In my classroom today I find that the more students use technology, the poorer their note-taking skills have become. The majority of resources I present to my students are in electronic format. When asked to make notes, I find that the students tend to copy and paste sentences and phrases without little thought for layout and organization. When asked later to recall, students tend to just read from their notes without any deep understanding of what they have jotted down. Technology is not a substitute for thinking and I need to correct this; not only is the thinking time reduced but also the very act of writing the notes has been removed; and most worrying, the problem of plagiarism creeps in.
So how to we ensure that students develop good note-taking skills effectively using laptops? Luckily for me I get in-class support from the ESOL department from Pat Bradley. I see this as a great partnership; Pat is able to offer a wide range of great strategies and I find ways to implement these in our 21st Century classroom. Here is an outline of a model we used in class with our new set of Grade 11 ITGS students – we were discussing keypads at ATMs:
We tend to use web-based or electronic resources. By viewing the web-page in Safari, or a PDF document in Apple’s Preview, you can right-click on any work and the dictionary definition will appear. A great tool not just for our ESOL learners.
We have students read a section at a time. Some students read ahead giving the others times to read. Once all had read the section, we close, yes – close, our laptops. We suspend those ‘micro-moments’ to actually think!
Using the IWB (or lots of colored whiteboard pens) we brainstorm the key words and main ideas of each section. As our class is about the use of Information Technology, we tend to discuss technical terms, and this allows students to to add their own information so that the key points are expanded and become more detailed as well as give the students a sense of ownership.
Students then discuss the key points in small groups; this is very important for ESOL students as it helps with fluency and prevents regurgitation of meaningless set of words and phrases.
Finally, students open their laptops, fire up Evernote and type up their notes using the prompts on the board.
Points to ponder:
What technology tools do you use to help students in note-taking?
Do you think that technology erodes thinking time?
I have been teaching the IB diploma Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS) course for almost ten years now. It is probably one of the most demanding IB diploma courses in terms of lesson preparation and delivery as technology moves so fast giving rise to new ethical issues and social challenges. Each year the range of online resources and tools become more powerful and sophisticated and I rarely delivery the same lesson twice. For example, this year the ethical discussions focus more on the pirating of eBooks, the introduction of the newspaper pay-wall to ensure high-quality news and the controversial airport security weapon – the body scanner. These replace the ‘so-last year’ issues of music piracy, gaming addiction, the wonders of citizen journalism and biometric information embedded in RFID chips in passports. In our ITGS classes, we are constantly connecting to new tools and resources to extend our learning and this year we are taking the next step by connecting with other ITGS students. I will working alongside my friend and colleague, Julie Lindsay from BISS, as we team up our two Grade 11 classes. Our intention is to work together to develop and co-deliver the course, have our students communicate and collaborate with each other, encourage participation from ITGS schools around the world, as well as documenting our journey along the way. Our journey has begun! It is a journey that will explore the challenges of learning in the 21st century. Our vision is for our students will become ‘connected learners’; students who can seamlessly move between our physical classrooms and our evolving ITGS cyber-school and beyond.
If you would like to learn more about our ITGS cyber-class, please visit:
“The Challenge with Connecting is finding the right tools to facilitate efficient connections AND adopting behaviors for connected learning. Participants in online learning communities need to realize that the learning and therefore the connecting does not stop once the face-to-face class has ended.”
Some questions to ponder:
Are your students ‘connected learners’?
What online learning communities do you participate in?
We’ve just had the annual MacBook rollout with 150 Middle and High school students picking up new laptops – the majority of which are new to WAB and more importantly, new to Mac. As usual, all the students wanted to do was to get the MacBook home and start to play. Our goal was to persuade them to stay for an additional 20+ minutes of instructional orientation so that they can hit the ground running on the first day back.
This is my third annual rollout and we pretty much know what we need to impart. Here is our essential list:
Getting connected to the Internet at home. After all, our students really want to get connected to Facebook 24/7 and even though it’s blocked here, we are pretty sure they’ll find a way to get through!
WAB Online resources, specifically WAB online email and Moodle which is our virtual learning environment. Students need to know the lingo such as ‘enrollment key’ as many teacher will have the Moodle courses ready to go from lesson 1.
Mac 101 – a crash course on how to use the Mac – a quick tour of the dock, finder and spotlight – and for the PC users, how to ‘right-click’. Organisation – not always a strong point with students – however as a 1:1 school with very few paper resources, students need to learn from day 1 how to make folders and store files appropriately so we feel 5 minutes investment of time to demonstrate is crucial.
Backup – we encourage all students to buy external hard drives and use Time Machine. We also use the mantra ‘Back up before your pack-up’ using Dropbox, a USB memory stick or the very least, email the document to themselves!
And finally and new this year, the introduction of Evernote, which takes the pain out of backing up as it automatically syncs to the cloud and helps with organisation with notebooks (folders) and tagging.
All this in 20 minutes….
We also added a word of warning to parents about losing their child to the world of cyberspace. Last year our advice was to remove the power cable – after two hours the battery would be empty and there would be a good chance of some sleep! This year, this is not the case as the battery life is probably longer than a night’s sleep – so our advice to parents is to have all communication devices out of the bedroom and on the dining room table overnight! Good luck with that one….
I’m on my digital holiday – well, this is what I am calling it. School’s out for summer and half the family are off in far away Oz battling the winter whilst I volunteered to remain behind to ensure that the daughter produces the required 4000 words of her Extended Essay. Beijing may be pretty empty of any social distractions but I have been totally digitally distracted with my head firmly in the cloud doing all those leisurely tasks that I never seem to do during term time such as:
Watching the World Cup on TV with the sound muted and streaming the radio commentary – it’s amazing how synchronised it is – as well as keeping up with the real-time reactions through tweets – if only that goal was allowed for England…
Streaming my favorite TV programmes (but not telling where from) and listening to current affairs podcasts
Downloading easy step-by-step recipes with my daughter – getting her repertoire of cheap student meals ready for when she takes off next year (Thank you, Delia)
Learning Chinese and using GarageBand to record the lessons and then downloading for listening on my iPod whilst I take the ‘foster’ dog for a walk
Making song lists from Spotify and playing very loudly (through my headphones)
Stalking friends on Facebook – I’ve finally made contact with my best friend from school – only 2 degrees of separation and a lapse in FB privacy settings made this possible
Downloading a variety of apps for my new iPad (which arrives from Oz next week)
I’m worried that I have an addiction. Actually I’m not. I am very contented having time-off in my digital world. I’m refreshed, updated, caught-up and ready to face-to-face the world again when we all take off for a month in Europe. Actually, I’m thinking that it’s more about being prepared and able to see the world through the eyes of family and friends..or rather the friends of friends, especially at those dreaded summer dinner parties. It’s a matter of ‘be prepared or prepare to be bored’ because it’s always the same, three polite questions on expat life then the conversation usually swings back to the local fare: and I really must mug up on all things English so I can at least try to keep up.
Nevertheless, I will be leaving my MacBook Pro and iPhone behind. I will disconnect from my digital world and be sociable. I will go retro and listen the 7 o’clock news and talk-back radio, plan our socialising and sightseeing around the TV schedule and take an entire week to get through the paper version of the Sunday Times. Will I risk dropping into the local public library to borrow last year’s best sellers? Or will I just use my new app, Spots, to locate a trendy WiFi hotspot and download more holiday reading trash onto my iPad whilst sipping a chilled glass of wine or a bolt of espresso? Some questions to consider:
Do you bother to keep up with the local news and events from back home? If so, how so?
What would do on your digital holiday? What clouds will you be visiting?
Spotify is a new way to listen to music. “Any track you like, any time you like. Just search for it in Spotify, then play it. Any artist, any album, any genre – all available instantly. With Spotify, there are no limits to the amount of music you could listen to. Just help yourself to whatever you want, whenever you want it.”
Visit Delia Online. Delia is the most tried and trusted of British TV cooks. I have consulted Delia for years and years and always overseas where I often have to be a little creative with the ingredients. What I can say it this: Delia’s recipes always seem to work out!
I’m in the midst of marking ITGS portfolios and have come across the term ‘digital tattoo’ – I am sure has been around for æons but clearly I missed it until now.
“Just like a tattoo, your digital reputation is an expression of yourself. It’s highly visible, and hard to remove.”
Another piece of the parent-lecture jigsaw falls into place. Here’s a snippet from my parent / teacher-of-high-school-students lecture repertoire: ‘Remember, oh young ones, a tattoo is more of a commitment than marriage and a baby; a marriage you can get out off (I think you just change your status on Facebook these days) and a baby will eventually grow up and leave (redirecting email elsewhere and un-following you on Twitter); however, a tattoo is for life.’
We all know getting a digital tattoo is so much quicker, cheaper and infinitely more permanent than a real one. And what’s worse, what are the chances of getting digitally tattooed without even knowing about it? What would you do if you suddenly discovered a full-sleeve Amy Winehouse makeover on one of your arms, a spread eagle on your back and the Union Jack in a place that the sun don’t shine? Well, at least you can cover up or fork out for laser treatment….whereas a digital tattoo is there for the world to see whenever and wherever…remaining online forever.
So some questions to ponder…
If you had to have a digital tattoo, what would it be?
How many unwanted digital tattoos do you have? Or should I ask, how many unwanted digital tattoos are you aware of?
How can we prevent unwanted digital tattoos?
To help answer the last question, please go this this resource, the Digital Tattoo Project, which is being developed with grant funding from the University of British Columbia’s Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund and from BC Campus. The goal of this site and the Digital Tattoo project is to share resources to encourage you to think about your presence online, navigate the issues involved in forming and re-forming your digital identity and learn about your rights and responsibilities as a digital citizen.