All The Gear and No Idea

A few years ago, whilst in a spit and saw-dust gym that I used to frequent pre-Crossfit days, this guy walks in with all the correct gear for heaving lifting; squat shoes, knee straps, hand chalk and support belt. He then saunters over to the squat rack, puts on a few plates, totaling 100kg (including the bar), and without warming up, he back squatted (not even lowering his butt to parallel) at which a friend of mine, Paddy the Postie, says “he has all the gear and no idea”. So how on earth does this link to Tech-Rich learning? Well, in some of my past experiences, from visiting and observing schools’ use of tech, some of them have all the latest tech, 1-1 laptops, maker space rooms in abundance, apps pouring out from their iPads and plenty of other tech littered all over the place. And you know what, they have the all (tech) gear but no idea (about how to implement effective use of it). In order to effectively/practically/authentically embed technology within any lesson – we need to know where we are going with it first (vision), how to use it from our point of view and that of our students.


I found the section on Feedback and Learning from Living with New Media interesting, particularly when the author reports on findings of Anime artists who valued the peer-based feedback they received for productions; is that because they feel much safer? Couple that with the extent that young people go when seeking expert knowledge for their hobbies can help us as educators when pitching our technology – if we do it in a way in which they truly interested in developing, then we can open-up a lot of opportunities for our students.

Doors lined up in a row

Authentic not Contrived

There is a fine line when choosing something that the students will love vs something that provides an authentic learning opportunity. Earlier this year my colleague, Greg Reed, introduced me to the SAMR model – which I convinced myself I had been using for years, but had been calling it something else. I also took some enjoyment from Kim Cofino’s blog when she talks about choosing a “Real World Task”, as I pride myself on doing just that – hopefully along with her other steps as well. So, without much further do, I would like to share the tech-rich lesson which I taught and facilitated just a couple of months ago with some quality teachers and enthusiastic students.

SAMR Model diagram

Come to me With Solutions Not Problems

Jim Fuller, my old head teacher back in the day, used to say to me “David, come to me with solutions not problems”, and so I did. And so, in the coming meetings with Jim, I would bring him good news, refreshing initiatives and positive exam results – in return he double jumped my pay over the next three years. Fast forward to December 2018, we had our MYP – IDU week at school. Myself, Justin (P.E.) and Leah (Science) wanted to teach the students about sports and science, moreover, about how different muscles where activated during the execution of different skills in different sports – and we had to make this an interesting, engaging and a worthwhile learning experience. We decided that a great way to do this was to teach the students how to create their very own Sport’s Analysis using a combination of whatever was free and available i.e. iMovie, Keynote, Macbooks, SmartPhones and YouTube – kind of like a deconstructed Coach’s Eye. We also went one step further and used a slimmed down version of a engineering design process – slimmed down as we had the solution – they had to make it. Our thought process was that by giving the students the opportunity to record and analysis their own skill, would reinforce all the complexities of the science – and I think we nailed it.

Engineering Design Process

Practice Makes Perfect

Before the unit happened, it was imperative that we choose something that was feasible for the students – so I had to set about creating the product; can I use the term dogfooding? I choose short passing in football as my skill and sport; I was the Grade 6 football coach, so it was easy for me to ask a couple of students to perform the skill for the video. I asked two different students to pass the ball to each other, whilst I recorded it on my OnePlus 5T (my all-time favourite phone). I decided that I would later import the video into iMovie and use a combination of inbuilt features for my sports analysis; split screen to compare the two passes, clip speed to slow down the skill for a detailed analysis, freeze frame for the screen shot(I also added in animations from Keynote) and voice over to record my analysis (I later recruited a professional, Rachel, to do the voice over). After a week or two, I had completed a prototype video for the students to watch as well as video tutorials on how to make it – 6 videos total. You can watch them in all their glory here. In the end I think we up skilled our students’ tech skill in order to accomplish a real world (sports) problem of sports analysis.


Reflection Leads to New Direction

I reflected on this task, using some of the 15 questions (great post) posed by Drew Perkins. By doing all of the task myself, plus providing the tutorials I certainly avoided the non-production and frustration elements. I believe that due to the depth of vlogging, movie making opportunities and the inclusion of animation using Keynote (to enhance the analysis), the potential of the kids finding it boring was diminished. I could go on but I want to talk about how to use Google tools to enhance the learning opportunities next time.

Hindsight is 20-20

First of the bat, before I do this unit again, I would ask the students, via Google Forms, who their favourite YouTubers are. Perhaps I could try to present my video example more in line with style which our students are interested in;risk of being cringey is very high, so I would need to step lightly. Staying with Google Forms for a moment, I will ask students to reflect on the different parts of the task, particularly the bits which we thought they found challenging i.e. Keynote and timing their voice overs to the animation. This feedback would be used to create more concrete tutorials, for them to follow; I would also encourage them to leave comments on the YouTube videos as well, giving me feedback on each of the video tutorials, so these can also be removed or improved. I would also like to implement Google Hangouts for our students to communicate with each other and teachers during the project. They could access this at any time, seeking help and guidance on the tasks. When it comes to uploading, I would ask the students to share the links of the videos – as opposed to Air Dropping, which is what we did this time round. We did ask the students to create the transcripts in Google Docs, which was perfect for giving instant feedback.

Thanks for reading.


Head Scratching -Flixr – CC

SAMR Model – Schoology

Engineering Design Process – Teach Engineering



2 comments to “All The Gear and No Idea”
2 comments to “All The Gear and No Idea”
  1. Hahahaha that intro story was great – and it was an awesome connection! Years ago, when I first became the tech coordinator at the ECE, I inherited a tech rich climate. Each class has ipads and computer lab, computers in the classroom, ipods and we even had ipads at the school! But no one used any of it. We barely touched our ipods except to check our bus list at the end of the day and no one hardly came to the computer lab or used the ipads. So I’m a big fan of starting off small and then expanding when we see success but the pitfall of that is that technology is moving so fast. There’s also the time needed to mess around and for some to geek out. This will allow teachers to do the same and maybe even be a huge cheerleader for it!

    I really enjoyed reading about your tech rich lesson. You really focused on the objective and allowed that to guide and give the students an opportunity to really further their tech skills. I’m hoping to incorporate more of this type of modeling in my lessons from now on! As for how you would like to improve on this lesson, I think creating a google hangout is a great idea. Students can turn to each other for technical help or other questions without having to rely on you or the other teachers for all of the answers but at the same time, you can answer questions quickly and have it available to all of the students involved.

    P.S. I appreciate all of the rhymes.

    • Thanks for your supportive comment 🙂 I do think starting small is ideal for lots of things, not just tech. Or rather planting the seeds here and there, to see which ground is most fertile. Once you have cultivated a small but concentrated tech-rich environment, and or followers, then you can start laying down your long term vision.

      I was lucky for my tech rich lesson, by working with a crazily talented team, whom mastered the delicate art of delegation by playing to each individuals strengths – because if you don’t recognise this from the start, then you have already lost. I think by creating this aura of autonomy and letting your colleagues, or better yet friends, crack on with their task can pay huge dividends further down the line. It gives ownership to the people, who take as much pride in their success as they do in evaluating their loses. I wish you luck with your future tech affluent lessons 🙂

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