So we’ve decided to build a Community! A community of educators and education professionals who are interested in improving their use of multimedia in the classroom. We have a lot of expertise in this area and we want to share that expertise with you!Read More
Another year of teaching online? It’s ok, we’ve got you covered!
2020-21 was perhaps the most challenging school year for many teachers around the world, with intermittent switching between lessons online and offline lessons. As the new school year embarks on us and the new variants causing further complications, teaching online will yet again feature heavily in 2021-22. If you are feeling anxious about the uncertainty already, check out this Q&A page from the WHO to get some clarity. Since there are just a few days (if you are lucky) left before the new school year starts, why not upskill yourself with a few tips and tricks that will make the transition to online teaching a little smoother?Read More
If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s our innate ability to adapt during trying circumstances. The transition from an established, work setting such as school to your own home, does however impact numerous qualities that we have grown accustomed to; such as Communication.Read More
Motivating and engaging learners can be challenging in any learning environment. But understanding self-determination theory will give you a structure for helping you do this. Self Determination Theory represents a broad framework for the study of human motivation. It suggests that when people are motivated to grow and change, they become self-determined.Read More
2021 has started off with homeschooling in the UK. A webinar I attended earlier this week on Lessons Learned from Covid-19, made it clear the correct term is online learning and not remote learning as there is nothing remote about it. It certainly brings us closer together in that virtual way, but it also opens up new opportunities, such as amazing guest lectures from people who would have otherwise never traveled to give a lecture. You can watch Educate’s webinar here.Read More
The whole notion of online teaching and professional development is not an old one. In fact, I was surprised to learn that its history begins way back in 1981 when the Western Behavioural Sciences Inst in La Jolla, CA, started running distance education for business executives via computer conferencing. Since then, many multinational businesses have grown within the space and traditional businesses have metamorphosised through a move to online learning.
Kids are turning up aged 5 at school now with a digital-savvy to rival the best. Teachers have access to whiteboards, laptops, internet connections, online resources from publishers, brands, non-profits, digital content, VLEs and it all works swimmingly. Right? Well judging by what I have seen of my son’s first one year and one month of primary school, there’s still room for improvement.
When faced with a complete lockdown and need to provide proper online teaching, the local education system, appeared to creak at the seams. Maybe it is because it doesn’t seem as though there has been a concerted effort to couple the introduction of new technology in schools, with the introduction of blended learning methodology in teacher training. This would overall raise the bar in state education and without this approach, digital learning and digital content become ancillary to the ‘analogue’ classroom experience.
My first interaction with online digital learning was around 15 years ago in the professional space when a member of my team excitedly showed me Lynda.com, now of course Linked In Learning. Lynda was the gateway to the world of online learning for me – many of the experiments and projects we were attempting to do at that time as an early digital publishing team, were beyond our combined knowledge and capability, and being on tight budgets invariably we would learn software packages or web design techniques via the easy-to-use searchable interface that Lynda provided. I didn’t look back.
Since then, there has been a massive increase in the amount of both office and classroom hardware and software being produced and sold all around the world along with all manner of different attendant courses on how to make everything work.
In the classroom, the ubiquitous classroom whiteboard is supplemented with voting pads, laptops, iPads, and a whole host of other technology hardware and software products and services. As this has grown, the amount of video content has grown targeting teachers and giving them tips on how to use it.
This year the COVID crisis has highlighted both the need for increased interaction with online resources in any form of education for both teachers and learners. Our own recently launched TOM – Teaching Online Masterclass is a free online professional development resource for teachers making the leap into remote teaching and learning. Teachers, who hold a crucial role within the education eco-system, are being rapidly upskilled in the methodology of teaching both in the classroom and online using a blend of different learning experiences. This is key to creating the community they create in the classroom, in the online space – a definite challenge. If they don’t, they risk being left out in the rain. Their pupils will become alienated and the process will become soggy and tired.
We have learned from my son’s school that at the flick of a switch, his year one teacher can take the classroom experience and re-create it online with individual 1:1 teacher Zoom time factored in for each and every child online too. We now have a timetable for home-learning should the school be closed, and if it’s needed will give him 1:1 teacher Zoom time every two days – something which in its own right is no mean feat.
Teaching and learning are going through an enforced change right now. With little or no notice, thousands of schools up and down the country are having to adapt and change to home-schooling supported by the teacher online. Whilst the last lockdown was pretty much a write-off educationally from the perspective of every fellow parent that I’ve spoken to, there seems to have been a huge technology uptick in our local school since. Systems have been geared up to make sure that everything can be run as if it were in the school, and a questionnaire sent before the term even started has made sure that every child has access to the technology needed in a home-schooling environment, if just via a smartphone.
We are hoping that school stays open, but if not, then this time round, teachers and their pupils have better support. Let us hope it will be a more fun and educational time.
We’re pleased to announce that Teaching Online Masterclass (TOM) a free course for educators to help adapt to online teaching is now available to view at tom.makematic.com
TOM is a free online professional development resource for teachers making the leap into remote teaching and learning. With a focus on pedagogy over technology, it’s a catalogue of bite-sized videos produced in partnership with Adobe, ClickView, iCivics and Participate. TOM contains 50+ professional development videos from K-12 online teaching experts about online pedagogy, designing online classes and curriculum, building communities of practice and digital well-being.
“TOM is a series that has been created with K-12 educators in mind. It focuses on online pedagogy over technology and really takes into account what the research tells us works in this space. The contributors were carefully chosen because of their expertise in the K-12 education space, as practitioners or professionals who really know what it takes to be a super online educator. More than ever educators are crying out for resources such as this, and that’s why it’s such an exciting project to be involved in.” Tara Walsh, Makematic’s Director of Engagement and Innovation, said.
“We work with tens of thousands of incredible teachers who are facing so much uncertainty in their work. That makes it extra important for one thing to remain certain – that teachers are talented professionals who know what effective instruction looks like. With the right guidance, there’s no reason they can’t transfer that effective instruction to online spaces. TOM is that guidance. It meets teachers where they are and provides targeted and convenient coaching to elevate their online practice.” said iCivics’ Chief Education Officer, Emma Humphries.
TOM is now available to watch for free at tom.makematic.com.
TOM is also available at Adobe Education Exchange. Sign up to earn an Adobe digital badge and 4 hours of accredited professional learning.
Lately, I’ve been doing a fair bit of work with my school leaders to help our staff be better positioned to teach and support our Students with Learning Needs (SWLN). It’s not to say that our staff are not doing anything – they are. It’s also not to say that they don’t know what they are doing – on the most part, they do. But I’ve come to the realization that there is, a lack of understanding in knowing the ‘why’ behind their supports, (aside from the obvious why that is).
Why do we modify, adjust or accommodate the learning needs of students?
(1) a person is not treated unfairly because of their disability and
(2) that a student with a disability can learn and participate in education on the same basis as their peers.
Within our classroom and our teaching practice, it is up to us to ensure that a SWLN is able to learn and is not made to feel different because of their struggles. I mean you wouldn’t ask a student with a broken leg to run 100 metre race, would you?
And it’s the words – modify, adjust and accommodate – that I’ve come to realise that staff struggle to understand. By unpacking the differences between modification, adjustment and accommodation I’ve seen a real change in classroom practice.
Let’s unpack this further
Modification. In education terms, modification means that changes in academic expectations need to be made. That the student is working at a level below their peers, and as such, we need to modify the curriculum expectations to enable them to achieve and feel success. A student with an Intellectual Disability or a Developmental Language Delay requires modifications. They are cognitively behind their age appropriate peers so cannot be expected to complete the exact same output as their peers. Teachers need to modify their level of work so that it is more cognitively appropriate. Students who require modification may also benefit from accommodations and adjustments, depending on the subject and their challenges.
Accommodations and adjustments can be discussed in the same manner. This is where teachers need to make decisions that either accommodate the disability or the learning is adjusted because of the disability.
- When we accommodate, we use our knowledge of the learning challenges for the student and use this for their outcomes.
- Yet, when we make adjustments, we are changing the way we expect an output from a student because of their challenge.
Take Dyslexia for example – it is a Specific Learning Disorder generally related to reading and writing. We can’t ask a student with a reading disability to sit and read a passage of text aloud to the class, or even to themselves, without some sort of accommodation or adjustment. To accommodate the dyslexia, a teacher would avoid asking this student to read aloud. To make an adjustment for dyslexia would be to allow the student to use assistive technology that reads aloud to them as they follow along.
How to know which is appropriate?
This is where your knowledge of your student in your class is paramount. When planning your lesson or assessment task, teachers need to take the time to consider the following question for each SWLN.
- Is the student capable with a couple of tweaks or will it not be enough to just tweak?
If the student is still not going to be able to achieve with adjustments, then modifications might also need to be made.
Always ensure you have consulted with both the student and their family to ensure they are
(1) aware that changes to their curriculum need to be made and
(2) to give the student a voice in their learning – that they have been consulted and agree to what you’re planning for them.
I always tell my parents that they have a PhD in their child, and this goes a long way to helping us at school to know how best to support their learning journey.
Artifacts bring history to life because they help develop key historical skills.
“Artifacts engage students physically, emotionally and intellectually. [They] require the application and practice of twenty-first century skills. […] Transcend the limitation of language, age, gender and discipline [and] tell stories. Discovering and telling the stories of objects helps students assimilate data into an orderly pattern. Our minds recognize and remember patterns. Artifacts engage students in effective learning. In other words…Artifacts Teach.”William Virden, University of Northern Colorado
The Museum Of Artifacts That Made America
As a former secondary history teacher, I regularly used replicated and real artifacts in my history class. I used artifact boxes from museums, recreated archaeological dig on campus and even mummified a chicken. To tell you the truth, I took the study of material culture, real and fake a bit further than most of my colleagues. And, I blame my background in archaeology for this. It paved the way for a love of artifacts and a desire to use material objects in my history classes as much as I could.
Unfortunately, we don’t have collections of artifacts to send to schools. But we’ve created the next best thing: a growing collection of bite-sized videos called the Museum of Artifacts That Made America. This series tells the untold stories of artifacts that have played a significant role in American history. It explains the historical relevance and detail of the object and provides its significance and context.
From the first video game to a chapstick spying device to the cotton gin. Series 1 titles include: The A7L Space, Suit, the Negro Baseball League, DJ Kool Herc’s Turntables, Hamilton’s Writing Desk, the Chapstick spying device, The Stature of Liberty, The Skidi Star Chart, the Cotton Gin and the Harvard Printing Press, Five-Shot Colt Patterson, The First Video Game (Tennis for Two), Keds, Windshield Wiper, The Ruby Laser and Abraham Lincoln’s Top Hat.
Let’s Hear From The Production Team
Our production team enjoyed creating this series so much! The team included: Producer, Zoe Lack, Script Writer, Lee Henry, Lead Animator, Dan McGarrigle and Sound Engineer, Kevin Gillen.
“I’m really proud to have worked on the American artifacts series. It was a fun and rewarding challenge to try and visualize and bring humor to these stories of American ingenuity. I even learned a few things that surprised me, like using a chap stick as a spy device during the Watergate scandal or how the first tennis video game was created on an oscilloscope. I hope viewers get as much enjoyment watching them as I did in creating them.”Dan McGarrigle, Lead Animator
Using Artifacts Videos In The Classroom
Understanding the origins and significance of artifacts is so very very important. We take material objects for granted. But when we delve deeper it can be surprising what can be discovered. In fact, one of the most interesting class discussions I’ve ever had, was one we had about toilets. Yep, I said it, toilets. The discussion started in ancient Rome, moved to the development of the modern toilet, toilet habits, hygiene, social norms, disease and finally toilet humor. The students were engaged and interested and learnt so much that day.
But enough about me, here are three activities for you to use when using the Artifacts That Made America in your classroom.
Activity 1: Things You Didn’t Know
Use this activity before watching the video.
- Divide the students into 5 or 6 groups. Assign the group themes or topics. Either provide groups with a series of images, videos, still and articles about their topic, or give them some classroom research time to do some research. For example: if you were using the Chapstick spying device video, your five themes could be: The Cold War, President Nixon’s presidency, Watergate, Cold War Espionage, Key events in the 1970s.
- Using their assigned resources, each group will develop a list of five ‘things they didn’t know’ about their assigned topic. To create their lists, students can use large sheets of paper and markers or post it notes.
- When groups finish creating their lists, ask each group to share their five facts. Ask groups to provide evidence as to why the facts they chose are important to know.
- Combine each group’s list of five ‘things you didn’t know’ to create a collaborative list of Things You Didn’t Know. These can be displayed somewhere in the classroom, on post-it notes or digitally using a tool like Trello.
- This activity can be extended to incorporate less or more groups. But make sure that each group shares 5 things to the class.
Activity 2: A-E-I-O-U
Use this activity during and after watching the video.
- Explain the activity to the students before watching the video. They will watch the video, without taking notes and will be required to fill in an A-E-I-O-U chart afterwards. Tell the students that they’ll watch the video twice.
- Show the students the A-E-I-O-U chart and answer questions they may have about it.
- Watch the video, but do not let students take notes.
- Once the video has finished, ask the students to fill in their A-E-I-O-U charts individually, in partners or groups.
- Watch the video one more time, and allow students to further add to their chart.
- Get students to share what they learned, and discuss the questions that have been posed as a class.
Activity 3: A History Of [Your Town/City] In 30 Artifacts
This one has been inspired by a New York Historical Society teen project in 2012, which was in turn inspired A History of the World in 100 Objects. Get each student to choose an artifact that reveals a piece of your town or city’s history and write a story about it. When pieced together, the artifacts tell the story of the town/city’s history and demonstrate the important role artifacts have in telling that story.
Over To You
Now it’s time for you to explore the first season of Artifacts That Changed America. from our series Untold. A free collection of short, compelling history videos and animations designed to shine a light on the stories that don’t make it into the classroom.
For more information about Untold visit the website at untoldhistory.org