Artefact Two – Google Maps challenge

Cooperating teacher’s comments:

A good lesson Chris (for all of us). 

Congratulations on choosing the road less travelled and giving an unusual but real world task. I think it was great. 

I was surprised how long the students took to settle when allowed to enter information onto the Google Doc anonymously. I felt I needed to interject and support you at this time (I also felt somewhat responsible).  I am glad we worked out how to avoid this problem in the future.

Handling students who are upset and walk out can be difficult. In general getting to know the students is the best way to plan an appropriate response. (Send a friend, call the office, wait).

Your teaching and relating with the students was great. The other point of advice I have is that it is always best to try an activity before letting 30 students loose on it. However, I have to admit that when you are trying to do things differently you do not always have time to “try” the activity.

Rationale

I have included this lesson plan because it demonstrates the importance of adequately structuring the student-centred use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and anticipating problems that may arise. It also shows how important it is to be fully prepared.

This artefact links with the following teaching standards (NSW Institute of Teachers, 2005):

3.1.4    Demonstrate knowledge of a range of appropriate and engaging resources and materials to support students’ learning.
4.1.5    Use a range of teaching strategies and resources including ICT and other technologies to foster interest and support learning.
5.1.4    Provide clear directions for classroom activities and engage students in purposeful learning activities.

Context

My Year 10 students were studying a unit on motion (NSW Board of Studies, 2002) and learning about producing graphs of distance, velocity and acceleration versus time. In an effort to include more authentic problems in my lessons (Meyer, 2010), I chose to include a real-world activity that involved taking measurements of speed and distance travelled using the above video of my car’s speedometer on my drive to school one morning.  I asked students to access the video from the school’s Moodle portal, view it on their laptops and record their measurements in a copy of a communal Google Docs spreadsheet.  The students would then plot their data on a graph and compare it to the original estimates from Google Maps.  I wanted students to do this activity in order for them to observe first-hand the uncertainty in taking and interpreting real-world data but within a familiar scenario.

Originally the plan was for the students to work in small groups and for each group to be taking measurements at a different time interval. However, due to a lack of adequate preparation time I hadn’t been able to set up the spreadsheet to accommodate that. So based on my cooperating teacher’s advice I changed this mid-lesson so that the whole class would collaborate together and enter their data (along with their name) into the one spreadsheet.  This way there would be one complete set of data that the whole class could analyse.

Analysis/Research/Reflection

I learned several very important lessons as a result of running this lesson. The first of these was to ensure that students are held accountable for the things they say online, within a small class forum and in particular for a wider audience.  The sharing settings that I had set up on the Google Docs spreadsheet meant that students could edit it anonymously, leading them to make immature comments that were hurtful to one student in particular, who became noticeably upset and left the room.  To compound the issue, the immature behaviour persisted for far longer than either I or my cooperating teacher had anticipated, causing significant disruption and delaying part of the activity until the next lesson. The way that I addressed this in the next lesson was to give explicit access to each student individually, so that any additions that they make to a document are recorded and can be tracked back to them.  This is not a perfect solution but may help to prevent a similar sort of incident occurring.

The second vital lesson was to be more fully prepared for my lessons.  The number and complexity of the resources for this lesson (especially with rendering and uploading a very large video file to the school’s Moodle portal) meant that I did not have enough time to adequately plan out the spreadsheet section of the activity and fully anticipate the potential difficulties.  With better preparation I may have been able to deal with some of these potential problems before they arose.  It also meant that the format of the activity had to be changed midway through, which meant that the students missed out on one of the goals of the lesson.

Conclusion

The lesson described in this artefact was a valuable opportunity for me to learn that I need to adequately structure the student-centred use of ICT and make sure that I have all my materials fully prepared for the lesson.

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