Sunday, March 28, 2010

Photo Orienteering...

If you are looking for a great blog to read as a PE teacher trying to integrate technology then you will enjoy reading Jarrod Robinson's blog, 'Mr Robbo the PE Geek'. Jarrod is an Aussie PE teacher who offers some fantastic ideas on integrating technology into Physical Education lessons (have a look at his ACHPER conference presentation for some great ideas). One of his posts last year was geared around using QR coding in orienteering, which made me think of an even simpler way of using technology in orienteering... Photo Orienteering.

One of the things we are faced with while teaching middle school Physical Education at ISB are short PE lessons. This means that we don't have much time to teach tools such as QR coding. In reality, we want to maximise our activity time to ensure kids are moving. So instead of using QR codes we decided to create photo orienteering. The idea behind photo orienteering is that there are no clips or code to find, instead the students just have to take an enlarged photo of a photo clue given with a map, thereby matching photo clues to map locations. Almost all our students have camera's on their cell phones so there is little or no need to supply any camera and once set up this is a very easy lesson to administer.

Here's how it works...

We give the students a double sided laminated page, one side containing small numbered picture clues and the other side containing a google image with circles showing where the different pictures were taken. The pictures are small cropped pictures from a larger picture taken at the site, here's an example of some of the picture clues:

Here's an example of from a section of the map...

The students are instructed to go to one of the circles on the map and see if they can find one of the cropped pictures in the area of the circle. When they match the cropped photo with the circle, then they need to take an enlarged photo of the area to verify they actually went to the location, here's an example for letter C, which matches with photo clue number 16:

The Orienteering is easy to administer, the checking at the end is easy with all the answers being shown on a looping PowerPoint so students can check off their photos to answers, scoring themselves on the total number of images they were able to find.

Please email me if you need any more information on administering this.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Google Forms does it again!

We recently had our Middle School Olympics; a whole day event for all 450 of our middle school students which started with an Olympic ceremony first thing in the morning followed by the three rotations (track and field, team sports & team challenges) and culminated in a tug of war competition. Although I wondered if it was worth the enormous amount of time in terms of organization, the response from the students at the end of the day makes me firmly believe it was worth every second of time we put in.

In the past we have always kept team scores (all the students are placed in four even teams) during the day by having a number of runners bringing the scores from all the events to three staff members collating scores, adding with calculators, entering into sheets, adding, counting, adding counting... until finally we managed to come up with a final sum for the day and let everyone know which team won.

This year we wanted to streamline the points gathering process and turn it into a real-time event, so again I used a Google form to achieve this. We realized we didn't care about keeping clear records of what event scored what with regards to the amounts of points (although there were clear guidelines for each person at each event so the points were even). The main aim was to get a running total during the day and have kids seeing it, instead of having them all wait till the end of the day for when we produced this ridiculously detailed document about all the scores for every event... basically we were turning the points into a formative assessment of their teams efforts instead of a summative assessment!

Here's how we achieved it:
  1. I created a Google Form for gathering the four colors scores at each event.
  2. I entered some fake scores into the sheet and submitted it to test it. I then entered an extra line above the fake scores and put in the 'sum formula' for each column (e.g. =SUM(B3:B9999) to sum column B)
  3. I then created a second sheet on the form. In this sheet I created a table which collates the sum from each color's column from sheet one (e.g. the formula for column B is: =Sheet1!B2), this provided us with a running score.
  4. We used an LCD projector and a mac laptop to project this. We also ensured the laptop was hidden from the students.
  5. We zoomed in on the table so that the LCD projector only displayed the table (use two fingers and control on a mac to zoom in on your screen). Final product and final score...
  6. Enter data into the Google form and you have an instant live score.
The really groovy thing about this was that we used a variety of ways to enter the scores. One group of teachers at the track were entering the scores on a laptop which was picking up the wireless signal. Another teacher was using her iphone, I was using my Nokia phone using my web browser and I also used a desktop when I dropped into the office. What happened is that students could always see the scores, always see them changing and hence there was huge excitement and motivation to go harder during the day.

It was so simple, so efficient and so effective. A great example of Technology really being useful within a sports day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Digital Natives... Digital Nomads... Multi-technoral

So I have been bugged for a while with the term 'digital natives' and finally I am bugged enough to write about it. I keep on hearing this term bashed around suggesting all our kids are digital natives, therefore it is ok just to launch technology at them and they will deal with it. This term comes cloaked in sayings like; 'the kids know more than us', 'just give it to them and they'll work it out faster than us'... the list goes on. What it looks like is teachers throwing technology at kids and expecting them to use it without enough guidance (I am guilty also).

The reality I see is that this is a facade. The whole idea of digital natives is a load of trash. Our kids grow up in a digital age, but many are not 'natives' in the true sense. The term 'native' points to an individual who has a handle on the things in their environment, they can use the surroundings and survive fine. A jungle native can use all the jungle and live effectively within.

What I have seen is that our kids aren't digital natives, they are digital nomads, nomads in the sense that their environment is always changing due to developments around them and their digital desires which shift them like the sand in the desert.

This environment is also a multi-technoral (a made up word I have created equivalent to 'multicultural') environment, as within it there are many tech languages. Each kid is entering this multi-technoral environment with different digital languages, some speak games, others text, some program, others talk facebook, a few type and the list goes on. The reality is there are many digital languages that they don't have a handle on.

So as a teacher my concern is we often throw them into this environment and expect them to survive, however the reality is that we need to ensure they speak the digital language we are using. We can't assume we have digital natives, we can assume we have a multi-technoral class with many different languages. It is our job to ascertain which digital languages are spoken and to ensure we are multi-techno-linugal in our teaching so we can speak, teach and engage all our kids.