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My journey towards tablets in school


on 13 October 2016

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Transcript of JT

My school
is quite well equipped with smart boards. We have four computer rooms for about 1300 students, making it a matter of chance whether we can actually use computers when necessary. However, a majority of students is technologically well equipped at home and on the go (mainly smartphones). They like using their devices. So most of my courses have their own wiki where we share resources, collaborate and organize learning. None of my students brings any tablets to school though.
content by students
Many times I have been enthusiastic about apps because they made things look nice. I have tried them out with my students and everybody seemed to be happy - only that the language work sometimes just didn't have the same intensity and output. Let's face it, apps can encourage attaching too much superficial value to the form. Tablets / apps should support and inspire (more) language use. They need to be easy to use and enable students to do things that they wouldn't have been able to do otherwise.

Example 1: collaboration
s collaboratively supports group work, makes it more efficient and visualizes links. My French class has been working on a project on Romanticism this way and we have just extended this prezi use to an eTwinning project.

Example 2: oral practise
Revising a lesson with
helps students to test whether they have understood and could explain it to somebody else. They use a picture of the blackboard and summarize the lesson, practising as often as they want, listening, recording and correcting.
Learning Styles of my Students
Teaching upper secondary level this year, I mainly prepare students for their A level exams. By then, they have mostly adjusted to the tasks that are asked of them - predominantly written assignments, some oral presentations - or they dropped out along the way. I am afraid there is not much room for variety there. I try to offer them a choice of diverse sources and take their interests into account as often as possible but the system doesn't allow for a lot.
a journey towards tablets in class
Teaching English and French at a Berlin secondary school, I have been enhancing my courses with technology for a long time. It is astonishing to me how little students often know about the educational use of their own electronic devices and I would like to help them put their potential to use. Everything that supports language learning is allowed in my classroom.
Jana, Germany
I very much like to use visualisations in my language classroom so I am happy to have discovered this new tool.
Tablets in my classroom
OR: Circling the idea of using tablets...
In my classroom, I am usually the one who brings their tablet along. I use it to quickly look up words in an online dictionary or app, to research facts or questions that come up spontaneously, to document what is going on by taking photos of activities or the old fashioned blackboard.
I encourage my students, who are not allowed to use their smartphones in most of their other classes, to do the same. However, I think that all of us could develop more creative ideas with technology if everybody had a dependable device on their hands.
Challenges in school
- it animates language learning immensely by allowing students to access authentic material as well as tools helping them to make sense of language
- students can use audio and video independently to acquire pronunciation for example
- the possibility to research information immediately makes us ask more questions and enriches the content of our language classes (I have noticed that this factor is especially popular with boys who tend to prefer fact based conversation)
- using a tablet facilitates storage of information and eliminates problems of forgotten materials
- tablets can support individualised learning
money, time, expertise, flexibility, space, collaboration, maintenance / staying up to date technologically
- the school does not allow the private use of mobile devices - it is difficult to make the difference
- for effective tablet use, an internet connection is a must
- our school does not have any wifi and has made it a policy not to allow it
- there is a need for an engaged team, adding to the workload
- teachers need to acquire new strategies to deal with new technology and put creative tasks at the center of their teaching, i. e. ask questions that cannot be looked up in their entirety on the internet
- students need to learn to organise themselves using their devices, they have to take on more responsibility in choosing tools / sources and also have to learn NOT to use it at times
- users need to work responsibly with the material they share regarding personal data, pictures etc.
- parents appreciate school as a time when their kids do not use electronic devices
- tablet use may encourage passivity and distract from productive tasks
Personally, I see tablets as a tool that facilitates and personalizes learning. Fathers will agree that tools are key in any task they undertake ;)
Additionally, parents will like the idea that a tablet enables learners to connect on the go - making learning very accessible at all times.
However, a tablet is a tool that requires a lot of skill, organisation and critical thinking. Educators often think that technology will make life too easy for students... so I wouldn't stress the fun part of it too much.
Imagine you are being challenged by a parent or your school leader, asking you to justify the huge investment in tablets?
Tools: infogr.am
I don't use Edmodo. My class wikis on pbworks have similar features though. The fact that our course schedule is online is much appreciated, especially if there are last minute changes to it. Students take turns in keeping track of the new vocabulary that can be printed off the platform. They also brainstorm there using padlets that are easily embedded - as well as other material. Each student has their own activity tracking page too. Not all of them like having to check in. They also want some peace and quiet away from school work once in a while.
Tools: Edmodo
Why would I like to use tablets?
Tools: dipity.com
I like the way Cristina Nicolaita organized her diary.
The tool fits the idea of a diary as it uses a timeline.
The integration of different sources seems to be easy enough. As with many new ways of presenting information, you need some time to get used to reading it efficiently - but I certainly like the look of it...
Janja, Slovenia
The first challenge: convince my colleagues of the need to change the way we teach. Most of them find mobile devices to be the greatest 'evil' of the 21st century.

The second challenge: money. Our government is cutting down the school budget so the school icannot afford to buy tablets. Participating in projects could solve that problem.

The third challenge: technical support and colleagues' collaboration.
Sérgio Possacos, Portugal
I believe the biggest challenge that will put the use of tablets in schools relates to the completely different approach of classes by teachers, for lesson plans, management of processing times of activities and master the tool itself in order to make the dynamic class without dead time, maintaining the appropriate learning rhythm for each pupil.
Elena Pezzi, Italy
I agree with Diana about a step by step implementation in our schools. Deep changes cannot happen suddenly so we have to be careful with our students and colleagues in order not to scare them!
Giuseppe/Edmodo is great
I'm using Edmodo in my classroom. It is a good way to engage students and to communicate with them and their parents out of school hours.

I think that this is a good tool for all teachers that want to keep attention to their digital natives students. Edmodo has an app version for smartphones that students and parents like very much
Laura Cimetta, Italy
I'm not using Edmodo but a similar LMS: Schoology. I've been using it for 3 years now. You can use it to launch discussions, share ideas on contemporary topics or videos, as a repository of materials - I teach English and post links to grammar sites, videos, literature - you can create polls, quizzes, set assignements with a transparent deadline, share photos of school trips, share the students' presentations, post the videos for the Flipped Classroom remind students of assignments or events ... it' like a super virtual classroom, a social network but protected and without the distractions of Facebook!
a few German reads




Using tablets for content creation
Learning scenarios are a concept I have been introduced to in the 21st century classroom course. Most of my projects had already been organised along that line. So it is not new to me.
One example: groups of students made literary crash course videos (inspired by John Green's YouTube channel) for a book they had read.
is a good tool for that.

Teacher content creation:
Socrative; Nearpod...
Looking at all the different apps, we have to find the ones relevant to our teaching. Not everything works in every single setting, not everything works with my students or with me. Socrative and Nearpod are great apps that just don't work in my country. In our school system, we teach so many different levels and age groups that it does not make sense to create elaborate content yourself. Most likely, you will not reuse it. I know of many colleagues in other countries who continuously teach a certain grade. These are the apps for you.
Idea: content providers could offer slides along with their books and workbooks, making them part of the package they sell to schools.
Playing around:
storytime / postcard creator, songify
These apps are cute but not necessary tools. They can foster motivation by adding pictures or personalizing texts with self-taken photos (storytime, postcard creator). Regarding the postcard creator, I would simply prefer the analogue way...
Songify I could imagine using with younger students. It may help to remember e. g. grammar rules by adding a memorable beat or music to it.
Apps can help to keep track of every day vocabulary in an attractive way. Many combine photos with text, e. g.
Comic Strip It
. These could be used in presenting every day life in a language class for beginners. For example, kids could take pictures of their fridge and name the items in it. They could make their own personalized dictionary with this app. However,
would be even better for this because it adds pronunciation.
Presenting and documenting work:
Animoto, Kizoa, Padlet, Prezi, PowToon
There are a few possibilities to present content in an attractive way.
can be used as slideshows.
might have the same function. However, the integration of other media is easier with Padlet and Prezi. Additionally, they allow for collaborative work - something that I favour.
getting creative:
storyboard that
Storyboard that
allows students to make comics which can be used in many ways. For example, in an e-twinning project, our classes (France, Spain, Germany) have rewritten Shakespeare's Macbeth in a modern version and are looking for a way to illustrate it - as we have read the graphic novel as an introduction, storyboard might be what we have been looking for!
Collaborative learning
Tablets and Personalisation
Tablets are great for language learning. They allow students to immediately answer vocabulary questions including the pronunciation of the new word or solve difficulties in grammar. Additionally, advanced students can check the context new words are used in on the basis of authentic texts. Tablets enable students to watch videos or listen to audio as often as they need.
Apart from all the advantages of individual advancement, collaboration is a main factor facilitated by tablets. Students can share insights or work together on presentations, recording each other on video - a great way to monitor their progress and to analyze their foreign language capacities. Moreover, these videos can help save time - listening to 32 students presenting dialogues is often time-consuming and exposes them to many mistakes they might be tempted to repeat. Instead, the best performances could be shown to the class. Shy students will appreciate the fact that they don't have to perform in front of an audience - even though this skill still has to be practised...
An app that could become useful should every student have a tablet because it integrates other apps.
Everyone has a mix of learning styles. Some people may find that they have a dominant style of learning, with far less use of the other styles. Others may find that they use different styles in different circumstances. You can develop ability in less dominant styles, as well as further develop styles that you already use well. The Seven Learning Styles are:

1) Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
2) Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
3) Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
4) Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
5) Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
6) Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
7) Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

From the above we can understand that is difficult to identify the learning type of our students especialy in the primary school. Furthermore, the students might dont know any types of learning since they only face some of them and might doesnt suit them .The good stargety is to give to your students different types of learning, so they can choose and find out which type it suits them .

Thanks to Athinos for this overview!
Athinos Constantinides / Cyprus
When you have a class with 33 students, and you have to teach a lot of lessons because your students have to pass an exam and you have to teach all, it´s really complicate to adapt you to your students.

It´s impossible to ask them what kind of learner they are, probably they don´t know exactly.

You can look at them during all the year and try to identify what types of learners are, you have experience, so it´s help you but it´s complicate.

We have similar problems with classes up to 36. The system is just not made for individuals and on top of that, everything has to be cheap - needless to say: no tablets at our school.
Esther, Spain
In our special school, our students typically attend from age 3 up to 18. Therefore, there is a very deep knowledge of each student's learning style and preferences built up over the years. As a staff, we frequently come together to share insights on our students. In addition, we use observation in the classroom. Therapists who work with our students will also help us to get a more nuanced picture of each student's preferred style of learning and interacting. As well as this, we have at least two meetings per year with parents where we can get another perspective.

deally, you would accompany a student for a long time in order to really help them develop and find their own style.
Kieran O'Callaghan/ Ireland
In my classes, I use pbworks as a platform to share resources such as videos, articles or materials the students have created. The platform also facilitates collaboration. I often have groups brainstorm on padlets, embed presentations by prezi or surveys.
Ideas on the topic
I think tablets can help personalise the work students do at home as by being connected to the teacher and fellow pupils through a virtual learning environment can help them feel less alone. The classroom, and therefore the support they receive there, will then go beyond the boundaries of the school and will become part of home life. This will gradually boost motivation and confidence.
Nigel Lane, Ireland
I found it interesting that in the second video the teacher acknowledged that sometimes the use of a tablet was slowing down the process, so they did certain work on paper. I think this is an important point for everyone to note. The use of technology does not always improve teaching and learning, so don't expect to dispense with other methods!

I believe self-assessment is critical to the successful implementation of personalised learning. Students should be taught how to maintain a digital learning log where they reflect on the work they do. They should identify areas of strength and areas of relative weakness. They can then figure out for themselves where they need to go and the teacher can also view these logs and provide feedback. (...)
Maria Rita / Italy
There are certainly many ways tablets can contribute to personalise the learning experience of students. It doesn't depend on the devices or the apps, however, but on how they are used.

When they use apps to create learning objects, they become creators or, at least, co-creators of their own learning process. Thus, they should develop fundamental skills such as critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. The advantage is that each student can follow his/her own path to reach the same goals.
My experience with these learning environments has been mixed. Some students really thrive on them, especially those who are quite shy in class. On the other hand, kids also want a break from school. They also need some freedom from organized learning to explore non school related areas of interest.
Flipping the classroom
I have never actively tried flipping the classroom, mainly because I can't really imagine doing the preparation. Additionally, the examples shown are predominantly taken from subjects that teach in the mother tongue. I teach foreign languages. In beginners classes, flipping seems a sheer impossible approach. I think you don't need to do it just for the sake of it - any method overdone is a bad method. I aim to mix methods and could imagine flipping in advanced classes teaching subject matter, e. g. in grade 12 when students talk about Science and Technology in English. Reading other participants' contributions though, I guess I am flipping already because I often do projects with my classes.
I have seen it done and I have done it with older students, like 11-12 years old. For example with Geography they had as homework to look at a video on Youtube and practice map knowledge with Seterra Online.


Then we had time during the lessons to do group work etc.

I don't think a big amount of studies should be done at home because the important group discussions or talks about the subject/theme is so important for learning.

For introduction to a theme it's great. It means everyone can go back and review the instructions and goals for the particular subject/theme.

For a student that isn't in place during lesson, it's great to be able to catch up.

It also depends on how much time we can expect the students to spend on homework. Here in Sweden we have an ongoing debate about homework, to be or not to be...
Marianne, Sweden
I have been working with flipped classroom for several years now, but I have to confess that not always in the "official" way...

I teach to elder students (17 and 18 years old this year), which is good from some aspects (they can pick up immediately what they have to do) but it can pose some problems from other points of view (they are too used to a traditional way of teaching-learning).

What helped me a lot were eTwinning projects: students are obliged to study/deepen/explain topics to their partners and they have to do it without us the teachers...

Then I began to implement this way of working in my "traditional" classes of literature and this year I have gone a little bit further: each group of students is in charge of a specific topic; they have to find out materials and information in the web and in other repositories; we discuss together (via Drive and shared docs) when they have prepared some of their work and then, on a due date, they do their lesson and present the topic to their mates.

The assessment is carried out in a formative way: before starting the module we negotiate assessment criteria and then, at the end of each group's work, some students are in charge of assessment which is discussed with me and the other students.

I have seen this way of working gives them a lot of responsibility and has produced higher results than a more traditional teaching.

Tablets are really useful because they intervene in every phase of the process: from brainstorming, collecting ideas and materials, to preparing presentations, sharing ideas and comments, showing the work, assessing ...
Elena Pezzi, Italy
I have encountered similar problems with students who prefer "to be served" in school and parents who don't understand these new-fangled ideas of teaching. Quite often, I have been the most enthusiastic person in the room...
In my homeroom class (grade 9), I teach French and English. In cooperation with the German Film Academy, we have recently done a project on animation films. The students split up in groups and worked on 2 films each, analyzing and comparing them or creating their own little stop motion examples, storyboards, scripts etc. in English or French depending on the complexity of the assignment.
Giovanna from Latina, Italy
The greatest challenge is to make students and parents understand we all live in the 21st century and we all use technology every day in our lives.
Why don’t use it to learn? Making them all, that if the teacher asks students to watch a video at home or to make a presentation it does not mean that the teacher doesn’t want to teach anymore in class but simply that he/she wants his/her students to become competent in what Europe and the entire world ask: eight key competences for lifelong learning. Maybe it’ll be useful if the teacher gives a copy of it to students and parents on the first school day.
Sofia, Greece
The key challenges to implementing this model in classroom for me is first of all a good internet connection at home for all students. That was the problem for my classroom last year. The preparation or the materials needs a lot of work too. A teacher must have in mind the interests of the students and he must work in that direction.
While I have had some sceptic parents, quite often I win them over once they see what their children have been able to accomplish. Moreover, it is a good idea to inform students and parents before starting a project. Once they know what you are trying to do they become quite supportive - on the condition that grades stay relatively stable...
Alfonso D'Ambrosio, Italy
If we propose flipped classroom like frontal lessons I think there are no challenges! I found many youtube videos of flipped lessons, where teachers write and speak like a frontal lessons. So challenges are a new methodological approach, using amazing videos, apps, pictures , not like a book or a a frontal lesson!
I really like the fact that good examples are quoted in the introduction of each module. It is simply too time-consuming to look at everything - having to teach and take exams on the side.
Thank you Katja for this service!
This course shows that collaboration also has its drawbacks - it can get too much. I really like many of the contributions I have been able to receive. However, there needs to be some filter. This is one of the major challenges we have to face as teachers and our students have to face as learners - to find out what actually contributes to your final goal.
Ideas on the topic
Susana Senos (Portugal)
I believe planning and sense of achievement are keywords to keep students on track:

- teachers and students must have a very detailed plan of the process and very defined goals to achieve and the teacher must keep that in the students' minds. For example by creating a
that is continuously analyzed so that everybody knows what has been done and what is still missing.

- also, regardless of the students' competencies, they must feel they are
achieving something
, no matter how big is their part in the process. Students must be aware that all contributions are important and this gives them a
sense of belonging
to the project, making them feel responsible for the outcome, that will help them focus on the work that needs to be done.
Wolfgang Ölzant, Austria
I am all the time present and asking about their progress, about problems, if they need help…If I see, that more than one group has problems, I try to put them together to discuss the problems. Sometimes they have to write a learning diary about their work.
I really cannot guarantee that every student is working and contributing to the outcome. And if you have some project when they are working outside the school it’s much more difficult. You have to believe, what they are saying in an evaluation about their group work.
Selma Oliveira, Portugal
I try to plan with the students all that they need to do:

- what they want to know;

- how will they do the research;

- in what support will they present the work;

- and how much time do they need to do it.

Next, everyone has a part pre-defined to the group work, which can be done individually or in pairs.

I try to make small evaluations of the group work during the process.

Finally, since this work is always shared with the class, other classes and even parents, they need to practice the presentation, evaluate and reformulate if needed.
My students usually get the criteria by which their work will be evaluated beforehand. (Sometimes I give them a list to tick off. Other times, we collect the criteria together). Collaboration is part of these criteria. When we work on the class wiki for example, students have to leave comments on other students' work regarding content, method and language. When they work in groups, each student gets a specific task - either assigned by me or by the group. However, not everything can be measured.
How do you organise collaborative work?
Don't worry, Wolfgang!
You are responsible for your students' participation up to a point. They still have to take some responsibility for their learning and collaborative learning is the way to teach them just that. It is important to give feedback and to evaluate them accordingly.
Lesson Plan
Show Me
As a class teacher I have been quite concerned with the math problems my students have had. I am not the math teacher... but still. So I have suggested that the strong students take a photo of the blackboard and explain the lesson to those who have problems via Show Me. On our class wiki, I have dedicated a padlet to math where the Show Mes can be posted. We are just starting on this journey.
Wish us luck!
Video Apps
Instagram Hyperlapse App
that helps you make time lapse videos. You can determine the pace, i. e. 2x to 16x. I think this a perfect tool for a city video. Now I only have to find out how my students can add their voices... working on it.
allows you to use your photos and video sequences to be integrated into a film. You can choose a style and accompanying music provided by the app or your own. I am pretty sure it will work with recorded audio too!
Audio Apps
Looking for a way to add audio to a video, I have come across the
Hokusai Audio Editor
and a lot of other apps like Overvideo or Recordium. Looking at users' comments, I have chosen the Hokusai App for now and will see how it goes...
First off, I have used the Learning Designer before but I have never noticed that somehow, your designs are linked to the computer you are working on. I was quite negatively surprised that I could not continue editing the design that I had started working on at school. I am not going to restart working on it. Instead, this will probably be the last contribution to this course and I will continue correcting the A-Level exams. Good for that chore, too bad for me. I was hoping to procrastinate...
Project Idea ESL
In grade 9, students learn to express themselves on the topic of city life, its advantages and disadvantages, the ways cities have shaped the earth for the last 100 years especially. They get to know Hong Kong, Johannesburg and Mumbai. At the end of this unit, I would like them to make a video about their own city. The title:
Berlin - city of contrasts
Learning Diaries
Kati, Hungary
I really enjoyed the pictures that Kati used on her padlet as they personalize the presentation a lot. Unfortunately, Germans are pretty strict on privacy issues. It is impossible to post pictures of my classrooms...
also used prezi and I like what she has accomplished. Her attention to detail and choice of visuals are admirable. As we both teach ESL, I have been inspired by many of her ideas and projects. Maybe we could do an e-twinning project together sometime.
Jorge Dias
is in the lucky position of working with tablets already. I was very impressed by what he has been doing with his students - We have a long way to go.
Additionally, I would like to check out the tool he used:
Stay in touch!
On facebook or e-twinning.
You can also write me using roro@tokaryk.de
Here is an example for a little ShowMe video from my class:

ChallengeU & EdPuzzle
I am quite tempted to try these tools for homework assignments in listening comprehension. Students could watch, pause and rewatch as well as test themselves using the provided questions.
Thanks to
Amélie Silvert
for introducing them to me.
Athinos Constantinides
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