Student Directed Innovation and Cool Creation Tools

This year, at my own request (!), I am teaching Year 8 for the first time in perhaps two decades. I have the same group of 29 students for both English and History. This gives me seven lessons per week, ranging in length from 45 to 65 minutes. Of course, I realised early on that having the same group allowed for all sorts of possibilities; not least of all the opportunity to operate a “timetable within a timetable.”

My first decision was to give the students themselves some measure of control over what and how they learn. Of course, I remain a slave to the curriculum and the need to compile (largely useless?) reports. Still, I realised I could easily cede one lesson per week to the students in order that they might pursue their “passion.” I have read a great deal recently about how the Internet is now passion-based rather than content focused. Given that I am working with class group 8.1, I decided to call the project Innova8.1 (I know it’s hardly original!) The idea was first introduced to the students via my favourite iPad app, Haiku Deck. I’ve embedded the presentation below … please feel free to adapt and use it for your own purposes.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

The early signs are great … not surprisingly the students look forward to this weekly “release” from the usual constraints of the classroom. Their interests are as varied as you might expect; animation, digital music, photography, anime, mash-ups just to name a few. My only expectations are that the students must both create and share content.

In reality, I have had to make the greatest adjustments; to allow students  to move freely around the room, to sit on the floor, to listen to music, to seek the advice of their peers … to engage in noisy, laugh-filled student directed learning. Once or twice I’ve come close to snapping and demanding silence until I remember I’ve given them permission! Each Innova8.1 lesson begins with some sharing of either student created content or with me introducing a new Web 2.0 tool or an iPad app. (Oops; probably should have mentioned that we are 1:1 Apple Macbook whilst I make regular use of my iPad. Hell, I even started lending it to students despite the separation anxiety.) Now, finally I have also included here via Scribd a list that I’ve called “15 Cool Tools and Apps for Student Creation.” I have begun to introduce and demonstrate these to my class. They, much like me, seem to like nothing better than trying and mastering a new tool.

As always, I would welcome your comments, suggestions or questions; I’m already convinced that “Student Directed Learning” must become a part of what we ALL do.

15 Cool Creation Tools by Simon McKenzie

8 thoughts on “Student Directed Innovation and Cool Creation Tools

    • Hello Rebecca … I do love encouragement and positive reinforcement from across the ocean. I’m glad you took the time to read my latest post and found it “worthy.” I promise I’ll do my best to “keep rocking” the blogosphere!

    • Hello Rachel … thanks (and to Kim) for the promo of my latest blog post. The creation tools I’ve listed have lots of uses for students and teachers alike. I will continue to provide details of new apps and tools as I discover and master them. Be sure to try out Haiku Deck … I’m one of their officially appointed international “gurus.” Haiku Deck 2.0 will be released on March 7. I hope you’ll continue to read and spread my ramblings Simon 😀

      • Hi Simon,

        Nice post. I really like your 15 tools and apps for student creation. I am familiar with a few of them however there are some that are listed that I have not heard of. You have inspired me to try them out. I have been using Tagxedo a fair bit and must say this is by far my favourite tool for creating a wordle. I recently created one in the shape of a dog, pretty clever really.

        If only I had this list prior to Assignment 1 (USQ ICT and Pedagogy course), I may have really been able to put it to use. Mind you there is always time to give it a go. I did manage to try a few new tools out thought, Spreaker (creating a radio segment), Joo Mag (creating an online magazine) and Mozilla Popcorn (creating a presentation with pop-up annotations, Twitter feed etc.). I am not sure if you have tried these out, I really enjoyed them and could easily see them being integrated into the classroom.



        • Hello Kelly
          my apologies for taking a few days to reply. I am busily preparing to take my Year 12 Ancient History students for a two week educational tour of famous sites in Turkey and Greece. In the past I have taken stand alone trips to Greece and Egypt but this will be our first “two country” trip. I will be doing some “live blogging” whilst there using an app called “Blogpress” on my iPad. I have provided a link on my blog.
          Thanks for the positive feedback on my “Creation Tools” post; a pity it wasn’t there for you when you needed it most! I will certainly check out Joo Mag, which I haven’t seen previously, but do have a definite use for. I have certainly now connected with a number of USQ pre-service teachers and look forward to maintaining the dialogue. Not sure if I mentioned it to you previously but I would be happy to do some form of presentation at USQ if you can organise an invite. I will be doing some work with students at ACU during July-September.
          Kind regards
          Simon @connectedtchr

  1. Interesting post I did take time to read through it and learn’t quite abit, thanks for writing it.

    • Daniel, thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment upon my most recent blog post. If you get the chance to try out any of the “creation tools” I would love some feedback. Simon @connectedtchr

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