This is the first in a series we’re bringing to you where teachers share their experiences using Stile in the classroom, from implementation to day-to-day use and everything in between.
Tim McMullen, deputy principal, and teachers Francine Jorgensen, Nicole Hardinge, Helene Lionakis and Ester Omarsdottir told us about their experiences with Stile at Our Lady of the Assumption Primary School, Cheltenham.
You’re using Stile from the preps up. How did setup go for the little ones?
Francine: My grade 4’s helped the prep grades, and they had no trouble.
And how are the children going with it now?
Ester: All of my grade 6’s love it. At our technology day Stile was the number one topic.
Do they go into Stile outside class time?
Nicole: In the first week I made an activity on the weekend, then on Monday when I gave it to them one student said “Miss, I did that at home”. I’ve had to learn how to hide things from them.
Tim: The children, especially the young ones, are always waiting for something else to happen, so they’re checking in. Their readiness is extreme.
And how much of the lesson would be in Stile?
Helene: With what we’re doing at the moment every lesson is a Stile lesson – one hour that they do, that’s one Stile activity.
Ester: Some lessons integrate easier than others. Grammar is really good. And it’s good for directing enquiry – links to videos and stuff like that.
So besides the work in Stile itself, do you use it to organise access to other programs or sites, or for workflow generally?
Nicole: Yes. Even just one YouTube video I chuck it on Stile, so I don’t have popups or anything like that.
Ester: And students use Stile to send me things they’ve created in other apps. It doesn’t fill up your email inbox.
Francine: I might give instructions in Stile then they complete something in a physical workbook, take a photo of it, and put that into Stile.
How easy was it to introduce to the staff?
Tim: I got together with these four teachers because they had good skills already, and in two weeks they’d taught each other.
Ester: It was good – I’d say “I did this today”, and Francine would say “I did this” and then “why don’t we swap and modify”.
Tim: Then we opened it up to a couple of other teachers, all peer-taught, and then released it to the whole school.
How about the teachers who weren’t so confident?
Ester: It’s been a very collaborative process. And I put a couple of lessons in the library to get them started. They saw that the kids loved it so it created more interest.
Tim: And now that all the staff know Stile, we would love more content in the library, to save time and give consistency.
Is part of Stile’s success its gentle learning curve?
Tim: Definitely. We rejected everything else because of that. We didn’t want teachers wasting their time learning a system when they should be talking about pedagogy and curriculum.
So has Stile impacted the way you teach?
Helene: Oh yes. Often now I don’t explicitly teach. I might get them to learn through a video, or they’ll go and find a word and then video themselves saying it. It’s more student-centred. I’ll go round and help people, or they help each other.
Ester: And you can personalise things for your class, because you know what they need. It’s very open-ended.
So does this make the class dynamic better?
Nicole: Yes, Stile’s engaging, and the students are learning from each other.
Francine: Yes, it’s more productive. The amount of content they’re getting through – they’re learning more.
Nicole: Because they’re more motivated. They’d much rather work on Stile.
Are you using Stile for student portfolios?
Helene: In effect, yes. For my reports I have Stile in one window and reports in the other and I can just say yes, they’ve done that and write it down.
Tim: More and more teachers are using it to photograph student work, or voice record or video, and then upload it.
Ester: Yesterday I did a lesson on pronouns and they said “what are pronouns”, so I said, “Go back to the Stile lesson we did and jog your memory” – it’s always there.