Sunday, September 8, 2013

Student Engagement 101 - no hands up!

Recently I read an article about a 'no hands up'  approach to questioning in classrooms - I have instigated the method of not asking for volunteers to answer a question but to call upon students randomly - and it is working really well!

I thought I would share it with you - and it is so low tech it works well! You can also see this approach in action if you look at some of t he videos from Dylan Wiliams (UK educator) of how he engages students.
I also attended a PD session with Dr Lorraine Hammond, (ECU, WA)  who explained how she used a simple form of pop sticks for primary aged students - each pop stick has a students name in it and the teacher just selects one pop stick and directs the question to them - simple - low tech. However, with 5 secondary classes that makes about at least 150 pop sticks minimum - way too many I can't even store that many easily! So I used the random name selector app on my smart phone - or I sometimes follow Wiliams' approach for a more secondary style method of name selection! The strategy helps make all students accountable for their own learning and engagement in the lesson - and so far it is working!  

The basic premise is  - DON'T ask for volunteers - the teacher names students individually by calling on the randomly selected class participant to answer a question or demonstrate their learning or understanding about the topic being taught or discussed.

I have to say it is going well so far. My kids are much more 'evenly' engaged - they know that they may be called upon to answer a question at anytime within the lesson. This practice also seems to have lessened the usual or 'expected' students from always answering questions (you know the ones that have their hands up first and are onto it straight away - the ones we don't have to engage because they are already engaged!). It seems to help keep the more disengaged students alert and aware that at any moment their name could come up and they are expected to respond!

Trial it in your classroom (or staff meeting) and let me know how it goes!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Re-connecting and 'e-connecting' in the classroom

Reconnecting to my teaching practice after a few years in the realm of part-time work and study has challenged me in 2013!

Earlier this year I was awarded the John Lake Medal for my Masters in Education study and research in at Curtin University  Thanks especially to my inspiring lecturers and patient family and encouraging friends who really added to the journey and experience!
I must start on my Doctorate now ... said no Masters in Ed student ever...hmmm

The re-connection to the classroom and increased hours at work has resulted in very little post activity here, however, on the social media Twitter site I have been enjoying learning some new ways to access many articles and discussions around education, ICT (information and communication technologies) and e-learning. Widening my networks and interest in education and helping me to reconnect to my much neglected blog.

I have rekindled my interest in cooperative learning theory and strategies and applied through my school and was selected to participate in the quality CMS  (classroom management & instructional strategies) professional development (PD) in WA.

 My classroom has a Smartboard and very little working ICT (two computers) there is a mini lab and a tower of power (mobile laptop stand) and I am slowly using what I can and incorporating into the assessment and learning tasks for the students. However, I do feel the access is still tricky with the shared areas and equipment. The mini lab is just designed out of view and only holds 12 students so it is really hard to monitor while the 20 other students are in the classroom using the mobile laptops or working on other tasks. I wish the school allowed students to use their phones as bring your own device (BYOD) policies and practices seem to be gaining traction in many educational settings.

I have let a few kids use phones when we are doing dictionary and thesaurus based spelling and word derivation research  - as they love looking up word sites etc. The students can usually find and access the sites more effectively and efficiently time wise form their phones.

Much damage is taken out on the ICT computer mini lab and laptops as there is little ownership over the school equipment. another reason that careful and explicit uses for student owned smart phones at school would work well...sigh just too early for now.
we have made some changes to the ownership of the computers in the mini lab and the laptops recently and hopefully we will see a change to the issues we are currently experiencing at school.
I remain at the early stages of operating the smartboard and working out what it can do! The students are a great help - most of the time!

If any readers have any links or tips for ICT and Smartboards it is much appreciated - send it to me!