Tag Archives: Digital literacy

Starting Your own Digital Leaders Team⤴

from @ The Digital Revolution

Starting your own ‘Digital Leaders’ Team

Pupil Council, Eco Committee, JRSO, etc. – schools have so many different forums now for children to be involved in their school community and have their voice. Each of these forums can be transformational to the life and running of the school whilst benefiting learners.  However, if used as an ‘add-on’ or a ‘box-ticking’ exercise, they can also be a monumental waste of time.

I have been fortunate to run a very successful team of digital leaders in Mosspark Primary, known as the Tech Team, and I hope that this article will let you see, not only the benefits of having a Tech Team, but how to set up a digital leaders’ team with a similar model and run it so that it has a measurable impact in raising attainment through digital learning.  Please note that there are so many examples of great digital leaders’ teams out there, and by accessing professional learning networks, such as Twitter, you will be continually inspired in the running of your own digital leaders.  I would also like to point out that there are official programs for children to be involved in, including childnet’s digital leader training program, that will not only train your children, but allow you access to a wealth of resources and a community of other digital leaders.

Getting Started

The main problem with getting started is identifying a member of staff who will take forward the digital leaders’ program within the school.  Ideally, that person will be you – the person reading this – as that person must have the passion to take it forward.  I mentioned other similar ‘committees’ that are held in schools: often are these run by a member of staff that has been ‘given’ it to run.  There are so many examples of great pupil councils and great eco committees that truly have an impact in their school, but similarly there are many examples of those that do not.  If your school is going to invest in a Tech Team, you must make sure that someone is willing and able to commit the time needed.

Interviews

Identifying children that are not only keen but dedicated is crucial.  We run on a ‘no opt-out’ basis: that is to say, once you’re in, you’re in it for the year.  When I’m pitching the Tech Team to the P5-7s, I make sure that I tell them about the ‘bad’ stuff and skim over the ‘good’ stuff.  Rather than saying ‘we’ll be going on trips to…’ I say you will be giving up a lunch time each week and sometimes class time too.  Rather than saying ‘we’ll be learning about really cool…’ I say ‘we’ll be presenting to classes and assemblies’.  I need to make sure that the children that put themselves forward really want to do it and won’t be put off after joining by the commitment involved.

After pitching the idea, the children complete an application form.  I always like children to be able to see what an application process for a ‘real world job’ would look like.  The application forms should be simple but give a good idea of what the learner thinks they will be able to ‘get out of’ being in the team.  I always set a deadline on applications, and never accept any after the date (no exceptions), again, mirroring the real-world application process and also making sure that the children applying are truly committed.

Finally, I interview all of the children that have completed the application process to try to determine who would benefit the most from being a member of the Tech Team.

I find that either 10 or 15 members in a Team is perfect, as you will see in the ‘duties’ section.

Meetings

‘Pupil voice’ and ‘children leading learning’ are the two biggest parts of a Tech Team.  The first meeting should be to identify roles within the team.  In the same way that a good pupil council will run with children chairing and leading meetings, a Tech Team should be no different.  In the first meeting, the children learn about the roles of a chair-person, vice-chairperson, secretary and vice-secretary and then vote on the person that they feel would be best to take each role.  This is of course entirely optional but does form a huge part of how my Tech Team runs, as, prior to a monthly meeting, the chairperson, secretary (and sometimes vices) meet with me to set the agenda for the coming main meeting and voice any concerns that have been raised.

Following this initial meeting, we then have two types of meeting:

– Monthly ‘main’ meeting

This meeting is facilitated by the teacher but run by the chairperson and secretary, both of whom are assisted by their respective ‘vice’.  This meeting runs to the agenda set previously, and minutes are taken by the secretary.  The main purpose of the meeting is to outline the schedule for the coming month, decide on the skills to develop over the month, troubleshoot any issues, and look at timetabling of duties.

– Weekly skills development sessions

Weekly skills development sessions are always held at a specified lunch time each week and run for 45 minutes.  The children get a 15-minute early lunch so that they can be there as I feel that 30 minutes is too short.  It does however mean that either I take lunch to the meeting or miss it.

In the monthly meeting, children identify the skills that they want to develop over the month.  I feel that in order for children to truly lead their own learning and have their voice, they should choose what it is that they want to learn and get out of the Tech Team.  Each week, I then train the children in the skill(s) that they have identified – for example, last year, the children said that they wanted to learn about green screen and stop-motion animation for their first month.  This being the case, we learned how to create movies with green screen in one session, learned how to create a stop-motion animation in the second and then learned how to create a stop-motion animation that incorporated green screen in the third.

There will be times that you aren’t confident in teaching the area/skill that the children want to learn about.  In these cases, I would suggest trying to book a STEM ambassador to come out to work with the group, seeking advice on Twitter/other PLN, or using YouTube tutorials to either teach you or to do the teaching for you.  Remember to document any CPD that you do in this way.

The weekly skills development sessions are, in my opinion, the most powerful aspect of a school Tech Team, as they are the time that you will see the biggest difference in your learners.

Events and MS Teams

It is important to note that sometimes you will need to dictate a skills development session; however, try to restrict this to a maximum of one per month.  Say, for example, Safer Internet Day is coming up and your team has been asked to present lessons or an assembly, you may need to give up one session to prepare for it.  Do make sure that the preparation is done in one session only, otherwise your Team will be at risk of becoming a teacher-led experience which almost entirely defeats the purpose of it.  In Mosspark Primary School, our Tech Team have a Microsoft Group that uses Teams to communicate.  I upload a skeleton presentation with title pages, for the children to research and put in the information and any media necessary.  The children get control of the design and transitions of the presentation, and even organise who will say what.  By using Microsoft Teams, it enables the children to communicate via the ‘comments’ section, and in real time collaborate on the same document either in the meeting or after at home.  I set the children a deadline by which the presentation is to be finished and am on hand for the initial meeting and at a few other times that the children can use as a drop-in session.  Otherwise, the children are left to work on their own.  On the deadline, I then review the PowerPoint and feed back to the group on the group chat prior to the assembly or lesson.

I have scheduled a blog post in a fortnight for a more in-depth look at setting up teams, but it is well worth looking into activating your members’ Glow Logins as soon as you set up your own Digital Leaders’ team.

Duties

The first change I always make when assisting with an ICT program is ridding the school of class logins.  Frankly, they are a waste of time.  With infant classes and even older classes, why waste valuable lesson time logging out of a previous class’ session, sometimes even having to reboot computers and then logging in.  With younger classes it’s frankly absurd, and in the older classes is just a complete waste of time.  In place of class logins, I always switch to a single school login.  In our school, it is the responsibility of the Tech Team to log on to all of the computers in the ICT suite during registration time on their timetabled day (they let their teacher know that they’re in at 9am, and head straight to the ICT suite).  The reason that I like my team to consist of either 10 or 15 members is due to my being a little OCD about the duties timetable.  Having 10 or 15 members in your team means that you always have either 2 or 3 children timetabled on duties per day, and the duties are thus:

  • 9am: Log on to ICT suite computers and hand out class iPad to each class
  • 2:45pm: Collect in class iPad from each class for charging and secure storage and remind class in ICT suite to log off at the end of the day.

I have found that the children do take their duties very seriously, and it has given some of our children a real sense of responsibility.

Assisting

The main reason that digital leader teams are formed though is to help raise attainment in digital learning across the school, and for children to really lead learning.  In my mind, leading learning is not simply ‘presenting’ at an assembly or in a lesson – that’s an EXA outcome.  In our school, leading is taking forward learning.

Each term, our staff work with a GCC ‘Improving our Classrooms’ model of moderation, whereby they receive training in an area of digital learning.  Over the course of the term, they then use that aspect of digital learning (e.g. creating movies with iMovie, or coding with code.org) with their classes to feed back at the end of the term the impact that it has had.  Often though, after only one training session, all staff aren’t always confident to teach a lesson using a program that they’ve only seen once – which is understandable and will be the same in all establishments.  By having the Tech Team, it means that staff are able to request Tech Team support.

The process for this is threefold:

  • Two or three team members are identified to work with the staff member. These members are picked fairly in order that it’s not always the same children helping, and to ensure that members aren’t missing out on aspects of their other learning.  The members then meet quickly with the staff member to discuss how they can help and find out what the subject is, so that they can prepare.
  • If the Tech Team members are not sure about the area in question, they ask me for a skills development session in that area, otherwise they set a date to go into the class to either teach the lesson (I’d normally support with the planning / running of this), team teach with the class teacher, or support the children and troubleshoot once the teacher has introduced the concept. The choice is entirely what the teacher feels that his/her children would benefit the most from.
  • The Tech Team members feedback to me and the Team about what went well and what they would do differently next time.

The trickiest thing for this process to work is for staff to come onboard with asking children for support.  I’m very fortunate that my colleagues have been fantastic and have really embraced using Tech Team (even for areas that they are comfortable with, but rather as additional support for the children).  This has had such a positive impact on the team members and their confidence but has also really boosted the profile of the Tech Team, and digital learning, within the school.  However, in talking with colleagues from other establishments, often staff have been reluctant to engage with the tech team in this sense, and so they haven’t been getting used well.  It is important though, in setting up a team of digital leaders, that you do monitor how they are being used and encourage staff to invite them in to support with the use of iPads and computers.

Conclusion

I could write so much more about the digital leader teams, as they have truly transformed the way I view the topic of ‘children leading learning’ and have had such an impact in my current school; however, time is pressing for the publish time!

I’d strongly suggest looking at as many examples of good practice as you can to get ideas and inspiration for setting up your own team.  Check out Mosspark Primary and my own Twitter feed for regular digital literacy posts, but especially follow the #MPTechTeam hashtag to see the type of things that the Mosspark Primary School Tech Team have been doing.

I do hope that you’ve found this post helpful.  Please feel free to tweet me about any ideas/suggestions for future posts, and if you have any comments/questions about this one.

Thanks for reading,

Donald

 

N.b. all images used in this post have been of the 2017-18 Mosspark Tech Team.  You can find the original images and more information using #MPTechTeam on Twitter.

 

August Schedule⤴

from @ The Digital Revolution

I’ve finally decided on the final schedule for August blog posts, thanks to help from everyone on Twitter.  In order to help everyone get started in the new session, I am going to bring my posts forward by one week as follows:

Sunday 12th August, 8pm – “Starting your own Digital Leaders Team”

This post will focus on the practicalities, benefits and considerations for setting up your own team of Digital Leaders; a truly essential way to raise attainment in digital literacy and engage pupils in leading their own learning.

Sunday 19th August, 8pm – “Introducing Coding”

This post will be aimed at teachers who are either about to teach coding for the first time, or staff that have a class that have never experienced coding before.  It will also be aimed at providing training to staff in your school that are not confident in teaching coding or don’t realise the impact that it has on learners.

Sunday 26th August, 8pm – “Using Microsoft Teams for Collaboration”

Whether you are looking for a better way to collaborate with your own learning community / staff team, or want to see your class / club engage collaboratively on documents/presentations and work both in and out of school, ‘Teams’ is for you.  This post will look at how it has transformed the way that children in my clubs work with one another and will show the benefits of an online learning environment. 

Emojis, Symbols and Signs in Literacy and Learning⤴

from @ ICT for Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

For conveying information quickly we all rely on signs and symbols every day, whether it’s finding toilets, exits, stairs or lifts in unfamiliar public buildings, or signs on roads warning of dangers ahead. We’re used to seeing symbols which convey information such as laundry washing symbols, packaging symbols, or about recycling products. And it might be said that people find information shared in an infographic poster more visually engaging when text and graphics and combined. Images can be recognised quickly regardless of the first language of the reader ensuring that information can be conveyed concisely without high levels of reading skills in any particular language.

Signs and symbols have been used throughout history to convey information so they are not new. The symbols used in ancient civilisations through to the emoticons and emojis of today may be considered to be part of a continuum.

It’s been described as one of the fastest growing languages and many millions of messages are reported to be sent every day using only emojis. Tennis star Andy Murray tweeted about his wedding day solely using emojis!

So what is an Emoji?

Emojis are simply pictures you type on a device, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or computer. Emojis are standardised characters available on different platforms whether running Apple, Android, or Windows operating systems, or different social media platforms (the artwork varies slightly between each but the meaning remains the same).

But I don’t know what each emoji means!!

We all grow up with signs and symbols but for many people there may be a worry that they don’t know what each emoji means – don’t panic, there’s an online encyclopedia/dictionary of emojis: https://emojipedia.org/. Simply type in a word to find the emoji you need.

There’s also a Frequently-Asked-Questions section which answers questions you might have about emojis.

You might also find useful the EmojiTranslate site where you simply type a word, sentence or paragraph to get emojis to copy and paste elsewhere https://emojitranslate.com/

Why might Emojis be used in Education?

Why I use Emoji in Research and Teaching – an article by Jennifer Fane setting out reasons why to consider using emojis in education to support inclusion, to aid communication, and to give voice to all learners.

How Emojis can Help Children Learn and Communicate – another article by Jennifer Fane describing how emojis can aid inclusion for children as well as support children’s learning in areas of health, well-being, safety and diversity.

 

Ideas and Resources for using Emojis in the Classroom

An Emoji Education – a blogpost by Tony Vincent in his excellent Learning in Hand blog which presents lots of tools and ideas for using emojis in the classroom complemented by visually engaging poster images. Whether it’s simply suggesting use of emojis instead of common bullet-points in reports or presentations for greater impact, or for learners summarizing texts using emojis to demonstrate understanding, or using emojis as prompts for story starts, as well as a range of tools which can aid the use of emojis on a variety of devices.

20+ Emoji Activities and Resources for Teaching Math, Science, and English – a very helpful blogpost by Shelly Terrell with a host of ideas for making use of emojis in education. The ideas can be adapted across many curricular areas. Shelley links to other useful resources and tools, as well as additional posts about how emojis can be used including her “Teaching the Emoji Generation” article which also links to many other articles, resources and tools.

15 Ways to Emoji-fy Your Teaching – a blogpost by teacher Stacy Zeiger with ideas for using emojis in the classroom for supporting reading and writing, for maths and science such as illustrating processes, and to support social and emotional learning to help break down communication barriers for some learners.

Using Emojis to Teach Critical Reading Skills – an article by Marissa King with suggestions for how emojis might be used in a classroom situation as one means of connecting learner experience outwith school to develop skills in other contexts in the classroom.

Cybrary Man’s Educational Website for Emojis – a web page of links to resources about using emojis in education collated on the Cybrary Man website by Jerry Blumengarten.

First Blog Coming Soon!⤴

from @ The Digital Revolution

Getting started

I’m very much looking forward to starting blogging this term.  I will create a blog post each week of each school term this year, starting when we start back in August.

I’ve not yet finalised which day I will publish each week, but it will most likely be on Sundays at the end of each school week. So, all being well, Sunday 19th August should be the first post!

My ideas for the future posts are:

  • Simple offline coding lesson ideas
  • How to teach coding
  • Sharing learning with parents
  • ClassDojo: To use, or not to use? That is the question.
  • PLNs
  • Using Microsoft Teams & Groups
  • Digital Leaders – the birth of the Tech Team

I have lots of other ideas, but would love to know which of these you would find the most beneficial and also what things you would like to see on the blog!

Tweet me your suggestions to @mrfeistsclass

Be Internet Legends – Google and ParentZone internet safety educational resource⤴

from @ ICT for Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

Primary schools are invited to sign up to receive the new free online safety resource developed by Google with ParentZone for children aged 7-11. This new “Be Internet Legends” curriculum is a free internet safety educational resource for pupils aged 7-11 years-old, created by Google along with Parent Zone, and includes lesson plans and activities, stickers and poster delivering important internet safety messages. It’s all free to order, one per teacher, from this link: https://parentzone.org.uk/be-internet-legends

Google and ParentZone are also offering free “Be Internet Legends” visits from their team to present at school assemblies across the country. If your school would like to have their team visit to deliver a “Be Internet Legends” assembly then simply indicate on the pack order at this link: https://parentzone.org.uk/be-internet-legends

There is a frequently-asked-questions page for this at this link: https://parentzone.org.uk/article/be-internet-legends-faqs

The Be Internet Legends scheme of work helps pupils learn the skills they need to be safe and confident online based around four internet safety pillars:

  • Think Before You Share: (Be Internet Sharp);
  • Check it’s for Real: (Be Internet Alert);
  • Protect Your Stuff: (Be Internet Secure);
  • Respect Each Other: (Be Internet Kind);

The fifth pillar brings everything together, providing valuable follow-up discussions to have in class or during a safeguarding discussion: When in Doubt, Discuss (Be Internet Brave)

 

Creating a Multi-user Collaborative Presentation with Microsoft PowerPoint Online⤴

from @ ICT for Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

The go-to presentation-creation tool for many teachers and pupils is PowerPoint. So as your pupils are already familiar with using Microsoft PowerPoint then consider using Microsoft PowerPoint Online available to all Glow users in Scottish schools as part of Microsoft Office 365. PowerPoint Online is available anytime, anywhere with online access so can be accessed at home or at school.

You can upload an existing PowerPoint presentation from your computer or other device to your OneDrive in Office 365 in Glow (and then edit online from then onwards) or you can simply log into your OneDrive and create a new PowerPoint presentation completely online. You can choose to keep the presentation private to you in your own OneDrive (the online cloud storage with massive capacity available to every Glow user in Scottish schools). Or you can, at any time, choose to make a PowerPoint Online presentation visible to other users of your choice – and you can choose whether to allow them to just be able to view it or show it without being able to make changes, or you can give other users the access rights to be able to jointly edit the presentation with you, either at exactly the same time as you or at different times to suit each user.

Have a look at the Sway presentation here for a step-by-step guide for learners to create a PowerPoint presentation in PowerPoint Online in their OneDrive in Microsoft office 365 via Glow and to share this with other Glow users to be able to jointly edit the same presentation.

 

The link below take you to a classroom activity for pupils to use PowerPoint Online to create (jointly with other pupils on different devices at the same time) a robot character. The step-by-step guide to this activity can be adapted for other curricular-specific tasks which would benefit from a group of pupils working collaboratively on the same PowerPoint presentation, whether simultaneously or at different times:

Passing the Power of Powerpoint

Real-time multi-user collaboration in Microsoft Word Online⤴

from @ ICT for Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

So are your pupils are already familiar with using Microsoft Word? Then why not consider using Microsoft Word Online available to all Glow users in Scottish schools as part of Microsoft Office 365. Word Online is available anytime, anywhere with online access so can be accessed at home or at school.

Word Online can be used to create  document from the beginning (or you can upload an existing Word document from your computer to make it available to edit online thereafter). You can keep it private to you in your own OneDrive (the online cloud storage with massive capacity available to every Glow user in Scottish schools). Or you can, at any time, choose to make a Word Online document visible to other users of your choice – and you can choose whether to allow them to just be able to read it without being able to make changes, or you can give other users the access rights to be able to jointly edit the document with you.

Have a look at the Sway presentation here for a step-by-step guide for learners to create a Word document in Word Online in their OneDrive in Microsoft office 365 via Glow and to share this with other Glow users to be able to jointly edit the same document.

New and improved Glow Connect website⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

We are proud to share with you today the new and improved official Glow website Glow Connect

The site provides Glow customers with information on the educational benefits of Glow, easy access to the main Glow login screen, and help and guidance on the various services Glow offers. We hope you enjoy using the site and find it valuable for keeping up to date on all things Glow

‘You and Me, all we want to be is lazy’⤴

from @ Just Trying to be Better Than Yesterday

Of all the things that have begun to happen to me as I get older, increasing claustrophobia is my most concerning. Whenever I’m in a position where I can’t see a way out – whether an exit or an excuse – I start to get anxious and feel my heart rate increasing. More and more , I avoid social occasions, certainly if there is likely to be a large crowd: more recently I’ve begun to dread larger CPD events, especially ones where the ‘presenter’ asks the ‘audience’ to do some work.  I feel the same way when Bruce Springsteen turns his microphone to the audience: ‘No, Springsteen. YOU sing!’

That feeling is probably the reason why online learning appeals to me. I can read things when and where I want: there is no one with flipchart paper or a microphone to put me on the spot. And, to cap it all off, I don’t have to tell anyone who I am or where I’m from or what I hope to get from the day. Seriously? If you’re running a CPD day and have to ask that then there’s a problem. Indeed, if you’re an educational ‘consultant’ and need that reassurance then you really need to up your game. If you’re selling your product you should be clear what it is from the start.

But online learning is much more appealing to me. Sometimes. The comforting delight in knowing that you can give up at any time means that, for the most part, I give up at any time. Never finish things, I dip in to blogs and research papers and find books, and get about half way through them and give in, learning lots of little things along the way. And, knowing I don’t have to ‘feedback during plenary’, it is massively satisfying. But it’s different when you’re an adult. I’m not sure how I would have got on if I had something like ‘Flipped Learning’ when I was at school.

That tendency to give up is probably why these things won’t work for everyone in schools. It is in our nature to be lazy. As Daniel Willingham says in ‘Why Don’t Students Like School?’, ‘Humans don’t think very often because our brains are designed not for thought but for the avoidance of thought.’ Some of my students may love online learning; some may hate it; most, I think, would love the idea but never find the motivation to do it on their own. Flipped learning makes a lot of in correct assumptions about the willingness of children to work in their own time.

So, while crammed classrooms are probably claustrophobic for some kids, it really is the best way for us to teach a class of thirty. It’s not perfect by any means but I’m yet to be convinced that more ‘open’ approaches to learning can work for every child. We have a responsibility to those kids who needs us most, those disadvantaged by background, and new, untested strategies are often vanity projects. Teaching them well, in the best possible way, is our duty. Let’s not take risks with that.


What’s Up, Docs? Digital Technology in English.⤴

from @ Just Trying to be Better Than Yesterday

As  an English teacher I get no greater pleasure when I see a classroom full of children engrossed in a book. Whether that is a focused ten minutes on their own choices or hanging on every word of Macbeth, books are what got me here and books are what it should be about. So when it comes to tech, I’ve always approached with caution. With any new ‘innovation’, I always begin with two questions: will this help reduce my workload rather than increase it and will it genuinely be a better way to teach kids stuff? If the answer to either of those is ‘No’ then I’ll ignore it.

I have real concerns that some of the major international tech firms are looking on at Education in the UK and are rubbing their hands with glee. So much money; so much possibility. The blind swallowing of this thing called ‘21st Century skills’ often disguises the fact that good learning is good learning no matter the tools we have in front of us. But is it incumbent on us all to find out what might work for our classrooms and ourselves? Perhaps. Again, approaching with caution – and a firm eye on the price tag – is key.

Having said that, though, it is our professional responsibility to utilise the best strategies for our classrooms. Using effective tech is already part of what we do in Scotland. The Government issued document ‘Enhancing Learning and Teaching Through the Use of Digital Technology’   states that: Digital technology is already embedded within Scottish education. It has a place within Curriculum for Excellence, Initial Teacher Education and the Professional Standards set by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).’ So, knowing that, I have always tried to use the best resources I could find for my classes. The danger comes, however, when we use tech just because it is there.

I have recently been dabbling with the  ‘Classroom’ suite of tools from a very big tech company. For writing in the senior school I have begun to see it as hugely impressive. Our students have to produce a Folio for Higher and National 5. Using Docs this term has allowed me to follow progress very closely, to mark and assess as they go along, and avoid the chasing up of late bits of paper. It both cuts down on my workload and helps the students to make progress. Sold. I would never use it with younger kids; they need to write accurately with pen or pencil before they should move on to more focused tools but for seniors it works really well.

As teachers we should be able to assess how tech works most effectively. Kids have loads of gadgets but are not as tech savvy as we may be lead to believe. In fact it is often  lazy assumption. They have tools with great power. Whether we can tap into that or not remains to be seen but we should find out of ourselves. Tech, if anything, should allow us to extend the classroom, providing genuine opportunities for learning. If it doesn’t do that the we should leave it alone. And get back to the books.