End of term reflections 2015


This last term I went paperless in class. My students opened notebooks in Google Docs, and we hardly used any textbooks at all in any of my subjects (English (ESL), social studies, religion and an elective called international cooperation). This was a new approach for my 8th graders, but they didn’t bat an eye before diving into it.

All my students bring their smartphones to class. We have a BYOD policy (link to Edutopia), and I have embraced this a few years already. Now it was essential! Without notebooks, they had to use their phones to access their Google Docs, and of it meant starting our journey together on digital citizenship (Edutopia).

Needless to say, some time was lost due to lack of battery, wifi troubles and password confusion when working with new tools and apps, but I believe we encountered these obstacles earlier, and have learnt from them, rather than thinking we could have avoided them altogether.

The tools and apps we have used the most are Google Docs and Google Slides. This has allowed my students to work collaboratively in groups and as a class without regard to time and place.

Creating a global classroom is something which has been important to me for a long time. All my classes are involved in eTwinning projects, with project partner schools in Italy, Portugal, France, Lithuania and last but not least; Lillesand, my hometown in the Southern part of Norway. Activities differ according to the topics of the projects, but they are communicating and they have a real audience for sharing their work. They will experience collaboration across time zones and borders next term, and increase their cultural understanding, which are some of the primary goals when using eTwinning.

This term my students also used Soundcloud and shared stories in Padlet. Sadly not everyone managed to access Soundcloud from their device, but the lesson was a powerful one: recording and sharing their best work. Audacity might be a smoother working alternative, so I will continue exploring tools for this kind of work next term.

Kaizena proved to be almost exactly the sort of tool I was looking for when grading English texts. My students add their Google Docs in Kaizena, and I can edit their documents in Google, and give feedback on their skills, and post lessons which are relevant to each student according to their needs to improve. One drawback is that Kaizena is not compatible with Microsoft Explorer, so when using the school computers we came up blank trying to connect to Kaizena. This meant that we had to rely on the smartphones, or our computers at home to use it. The upside is that the students can keep track of their skills and play posted videos or read articles about skills they need whenever they want to.

We started out enlisting in Curriculet for reading novels online. It was easy to set up the whole class, but the available books turned out to be a bit hard for my 8th graders, and the free classics only appealed to a few of them. I have to explore other apps and reading experiences for them this term, and maybe come back to Curriculet next term, when we have classics lined up as a topic in our English classes.

Formative assessment (Edutopia) is something I have used always, to some extent, but I haven’t been conscious of the term or how to best use it to improve my student’s learning. This term I used Socrative and Answergarden more and shared it with parents. These tools have lit up my understanding, and I recommend them to everyone!

A new tool I have tried in my English classes this term is noredink. It assesses each students’ grammar ability, and gives them new tasks according to their skill level. A gift for any teacher! It is calibrated for native speakers, so choosing the grade level with care is important. I look forward to exploring this tool further in the upcoming term.

My school, #Ramstadskole, will start giving each student an ipad 1:1 this next term. Before this happens our broadband facilities will be improved, and the teachers and students will get some training. I hope that the experiences we have gained so far; going paperless and using edtech tools will make the transition to ipads easier.

Which experiences, ideas and tools were the most important in your teaching this last term? Inquiring minds want to know!



New School Year – New Plans

Ramstad, August

It’s that time of the year again; time to start a new school year. We have a few days of planning before I meet my new students on Monday the 17th of August. This year I am teaching Grade 8. My students are 12-13 year olds, and I am excited to get to know them!

The last few years I have had a goal to open my classroom to connect with pupils and teachers in other countries using eTwinning and Skype Classroom. I plan to continue with these projects, and I also hope to connect with a friend’s class in the Southern part of Norway. I am certain we can learn a lot from each other, both similarities and differences within our country.

I also hope to go more paperless this year. I will explore using Google tools even more, and maybe it is time to let the books go too? I have a feeling I will need to use them to some extent, but this is something I want to try out. I would like to use real world events and more authentic problems and cases in my classes. One of the first topics in English and social science is The American Revolutionary War, and I plan to use the Storyline methodology, a method students often get really excited about!

In this spirit I will try out Kaizena when receiving texts and giving students feedback in my English (ESL) classes. It looks great, and I hope my students will like it too. I also want to put more emphasis on reading in class, and I hope to be able to use Curriculet for this. I had planned to use it with my Grade 10 classes last year, but time ran out when the last exams loomed in the horizon. This year, I’ll definitely give it a go!

Have you set any specific goals for the next school year? Have you used Kaizena or Curriculet before? I’d love to hear about it! I wish everyone a great new school year!

Why I blog

These days I only seem to use WordPress when longer blogging is a task in my studies at NTNU. First in the MOOC Technology and Change in Society (2013), and now in the MOOC Smart learning (2014).  I have used WordPress for a while with my students when they were in Grade 9, and I found it to be a great tool to try, but it hasn’t become one of my most used tools, yet. I like twitter the best these days. It is short and to the point, and thus I use it more. This might change if I find inspiration among my fellow colleagues, in how to improve my use of WordPress in the future. I look forward to see how others use it with their students. I’d like to know why you blog as well! 🙂


Konsekvenser av netthandel eller “Amazon is Amazing!”

Jeg handler nesten alle bøkene jeg leser på amazon.com! Det er flere grunner til dette: Utvalg, pris, leveringstid og  anbefalinger. Jeg leser nesten kun engelske bøker og på amazon er utvalget fantastisk godt. Jeg synes dessuten prisen er utrolig mye bedre enn i norske bokhandlere. Videre får jeg levert bøkene jeg bestiller på sekunder til mitt lesebrett, og jeg får i tillegg anbefalt bøker ut fra hva jeg har kjøpt og sett på før. Det er vanskelig for meg å finne noen annen tilbyder som kan konkurrere med amazon.com.

Ettersom flere og flere handler ulike varer på nett vil det i verste fall kunne føre til butikkdød i Norge.

Når jeg handler på nett taper de lokale bokhandlene på det. Bøker er blitt ferskvare på den måten at bøker vi har lest gir vi ofte bort gratis til loppemarkeder, og de som ikke selges der kastes. Som produkt har varen bok gjennomgått veldig stor forandring på relativt kort tid i forbindelse med salg over internett. En regelrett revolusjon. For min del har konsekvenser av å lese på nettbrett og bruk av amazon ført til at jeg leser mer enn før. Jeg har alltid lest mye, men nå leser jeg enda mer! Konsekvenser for bokhandlere av at flere kjøper bøkene sine på nett, kan være redusert salg, og at de mister nødvendige inntekter for å gå i balanse, og dermed må legge ned bokhandelen sin, eller legge om konseptet sitt og ta inn andre varer enn før for å fortsatt tiltrekke seg kunder og få salg.

Jeg kommer til å fortsette å kjøpe bøker på amazon.com uavhengig av hvordan det går med norske bokhandlere. Økt konkurranse kan føre til at noen må legge ned og andre legger om produktutvalget sitt. Det ser jeg ikke som noen ulempe, men som realiteter ved å drive handel.

Konsekvensene ved økt netthandel er likevel til betenkning for meg, siden jeg vet at dette kan komme til å gjelde mange typer varer og dermed mange typer butikker i Norge i tiden fremover. Tanken på flere tomme butikkvinduer i byene våre er ikke lystbetont. Her er det en utfordring til alle kommuner om å skape gode møteplasser i årene som kommer, og kanskje vil bibliotekene og lokale bokutlånstjenester komme til å vokse i bruk? Se eksempel via Pinterest her: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/270990102551776588/