Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Can an Evaluation Speak for Itself?

A small group of my Level 1 students have being having a go with Explain Everything on the iPads. They have completed their final poster designs on Adobe Illustrator and I wanted to see if we could do the final evaluation as a spoken rather than typed thing.
Blog post about setting up the template here.

Our first attempt last week was a complete disaster, as they could not read the questions and answer them straight away. It was an interesting leaning curve for me, as their teacher, as I realised that they needed the same help and scaffolding when they speak their analysis as I would give them when they type it.

The second attempt showed a really good session at writing the script with help sentences and key words, which was thwarted by wireless issues so we couldn't get the files onto the iPads.

The third attempt was today. We were ready. We had fabulous scripts!! We had wireless. We were good to go.

Here are the 3 that were completed today...

Student 1

Student 2

Student 3

Feedback from the students :-

Which did you prefer ?
  • Writing

What was good about writing?
  • You have more confidence when writing rather than saying it.
  • It's faster because you can stop when you want and you don't have to rewind unlike the video recorder you have to stop and start again every time you make a mistake. 

What was good about speaking?
  • You don't need to type.

What were the worst parts?
  • Being nervous while speaking
  • Having to except the fact that we HAD to record ourselves talking. 
Would you do a spoken analysis again?
  • Yes. It is much more better to say than write
  • Yes, only if it's to do with credits :D

Key things that were highlighted for me....

  • Students were very nervous of doing this to start with. Will they get used to it and find it easier to do?
  • Get the image on the right way to start with as once the recording was done, every time we tried to turn it, it went back to sideways on saving.
  • Scaffold exactly the same as we would if they were writing the evaluation / analysis.
  • It meant that the students actually did BOTH - writing and speaking as they wrote their script.
  • Using the teacher dashboard to share the original template file was easy, even though we didn't use them in the end.
  • The students saving their work into their drive then retrieving it on the app was easy ( once the wireless was playing ball ).
  • We learned how to use the app as we went along, especially when things went wrong. One of the students did a mostly great recording, got flustered and ended that section on a HUGE swear word.  So, rather than him start the whole thing again, we learned how to edit just one section of the recording and delete it. 

I really appreciated these guys giving this a go. It has given me a lot to think about moving forward with this, especially with its use within a totally online course.

Can students record an audio analysis / evaluation with what ever app / equipment they have, outside of the classroom, without on-hand teacher help.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Online External Moderation - The Process in Design and Visual Communication

This year, DVC sent it's first totally online external moderation away. This screen cast briefly explains the process.

The key points are :-

  • Make sure everything that the students have done for the project is available online.
  • Make sure all paper work / drawn work is scanned and uploaded.
  • Make sure all 3D work / models are photographed and uploaded.
  • Have a central place for all the work ( I use Google Sites with my students as an online design portfolio, but individual documents within a project can be put in one folder and the link to the folder sent as evidence )
  • Make sure all course planning work is online.
  • Have the assessment sheet that you used to assess the students work available online.
  • Link everything to one moderation form that is stored online, so this can be shared with NZQA
  • Make sure everything you are sending away has it's sharing settings set to public.
The process went very well this year and NZQA liked the process that I went through so much that when they were visiting the school to talk to other staff about how they work online, they wanted to talk to me about my online moderation.
On the moderation feedback form, they specifically mentioned the process we had gone through as well as commenting on the planning and work.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

It's the Little Things ...

I have spent a ridiculous amount of time this term fussing over the navigation of my new site.

I want this to be right because :-

  • Students want short sharp tasks, not long huge pages to drag through.
  • Students need to find where they are easily within a project if they are working outside of the classroom.
  • The site needed to be cleaner and not so "full" looking as it was confusing to find things with my last site as I had too much on show.

My old site was easy. It was all along the top with drop downs to projects.

This then led to project pages, where the whole project was on one page with a table of contents at the top, and links out on the page to other areas on the site or external sites.

This year, on the new site, I needed something different.
I am trialling a new way of working this year, where the students work through the tasks in their own time while we work on skills and collaborative activities in the lesson time. Later in the year, some students will also be doing the course totally in their own time as they do not come to the lesson at all. So, I needed a navigation system that was easy to follow for the students so they know exactly where they are.
When I trialled this last, it was one module, so the navigation down the side bar to the separate tasks worked quite well.

Seeing as I am putting the whole of Design and Visual Communication on the new site this year, this method will just not provide enough clarity for all the pages that will be involved. The example here is not even complete with all the pages. I really don't want all the pages on permanent show and the side bar takes up valuable page width.

I have gone back to the horizontal bar with the main areas on show all the time.

When you click on each of the project pages, there is a navigation at the top of each page that is basically just a single row table.

I have made my site a set width of 1000px, so I just have to know how many task pages there will be within the project, and make a table with one row and that many columns.
As I wanted to make this navigation bar stretch across the whole width of the page, I went into the html and changed the width of each of the table columns. (1000 / no of task pages ). This makes the cell size nice and even and fills the whole width.

I then just had to write the names of the pages in the cells and link them up to the project pages. I only had to do this once, as copy and paste worked really well for all the formatting and links, so the same navigation could be put at the top of each of the project pages.

This method is working well as the names and links can be changed for each project, so all the project pages can be "hidden" unless you are doing that project. This keeps the top navigation nice and tidy.

A small glitch at the start was that I had called the links task numbers ... task 1, task 2, etc... This is all good until the daft teacher can't remember what work she put in which task number. If I can't remember, then how can I expect the students to keep up? They are now labelled with titles.

A lot of fuss over a small thing? Yes, it is, but if I have got this right, then students can concentrate on the work and not spend half their time trying to find where they are. 
I want them to do this out of the classroom without me being there to point where things are.

I think I've finally cracked it....

Friday, March 20, 2015

Big Thumbs Up for Online Moderation ....

This year was the first year that I have submitted work for moderation that is totally online.

This is the standard form for submitting moderation - link here - and this has normally had to be sent along with physical copies of everything - the student's drawings, printouts of research and printouts of everything they have completed. This had to be put together with a paper copy of the planning for each standard being moderated.  It was a LOT of paper to send away and printing off my planning, which was all on a Google site with links to all sorts of resources, was just messy.

So in February this year, the first all online moderation was sent for DVC.
On the moderation form, the planning on my site was linked to from the standard description and the student work was all on their own Google sites, so this could be linked to from their names listed on the form. The assessment sheets were linked to from the grades listed on the sheet.
A quick check to make sure all the links worked and it was all open to the public and the forms were shared with NZQA.

This was so much easier and went really smoothly.

I received the feedback today, which was also online. This is a change too as they used to send the sheets back to us in the post.

Here is the feedback from the two Level 1 standards that were moderated for DVC this year.

Needless to say, I am absolutely delighted with the feedback, especially this bit ....

Happy Dance !!!

Using Google Plus Communities in a Secondary School Classroom

Come and visit our Design and Visual Communication communities ...
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3 ( this one is on trial this year )

If you want to know how to do Google Plus stuff, check out the How To site here

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Can we Analyse our Design Work by Talking About it?

We had a great PD session after school today at Stonefields School. We were working together on iPad use in the classroom and I was part of a great group lead by +Michelle George. We were looking at using the Explain Everything app. Listening to Michele explain how she used the app in the classroom, giving us tips on the basics and how to share templates and activities with students using the Teacher Dashboard and the smart copy function. It was giving me some great ideas and one in particular that I want to try out quite soon on my Level 1 students.

I have set up a very simple template for analysis of design work. The students are designing posters at the moment to display the work of a famous architect, and they have to explain their design choices using design terms and elements.

I have put in a selection of questions for them to answer and a space for them to add a picture of the design they are analysing.

The plan is for them to find this template in their graphics folder, as I will have put it there via smart copy on the dashboard and they will download and open it in Explain Everything.
They can then put a copy of one of their design developments in place and record them selves talking about their design.

My big questions are :-

  • Will this help the students who are not so hot at the writing of their design analysis?
  • Can the students do a better analysis when they are talking about it instead of typing / writing?
  • Can the students explain better when they are talking about it? 
  • Can they give a more realistic opinion on a design when talking about it?
This work is internally assessed, so a verbal analysis will be fine, and the video file can be embedded on their Google sites as evidence.

Here is my example when I tried this out ....

Do Real Design Problems lead to Greater Engagement ?

"So what went right today?" was how I was left at the end of the afternoon when I had just finished having a double period with my year 10 group.
I am the first to admit that year 10 is my "nemesis" year group and I am constantly grateful for the help, support, shoulder that my fellow teachers give to me in times of need.

Today, we got underway with an activity which we had got partially through on Tuesday.
I brought up the fact that I needed a few volunteers to design some CD covers. Our HOD music had brought the possibility to me a while ago. His students are creating their own songs based on our school values of RISE - Respect, Integrity, Success and Responsibility, which they are putting onto CD's. These CD's have cases which need cover art.
Four volunteers came forward and we set to working out what they needed to find out. They wrote up a set of questions and off they went to interview their "client" - the HOD music.
When they came back with his answers, we sat and did a brainstorm of possibilities of images to use. This then was slowly converted into a mood board of images that were printed out and they got on with 2 design ideas each.
We have a very tight deadline as this is needed by the end of term ( another two weeks ), so they have next Tuesday's lesson to complete their designs then they have to go and present them to their client to see which way the final design has to go. On Thursday's double lesson next week they have to learn to use Adobe Illustrator, produce a final design each and make a mock up of the final product. These then need to be show to the client and a decision made as to which one goes into production.

The 4 boys are LOVING IT !!!!

This situation has the following factors :-

  • Real life situation
  • Very tight deadline
  • Work that will be seen and used by a real audience
  • They volunteered for the work after being given all the details

I don't know which of these points is affecting this situation the most or if it is a combination of them all but I want to bottle it. Absolute magic.

PS... I think some of the others in the class will be doing some design ideas too on Tuesday.. hhmmm

Monday, March 16, 2015

Nice is not a design term!!!

My Level 1 DVC group were working on their analysis notes today. They have to include analysis of the work with all of their design developments and this is the hard part for them. We get around that by putting all the design developments up on the Level 1 Google Plus community (Link here),  and everyone makes comments on each other's design work. The rules are : - one positive comment and one supportive improvement comment. There is also the rule that "nice" is not a design description!!!
We have already had practice by analysing existing poster designs, and we talked about layout, colour, font choice, use of white space, focus of attention etc....
What we did then was start to take these comments and use them in their own work.
All of the students have Google sites for their project work. This will develop into a design portfolio over time.
They have their design developments saved out of Adobe Illustrator as image files and embedded onto their sites. We were then putting a table under each one, with columns for "what is good about this design" and "what can I  improve in this design". The comments from the community were used and reworded for this table.

Our next step is to make a plan for the final design based on what was said by everyone here.

The standard for this work is AS91069 Promote an organised body of design work to an audience using visual communication techniques.

To aim for excellence at this, the description is :-

Effectively promote an organised body of design work to an audience using visual communication techniques involves: 

• selecting and presenting the features of an organised body of work to an audience.
• purposefully selecting and applying techniques to ensure layout, composition and visual impact are appropriate to the context of the brief and audience.
• communicating a high quality presentation that is convincing, shows accuracy of layout, visual impact, and precise execution of techniques.

They are analysing the visual communication, layout and composition of the other members of the class. They are actually doing more analysing of work doing it this way as they have to write comments on all three developments of the whole class, but as they find it easier to analyse the work of others than their own, they don't seem to notice that they are doing a lot more of it!!

This year, I think i will get them to put a link to the Level 1 Google Plus community on their own sites, so the examiner / moderator can see the work that they do there too, even though that is not the part that gets marked in the end, it was part of the process.

4 credits before the end of term, here we come!!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Having a Little Trouble Letting Go...

When we had our first Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher meeting this year, we discussed that one of the valuable things that we got out of this process was everyone being honest and open with their sharing. Good or bad.... so here is some "not so good" from me.

I have discovered recently the main flaw in my plan of working with an online format for my students to follow out of the class room. That main flaw is basically ME.

I am having difficulty letting go of what I do in the classroom, working through the projects in a set order with the students in the class. When I did the practice run last year, it was with a small group of Year 10 students while my Level 1 and 2 students were working through in my usual way. I didn't realise last year that this was going to be an issue.
The positive to this is that I have woken up to myself early in the year and will give myself a good slap talking to, and get on with it. I have been teaching for 20 years in September this year. Surely I am not so "stuck in my ways" that I cant give this a good go? I have found myself using excuses like, not all the students have working net books at the moment. For goodness sake!!
A more realistic fear that I have is that I am experimenting with my students NCEA Level 1 and 2 courses, but if I can get over this, then I can monitor them closely and help where needed.
Ok.... time to get over my fear of loosing control and start trusting the students to work with me on this.