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What can Secondary Teachers Do Differently?

Crossblogged from Hynessight

What can Secondary School Teachers Do Differently?

Secondary teachers are wary.  They have students coming to their schools with digital skills that they have learned or taught themselves while at primary at intermediate schools.  These same students have already been thinking about the way they learn (metacognition) and know a lot about the kinds of things that they are interested in.  And then they arrive at secondary school.
Some secondary schools have "gone BYOD" which often simply means that the school has decided to allow students to bring their internet capable phones to school. There are often a lot of rules attached with this shift. The students can use them for research, and googling, but that is about it, otherwise they are "off and in your pocket."
So what can secondary school teachers do differently?  There should have been quite a bit of planning done to begin with but what if this hasn't happened and teachers are landed with these students in their class and don't know how to stop the students texting inappropriately in class, breaking digital citizenship rules and generally causing mayhem in the class?
Here are my recommendations
  1. The first thing I would recommend for these teachers is to start to use a learning management platform for the students to access.  This could be Moodle or Google or Edmodo or Schoology or any of the others endorsed by the MOE at the moment.  This means that the students know where to go to get their work and can start on it straight away. Use multimedia resources on that platform so that all students have videos, audio, images and text to access learning and activities which will build and strengthen their knowledge.
  2. The second thing is, change the way you work.  You do not have to be the person at the front of the room "delivering" any more.  You can put the same work, that those with devices can access, up on the whiteboard so that it is available for all.  You now have the freedom to walk around the class and help your students.
  3. The third is, give the power over to the students to complete the work collaboratively, and in their own time, so they all become peer tutors and responsible for any deadlines they have to meet.  Be clear in the required outcomes (what has to be learned) and in the words of the song in the movie, Frozen -  " Let It Go! " (Talk with parents, keep them in the loop, express your concerns if you have them, have consequences for missed deadlines).
  4. Let the students be creative - let them create sites and presentations and blogs about what they have learned.  Let them create eportfolios.
  5. Let them share and learn to critique each others work in positive ways.  Teach them to be positive digital citizens by discussing the work in the context that is created.   Give them opportunity to improve their work after you have collaboratively critiqued it.
  6. When it comes to summative assessment for NCEA, be very clear about revision of what should have been learned and the conditions of assessment.  This is the time that individual students must show what they have learned.  Get them to test each other beforehand, read each others work, ask for clarification and then they are on their own for the assessment.
  7. Finally sit back at watch the change in engagement and improvement in achievement.  Celebrate!  Move on and make the next unit of work even better than the first.  Allow the students to choose their own contexts whenever possible.
Thanks to Rebbecca Sweeney for publishing the images used in this blog today.

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Comment by Hazel Owen on July 7, 2014 at 15:07

Really enjoyed your post, Leigh - thanks heaps for sharing :-)

I felt that, especially useful were the practical steps. I was wondering if you had any scenarios, or examples, of how people have changed their practice? If there were a specific narrative...or scenario...around what this change 'looks, smells, and feels' like it may help folks envisage what change might mean for them. Being able to follow someone through the story of their change can be really powerful.

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