Learning on a Curve – Learning Tech Inquiry Team


So much to learn – that must have been the thinking bubble of each participant in our Learning Tech Inquiry group.  It was a day to use the new technologies (laptops, ipads, software) and get a bit more comfortable.

This is what we explored:

  1. Start with a bit of brainstorming ideas.  We used Padlet (previously known as Wallwisher) to park some ideas.  This online board provides space for collecting inspiration, images, links and grouping content.
  2. Categorizing ideas?   Popplet  is a online application that allows images, writing, drawing, colours to visually convey ideas.   Having an online account can connect computers and ipads – students have ready access at home.    An exploration of  Inspiration offered a powerful way to embed video to frame our thinking process.  This gave us brainstorming with direct visual/auditory memory support from the movie.  The addition of rapid-fire tool (in Inspiration) gave us the ability to type almost at the “speed of thought”.
  3. Image work – While image work can be done on the laptop, we chose to do this with iPads.  The camera app on the iPad was used to take pictures or video and save them to the camera roll.  Importing these into other apps was simple to further communicate our learning.  We discussed the challenge of getting our projects off the device.
  4. Screen capture – Screenhunter was downloaded and installed on our laptops.  [The software performs simple screen captures and cropping of any content displayed.]
  5. Writing and Sharing/Commenting support – in line with our brainstorm “out of the box” thinking, we went to 5-Card Flickr (http://5card.cogdogblog.com/play.php?suit=5card).  This site pulls random images from Flickr, which you select to create a story.  Once the  5 images were selected, we used Screenhunter to capture the image.  This was inserted into a Google Doc.  Then the writing proceeded.  [Google Docs allows many people to be working on the same document at one time. Collaboration and revisioning at its best!  Students and teachers gain the power of the commenting feature to engage in dialogue.]

You can tell we had a very busy packed morning.  Time to mull over the activities and see how they might be used in our classes to support our inquiry journey.  We encourage you to try some of these and let us know how it went.

Webspiration in the Classroom

If you’ve used Inspiration, you may want to venture to use the web version which will allow your students to access this Visual Thinking, Concept Mapping & Writing tool from home.  Webspiration  is an ONLINE  tool with features that assist students in capturing ideas, organizing information, diagramming processes, and developing writing.  Files can move from Inspiration to Webspiration seemlessly and onto MS Word or Google Docs.  I would recommend this tool for Intermediate students and up.

In addition, this tool can assist students:

  • provide multiple means of action and expression
  • guide information processing
  • help map out ideas and organize outlines
  • promote collaboration online with peers

What does some research say?
Studies such as, “Concept mapping : does it promote meaningful learning in science?”(Hembling, 2009),  show that there is an increase in content performance for students who had been exposed to concept mapping over the course of their educational experiences.  In fact, many go on to using this strategy when they continue in post secondary studies and/or professional work.  

How do I get started:  Upon consultation, The Learning Technologies team will help you introduce this tool to you and your students.  To obtain a user id/password, email Francine.Giacomazza@sd41.bc.ca.   If you have an ID, please feel to get started at http://www.webspirationclassroom.com

Digging Deeper – How to Introduce Blog Commenting

How to Develop Blog Writing: Brainstorm Session

Sometimes our questions may be “how do we start our classes blogging past the basics?”.  Here is one way that may help to introduce the students to the idea of commenting.  (We did this at our recent SCIT gathering.) This starts in the classroom with good questions.

  1. Record some questions or statements on slips of paper.  Give the students, scratch pads of paper (I use recycled paper from the recycle bin) that they can scribble thoughts/comments.   (*Using small scraps of paper help those students who may not enjoy writing or have difficulties with writing.)
  2. Read the questions aloud; then tape them up on the walls around the classroom.
  3. Have the students do a GALLERY WALK to read the questions and discuss some that interested them enough to comment.  They do not have to comment on every question.
  4. Students record their comments on the strips of paper and tape it under the questions.

Building Criteria and Chances to ‘Redo’

(This is an opportunity to include collaboratively built criteria and engage in self assessment.)

  1. As a class, brainstorm what elements would have to be included to create a comment that is detailed enough for others to understand.  (*Writing is all about communication.) 
  2. Use Inspiration program and a Brightlinks/Smartboard (if you have access) to take the notes.  The tool – Rapid Fire within Inspiration can aid in the interactive process.  (Invite students to articulate their thinking.)
  3. Use colour coding to group thinking.
  4. Have students return to the wall questions and select one-two comments that they wish to add more details/change/edit…  Students use a different coloured pen or marker to add/change/edit/re-write.  They may wish to refer to the brainstorm web.  (They may also wish to ask a ‘walk-about partner’ for help in adding vocabulary to make it clearer.)  Repost these onto the wall as examples.  The use of colours clearly separates “off the top of head” writing and writing that is expanded.
  5. Discuss how this is like blog commenting – developing written or even oral comments that is clear and detailed takes practice.   If the questions allow for further deepening, have students research or find other texts that support their comment.
  6. Reflect how using a criteria helps with the end result.
Capturing the flow of learning for web retrieval or for students who were away: 

  • Using the Brightlinks or Smartboard, one can mark the screen, use the camera tool to capture it (jpg) and upload to your blog.
  • If you don’t have an interactive projector, simply use a digital camera and upload the jpg image to your blog.


Connecting Journey

Questions to consider in the connecting process:

  1. How does the tool support or enhance the learning process?
  2. How does it meet the needs of all learners?  (Think about your class.)
  3. How do you plan to address the management of technology in your teaching environment?