Tinkercad: 3D design

This week is a very exciting week for me. This week I will be (attempting to) 3D print models of Greek Temples designed by my class! I am so excited to use the 3D printers we have in school for the first time and see how the designs turn out.

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CLMOOC with TinkerCAD” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by Dogtrax

Tinkercad is a web-based 3D design software which can be used to design just about anything! We had the Ancient Greeks topic coming up so I planned a short unit incorporating DT and ICT.

You can sign up on Tinkercad as a teacher and have a tinker yourself. Sign up here. I would recommend doing this first and get a feel for what you can create. If you click on the gallery, you will see what others have designed. I let my class use my login details and created groups for them to store their work in. After one lesson of introducing the software to them and allowing them time to explore, we were ready to get designing. I created a screencast of this tutorial session which some of the other teachers in my team used to help train themselves and their class.

After first learning about Greek Temples, my class then went about collaging some inspiration, before getting stuck into the Tinkercad design software. It only took about 3 lessons, and they were done. It really was much easier than I thought it would be and the students quickly became better designers than me.

Here are some of their final designs:

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I can’t wait to plan another unit like this one. The possibilities are endless!

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3D Prints of TinkerCAD Designs” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Nearpod: Lesson presentations which are truly interactive

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Has anyone else lost the love of these ‘interactive’ smart boards which have become a standard feature of classrooms these days?

I am always looking to improve the way I use ICT in my classroom and how I can use the SAMR model to redefine technology in my lessons. It’s a constant learning curve and I’ve recently discovered Nearpod which is revolutionising how I deliver my lessons.

As a fan of flipped teaching and backwards teaching, I am passionate about AFL and individualising content as much as possible. Nearpod enables teachers to deliver a lesson either live or at the pace of students by allowing them to access the content of the presentation on their own device, via a student code.

The teacher can control the pace through Live teaching, as you would with a PowerPoint, Presi, Promethean or Smart presentation, but students also have access to the content and can answer questions, take quizzes and provide the teacher with valuable formative feedback on their learning. Polls can be used in the live teaching mode to engage students and quickly assess whether a concept has been understood.

If you opt for student paced learning, students can access the same content as above, yet this way they can move through the content at their own pace, allowing for students to go back, revise, practise or skip forward etc. Videos can be embedded to support those learners who need more teacher demonstration, whereas more confident learners can simply skip these videos and go onto the next slide of content.

I introduced this to my students this week and they have picked it up pretty quickly. Often I have morning activities going on in class as the students get into school and one of these Nearpod tasks served as a great task for this slot.

Data reports – Here is the great bit – data!

Whichever way the students access the content, live or at their own pace, their interactions and answers are recorded and the data can then be used for your assessment, for learning conversations with students and also with parents. After the lesson has ended, the data is stored in the lesson file, under your library. Clicking on the top of the lesson and then onto reports gives you the data from that lesson in an easy to read format with statistics for accuracy, participation and details of the questions which were answered correctly or incorrectly. This can handily be printed off in a PDF format, either in teacher or student friendly versions, depending on what purpose you’re using it for. You could print these reports and keep it in students’ books, if you wanted a written record.

Teacher report – whole class

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Student friendly data report

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Nearpod also has some awesome features such as 3D graphic models and virtual field trips, which I’ve yet to explore fully. I can’t wait to learn more about this programme and use it to its full capability in my classroom.

For me, the major benefit of this tool is its interactive features which mean students are really involved in the lesson and can access it at their own pace.

Find out more about Nearpod here

Excited to try it out for yourself?

One quick way to try Nearpod in your classroom is to create an account (for free) and then download some of the content already created by other teachers. You can duplicate their content and add it to your library, where you can either use as it is or edit for your own students. I recommend trying this way first in order to see how others are using the programme. Some of the ready-made content is free while others charge a small fee.

Other tips on how to use Nearpod in your classroom:

Technology in the classroom: The SAMR model

Technology is moving at an incredible pace and every day it seems that there is something new we could use in the classroom. But how often do we use technology in a way which actually adds something to our teaching and, more importantly, adds something to the learning of our students?  The SAMR model, developed by Ruben Puentedura, demonstrates the thinking process that we as educators can go through in order to up-skill their use of technology in the classroom.   

What is the SAMR model?

Watch this video for an introduction: Dr Ruben Puentedura – The SAMR Model

Key question: Is it adding anything?

Using the SAMR model, we can begin to analyse how we are currently using technology and consider our next steps as teachers. 

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Slide1” (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by langwitches

It can be tempting to stick to substitution when we use technology in the classroom, through the use of Office tools or research. Using an iPad to computer to research something which could equally be researched using a book is substitution. Using googlemaps instead of an atlas to locate a country is substitutionWriting up a student’s work on Word, Publisher or other programme is substitution.  These are simply alternative methods which don’t necessarily add any more to the learning. However, the good news is that there are also many easy ways we can adapt how we use these same tools which do add to the learning. Yes – easy

Word processing
Original task: Writing a story. 
Improved using the SAMR model:

Substitution: A Word Processor replaces a Pen/Pencil in a Writing Assignment. Students type the story instead.  
Augmentation: The document is created using the Word Processor using a speech-to-text function to ‘type’ it – great for students who are learning English as a second language.  
Modification: Work is shared with peers/teacher so that feedback can be received and incorporated to help improve the quality of writing. This is easily done through Google Drive, if you have it, or can simply be saved onto the sever and a peer can then open and use the review mode to add comments, highlight sections, pose questions etc.
Redefinition: Instead of a written assignment, students could ‘write’ their story using an iMovie, Comic Life app, youtellstory app or storybird. All of these apps allow you to add pictures and overlay audio to tell your story. There are so many of them out there. 

Research lesson.
Original task: research a country or city and share facts using books from library and magazine clippings.
Improved using the SAMR model:

Substitution: Use presentation software (like Powerpoint or Prezi) to construct a presentation providing information about a selected area.
Augmentation: Incorporate interactive multimedia – audio, video, hyperlinks – in the presentation to give more depth and provide more engaging presentation.
Modification: Create a digital travel brochure that incorporates multimedia and student created video. 
Redefinition: Explore the locale with Google Earth; seek out and include interviews with people who have visited the local. A green screen video would add a sense of realness with the student interviewing people ‘in’ the city.  

Science. 
Original task: label the features of the water cycle on a diagram. 
Improved using the SAMR model:

SubstitutionUse the Smart board or other interactive whiteboard to drag and drop the labels onto the diagram. 
Augmentation: Use Quizlet online to create a matching game for parts of the diagram, definition and term. 
Modification: Use the app Educreations to model drawing the diagram and audio record the explanation.
Redefinition: Use Aurasma app to bring a diagram ‘to life’ by embedding video explanations and/or drama created by the student.  

How can I develop my practice using the SAMR model?

Take one step at a time and progress up through the model. Remember, substitution is not bad but we can improve our practice and the learning opportunities we create by moving up asking ourselves some key questions.  

What apps work for this?

This blog has some great ideas for how to use this model in your classroom and links each section of the model to different apps.

Further reading:

SAMR model explained. (Useful Prezi)

Technology integration in the classroom. 

Digital technologies in the classroom.

Flexible Seating

Looking around my classroom this year, I was struck by a thought. Education has changed dramatically over the years. Classrooms of today look dramatically different to those in Victorian England. Or do they?

Yes, education has come a long way; research has focused on the different learning needs of students and innovative ways to help students to develop the skills they require in today’s world. Differentiation has been a buzz word for a long time and teachers have spent many hours and PD sessions learning about how best to differentiate their lessons to suit all learners. Yet we still expect all students to sit for long periods of time on chairs and at tables, regardless of their needs or learning styles. There is zero differentiation there.

This prompted me to do some research of my own. I came across a few blogs which got me thinking about the set up of my classroom and how I could adapt it to suit the needs of my class. On a basic level, designing a classroom which is comfortable and allows for student choice, will enable students to select an area which they will be able to focus in. Being focused and comfortable will help students to be better engaged and foster better outcomes.

Flexible classroom environment

Redesigning the classroom

Effective Learning Environments

Rethinking classroom design –Comfortable classrooms—physically and psychologically— promote a sense of well-being, keep minds focused, and limit distractions.” 

This fourth website really made me think about the way I planned my lessons. I began to ‘flip’ my classroom in order to make the most of my new classroom design and things really began to click into place. I’ll talk more about my flipped classroom in my next post.

In order to achieve my new classroom design, I had to beg and borrow as much of the furniture as possible! I have been really happy with the outcome so far, but as many of you can probably empathise, I continuously want to change and upgrade things.

 

This is the start of my classroom redesign journey. 

Students love the standing tables! They really enjoy the freedom of movement which comes with not being confined to a seat. The standing tables were simply created by putting old wooden creates underneath the tables. I have seen other teachers use bed raisers too, which is something I will be using in my new classroom. The bouncy balls are great for students who need to move constantly and find sitting still challenging. DISCLAIMER – they are a challenge when you first put them in your classroom! I know teachers who have given up on using these very quickly due to behaviour management issues. However, please do persevere, as when students understand that they are seats and follow the rules for using them, they will calm down and use them appropriately. I personally love lying down on the large cushions as I work with a group of students who are doing the same.

The outcome? Well, it’s only been 4 months of this layout and I can honestly say I’ve seen an increase in the engagement of my students. They love learning and feel proud of their classroom. Students who previously found it challenging to stay focused are actually the ones who are considering where they will work best in the classroom the most. My classroom is often used by other teachers and other students come into the room too. It’s been fantastic to see my students explaining the new layout to others and encourage them to make good choices about where they learn best and not just sit next to their friends. Proud teacher moment!

Many teachers and members of senior leadership have shared positive comments about my classroom and the innovative design. I know that for some it may seem a bit too far outside of the box, but honestly, teaching and learning is something which is always moving forward. It’s exciting to try new things and adapt your practice. We can’t continue to teach like we always have as we educators need to move forward with the times.

I am excited about starting the year with my new class and have already begun to redesign the classroom to allow for plenty of seating options.

If you’ve tried redesigning your classroom or have any great ideas to share on this, please do comment and share!

Flipped Learning

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Ente”The Flipped Classroom” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by AJC1r a caption

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Flipped learning seems to be the buzz word in education right now. Everyone is talking about it. This was enough to grab my interest and give me the enthusiasm to try it out in my classroom.

Essentially, flipped learning is turning the traditional idea of teaching on it’s head. In this way, teachers spend their time not teaching, but facilitating application of the learning which has happened prior to the lesson. This can happen in many different ways, but the popular way is through online tutorials uploaded through YouTube or Vimeo. Students would watch these tutorials, learn at home and then bring that knowledge into the classroom so that the teacher can then set up tasks which allow students to demonstrate their knowledge.

EDPuzzle (1)In my experience, I have used EdPuzzle to send tutorials to students which they have needed to watch before the next lesson. Using this application, I added questions to the video which pause the video at certain points and ask for an input. This is a useful added extra to just sending a video to students and hoping they watch it. For a start, you can see which students have watched the video as well as what their answers were to the questions you set. EdPuzzle works best if your students have Google logins, although I did manage a way around this by asking parents to sign up (for free) to EdPuzzle.

The projects which students chose to complete in lessons to demonstrate their learning vast exceeded my expectations. And then I realised something. My expectations. I had already put students into boxes. The lower abilities, the middles, the more able, the gifted etc. That way of thinking needed to be thrown out of the window! Yes I need to plan for challenge and ensure that every student is pushed and challenged well, but I should throw out all my original expectations of what students could achieve in these lessons. It was one of my ‘low achievers’ who taught me this when she shared her x-ray machine which she had made to demonstrate the differences and similarities between animal and human teeth. I was astounded. Had I given her a worksheet to fill in, or another written activity, the outcome probably would’ve been a lot lower. Yet here, given the opportunity to demonstrate her learning in any way she desired, she blew my mind!

Moving around the classroom, freed up to discuss projects with the students in my class, I was able to really get a good understanding of what the students had understood by the tutorial I had set for them. I had the opportunity, and more importantly time, to spend with each student/group to challenge them with their thinking. It enabled me to extend those students who struggled with the creativity side by asking ‘What if…’ questions. What’s more, the students loved the lesson and learnt a lot!

Now, inevitably you will have the odd student who doesn’t watch the tutorial or try the task at home. In these cases, you will have to plan in for allowing them to access that digital material during the beginning of the class.

Since that first lesson, I have experimented with delivering the content at home through YouTube videos I have made myself in the classroom, EdPuzzle tutorials and websites linked up to a Google Form to complete afterwards. I have only just begun my ‘flipped classroom’ journey but I am loving the outcomes so far. Please tell me about your flipped learning journey below.