Author: Concetta Gotlieb

Designing with gifted and talented students

Image via Wikipedia Today I attended the Northern Sydney Region Gifted and Talented Conference at Miramare Gardens.  Such passionate educators took the stage it was hard not to get inspired. Dail McGilchrist talked about working with students at a conceptual level and focussing attention on student leadership.  Working with students as learning designers these are two key areas that I have found are challenging and rewarding aspects of teaching.  Working with concepts is about the ‘ability to understand a situation or problem by identifying patterns or connections and addressing key underlying issues’… and the ‘ability to integrate issues and factors into a conceptual framework.’  Carol Tomlinson (1998)  She also talked about the fact that making these connections helps the brian create networks of organisation and that this is useful not only for gifted students but also for the rest of the class. Manoj Chandra Handa from James Ruse Agricultural High School then provided a clear and explicit framework for teaching at the conceptual level.  The foundation of which is: a focus on learning rather than teaching a focus on teaching from the whole to the parts and, a focus on explicitly teaching outcomes and how they are linked to activities He shared with us many examples of how students were given the curriculum planning documents including the links to learning strategies and general capabilities at each point of the curriculum...

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The art of choosing

What kinds of choices do you get your learners to make?Why do they need the choice? [vodpod id=Video.4187214&w=425&h=350&] The art of choosing, posted with...

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Lisa@ Camden Haven Public School talks about collaboration

Image via Wikipedia I was surprised to find my students working so well within their groups. I was fortunate to witness one of my students, have a ‘light-bulb’ moment when he discovered how valuable he can be to his groups’ effort on the assignment. He is still growing emotionally and I thought group work and self-directed learning may be a bit much for him. I therefore kept him in mind when we were in the library and the students broke up to research the particular areas they were assigned. Sure enough, he was at the computer playing games. I enquired why he wasn’t helping his group. I explained to him his input is valuable and he will have something unique to contribute to the group dynamics. I asked what he was assigned to do and why he was given that particular task. It was at that point his eyes lit up and he really began to work. He realized his voice mattered. It still inspires me as a teacher. His new knowledge that he can make a positive difference to his team’s project made him work diligently throughout the day. One of his group members, stated he enjoyed working as a team, “but there was that pressure of letting the team down.” The group went on to make a good sequence about the panda. Another group worked especially well,...

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Change and learning

Image via Wikipedia Change is a really difficult thing for me to put my finger on.   For example is it when we do something that isn’t part of a routine that gets a big reaction either positive or negative?  Or is it more about the lasting transformation of the person or organisation.  If that is the case then what exactly is the change the introduction of the new or the adaptation to the new. I work at the Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre in Macquarie Uni.  The centre is a joint partnership between the university and the Department of Education...

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Assessing interactive learning objects.

I have trawled the internet looking for rubrics that get to the heart of assessing interaction.  I would have even settled for something asssessing students interacting with each other but it doesn’t seem there is much out there.  Certainly Pip Cleaves’s site called e-assessment is the closest thing I’ve seen and does a great job of looking at assessment from a different angle.  However it tends to deal with one tool at a time.  As part of my research I would like to explore what happens when students have full control over the type of interaction, the media used and the way they excute that interaction. Both the new ACARA (National Curriculum) and the latest advice from the NSW DET website talk about looking for the following things when assessing students use of ICT to perform literacy tasks.  The types of outcomes that we are looking at on this project are things like: Makes inferences including inferring meanings and messages using evidence from interrelated part of the text. Draws conclusions about main ideas, concepts and arguements Selects aspects of subject matter and particular language to represent people, places, events and things in ways that appeal to certain groups or audiences Creates written, spoken and multimodal texts for imaginative and informative purposes that contain vocabulary to show feeling and opinions, a variety of clause structures supported by appropriate punctuation to sustain...

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Music and interaction

Image via Wikipedia Music demands interaction.  It gives alot of itself and expects something back.  Last night I went to the Jonsi concert at the Enmore Theatre.  Jonsi is from Iceland and his music is pretty uplifting and intense.  Anyway it was a great performance with soft, beautiful vocals, crazy drums and lots of different instruments. Throughout the performance I noticed how everyone was really doing whatever the performers asked.  We clapped, we stomped, we sung, we laughed, we thought, we learned and yelled and with only the floor and the performers to support us. If I had to assess this performance I would say that it’s brilliance came from the silences, the confusion, the saturation, the surprises.  In learning design and using computers in general sometimes we can get very caught up in making sure every piece of information is available rather than a wholistic experience....

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Augmented interactivity takes us new places.

Image via Wikipedia At first I was skeptical about augmented reality, I thought it was just a gimmicky way to display information.  Now I’m seeing that your device knowing exactly where you are and in what direction you are looking combined with your device knowing who you are and what you need to know right now make the computer or device disappear and in the information you need take up centre stage.  It’s all about putting things in context! At the moment you can access augmented reality in a number of ways.  Institution such as the Powerhouse museum are putting a Layar of information over our world so that it is easier to navigate or interpret.  This can super useful for making the most out of things and finding things quickly. For example where the nearest ATM is or what this area looked like 100 years ago.  Junaio is another application that allows developer to put multimedia over the top of your work either using your location or by using visual search to identify visual patterns, this is great because it means that you can use it inside and outside.  You as the user can then access this information in the field. User generated augmented reality is also coming.  Wikitude is a good example of how users can upload information that will then appear over the top of things. There are a...

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HTML5 and interactivity

A couple of articles (Lifehacker and Infoworld) have recently tried to explain how HTML5 will change the web.  Basically I think the message is it will make interaction – easier, sharper, more focused and more useful, more focused on getting things done. The words they are using to describe the change include: Application (a web place where you interact) Input (your stuff) Location aware (knowing about you and using that info) Data availability and tags Flash?? Although it sounds a little dry it is a change non-techie people like me might really appreciate.  I think it means we will be able to create interactive stuff more easily.  Check out these examples.  Check out the drag and drop features and the content editable bits. This is what I’m imagining… I’m imagining things like a website that can take information for example you vote on something by dragging a picture from one place to another and then the website directs you to different pages depending on how you respond to it.  Or a website that knows your location and adapts the content to deliver you a different experience. What will it look like in the classroom? For learners this might mean a big change a chance for things to look pretty and be useful.  To give learners the chance to develop real tools that go out into the world and interact...

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Tracey@CHS talks about students understanding outcomes

The students have already worked on a collaborative project on the Roman forum.We asked them to produce a LAMS activity that reflected an outcome, selected by them, of one point on the topic they covered. Their response was varied, however it was amazing that for so many this was an extremely difficult task. They tended to go far too broad and wanted to answer the most difficult question they could think of rather than actually considering the implication of responding to the outcome. As for the outcome itself, despite being given the opportunity to choose they immediately looked for the ones that were the complex, despite the fact that this may not have been appropriate to their specific topic. Perhaps they have been too ‘well-trained’ to believe that the task that requires the greatest effort is always the best. While students have been encouraged to be sophisticated in their responses in the past, what dawned on me was that they are forgetting that at the end of the day the point is to respond in a relevant way, ie that fulfills the outcome. When I look at this in terms of syllabus outcomes I think this is a valuable lesson to both myself and the students. They are told daily to look at their syllabus outcomes – learning to understand them is what is critical. It was fascinating to...

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Interaction Scenarios

It can be difficult to come up with ideas that help the learner understand the ‘big idea’ you are trying to communicate with them.  One strategy that can help is to build a scenario or a story and then reveal the information as the story develops.  In this type of learning you ask the learner to put themselves into the shoes of a character who is trying to figure something out or practice a skill. What does it look like? Scenarios might follow a pattern like this: Introduce the scene Present some information (any media is appropriate) Ask the learner to use the information in a real world sense Check the learners understanding and provide feedback Move the learner on to the next part of the story Follow this process until the learner has worked through an ‘example’ of something from beginning to end How will I know if the learner has been successful? They make decisions that demonstrate they have understood the topic fully. How do I get started? Write a story using a storyboard or just bullet points on paper.  Make sure your story has a beginning, middle and end. Links...

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Assessing Interactive Learning Objects

As part of the research for a number of different projects we will be assessing what students learn as a result of designing interaction and participation.  This means we must consider Digital Literacy is a multi-faceted thing.  It includes traditional concepts of: Talking Listening Reading Writing For example is using Edmodo style microblogging more like reading and writing or more like talking and listening?  What are the sub-skills that students have to learn to adapt technology to meet communication needs?  What are the naunces of technology selection (ICT fluency), emotional literacy (designing interaction) and how do these concepts work together to make meaning? Myself and one of our project teachers Kate discussed the assessment of student created learning objects.  The LAMS object that the student had designed involved other students looking at instructional videos designed to teach a different type of software.  The student had provided captions for the videos but our discussion was around the fact that narration would have made the learning experience much easier for the learner – thus satisfying the design objective. When would we expect students to understand the human interaction with their technology designs and then make complex judgements that ensure their designs meet the objectives they set for themselves.  What is the continum of development that enables students to design interactions for each other? So far lots of questions.  In our assessment...

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Interacting with Mother Nature using iPad

Simple interaction.  MacICT and I have started working with a teacher from Westport High.  We are using LAMS to create interactive learning sequences that allow students to engage with their environment.  The school has a wonderful rainforest that they want to share with the world.  They already have a fantastic wiki (Westport Rainforest Wiki) that records the number and type of species of plants and animals in the rainforest. In just a few weeks of playing with LAMS the teacher Graham has created a sequence that takes digital images into the rainforest to help students correctly classify plants.  In the future we hope to work with this group on: Teachers creating LAMS sequences using multi and interactive media to teach students in the rainforest Engaging students in data analysis eg biodiversity in the field linked to our Local Ecostudy Project Students designing interactive narratives that build a story around a physical environment Using i-Apps to engage students in more effective collection of specimen data from their physical environment How do you think we can use technology to engage students in interacting with different physical...

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Is your classroom a jungle, a beach or do you fly around?

Students as learning designers can be an awesome way to engage students and produce great result in terms of learning outcomes.  Lets have a quick look at this in the context of the wider educational ecology. Different environments allow you to do different things. Consider the features of this environment.  There are dirt, trees, water, air.  What activities are they suited to? Consider the features of this environment.  What activities are they suited to? The different environments are differently suited to different types of activities.  You probably wouldn’t play ring-a-ring a rosie with your kids in the jungle.  The trees are densely concentrated and don’t allow for it.  Same goes for education. Different types of environments create different opportunities to engage in different types of learning. You probably wouldn’t allow students to design their own learning for every subject all the time.  It creates an environment dense with ideas and learning, time doesn’t always allow for it. My project takes one little feature of a learning environment eg ‘students as e-learning designers’ and asks what learning opportunities might students create from access to this feature.  This type of learning requires students to spend some time in the jungle, but I believe this time in the jungle in a regular classroom would be just one part of the overall ecology.  ‘Students as learning designers’, allows students to pick up a...

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Did I just learn that? Assessing metacognition.

What is metacognition? Metacognition: the act of thinking about thinking or knowing about knowing or cognition about cognition.  For example J. H. Flavell first used the word “metacognition”.[5] He describes it in these words: Metacognition refers to one’s knowledge concerning one’s own cognitive processes or anything related to them, e.g., the learning-relevant properties of information or data. For example, I am engaging in metacognition if I notice that I am having more trouble learning A than B; if it strikes me that I should double check C before accepting it as fact. —J. H. Flavell (1976, p. 232).  Wikipedia. Research in this field includes aspects such as: Self-regulation – thinking about staying on task Epistimology – what is knowledge Metacognitive beliefs – ideas about how my own cognitive processes operate Metacogntive awareness – understanding I can reflect on my own thinking Metacognitive experiences – experiences designed to provide opportunities for metacognitive reflection Metacognitive knowledge – knowing about my own cognitive processes Etc… Not quite metacognition – knowing about learning The framework of becoming a teacher is not primarily about thinking or at least in the current educational context it isn’t.  The current educational context plants this type of learning in the area of learning either content and skills.  Online learning environments particuarly with their focus on information management and research lend themselves more to the areas of epistomology, comprehension...

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Why is interactivity important?

Because it’s about what happens after we create.  It’s about what we do with the creating…. A big part of this project has been coming to understand why the technology involved supports students metacognition.  Finally I think I have come to understand that whilst the tools we are using are simple in the hands of students they open up a dynamic learning environment. This dynamic environment uses what the web calls API an easy way for web developers to share things to do.  An easy way to explain this might be an online news poll.  This technology take your opinion, your information and makes it part of the news and then feeds this to others and back to you also.   Interactivity can also include websites that allow you to make choices or provide information and this affects the information that you see. All this is important because it reminds me that on its own understanding how interaction works is a valuable digital literacy skill.  However the real WOW factor comes when you get students designing in this environment – suddenly they and the teachers have access to all this data.  Information about the opinions, ideas and misconceptions of their classmates.  Images and shared stories that invite further sharing. This provides a base for a student directed, teacher facilitated learning experience that also collects an amazing amount of data all collected...

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Project Based Learning and Collaborative Learning Logs

The design of the ‘Students as Learning Designers’ project has allowed myself and the teachers to explore different methods of delivery.  One major aspect of this has been the use of Edmodo to manage the group design process. Students each have a group on Edmodo.  Within this group they are putting the following information: The key idea or question that their sequence is design to teach A mind map of all the ideas that are related to their concept The content that the will need to deliver to their learners The design ideas for their sequence and the order of the activities The reference that they have used to create their content This is useful in a number of ways: It allows the learners to see what each of the team members has contributed and add to team knowledge as they go It allows teachers to monitor the learning that is happening within the group and for each individual Some of the challenges: It has been an ongoing learning process to see how students can effectively use Edmodo effectively More structured needed to be given to the students at the beginning of the process to help them use the tool Identifying the key idea has been very challenging and this needs to be more structured to help students (particularly those not as highly motivated) to work towards achieving this...

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Reflecting on Learning: Project Leader

One of my responsibilities during the ‘Students as Learning Designers’ Project is reflecting regularly, and I thought it might be interesting for everyone to see this.  Teachers and students can you please use the three questions I used to reflect in Edmodo, it only has to be a sentence or two (if you haven’t already done this in LAMS): What did you learn about learning/teaching? How did this project help you think about your own learning? What are the challenges in learning about learning/teaching? What did you learn about learning/teaching? So far the main thing that I have learnt about teaching and learning is that no matter how high you set the bar for students they will always exceed it in some ways and miss the idea in others.  So many students are already really ‘getting the concept’ of becoming teachers.  Comments like this one ‘I think this project will help us learn about different vital aspects of intuition, such as communication and organisation. It can also teach us a more efficient process of learning and conveying opinions, such as providing the information on Edmodo, where it is more likely to be read and thought about ‘ amaze me.  This student has articulated a deep understanding of what I think it means to be a 21st Century learner so well. How did the project help you think about your own learning? I work...

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PLEASE NOTE: MacICT was closed in 2016. This website remains as a record of the research conducted and courses run during its operation.