Peter Holmstead, e-learning leader at Houghton Valley School, describes the introduction and setup process of Hāpara Teacher Dashboard, including consulting and involving parents. He talks about the increase in student engagement and resulting improvements in AsTTle writing demonstrated by reluctant writers moving up several sub-levels over the course of the year.
We wanted to trial the Hāpara Dashboard with a couple of reading groups in two classes just to see how it went and what we could do with it, so we decided to roll out the Hāpara into our senior syndicate. We sent out consent forms and we had almost 100% take up from the parents, and so all the senior classes have their own Gmail and Google Apps accounts, and the kids have been doing all their writing and a lot of their reading activities, and a lot of maths activities using the Google Apps. Well, I’ve been really impressed with the way that kids have adapted to this new technology as far as like putting together you know projects and reports and things like that.
Yeah, the work’s definitely better because everyone, yeah everyone can work together and put all sorts of ideas in at the same time.
Now they can all work on documents at the same time and, you know, create presentations and you can have three or four kids working on a presentation at the same time and commenting on their work, and it also overflows into outside of school hours as well. That’s one of the beauties of it. I can monitor them but they can sort of communicate you know after 3 o’clock, and carry on with their work and research and add things to their docs and their presentations. They are working differently, I mean we still, we don’t use Google Apps all the time, it’s sort of one tool that we use. Things like when they are doing a writing task where now because we are supported with more Netbooks and things like that we can have kids drafting straight to you know a document. Kids are drafting from there and they are sharing it with their friends, and their friends are commenting on it and giving them feedback, and you know improving it as you go, plus I can get on there and make suggestions.
Sharing my Google Docs has definitely helped because if I kind of veer off like the learning intention thing, then the people in my group can kind of like remind me to come back and like keep going on with it.
Peter Holmstead: Yeah there’s been a noticeable increase in the student engagement, particularly for some of the reluctant writers. I’ve got a, this year I’ve got a class of 19 boys and 9 girls, and boys are traditionally you know reluctant readers, reluctant writers, and they just love being able to get on there and you know intersperse their writing with you know pictures and things like that. Kids who traditionally would have hardly written anything at all, the fact that they can get onto a computer and do it online you know has really helped a lot.
I find that I’m more into my work when I’m using Google Docs.
Because we do AsTTle teaching of writing and particularly the boys who were you know, disengaged with writing at the start of the year have all gone up you know several sub-levels over the course of the year from just being able to write freely and, you know, frequently. I think being able to, you know, be working alongside them in a digital way, I mean I can actually sit next to them as well and we can converse, but I can also make comments on their work and it sort of pops up in front of them while they are working and they can respond to it and they like putting you know “marked as resolved” when they have fixed up a punctuation error or a suggested rewording or something like that, so they feel like you’re with them and I also, they probably feel like you’re kind of able to look at what they are doing. Hapara Teacher Dashboard has made some of the jobs that I do much easier as far as monitoring the students and also looking at their work and sharing work with them as well. I use the smart copy function a lot for reading activities for groups, and you can customise the reading activities to you know you colour code your reading groups so you can send particular reading activities to them and they can actually answer them on the document and then you know share them back to me.