Sunday, September 18, 2016

Augmented Reality in an Educational Environment

An article I have written for New Zealand Interface magazine (Issue 74, September 2016) on using Augmented Reality (AR) with 5 year old students:

Inspiring and engaging my students to make their learning real is important to me and I know that technology has the power to enhance learning. I see it as essential to bring it into my classroom to focus the learning onto the students’ future.

One opportunity that it brings to learning is 'Augmented Reality'. I have been aware of using AR for a while, but it was when I was reintroduced during my postgraduate study (The Mind Lab by Unitec) that contextualised it for me.

Here are two ways in which I have used this in students’ learning through the AR app Quiver.

Cluster Summer Sports
Firstly, they had fun reflecting and talking about their participation in a Cluster Summer Sports Day in which they were involved. Without the students even knowing, in this activity they were also touching on the Speaking and Listening component in the NZ Curriculum.

After choosing one of the two pictures provided (one for their ball kicking activity and the other for the game ‘rats and rabbits’), students coloured their choice using their favourite colours and then watched as their picture came to life just the way they'd made it.

Students took a screenshot and published their reflections verbally on their ePortfolios. (

Erupting Volcanoes
A second example was when students were learning and inquiring about volcanoes. I printed the volcano picture from the Quiver website.  Students took a screenshot and wrote a story about it.  They had the opportunity to choose how they would like to present what they knew and learnt about volcanoes. This has not only engaged them, but also enabled me to see what they have learnt. Writing has also becoming more fun, especially for the boys.

Some stories were published on our class blog

Excitement and engagement
To experience students’ excitement and engagement in their learning, is priceless and shows me that engagement is critical to their learning. The use of these digital tools gives them the opportunity to deepen their skills in engagement, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, as well as creation. It also allows students with various learning styles alternate modes to interpret ideas and understand challenging concepts, enhance their engagement & success.

As I see the difference in the learning of my engaged students, it becomes easier to find ways to incorporate technology into their learning. And, in my experience I have found that AR can be used in all learning areas of the NZ Curriculum. Making a difference and engaging students is not about what I teach, rather, it is about how I teach. This experience has been life-changing for me. It really gave me an opportunity to make a lasting difference in the lives of my young students.

Screenshots from Interface:

~ "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." - Albert Einstein  ~

Friday, September 2, 2016

Future Focused Learning (using symbaloo as Self Regulated Learning tool)

One of my responsibilities as Learning Facilitator for Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru is to organise the termly Connected Rotorua meetings.

I was lucky enough to have one of my Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru colleagues, Wendy Stafford, willing to present on the following:
Plan a lesson / unit for Future Focused Learning (using symbaloo as Self Regulated Learning tool) Incorporating:
- Key Competencies
- Thinking Tools (SMART Goals, De Bono's Hats. KWHL. etc.)
- Assessment Tools (SOLO, Blooms Taxonomy, etc)

Here is what Symbaloo offers:
"Creating a Lesson Plan
You can use Symbaloo Lesson Plans to create a gaming-style virtual lesson plan using the best educational resources. Tile by tile, create pathways for students so they may learn at their own speed. You’re able to change the route of the path by adjusting the arrows in any direction when creating tiles. Simply add videos, documents, questions, articles, and educational games that guide students through custom learning paths from start to finish." (Symbaloo)

"Personalizing Lesson Plans
Not every student learns at the same pace. Some students require additional explanation on a particular topic and some simply need additional challenges.
By adding questions to your Lesson Plan, you can test whether the student has understood the material. If the student answers the question correctly, they are able to continue. With an incorrect answer, you have the ability to write in an explanation for the student as to why their answer is incorrect before having a second attempt at the question.
Students will learn the material at their own speed. There is also the ability to add in additional learning material around the pathway for students to have further explanations." (Symbaloo)

"Real-time Statistics
Built-in analytics tools gather insightful data and improve learning outcomes, while students enjoy an engaging learning environment.
How long has a student been working on each step? What questions were often answered incorrectly, and who needs extra help? The built-in grading tool helps students and teachers evaluate and archive results from multiple lesson plans." (Symbaloo)

Some of the attendants having a 'play'...

~ "You can teach a student a lesson for a day, but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives. " 
- Clay P. Bedford ~

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Apple summit

Sue Winters, Director of Learning for Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru, started by addressing attendants on:
1. Future Focused Learning

2. Learner Agency and an Agentic Learner

iPad in the classroom (Linda)
Opportunities to give student voice - ways to make meaning for themselves and others. STEAM - Adapt a Frog Activity / Assignment.

123D Sculpt+ app (students can create from scratch and adapt / change their shape etc).

Once image created, import into Explain Everything and students can then talk about their picture and explain their learning. There is also the opportunity for them to use the 'pen' to show what they are doing. This gives students a voice about their project. All the Explain Everything projects can then be put into book creator

Want to see iPad used creatively, not as word processor.

Students can print their creation in 3D.

Make a stop motion animation

Video can go in their portfolio of work to demonstrate their learning and understanding.

iTunesU (for teachers to find resources to adapt and use with their students).
Distinguished educators courses (to find lessons. Subscribe to it then to get access to lessons that is being taught in classes.
Australian national curriculum has lots of resources.

Tip: Be specific in Search function.

Apple and Education (James)

Acknowledging that New Zealand have a world class curriculum.
Using an iPad is "really about giving kids an opportunity to figure out what types of learners they are” (Corosanite).
Here is a great video as inspiration for teachers:

1:1 iPad is used for students to engage with learning.
Create learning experiences for teachers and learners.
Personalised it for audience.
Bring collective genius to the table.
Again, mentioning of stop motion lesson.
Students come to live when doing a project that interest them.
Element 4D app.

Students figuring stuff out on their own when using iPads. Not waiting for the teacher, however an iPad is not a substitute for a teacher - use technology to exemplify of what teachers are doing.

Personalisation is when we include student voice.

Tool for something much more meaningful.

Not 'special needs' - they are 'diverse learners'. You can use the 'Speak screen' on iOS devices for there learners.

Focus on apps that set task for students not just consume. They need to create something.
Students can use the camera app on iPad and the video function to record their learning.
Use a Soundscape to support creation e.g. if students create a poem.
iBooks author in iTunesU.
Check out all the functions in iTunesU - this seems to be having lot of possibilities.

Explore the 'Eight elements for success' in the iBook store.

Have a look at 'Research for educators' in iBook store.

Apple classroom app free to download.
You can see what students are doing in real time, but it should be more about celebrating work.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Snapshots of Innovative Teaching and Learning

No stranger to EduCampNZ where ideas / innovation are constantly being shared, I decided to [also] attend this opportunity organised by the NZEI, Taupo to see what this involves.

A snapshot of what is happening in education locally, were shared by five schools / presenters.

1. Working Collaboratively
This was not a new concept, although interesting to see how another school is using this to support student learning.

2. Student Voice
A 9 year old student shared how he record his learning using google classroom and how he's using the success criteria provided to assess himself. He also talked about how they use 'sphero' in their classroom. This was great to see!

3. #NZreadaloud
This is a great project to be part of if. 

4. Bush Kindergarten
Kids are taken out into the bush for a whole day where their boundaries are being pushed and where they learn to self-manage. Reminds me of what we did as kids years ago!

5. Blogging for Visible Learning
I was amazed to see the few classes that has a class and / or student blogs when the question were asked! This was slightly alarming to me... as the benefits of blogging is nothing new.
Image credit: Sylvia Duckworth

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Imagine and Achieve with a Class blog

I woke up to a big surprise when checking my emails early Friday morning. This is what I found in my inbox:

What a compliment! Of course I was happy to give permission for this to happen, but I did wonder how my blog ended up to be viewed this far away from home and how I could be contacted via email (without having it displayed on the blog)...

The reply just re-confirmed and highlighted the importance of carefully considering things that one posts online and that one always has to remember the power of a 'Digital Footprint'. 

In today's world it is quite easy to find someone by using an online search. I sometimes wonder if we realize / remember [constantly] that every time we go online, we leave a trial! The importance of building a positive online profile should therefore be recognized by everyone. Why? 'Apparently lots of universities and employers now use the internet to check up on you'!

The importance [for teachers] to model and teach our learners how to be responsible online users can not be stressed enough.

Source: Sylvia Duckworth

Here is the blog post about '5 Creative Back-to-School Classroom blogs' from Karen and the mention of my classroom blog, Little-Giants: 

~ "Your digital footprint is your new resume." - Ross Cooper @RossCoops31 ~

Saturday, August 6, 2016

In control of PL & D with EduCampNZ

My thoughts after attending another EduCampNZ, this time one in the Bay Of Plenty:

Learner Agency is a topic that has been talked about a lot [since] a couple of years ago. My perception is that an EduCampNZ is the perfect place for teachers to take ownership of their own learning. This is Teacher Agency in Professional Learning & Development at its best!

What I enjoy about attending EduCampNZ is the networking and informal chats one can have with teachers from all over New Zealand as well as building face to face relationships. I like the fact that teachers have choice and voice. Anyone can be a presenter and anyone can attend. It is great to hear about best practice and to get 'tips' from others and also being able to share your ideas and experiences. 

If you haven't attend an EduCampNZ yet, there are events happening all over NZ. Events can be found on the EduCampNZ wiki.

You have the power to take control of your Professional Learning & development, you can develop ownership of your learning. Why wait any longer?...

My 'Storify' about what happened during the day:

The 'Smackdown' slides:

Monday, July 11, 2016

'It's all about maths'

The 'It's all about maths' symposium focused on connecting mathematics across the curriculum...

Using Digital Tech to learn maths: Transforming the learning?
Keynote: Dr Nigel Calder

"Digital technologies are everywhere in our lives. We use them to communicate, research, process, record and for for entertainment. They influence the way we interact in the world, the way we live. We use them in work and play. How might they change the learning process?" (Nigel Calder)
  • Overview
  • Affordances
  • Influences on the learning process
  • Research projects
  • Some effective apps
How do you use digital technologies in your maths programme?
Technology might take the student 'somewhere', but it might not always optimise the learning. It is about the pedagogy and the learning, thus pedagogy is critical and it is not a matter of having apps or having technology, the reason becomes the critical thing. Apps should be about purpose/pedagogy for learning.

Affordances - What are they?
"Affordance implies the complementarity of the animal and the environment. They are not just abstract physical properties" (Gibson, 1979)
Visual affordance: Tinkerplots, Multiplier
Interactive apps: Sketchpad (look at: ‘geometry for young learners’ site), Touchcounts 1.0, Maths shake.
Tech gives non-judgemental feedback which might facilitate: risk-taking, an investigative approach, collaborative approaches, engagement, alternative learning trajectories, reshaping of the learning.

Moyer-Packenham and Westenskow (2013) identified app affordances as focus constraint, creative variation, simultaneous linking, efficient precision, motivation. These affordances interact and appear to be mutually influential of each other.

A five-stage developmental process when learning to integrate a particular technology:
- Recognizing (knowledge)
- Accepting (persuasion)
- Adapting (decision)
- Exploring (implementation)
- Advancing (confirmation)

Teacher knowledge for learning with technology: (when considering apps)
- Focus on the mathematics and learning outcomes
- Facilitating teaching and learning
- Re-organising learning - seeing connections
- Mathematical thinking and problem solving
- Self-correction and reasoning
- Making mathematics attractive and motivating
- Recording thinking and opportunities for collaboration

Aspects that underpin all themes:
- Student-centred
- Encouraging ownership of learning, eventual self-assessment and direction
- Get students to explain their thinking, it is powerful
- Teacher open to new technologies, ongoing learning
- School support with access to devices, reliable wifi, technology
- Herding cats... this is kind of what we do... it is not an easy job

- Task and apps should focus on the learning
- Foster creativity and self-directed learning
- Use them to optimise the learning situation
- Facilitate learning
- Give insights into students strategies and mathematical thinking
- The apps are built for purpose

Workshop 1: Making the most out of e-ako
Having a class in e-ako maths enables you to monitor your whole class' progress. Pathways are unlocked so you can look ahead and see what your students will see, but students will still need to follow the pathway. You can unlock steps by emailing Andrew.

Tip: Collate all students' names on a spreadsheet with a class email account. You can do this from eTap. Save as CSV file. Student names can then be important as bulk.

Workshop 2: Problem solving with juniors
Explore problem solving in a junior context
Task design
Integrating digital technology

How to problem solve with juniors?
1. Launch the problem (try and get them to read out problem themselves - literacy link here)
2. Independent think time
3. Small group sharing
4. Reporting back
5. Student self-assessment

Hints for Launching the Problem:
- Staging the problem - acting it out
- What do we know about the context of this problem
- Retell this problem to your partner
- What information do you know? How are you going to use it?
- Where is the question? What is the problem asking you to do?
Reporting back - Why is it important?
- To expose students to a range of thinking
- To foster mathematical communication skills
- To increase students’ confidence
- To clarify common misunderstandings
- To provide a foundation for the extension of a problem
- To highlight the mathematics inherent in the problem

Sharing back
Get students to role model and show what they did

Self-Reflection Questions to consider
- What did you notice
- What are the students' next steps
- What went well
- Goals for next time

Sites that provide pictures and video clips useful for maths problems:
Enriching mathematics
Put your students in a pickle
- The Mathematics Shed
- 101questions
- Have you got maths eyes

Workshop 3: Developing student agency through a growth mindset 

Agency and Growth Mindsets are both big in their own right. The aim here is to put the learner in the driving seat. However, when you are in the passenger seat for the first time, it is a very weird feeling, as you have to let go of the controls. Giving students control is a risk, but they are also taking the risk as a learner...

Give students ways to talk and think in a 'Growth Mindset' way, rather than them saying "I can't do it, I will never get to do it". The word 'yet' is powerful to use.

How can we encourage students to develop student agency and a growth mindset?
Move away from making all the decisions, what books they are going to read, what maths equipment / tools they are going to use.
Teachers also have to develop a growth mindset:
- Use technology to make both their own and students' learning richer
- Risk trying new learning
- Bring their own student passion into learning activities
- Let go of the need to control all variables
- Find ways to change even under adversity
- Value relationships with students
- Make a difference in student lives
- Network and connect with others for resources, assistance and support

Learning Mindsets/beliefs:
- Growth Mindset: Value mistakes and use them. Talk more about struggles and strategies to overcome them
- Sense of Belonging: Student Voice (What can I do as a teacher to help you more? What can you do to help yourself?). Ethic of Care
- Relevance: students will be more engaged if learning is relevant and they are given a choice
- Self-efficacy: when students understand their goals, they can monitor their learning and it is going to be more meaningful for them

Student Self Assessment 'tools' to support self managing:

When teachers and students focus on improvement rather than on whether they're smart, kids learn a lot more when they had a deeper understanding of themselves as learners, so they could build their own autonomy to change and gain confidence in their academic abilities

My aim with attending this symposium was to learn further how I can take sensible steps to provide and maintain a teaching and learning environment through my planning. I wanted to make sure that I select the right approaches to address the needs of all my students. This day was worthwhile and I walked away with lots of new ideas to implement with my students.

Next Steps:
To put my learners in the driver seat by developing learner agency in our learning environment. To step back a bit and let the students taking a little bit more ownership. 

~ "Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas" - Albert Einstein ~