Lesson: Understanding RESPECT as the basis for Creative writing

I had a Year 8 English session 5 today (the last class for the week). I was wondering how well the boys would do after the incredibly steep learning curve they were on this week.

We have used laptops for a long time but our boys like the classroom and face-2-face times with their peers and the teachers.

I prepared what I thought was a reasonably simple lesson to introduce this year’s Creative Writing competition. The theme for the 2020 Shared Stories project is “RESPECT”.

When we were told about the theme at the end of last year, some of my colleagues were less then impressed. Last year the theme was “Gratitude”. Many teachers disliked that theme but I had a great Year 7 English class last year. They responded very well to that theme so I thought “RESPECT” had the potential to be just as worthwhile.

My idea was to discuss what creative writing was and then give the students time to investigate the meaning of “respect” so that they could devise a working definition for themselves.

Lastly I set them the task of keeping a diary for the next few weeks. The idea is for them to record something respectful that they have noticed each day. They have the option of a written diary or a visual one.  For the second choice, they can create a visual diary in what ever format they like – online – Canva, or a tool on their computer.They must enter an image for each day and then explain why you chose that image. The diary can also combine options 1 & 2 but they must try to have an entry for each day so that they will develop a really rich source of ideas for their creative writing piece.

If you are interested in them, a copy of my slides are available on slideshare. 

When I first thought about how we would do this with the students,  it was going to be a whole class collaboration but here we were today in our own houses.

So I created a a video introducing the slides to the boys and the also got a PDF version they could save. They shared there synonyms for “RESPECT” on the class padlet and also on our class forum.

Toward the end of the session they posted up some reflections. There is a range of skills in the class and some boys normally have a learning support teachers in half of their English classes.

I will share some of the reflections I received from these 13 year old boys, as I received them. I think they are starting from a really good base and that they understand about Respect.

i learnt respect is just ore than being kind or care full. I learnt respect more people than you should and use maners. the more you respect people, the more love and respect you gonna get from people.
Today i thought hard and brain stormed more about respect and wrote what they meant
we need to focus on respect when we are mostly talking to people and playing sport


Learning remotely or remotely learning?

My first reflection in our “brave, new world ” of education in Victoria.

Everyone was wondering how are students would go as they logged in to our classes from home.

Very few of the year 7 and 8 students in my classes have ever had to do this ( only some with a medical issue for a short time). As a whole, the boys at our school have always indicated that they liked attending the school.

I teach mostly digital technologies classes so I also have the advantage of teaching a subject that they all have an interest in (one way or another). These holidays saw me spending a lot of time working through my lessons. Creating videos, putting extra guidelines, more images and trying to make sure they have all the information they need to learn. I like to have small group and whole class discussions as well as individual input in almost every class and this is is very much restricted. I also like to get their ideas about many aspects of technology, that that leads to some wonderful spontaneous learning situations. Again hard to be as spontaneous when we are all distant with our own particular home setups.

However the first two days of classes have been very rewarding and the students indicated their presence in our class forum at the right time. After that they went to the online class space we have been using for the past 2 years. This space is not new to them as I have always put all class documents, links and copies of my class notes and all the expected student work here for them to access.

Our school wants us to use the forum option (that is part of our Learning Management System) as the starting platform for each class. For the moment, within each class forum I set up with 2/3 threads. In each forum I began by clarifying my expectations of the boys, using the following information adapted from the rules I use with other collaborative

Welcome boys to our ……… class forum.

This forum will be used for class discussions and attendance if the College is forced to close.

Lesson plans and activities will be online in Courses section of SEQTA Learn as usual. However you will be required to indicate your attendance at home by replying via this forum.

REMEMBER: This is an online space and, as with our earlier class Padlets, it is a public, school forum and the same expectations apply.1. ENJOY being in this space and “PLAY NICELY”
2. Be RESPECTFUL of the ideas and opinions of others.
3. As this forum space is designed as a school-based one, LANGUAGE and CONTENT needs to be carefully CONSIDERED.
4. No bad or threatening language please. It will be deleted.
5. All members must be TOLERANT towards sensitive issues and the opinions of others.
7. If commenting on items, please be sensitive and mindful towards others as you expect them to be towards you.

PLEASE make sure you do not start your own threads, separate to what we are doing in class. These will be deleted.

After this I create an attendance thread for the lesson – This is a somewhat clumsy way to mark the roll. There is a lot of jumping between the forum and my online class attendance roll. (But it works well enough!)

The second thread I set up was for the boys to ask questions. It allows me to answer problems or clarify instructions in the lesson. Some of the other boys can also assist in the process. This certainly kept me busy but it seemed to work well with the classes on both days.

16/04/2020 Questions and/or reflections on the lesson

‘Comment’ in this thread any time between –.– and –.–this morning with any questions that you would like to ask me about the work that has been set for the lesson. I will be checking this thread and answering your questions until –.–

Just before year 8 DigiTech classes ended today, I asked the students to respond to the lesson by answering the following questions.

  1. What did I learn in this lesson? Explain in one or 2 sentences

  2. What did I complete everything? Answer by briefly telling me what you managed to do and how.

  3. What was the most important idea/skill I learnt about in this class? Explain in a few sentences           

I was really pleased with the way they answered each of the questions. Although brief, it really did help me evaluate the success of all the lesson components.

So how is student learning progressing? So far, so good. We are all learning and modifying and refining as we go. I am learning what the different classes and different students require to improve on what is already there. In the long run, when things “get back to normal”, I envisage that I will have such a rich supply of material to support my classes into the future.

Useful sites (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Useful sites (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Flip(ing) video cameras – we have some for use

We just purchased some flip cameras for the library. In the past I have had to beg and borrow digital video cameras from other faculties (not steal!) Finally I got one just before our semester holidays and I found it such a neat little device. I wanted something that was simple and easy to use in a classroom situation. It is not meant to be for the more complex videos  that the media students produce,just something that our junior students can pick up and use.

Flip Cameras

Our Flip Ultra is a pocket-sized video camera. In this case Flip is the name of the name of the company that produced the camera. There are other similar such cameras around produced by a variety of companies. I played around with it over the holidays and it was great.
What are the good points to the pocket video camera?

  • The size means that you can literally fit it in your pocket, and it is easy to hold and record with a non-slip coating. It is light so that the weight doesn’t causes you to tire or of a size that can get knocked and buffeted by the wind if you are ouside. 
  • The  simplicity is wonderful with a big red “record” button and a few other basic features, including a small zoom feature. This made it very easy to use without having to read a large manual.
  • The video file format is very useful as it records videos in a format that is ready to be posted online, uploaded to YouTube  or edited with software.
  • There are no leads or cords need to transfer the files across to your computer. It has a built in USB port that you plug directly into your computer and away you go. This is especially useful in schools as cords regularly go missing.

Thanks to Clif Mims post Video Cameras in the Classroom. I found a GoogleDocs presentation by Tom Barrett  on Thirty-Nine Interesting Ways* to use your Pocket Video Camera in the Classroom. These tips and  is not a definitive list nor are some of the ideas totally new but they do provide a range strategies for effectively integrating video cameras with teaching and learning. Many of the strategies also offer links to examples from classes using the cameras.

Already I know our PE department is very keen to use them in a number of their classes to help students evaluate their performance. I want more book trailer videos and I also want to use video as a way of students reflecting about learning tasks. I also have in mind to do some video “how-Tos” and think that the students could help.

Anyway we will only be limited by our own imaginations. I am excited by the new learning opportunities we will be able to offer.