Summary of week 15 (and final blog post)

After a semester of blogging and reflecting, it’s time to officially hang up my keyboard and submit those last pieces of assessment (hooray!). But before I do that, week 15 of the ICT course is in need of a summary and an overall reflection.

I entered this course with very limited knowledge in integrating ICT’s into teaching circumstances, and although I was able to apply my prior understandings to current situations, I was also able to develop new concepts that will be beneficial to me in the near future. In accordance to my personal pedagogy and all of the supporting lessons/units I have completed during this course, Postman’s Five Things We Need to Know about Technological Change (1998) and Mark Prensky’s Twitch Speed (2001), have become a part of my everyday teaching tool belt. Not only because it supports 21st centaury practises, but because it also integrates more traditional forms of teaching that will expose students to a variety of techniques/sources.

Throughout this course, I have also had the opportunity to work alongside the Australian Curriculum and further develop my understandings of key teaching concepts – such as syllabus documents and educational philosophies. Within the next year, I hope to gain student awareness of technology and software by incorporating ICT’s through the means of the Computer Practice Framework (2002).

I hope to accompany each student’s individual application with reflective journaling practices and scaffold them into more complex areas of inquiry and analysis in future circumstances. This has been made possible by this course, and I hope it contributes to a brighter teaching career.

Sources:

Postman, N. (1998). Five Things We Need to Know about Technological Change. Retrieved June 9, 2013 from http://usqstudydesk.usq.edu.au/m2/pluginfile.php/161307/mod_resource/content/0/postman.pdf
Prensky. M. (2001). Twitch Speed vs. Conventional Speed. Retrieved June 9, 2013 from http://www.games2train.com/site/html/article.html#twitch
Twining, P. (2002). The Computer Practice Framework. Retrieved June 9, 2013 from http://mrsfrintzilas.edublogs.org/files/2013/02/The-Computer-Practice-Framework-13cbjls.pdf

More prac reflection …

I was overly fortunate to have minimal special requirements in my professional placement, but that does not mean I was not prepared to cater for them! There was a few lower-levelled learners that required more one-on-one time, but other than that, the students I had were able to work efficiently and productively with minimal assistance.

However, I was (at any time) prepared to make alternations to the lesson in order to cater for these students, and was willing to give them the the option of drawing on personal knowledge in order to develop new ones. Through this process, I aimed to make students feel confident in their learning, and hopefully encourage them to pursue their academies further and further, regardless of their learning abilities.

Through my experience, I found that students (of any level) simply need to be supported and guided through the teachings presented to them. Evidently making them want to come to school, and engage in meaningful learning experiences.

The highs and lows of professional experience …

This blog will be dedicated to a positive/negative reflection about my experiences on prac. Firstly let’s start with the positives ….

1 – As a fellow USQ member also discovered, I to also learnt that ICT’s aren’t just about the integration of computers. I found this to be a positive discovery, and really enjoyed knowing that there are alternative sources that meet the technology curriculum. Besides, some of my students even considered computers to be ‘old school’.

2- Effective communication can come in many forms – something I learnt within my first few days! My mentor (the class teacher), spent a slot of her spare time chatting away to parents via email or through the school’s social networking page. I found this to be convenient for busy parents, who haven’t got the time for face to face contact.

Now for the negatives ….

1 – Never assume – When I did my first lesson, I integrated so much technology into it that I thought the students would be on a techno-buzz! However, I didn’t actually realize that they were not as tech-savvy as I had previously thought. Therefore, I spent the majority of my lesson, getting back to the basics. Lesson learnt for next time: work your way up!

2 – Don’t introduce spell-check – As handy as it is, for younger children, I found that spell-check had no place in the classroom. It did not encourage them to sound out the words or even search for them in the dictionary. This was a crucial learning lesson that I am now aware of!

Orders of change in prac…

It is now week 14, and I’m back just in time for the remainder of the semester. Firstly, I hope you all enjoyed practical experience as much as I did; and secondly, I’d like to reflect upon my experiences in conjunction with Bartunek and Moch’s different orders of change.

My first week could be thought of as the first-order change – where I only tweaked the rules slightly to suit my lesson’s needs. This was my settling in period, and very quickly I moved into the second-order of change as I began to fundamentally change the rules, and ways of doing things within the lesson.

At this stage, I had found my ground within the classroom, and was really starting to build professional relationships. I believe these orders aided in my professional practice because they guided me through the beginning, and right through to the end. Although I didn’t essentially go into my placement with this frame of mind, it defiantly developed throughout the procession and lead to knowledge I know of today.

Summary of Week 11

It’s here! The time has come for me to depart onto practical experience for the next 3 weeks. Whilst I’m gone, I hope to learn a whole new range of ICT skills, and have the opportunity to engage in fun teachings. As this is my first year 3 class, I’m very excited about a whole new world of experiences, and hope to add further skills to my teaching tool-belt.

I wish my fellow USQ students all the best for their pracs as well!

Other forms of technologies that enhance student learning

We are all aware of the computers and interactive whiteboards strung up around the classrooms, but have you ever really given other forms of integral technologies a thought? A 2010 newspaper article by The Sydney Morning Herald, explored the uses of many un-familiar digital devices that should be integrated more into our classrooms.
Here are two technology based integrations that I found unique and fitting for most classroom situations:

Video conferencing:

An integral part of the connected or smart classrooms is video-conferencing technology, which allows students to talk to experts and other schools and students around the world in real time via a video link-up. The facility is linked to the connected classroom package and uses electronic whiteboard technology so a teacher in Sydney can interact with a class in Brisbane for example, using the same whiteboard.

Virtual classrooms:

Instead of going to specific classes in person, teachers and students could communicate at a time they choose by exchanging printed or electronic media such as emails, message boards or blogs, or through technology that allows them to communicate in real time such as telephones, web conferencing or video conferencing.

ICT’s in a composite/multi-age classroom

Speaking from personal experience, being a part of a composite classroom is not only exciting; but also very difficult. Younger students are expected to ‘keep up’ with the older students, and the older students are expected to be ‘role models’ to the younger students – it’s a never ending cycle of learning and engagement. Surprisingly, ICT’s aide in teaching a varied aged classroom, by supplying teachers with innovative resources that allows them to teach any age or ability.

Miss M’s blog explores one of the many helpful resources available. I strongly suggest you check it out and apply it to one of your pracs (if you are lucky enough to be a part of a composite classroom). I also discovered a useful website called Multiage Education, which contains relevant links and lesson plans for multi-aged classrooms. I really like this website because it was created by teachers within composite classroom experience, and really explores the differences within those classroom situations.

Interactive whiteboards – Are they really all we need?

As schools move progressively into a digital learning environment, interactive whiteboards (IWB) are being widely adopted in primary and secondary classrooms. They have transformed the way teachers put forth information, and have managed to capture the minds of eager students willing to learn from digital adaptations. However, has this nifty little resources really improved the national learning outcome of students?

Research by Marzano & Haystead (2009), had found both positive and negative indicates in regards to the integration of IWB’s. This means that we (as teachers) can expect a student at the 50th percentile in a classroom without the technology to increase to the 66th percentile in a classroom using whiteboards. One of the more interesting findings from the study was that in 23 percent of the cases, teachers had better results without the interactive whiteboards. To determine why this occurred, they examined videotapes of teachers using the boards in the classroom. These disclosed some potential pitfalls in using the technology.

Below are some of the researches key findings:

* Using the voting devices but doing little with the findings. In many classrooms, teachers simply noted how many students obtained the correct answer instead of probing into why one answer was more appropriate than another.
* Not organizing or pacing the content well. In these cases, the teachers incorporated video segments from the Internet or images intended to represent important information in their digital flipcharts. However, they ran through the flipcharts so quickly that students, although impressed with the graphics, did not have time to analyze and interact with one another about the content.
* Using too many visuals. Digital flipchart pages were awash with visual stimuli; it was hard to identify the important textual content.
* Paying too much attention to reinforcing features. For example, when teachers who had worse results with the technology used the virtual applause feature to signal a correct answer, the emphasis seemed to be on eliciting the applause rather than on clarifying the content.

This study not only focused on the negatives, but also made links to more positive relevancies found within the effective use of IWB’s.

It is suggested that:

* Teachers think through how they intend to organize information. They should group information into small, meaningful segments before they start developing the digital flipcharts. Once they’ve organized the content, then they can design the flipcharts to complement the organization. To ensure that they don’t run through the flipcharts too quickly, teachers can insert flipcharts that remind them to stop the presentation so students can process and analyze the new information.
* Digital flipcharts should contain visuals, but those visuals should clearly focus on the important information. Also, no single flipchart should contain too many visuals or too much written information.
* After asking a question and getting student responses using voting devices, the teacher should typically discuss the correct answer along with the incorrect answers, making sure to elicit opinions from as many students as possible.
* When using reinforcing features like virtual applause, teachers should make sure that students focus on why an answer is correct or incorrect. Although these features can produce high engagement and certainly enliven the atmosphere in a classroom, they can also be distracting if used without a clear focus on essential content.

Overall, the study found that IWB’s have a purpose and a place within the classroom, but with most useful technologies, need to be integrated effectively within traditional teachings. This study has shown me that simply using this or any other technological tool can automatically enhance student achievement would be a mistake, as it conflicts within the underlying purpose of good classroom practices. I believe it is a powerful learning tool, that should assist (not overshadow) rich textual content and relevant research.

Sources:

Betcher, C., & Lee, M. (2009). The interactive whiteboard revolution: Teaching with IWBs. Victoria, Australia: ACER Press.

Marzano, R. J., & Haystead, M. (2009). Final report on the evaluation of the Promethean technology. Englewood, CO: Marzano Research Laboratory.

Summary of Week 10

As this is my second last blog post before I embark into practical experiences, I would like to draw upon the weeks learning via study Desk. This week I have learnt a lot about effective resource research. I used to wonder aimlessly around the web, clicking and looking for something supportive and useful, until I embraced these three questions:

1.What am I looking for?
2.Where will I find it and how can I access it?
3.What will I do with it?

These questions have allowed me to think about my lesson content before I even implement it. When I have them in mind, I get things done quicker and find more useful resources that will benefit my teachings. Defiantly the key learning area of the week!

Learning areas you wouldn’t expect to integrate ICT’s

As a part of week 10 studies, we were required to engage and explore in two topics of interest, which will aide us in developing ICT rich lesson plans for our upcoming placement. Below are my chosen topics with supporting research examples.

ICT’S and HPE
When we think about HPE, very rarely do we think about its connection to innovative technologies. However, whilst browsing the web and looking through various supporting blog posts, I have found that ICT’s can not only support the functions of PE but also improve them. How you ask? Well Candace Merriman (a fellow USQ blogger), has made reference to an interesting app called “Coach’s Eye”, which captures what students are doing and guides them to improve. Handy if you have a class of 30 seniors that’s for sure!

Her blog post inspired me to do a little research of my own in the apps store, and I entered a whole new world of opportunities! My favourite app is one called “Kiddy Keep Fit”,
which basically makes exercising fun for younger children. The app can be incorporated with fun songs, and aligns into their regular curriculum. Six fun songs are included with the app and each song focuses on different body movements.

Using ICTs for Assessment (including Google forms)
Gone are the days of submitting bulky A4 pages, banded together with tape and staplers. ICT’s have revolutionized the way students submit assignment pieces, and I am rejoicing because it is so much more effective on time management and the environment. Firstly, I cannot rave more about Google forms. They are simple awesome! With the revenant link, students are able to accesses editable documents that have been created by the teacher, and add ideas/thoughts or print straight from the screen. I love that kind of efficiency!

In regards to other resources, the app store has risen again by guiding me two fantastic applications that will defiantly benefit any classroom. An Australian English teacher created the app “Formative Feedback”, which fosters and encourages communication between teachers and students. It uses icons and basic editing skills to prompt discussions through a conference setting.

The other app I found really useful was called “Assist”, which lets (you) the administer, collect student results from common, summative, formative and rubrics-based assessments. It will automatically grades bubble sheets captured by camera and it allows you to log individual student results to any assessment type. You can manage and score collaborative learning activities as well as immediately review the results of any assessment.