As a London 2017 Google Certified Innovator I wanted to find a way to encourage students to collaborate and take Action in the IB PYP inquiry cycle. PYP Action – Making Connections is a site which encourages students to:
SHARE the Action they want to take
EXPLORE the Action others are taking
CONNECT to take Action
Over the past 12 months I have collected data, created prototypes and trialled this site in my own school. Whilst we are in the early stages of implementation, already we can see a boost in student initiated Action.
Looking for a different way to celebrate Safer Internet Day (SID), I decided to set up a green screen for some videoing fun. With a SID focus of creating, connecting and sharing respect online; I was inspired to give our students the opportunity to share how this can be done.With the aid of my Digital Leaders, we set up a green screen and invited students to record their online safety tips during a series of lunchtimes. Students were asked to select one of the scenario cards below and think about how they might respond to that situation. The scenario they chose would determine the background of their video.
To reinforce the notion of respecting each other’s right to privacy, each student was asked by a Digital Leader if they give permission for their video to be put on our school website. Alongside checking parental permission, I thought giving students some agency would reinforce the message of the day. Once permission was given, students stepped onto the coloured dots and recorded their video.
The end result of our green screen endeavours was a lovely collection of online safety videos from across the school. With 4 and 5 year olds sharing what they do when they feel upset using the iPad to photo loving Year 6 students sharing their online tips and tricks; discussions about online safety were all the buzz. Using the green screen was a great way to engage students in conversation and encourage them to make good choices online.
After being inspired by a fellow colleague, I decided to give Writers’ Workshop a try in our Year 4 classroom. Without a doubt, it has been my best decision yet! Within a matter of weeks we saw a transformation in our students. Those that had struggled with punctuation were now rereading and editing their writing; one student even took it upon herself to use paragraphs to organise her writing. Another took action and continued writing at home. Those that were struggling with handwriting, were now CHOOSING to hand write rather than use the computer. I simply couldn’t believe the dramatic change in our students. Their perceptions towards writing had changed.
So you might be wondering what exactly is Writers’ Workshop. It’s involves creating a inviting environment where students respect each others’ writing and offers us the opportunity to demonstrate the power that writing can have on our lives. By inviting students to write daily, we can help them discover how it can enrich our lives. As Charles Whitaker Ph.D. mentions it is basically a studio approach in which student writers are engaged in developing their craft and are guided by a mature writer—the teacher. In the writing workshop, students are involved frequently in the writing process, though in some cases not all students necessarily are at the same place in that process. To find out more, read Best Practices in Teaching Writing.
To set up the Writers’ Workshop routine, I gave each student a new ring binder folder with the following divider sections inside:
Published pieces (sometimes we actually did the current piece and published all in one go on the Chromebook)
Mini-lessons (any sheets/ activities/ examples you use in the mini-lesson)
Resources (anything to help the children write more independently- word banks for EALs, etc.)
Our students were very excited to have this new binder. Once the routine was established, they took great pride in organising their writing and going back to improve previous pieces. The use of a ring binder also gave me the flexibility to differentiate even more for the students, giving shaded handwriting lines to those students who wanted to improve their handwriting.
Following the approach of my colleague, I often structured my Writers’ Workshop lessons in the following way:
5 mins – Read (Texts that suit your writing genre)
10 mins – Mini-Lesson (Craft- e.g. How to write a good recount, Skills- grammar, spelling and punctuation)
15-20 mins – Writing
5-10 mins – Share Session
Whilst the structure of the lesson doesn’t allow for a lot of writing time, it adds up over the week if you are doing Writers’ Workshop everyday. I found very quickly that it is important to allow students the opportunity to share their writing. We created a routine of having an ‘Author’s Chair’; we put a chair at the front of the class and invited our aspiring authors to sit and share their favourite writing. After reading their writing aloud, peers gave them positive and constructive feedback. It was wonderful to see the respect they gave to each other. Sharing their work was really essential for helping the students to value their own writing.
Shockingly I found this GIF of a rather good looking bunch of educators in my draft blog post section and realised that I had not shared the wonderful experience of attending the Google Certified Innovator Academy!
Back in April 2017, I joined 35 other passionate educators from around the world to attend the Google for Education Certified Innovator Academy in London. What a buzz it was to be in a room with so many innovative and dedicated educators. We spent three days at the Google offices learning about Design Thinking and working on our own innovation projects. The days were broken up into workshops to build capacity and develop ideas, and project time to delve deep into your innovative idea.After the academy we have a year to develop and submit our innovative projects. Whilst my project has changed direction slightly from the beginning, I look forward to sharing my progress in April 2018. Watch this space!
Very excited to share my first published article on pages 20-21 of Focus magazine May-June 2017. This magazine is aimed at expat professionals and families in London. My article is called ‘Technology helps children find their voice’.
To find out more about the Focus community for expats and professionals living in the UK please click here.
Finding out that I was accepted into the #LON17 Google Certified Innovator Program was simply exhilarating! We were notified via email and as soon as the word got out, we were posting like crazy, celebrating our glorious news.
It was a wonderful buzz connecting with 35 other like minded educators from around the world who had just received the same news; that we were going to be Innovators! Well, I really should revise that point, as many of us have already started innovating in education; now we have the opportunity to do so on a bigger scale with the support of Google.
Very swiftly our cohort began to make connections online, forming what is likely to be some lasting friendships. With such positivity and willingness to share, team mates posted words of encouragement and resources within the group. We also had some nifty designers who came up with #LON17 logos to inspire our team. Aren’t they great?!
Coming from a wide range of locations and backgrounds, our #LON17 cohort has wonderful ideas for innovation. I feel really blessed to be a part of this talented group of educators. Check out our introductions and visions on the Google for Education Certified Innovators site.
As newly recruited Google Innovators, we were sent a BreakoutEDU box with a collaborative problem to solve. It was quite exciting to receive this in the mail as this was my first experience with BreakoutEDU. Our boxes contained very basic clues which required a lot discussion and testing of theories to solve the mystery. Luckily there were some bright sparks in the group who cracked different parts of the code and led us to solving part one of our challenge.
Our next step in the puzzle is to fill our box with an item that represents ourselves and give clues for others to guess our lock code. This will very cleverly lead us to introducing ourselves and how we have come to be the educators that we are today. What a great way to foster collaboration!
With two weeks to go, we excitedly await to meet our team mates and coaches in person at the London Google Innovator Academy 19th – 21st April 2017. As the countdown begins, I better get my thinking cap on and decide what to put in my BreakoutEDU box!
Simple to use with amazing results. This is what I love about Canva! This web based graphic design tool allows you to easily use templates and frames to create appealing creative content. There are a wide variety of template sizes from A4 pages to sizes perfect for your social media page.
With its drag and drop features it is so easy to add content to your page. Upload some pics, drag and drop them in a frame and voilà! You have a masterpiece!
Last year was our first time creating a school yearbook. Many teachers did not know where to start. Once I showed them how easy it is to create with Canva, they were hooked! I’m looking forward to seeing more creations this year.