What we actually said….

1 05 2008

I think I may be getting a bit obsessed with blogging!  I really wanted to put on here the things I said on Tuesday as I am certainly no IT expert and through things outwith my control I have not been able to use Glow chat and meet yet but yet was able to explain how I was using Glow in other ways for learning and teaching.

I had initially put info, news, web links, photos and learnnewsdesk@LTS on my pupil, staff, school and class pages so there were things there to make it interesting when the children first logged on.  Once we had their passwords changed the pupils in my class found it easy to navigate around and liked the fact they could change their theme and had their own page to customise.

 

I then set up two glow groups – one for our African rich task and one for our electricity which was an active learning open area topic.  Again I put the news, whats on, photos and web links on the pages initially and then we began using the discussion pages.  The pupils were desperate to use Glow Chat but the java updates would appear to still not have been done properly for this.  I used the web links and documents pages to give help for the pupils to answer the questions I set on the discussion pages and I really like this part of it as there is so much document space on this and really saves photocopying etc.

The two kids with me then said a little bit about how they got on with the discussions – like how they started off just saying hi etc but gradually they began to answer the questions I set.  We used it to discuss some of the things they had learnt and how they had got on working in a group – they thought it was good to have a safe way to talk to each other.  They also felt less threatened having a discussion on glow as they said when people could not disagree with you to your face it did not feel so bad.  I think they were a bit more honest about how they worked together when writing it rather than discussing it in class.  And because it is recorded I have got the evidence for as long as I want it!

On these glow groups I have been able to embed video, put RSS feeds in, use web page viewers for our blogs and email and have used text editor to put in lessons for the children.  For example I put in a punctuation exercise that the pupils could then cut and paste into a word document to work on.  A lot of these things could be done through the documents page or web links but it is fun trying things out to see what works best.  I love the fact that I can embed video so easily as I had never tried to do that before for my class in any other way as it seemed tricky!

I also set up a gallery page within my African rich task glow group.  This has photos in it that I could then use for discussion within glow or orally within the class, or as starters for writing or art for example.

I had set up a couple of surveys in my African rich task; one about the knowledge the children learnt from the topic and one on self-assessment of how they had worked in a group.  I really like these as there are lots of different ways to answer from full written answers to mulitple choice, options of being compulsory or not, anonymous or not and you can set so they can answer more than once if you want.  You can then see all of the individual answers or together with percentages.  Again this is giving me lots of evidence without a huge pile of paper.Some of the questions I set in the self-assessment task were:

At the start of the rich task how well would you say you worked in a group?

What role do you think you are best at and then why did you think that?

Do you think you have improved in group work during the topic?

Have you learned any strategies to improve your group work?

Group work was a major part of this rich task so this was really useful and I again I think they answered more honestly than they would have in front of everyone.  I think these are great for less able pupils as they will hopefully feel less nervous about doing tests this way.

The kids talked about how they thought doing the surveys on glow was easier and simpler than having a written test.  One of them said how they liked doing the surveys as it felt more like a fun quiz.  They thought that doing the self-assessment survey was a good way of thinking about how they had worked themselves and in a group without having to talk about it in front of everyone.

They have had some funny answers in the survey about why they were best at which role, most of them said they were best at being chairperson because:

“Because I suck at the other two and I like to take charge”,

“because I take charge and am not a wimp” and

“because I am GOOD AT CONTROLLING”.

I was then at the stage of putting lesson plans onto Glow with WALT and WILF.  I loved this because my class are not good at listening and this means I am not having to repeat instructions multiple times.  The kids that need challenged got to do more and I was able to spend more time with those that needed it.  I loved what one of my kids finished with, which totally summed it up for me:

“As for me, I think it is fun and challenging, especially doing the surveys and I cannot wait to use Glow Meet.  Stuart in our class said he likes glow because it is an online community.  We really like the idea of having this in school.”

I am now ready to move on by developing my use of lesson plans etc on Glow, using glow chat, meet and learn and by starting the staff off this term by using the whats on, news and calendar.  I am really looking forward to starting off a cross-authority glow group on something to do with my Malawi trip this summer, at present there are 5 authorities across the country interested in this.  This will really start to develop learning and teaching within an online community spread throughout Scotland which is surely what the purpose of Glow is.

I know a lot of the people reading this will already be using Glow and will know all of this and be doing far more things than I have been doing but maybe this will help to stop some of the fears people who have not started using it might have.

I had really wanted to put in snapshots of some of my Glow pages within this post so it showed what I was showing on Tuesday and so it was not just all writing but wordpress does not want to let me paste the snapshots in so I will make up an animoto or something tomorrow probably and post that on. 

 

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Proud of myself!

30 04 2008

In the days leading up to the SLC Headteacher’s Conference yesterday I was convinced everything was going to be a disaster and not without good reason!

Going to a wedding in Bristol at the weekend was terrible timing!  I realised as I basically just sat about in pubs and restaurants (sober) with friends all day Sunday that I find it very, very hard to do what I perceive as nothing as I was itching to get away and get some work done.  I actually found myself getting really stressed and almost tearful which is just ridiculous.  I was fine at the wedding on the Saturday as that was what we were there for but on the Sunday I just wanted to find a coffee shop with wifi and work on my presentation.

Got a couple of hours work done at the airport though and a bit on the plane although you are barely in the air long enough to get the computer on.  Got a taxi from the airport and my husband wanted something from the chip shop so we stopped there and of course not until after the taxi had gone did I realise I had left my handbag in it!  This was 9pm and I had left marking in the house to do when I got back.  Well without house keys, driving license (so address for my house), purse, phone, passport, fob and address of the school and 5 flashdrives I was not going anywhere.  I did finally get it back but did not get home till after 11.30pm and not without a lot of tears, mostly from being worried about the school!  I had not even realised till I got it back that it had my house key and address in it too.  I don’t know how I could have been more disraught if I had known that at the time but I am sure I would have been!

We have a new headteacher and she was great and let me have some time out on Monday to prepare it with the 3 children I was taking.  She had also mentioned to me on Friday lunch (so I had only worked with her 2.5 days by this point) that she had already noticed how hard I worked and it was appreciated etc so that was nice.  Practicing it at home on Monday night though I felt I did not know what I was doing well at all and that it would be an absolute disaster.

So things had not gone well and there was a huge lack of sleep invovled in these few days too.  I was not only presenting for Glow at the conference but also (and firstly) displaying, during a walkaround by the heads, work on our African rich task.  So I was there early to set all that up and had to be nice and calm through that.  Staying calm was hard when the support assistant bringing my kids in a taxi turned up – with only 2 of the 3 kids!  The other had forgotten his permission form!  My support assistant is so fabulous though that she had sorted them out in the taxi and split all the words up so I am eternally grateful to her and she was a great help through the whole morning too. 

I could have been sick before going on to speak but as soon as I started it was so easy.  I would like to know how many people I was presenting in front of – I think it must have been over 100 but I could not concentrate to do a head count at any point.  I used very minimal notes and flicked through lots of the glow stuff without a problem (I did have 3 Glow sites open to make it easier).  The kids were great and everything we said was relevant and I didn’t fluff anything or hesitate.  It felt really natural.

To put this into perspective, I did my Standard Grades just a couple of years after they were introduced and up until 3rd year have no recollection whatsoever of doing solo talks or even answering out much in class.  I was actually really shy!  So I got a 6 for the first solo talk I did and I was absolutely terrified.  I will never forget it (it was on abortion) but did quickly learn from it and by 4th year had pulled it up to a 1.  I still hated doing it though, all the way through uni and beyond I have been terrified about talking in front of others and so yesterday was just this amazing turning point for me.  I also know that I am very good at being negative about myself and so feeling proud of myself for the rest of the day was this amazing experience for me and I have no recollection of ever feeling like that before.

I even managed to keep up the feeling during class in the afternoon and then staying at school through to parents night in the evening.  It made the night for me going home, catching up on blogs and seeing the following in Andrea’s on the day:

“I felt like Caroline’s Mum watching her up there, I was pretting much bursting with pride.”

Lots of praise as well from my new headteacher and I am more able to accept it now as opposed to when Andrea was first there and praising me and I was virtually in tears as unable to accept praise at that time at all. 

So it was a great experience for me and one I would be keen to repeat, particuarly doing it about using Glow as I am getting even more enthusiastic about this and am keen to help implement/promote its use in the council and beyond.

I am planning on blogging on a lot of what I actually said yesterday with snapshots from my glow pages and some quotes from my kids which will let everyone see what they think about using it but that will have to wait until tomorrow!