Archive for the ‘Torfaen Innovative Teachers Community’ Category

You can now watch a preview of our Yr 10 EM Spectrum “TV Show” directly from this blog. The section we are showing below is part of the EM Spectrum News Report. If you want to watch the whole show click here.

Please, also take a look at my previous post about this show for more details.

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A few weeks ago I introduced the E.M. Spectrum to my yr 10 classes (14-15 years old) by asking them to produce activities that we would broadcast on our very own online “TV” channel http://www.livestream.com/croesyphysics

Needless to say they were very excited by the idea, especially because they were given complete choice on the type of activities they could create, the groups they were working with and even the software they could use. So, we got activities ranging from News Reports and Revision Songs to Documentaries and Comics. The whole process was highly enjoyable for them, to the point that some pupils who normally would not be that interested in the subject and that would find it difficult to focus on the work given became those who were always working very hard at their project and even came back at lunch time several times to make sure they could complete the activity in time to be broadcast.

Our pupils used a range of sources of information to produce their activities. Many used the internet, but most also checked their facts on Science Textbooks and made sure that their content was both relevant to the AQA Specifications (our examination board) and scientifically sound!

As I mentioned above, all groups had complete choice on the software and format they were using. So, some groups used Photo Story 3 to record short documentary-like videos.Photo Story 3 is very easy to use and very intuitive. It basically lets you choose a sequence of photos and record an oral narration on each frame. Other groups used Songsmith to create lovely revision songs. If you are a teacher, you can download Songsmith free by joining the Partners in Learning NetworkSongsmith gives you a choice of musical bases and by singing to the software your voice is recorded and the base is turned into the melody you’ve created. You can then export your song in Movie Maker and add background images, text and effects, like our yr 10 pupils did.

One of the highlights of our show was the News Report created by our pupils using only PowerPoint 2007 and Movie Maker. Michael asked permission to ITV News to use their music and he then produced the most amazing PowerPoint presentation I have ever seen. In this presentation he included the videos created by the other Reporters in Movie Maker and it looked really professional, as well as containing really good Physics. I think the most powerful message we could get from work like this is that we don’t really need to spend thousands of pounds in highly expensive equipment, nor have a state on the art recording studio in our school, because what really makes the difference is the creativity and engagement of our pupils.

Some other groups used Community Clips to record their presentations directly from their computer screen. Community Clips is a very useful free tool from Microsoft Research that lets you record a video of whatever happens on your screen. You can also narrate what’s going on and your voice will be captured by Community Clips. A Good example of use of this software were the instructions made by our pupils on some useful websites for revision, towards the end of our show!

So, how did we broadcast? Well, we used a free software called Procaster that lets you broadcast live directly on your Livestream channel. But the great thing about Procaster, and what makes it stand out from any other free broadcasting tool, is that you can choose to show just your webcam view, your screen, or a lovely 2-D or even 3-D mix of the two. The result looks very professional and the quality and speed of streaming is also pretty impressive for a completely free service. Your Livestream channel is also free and there is the option to let your audience interact with the show and with each other via the chat built in the channel. You can also link the channel to your Facebook and Twitter to maximise advertising possibilities. Our E.M. Spectrum show went live on Thursday 17th December 2009 at 20.30 (U.K. time) but it’s now available on demand in our Croesy Physics Livestream channel. Please, watch it and have fun!

Croesy Physics Livestream Channel

Have you ever used live streaming software, or websites? What was your experience?

We had a very Special Viewer during our live broadcast, Les Foltos, the Director of edLAB
Puget Sound Center for Teaching
who commented: “Dude.  Really great.  Or as you said it, Bringing Physics to Life is Amazing.” Les also asked our pupils: “What is the benefit of sharing your work in this online show?” and this are some of their comments.

Michael: the benefits are that we are in control of our learning and the research that we did to produce the “TV show” allowed us to take everything in and understand all about what we were learning.

Niall: some of the benefits would be the new and great technologies and software and being able to watch the show on the internet.

Jess: the benefits are that your parents can see it and get involved with what you’re doing in school. Also, it was more fun knowing that lots of people can see it!

We were thrilled to receive an email today to tell us myself and three of my Yr12 Students have been invited to BETT to receive our prize for the “Be a Reporter for the day” competition organised by the National Education Network. They competition invited schools to submit a news report about how they are using Technology in Education.  At the time I just started a Revision Club on Google Wave for my Yr12 Students and I knew that was just the right thing to submit… A project on Wave!

We are one of very few schools that uses Google Wave, as it is brand new technology and still quite few people have been invited to it! I got my invite from my brother in law and my Yr12 pupils from Michael (one of our sixth formers) who had some spare invites to give away.

So, how do we use Google Wave for revision? Wave is an incredibly powerful tool for collaborative work. Not only my pupils and I can communicate real time (and I mean real time), but Waves offer you many tools to enhance your experience, like gadgets and bots. And the best thing is that there are already many Developers who are busy writing new gadgets and bots, so things get more exciting everyday.

But what are these gadgets and bots? To any wave you can add various tools. For example, I added a mind mapping gadget (use the URL: http://cactus-wave.appspot.com/net.brucecooper.mindmapgadget.MindMapGadget/net.brucecooper.mindmapgadget.client.MindMapGadget.gadget.xml ) to decide what definitions we wanted to revise. So, each member of the class could contribute and group the definitions they found in their notes and specifications. This was a useful excercise because it helped them revise the different concepts and create links between words, definitions and topics.

Then, I invited the Wikifier bot (wikifier@appspot.com) to our wave, so that my Students could look up those definitions from Wikipedia directly on the wave. This is another powerful feature of Google Wave; you don’t need to leave the Wave to make something happen, as you can get most thing to happen and be stored there!

After that, I asked my Students to compare the definitions from Wikifier with those in their notes, books and the AQA Specifications, which I believe was not only a great way to revise, but also to encourage them to use more than one source of information when studying and researching! At this point, a great suggestion came from Alex (one of our Students). He said he was going to change the colour to green for those definitions he had checked, red for those he thought were wrong and orange when he wasn’t sure. In this way the Wave started to become more and more something owned and developed by the Students rather than directed and managed by me all the time. In fact, Alex’s suggestion became a norm followed by others too. Other suggestions and activities have been included by the Students since and our Revision Wave is now a lot bigger than the one we started with and our Students reported about in their award winning project, and we are getting very excited leading to January 15th when we’ll be at BETT to enjoy the great events and our boys will receive their prize, a brand new laptop each!

I have heard many teachers saying they can’t understand, or see the point of Google Wave, but I can say it is a fantastic tool and a smashing online collaborative environment unlike anything we have seen before. As more and more Developers will join in writing gadgets and bots for Waves, we’ll see a phenomenon that could really change the way communications and collaboration happen in Education.

Hello,

You are invited to watch our online show on the E.M. Spectrum on Thursday 17th December at 20.30. You can access our online channel at:

http://livestream.com/croesyphysics

Our Yr10 Physics students have worked on different activities of their choice to produce a “TV show” to be broadcast on the internet. The show will include various Physics demonstrations and revision activities on the Electromagnetic Spectrum and it should be very suitable for other Yr 10 pupils who are preparing for that topic and for Educators interested in the use of new technologies in Education. So, please forward this email to your pupils, colleagues, friends and relatives who might be interested!

Croesy Physics Channel

Croesy Physics Livestream Channel

I will broadcast live from my home the work of my pupils, which has been pre-recorded in class. My pupils and I are quite excited about this project and they are putting together a nice set of resources. It is the first time we attempt something like this in the Physics Department at Croesyceiliog School and we would really appreciate your participation and feedback on the outcomes!

Please, join us on Thursday 17th December at 20.30

http://livestream.com/croesyphysics

Thanks,

Alessio Bernardelli (Deputy Team Leader of Science, Croesyceiliog School)

I have always been excited by the amazing potential of Deep Zoom in Education ever since I was given a demonstration by Stuart Ball (Microsoft Innovative Teachers Network, @innovativeteach on Twitter), when he showed me what the Hard Rock Cafe’ did for it’s Memorabilia. I tried to use the Deep Zoom Composer across the network in my School, but it did not work (apparently it conflicts with our RM network, any suggestions?). So, I was apparently stuck, but I wasn’t ready to give up yet and coming to a unit on Reproduction with my Yr 7 class I came up with a simple solution, which proved the inability to use the composer on individual PCs to be a blessing rather than a curse.

The objectives of the project:

–  To develop interdependence through a collaborative project in which all learners had to take into account the needs and objectives of other groups

–  To encourage collaboration between different groups by getting my pupils to develop and peer teach different aspects of Reproduction

–  To enhance Communication Skills through the creative and collaborative use of Deep Zoom, Community Clips and Movie Maker

–  To develop Thinking Skills by developing the project using the TASC Framework

The management of the project:

In the first lesson the groups were introduced to the project and were given an area of Reproduction to develop. All the work undertaken by the groups was their independent work and research and was carried out using the TASC Framework (see the TASC section below). In the second lesson one member of each group could use a PC to research appropriate images and diagrams to use in the whole class Deep Zoom composition, while the other members of the group continued the preparation of their displays and presentations. In the third lesson each group took it in turn to add their pictures to the Deep Zoom composition while the other groups worked on the scripts for their presentations. This was a very important part of the project, because, in composing a whole class Deep Zoom, each group had to take into account the contributions of other groups and make sure that their interventions would not affect negatively the work of others. This approach developed interdependence, creativity, flexibility and adaptability skills, and of course ICT skills, as every learner could use Deep Zoom Composer. In the last lesson each group used the Deep Zoom Composition made by the efforts of the entire class and zoomed in and out the relevant parts while they were explaining their topic to the class. They also recorded their presentations using Community Clips, but at this stage we became aware of a challenge. When they zoomed in or out Community Clips would skip a short bit of the narration, so when we played back the first clip, we realized we needed to pause between each zooming action. That has slowed down the narration a bit and it doesn’t sound as fluent as it could have been, but the results were still very good. The groups’ presentations could then be edited in Movie Maker to minimize the pauses introduced because of the above problem.

The impact on my students:

During the project I could witness a maturity I had not noticed before in my pupils. The class I run the project with behaved in a more responsible way than they had previously done in other projects not involving Reproduction and they were genuinely interested in discovering how their body works. I also noticed much improved behavior compared to the classes I taught Reproduction to in the past and I believe this is due to the collaborative nature of the project and the ownership the learners had not only on the format (as they could choose and collate their own photos in Deep Zoom), but also on the content, as they conducted all the research and produced all the resources they needed themselves (all I gave each group was a topic to develop). This proved to be successful, because many groups found interesting information that the usual text books did not have and that was a curiosity or a concern for some members of the group. In that my pupils were not only consuming knowledge, but became creators of a knowledge that better suited their needs and those of their peers. In addition, retention of these concepts was much higher than in the past and pupils from different groups could recall many aspects of the topics not developed by themselves, or their group.

Hi,

It’s nearly been a year of Innovative Teachers in Torfaen and I though it’s just the right time to blog about our past experiences and successes.

How and Why we started!

It all began when Torfaen LEA in collaboration with Microsoft ITN asked me to put together a community of Innovative Teachers from the Secondary Schools in Torfaen in November 2008, as if that were an easy task. While I was driving back from the Innovative Teachers Network Specialists meeting, a vision came to me! I was determined to get our learners in Torfaen to have a say and a major input in the work of our community. I had to start somewhere, so I surveyed all pupils in my school (Croesyceiliog School, Cwmbran) and asked them what makes a good lesson and how they use technology in their learning. Then, I invited one to two teachers from each school in Torfaen and two of their pupils to attend our first Torfaen Innovative Teachers training day. The day opened with the video survey of our pupils and that formed the foundation of our work. In fact, the pupils invited from schools around Torfaen would become our Software  Experts.

Pupils’ Voice

I wanted to ensure the learners’ views, expectations and interests would shape the work we set out to complete. So, after watching the video, I demonstrated some new technologies that can be used in the classroom. Software like Photo Story 3, Deep Zoom, Photosynth and OneNote (which would become a great asset for two of our projects). Then, each teacher worked with the pupils they brought along to plan and implement a series of lessons that would exploit the potentials of such technologies in education. As teachers, we all agreed that the input of our pupils exceeded our expectations and that many great ideas they came up with we would have not thought about ourselves.

Software Experts

As I mentioned above, the pupils that helped us planning our series of lessons also delivered the lessons and became our Software Experts. The idea was that these pupils would have been able to assist their peers during the series of lessons and potentially other less ICT literate teachers who wanted to use the same software we explored. And it worked very well, because it was a great opportunity for our pupils to develop their ICT skills, their confidence and interdependence. They also had great fun in developing and delivering their work!

Our Virtual Classroom Tours

All the projects run with the help of our pupils where developed into VCTs and submitted to the U.K. Innovative Teachers Forum 2009. We were hoping to get at least one in the top ten, but we were thrilled to hear we had two. James Allan from West Monmouth School (Pontypool) submitted a great VCT on the “House of the Future” where his pupils created cardboard houses to describe the energy saving features of the house of the future. Then, they used Photo Story and Photosynth to present their work to their peers.

Photosynth and the House of the Future

Photosynth and the House of the Future

Another excellent project was submitted by James Kent, Croesyceiliog School (Cwmbran). His pupils used OneNote 2007 to create a revision booklet on the effects of the Asian Tsunami. The innovation in this project was the collaborative nature of the booklet. In fact, the class was divided into different groups that would focus on different aspects of the Tsunami. As they all worked on the same OneNote notebook, the final product was a revision guide made with the contribution of the whole class.Asian Tsunami

Projects like this really maximise the power of amazing software like OneNote 2007 and provide a great example of how such tools can be used to enhance the Teaching and Learning experience of our learners and educators! I was not surprised when I heard James was also invited to the European Innovative Teachers Forum 2009 in Vienna.Unfortunately, his journey ended there (but very close to the finalists, I’m sure), but the Judges complimented Torfaen on our Pupils’ Voice approach and the idea of using Software Experts to team plan and deliver lessons in the classroom.Our ImpactAfter the ITFs, we showed our work and the potential of our approach to our colleagues. Quite a few began to use similar approaches in their lessons and that encouraged us to continue to promote the Torfaen Innovative Teachers Community. With the new academic year beginning this Thursday, we are excited and motivated to begin a new round of VCTs for this year’s ITF and we are even more thrilled as I will begin a Peer Coaching Programme that will hopefully encourage more teachers in Torfaen to join the community, try new and innovative approaches and reap the benefits of their efforts.Alessio.