Expert Educator Columns, Featured
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Bridget Crooks: Redefining My Classroom in 2015

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by Bridget Crooks
Expert Educator Columnist, New Zealand

Redefining – to change the meaning of something or to make people think about something in a new or different way.

I am sure most of us have heard of the SAMR model for the integration of technology into our classrooms.

Developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, this model (see image above) shows a progression (or ladder) that teachers often follow as they use technology in their classrooms. What I like best about SAMR is that it supports teachers to design, develop and create innovative learning opportunities in the classroom. It aims to transform learning experiences – which ultimately result in better achievement for our students.

Image the creation of Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D. http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/

What excites me the most is redefinition. But remember – it doesn’t mean that you are doing it wrong if you don’t reach redefinition, some tasks just aren’t made for it and great learning can happen without redefining what you do in the classroom.

But there is something very engaging about creating completely new tasks that were previously inconceivable. Tasks that would not have been possible 10 years ago. And nothing motivates my students like adventuring into the unknown.

In the Southern Hemisphere, we are in the middle of our long summer holidays. It is a wonderful time to re energise, regroup and start to plan the coming year.

And that’s exactly what I have been doing. Mapping out the exciting learning journeys my students and I will take and planning how I can redefine some of my teaching for 2015.

I love the idea that technology can help us create previously inconceivable tasks in the classroom. This is so exciting to me – and my students – we thrive on new ideas and mixing up how we learn.

So – what is my big plan this year?

I teach Drama. I use technology in many varied ways and love what it allows me to do in the classroom.

The thing that excites me the most for 2015?

Skype.

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Yes. Using Skype.

I have used Skype a lot. As a teacher in a rural school Skype has been a great tool to allow my students to talk to playwrights, actors and designers. But I have only ever used it as a Q and A tool.

Through the Microsoft Innovative Educator programme I have been privileged to engage with incredible teachers from all around the world. One of these teachers is Deanne Joosten – from Australia.

Together we are redefining how technology and the Drama classroom can work – we are undertaking a production across two different countries and two different time zones.

As Deanne puts it “The ideas are flowing and thanks to Skype, MS Lync and OneNote it won’t even matter that we live in different countries.”

And so begins Project Songalogue. Our plan is to have our students interact, direct, communicate and perform via Skype as they work together to create a performance piece based on iconic songs from our countries.

We will have students from Australia and New Zealand performing at the same time, on different stages and screens – but coming together for one cohesive performance for the audience. Using Skype.

As you can guess we are excited about the possibilities that this presents in regards to our students (and our own) learning. Technology can make it possible for even the most geographically isolated student to be involved in a live theatre piece.

That is certainly redefinition.

How do you plan to redefine your teaching in 2015?

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