I opted in for the optional session on becoming an Autograph Trainer, which included lots of little tips on how to use Autograph to its best, and also how to run a training session. For a two hour session, there were so many ideas that it certainly got me thinking straight away. Some of the most useful buttons (some of which I didn't know about before, and others that I hadn't realised the full potential of) are shown below:
With the introductions over, we were thrown into the first 2 hour session for our chosen workshop. Before we had even started, our tutor (David McGee) had asked us to make sure we were signed up to several services: wix.com; dropbox; google drive; Edmodo. These would prove to be hugely beneficial in our sessions for sharing things we had done easily and quickly. Throughout the sessions we used dropbox and Edmodo to get at files that David had made available in these two areas, and it certainly saved times from emailing it everybody.
In the second session we looked using wireless tablets (or an iPad) to control what was happening on the screen. An excellent addition (or alternative) to an interactive whiteboard, you can carry a wireless tablet around the room, and even stand at the back of the room whilst writing on the board. You can also then pass it around the room for students to annotate what is on the board. Of course, sometimes you want to get them out of their seats and writing at the actual board, but to have the ability to have them show their solution on the board whilst still sitting at their desk is excellent. The best tablet to buy is the Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch, with the additional wireless kit. There are apps for the iPad as well, and these were discussed more in Session 3.
In the third session we focussed on two completely different aspects, both of which intrigued me.
- Controlling the whiteboard and what is shown;
- Allowing students to connect and work collaboratively in the classroom;
- Mathematical Apps that are engaging or useful in some way.
The second workshop I attended was using Autograph in the classroom, with the fantastic Mr Barton. These sessions were all run in a similar way, where we were shown some ideas, and then given plenty of time to think about and play with Autograph around the main theme of the session. They were split into themes for the sessions: geometry and shape; statistics and data handling; number and algebra. However, although we were introduced to lots of amazing things you can do with Autograph, I am going to focus on the pedagogical points that came up, as well as some types of activities that Craig showed us.
There are two main ways to use Autograph in the classroom. It can be used to demonstrate or it can be used to investigate. The former of these is a passive activity for the students, whilst the latter is much more active. So the question is, how can we make the demonstrations more engaging, and actively involve the students in them. Here are the main pointers:
A new project that Craig told us about early on in the sessions is a website he is setting up that will be full of Diagnostic Questions. He described these as multiple choice, closed questions, where each of the three possible incorrect answers reveals a misconception. The theory behind these is that as a teacher you can very quickly identify not only who got it wrong, but why they got it wrong. This also allows you as a teacher to target the students who need the most help, as their misconceptions are the worst.
One of Craig's favourite tasks is a collective memory. The idea is that each team has to recreate an image they are shown for only a limited amount of time (and he explains how to run one in more detail on his site). The important aspects for the learning is that you go through any talking points before revealing the image to the class for them to check. He also suggested printing out a copy of the complete poster for each student, which they can annotate with notes and stick in their books. However, the real power of the examples that he showed use was that they all came from an original Autograph file. So once the activity is done, you can open up the file, and use it to further investigate the properties (remembering to get students to predict outcomes).
Mr Barton loves data handling and statistics, and he does not hide this fact. He talked about many ways to collect interesting data to analyse, with one important underlying message: it must be relevant to the students!