School Visits

Last week, a few teachers from two schools came to MLC to view the iPads in action… in the hands of our year 6 students. The teachers who came out were impressed with the way we integrate the iPads in our learning and teaching program, as well as how our students interact and converse with visitors. I, too, was impressed with the way the students were able to articulate their learning through the use of the iPads. It never ceases to amaze me how students step up to the mark when placed in a position like this.

School visits are common at MLC. It is fantastic that my school is being recognised for the wonderful programs we run and the innovative and transformative ideas teachers are trialing and delivering. I really enjoy working with such a talented staff and look forward to what lies ahead. I do have one thing to say about school visits though. I think it is important for visitors to take away ideas they think they can use and implement… then adapt to suit their own school setting…

Learning Tree

Last year, when I found out I was teaching year 6 and co-leading the iPad trial, I wondered how I could draw together my students’ learning goals, their wonderings and discoveries, as well as app reviews. I thought back to the times when I had a ‘Learning Tree’ in my classroom. I remembered my students posting their wonderings and discoveries just with sticky notes on the tree’s trunk. They loved it… as did I 🙂 My classroom looked fantastic… but my students didn’t actually publish their learning goals back then, nor app reviews… so what was I going to do? How could I incorporate these?

Then I remembered seeing a picture posted by a bookstore I “like” on Facebook, Enchanted by Books. They posted the following photo of a visiting author… standing in front of a tree.

learning tree

In the past, I used strips of tissue paper to create the effect of the canopy. As you can see, this bookstore actually cut out paper leaves and hung them from fishing line from the ceiling. Wow! I thought to myself. That is it! Our school’s logo has leaves in it. I could get the students to write their learning goals on leaves, the same shape as those in our logo, and hang them from the ceiling 🙂

Hmmm… but what about the students’ wonderings and discoveries? Another idea came to mind 🙂 My students could write their wonderings on butterflies, or rather, “wonderflies“… and they could write their discoveries on ladybugs, or rather, “discoverbugs“. My ‘Learning Tree’ was coming together 🙂 I was thrilled. Then, a day or so later, another idea came to me… my students could also write app reviews on apples and we could hang these from the ceiling as well. This is exactly what I wanted. My vision had finally come together 🙂 I now had in mind a ‘Learning Tree’ that incorporated everything I wanted – my students’ learning goals, their wonderings and discoveries and app reviews 🙂

It’s amazing where you find inspiration and how one thought sparks another 🙂

Grade6LearningTree

Learning with iPads

This year I am co-leading the iPad trial within my school with Corrie Barclay, my school’s ICT Leading Teacher.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to effectively integrate iPads in my learning and teaching program. I want my students’ learning experiences to be more than just using the stand alone apps. I don’t want my students to just type up stories in Pages or play games. I want my students to reflect on their learning, to track their progress, to think at a deeper level, to become creative authors and to transfer skills across different apps. I believe in the benefits of gaming, I just don’t want that to be the focus for the use of iPads in my classroom. I want to encourage discovery learning and peer coaching… and I want to promote student voice as well. I want my students to know that I value and acknowledge their thoughts, opinions and ideas. I also want my students to choose the app/s they feel best enables them to complete the learning tasks set.

Seeing I wasn’t part of the iPad experience last year, I wanted to hear what my students liked about the iPads, how they used them last year and how they would like to use them to assist their learning this year. To my surprise, my students’ responses weren’t all about playing games:

“I love using MathBoard because I love setting my own problems.”

“Touch Physics helps you with your thinking.”

“eBooks make reading fun!”

“I like Brain Quest because you answer questions and learn new facts.”

“I like how the games help me with my hand – eye co-ordination.”

These statements will help my team and I plan lessons our students will enjoy and be engaged in because they will feel a sense of ownership over the lesson design.

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