Less paper, more choice, better differentiation, saving time…

One thing I’ve already noticed this year is how much less cluttered my classroom is. There isn’t the pile of resources covered in post-its for my TA to photocopy each morning and I’m picking up less scrap at the end of each day. I’ve relegated the charging cabinet outside another classroom and manage with one surge protected tower of 10 plugs – that doesn’t count as clutter! Surely 34 iPads haven’t made my room tidier? Well possibly…

I also realised the answer to the declutter question was more importantly linked to a process that allowed the children to choose and self differentiate the level at which they want or are able to work, look at things at their own pace and at times in more detail. And as I typed, I also realised the iPads were saving me time!

Whereas previously I might create a resource in the evening, put in in dropbox, print and photocopy in the morning, I now email them, as soon as completed, to children in readiness for the lesson. Other resources are photographed by the children and used directly into an app, or written about in their books. As they have constant access to the web if required then any images are just searched for on a need-to-have basis. Gone are the days when I used to print reference out for a lesson or new topic. Our weekly maths pre and post learning questions are now done in Socrative rather than making, printing, sticking in books. Marking and assessing the paper versions for 35 children takes an hour, Socrative takes me less than a minute – and I still have evidence. As they do it on their own device – it is far less likely that they copy the person next to them. An exit ticket can be completed within the end phase of the lesson, I can scoop up and talk to the children that need clarification immediately. This alone has changed the way my partner teacher and I teach maths. Another post on this later.

In addition to saving paper, emailing worksheets and resources has several other HUGE benefits. I send them as ONE document – this allows children to have choice, self differentiate, see what other groups are doing and challenge themselves to work at a level they feel comfortable with. I encourage them to move on to the next one if they find the first few questions easy. It also means for most of them there is ALWAYS an extension activity. I colour code the top of each resource with a graduated colour so children know it may be appropriate for more than one group. They are always encouraged to up level if possible.

The physical aspect of preparing materials ready and on tables and the transition between main teaching and independent learning is easier, even blurred, as children view these on their device as part of the lesson. I can’t yet say with confidence that these things are specifically impacting on progress, but it certainly is making aspects of my teaching and children’s learning smoother and more successful.

NOTE: there is probably a better way than email, but as we run an internal Educational GApps environment where every child has a single username and password giving them access to GApps features as well as all other . I have set up groups with their own short cut email address. After a mistake where one child hit reply all (and all children asked why ChildA had emailed them!), I realised I wasn’t been as efficient or safe as I could be, and I now send all emails to myself and BCC the group in. We are constantly learning and refining, this may not be the way in which we continue to send it but it works for us at the moment.

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