Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Remote App - Using an iPad to control a MacBook

Remote is the latest app that I found to be really useful in PE classes. I have eventually got round to transferring my music collection onto my school MacBook. With remote app, my iPad now becomes a remote controller for the MacBook, which is plugged into the speakers. Where ever I am in class, I can control the music - which makes musical statues much more interesting, as the kids don't stop every time I approach the stereo!

Involving everyone in creating Essential Agreements

At the start of the school, as part of the PYP we create Essential Agreements in all of our classes. These are statement that students in each class draw up and agree upon in order to learn best in PE.

Over the years the process I have used has changed. The first year I did this I started out with a set of Essential Agreements that I drew up and which all 12 of the classes I taught used. The wording was great and it used lots of Learner Profile and PYP Attitudes in it, but it was my work, that the students all nodded agreement too.

This has progressed over the years to Essential Agreements being student driven. I have had them all sit down as a group and make suggestions, which were then written up onto a board, where we could choose the best. I have also had students working in groups draw up lists and photographed them all and then combined onto one piece of paper.

One of the drawbacks of these methods, is that I feel, that the conversations have been dominated by the louder, more confident students, especially in our mixed grade level classes. So this year I tried something different and used Padlet and the student iPads. Padlet is a bit like putting sticking sticky notes on a wall, but without them being blown off into the puddles - we teach outside!

After a few minutes of silent thinking, Students found a partner and shared ideas. They then took an ipad and scanned a QR code, which took directed them to a padlet wall, set up in advance. Once there they typed their ideas of what we needed to do to learn best in PE, onto the padlet wall. As they were doing this, they could also see what the others were typing. Several students said that this helped them modify their ideas.

The final step in the process was looking at all the posts as a class and deleting duplicates and in some cases asking the authors of some posts to expand their ideas to the rest of the class, before choosing our agreements to keep. Then it was a simple case of taking a screenshot of the final product.

 Judging by the increased volume of posts on the wall this year, I believe that students were more happy sharing their ideas this way and it allowed the quieter students a much greater input into the discussion. Looking back at last year’s essential agreements, I also feel that the students thought about the agreements in more depth this year as the quality of suggestions was quite impressive.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Laser-beam guided swimming

I was reading an article the other day, and liked the idea of getting the swimmers to point with their middle finger to help them stop crossing the centre line and reduce the scissors effect on their kick, when swimming Front Crawl. This is something that quite a few of our younger swimmers do. 

 So I tried this idea with Grade 2&3 swimmers, with a small change. Out the end of their middle finger shone a laser beam, with the on/off switch being their belly button. Just in case you were wondering, you need to press it three times to get the red light. Most of the students, after turning it on, could see the laser beam, though some pressed it four times, which meant it went purple! 

 Next they partnered up in order to watch each others strokes and provide feedback. We do quite a lot of reciprocal teaching in swimming, and this is something they are good at. Person A stood in the shallow end, while person B swam directly towards them, aiming their laser beam at the centre of person A. Person A’s job was count the number of ‘hits’ and ‘misses’ and explain to person B why they were missing, i.e. reaching over the centre line, hands entering the water outside their shoulders or not stretching far enough to get to the centre line. 

 I was pleasantly surprised how popular this activity was. The students were fully engaged and activity went on for longer than I planned, as there was a great deal of motivation to score as few misses as possible.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Net Games with Goldilocks

We are just coming to the end of a Net Games unit. Our Central Idea for the unit was “While different cultures might have different variations of Net/Wall Games, the skills and strategies required to play successful are often very similar.” Our lines of inquiry were: The different forms of Net Games The Skills required to play net games successfully The different strategies that we can use in a net game

We looked at variety of different net games and tried them out at the start of the unit. While the students initially came up with the global games such as tennis, they later tried some more local net games found in here in SE Asia such as  Sai and Sepak Takraw.

As we moved onto developing the skills the students undertook a variety of activities, but we borrowed the  ‘Goldilocks -  just right approach’ from  where students experimented with different rackets and different balls and shuttlecocks to keep bouncing the ball in the air, onto the ground and with a partner over a net in cooperative rallies. If it was too hard or too easy they changed the racket, the ball or played over a different net, as several were set up in the gym of different heights, until they found the combination that was just right for them.
Our development of strategies mainly consisted on trying to control the centre of the court, while making the opponent move around, through different games. Again, students were free to choose the equipment that was ‘just right for them’, which not only lead to success, but also reinforced the concept of similar strategies can be applied in different games. We used the CoachNote app quite often in this section of the unit as it allowed students to share their ideas regarding strategies quite easily.  The use of Airserver on the laptop, also made life much easier, as students could look at the laptop screen while someone else was moving people and balls around on the ipad screen - hopefully next year there will be a projector connected up as well!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Reflection recorded with a photograph.

There are many ways for Students to reflect and record their learning. However, in PE, down on the field, I often find it results in crumbled bits of paper with a big footprint, that we then end up sticking photos of the students on to so they can use in portfolios.

For our Striking and Fielding unit this year, I produced rubrics, with each level on a different peice of card and asked the students to stand behind the ones that describes their performance and undestanding of the concepts the best. Next up, a quick photo of each group taken on my ipad, which was then annotated using skitch on the bus ride back from the field, before emailing the photos to the students for them to upload onto their blogs. Much quicker on the administration side and no footprints in sight!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Producing Video Highlights on an iPad

I was chatting after a tournament last year with a soccer coach from another school, who I have a great deal of respect for. One of the things that impressed me was the fact that he video recorded all his team's games and many training sessions and then downloaded this footage before editing it all to a highlight package. This sounded impressive and really useful, but a huge amount of work!

This season I have been doing just that - producing video highlight clips of the team in practise and in game situations, but without the hours of editing work, by using the iPad app video tagger. The app basically works by having the camera running and when you tap the screen it records a few seconds either side of the tap. These clips are then saved together into a video. I have stopped sessions midway through and shown what is happening, and the students are to see what I am talking about. I also have passed the iPad around at the end of the session and on the bus home, and there is some interesting self reflection for the players!

I have also taken the video and then opened it in ubersense so that I can play it back in slow motion and annotate it as needed, when I have wanted to look at some techniques with individual players.

These apps have been great tools in helping players understand about tactics and techniques this season, and I really appreciate the fact that it is so quick to get the video clips edited! The only draw back is that I have been filling up the iPad's memory pretty quickly!

All in the name

I was playing a tag warm up game last week with 5 and 6 year olds, that involved Superman and Supergirl, when I noticed a couple of girls we not too active. When I asked them what they wanted to do, they told me that we do not play princess games and that is what they would like to do. So after a quick re-think, the taggers became dragons who were chasing after the princesses and princes. When you were tagged it was the fairies that had to come and performed some magic to release you. In my eyes exactly the same as before, just with different names, but in the eyes of the 5 year olds who were not to active earlier  - a brand new game where they did lots of running and as I overheard at the end of the day "Mum in PE we had to be princesses and it was the best fun ever in PE!"

Friday, 21 February 2014

PE and the SAMR Model - making a start by applying it to students’ reflections

There is lots of great work and advice on the internet about PE and Technology integration and which apps to use. There is also lots of discussions out there about if we should be using tech and not getting carried away with using apps for the sake of it at the expense of other aspects of PE.

It was 6 months ago as a school we received an ipad each in the PE department to use in class and that the school went google apps. Over the last 6 months we have played with lots of different apps and tossed around many of ideas, most of which never make it into the class. As I am becoming more familiar with the technology available I have been thinking about the need for some framework for working out what we do with tech in PE and why we do it.

I recently revisited the SAMR model, but when I googled PE and the SAMR model to find specific examples, there is very little work out there. The SAMR model provides a good basis for working out are we using technology for the sake of it or to enhance teaching and learning.

At the end of our PYP PE units the students participate in a reflection task. Quite often if involved a pencil and piece of paper, the end result then went into their portfolio. At the start of the year as we played around with google apps we got excited when we realised that we could do this reflection with a google form. We got the students to right click on the completed form and print it, so that they could use it in their portfolios. Looking back we did not really enhance their learning in any way, we just replaced the paper and pencil with a screen and keyboard - the end result was the same. This is an example of substitution in the SAMR model.

Moving up a level to Augmentation (basically the same tool but with a functional improvement), we asked the students to complete their reflection via google forms, but we then used the autocrat script to take their response, and that of their pre assessment and a teacher comment on their performance in the unit and automatically merge this information into one document, with a click of a button.

The real aim is to create tasks at the higher levels - Modification and Redefinition.

In our recent Athletics unit for Grade 2 & 3 students, I opened up the task. We used ipads and the book creator app. Each student created a new page in the book for their reflection. They had to choose one event, that they thought they performed well at or improved at and explain what they did to reach that performance level. This could be achieved by typing in some text, or more popular was to record themselves talking. They also had to get a friend to record a video of them performing the event and add it to the page as well. All of a sudden we have a reflection that show lots more about what the student achieved than previously.

Next task - applying this model to how we are using technology and creating tasks that allow students to be working at the higher level of the model.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Novelty iPad Apps to increase motivation

I like running. Also I enjoy throwing things and jumping - all components of our athletic units in elementary. But like the students, I often find it hard to motivate myself to run sometimes especially when the temperatures are in the low 30’s oC, in the middle of a winters day in the tropics.

Fortunately this year, as well as  playing a variety of running games and having different objects to throw, I have also been able to utalise the ipad to increase motivation, as well as develop the teaching and learning, but that is a different blog post!

It is amazing when the ipad chooses a distance to run it is much more acceptable than if I asked. I have used ‘Decide Now’ - a spinning wheel,  to choose the warm up tag games or to choose how far they need to run. It is amazing the excitement it generates as they watch the wheel spin and see what they have to do - even when they know the answer will involve running in the heat! The app allows you to store an unlimited number of wheels, each with up to 10 categories. Similar is ‘Make Dice Lite’, which has also been used. The free version only allows you to store 6 dice, but you can have several dice on the table at a time.

ChatterPix for Kids is another app the kids enjoyed. I photographed a throwing implement, and then recorded the instructions on how to throw it. You then draw a mouth on the app and on playback the object speaks your instructions!! This is one app that I know several students have gone home and used.

As an alternative to seeing how far the students can throw, we have measured how fast the object is going through the air using RadarGun. There is lots of effort going into seeing if they can throw a nerf rocket goes faster than the school bus.

The ability to watch their performance is also a great motivator. This year I borrowed a ipad stand and set up the ipad with BAM video delay. The students could jump into the pit and come out and watch their jump, as the next person was jumping and being recorded. It does not offer the detailed analysis of ubersense, but it does allow all the students in the class to watch themselves and check a particular teaching point all on one ipad. 

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Little things to help become more organised!

The more I explore apps and Google extensions I realise the many ways there are of making life more efficient.

Traditionally I have been a pen and paper person, making notes on scraps of paper and the desk blotter under my keyboard - then have to remember where it was I put the reminder!

Lately I have being using Wunderlist, a to do list which is synced with all my devices. Now when I am at home and think of an idea it is synced to the computer at school straight off - no more search in pockets for the scrap of paper!

I am also someone who works from several different tabs at the same time, often having to flick between then to search for information to put into another one (most my work is now on Google docs). The answer is a Google chrome extension called Window Tiler 

This extension automatically arranges my different windows into no overlapping tiles, at the press of a button - no more resizing windows!

Thanks to @mrrobbo and @alicekeeler for the ideas - two people worth following!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Technology in Gymnastics

Our grade 2/3 classes are part of the school's iPad pilot project. This means each class has 6 iPads, which they are able to bring with them to PE class. This post is a reflection on how I used them to enhance our gymnastics lessons.

The gymnastics lessons we offer are very different from the ones I took part in at school, where we all lined up and practiced the same skill at the same time. We offer a more student centered approach where different skills are introduced and the students practice them, but they get a great deal of choice of which skills it is they want to work on each lesson. Students also got to choose the direction the unit takes, as they request which skills they would like to develop in future lessons. This can be challenging for the teacher when there are lots of stations set up. During one lesson, someone came into the class and commented that there were 13 different activities taking place, in fact over the course of the lesson I think there were more, but hey they were impressed with the differentiation!  We are fortunate in that we have teaching assistants with us in every class, who are able to look after activities which might require spotting or helping students who need extra help, but I still feel we could improve the learning if we could offer more feedback to the students - cue drum roll as the iPads enter stage!

First up were QR Codes that linked to videos of different gym skills, such as various jumps and rolls. I made the videos, featured some grade 4/5 students performing the different skills using iMovies in advance of the unit. The students both loved performing for the camera and watching students they know perform the skills that they had to do. Thinking ahead to when we have more iPads in school, this could be an assessment task - produce a set of videos demonstrating you performing the gymnastic skills that you had developed, but that's next year!

Using the QR codes the students were in their group able to choose a skill that they wanted to work on, watch the video demonstration as many times as they wanted, perform the skill and comment on each other's performance, using the video as their reference point.

The next stage, which some of the students went to without being prompted, was to then video their friends using Ubersense, then replay the video in slow motion to help them provide feedback. The feedback was based on prompts given in the videos and teaching points that I had suggested they look for. We also experimented with playing the recording of the students along side the QR Code video in Ubersense, but I decided not to push this too much, as I felt the benefits were not justified considering how long it took to set up. This is something I will return too when the students are more familiar with the iPads.

I also used the iPads to help assess students and collect work for their portfolios using google forms, autocrat script and I will write about this in a separate post.

The feedback from the students using these tools was overwhelming positive, with them able to articulate how the iPad had helped them in learning the skills, as they were able to see what they were doing. From a teacher point of view, the students were receiving a great deal more feedback than previously and it was great to watch the students put up an iPad, choose a skill, watch the video, then try to perform it, before then watching themselves performing, with a friend slowing the action down and suggesting what was good and what could be better. There are plenty of studies which illustrate the effectiveness of peer feedback in skill acquisition. It is also is facilitating the development of higher order thinking skills as the students were having to evaluate and provide constructive criticism to their peers.

Of course it was not all plan sailing. We had issues of bandwidth and wifi strength issues, especially if you were in the wrong side of the court and on some days it did just not work at all and we relied on teaching points on last year's paper handouts. It would have ideal to have all the videos downloaded onto the iPads, and I would have done thus if they were PE department iPads  that we got to use and maintain everyday. We were also lucky to get six working iPads each lesson, and we had to manage which students had access to iPads, as the more tech savvy students often dominated.