Tag Archives: learning

Another new tool for creating a learning channel

Image representing Thinglink as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

I’m grateful to my colleague, Teresa, for introducing me to the tool ‘Thinglink’ (http://www.thinglink.com/learn) recently. Simply, it allows you to upload an image and place links to online resources – video, audio, text, etc. – on the image in places that resonate with that resource. So, for example, a map could have video links pinned to cities marked on them; a picture of the human body could have links to explanatory notes; an image of punctuation marks could be linked to audio explanations of each, etc.

I think I’ll use this tool to encourage my students to make connections themselves – a creative way to collect research links on a particular theme or topic.

Something new for Term 4

If I come across a tech tool that I think might add something to my work with students, I’ll often look for the next opportunity – or create one – to use it with them. An example of this would be the social bookmarking tool, Diigo, that I realised part-way through last term would help my senior English students keep track of reference sites for their most important exam of the term, as well as share the fruits of their labours. Although I’d been using it myself for some time, I hadn’t created – or found – the opportunity to build it into my lessons plans; however, when I saw how my students were conducting their research (simple bookmarks, or copying and pasting URLs into their OneNote workbooks) I realised that Diigo’s time had come.

There are also times when I’ll plan in advance to use a tool because I anticipate it will be productive to do so, and  – usually – I am trialling it to share with others and so want some evidence of its usefulness. This term I think I’ll try to expand our Googledocs repertoire.

We’ve previously used Googledocs to collaborate on a series of questions: with 90 revision questions to answer and 30 students, each student was assigned three to write a ‘killer’ response to, and then had at their disposal the other 87 answers to revise from (they were encouraged to suggest amendments/ refinements to those other answers through commenting, by the way).

This term, I want to try the ‘immediate feedback’ function of Googledocs. That is, I’ll project a Googledoc on the screen and invite all students to co-edit it. They can add questions that arise during the class discussion, and add ‘me too!’ to existing questions, etc. so that I can get a sense of the more pressing questions/ areas needing clarification. I can add some pointers or other guiding responses to the document after class and then change the status to ‘view’ so they can see the document later as part of theirt revision. Incidentally, I won’t require them to log in to edit the document during class time so that their contributions can be anonymous – this time at least, and with my senior class, I want to see if this encourages the quieter ones to ask questions without their worrying about what others think (there is more research I’d like to do in this area using this tool!).

I’ll post about the outcome later….

Failure the path to success…

As Paul Tough says in his text, How Children Succeed:

“Character is created by encountering and overcoming failure”.

Do we allow enough time between one high-stakes/ high pressure assessment and the next for failure to be experienced? Do we allow students enough latitude – enough responsibility – to try and, as a result of their own efforts, to fail? Is there enough time after trying and failing to allow the kind of reflective dialogue and analysis to learn from it?

If only the answer were yes – but the very structure of schooling and assessment makes it nigh on impossible to do so.

What is education…?


Simple idea – why so hard to enact?

Based on not insubstantial research, Professor Carol Dweck‘s ‘big idea’ can perhaps simplistically be summed up as follows: if you think learning is about developing the mental tools to do so more effectively and efficiently, you’ll be better at learning. If you think it’s about not looking dumb then as soon as your ‘natural’ ability to learn peaks and you start to look dumb, you’ll be less effective and efficient as a learner – because you’ll want to avoid situations that may show you up.

In her 2000 text, Self-theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development (Essays in Social Psychology), Dweck outlines the findings from decades of research. And that research boils down to this: if, as educators, we encourage students by the right kind of praise to see challenges in a positive light rather than as a personal crisis, they will be better lifelong learners, with esteem based on their skills as learners rather than on some supposedly innate potential to know ‘stuff’.