FutureSchools Review – Day 2 Session 1 Part 2

Welcome back for the continuation of my review of session one of the ClassTech conference stream. If you missed the previous article, you can find it here. I have sat down today to write this article and have discovered that when I was writing last night, I was turning two pages in my notebook rather than one page and so was getting my notes mixed up. While I had written that this article would focus on the remainder of session one, with talks from Cathie Howe and Jill Margerson, when I realised what I had done, and double-checekd the agenda in the FutureSchools app, I realised that Cathie Howe’s talk was the close of session one, and that Jill Margerson was actually speaking later in the conference. So this conference will be a nice short one, holding only Cathie’s talk, and then I will write about session two in tomorrow’s article.

Cathie Howe (@Cathie_H) from MacICT (@MacICT) did still speak after Jennie Magiera, under the title of Telling Stories with data. I heard Cathie speak at FutureSchools last year, and last year, I found that the talk did not hit my interest then, and when I saw what the title of this talk was, I did switch off a little. Cathie made the point that data is becoming more and more important to us as teachers and that it is becoming more important that both teachers and students understand how to interpret data.

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The importance of #data #futureschools

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Cathie spoke about how storytelling and data can facilitate the melding of skills from computer science, statistics, artistic design and storytelling in an approximately four to five-minute long video. She related how narratives are how we, as humans, simplify and make sense of a complex world and that infographics are a starting point for this, specifically that many charities have found that infographics or information pamphlets with a narrative base generate greater donation levels than those which are primarily statistics.

Cathie spoke about the wide range of free datasets that are available online and suitable for use with students of varying ages, and that it is easy to download a data set, upload it to Google Sheets and share it to students for analysis, and that the use of pivot tables can generate a strong basis for historical inquiry.

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Free #dataset resources online. #futureschools

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Cathie commented that students need to get to the point of frustration and that it is our role to then provide the scaffolding to help them move beyond that point. Cathie closed out by providing us with the above photo showing a range of sites from which to obtain data that can be utilised to generate inquiry before we moved into the morning break.

I did note, whilst making my way into the Expo hall, that the organisers had, this year, put up a display of a map and all of the roundtables along with who had registered for each roundtable, which was a fantastic idea, and incredibly useful.

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So useful! #futureschools

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I also found this sign:

I have not attended the EduTech conference in the past, given that it is in Brisbane, so it will be interesting to attend that next year instead of FutureSchools, as it moves to Melbourne.

Thank you for reading this article, and as always I would love to hear your thoughts on this article.

Jump straight to day two, session two.

Quick Writing

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
– Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I have tweeted a few times recently about doing an activity with students called quick writing. In this activity, students are told that they will have fifteen minutes to compose any text type they like; poem, recount, description, short story, introduction to a longer story etc., using the supplied image as the writing prompt. I have presented this task to students across years three to six thus far, and all students have enjoyed it, and engaged with it honestly and wholeheartedly.

I have been doing a fairly simple Google Image search, using writing stimulus year x, where x represents the year group of the students. The activity’s primary purpose is to stimulate creativity and encourage students to use their imagination, and students have, on the whole, engaged with the task at higher rates than I thought I would, and created, without prompting from myself, a silent classroom filled with the sound of pens scratching across the paper and the hum of the computer projector.

The other way that I have been utilising this task is to provide students with an opportunity to practice typing, by using either the school bank of laptops or their own tablet, and, again, all students have engaged honestly. I was concerned that students would spend time playing around with font types / colours / sizes but that proved to be unfounded as students dived right into the task.

I have included below two samples of the writing that have been composed in this fashion, both from year six students. Students have given their permission to put the writing online, and I would ask that, while reading these texts, that you remember that these are off-the-cuff compositions that have not been edited or proof-read at all.

Zmaya and Callum created the following compositions using this writing prompt.

This image was sourced from https://www.literacyshed.com/the-fantasy-shed.html on 39-07-2015
Image was sourced from https://www.literacyshed.com/the-fantasy-shed.html on 39-07-2015

The House by Zmaya
It all started the day I went home
When I saw a huge dome
I loved the look
so I went and took
The thing that it belonged
I was wrong
To do what I did
Now my house flew to a bridge
Then to a rock were I now live
I have a boat to go to school
I live near an island
I live on an island
In my house
I have a pet mouse
I love the view my sky high
I love my house you should to

Random Story by Callum
My mum bought a new house on the weekend and I went to have a look but I couldn’t get in because it was on top of a little island than I saw a person  in a little dark door way at the bottom of the mountain and there was a ladder on the bottom tide to a boat. They started waiving and it was my mum.

When she stopped waiving someone puled inside she started screaming so I was stupid enough to jump out of the boat and swim to her safety but I was to slow she was gone in a flash I was scared but l had to be brave to run after her. I herd her screaming but could not keep up with her.

Suddenly I has getting pulled back by something and I yelled whos there [time ran out here].

The other technique I have heard of being used is to provide a range of images and allow students to select three or four images to use to link together as part of their story. I would very much like to hear from anyone who has used this method, and hear how you have found it as a literacy tool.