domingo, 25 de marzo de 2012

A morning with Manel Rives

The 5th of March SOyER group had an unusual guest in its classroom. He was the great teacher Manel Rives who came to the University of Murcia, concretely the Faculty of Education, in order to make a workshop with us. But, before explaining Manel’s method and all tasks we had the opportunity to carry out we should introduce who Manel Rives is.
Having a look at Manel’s twitter we have a short description about Manel’s job.

He is a teacher who incorporates new technologies to educative area. First of all, we use to think if new technologies improve children’s knowledge; in reference to this point, according to Manel’s words:

“It is only another way to make things, I have found new technologies a better method to lead my pupils’ work but other teachers will think I am a bit crazy making projects with technology and not with books, it only depends on the manner you want to impart your lecture.” 

And it is true, Manel’s children are not guided by a text book, this kind of classes conceive text books as an alternative choice which it is only used to look for information and comparing different sources. Manel’s methodology is based in Learning by projects and it is in these tasks where technology is incorporated. When we think about this type of teaching we use to consider projects as boring assignments which are not completely read by ourselves and they are just made for the sake of submitting one. However, with Manel things seem to be quite different; children are motivated every time and they pay a lot of attention to their work putting all effort which is possible. In regard to this point, why are Manel’s children so encouraged? And, on the contrary, why are children with common learning methodologies less stimulated? We could say one of the main factors is technology. Technology is the most powerful instrument of the world but, at the same time, it is one of the easiest elements to control (basic control, not professional or expert on controlling) and, in fact, give a computer game to a child, wait for some days and then let me know if he or she has just finished the whole game without necessity to read instructions, I am pretty sure he or she will have completed all the game. Consequently, if we extrapolate this revolutionary behavior to the rest of technological device we could have an idea about how children manage technology and they have a sixth sense to run these new tools.
In this way, what are those Manel’s projects which combine knowledge and new technologies? As Manel said, there is not an only program for making all this kind of tasks but these entire programs software share an only device to make them possible: IPad. I think IPad does not need any presentation when tons of people have ever used one or even they used it daily to work with.
Next we are going to introduce three main tools which Manel uses with children and the example of each one we made in class (please think that day we were two in Broken Dreams group so I joined to Hakunamatateros group, thanks also to them for the good company, as a result of this, Toontastic and Comic examples are the same because they were made by them and me).

Toontastic inspires the artist and writer in every child while teaching key storytelling principles that help to promote Creativity at a young age. Toontastic’s drawing tools bring kids’ wildest ideas to life alongside virtual play sets chock full of pirates, princesses, far away galaxies, and many other characters and settings to spark the imagination. Cartoons can be shared online via ToonTube, Toontastic’s Global Storytelling Network, to help children connect to friends and family and learn about other cultures, customs, and lifestyles through stories created by their peers around the world. (from Toontastic webpage)
Here is our example about Toontastic. The plot is just ridiculous but we were tired of racking our brains and we admitted that was not a pedagogical story to tell to children. Please click in the next link to watch the story.

Strip Designer

Be creative on the go. With Strip Designer you can create your own personal comic strip right on your iPhone or iPad. Add photos from you photo album or draw your own sketches. Apply simple image filters to increase the impact of photos, and add speech balloons and text-boxes. (description from Strip Designer’s manufacturer)

But, what advantages can produce a comic compared to reading a text book? We have thought about this important question and we have summarized some reasons which evidence comics’ benefit. Here are some examples:

-          Comic is easy to manipulate.
-          It is not so expensive.
-          Comic gets grabbing children’s attention.
-          It is out of traditional tasks.
-          It develops the creativity.
-          Comic makes learning as significant.
-          It creates reading habits.
-          It makes easier communicative actions and reading comprehension.
-          It fosters children’s logical thinking.
-          Comic can be adapted to every level and subject.
-          It may help to perform better at reading and writing difficulties.
-          Comics can be used as an introduction to books.

In addition, I should point out Strip Designer was very easy to use and I am pretty sure all children can quickly adapt to these new tools due to the exposed advantages and also because of attraction which Technology grabs generally in children. On the other hand, if I had to make reference to some disadvantage I think it would be to use the IPad’s touch screen since sometimes it is difficult to type fast and it may have some difficulties when you try to fit bubbles in little places.
Here is the comic example which I made with Hakuna Matateros group. The story line is quite simple but sometimes it has to be straightforward because making complex plots may take a lot of time and that morning we only had an hour for creating a comic and a Toontastic story.   

Stop Motion

What is Stop Motion?
Stop motion is an animation technique to make a physically manipulated object appear to move on its own. The object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames is played as a continuous sequence.
Stop motion’s didactic possibilities are very wide but we could emphasize this technic allows to children to develop their creativity as well as incrementing teamwork and promoting plastic and audiovisuals features.
Broken Dreams’ Stop motion about dinosaurs has already posted in Pensamiento Ajeno Blog so if you have not seen our creation please go below and enjoy it ;-)
Reflection about Manel’s visit and methodology

First of all, sorry but I have to say it: Manel rocks!! Manel is such a great teacher and if I were one of their students I would be very happy because there is not a huge amount of teachers like him.
Once I have said this I will be more serious and I will explain my thoughts about his workshop. I think Manel is out of the typical world where teachers are nobody without books and he wants to go beyond discovering new limits about teaching and learning and, from my point of view, this is something I really like because it proves how teacher job is not a static activity as many people consider it is.
Learning by projects is a good option to educate children and also, if we link this one to new technologies we could obtain a powerful relationship thanks to which Manel may have found the key to enter in a new teaching concept which, moreover, is partly based in TPCK foundations since besides of using Technology it mixes Content and Pedagogy.
This way to impart lectures gets other elements which normal lectures cannot get with the same quality, that is, we are dealing with elements as motivation, initiative, interest, enthusiasm, inspiration, creativity, stimulus…lot of feelings which may produce significant learning since, memorizing a paragraph can be done with or without a good teacher but, making that paragraph as a part of our knowledge is more difficult and in this point good teachers, methodology and good environment take an important role.
On the other hand, in reference to workshop which Manel made I have to admit I did not have any idea about what presentation was going to be about…yes, I knew dinosaurs were going to be one of the morning main characters and, the day before, Linda also told us he used to work with Stop motion and other tools so I have to say I knew something about him, but not too much and due to this reason the whole four hours passed very fast.
Unfortunately there was not a lot of time and therefore, we had to make activities quickly and if it is the first time you use an IPad I beat the task may be so long because we are not used to type on big touch screens and in addition, we are not also familiarized with those software programs so, first of all it was discovering how to start controlling the tool. However, we got interested in using IPad and its programs and we could prove how tasks which are made by pencil and paper may result very boring and, on the contrary, utilizing technological devices make more interesting jobs and, in fact, if we sat open-mouthed the whole class, how could children not be motivated to make activities all the time?
We could be talking about Manel for long hours but if we wanted summarize that morning in one sentence I think it could be something like:

 “Making knowledge as significant through innovation”

As US people often say in other contexts, Manel, you are THE MAN of resourceful teaching concept and new technologies; I like your way to impart lectures but I am not sure of saying: I want to be with you in the future, I am in the first grade of my degree, I want to know other teachers and methodology before consider what it is the best for me but, right now, I beat you are one of my choices for being as you in the far future.

Finally, here is my photo with Manel and Hakuna Matateros group, what a great time we had that day!

That is all; see you in the next post.

Juan ;-)

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