15 December 2012

The Octopus Assembly

In the final two weeks of the semester, The Octopus Garden Project team was given two challenges:
1) create a display to showcase the project to the community on Open Day: deadline: 5 days
2) create a presentation for assembly to showcase the project to the school: deadline: 2 lessons
BEFORE

My learners have come so far in this project that there is no longer the 'cannot lah' attitude evident at the start of the school year; the fact that I have pushed them and coached them into embracing deadlines and challenges sees once-lethargic learners, unable to work without cajoling, now able to pick up and run with anything and everything I throw at them. I am so proud of their progress.

AFTER
The first challenge was the display space - a week of every free, every break and eveery evening after school was spent creating an under-the-sea foundation suitably created to showcase the work of the learners. My need to not do things by halves can, and often does, mean exhaustion, however it was totally worth it. The display space was a great success at Open Day and visitors were blown away not only by it, but also by the many tools we are using to collaborate and create: Google Drive, Google Sites, Picasa, Edmodo, Twitter, Blogger, Mural.ly and Minecraft...

For more details, check out this team's version of the creation of 'the garden' in their blog post on The Octopus's Garden Blog.

The final week came around and, basking in the success of 'the garden', I anticipated a more relaxing week that would allow me to focus on my final assignments for the two of the online courses I am currently partaking in. I managed to catch up with all the learners' blog posts and my marking - and just as I was about to start on my writing, we were thrown another deadline...

Wednesday 08.20am: please would we think about doing an assembly to share The Octopus's Garden with the school - tomorrow at 08.30am.  Challenge accepted.

Fortunately, I had both classes that day. At the start of the day I had Grade 7s, who mind-mapped all the things we wanted to share with the rest of the school; we created a sign-up to share out the work, and then created a Google Presentation collaboratively. Via Edmodo and their team files, they shared their progress with Grade 8, who in their lesson at the end of the day, picked up and ran with finishing off the presentation. No problem.

I had nine fantastic volunteers who came in early on Thursday morning; we did a run through and decided on speakers and order - and then they went and delivered an awesome presentation to the school. You can view it on our website by clicking HERE.

Not once did they even hint at the fact that they couldn't do it; not once did they complain; not once did they even express concern about the short notice - the critical thinking, time management, communication and creativity that I have tried to instill through this project has truly paid off and they just went and ran and were incredible.

The Octopus Garden Project team ARE 21st century learners and I am so proud of how awesome they are.

1 December 2012

Are two heads are better than one or do too many cooks spoil the broth?


A response to an article about

Collective Intelligence Ratio in Team Projects

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“Teams often create novel and unexpected combinations of knowledge in ways that individuals could not”
(Hargadon, 1999, Kim et al, p.44)

As educators, we know that “when we assemble a group, we inherently create other problems and questions” (p.44). I am currently implementing a project-based learning (PBL) unit using a scaled-down version of a Flat Classroom (FC) method that demands a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous opportunities for the team to work towards the common goal. The article’s keywords of ‘Intelligence, Team performance and Communication technologies’, along with Kim et al’s aim to attempt to “analyze the interaction of “people gathered for a specific purpose””(p.42), appealed to me in light of my current practice; what I wanted to learn from this article was if, in fact, a collective intelligence ratio could be gleaned from the sum of the individual intelligences of each team member, as well as the part proximity plays in their success. If individuals within a team have to have the ability “to utilize others’ knowledge as well as develop their own” (Bhappu et al., 2001; Griffith and Neale, 2001, Kime et al. p.57), I wanted to see if this article could shed any light on this - is group work advantageous or is the adage that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ a more likely scenario?

The very notion of ‘intelligence’ is one that is as hard to define as the true location of the ‘mind’. Spearman (1904) argued of a “general intelligence” where all types of intelligence are correlated, whereas Gardner (1983) suggested that we have eight distinct types of intelligence that can be mutually exclusive. In his Triachic Theory of Intelligence, Sternberg (1985) on the other hand suggested intelligence is divided into ‘analytical, creative and practical’ branches. In terms of the diverse nature of the intelligences of groups I teach, it seems less important on settling on an absolute definition of intelligence than in acknowledging that there are many differences in the way individuals think and respond to common tasks; rather it is the concept of there being a ‘collective intelligence’ or a “pooling of team intelligence to attain common goals or resolve common problems” (Hargadon, 1999, Kim et al. p.44) that really interests me. The idea that learners can ‘pool’ their skills is one that I believe is crucial for learning and developing an individual capability and intelligence, however we may define that intelligence, and if, as Johnson and Johnson (1986) suggest, there is in fact “persuasive evidence that people in cooperative teams often achieve and demonstrate higher levels of critical thinking while retaining information longer than people who work as individuals”. Surely then, group work has to have a positive impact on achieving team goals and overall success?

In accordance with the Flat Classroom pedagogy, my project asks learners to collaborate both synchronously and asynchronously. What interested me most from the paper, with relation to my particular project, was the suggestion “that team interaction and collaborative learning at a distance inhibits the development of critical thinking and active involvement because participants often passively assimilate knowledge rather than critically examine and construct it” (Lauzon, 1992; Burge, 1988; Garrison, 1993, p.46). Whilst my mini Flat Classroom cannot be classed strictly as ‘distance learning’, all team members are rarely in the same place at the same time. The suggestion that this could ‘inhibit critical thinking’ worried me. Over the course of the project however, I noticed somewhat the opposite of Lauzon et al’s suggestion that such methodology leads to ‘passive’ assimilation. What I observed was an increase in team members communication outside the classroom walls at break-times and on Edmodo in evenings and at weekends. This eventually led to a request to be able to meet at breaks to allow more synchronous time together, and was positive in bringing disparate groups of learners together, as well as breaking down the whole notion of learning, taking it beyond the boundaries of the classroom walls. On the other hand, It did seem to confirm the importance of physical presence and the need for learners to be together to use “voice intonations, hand drawings and even body language ... to help people understand all the subtleties of tacit knowledge in team projects” (Chiocchio, 2007, Kim et al, p.46). Garrison, (1991), and Newman et al. (1997) looked at various significant differences between “computer-mediated conferences and face-to-face meetings in critical thinking. They concluded that computer-mediated conferencing facilitates higher levels of critical thinking while face-to-face interactions encourage more creative and higher volumes of interaction” (Kim et al p.45), which could confirm why my learners enjoyed a mixture of the two types of interaction.

The paper also made me think about my role as the common denominator between the two groups - who interacts with them digitally and face to face, synchronously and asynchronously. If, “social presence” is a strong predictor of satisfaction with computer-mediated communications” (Gunawardena and Zittle, 1997 p.46), perhaps my presence helped facilitate this somewhat; I know that them being in the same building - even if not for the actual work itself - really helped. I also do wonder if these learners, as digital natives automatically feel at ease in these situations over digital immigrants who are less technologically aware. The subjects of the research paper were all highly educated people; graduates who had been trained in the tools being used, which surely had an impact on the results? They are used to learning, indeed they are used to critical thinking, whereas this is a skill that I want to foster most in my learners through this project. I noted that the team-work in the study was conducted synchronously and limited to real-time interactions. A lot of my team interaction is asynchronous and through notes. This does not allow for the ‘voice intonations’ or body language Chiocchio suggests aids teamwork success. According to Riopelle et al’s (2003) longitudinal case study of six virtual teams, it is appropriate to use “reliable media-rich synchronous interactions (e.g. videoconferencing or groupware), if a task is complex and also requires a great deal of information exchange and reciprocal feedback. When tasks are less complex and more independent, asynchronous communication media such as e-mail and web-based discussion forums may be more appropriate”, (Riopelle et al., 2003, Kim et al, p.47). Perhaps, as was suggested on the learners’ Edmodo forum, we could use video to share each session’s learning; they could create videocasts to share their thinking to allow for more subtleties in understanding.

I was also interested in the notion of a transactive memory (TM). Wegner et al. (1985) came up with the concept of TM as a “shared system which group members develop for learning, storing, and retrieving information from different domains” and which, in the past ten years, has been shown to have a positive impact on successful team outcomes (Kim et al. p.56). The findings of the paper seem to suggest, within their bounds of limitation, that there is a ratio of collective intelligence that seems to grow over time within groups; that the “team demonstrated higher collective intelligence ratios (CIR) as they were moving from the initial project to the final project” (p.53). The implications for this at the chalk-face, is to rethink the notion of mixing teams up. My intention with my current project was to develop five teams of experts in their field who will splinter off and form new teams comprised of experts in each field, allowing them to create a fully researched design. This study suggests that the collective intelligence grows as the team stays together so perhaps instead, I should allow them to stay together longer and develop their ™; however, there were doubts over whether this was due to the teams becoming more familiar and developing the ™, or whether the expectations and outcomes of the particular tasks had more bearing.

The maths part of the research paper not so much interested as confused me. Not being particularly numerate, the idea of taking physical actions and being able to put them into equations is beyond my basic comprehension. The research team was comprised of members from different disciplines and so they allowed their individual knowledge and intelligence to create a fully rounded report; I wonder if they analysed their own collective intelligence ratio? Equally, the time taken to analyse the data is incredible; in my mini-experiments (my units of work), I do not have anywhere near enough time to analyse in any sort of detail how well my methods are being implemented successfully; I do reflect on what has gone well and what I would change; I do reflect at the end of each unit what was successful in terms of the project implementation etc., but this is only within the bounds of what I am capable of doing. I do think about and reflect on the dynamics of the team and whilst the idea of taking physical actions and creating equations is intriguing, it is more the analysis - the words and discussion - that I understand. What was one of the most interesting points to me was the notion of the need to be forward thinking and be up to speed. If, as Takahashi et al. (2009) assert, it is “crucial for practitioners or researchers to identify various roles of not only formal communication media, but also informal online communication channels to understand their implications” (Kim et al. p.47), then we have to have knowledge of the different communication channels that are available and which may be most suitable in any given situation to optimise interaction.

Kim et al’s findings suggest that both individual intelligence and collective intelligence ratios, which they agreed do in fact “influence team performance outcomes in many team project scenarios”, improve by the ability to make “optimal choices and combinations of communicative methods for given cognitive tasks.” (p.57). I truly believe as educators, we need to be up to date with ways of communicating and the tools that are available to enhance our learners’ experiences. Zara (2009) labels such types of innovation as “amplified intelligence technologies.” (Kim et al. p.42) and the “capability of dynamically combining the most optimal media to creatively and effectively respond to communication needs in various problem solving situations is a form of media intelligence” (p.57), certainly, this is a skill crucial to success in the 21st century. In this era of digitally afforded multimodality and highly networked society, people “integrate words with images, sound, music, and movement to create digital artifacts that do not necessarily privilege linguistic forms of signification but rather draw on a variety of modalities – speech, writing, image, gesture and sound – to create different forms of meaning” (Hull and Nelson, 2005, pp. 224-225, Kim et al. p. 42 ). Indeed, one of the most pertinent points made in the study was that of the importance of multimodal tools - the choice of how to present, share and collaborate. This is ‘choice and voice’ (Lindsay and Davies), a crucial element of any 21st century pedagogical thinking. This is what creates collective intelligence, where individual skills and intelligences are allowed to shine, where cognitive interdependence demands that “one member’s output becomes another member’s input” (Thompson, 1967; Brandon and Hollingshead, 2004, p.42). When learners use their individual intelligences to think critically and to figure out for themselves the how and the why, that is when the collective kicks in, that is when we see “groups of individuals doing things collectively that seem intelligent” (p. 2, p.42). These communicative intents are the building blocks of the individual’s intelligence, “the aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally and to deal effectively with his environment” (Wechsler, 1944, p. 3, p.46 ). The ability to communicate “tacit knowledge requires a complex set of skills (i.e. requiring multiple intelligence or higher critical thinking competencies)” and it is this, the individual input and intelligence that goes into the collective decision making.

I want to be able to harness the potential of group work and provide my diverse learners with the “opportunity to engage in discussion, take responsibility for their own learning, and help them become critical thinkers” (Totten et al., 1991, p.45). In the era of “information and intelligence, making a choice among multimodal communication methods can be a challenge for a team” (Kim et al, p.47), what I want to achieve for my learners is the ability to think critically. In a world which changes so quickly, content-based knowledge that is received ‘passively’ is outdated; instead they must be involved in critical thinking, “a process [where they] are encouraged to give reasons and evaluate reasoning” (Dewey, 1919, 1933). I also think this kind of thinking can be applied to teachers; take our field of expertise, our knowledge and our intelligences and let us through our collective intelligence, “enhance and extend the cognitive capacities of own teams” and the learners in front of us (Kim et al., p.42). Overall, it was reassuring to discover that, despite the limitations of the study, the findings suggest that group work is an effective way to achieve common goals and that people with “different traits and preferences, would not be able to best demonstrate most optimal individual intelligence ratios with a mere single type of communication channel” (Kim et al., p.55). Learners in the 21st century must be equipped with the ability to think ‘reflectively’ and focus “on deciding what to believe or do (”Norris and Ennis, 1989, p.44) and my hope is that, as suggested by this paper, teamwork and inquiry-based learning can help foster this.

"Big Think." What Is Intelligence? N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. <http://bigthink.com/going-mental/what-is-intelligence-2>

"Daniel M. Wegner's Home Page." Daniel M. Wegner's Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2012. <http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~wegner/tm.htm>.

Kim, Paul, Donghwan Lee, Youngjo Lee, Chuan Huang, and Tamas Makany. "Collective Intelligence Ratio Measurement of Real-Time Multimodal Interactions in Team Projects." Emerald 2nd ser. 17.1 (2011): 41-62. Emerald. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. <http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?issn=1352-7592>.

Lindsay, Julie, and Vicki A. . Davis. Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print.

24 November 2012

Who wants to Learn Different?

The Octopus's Garden (see previous related posts) has been launched! I do feel the need to write about my experience of my first PBL-FC project and the effect I think it is having on my learners, but for now, I need to share my experience of my attempt at a little 'subliminal advertising', and my persuasion to over-think and assume that everyone else puts in the same level of research and thought to their unit planning.

One of the roles in the teams for the project is that of Community Advisor. In an attempt to create a community spirit and to share the type of learning that goes on within our school, this role asks learners to create a physical display that shares our project with the whole community. Part of this was a little 'teaser' of posters designed at the very inception of the project, to get the community excited and interested in what we are doing.

Example of the Learn Different posters
For those of you familiar with advertising, Apple, or even design, you may recognise the reference.
Perhaps you may not.
Perhaps I was too subtle.

Within an hour of the learners requesting to and putting up the posters around school, I had been called into the office, as a 'complaint' had been made about them. The posters, not the learners :)

I thought it might be about the logo, as I know they don't like that being messed with, but I felt safe in the knowledge that I had forwarded copies to SLT for approval weeks ago, and hoped I was being allowed to make this adaptation, as it had a sound reasoning behind it.

But it was not this that was the issue. To my surprise, it was a complaint about the poster being grammatically incorrect.

I bit my tongue. At first. Then quite passionately rattled off the rationale, thinking, research, design, work, effort and thought that had gone into this. I was met with a smile. And a request to send out an email to explain this to those less geeky than myself.

Here is the statement I issued. I hope it subtly transfers my disappointment at the complaint; I hope the  irony was not lost on my readers, but I fear in many cases it was - else I would not have had to write it in the first place.

Inline image 1

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"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

The Octopus's Garden is a Project-Based Learning and Flat Classroom project that asks learners from Grade 7 and Grade 8 to work together to answer the question, 'What is a 21st century classroom?' The tagline is 'Learn Different' and both the project name and the tagline have multiple layers of meaning and have been researched and developed carefully.

The 'Learn Different' posters are a pastiche of the highly successful 'Think Different' Apple advertisement campaign that "reestablished Apple's counter-culture image that it had lost during the 90s". The grainy nature of the image is deliberate, the logo has been adapted to mimic that of the original, even the font is authentic. See below.
Inline image 1
The "Learn Different' posters are purely intentional - though any offence was not - and their grammatical mistake is not a faux pas but a homage. The tagline of the original Apple ads has always grated on those who are advocates of standard English, but it was a deliberate ruse (rouse?) by Apple to force us into considering things differently; their deliberate grammatical change "'conveyed a total change in the whole body of what you think about...Instead of thinking in your everyday way, ‘Think Different'.'" (Jessica Schulman, art director at TBWA\Chiat\Day, who developed the campaign). 

The Octopus's Garden project asks learners to rethink learning in the same way Apple asked consumers to rethink computers. Apple lauded those who were different as heroes and revolutionaries just as we want to echo the school's tagline, 'Celebrating Diversity. Challenging Minds', in our project aims.


"'Think Different' celebrates the soul of the Apple brand—
that creative people with passion can change the world for the better." 
Steve Jobs

Learn more about The Octopus's Garden rationale and project by visiting our website.

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What disappointed me most I think, is the nature of the culture to complain over inquire. We strive for our learners to be thinkers and yet our faculty did not model this. I don't remember seeing moaner or ignorant on the learner profile; I do recall seeing inquirer and knowledgeable, yet rather than expand horizons and learn, we bitch and complain.

It disappointed me more as I am feeling a little out of place at the moment. I am suffering under a lack of belonging; I know where I want to go, what I want to achieve for my learners and where I want to take them but it seems some others are not ready. I want us to be risk takers and put ourselves out there; not all of what we do is going to work - look at this as testament - but at the same time, this was my message. Take risks; it is the 'round pegs', the ''rebels and the 'troublemakers' who make the difference. Creative people (why is creative not part of the learner profile when it is so central to learning?) challenge and change the status quo.

I have learned that I need to develop a thicker skin and a stronger wall to keep the doubters from crumbling my good intentions. I believe in what I am doing; I believe my over thinking, over planning and over learning (if there can be such a thing) makes a difference. I believe in challenging it all. Rethinking it all. I hope this subtle message got across; I am the troublemaker in their midst, the one not fond of established rules of teaching and learning, who will not lie down or be quiet or let things be. I will be the risk taker, the inquirer, the thinker. And because I care, I will lead my learners out in to the world informed about how to deal with whatever comes at them and ready to question it all.

My intention with the posters was to get people talking about my project and interested in what my learners are doing. The email statement was way beyond what I would ever normally 'inflict' on people and I have to view this as a positive. The culture of complaint allowed me to openly advertise what it is I am doing and I guarantee more people read the email than click on my website links. Perhaps I should sit back in the knowledge that 'all publicity is good publicity' and take refuge in in the words of one of my favourite purveyors of wit and sarcasm:

THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN BEING TALKED ABOUT 
IS NOT BEING TALKED ABOUT.
Oscar Wilde

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As always, a huge thank you is owed to my wonderful husband who, at the drop of a hat, entertains my scheming and brings into reality my excited jibberish. His, as yet unlimited artistic and IT talents, have brought to life the designs that are in my head but not at my fingertips. 
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http://www.forbes.com/sites/onmarketing/2011/12/14/the-real-story-behind-apples-think-different-campaign/2/
http://lowendmac.com/orchard/07/apple-think-different.html
http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2005/apple-think-different/
http://thisisnotadvertising.wordpress.com/?s=apple

23 November 2012

Hands on. Bring it on.

I spoke at my first conference last weekend. I can't believe I, who breaks out in cold sweats even at the thought of speaking to staff informally at school, agreed to do it.
But I did.
And I did it.
And it wasn't so bad either.

The conference was the Hands on Literacy Conference 2012 organised by the International Schools Libraries Network. My friend and I presented what we have experienced in our never-ending quest to
Title of the session I co-presented.
get learners reading. We addressed the three main areas that learners raised as pertinent to their reading - or lack thereof - choice, sharing and time, and shared initiatives that we have put in place that have been successful, such as literature circles, book trailers and Google Sites designed to create a whole reading immersion/experience.

My biggest worry - as ever - is that I am not really doing anything new. Partly of course this is true but I also think I forget that I do try out a lot of new stuff all the time and that not everyone has the tools, time or know how to do all that I have done. It was great to be able to talk to other teachers and share ideas and the session was really successful I think - based on feedback - and not half as nerve-wrecking as I had anticipated. Perhaps the fact that they were strangers without prevconceived ideas of me and who I am and what others think of me helped, as my reputation has preceded me a little lately and whilst good things are said, of which I am very appreciative, it has not always been a positive or beneficial situation.  The conference was enjoyable, interesting and demanding. I learned a lot from others and about myself. I made some great new contacts, shared some ideas that have worked for me in the hope they will for someone else, and gained loads of new knowledge and insight into where I need to go next.

The keynote speeches were incredible. Dr. Joyce Valenza's opening speech was a frenzy of ideas, some old but lots new, that made me excited about learning and the possibility that technology brings. It also reiterated the need to be responsible and informed digital citizens and to instill this in our learners and teach them to be multi-media literate. Judy O'Connell's closing speech was an eye-opener into where we go next. Again, this got me excited about the possibilities of where learning is going, but also quite frustrated that her referencing our need to address and use Web 3.0 tools is difficult when many havent mastered Web 2.0 tools yet. An issue that is in mind a lot at the moment. Her quote as follows, is the one that stands out most soundly from the whole conference:-
Judy O'Connell, Preparing our Students for Web 3.0 Technology
It resonates with a conversation I had with a PL mentor recently about the importance of life experience in enquiry-based learning, in being able to bring life-knowledge into the classroom to create a rounded full learning experience. I often bring in knowledge from my studies of law and psychology, from past teaching, travel, conferences, reading and research. I bring knowldege of other jobs I have had - ranging from hairdressing to accounting technician to HEFCE funding officer. I bring this collection of experience and knowledge to the table which helps me design and implement effective learning environments. Can all teachers bring this? Do they need to? Until yesterday, I had not considered the implication of this in a negative way, until my pastiche of an advertising campaign from the late 1990s was apparently too far in the past or too culturally bound up for people to remember. And it caused a little stir. An homage does not work when others don't recognise it.

I questioned my stance. Am I too 'tech', too 'media', too 'Western-cultural'? Does having a techie graphic design husband give me more specialised knowledge? Has my exposure to and teaching of the reading of different text types mean that I have a knowledge I assume is more widely known? More about this on Who wants to Learn Different?

The balance beween bringing experience and using our 'old' to create our 'new' is one that must be trodden carefully; a teacher needs to use what they know yet challenge themselves to learn more. Always learn more. We can all then have something to bring to the table.

Judy O'Connell, Preparing our Students for Web 3.0 Technology
I think one of the most insulting and upsetting statements I ever heard from a 'colleague' - and I use that term loosely for loathe at the implied association - was, "I don't want to learn anything new." It made - and still makes - me sick to my stomach.
We must step outside our comfort zones, we must build on what we have and do what we ask of our learners everyday. We must learn. We owe it to our learners.

We don't all have to be totally tech-savvy and all-singing, all-dancing but we do need to know what is out there. We need to know what they are doing, how they are doing it and what they might need in the future. Part of this means moving away from content-based curriculum, about the need to avoid teaching anything that can be answered by a Google search. It is about up-skilling and equipping our learners to deal with everything that is thrown at them. This means upskilling ourselves and being ready for everything that is thrown at us. I admit that I am a little nerdy when it comes to professional learning and find it nigh-on impossible to turn down a PL opportunity (hence I am drowning under a mountain of due assignments for three courses I am currently doing whilst in the process of applying for a Masters...) but I firmly and truly believe that we need to model life-long learning. The world is changing at an increasing rate (just watch Judy's slides to see just how quickly); more students will graduate in the next 30 years than have ever graduated to date. We have a responsibility to learn, so we can teach them the skills that will enable them to learn - for the rest of their lives.






13 November 2012

Blooming Orange



Learning Classification Chart using Bloom's Taxonomy
Educational technologies for addressing each level of learning

My latest assignment for the course on New Learning Environments asked me to explore existing educational technologies and how they may apply to Bloom's Taxonomy. I had to choose one tool for each level of learning - which, if you are aware of just how much is out there, is no mean feat! 

I am so new to technology I think I have a grasp only on the tip of the iceberg; keeping up to date with new tools is one of the things I find the hardest. Working full time, leading PL sessions at school whilst completing three online courses (and being a mom and wife and runner) means I have limited time to fully explore every new tool I come across. I am trying to limit myself to experimenting with new tools only once I have applied, used and evaluated one fully. Therefore, whilst there are many possible, perhaps limitless potential tools for each level of learning, I have tried to stick with the ones I am used to; these are tools that I have tried and tested with learners; these are tools that have allowed success and thinking; these are tools that I have chosen based on active research in the classroom.

When I first came across Bloom's Taxonomy, it was explained to me as a ladder suggesting a sequence, one leading to the other. Whilst I do agree that in order to understand, we have to remember; in order to apply we have to understand, etc. I see the learning process as more cyclical, rather than a ladder or step system. I like the idea of the orange, above and highly value the revised Taxonomy over the original, as 'create' is one of the most important parts of learning to me. The hardest part about this assignment was slotting the tools into each level, as I do view the process of learning as cyclical and many of the tools I think can be used across the levels. I tried to base my classifications on a progression that allows for review so that learners can come back to any stage as needed yet build on the prior ones. For example, Mural.ly is an excellent 'storage' tool where things to be remembered can be put and revisited as needed. However, it is also a great tool for understanding, as it is collaborative so can be contributed to and viewed by many learners at once; therefore they have to be able to analyse and evaluate their sources and links and images and those of others in terms of relevanc to topic. Equally, Mural.ly is an excellent tool for creating - the whole process creates an interactive collection of knowledge, learning, understanding etc. Mural.ly could therefore fit in any level - or, looking at it another way, fits in all levels. Remembering becomes creating; creating becomes remembering. Isn't this learning?

I read an article the other day about how exams should be about creation - how we need to stop asking fact recall or multiple choice questions, which show nothing above remembering; how we need to make learners apply their knowledge, evaluate what they have learned and create something with that learning. It made me think about my A-Level English Language exam which I sat, (gulp) 18 years ago! I admit that I used to really look forward to that exam - yes, I am an English geek - but it was unlike any exam I had done before and I found it exciting and interesting and yes, enjoyable. On the Friday, we would be issued with two big booklets of material, each on a different topic. Each would be a collection of articles, images, fiction, non-fiction etc. - two collections of different text types and two different topics. We had the weekend to review and read and assimilate the material. On the Monday we sat our exam. We would have a variety of questions and would choose one, for example create a leaflet advertising the positive effects of..., create a fact sheet for parents on..., write a local newspaper article expressing your views on..., write a speech for your classmates about... Then we would create! Using the material we had in front of us and our knowledge of text types, language, audience and purpose, we would apply our knowledge and understanding, evaluate the material's suitability and create a new product. It was awesome - writing, sticking, gluing, drawing - I loved it! I loved it because it didn't feel like a test - but it was; I had to take everything I had learned and make something of my own. This was 18 years ago. This is what we should be doing now. This is why so much of the learning in my classroom culminates in a showcase of something created by the learners that shows what they have learned through the products they create.

Anyway, I digress. Here is a breakdown of the education technology tools currently available that I have used to great effect in my classroom. But bear in mind the Blooming Orange - learning is a cycle that goes round and round and should never stop.

Remembering
Mural.ly
An interactive pinboard/collage that allows learners to add links, images and ideas for use at a later time for design, sharing, analysing etc.

Understanding
Edmodo
An excellent tool for collaboration, communication and clarification.
Multiple users and classes mean all members can add comments and share learning and understanding. Rather than sending one email to the teacher and having to wait for a reply, learners can ask each other questions in a forum where all are able to answer to confirm, clarify and consolidate understanding.

Applying
Google Drive
Learners use Google Drive to organise work and collaborate. I can share tools easily; provide models and frames to allow for them to apply their knowledge.
Forms can be used to apply criteria to peer and self assess work or collect responses.
Drawings can be used to apply learning in image sorts etc.
Organisational skills are applied in sharing folders and files or keeping things private or public.

Analysing
Twitter
Brilliant tool for searching and asking questions. It is THE place I go to find out stuff - but I have to read and I have to analyse because the wealth of material out the would be overwhelming. 
Learners are just getting to grips with this as a learning tool; they need to analyse the validity of the variety of answers that may be provided and come up with an acceptable result of their own. They need to make value judgements on what to read, what to follow up and what to discard. The ability to analyse and discriminate is an essential skill in this explosion of information.

Evaluating
Blogger /
Quadblogging
Great place for reflection. Having an audience adds value to their work and I seem to notice my learners writing a lot more than normal. They are also classifying their work with labels, meaning they are thinking about style and purpose and making it easier for them to return to work at a later date.
Review past work work allows them to evaluate their learning and make progress based on past comments.
Commenting on others means they have to evaluate the learning intentions, purpose, audience and language of the posts. They have to critically comment and add suggestions that are constructive, useful and helpful – hopefully informing their own learning.
Linking with outsiders makes this even more authentic through organisations such as Quadblogger.

Creating
iMovie
Allows learners to easily create effective movies from presentations, images, film etc.
Allows easy editing and adding of effects, text etc. to showcase learning.
Even the most challenged ‘creative’ learners are able to create and show a variety of learning easily.