I think every teacher would agree that consistent, well thought out feedback is key to any child’s education. Good assessment. lets you plan your lessons to make sure you cover every child’s needs. A few months ago at school we had a mini internal inspection. The main observation of the music department was that although we probably give more feedback than most departments we couldn’t really prove it because our feedback is mostly verbal. I had a look at some of the free tools online and realised that no singular online tool would solve the problem. I spent some time planning what I wanted to be in place. I wanted to design an environment that would support my pupil’s learning and make it fun and modern. That’s when I came up with the idea of mrrittersclass.com.
The site has many features, its main is to be the home of all my pupil’s recordings. By clicking on their class the pupils can play their recordings and read my feedback in the form of WWW (what went well) and EBI (even better if). Pupils can then log into the site and leave their own comments. These comments must show that they’ve listened to their recording and understood my feedback.
Using my phone with the Sound cloud app I can record the pupils during the lesson, this is then automatically uploaded to my account. Using an embed code I simply copy and paste this over to their class page. Within minutes I have an audio player on their page with their latest work.
Souncloud on my phone
Now this is where the controversial bit comes in. Although I think this system will work extremely well, I needed to find a way to inform the pupils that their work is online for them to listen to. I needed to make it relevant. So I came up with, wait for it, the word that no teacher likes to hear in school. FACEBOOK. Yes ladies and gentlemen I intend to use Facebook with my pupils. Before you all brand me as a mad person just read on a bit.
Apparently we teach our pupils to prepare them for the modern world but as soon as they cross the school entrance we say NO to mobile phones and an even bigger NO to Facebook. Why? They are using these two pieces of technology every day. I’ve set up a separate Facebook account for my classroom. Within this account I created a page willlowshighmusic. Because it’s a facebook ‘page’ the pupils don’t have to be friends to access the account. All they have to do is like the page. The main benefit is that the page is open to anyone who likes it. As soon as the recordings are posted on mrritersclass.com I will post a message onto the facebook page and the pupils who liked the page will automatically receive the post through their news feed when they’re on facebook. Another advantage is that the parents or guardians can like the page. They too will receive notifications through their news feed that I’ve posted work and feedback of their children’s work.
I can post many different things to the page, as you can see I added a video on revision technique. Anything i post to the page will automatically go to the pupils news feed. People need to realise that as teachers if we don’t teach our pupils to use things like facebook responsibly, who will teach them.
Other features of mrrittersclass.com include a news blog for all year groups, a 360 degree view of our classroom. Pupils can visit our classroom 24/7 by using a great free tool by Microsoft called Photosynth.
If pupils have homework they can explore the classroom using the many posters on the walls to help them. This could also be used for our feeder primary schools to have a look at the school before visiting making it less daunting.
I’ve created a featured video tab on the front page of the new website. At key stage 4 my students make video tutorials showing how to use the recording studio and radio station. I can now feature a different video and showcase the pupils’ work.
These videos are a big hit on YouTube. My pupils are receiving feedback worldwide and by using our new website I can feature videos and hopefully generate more feedback for them from a global audience. Some of the videos the pupils of Willows High School have made have received over 96,000 hits.
The website also features a page of useful links, an information page for parents and a page to support the pupils who currently have instrumental lessons. On this page they will be able to find useful notes, music, links to videos and their timetable.
We have to bring the technology from home that our students are using on a daily basis into the classroom. By doing this we keep them interested and stand a better chance of them being focused. Long gone are the days where children need to come to school to learn. They can sit in front of the internet to do that. With most young people if they are enjoying what they are doing they won’t want to mess around and misbehave.
Using up to date methods also inspires the teachers. Remember the golden rule, to inspire the pupils – you have to inspire the teachers first..
Check back to www.mrrittersclass.com in a few weeks and see how the project is progressing. The pupils and I will be using the new features from Monday.