What does it look like? How does it work? Click here for a thinglink about thinglink!
What I love about thinglink is it’s another way of embedding specific content which I’d like my students to access, without worrying about them googling away and being exposed to unsuitable sites. Thinglink is essentially an interactive infographic where you can add links to websites, information, images, videos and quizzes for students to explore in a lesson. It’s all linked to a little icon placed on a larger image of your choice.
I’ve been training my students to create their own Thinglinks about our recent learning linked to Extreme Earth. On the free account, you can add students to your account and Thinglink will give them their own logins. It’s a great free tool and the students have loved being creative and tagging their own links. Here is an example:
Here are some ideas for how to use thinglink in your classroom:
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.
Using the SAMR model, we can begin to analyse how we are currently using technology and consider our next steps as teachers.
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 substitution. Writing 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:
Substitution: Use 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 badbut 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.
Whilst reading ‘Weaving creativity into every strand of your curriculum’ by Dr. Cyndi Burnett and Julia Figliotti, I was drawn to a question which they used as a hook for activating creative thoughts in students.
What things in the classroom might be missing in a classroom of the future?
As this question rolled around in my mind, I began to think about how teaching is changing and how the way I teach now, just 6 years after qualifying, is so vastly different to my training year. We have quickly moved from being teachers who provide students with the information they need to learn to providing students with the skills they need to find this information. As facilitators of learning, our role as teachers has dramatically changed. So then, it is almost inevitable that the environment we create for our students to learn in also changes.
What I can do to facilitate this change?
Technology. Developments in technology has led to some inspiring new apps and products on the market for education. Whilst not all schools and teachers have the funds or means to use all of these new technologies in their practice, some are free or nearly free. This blog post highlights some of these new technologies such as Augemented Reality and game based learning.
Flexible classroom environment. Check out my previous blog post about how flexible seating works in my classroom.
Student choice. Your next topic is the Vikings. The curriculum states what your students need to learn. Your planning guides you in what you need to share with your class and how they will demonstrate their knowledge. Or should it? Why not let your students choose? In my classroom, I allow my students an element of choice in how they demonstrate their knowledge to me. Whether it’s humanities, history, Science or Maths, it is really empowering watching students plan and design their own way of showing you their understanding. I’ve had student rap facts about the Anglo-Saxons, groups make Anglo-Saxon clothing in order to hold a fashion show, and even students produce a reenactment of an important event in history. The key here is, choice. The quality of the learning outcome is higher when students are more engaged and enthusiastic about their projects. Granted, it takes a whole lot of guts as a teacher to allow 30 students to choose different projects, but I promise, the outcome is well worth it!
How we measure learning. Ultimately, if there is to be this big paradigm sift then we need to revolutionise the way we measure attainment and progress. Many of the ways we currently measure attainment are content focused and not interactive or involve problem solving. You cannot reform the way we teach without also changing the way we measure learning. I am not sure what the solution is to this yet, but it is something I am currently researching. I’ll keep you posted on what I find!
For more on this topic, I recommend reading this blog by Rebecca Rosen.