My teacher inquiry this year this about creating parent windows into our classroom. Our school focus is to develop a personalised learning pedagogy across our school (in an abreviated ‘nutshell’) and my contribution is to investigate some methods that will enable parents to engage with their children’s learning.
My latest trial is what I’m calling our ‘digital modeling books.’ I wanted to give parents the opportunity to browse through our workshop modeling books when ever they wanted but I realise that for most of them it’s not possible to drop into the classroom. So, I began to drop our paper books (which were the usual scrapbooks that I’ve used for years) and replace them with an ipad and a few handy apps.
Paper is a notebook app that lets you draw and write using a range of feltip, pen and pencil effects. It’s pretty addictive and my wife, being an illustrator in a former life, loves getting a hold of it in the evenings. The best thing about paper is that it uploads right into the blogging platform I’m using for the books – Tumblr!
Tumblr is an amazing mobile device, blogging platform. It has a desktop version but I love the simple way you can upload video, pictures and text inside a very smooth app. It really does give your ipad some wings!
Showme is an app I often share with people. It’s an app that will let you draw on pictures or a blank slate and records your voice and images into a video. I’ve started using it to capture teaching moments or things we are discovering together – these are then linked into our digital books.
It’s very early days (8 to be exact) but it seems to have a heap of potential. I’ve had one very positive written comment on our blog from a parent who said that her daughter showed them what we had learned from one workshop and it started a really great conversation that evening. On the flipside I know that there are many parents who haven’t seen the books and are not really interested. My intention, however, is for these to be seen as an opportunity. How to encourage more to take up that opportunity for involvement could be my next work on!
Next time I think I’ll write about the benefits of tehse books that I’m seeing and a few dangers and pitfalls of opening up your classroom like this… I’ll bet any teachers reading could guess what those might be?