Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What a celebration our carnival #tabletfunday was!

On the 15th of November, Queenstown came alive with the sounds and bright colours of our Carnival #tabletfunday. Nothing could stop us, not the gale force wind, or the marquee nearly blowing away, or the nip in the air..... we were all ready to party, learn and celebrate our success! Our host school, Get Ahead College, rolled out the red carnival carpet and jumped right in joining us to make this day memorable and fun for all the Cofimvaba ICT4RED teachers.

As per usual we had a bumper day planned using a large scale learning strategy. Like last year we also used the learner volunteers to "man" our fun learning stations and assist the teachers to get on top of new mobile skills and brush up on some of the old skills. This reversal of roles went down well and a lot of fun was had by all. This year we were also joined by volunteer NARYSEC youth who will be assisting the #ict4red schools and teachers in the coming years as part of a learnership programme from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) who were also present on the day.

On the Friday before we did a briefing with all the volunteers and prepared the school for the onslaught of happy teachers. We also used this opportunity to make sure that the learners and volunteers are ready for their stations and how to get their groove on! We all got our groove on!



Our host school, Get Ahead College in Queenstown went out of their way to make sure that we feel welcome. They even pitched a marquee, organised a DJ and sound equipment and had lively African carnival music set the mood. Our teachers arrived from early on Saturday, ready to rumble and dressed in their carnival paraphernalia. They were not in the least put out by the trying weather conditions and spend the morning happily going from station to station collecting their stickers and stamps after completing the learning and fun tasks at every station.

At each of the stations the teachers had to do something and learn something. Some of the learning clues were hidden in QR codes. At the Rugani carrot station they had to figure our what a "cold chain" is and compete for the prizes of who can eat the most carrots in half a minute. The most pieces of carrots eaten in half a minute was 13 with an average of 4. Each of the teachers walked away with at least 1 packet of juicy sweet carrots.

At the Google station they had to learn about what GEGs are and how to join a GEG. There where wonderful prizes for composing a Google song as well. They also received Microsoft disks with lots of free educator programmes. This station was (wo)manned by Hlengi, our change management facilitator and ICT4RED logistics manager from Schoolnet. Her station also won the best station award.

As it was a tablet fun day, the teachers had to use their tablets at every station, either to take photos or videos, make collages, set their timers, read QR codes or demonstrate some of the skills learned during the course so far.

Learners from our Cofimvaba schools decided to do a flash mob at the carnival and did impromptu entrepreneurial stalls to showcase their worthy projects. The teachers were very appreciative and proud of their efforts!

The day culminated in a fun prize giving ceremony where we celebrated our success. Nobody went away empty handed. We want to thank our sponsors who so generously donated prizes. Our teachers felt valued and special!!

Rugani carrots sponsored carrot flash drives, shirts, pencil cases and 300 bags of carrots. Afrihost sponsored a cell phone. Vodacom sponsored home TV  internet, calculators and pencil cases, as well as Madiba T-shirts making sure that all the learners went away with something as well. Benita Williams and Associates sponsored fun mignion speakers and mp3 players. Google sponsored caps and T-shirts. Schoolnet sponsored cameras. Thank you to all our sponsors for helping to make the day such a success. Jaribaaaaaa!!

A twitter storify tweet summary can be found here: https://storify.com/Leacock_Fdn/tablet-fun-day-at-get-ahead-college

All our fun day photos can be found here: http://goo.gl/nIi7f9

Thursday, November 6, 2014

#Carnivaltabletfun day preparations!! Jaribaaaaa

It is that time of the year again when we look back and celebrate our success!! And what a successful year we had! All our schools have earned their data projectors and some have even earned  mobi-kits for their learners through their sheer determination and hard work. To date our badge collectors have collected 1950 badges- Wow, wow,wow! So we sure have a lot to celebrate. (For more information on how our badging Earn As You Learn System works, click here)

Our theme this year is Carnival tablet fun and we are planning a bumper celebration!! This year we will again be doing a large scale learning stations strategy. This will show the teachers how this strategy can work on a larger scale to learn stuff while at the same time having fabulous fun! They have been exposed to this learning and teaching strategy as part of our 10 module learner centered TPD course (See http://www.ict4red.blogspot.com/p/tpd-course.html)

We are hoping to trend again on Twitter like we did last year with lots of happy stories abound! See our Twitter #tabletfunday story here: http://ict4red.blogspot.com/2013/11/our-tabletfunday-twitter-story.html . There will be food stalls and a few exhibitors and lots and lots and lots of prizes for our teachers.

This year our hosts are Get Ahead College in Queenstown  (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Get-Ahead-Project/) who has enthusiastically agreed to allow us to change their school into a carnival funland! There will be entertainment on the Bus-stage and the classrooms will be the locations for fun learning stations!!

The programme so far looks like this:

  • 8h00-9h00 Registration 
  • 9h00-9h30 Welcome, housekeeping, introduction of Exhibitors and introduction to the twitter backchannel.
  • 9h30-13h00 Learning stations:
  • Exhibitor stations (Rugani Carrots, Schoolnet, Google, Microsoft)
  • Twitter stations
  • Badge collection station
  • Tech and app station
  • Mouse station (Monitoring and evaluation story collection)
  • Blog station
  • Flower and feather station 
  • Game and joke station
  • Shoe-shoe station
  • Drawing and face painting station
  • Mobile skill challenge station
  • So far...... 
  • 9h00-13h00  Refreshment stations throughout the day (hot dog stations, pancake stations, cappuccino stations
  • 13h00-15h00 Carnival draw and fun

Prizes
Our funday would not be a funday without lots and lots of prizes. We really want to thank our sponsors for coming to the "party" and donating lovely prizes for our teachers.

Some of the amazing sponsors so far are:

  • Afrihost is again sponsoring a great Zest 2 Dual sim Mobile phone like they did last year. They also have great mobile data deals. (for more see their website here: www.afrihost.co.za)
  • Schoolnet is sponsoring 3 cameras and goodies (www.schoolnet.org.za)
  • Google is coming loaded with caps, bags, usb drives and stuffies
  • Casio and NMMU counts in with calculators and a really fab ladies and gents watch
  • Rugani carrots will keep us healthy with loads of carrots, usb drives and goodies. (http://www.ruganicarrots.co.za / https://www.facebook.com/RuganiCarrots
  • Lymmyl Technologies is keeping our teachers connected with data bundles
  • Benita Williams and Associates is donating a R1000 to spend on cool stuffies
We will also be handing over the earned data projectors to the various schools, earned incentives to teachers,  as well as announcing which schools have earned their learner mobikits. 

Prizes categories
Some of the categories that we will be fun-ning for:
  • Completing the carnival journey. 
  • Biggest learning twit (most tweets)
  • Best photogragh/ photo collage
  • Best tweet
  • Best blogpost
  • Lovely-est flower power photo
  • Most original shoe-shoe
  • Best edu-tab story
  • Highest game score
  • Best joke
  • Best carnival picture drawn
  • Best carnival dress-up.
  • .......

If you want to still donate some cool prizes please send us an email to ict4red@gmail.com so that we can organise collection and transport to Queenstown! See our sponsor letter here for more information on how you can get involved. 

Come prepared!!
Sooooo, we are in for a wonderful, let our hair down and have our tablets ready to capture fab-fun- moments-kind-of-a-day. Teachers must make sure that their tablets are loaded and ready for action. 

Everybody must come dressed up already. Put on your feathers and curls or come in traditional Xhosa gear- you must be dressed up!. there will be a big prize for the best dressed teacher!!




Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Game Based learning Module 7

I can't believe that we are already on Module 7. Time just flies when you are having fun. During the week of the 27th to 30th of October the hills of Cofimvaba came alive with the sounds of music, fun and laughter while we play-acted our Game Based Learning strategy.

Even though the entire ICT4RED TPD course has embedded elements of gamification that drives it, we have one whole module dedicated to exploring just how it can be used to create fun and exciting learning opportunities. The facilitators met on the Monday prior to the weeks training to fine-tune arrangements and to make sure that they can model the fun elements required to invite their teachers to participate in the fun.

The first activity demonstrated how traditional gaming apps ( in his case Angry birds) can be used to
focus learners while they learn important lessons that could enhance their 21st century skill set. We explored what Game Based learning really means and what constitutes a game. Is a game just a game? The teachers set about defining elements needed to make a game a game. It was mentioned that most games requires at some rudimentary set of rules. Healthy competition helps to fuel interest and to focus learners. By embedding learning objectives connected to the CAPS within games, enthusiastic learning is guaranteed (as was demonstrated by the teachers). One of the added benefits of incorporating the Angry birds app into this lesson structure was that it gave some of the teachers who still was a bit scared of technology the opportunity "to fly". We also looked at other apps that can be used in the classroom and apps specifically geared towards promoting education outcomeswithin a fun environment. For more ideas on how and why to use Angry Birds in the classroom, refer to the following slideshow by Edgar Joe.


The teachers then had to get to grips with the various pitfalls of copyright, fair use and creative commons licensing and prepared to take each other on using a quiz game show. Competition was tough and in two of the sessions there were a dead draw which resulted in a frantic scramble for the highest score. Everybody agreed that this was a great way to do revision or to make sure if learners have grappled with topics in a flipped classroom scenario.

Our final gaming activity had the creative juices flowing with the teachers using their tablets to compose songs about the project. We looked at how assessment rubrics can be used to make game adjudication more fair.We solicited esteemed judges from the district office to help with the process.

Now the teachers will go and implement this fun strategy with their learners and we are looking forward to see what they come up with! Let the (edu) games begin!!

For all the photos from our sessions click on the links below:









Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Our ICT4RED champions in the news

This article was published in the September issue of The Teacher and feature 2 of our Phase 2 teachers and ICT4RED Champions.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mind mapping as a teaching strategy (Module 5)

During the last week of September, the ICT4RED teachers in Cofimvaba explored how to use Mind mapping as a teaching strategy in the classroom. The weather was foul and cold with hail and the #ICT4RED team feared that the teachers would not be able to get to the training centres, knowing in what bad condition the roads are even when it is not raining! But as per usual, the teachers showed us how dedicated they are to their professional development! They were there!

In Module 5 we stopped for a while and explored what is hidden on our tablets. Up to now, the teachers have not focused on technology at all, but has acquired mobile skills seamlessly embedded within the different classroom strategies and content. In other words, they learned how to use their tablets in classroom scenarios without having to learn how their tablets worked exactly. Within each activity there where some mobile skills that had to be mastered, but as they were doing it as part of the content, they did not really focus on the "howto" part of technology. This Module was therefore designed to take a good look at what the tablet can do by investigating apps.

Most of the teachers did not realize how many educational apps were installed on their tablets. They were just using the apps referred to in the activities. Quite a few of the teachers expressed surprise at what the tablet could do and they were eager to go and try out more of the apps in their classrooms. Most of the apps were chosen for offline use as connectivity has been a problem in this rural district and the schools have not yet been connected to the internet. A list of the apps initially installed on the teacher tables can be found here.

We started off by doing a fun icebreaker where the teachers had to do various app activities as a collaborative inter group competition. During this activity they learned how to manage their apps and how to help one another in achieving the outcomes. Every teacher had to master the mobile skill and this forced everybody to REALLY work together. As per usual there were lots of incentive prizes to keep the game based atmosphere alive with laughter!

Another useful activity to entice people to share what they really are feeling is to let them draw what they feel. In the next activity the teachers had to express what they felt at the start of their mobile journey. They could choose between using "old" technology (crayons and paper) or "new" technology (a drawing app on their tablet). Both methods had to be presented in digital format which meant that the paper version had to be captured using the tablet camera or a handy little scanner app called Camscanner. This also showed them that learners could still use old ways to do things and it can be captured digitally. (for instance -they can do maths calculations on paper and you can scan it with your tablet and project it for everybody to see)

We then proceeded to look at what mind mapping is and how we can use it in the classroom, They had to explore all the apps on their tablets, see what the various apps can do and how they can use them in the classroom. They had to create a mind map categorizing the apps, first in paper format and then using an offline mind mapping app called Simplemind.

After 4 modules most of the teacher tablet home screens looked quite busy and they struggled to find the various apps. In the last activity, they could use their app mind maps to create folders for their apps on their home screens. They now were gurus in tablet and app management.

As always, the teachers have to go and implement what they have learned during the session, in their classrooms and the two badges up for grabs in Module 5 are the compulsory Mind Mapping badge and the optional App evaluation badge. The app evaluation questionnaire can be downloaded here. The session was concluded with brainstorming some ideas around how mind mapping can be used in the teachers' classrooms with specific emphasis on what they are doing within their CAPS framework. We are looking forward to seeing the innovative implementations. Cofimvaba teachers rocks!

The sessions photographs can be viewed here:



Saturday, September 13, 2014

The train has left the station!

This week we were back in Cofimvaba for Module 4 of our #ICT4RED  Teachers professional development training course! The teaching strategy that we tackled is called Learning stations. The idea is to set up specific places in your classroom where the learners can learn a few new concepts or skills at a time. They then rotate from station to station and get a short period of time to explore, create or learn something new.

We used Learning stations to get a better understanding of what a digital library is. At each of the stations the teachers explored the different elements of what a digital library entails.

At the first station they were introduced to different kinds of ebooks. They had to  look at  the differences between the various book formats like pdf's, epubs and mobi formats as well as ebook apps. They also used various ebook platforms to open the books. Quite a few remarked that they were not aware that their tablets have such a rich amount of different books on it. Some of the advantages mentioned was that the learners could have access to a whole world of books within the confines of a handy mobile device.

The next station stop dealt with tutorials. In this case we used an origami tutorial to explore how a step by step instruction sheet "under glass" can teach learners how to follow instructions. There were a great deal of collaboration to make sure that all members complete their shapes in the short time allocated. The importance of good instructions were highlighted. We also discussed the value of tutorials in our classrooms.

Simulations are great tools to use when you don't have access to the real thing, or it might to be too expensive or dangerous to do the real activity. For instance, science experiments lend itself to using simulations as not all schools have laboratories or access to expensive chemicals. In our session, however, we chose something that is universally loved, namely baking and eating, cupcakes. The teachers were excited about how their learners will enjoy interacting with life like simulations.

Our learners always have their earphones ready to listen to something on their mobile devices which brings us to the next digital library tool, namely podcasts. We explored how handy it is to learn something using simple audio files. At this station the teachers learned how to say hello and goodbye in Irish. Creating simple lessons for the students to listen to in their own time is effortless and the end result is always positive.

The last station showed how videos can be used to demonstrate skills. The teachers had to build water pumps by watching a handsome Russian take them through the steps. You can find instructions for almost anything on Youtube. Teaching with videos can be very effective and the teachers also had to think about how they could create their won videos for their learners. It is also important to mention that videos should not be a passive learning tool, but should engage the learners in active participation. For instance they must start, stop and do, start, stop and do.


The teachers now have to go back to their classrooms and come up with CAPS aligned learning stations of their own in order to earn their badges from this session. There are 2 compulsory badges up for grabs from this session namely the Learning Station Badge as well as the Content Creation Badge. We are looking forward to sharing some of the lovely Digital Library artifacts shared by our teachers!

We want to thank our great team of facilitators who went the extra mile to make sure that the sessions are fun and engaging.

The photos of our sessions can be found here:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Role play as a teaching strategy

During the week of 12-14 of August,  the ICT4RED Phase 3 teachers gathered to investigate Role Play as a teaching strategy in their classrooms. This time round we could not do the training at the various schools as most of the schools were to remote and we opted for schools that we could reach. The schools were clustered together and as per usual, great fun was had by all!

Role play, our third teaching strategy, aims to address issues that may arise when implementing mobile devices in the classroom. It is a great strategy to unpack possible problems and we have added the condition that the role play has to include innovative solutions. The teachers were randomly given scenarios that they had to brainstorm and find solutions to. They then had to "act it out" while one of the group members video the role play.

The process
In putting together the role play, we followed a process that resulted in the teachers anticipating issues and finding solutions. The scenarios were designed to help teachers and schools cope with change management when implementing tablets into the classroom e.g. 
  • Should learners be able to take the tablets home as they may lose or damage it?
  • How do you manage resources like mobikits within a school scenario?
  • Parent's fear of their childrens' safety when taking devices home.
  • Teacher's struggling to deal with the demands of implementing devices into their classrooms 
Assessment
We used peer assessment to evaluate if the teachers succeeded in unpacking their scenarios. They swapped devices and used a scoring sheet to find a "winning team". This resulted in an animated discussions of how fair peer assessment really is and in one instance we had to do a role play to defuse a potential riot situation! 

Some problems
There is never a dull moment to be had in Cofimvaba.. On the first day of training, our generator did not want to work and we proved that we could use tablets in not only a non connected environment, but also without any electricity! As most of the training were held at primary school venues, we struggled to get our slightly larger bodies to fit into the tiny desk spaces! We also had trouble blue-toothing all the videos to each other as it is a time consuming process and you can only do one video at a time. 

But despite some minor challenges, great fun was had by all and role play as a teaching and learning strategy got the thumbs up from all the teachers. We are looking forward to seeing how it will be implemented in our teachers' classrooms!

We want to thank the whole #ict4red team present who helped to bluetooth, install apps and offer encouragement. ICT4RED rocks!




All the photos from our Role play module can be found here: