Focuspad has been out for a few months now and it is starting to be used in various places and teachers are finding some interesting uses for it. What we are going to look at here is a course that a PE class set up that has worked particularly well. All the activities integrated and worked towards a single goal. The general structure of the class can be set up without the use of Focuspad but they found it to be particularly useful.
This PE faculty has been a been a productive user of Moodle for quite a while now and have found it to be quite beneficial. They are quite keen to experiment with new technologies and implement them in their classes and as a result their classes tend to be different, interesting and engaging to the students. In the end everyone has fun and benefits greatly. (WallWisher is another tool they have had success with)
The course was run in the following manner in tandem with normal teaching within the classroom:
Initial student opinions
First off there was a choice activity that the students completed so that students could think about their opinions regarding the topic. People were allowed to see the results anonymously for that first week and the teacher discussed the opinions with the class. After this week the results were hidden.
Following this the teacher prepared a forum with a list of questions that the students had to discuss. This discussion went on for several weeks with questions being added and expanded as the material was taught in class.
A Focuspad activity was used for the students to keep a journal as they went. They were required to write at least one entry per week but could write more if they liked.
Student opinions round two
Now that they had progressed through the material a second choice activity was presented to the students posing the same question as the first. Once everyone has completed this the teacher make the first choice activity visible again so students could see if their opinions had changed, both individually and as a class. Discussion of this change was also discussed via questions in the forum.
Now the students had to write an essay and this was done using a Focuspad activity. As the students were in early high school and had little experience writing essays, a template was used within the Focuspad activity to help the students along. Another requirement was that they must refer to atleast two forum posts from other students.
Finally there was a quiz that the students had to complete.
Although Moodle can be used to present information too, this PE faculty tends to use it purely for interactive activities. They have found the mixture of traditional teaching and online activities to work well (interestingly the Computing Faculty at this same school has moved all it’s content onto Moodle and also been quite successful).
The activities weaved between exploration and reflection supporting each other as they developed and strengthened the students understanding. Similarly the students individual and collaborative work intertwined allowing the students to learn together.
Althought Focuspad could have been replaced with other activities (blog and assignment), Focuspad offered a workflow for both the journal and essay that was more streamlined and intuitive. It allowed the students to naturally focus more on the task at hand rather than the tool they were using.