Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Flipped Classroom: Online Feedback, Peer Assessment and Collaboration

The Flipped Classroom: Online Feedback, Peer Assessment and Collaboration

The next step in my flipped classroom is to try and find a place for children to publish work, receive feedback and then edit and improve. I experimented with EduBlogs with some success, but the whole process wasn't quick enough for the children in my class. They needed feedback quicker, they needed notifications, they needed to use their iPads and Tablets at home to share their thoughts and work without a complicated process.

Edmodo: Classroom Work Flow Solution
Up step Edmodo - Social Media for Education. This really was a game changer for my Year 3 flipped classroom.  It was named "Facebook for kids," by the children in my class and they love it.  

Edmodo is a 'work flow' solution for classrooms and it allows children to share work online, receive feedback, improve, and publish again.  

As a class teacher you have full control of the content that is published on your class space and you can be notified each time something is published (or not).  You can create notes, upload files, share links, embed videos, create polls, and store documents in an online library.  Crucially, it is all displayed in a very familiar format, a format that the children are used to seeing parents using on mobile devices - it's cool!

How have I used Edmodo in my Flipped Classroom?

When I first started flipping my classroom I would email the children videos, documents, pictures etc, ready for the next lesson - read about my flipped classroom.  I would then have to wait for the next session to find out what the children thought about the content, where they were up to and any misconceptions that they may have.  I know it was only over night, but still, I had to wait and they had to wait and sometimes they forgot!

Now I have started to embed videos, share documents and now the children are commenting on the information I am sharing, something they didn't do before. I asked the children why they didn't respond to the videos when I emailed them -  "it was too slow to send an email back," and "nobody else would have commented, there was only me in the email."  I realised that by using Edmodo, pre-learning had become a social learning experience but online.

"nobody else would have commented, there was only me in the email" 

This is a really good point that I hadn't actually contemplated. What I realised is that the children were receiving the videos, and documents, completing their flipped learning and then waiting to get to school to share their understanding, questions and misconceptions.

The difference I have observed when using Edmodo is that the children feel more compelled to comment there and then as the information is right in front of them. They don't need to open another window, the children can share easily by hitting the reply button - the work flow has been reduced.

When one child replied to the pre-learning I had posted more children replied and an online conversation about the work began.  Collaborative learning had started before they had even got to school.

Children as Publishers, Editors and Assessors.

Not only is Edmodo great for teachers sharing work, the children in my class have begun sharing their own learning. At first it began with the children sharing links to websites on William Shakespeare (our current learning adventure), but amazingly they began commenting and thanking each other for the information. 

The children were following their own curiosity and sharing their learning journey - all online.

Online Peer Assessment of Coding.
The next thing that pleased me was that the children began to ask for help from their classmates. They began posting links to their current computer programming projects from Scratch.

"How do I make the character bounce? Can you help me"

"Can you play my game, let me know what you think and suggest improvements."

"How do I change the level when I complete part of the game?"

They actually answered and posted screen shots of code to help each other - another example of using a skill I had taught them when we were coding - Read about it here, Social Coding

The children had 'Peer Assessed, Online'  without me suggesting they do it, something they naturally now do in the classroom, but this time in the virtual classroom.

I am going to pursue this method of peer assessment when the children complete their first piece of homework next week.  I am going to ask them to create a short piece of work on "How the people of Verona feel when walking the streets, now that the feud between the Montague and Capulets is growing."  The children will be able to publish in anyway they wish - write it, act and film it, podcast it, write poetry, etc. 

The only thing I will insist on is that they publish a link to their work on Edmodo and make changes to their work when people suggest them - online peer assessment.  The following week I will ask them to publish the work again for me to mark - online. I wonder what will happen?

This editing and publishing process is crucial to learning and something that can be done using an application like Edmodo.  Children could peer assess the work in the classroom, but maybe only their learning partner will have the opportunity to suggest next steps.  By publishing online, their work could be have next steps suggested by 32 people without the time constraints that the classroom brings.  They could use the time in the classroom to improve their work via the comments from their peers - a true flipped classroom.

21st Century Mobile Learning

So where could this take us? This diagram beautifully illustrates what learning could look like in the classroom. No end point, a constant opportunity to share and learn with social learning online.

We will be investing in 1:1 iPads in our school soon and I have finally found an application capable of being the 'hub' to online collaboration.  

One other beautiful thing I only found out recently, via Daniel Edwards @syded06 - 5 Essential Tips To Help Integrate iPads Into Your School Edmodo allows you to save the work you want to publish in your 'Edmodo Library.'   This enables the children to be working on document, say on Pages, save it to their library and then share it via an Edmodo note. Again, the workflow has been reduced - it becomes easier, which means the children will be more willing to engage in the collaborative process.  Their work is at their fingertips and there is no need to email, change formats etc.

Other options? Padlet: A Great Starting Point to Online Collaboration

We began at the start of the current academic year by using Padlet to help us to gather information about our next learning adventure.  Padlet is like an online learning wall that children can share their information, website links, and pictures in real time.

I asked the children to follow the link to the 'Online Wall' and then publish their information and questions to help me plan the next learning adventure  The link can be made public or made private - it's entirely up to you.  Edmodo could be used to do this, but I really like the mind map look to this. 

This is an example from my current Year 3s and their pre-learning over the Easter break for our upcoming Romeo and Juliet learning adventure.

I was able to take the information, website links, photographs to produce their next topic plan.  The beautiful thing about working in this way is that the children's views about what they want to learn is taken into account and planned for.

Finally, I'm presenting via a Webinar on Tuesday 13th May at 4.00pm. You can register via this link - Flipped Learning Webinar

Follow me on Twitter @chriswaterworth

Monday, 7 April 2014

Coding in the Classroom: Children as Teachers and a Social Learning Experience

Children as Teachers and a Social Learning Experience

Over the last few weeks I've been the learner, not the teacher. Watching my Year 3's get to grips with computer programming has been a real privilege and I'm a better teacher for it.  Handing control over to the children in my class has enabled them to really push themselves forward without waiting for instructions from their teacher.

Using the programming language 'Scratch' has been an instant hit throughout my classroom with children asking to use it daily.  Read about my first week of coding - First Week Coding and Flipping my Classroom

The children quickly picked up the basics of the language and ran with it, making mistakes and learning along the way.  One of the best parts of this experience is the realisation of how much social learning really happens when programming.  The children have formed 'Publishing Companies,' even named them, created logos and planned out what sort of projects they will be building in the future. 

They've done this independently, without teacher direction and are beginning to create some really advanced games and animations. 

Programming: A Social Learning Experience

Watching the children code over the last few weeks has really convinced me that coding needs to be done in teams to have the greatest impact.  The realisation of how much 'talk for learning' happens in just one short sessions convinces me that coding has massive potential for young children throughout primary school.

One of the biggest things observed is how much problem solving and mathematics is involved throughout coding, something that I've been teaching during specific mathematics sessions, but not in many other places in the curriculum. 
The children are buzzing around the classroom, helping, sharing, and working together to solve complex programming problems.  How often does this happen in the rest of the curriculum?  

The children are pushing each other on to solve more and more complex problems as their ideas for games get more and more challenging. How do we create levels? How do I put a scoreboard in? How do I make a sprite jump?  All of these problems were solved in one afternoon of coding by allowing the children to talk, interact, move around and work with each other.

Working and Sharing Online: Publishers Vs Consumers

I've blogged before about the importance of allowing our children to become publishers rather than consumers of information - Publishers Vs Consumers

One of the great things that Scratch allows you to do is to share your work online with the world or your friends.  The children in my class have been sharing their work via email when they are at home - copying and pasting URL's for their games to each other.  This online collaboration has enabled children to 'peer assess online.' The children can either comment online or email suggestions for improvements via email.  This method allows children to use higher order thinking skills more often in class and at home.

Video Tutorials: Flipped Learning

Earlier in the term I was talking to one of our Year 6 children who has been using Scratch at home before her class started to use it.  She had been using online video tutorials to teach herself how to code to a very good level.

She had been learning a skill at home, trying it out and then bringing to school to show her friends and teachers - something which I have encouraged our staff to start doing.

A Low Tech Approach: A Programmers Notebook

A Programmers Notebook.
Another way the children have shown initiative and independence was to create a 'Programmers Notebook.' Something I hadn't asked them to do, but turned out to be a great idea!  The children had been taking pieces of code from games or the projects already built into scratch, recording them in their reading journals and then using them in their own games.

The previous week I had shown the children how to take a screenshot of part of the screen on a macbook. Some children took this skill and used it to save snippets of code and email the screenshots to themselves to keep for another day.  I love how the children had used skills from other lessons and applied them when coding.

This has become common practice in class now, with the children sharing snippets of code via email or asking to borrow somebodies 'programmers notebook.'

Continued Professional Development: Children as Teachers

Over the past half term I have been running training sessions for our staff at school.  We have been learning how to use various applications and then ensuring that they use it in their teaching the next week.  This method of using the skill sooner rather than later has proved successful as staff had to bring something they had created to the next training session.  We covered GarageBand, iMovie and then two sessions on Scratch and programming for Key Stage One. 

Being an advocate of flipped learning, I created a few screen cast videos for the staff to watch before hand, allowing them time to try out the skills before coming to the sessions.  Here are the videos I created for the staff: 

Editing using iMovie -
Creating a Podcast -

The final sessions were based around computer programming. The first session of Scratch enabled staff to 'play' with the application in the same way as I allowed the children to do in our first session in class.  They hacked games, broke them and fixed them - although with a little more fear than the children had shown in class.  This got me thinking; could my Year 3s lead the next training session?

Children as Teachers.
So, on Monday night after school I had invited some of my children to stay behind to help their teachers get to grip with some of the more challenging features of Scratch.  The children were delighted, and so were their parents!

It could not have gone better; the children worked alongside staff, guiding them to create a simple one level game and teach them new skills to use in their class during the week.  Crucially the children were there to answer any questions the staff may have.  

The children were the experts, they knew more than me and I allowed them to lead the session because of it.  The children were empowered.

This is certainly an approach to CPD that I will be using again in the future and the children are very keen to help out again.

What was the impact of the training sessions?

We should always monitor the impact of any training we undertake in school to make sure it was really worth it.  It's early days to judge if the training sessions had an impact in the classroom, but I've already seen positive things coming out of classrooms this half term.

One of the reasons I insisted that staff used the skills in their next week of teaching was to ensure that skills were not forgotten, as they often are after any CPD due to time constraints and lack of purpose.  Finding purpose for doing something was key to the training having any impact - don't we all need that in life, a purpose for doing something?

Teachers who attended the Scratch training sessions have already completed two sessions of programming with their class and the fear of something new seems to have dissipated.  The staff have handed over control of these sessions to the children and have learned alongside them in the process - quite a powerful bit of learning. 

Something to think about for the future. A Broad and Balanced Curriculum: Can it be done through coding? 

Something I've asked myself over the last few weeks - how much of the curriculum can be taught by using coding?  Could it be a cross curricular topic used to drive learning over half a term or even a term?

Always Winter Never Christmas: Topic Based Learning
We plan in a very cross curricular way at our school and base all our learning around a common theme or topic. 

This term we chose to learn about World War II using The Chronicles of Narnia as a basis for learning. There was some amazing learning taking place as the children were making connections throughout the topic.  Could a whole topic be planned using coding as a theme?  Certainly something to think about in the future.

Follow me on Twitter @chriswaterworth