Gmail learning

Below are a series of screenshots representing my learning around Gmail. The clips generally originate from the Google training site. It has become much easier to make sense of since I actually started using it (as opposed to just reading about it). I am pleased that it seems to be able to do many of the things my old mail client allowed me to do. It is actually now becoming a more pleasant site to visit.

Key learning points:

  • The tasks lists that can be created here and which automatically sync across to calendars
  • Filters: this is automatically assigning labels to my incoming emails.
  • Offline Gmail – turns out that there is a separate app that you need to use
  • The configure inbox button: awesome and fairly accurate at doing some very generic initial sorting for you
  • Being able to record notes regarding contact communication within that person’s contact details
  • How to use themes.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 10.07.12 pm Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.32.50 pmScreen Shot 2015-05-21 at 10.00.44 pm Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.45.25 pm Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.32.43 pm    Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 8.59.54 pmScreen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.35.16 pm

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Yolanda Soryl follow up.

I was going to put up my notes from Yolanda Soryl‘s course, but they contain multiple pages of a workbook from the course that I photographed and annotated as part of my learning (un unavailable for purchase unless you do the course). I think that it would be a breach of copyright for me to put these up. Frankly I don’t want to risk it. The course was well worth attending, and would be again, in a year, once I have taught the material for a while.

One of the biggest benefits has been learning to teach phonics: strange, I know given I have worked with year two and threes for the past few years, but I was not teaching with any kind of systemic approach. That (the systemic approach) is one of the key things I have taken away from this programme. Yolanda Soryl seemed to have a ‘bang, bang, bang’ keep it moving approach.

Additionally I was teaching reading today (in the Cave – small group teaching room). I took the ‘bang bang bang’ approach (or tried to) and kept reading moving. That was the goal anyway. My aim was to bring in a degree of urgency. I did. The kids were really focussed and engaged. I will definitely keep going with that.

I also used Yolanda’s method to teach the letter ‘s’ today. I missed a key component of it though – the hook with the story and the picture. We had a song which we sang, but I did it out of order. I will follow Yolanda’s advice (insistence really) and teach with the lesson plan open. I also need to get some form of assessment done for this as there are a couple of students who are using initial letter sounds already. Regardless, students all got what the letter ‘s’ was and the sound it makes. They had a little more trouble with the shape. I did ‘dge’ with an older group and need to do some revision there.

Tech in the classroom: one teacher who just can’t let go of the old…

This week I set a literacy research task for students around space. The work I had set the students was only completed to an acceptable standard by about a sixth of the class. For most of them it was a case of not reading the question properly (and I spotted a grammatical typo).

Regardless I could hardly keep five sixths of my class in at a break: that many clearly indicates some kind of communication breakdown. Those who had put the extra yards in and completed their work got free time whilst the rest finished and were gradually flicked onto free choice as they finished their work.

In this context I had an epiphany of sorts, or at least a wake-up call. One student who struggles with the physical act of writing, but has come an incredibly long way with it, had yet again not completed/begun the research. I realised I had created the task on an editable PDF graphic organiser. Why didn’t I just get him to type?

Lo and behold, there he was in his element doing a fantastic job with complete engagement. I asked some other students what they were working on on the iPads and they informed me they were making books. The books were fantastic. They would rival some of the e-books I have seen on Amazon that are privately created.

The best part was that they were totally absorbed in a project of their design, and one that was being created to a much higher standard than they typically produce in a teacher-directed project. Yes, some of their work was aimed at the five year old level, but it was to an excellent standard none-the-less.

It’s moments like these that I go: see Abbie! That is the power of technology. This is what you have been busy preaching about to others. This is what should be happening all the time. This is authentic, engaged learning.

Yes, there has been a lot of ground work laid down, and yes this is happening at the end of the year when you have the perspective of a year’s development.

It made me query once again: why are you doing things the way you always have? Why aren’t you maximising the technology you have available?

So what would that actually look like in my classroom? What do I need to change?

My starting point is getting past the ‘everyone doing the same thing at the same time. That is convenient, and easier to manage when working in a single classroom. If I’m honest though I am making excuses. It is easier to say “It’s too hard” than to push forwards and challenge myself.

At Ulearn14 one Katie Novak (UDL) talked about the ZPD. She however approached it as numbered sections with stage three being the ‘I know this, but I’m not ready to try something new and need a kick in the pants to do so” zone (my words: hers were much more eloquent. Additionally, refer to yesterday’s blog post with the various links to my notes from Ulearn).

I’m there. I have a great pedagogical and technical knowledge around e-learning (with plenty of room for development). I just lack the reason to push into something new. I like being mostly comfortable. Ulearn was a bit of a kick in the pants for me…today was another.

To move forward I need to let go of many of the old notions of teaching. I am trying to bridge the gap between the two. New isn’t always better, anymore than old isn’t always worse. There are times when new is just as good and better than the old. I need to move forwards and start again.

If I was creating a new classroom, what would it look like? If I actually put aside the notions of National Standards (NZ’s common core), and stop letting others’ comments and my own fears limit me, what could I actually achieve for these kidlings? How could I actually move those marginalised ones forwards?

Tech is more and more commonly being referred to as a tool. But it is more than that…rather it can be more than that. But will I let it be in my room?

The Power of Testing Memory Basic Research and Implications for Educational Practice Henry L. Roediger, III, and Jeffrey D. Karpicke Washington University in St. Louis

The Power of Testing Memory Basic Research and Implications for Educational Practice Henry L. Roediger, III, and Jeffrey D. Karpicke Washington University in St. Louis

The Power of Testing Memory
Basic Research and Implications for Educational Practice
Henry L. Roediger, III, and Jeffrey D. Karpicke
Washington University in St. Louis