations, moments, people and friends (similar categories to those I chose from the wpo) and to share them with one another. Here at Luzern, we are blessed to be located right on lake, surrounded by mountains, fields fountains, and forest. Our building’s name is Villa Kämerstein, the Early Years building is in a quaint Swiss chalet.  There has got to be some photographic gems in there somewhere.

taking pics

Yep…this is typical EY, upside down and finger prints on the lens

The idea to involve the Zug campus actually stemmed from an earlier email conversation between myself and one of the EY teachers there, we were studying different constructions, in particular bridges, and she had the idea of somehow creating a project to “bridge” our two campuses; sharing the story of our two campuses to help with the transition our students will make next year.  I loved the idea, but at the time was unsure to how to proceed.

Now that I feel more confident in how this could play out, (sharing the picture or “story of our 2 campuses” on a Collaborative Photography Padlet) I am left waiting for a response from the other campus.  Despite a well thought out email to 6 teachers & 4 assistants, only one has expressed interest in joining the project.  Our Tech Coach warned me I might face reluctance…not necessarily due to lack of interest…but a lack of time, understanding, etc. Some told me they hadn’t even read the mail.  Deep sigh.  My biggest challenge will not be improving the photographic or reflection skills of my students, as evidenced by some results from our second day of picture taking;

trees

Our tree lined driveway, cropped and filter added by Emiliana, 4.

mountain

View of the lake and mountains, photo untouched by Johnathan, 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It will be ensuring the collaboration aspect of my Collaborative Picture Taking Project actually takes place.