Tag Archives: GAFE

Student-Centred Learning

A Brief History of Student-Centred Learning

Student-centred learning is not a new phenomenon. John Dewey outlined many educational theories including the importance of how ‘students should have the opportunity to take part in their own learning’, in 1897. Project-based learning, Problem-based learning and more recently the apple launched Challenge-based learning all discuss the importance of student-centred learning, and inquiry being central to the learning process. What all of these learning styles have in common in today’s classrooms are that they naturally lend themselves to integrating technology. If the technology is available, and students know how to use it, it should be a part of the learning process.

My current conundrum is ‘If I want a student-centred, inquiry classroom, should my students should have access to technology all of the time?’

My Concerns

How much screen access is okay? Should ten year old students have access to iPads all day? I decided to find out what students and teachers thought. I used a great idea from @traintheteacher. A binary question for all students to answer as they arrive at school.

    I also tweeted a poll for teachers’ viewpoints:

An Experimental Inquiry

Our central idea

After discussing these issues in class we decided to try an experiment. A full day with unlimited technology, and a full day unplugged completely.

Below are some student reflections from our ‘Tech Saturation Day’.

Students were also asked to write a Headline (maximum of ten words) to sum up the unplugged day. Below are some examples:

Teacher Reflections

  • Beginner EAL students were able to work independently. They produced more work than they ever have before.
  • Some students were easily distracted with the iPad. They did however still complete all of their assignments.
  • Working on paper is time consuming. Ten minute tasks took at least four times that.
  • Students enjoyed drawing and paper-craft.
  • Our replicate social media account is the students favourite past-time.
  • Marking and photocopying work is very time consuming. This took up approximately two hours of my day (compared to minutes using google apps).


I will still have some parts of our school day tech free but will monitor for which learning engagements this is an advantage. I’m interested in hearing how other teachers manage the availability of technology in a student-centred inquiry classroom. Is it time to let the student’s decide?

Are you using more tech than a 2nd grader?

School has broken up for the summer holidays! This is a wonderful time of the year to appreciate all our students have achieved. As I reflect on my adventure in educational technology this year I can’t help but wonder how many educators would also achieve our grade 2 tech goals for this year.

So before you head off on your summer break ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is the majority of your work saved in the cloud (googledocs etc.)?
  2. Are you using hyperlinks instead of attachments?
  3. Are you a confident googledocs user (e.g. using the suggesting setting)?
  4. Are you using a photo sharing app or are you still uploading/downloading every picture?
  5. Are your cloud based documents organised into folders?
  6. Are all the images you use cited/licensed correctly?

In my class the aim was for each student to achieve at least 5 of these. How did you do?

What else would add to this list?


Are we all keeping up with our students tech skills?




Time to Redesign https://www.flickr.com/photos/unitedsoybean/10481741576/

Technology is evolving at a dauntingly exponential rate. As educators we are tasked with not only trying to stay up to date with new initiatives, but also creating ways for our students to use these effectively in the classroom. The ISTE Standards recommend that:

Effective teachers model and apply the ISTE Standards for Students as they design, implement, and assess learning experiences to engage students and improve learning; enrich professional practice; and provide positive models for students, colleagues, and the community.

International Society for Technology in Education, 2008

Teaching is a demanding job. Incredibly rewarding, but always demanding. I have a constant long list of tasks & ideas that should or could be accomplished. Experience has taught me to be well organised with my time, and to prioritize incessantly. There is simply never enough time to complete every task that crosses my mind. This is why, for me, the word ‘design’ is the most daunting from the above quotation. In a 20 hour teaching week (+ meetings, ECA’s, planning etc.) how am I going to find the time and expertise to redesign all of these learning experiences effectively?

Stress Balls

Stress Balls (not only for student use). https://super-ninja-poo.deviantart.com/art/Emoticon-stressballs-214920563

So what is the solution?

How can we make this an achievable and beneficial process for all teachers?

Leading by example is a great place to start.

In class we are currently learning about surveys, questioning and data handling.I thought this was a great time to trial Google Forms. I began the lesson with a brief orientation and away my students went.

All students launched into creating surveys instantly. They were fearless and unafraid to make mistakes, problem-solved quickly and shared their increasing understanding with each other. Within the first lesson all surveys were complete, shared on our class padlet page and completed by each other quickly.


Our class padlet page. Authors own.

Then the students took the lesson design in their own direction. This is when the design got interesting.

‘Let’s invite other classes to complete our surveys’

‘Add more choices so I can choose one I like’

‘Can the teachers do mine?’

‘Let’s all add more questions about animals.’

‘Can the world do mine?’

Ideas quickly snowballed and we tweeted, emailed and shared links to the forms. Students were very excited to see their results created for them instantly. The analysis of this data was also instant, spontaneous and enthusiastic.  After a quick demonstration all students were able to review their results and create pie charts. They discussed their data immediately. And this was all within the first hour. The task before re-design was at least 4 hours which mostly involved trying to meet our target audience and not losing our data (or felt pen lids). Pie charts, percentages, peer editing and a global audience were not even considered part of this task.

Summary example zoraan

Data analysis from a student survey. Authors own.


The hardest part of the lesson was my decision to actually teach it. The redesign of the task of ‘use a survey’ intimidated me as I was unsure about how the students might learn data collection. The conclusion was that the students far exceeded my design and were able to teach me things as we all learnt the functions of google forms. They quickly realised that if they had a mistake on their form, they could update it without changing the link. ‘Oh it’s okay Miss I’ve already fixed that bit’ was how I learnt to do this.

The students are so excited about their results we have decided to share them with the school in assembly this week. One student is still keeping a daily count of his survey entries and comparing his increasing pool of data. (Please add to it: https://tinyurl.com/och6hrf ).

Teaching P3

A student teaching a younger class how to complete her online survey. Authors own.


I have completely altered how I will teach data handling forever. I did not utilize the peer editing potential of the task so I am already excited about redesigning this task further for next year. Once again I am reminded by the COETAIL approach of how to go about using technology. It really is okay that I don’t have all of the answers. The design of the task may change (for the better) after you have begun the lesson. And hopefully it may even result in saving you time.