NCCA – Being Personally Effective

School is a place associated with learning, often we only think of the content and ‘book learning’ and forget that it is also a place where we develop key skills that we depend on in later life. The NCCA has outlined five key skills that our students should be developing at senior cycle. These include Information Processing, Critical and Creative Thinking, Communicating, Working with Others and Being Personally Effective. In this blog I am going to focus on the last skill mentioned and how we can use Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom to help our students to develop this necessary skill.

This skill contributes to personal growth. It helps students become more self aware and gives the ability to use this new found self awareness to develop goals and life plans. It helps students to learn how to get things done, how to use resources effectively and act independently. There are a wide range of Web 2.0 tools available to improve on this skill they include:

MYLIFEORGANIZED.NET – This is an organisational tool which can be downloaded onto your computer, iPhone or Android. This allows you to create to do lists, create projects, set reminders, plan events and much more. This app is has a cloud based back up system which means you can access it from any device once you have your user name and password.

MIND42 – Mind42 is a website that allows you to create mind maps. This is a simple way of keeping key notes in one place. You can sign up using an email address and it is free. You can explore mind maps made by other people and rest assured all your important exam notes are safe in one place. Maps also save automatically so no worries about losing information and you can go back and look at previous versions of your mind map.

FOCUSATWILL.COM – This is a website which has music which is scientifically proven to help people to concentrate. The music plays in the background and the app has a progress tracker for you to monitor how much you are getting done while the app is open. This has a free trial for 16 days but after that there is a charge. Could be useful straight before exams or you can look up similar music on you tube for free.

MINDTOOLS.COM – This website has many different tools for decision making, stress management, problem solving, communication and many more. Some of these tools are online applications and some are downloadable forms and templates. This website is a gold mind for students and teachers alike who want to learn how to manage their lives more effectively.

NOVAMIND – Novamind is another mind mapping software. You can choose different ways of using this application for example, focusing on study, planning your life or planning a business or project. It is easy to use, you write down your ideas or information and it creates the mind map for you. Novamind Lite is free to sign up to but you have limited access to the tools however there are still lots of features you can use.

I hope some of these apps can be put into use in the classroom to help our students fully develop the skill of being personally effective.

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Working Together

One of the six key skills outlined by the NCCA that students need to develop is the skill of working together. This skill helps learners develop good relationships and to appreciate the value of cooperating to reach both collective and personal goals. In this blog post I want to highlight some features of Web 2.0 that can help improve on this skill in the classroom. As we all know the internet and technology offers a wide range of opportunities for teaching and learning but often these apps and initiatives are 1 on 1. The student uses the web or a computer/iPad to work alone. So what is out there that promotes group work and student collaboration in the classroom? Today I will highlight three Web 2.0 initiatives that do just that. 1. Google Docs

Google Docs is a free Web-based application in which documents and spreadsheets can be created, edited and stored online. Files can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection and a Web browser. Google Docs for education can be downloaded for a whole school for free. Students are signed up to an email account and can access documents, slides, graphs and google drive. But how can this be used for collaboration? Google docs allows students to work on the same document or slide using the web. A student or teacher creates a doc and invites others to view or edit. This means students can create group presentations from different places and at the same promoting active participation in group work.

2. Schoology (skoo-luh-jee)

Schoology is an online management system that allows teachers to create and manage academic courses for students. It provides teachers with a method of managing lessons, engaging students, sharing content, and connecting with other educators. The site looks similar to the popular social networking site Facebook. Teachers are able to use schoology as a virtual school where they can monitor student attendance, progress, upload assignments, give feedback and begin discussions. Students are able to access class information, take tests, do assignments, upload files, participate in class discussions and stay organised with a school calendar. Like the social network Facebook students can post and comment on each others profiles. Students can share study tips, create projects together and create discussions on class content.

3. Wiggio 

Wiggio is great for small groups. It is a free resource used by over 1.5 million people. It allows group members to share and edit files, manage a group calendar, poll your group, post links, set up meetings, chat online and send group messages or emails. Wiggio groups are private groups which you must be invited too. You can be a member of a number of groups for example: History project, Social club, Football team etc. This is a good time management and communication app for students which can promote team work.

This is only three of the many apps and websites available to promote the skill of working together. If you have any you would like to recommend please leave a comment or some feedback on the above. 🙂

Encouraging Creativity

This blog will focus on another one of the NCCA key skills. This week I want to explore the skill of creativity and how we can use web 2.0 to encourage this is our classrooms. The main elements of creativity outlined by the NCCA are as follows:

1.  Imagining
2.  Exploring options and alternatives
3.  Implementing ideas and taking action
4.  Learning creatively
5.  Stimulating creativity using digital technology.

When I initially think of being creative I am drawn to the idea of coloured card, markers, glue and scissors but creativity can be expressed in a wide variety of ways. Creativity can be expressed through art, physical expression such as dance, writing, speaking and more recently with the help of technology. Some students may feel pressured when asked to present work creatively. Some could not think of anything worse than creating a poster or project but fortunately there are now apps and websites that allow students to express their creativity in ways they may be more comfortable with. I have chosen three of these web based technologies to talk about today but there are thousands waiting to be discovered. Please leave feedback on these or add your own in the comments.

  1. Popplet 

Popplet is an app designed for Ipad and Iphone. It is a tool that allows
users to display information and ideas in a new way. Teachers and students can create graphs, timelines, mind-maps and many other forms of visual organisation. Students and teachers can download the full app for 4.99. This app allows students and teachers to share their popplets with others and benefit by viewing popplets from all over the world. These popplets would be ideal for revision, presenting information or introducing a new topic. Images, videos and documents can be imported from your computer, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube just to name a few. Finished popplets can be saved and printed. There is a free version called popplet lite. This is the same except students cannot see popplets from other people and cannot share them.

2. Explain Everything

Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design, screen casting, and interactive whiteboard tool that lets you create, animate, narrate, import, and export almost anything to and from almost anywhere. Students can create documents, slideshows, videos, presentations, images and can edit documents which they import. You can add explanations to notes, draw diagrams for explanations and create your own study aids. This app can be downloaded on smart phone, ipad or windows. It costs 3.99 but there is an option to buy for the class or school which will be a bulk price. There are tutorials online to get started but once started it is very simple and straightforward to use. When finished creating and editing documents can then be exported to anywhere at all, dropbox, google docs, computer or email. This app can be used for revision, note taking, assignments or assessments.

3. Story Board That

Storyboard That is an online storyboard creator that helps visually communicate ideas and concepts to quickly tell a story. It provides templates in which you can create your stories in a comic strip style along with hundreds of scenes, characters, and text bubbles to fill your storyboard’s frames. You can choose from a wide collection of templates, characters, props etc to create your story/comic. Students can use it to create simple cartoon stories, create outlines for longer creative writing projects or to script videos or presentations. They can also use it to practice a language, creative writing and studying almost any subject. It is easy to use with a drag and drop feature and students can import files from their own computers. A free account allows you to produce and save two stories a week but premium accounts are available for 9.95 a month. For this price a teacher can set up a class and add up to fifty students. Teachers can use storyboard to set up a classroom where they can see students creations easily. Story board is extremely simple but a fun and new way of e learning. 

 

NCCA Junior Cert Key Skills

The NCCA outlines six key skills that all subjects should develop in the Junior Certificate programme. These include managing myself, staying well, communicating, being creative, working with others and managing information and thinking. All of these skills incorporate the use ofdigital media in the classroom. Using technology in the classroom is a trend that is rapidly increasing in education. For this blog post I want to examine the last key skill and look at ways that we can develop this skill by using different technologies and digital applications in class. ncca

MANAGING INFORMATION AND THINKING

This key skill helps learners gradually improve their capacity to search for information from different sources. They also develop their skills in judging and discriminating between information types and sources and they develop strategies for organising information so that they can understand it and use it later. This skill also develops learners’ thinking skills so that they can become more skilled in higher order reasoning and problem-solving. (Juniorcycle, 2014)

The first thing that came to my mind when thinking of ways to incorporate this skill into the classroom was blogging. This skill is meant to enable students to engage with information and share it by use of digital media. What better way than starting a blog. There are numerous blogging platforms for schools and teachers including, word press, kid blog, 21 classes and many more. These platforms allow teachers to set their classes up on a blog where they can monitor the posts and feedback. Students can be given a task such as researching a key historical figure they use the internet and search engines to find information and then write a blog about the person to share with the class. This simple exercise improves a range of
skills students need to develop including research, critical thinking, analysis, managing information, presenting information and literacy.

Google Docs in another great resource that enables students to organise information. This is a  free Web-based application where documents and power-points can be created, edited and stored online. Files can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection which means students can start work in school and finish at home without worrying about USB sticks or forgetting books/copies. Google docs also allows students to work together on the one document or project. Students can invite each other with an email address and they have permission to add to or edit a document/presentation. This introduces a whole knew approach to group work. The teacher if also invited can check who has done what work on the document to ensure all students are actively involved.

As a history teacher I have come across some amazing resources this year for the 1916 Commemoration that incorporate this key skill very well. they include a blog designed by the National Library. This blog looks at key personalities and perspectives during the time. Students can research the blog and find new information to engage with. To encourage students to compare sources there is a website that publishers rare photographs from the rising here . This website also has a dedicated section for schools to carry out online research.

The web is an amazing resource for any subject. Allowing students time to explore and discover not only encourages independent learning but gives students an opportunity to see opinions and ideas that before where restricted to a text book. This skill is not only something students need to learn to achieve good grades but it is something they can take out into the world. The world is becoming a technological place and if students cannot fit into this world when they leave school they will face difficulty. We have the resources to help develop this skill in schools it time we start using them.