Saturday, 27 August 2016

App of the Month - Microsoft Office Lens

Have you used the Microsoft application Office Lens? I've recently discovered the amazing benefits of using this app and, after sharing it with my students, thought I should blog about it and share this great app with you!

App of the Month - Microsoft Office Lens @natashainoz

Office Lens is essentially a document scanning app that makes pictures of whiteboards and documents readable and saves them to OneNote. It can also convert images to PDF, Word and PowerPoint files through Office integration.


Office Lens is like having a scanner in your pocket. Like magic, it will digitalize notes on whiteboards or blackboards. Always find important documents or business cards. Sketch your ideas and snap a picture for later. Don't lose receipts or stray sticky notes again! 



Here's just one example of how I have used this app in the classroom!

I recently found an article about finding a suitable partner online and this tied in nicely some discussions I had been having about marriage with my senior English students in our investigation of themes in Pride and Prejudice. The article was from an old issue of the magazine New Philosopher. I was able to take a picture of the article then, through the use of use optical character recognition (OCR) in the app, the article and image were able to be converted into a Word document. I was then able to save this document to my school's LMS and share it with my students. No photocopying, no wasted paper and no fuss!

#educatorinoz #officelens

My EAL/D students and my students with special learning needs have found this app so helpful because with Whiteboard mode, Office Lens trims and cleans up glare and shadows. It so convenient for students because the pictures taken are automatically saved to the camera roll so they can retrieve all of their images/documents across all devices. If you are a OneNote user you can easily capture student work samples, online documents, class readings and so on using Office Lens then send everything directly to the students' class notebook. 

Office Lens now includes Office 365 support for iOS 1 - 1

I love that you can take pictures of receipts, business cards, menus, recipes from magazines, whiteboards, or even sticky notes and then save everything in your preferred format.

All you need to be able to use Office Lens is a Microsoft Account that is the same as the one registered on your device. Office Lens for iPhone users can share documents securely using Office 365 work and school accounts. 

I'm so glad I found this great app! 

Best wishes,
Natasha


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Friday, 12 August 2016

Favourite Pins Friday: #GrowthMindset resources

The concept of 'growth mindset' continues to be used, explored and discussed by educators and is also being promoted as a tool that can help increase profits for business in blog posts such as 'How Companies Can Profit from a “Growth Mindset”' as published in the Harvard Business Review. Carol Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, has shared some excellent research and observations on how developing a growth mindset can positively affect performance. She has found that when it comes to achieving success the inner belief that we can improve upon our abilities is crucial and can be quite easily changed. She believes that instead of having a 'fixed mindset' about our abilities we can develop a 'growth mindset' by being willing to put in our best efforts to learn and grow.  For example, if a student has a fixed mindset, they think that their  intelligence and talents are fixed and innate, in other words they can't be changed in order to grow. On the other hand, if a student has a growth mindset they believe that if they work hard and learn from their mistakes they can achieve excellence and growth.

Dweck believes that we need to learn from both our successes and failures; it is often our setbacks that allow us to find new opportunities for growth and development.



I have been using Dweck's theories in my continuing exploration of strategies that will support student confidence and inspire life-long learning. I have found some really great resources online and have pinned them to my 'School and Educational Materials' board on Pinterest.

So, for this week's Favourite Pins Friday post, I'm sharing a few of my favourite '#GrowthMindset resources'


Favourite Pins Friday, #EducatorinOz



"iLearn" Poster via Edutopia
[Free download] This poster will inspire the lifelong learners in your…:



The Iceberg Illusion via Sylvia Duckworth
Sylvia Duckworth on:


Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Using Literature Circles to Meet the Needs of Diverse Learners in the English Classroom

I've been playing at Storify! My story on Using Literature Circles to Meet the Needs of Diverse Learners in the English Classroom is below.

This story is adding to some of my other research on Differentiated Instruction in the Classroom.

 Using Literature Circles to Meet the Needs of Diverse Learners in the English Classroom




Best wishes,
Natasha


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Monday, 9 May 2016

What is Differentiated Instruction?

Differentiation is a teaching and learning process that is essential in today's diverse 21st century classroom.

Differentiation is a teaching and learning tool that is essential in today's diverse 21st century classroom.


According to the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards NSW (BOSTES), Differentiated Instruction

 ...involves forward planning, programming and instruction. 
It involves the use of teaching, learning and assessment strategies that are fair and flexible, provide an appropriate level of challenge, and engage 
students in learning in meaningful ways. Board of Studies NSW

Carol Ann Tomlinson, Chair of Educational Leadership, Foundations, and Policy at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, is the pioneer of differentiated instruction and has written extensively about this process.

The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners, 2nd Edition

Essentially, differentiation is all about finding the “differences” and helping students optimise their learning by working with the differences in the teaching and learning of academic content. Teachers can differentiate by attempting to either reteach or enrich content by providing extra lessons and activities as they work through a unit.


The differentiation process begins with some kind of formative pre-assessment. This will allow the teacher to check whether students have a complete understanding of the content or if they might need an enrichment and/or accelerated activity. Teachers can use this formative 'assessment' to find the gaps in a student's learning and plan for extra support, extra time for processing information or extra worksheets to practise a skill.


The following infographic found at Teach Thought clearly explains what differentiated instruction involves and identifies what things we might think are differentiation but are not. The information here comes from Carol Ann Tomlinson’s The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners, 2nd Edition.


Monday, 8 February 2016

Reflecting on Feedback and Data on a Flipped Learning Experiment

According to the Vanderbilt University Centre for Teaching, the flipped classroom involves a reversal of traditional teaching where students are exposed to new material outside of class through videos or reading so that class time can be used to help students gain a better understanding of content through problem-solving, discussion or debates. (https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/flipping-the-classroom/)

When considering the Flipped Classroom model and Bloom’s revised taxonomy (2001), students will gain knowledge and comprehension of course work outside of class (‘lower’ level cognitive work), and will then focus on application, analysis, and synthesis (‘higher’ forms of cognitive work) in class.

For the Flipped Classroom method to be a success I found that it requires three essential elements:
  1. The students must be able to take more responsibility for their own learning before class in their own time. Students should then be prepared to participate in instructor-guided learning activities in class the following lesson.
  2. Teachers must plan and prepare the content for a whole term’s work rather than allowing for fluidity and change.
  3. Students must have regular access to technology to be able to complete much of the flipped course work.
I gathered data on five ESL students in my Year 10 History class, who have been predominantly taught using traditional methods (teacher as instructor lecturing to passive students) and this allowed me to prepare these students for assessment and then analyse test /results data.

My flipped lesson strategies involved providing students with handouts for pre-reading before other students received them, completing a lesson and associated questions via Sofia that I constructed, watching a video on Khan Academy, and discussing content, ideas and problems with me during class time. My main goal in flipping my lessons for the 5 EAL/D students was to reduce their anxiety and allow them to feel confident during teaching/lecturing lessons which would then hopefully lead to positive outcomes for their assessment results. Obviously I was hoping that their grades would improve but I did not want this to be the only focus of the project.

Although the students indicated that they were not confident that the flipped model was successful for them (Image 1) because their academic results did not change, I believe it was a successful method of teaching and learning.

Image 1

I believe that the higher forms of cognitive work associated with the pre-reading that was given and the following in-class activities and ongoing peer/instructor interaction, indicated that higher levels of metacognition associated with deep learning became evident and the students generally achieved levels of confidence that I had not seen before. My teacher aide confirmed this by indicating that the students rarely offered to answer questions in class time in other classes but were confident enough to do so when they completed their flipped lessons (Image 2). This in itself is one of the greatest outcomes of the flipped learning model.


Image 2

While I found the flipped classroom process to be time consuming due to the amount of preparation required I did find it provided positive outcomes for the ESL students. However, I also believe this outcome was positive because these students are generally known for their hard work ethic and have shown that they are willing to make sacrifices in order to improve their grades and, of course, their English language skills. This is why I believe the Flipped Model is not for everyone but it is an essential teaching and learning tool for students in ESL or EAL/D classes.

Best wishes,
Natasha

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