Understanding the Connected Classroom

Understanding the Connected Classroom

What is a Connected Classroom?

A connected classroom is a learning environment that is open to the outside world. It’s where students are engaged in real-life authentic learning starting in their own classroom and extends to reach other global learners.

Why should our classrooms be connected?

When we think about redefining learning (especially if we’re using SAMR as a lens to ensure that the use of technology is not just for technology’s sake) then we must think about what can our students do that wasn’t possible before without the technology.  Connecting with others outside the wall of the classroom or providing a window into the classroom is something that’s not possible without technology.  The increased scope of learning, the harnessing of an authentic audience and the ability to share and get feedback on student work were the driving reasons behind my reasons for having a connected classroom.

In Grade 3, my students were studying Rocks & Minerals for Science. We were able to skype an expert (a student’s grandfather who just happened to be a Geologist).  I cannot describe the fascination, the attention and the learning that was facilitated by having a conversation with an actual geologist who showed us his tools, shared what it was like to be a geologist and also showed us some of his most memorable finds!

How can we connect our classrooms?

There are many ways we can connect our classrooms. Here’s three easy ways to create an environment that is open to the outside world and engages students in real-life authentic learning that can extend to reach other global learners.


				

1. Video Conferencing

Use skype, google hangouts or facetime to connect, share and learn from others outside the walls of the classroom. There’s a variety of different reasons or times of the year to connect with others globally.

Ideas to try

Sam the Kiwi (Class Mascot) Adventurer Extraordinaire!

  • Celebrations
    • Science Week
    • Coding Challenge
    • Christmas Tradition comparisons
  • Expert Encounters
    • Guest expert
    • Author Study
    • Mystery Skype for geography/cultural purposes
  • Shared Units of Study
    • Weather study/comparison
    • Seasons
    • Environmental studies
  • Authentic Collaboration Projects

Sometimes timezones can hamper global connections. Tools like VoiceThread can help. We were able to connect and share some Christmas Traditions with a class in Tasmania this way.

Blogging

Blogs can be a “window into your class” – an authentic, relevant way to connect to others beyond the four walls of the classroom. To help get started, check out 10 tips for Connecting Students Through Blogging.
Blogs can be used to

  • Share learning
  • Have an Authentic Audience
  • Get Peer Feedback
  • build ePortfolios
  • Communicate with Parents
Ideas to try
  • Start with a class blog and build content together
  • Use blogs as ePortfolios to show learning over time
  • Connect between school and home

Use Social Media

Social media tools can be used to

  • share learning
  • participate in global conversations
  • ask questions / get answers
  • connect with experts, authors, other cultures
  • back channel
  • expose students to different perspectives
Ideas to try
  • share learning visually with a class instagram account
  • create a class twitter account to globally connect with others
  • start a class facebook page to connect/share with parents

Tips for Success

  • It takes time to grow connections but it really is worth the effort
  • Be willing to take risks (be prepared to fail)
  • Be adaptable & flexible and have a sense of humour!
  • If you’re just starting out, start small – skype in an expert/guest speaker or your friend’s class from another school in your area, district or perhaps another country
  • Check out Getting Started with Mystery Skype or Authors who Skype with Classes for Free

Ways to Involve Students More

Use roles during video conferencing

  • photographer (responsible for taking photographs during the call)
  • documentor (responsible for writing down the memorable parts of the call)
  • videographer (responsible for video recording the event)
  • Skype Tips (including a list of potential roles for students)

Have a Class Blog

  • Student Writer of the Week (responsible for writing a summary post or a daily post for the class)
  • Blog Photographer (responsible for documenting learning each day)
  • Commenting on a class blog post could be a writing homework option
  • Blogger of the Week – use when each student has their own blog

Use a Class Social Media Account

  • The whole class helps write a summary of the day’s learning in 140 characters for twitter OR
  • A small group of writers during writing time collaborate for 10-15m on a class daily tweet
  • Social Media update – to help provide a window into the classroom, a student writes a morning and an afternoon twitter, instagram, facebook update each day
  • Instagram Photographer of the day – has to post 4-5 images of learning to the class instagram account
  • Facebook Post writer – writes a learning post/summary of the day’s learning am/pm (also uses the class photographer’s images)

Depending on how old your students are, you may wish to have the posts/updates have teacher approval before they are published. With younger students, updates could be orally told to an adult or written out on paper and approved by the teacher first.

Questions? Comments? What are your thoughts? Have I missed anything?  Would you like to share your ideas?  I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment!

Over at Eduro Learning we’re excited about launching our brand new Micro-credentials range. To celebrate we have  a PDF freebie to give away.  This week’s PDF is a visual poster 3 Simple Ways to Create a Connected Classroom.  You will need to give us your email (even if you’ve given it to us before). Don’t worry we promise  won’t spam you crazy – it’s just so we know what products our audience is enjoying/finding useful so we can tailor future ones!

 

All images my own or purchased via Adobe Stock unless otherwise stated

2. Blogging

Blogs can be a “window into your class” – an authentic, relevant way to connect to others beyond the four walls of the classroom. To help get started, check out 10 tips for Connecting Students Through Blogging.
Blogs can be used to

  • Share learning
  • Have an Authentic Audience
  • Get Peer Feedback
  • build ePortfolios
  • Communicate with Parents
Ideas to try
  • Start with a class blog and build content together
  • Use blogs as ePortfolios to show learning over time
  • Connect between school and home

Use Social Media

Social media tools can be used to

  • share learning
  • participate in global conversations
  • ask questions / get answers
  • connect with experts, authors, other cultures
  • back channel
  • expose students to different perspectives
Ideas to try
  • share learning visually with a class instagram account
  • create a class twitter account to globally connect with others
  • start a class facebook page to connect/share with parents

Tips for Success

  • It takes time to grow connections but it really is worth the effort
  • Be willing to take risks (be prepared to fail)
  • Be adaptable & flexible and have a sense of humour!
  • If you’re just starting out, start small – skype in an expert/guest speaker or your friend’s class from another school in your area, district or perhaps another country
  • Check out Getting Started with Mystery Skype or Authors who Skype with Classes for Free

Ways to Involve Students More

Use roles during video conferencing

  • photographer (responsible for taking photographs during the call)
  • documentor (responsible for writing down the memorable parts of the call)
  • videographer (responsible for video recording the event)
  • Skype Tips (including a list of potential roles for students)

Have a Class Blog

  • Student Writer of the Week (responsible for writing a summary post or a daily post for the class)
  • Blog Photographer (responsible for documenting learning each day)
  • Commenting on a class blog post could be a writing homework option
  • Blogger of the Week – use when each student has their own blog

Use a Class Social Media Account

  • The whole class helps write a summary of the day’s learning in 140 characters for twitter OR
  • A small group of writers during writing time collaborate for 10-15m on a class daily tweet
  • Social Media update – to help provide a window into the classroom, a student writes a morning and an afternoon twitter, instagram, facebook update each day
  • Instagram Photographer of the day – has to post 4-5 images of learning to the class instagram account
  • Facebook Post writer – writes a learning post/summary of the day’s learning am/pm (also uses the class photographer’s images)

Depending on how old your students are, you may wish to have the posts/updates have teacher approval before they are published. With younger students, updates could be orally told to an adult or written out on paper and approved by the teacher first.

Questions? Comments? What are your thoughts? Have I missed anything?  Would you like to share your ideas?  I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment!

Over at Eduro Learning we’re excited about launching our brand new Micro-credentials range. To celebrate we have  a PDF freebie to give away.  This week’s PDF is a visual poster 3 Simple Ways to Create a Connected Classroom.  You will need to give us your email (even if you’ve given it to us before). Don’t worry we promise  won’t spam you crazy – it’s just so we know what products our audience is enjoying/finding useful so we can tailor future ones!

 

All images my own or purchased via Adobe Stock unless otherwise stated

3. Use Social Media

Social media tools can be used to

  • share learning
  • participate in global conversations
  • ask questions / get answers
  • connect with experts, authors, other cultures
  • back channel
  • expose students to different perspectives
Ideas to try
  • share learning visually with a class instagram account
  • create a class twitter account to globally connect with others
  • start a class facebook page to connect/share with parents

Tips for Success

  • It takes time to grow connections but it really is worth the effort
  • Be willing to take risks (be prepared to fail)
  • Be adaptable & flexible and have a sense of humour!
  • If you’re just starting out, start small – skype in an expert/guest speaker or your friend’s class from another school in your area, district or perhaps another country
  • Check out Getting Started with Mystery Skype or Authors who Skype with Classes for Free

Ways to Involve Students More

Use roles during video conferencing

  • photographer (responsible for taking photographs during the call)
  • documentor (responsible for writing down the memorable parts of the call)
  • videographer (responsible for video recording the event)
  • Skype Tips (including a list of potential roles for students)

Have a Class Blog

  • Student Writer of the Week (responsible for writing a summary post or a daily post for the class)
  • Blog Photographer (responsible for documenting learning each day)
  • Commenting on a class blog post could be a writing homework option
  • Blogger of the Week – use when each student has their own blog

Use a Class Social Media Account

  • The whole class helps write a summary of the day’s learning in 140 characters for twitter OR
  • A small group of writers during writing time collaborate for 10-15m on a class daily tweet
  • Social Media update – to help provide a window into the classroom, a student writes a morning and an afternoon twitter, instagram, facebook update each day
  • Instagram Photographer of the day – has to post 4-5 images of learning to the class instagram account
  • Facebook Post writer – writes a learning post/summary of the day’s learning am/pm (also uses the class photographer’s images)

Depending on how old your students are, you may wish to have the posts/updates have teacher approval before they are published. With younger students, updates could be orally told to an adult or written out on paper and approved by the teacher first.

Questions? Comments? What are your thoughts? Have I missed anything?  Would you like to share your ideas?  I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment!

Over at Eduro Learning we’re excited about launching our brand new Micro-credentials range. To celebrate we have  a PDF freebie to give away.  This week’s PDF is a visual poster 3 Simple Ways to Create a Connected Classroom.  You will need to give us your email (even if you’ve given it to us before). Don’t worry we promise  won’t spam you crazy – it’s just so we know what products our audience is enjoying/finding useful so we can tailor future ones!

 

All images my own or purchased via Adobe Stock unless otherwise stated

Tips for Success

  • It takes time to grow connections but it really is worth the effort
  • Be willing to take risks (be prepared to fail)
  • Be adaptable & flexible and have a sense of humour!
  • If you’re just starting out, start small – skype in an expert/guest speaker or your friend’s class from another school in your area, district or perhaps another country
  • Check out Getting Started with Mystery Skype or Authors who Skype with Classes for Free

				

Ways to Involve Students More

Use roles during video conferencing

  • photographer (responsible for taking photographs during the call)
  • documentor (responsible for writing down the memorable parts of the call)
  • videographer (responsible for video recording the event)
  • Skype Tips (including a list of potential roles for students)

 

Have a Class Blog

  • Student Writer of the Week (responsible for writing a summary post or a daily post for the class)
  • Blog Photographer (responsible for documenting learning each day)
  • Commenting on a class blog post could be a writing homework option
  • Blogger of the Week – use when each student has their own blog

 

Use a Class Social Media Account

  • The whole class helps write a summary of the day’s learning in 140 characters for twitter OR
  • A small group of writers during writing time collaborate for 10-15m on a class daily tweet
  • Social Media update – to help provide a window into the classroom, a student writes a morning and an afternoon twitter, instagram, facebook update each day
  • Instagram Photographer of the day – has to post 4-5 images of learning to the class instagram account
  • Facebook Post writer – writes a learning post/summary of the day’s learning am/pm (also uses the class photographer’s images)

 

Depending on how old your students are, you may wish to have the posts/updates have teacher approval before they are published. With younger students, updates could be orally told to an adult or written out on paper and approved by the teacher first.

Your Thoughts?

Questions? Comments? What are your thoughts? Have I missed anything?  Would you like to share your ideas?  I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment!

 


				

Cross-posted at TeachingSagittarian as part of the Eduro Learning Microcredentials Launch

Writing More Reflectively

Writing More Reflectively

Writing more reflectively is hard! We are trying to encourage our students to use their blogs to write more reflectively, especially as we lean more and more towards using the blogging platform as a suitable “container” for ePortfolios.  Below is a post that we’re sharing with our G4 and G5 student bloggers.

Not sure what to write for a reflection post? Here’s a few questions you could ask yourself to help you get started! Some are more suited to Writer’s Workshop or Reader’s Workshop reflections. Some are suitable for Science, Social Studies or Math reflections. Choose the ones that work best for what you would like to say about your learning.

  • What did you do well?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • If you could do this again, what would you do differently?
  • How could you improve your work next time?
  • Is what you are currently reading/viewing or studying challenging you in any way? In what way?
  • What is puzzling you as you are reading at present? (About the author, characters, ideas etc.)
  • What specific questions are being raised by what you are reading?
  • Can you make any connections between what you are reading/viewing and everyday life, history, situations in the world, any other subject you are studying or your own life?
  • Write down 3 questions you have for an author of a text you are reading/viewing/studying at present. Explain why you have asked those questions.
  • What are you learning about yourself from what you are reading/viewing/studying? (Your own values, attitudes and beliefs)

Instead of a question, you could try some of these sentence starters:

  • This week I learned …
  • What I have found difficult about what I have read/viewed/heard this week is …
  • My writing and reading skills …  (reflect on them and your efforts, areas of strength and weakness providing specific examples)
  • My listening and speaking skills …  (reflect on them and your efforts, areas of strength and weakness providing specific examples)

Or you could try this format – What? So What? Now What?: (adapted from Service Learning)

What?
What happened?
What did you observe?

So What?
Did you learn a new skill or clarify an interest?
Did you hear, smell, or feel anything that surprised you?
How is your experience different from what you expected?
What impacts the way you view the situation/experience? (What lens are you viewing from?)
What did you like/dislike about the experience?

Now What?
What seemed to be the root causes of the issues you experienced? OR  What seemed to be the root causes of the issue addressed in this project/learning?
What other work are you doing to help address the difficulties you experienced? OR What other work is currently happening to address the issue?
What learning occurred for you in this experience?
How can you apply this learning?
What would you like to learn more about, related to this project/piece of learning?
What follow up is needed to address any challenges or difficulties you had with this project/learning?
What information can you share with your peers/teachers/family?
If you could do the project/learning again, what would you do differently?

REMEMBER
These questions/sentence starters are just a guide to help you get started.

What do you think?

I’d like to adapt this for our G3 student bloggers as well.  What do you think? What’s missing? What would you add or change?

Original post written in 2010; Updated 2011/05; Updated and Revised 2017/12;

Technology Learning Coach – One Year On #1 Reflection

Technology Learning Coach – One Year On #1 Reflection

One of my many favourite sessions with Grade 5 bloggers has to be our Beginning Blogging Sessions.  When classroom teachers decide that they want to blog (individual blogs) with their students, they can book me for 4-6 getting-started sessions.  These sessions go hand-in-hand with our Digital Literacy Unit for the start of the year.

Our Guiding Question:   What makes a quality post?

Investigate:

We used the “noisy round-robin” techniques to get all our ideas down on paper.

Noisy Round Robin Technique:
In groups of 4, brainstorm ideas for 1-2 minutes then pass your sheet of paper to the next table.
Rule 1: 1 person to read all responses to rest of group
Rule 2: Add more ideas/responses to the new sheet but DO NOT repeat what you have already added to the previous sheet/s.  Repeat process 3-6 times.  Groups then decide on top 2-4 ideas on their sheet.

Plan:

One person from each group reported back the top idea from the chart.  No repeats are allowed, so students had to listen to each other.  Everyone had to agree that the idea belonged on the master list of what makes a quality post?

Create:

Here’s what I was hoping they would come up with:

Make sure your work is the best it can be;

Think before you post: Make sure what you write is appropriate to put online;

Always tell the truth on your posts;

Say what you mean, and mean what you say;

Online work is NOT private. Never say anything on a blog that you wouldn’t mind seeing on the school bulletin board, or in the local newspaper;

Get descriptive in your title. The title helps your audience decide if they want to read your post or not;

Try to link to other ideas or resources that back up the point you are trying to get across or further explain or enhance your content;

Is your post learning related?

Make your writing physically attractive. Add a supportive image, use bullets and paragraphs appropriately;

Give credit in your works cited list to anyone whose work you use. Never use other people’s work and call it your own. In other words, don’t cut, copy, or plagiarize Internet content!

Share your knowledge with others; when you learn something new, pass it along to someone else who can benefit;

Carefully proofread your online work before you post, just like you would a regular letter. Use good form, spelling and grammar;

Capital letters are regarded as “SHOUTING.” Be careful with them;

Don’t publicly criticise (or “flame”) others. Don’t be offensive, and don’t ever use bad language.

Here’s what they came up with:

Final List for “What Makes a Quality Blog Post”:

Don’t offend people (no swear words, insults, racist comments, and no discrimination).

Add images, videos, and captions if necessary or if it is related to your writing.

Be thoughtful when posting. Start with a good idea.

Check your punctuation spelling and grammar! (Capital letters= shouting, so only use it when it is needed).

Keep your personal information PRIVATE!

Make your reader (audience) feel like you are talking to them.

Always have a title. And be sure to make your title a hook.

Final Thoughts

What I’ve noticed is that when students help construct a list, they are more likely to understand the foundations of a good quality post – more so that just brainstorming a list together as a class.  It gives the teacher more of an idea of what the students are thinking about blogging already.

The “noisy round robin” technique is certainly that – noisy!  But I like it and I’m pretty sure the students do too.  Everyone has a voice, everyone can contribute and from others’ ideas grow more ideas!

Technology & Learning Coach – Reflection #1

Over the next few weeks I’ll be reflecting on my first year as ES Technology & Learning Coach for the International School of Bangkok.  It’s my first year out of the classroom after 14 wonderful years as a teacher of Year 2/3, then Year 7, and off course, two years as a Grade 5 teacher at ISB.

Ten Online Tools to Kick Start the Year

Loved this session – I think it’s the oooohs & the ahhhhhhs that teachers let out when they “dabble” a little with the tools.

LiveBinders was perfect for introducing 9 other fabulous tools to use in the classroom – not just at the start of the year, but all year long.  Please, feel free to add your ideas to the side text boxes if you’re using these simple tools in the classroom too.

I loved the format of our session, so I thought I’d share that with you too:

Featured LiveBinders
  • Share the LiveBinders link:  http://livebinders.com
  • Search for teachingsagittarian in public binders
  • Begin with Tab #10 (LiveBinders of course)
  • Show sign-up, a few features like edit menu, text layout – set the timer for 7 minutes and have sand-pit (dabble) time
  • When the timer goes, you have to share something you discovered when playing around with the tool, with the person sitting next to you (3 minutes)
  • Repeat with next tool – Tab #1 – #9

This is a really good way to minimize the “teacher is the expert” thinking or expectation in your classroom.  I always “dabble” a little before I introduce any new tool to my students – but I let them “discover” things too.  Almost every time I do this, someone discovers something else I didn’t know about the tool – it’s very empowering for students to discover something the teacher doesn’t know!  I love it! And in less than 20 minutes most of the students in your class have a fair idea of how that tool works!  Sometimes I’ll ask for 4-6 volunteers to show small group something they’ve learned to do – then we’ll do a round robin of discovery – it takes a bit to organise, but worth the effort too.

So, here it is – The LiveBinder “10 Online Tools to Kick Start the Year (click the images or the link)

10 Online Tools to Kick Start the Year
Uploaded with Skitch!

Hope you find it useful!  What are your favourite online tools?

Blogging in the Classroom and Making it Sustainable

Blogging in the Classroom and Making it Sustainable

One of the reasons I was fortunate enough to be invited to the JIS Technology Learning Institute at the beginning of August, was because I blog with students – not just my own anymore, but with students right through our Elementary School now in my role as ES Technology & Learning Coach.

Below is the Keynote from the first Blogging Session – How To Get Started that I did with JIS Faculty – unfortunately their blogging platform was not ready – so I did a lot of the talking. Good questions were asked and I hope I answered most of them – especially about why Blogging in the Classroom can be so rewarding for students (and for the teacher – after the initial hard work!).

Blogging Getting Started

I also hoped to do another session with the JIS faculty – Blogging – Making it Sustainable! But as with these things, we ran out of time. I’ve included it below as well. Special thanks needs to go out to my twitter PLN mates for their super ideas on sustaining blogging in the classroom – @dakinane @heymilly @lenva @pam_thompson @allanahk @glassbeed – you guys are awesome and included in the credits!

Classroom Blogging – Making it Sustainable