Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Physical Learning Space

Where have all the desks gone?

In 2013 our Year 4 and 5 classrooms will not only have a 1:1 Macbook Air laptop program but the classes physical space will transform with the removal of the traditional desks to new contemporary furniture and design.
The vision of this initiative is to further strengthen student engagement levels as well as supporting our goal of supporting our students to become responsible digital citizens.
This process has already required the framing of our thinking about teaching and learning approaches and what we know about how student learn best.
We see excited at the possibilities of fostering authentic learning approaches, educational technology as well as maintaining our School Vision of enabling all students to feel a sense of belonging, independence, competence and generosity.

CEO Contemporary Learning Hub
A visit with Louise Cimetta to the hub was hugely informing. A team from the school went along and it included teachers, the school principal and a parent who is a physiotherapist and has an interest in student posture and well being in the classrrom.

Professional Literature
To inform our strategies and processes we a drawing from the following resources:

The work of Leon Straker (2010) from Curtin University has enabled us to think proactively to support the ergonomic considerations of the furniture as well as the style of learning. A vital source has been his article about guidelines for  appropriate use of notebooks the encourage physical development. Recommendations include;

1.1 Encourage a mix of sedentary and active tasks

1.1.1. Encourage task variety through breaks and changing tasks

Mix computer tasks with non-sedentary/active tasks**

Take an active break from the computer every 30–60 min **

1.1.2. Encourage use of active input devices

Use active input devices whenever possible**

1.1.3. Encourage postural variety

Encourage children to fidget and move around whilst using computers *

1.1.4. Limit sedentary use of computers

Limit the use of sedentary electronic equipment for leisure purposes to less than 2 h per day*

1.2 Encourage reasonable postures during sedentary tasks

1.2.1 Encourage a range of suitable postures through appropriate workstation design

Select/adjust workstation size to suit the child***

Design workstations to enable a range of suitable postures**

Use standing and sitting workstations*

1.2.2 Encourage a range of suitable seated postures by selecting and adjusting chair appropriately

Set seat pan height to allow feet to be supported***

It may be appropriate to not have a backrest

If a backrest is provided the seat pan should be shorter than thigh length and the backrest

should fit the child’s lumbar spine

Avoid armrests

Select seat style to support a range of reasonable postures

1.2.3. Encourage suitable postures by selecting and adjusting an appropriate work surface

Set desk height to around elbow height*

Select large enough desk surface to permit appropriate positioning and use of keyboard, mouse and other materials

Select a single flat thin surface

Use document holders and inclined supports to position paper materials close to the display

1.2.4. Encourage appropriate postures and gaze angle by selecting and positioning computer display appropriately

Set top of display at eye height**

Position display at about arm’s length and directly in front

Position display to avoid glare

Select a good quality display

1.2.5. Encourage appropriate postures by selecting and positioning keyboard and pointing device appropriately

Select symmetrical mouse of appropriate size *

Enable mouse use on either side of keyboard

Provide thin flat keyboard to reduce wrist extension

Provide a smaller keyboard for smaller children

Provide a keyboard without numeric keypad

Select mouse and keyboard with suitable activation forces

1.3 Encourage appropriate behaviour when using and transporting notebook computers

Provide notebook of low weight

Carry notebook in dual shoulder strap backpack*

Provide external keyboard and adjust display height for larger children*

Encourage use of appropriate alternative postures for variety

1.4 Teach children computing skills

Learn to touch-type with minimum force*

Learn keyboard shortcuts to reduce mouse use

Learn to use software

1.5 Teach children to respond to discomfort*

Other resources include:
Ewan McIntosh's 7 Spaces of Learning

"The Third Teacher" recommendations.

More images and feedback to follow in 2013.
Teachers are excited about the prospects!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Parent Workshops - An Insight into Technology and Learning

The parent workshop held at the school next week received some great feedback. The parents had the opportunity to participate in a classroom-like environment with activities that incorporated educational technologies, but more importantly, involved higher-order thinking and some authentic learning experiences.

The lessons included:
  • Accessing Edmodo as a base for the learning resources.

  • The advantages of using Storyline Online as a reading resource for developing readers.

  • A Million Dollar Maths Challenge  - using online tools with individual or collaborative work.

  • Using Edmodo to post responses to issues raised on our school blog. Using these responses for follow up discussion and learning.

Through the evening the Integrated Learning Planning Model (previously posted on this blog) was used to demonstrate how technology was one part of the learning but other "ingredients" were used to enrich the learning experience. These included the importance of collaborative learning and the physical space being conducive to learning and discussion.

Further workshops will be held next year as the technology and learning appetite of the school community continues to grow.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Authentic Learning

Authentic Learning 
A Vital Ingredient to a Learning Recipe that Combines well with Educational Technology.

As part of our Project Based Learning planning framework (blogged on the 27th November) we are experimenting with some authentic strategies that deepen learning. Some great examples and understanding can be gained at this Eutopia Blog as well as the wonderful work of Fred M. Newmann and Gary G.Wehlage, Five Standards of Authentic Instruction.
A terrific design guide is this PBL Online Resource

Some essential guiding questions for teacher planning area:

-How does this connect with students lived experience and the wider world beyond the school?

-What opportunities have I provided for real life or life like learning?

-Have I articulated a clear purpose and authentic audience for the culminating product students will produce?

Some examples of how we are experimenting with authentic learning in our junior grades using iPads.
  • Year One are creating interactive presentations based on the past and using the  Explain Everything app. A grandparents morning tea was held and the students took photos of items from their grandparent's childhood as well as interviewing them with three brief questions. This was then linked to learning about the past and the changes today seen in the students' lives. The Year One teacher did a great demonstration of how to use and what to include in the presentation by modelling a presentation that she had created about her own family. This was essential in the learning process.

  • Year 2 are developing visual and audio, recorded procedures, also using Explain Everything, that demonstrate how to follow instructions, eg, tie shoelaces, make french toast. Their intended audience will be a Year One student and part of the assessment process for the teacher will be whether the Year One student is able to complete the task after following the recorded instructions.

  • Year 3 is investigating the local history of Highgate. Part of this unit of work will involve them going on a heritage walk of the area and taking photos and recording interviews at local heritage sites. Along with other information about how the area has changed, the students will create an ebook using Creative Book Builder that documents their learning. This will be presented to their parents and grandparents at a special class event.

In a separate individual student project one of the Year Sixes is using Creative Book Builder to convince the Principal about the benefits of skateboarding and the advantages of a school "Wheels Day". This has integrated persuasive writing,  procedure writing, video techniques and learning how to use the app.

Besides providing huge motivation and engagement, authentic learning allows the technology to become "invisible" and the important learning to be at the forefront.