Last Friday, we welcomed around 70 teachers from all around Australia at our second Stile Learning Community workshop of the year. A continuation of our previous event—Teaching ‘Gen Tech’—the focus this time was firmly on flipped learning, but even more hands-on than last time.
Keynote by Dan Haesler
Dan Haesler provided a fantastic start to the day with a talk on student engagement (‘the most over-used concept in schools today, bar none!’) that made us both laugh and take a hard look at our role as teachers — perhaps even education as a whole. Watch an edited version of the talk below or read on for some of the key points he raised.
One key theme throughout his talk was the current overemphasis in education on performance (driven by politicians and the media): PISA scores and rankings seem to matter more to leaders than whether students feel like they belong in school, how engaged they are in the learning process and how school prepares them for life. “I don’t know about you, but I didn’t go into teaching to beat Finland.”
He contrasted various reports (Sourced by OECD, Gallup and others) to show how this emphasis on scores not only negatively affects students’ ability and will to learn, but also has an impact on their well-being — all without developing the skills actually required by today’s workplaces.
The point that made a lot of us think was that when we say that our students are on task or ’engaged’, we really are talking about that they’re doing as they’re told – which is really compliance rather than engagement. He proposed a continuum of engagement, from the rebellious student all the way to the ‘best’ students, rather than the usual dichotomy of engaged vs disengaged students.
To witness real engagement, we need to find out what actually engages our less-compliant students (such as video games), and leverage what attracts them to these things in the first place: autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Kids love Minecraft, for example, because they’re free to do what they like, can improve over time without risk or pressure and feel like what they’re building something that matters to them. The challenge is for us to incorporate these concepts into our teaching.
Check out his slides and sources here.
In the middle of the day, we split up the room and let one half work on nine video creation stations that had been set up along the wall, while the other group worked through three workshops on flipped learning, instructional design and effective feedback.
They were prefaced by lightning presentations by Jerome Richalot from All Saints Anglican School and Ryan Gill from Masada College. Both gave us a brief view into their flipped classrooms to give everyone an idea of what the concept looks like in practice.
The creation stations consisted of three touchscreen PCs, two iMacs, three iPads and two green screens. After a brief introduction, everyone picked their favourite platform and collaboratively worked on producing flipped learning videos.
The green screens in particular were a hit! Green screen video lets teachers insert any video or image into the background and then appear in it along with that background. It’s what weather forecasters on TV use to appear in front of weather maps. Teachers can instantly transport themselves to Ancient Greece, space or anywhere else for that matter - the possibilities are literally endless.
Stile’s Head of Education, Daniel Pikler, facilitated a workshop on flipped learning. Dan gave us his top three tips for our flips, and shared with us Jon Bergmann’s four biggest mistakes teachers make when flipping their class.
Stile’s Education Specialist Guido Gautsch then led a workshop on multiple choice question design. Thanks to real-time class analytics and auto-marking, multiple choice questions are a quick and easy way to not only gauge how much students have absorbed from our flips, but with automated feedback, they’re also a really useful teaching tool. However, good multiple choice questions are hard to write and Guido shared his top five tips.
He followed this up with a workshop on effective feedback, summarising research by John Hattie and Dylan Wiliam around what kind of feedback actually works - and what doesn’t!
In the afternoon, Stile CEO Byron Scaf took the stage to give us a peek at two very powerful upcoming additions to Stile: real-time reporting and in-line feedback! Both are coming later this year and will make Stile an even more useful tool for teachers and students.
The day ended with a brief peer feedback session where teachers shared what they’d made with the rest of the group for feedback.
For more info, pictures and comments, check out the #StileLC hashtag on Twitter. Thanks to Caulfield Grammar School for providing a great space, Jerome and Ryan for presenting and everyone who attended!