Almost success …

Website1

Hello everyone,

Today I had my very first lesson in using ICT’s in the classroom with my Year 2 class. I’m currently on professional experience for 3 weeks and I’ve just finished my first week with these students.

The class is quite chatty and energetic. I’ve been having trouble getting all the students to listen when I’m explaining a task. I have a very quiet voice which doesn’t help and I end up trying to compete with them. So far, I’ve had little success with worksheets and explicit teaching.  So I’ve tried a different approach.

Today I taught the students about calendars in Maths. I actually made a little website using weebly. This was to help me put all of my online resources in the same place so that i could just scroll down and access them and to save wait time. Previously using the smartboard, things would take a while to load or open and the students would start talking or fighting amongst themselves.

BUT the important thing is that a website allows me to step back from the spot light and just be a facilitator for the children’s learning. This way they don’t get sick of listening to my voice all the time 😛

On the website, I used some upbeat songs to help the students to remember the days of the month and the days in the week. This actually worked really well and the students joined in singing with a few prompts from me to help them remember the words.

Website2

I also had examples of calendars that were child friendly and colourful as a visual. This worked well because the images were larger on the screen than on an A4 sheet of paper. All of the students could see it very clearly. The only problem is that one girl kept asking me why there was an elephant on the bottom of the calendar :p

Website3

Next to introduce the worksheet creatively to the kids, I actually used a Voki avatar to introduce a problem that the students had to solve by working through the worksheet. I had an avatar of a soccor player tell the children that he had a big game coming up but can’t remember what day its on. His coach suggested that he uses a calendar.

The reason for using a VOKI was so that the students aren’t listening to me explaining things all time and they could listen to something more interesting than me.

http://vhss-d.oddcast.com/vhss_editors/voki_player.swf?doc=http%3A%2F%2Fvhss-d.oddcast.com%2Fphp%2Fvhss_editors%2Fgetvoki%2Fchsm=dd7507e0489f1f06867443435dcae0c4%26sc=11455550

The only issue is that the voices on the website are very monotone. It’d be interesting to see how the kids respond to it.

On the worksheet, the students were given the dates of the Soccor games and training to put on their calendar.

Website4

Unfortunately I didn’t get up the voki stage because the students took so long working on their time unit that I only got to briefly talk over the calendars. However the videos and visuals I used were a success and students were really engaged!

Almost success….

To view the webpage I created please click here 

The classroom is like a game!

Hello everyone!

So I was working on my math assignment and purely by accident, I stumbled on this awesome TEDtalk on youtube and I thought I’d share it with you. This actually relates to my previous posts, A Race Against TimeTech-Kids Saving the World and Building Apps: A new classroom project  where I posted a video of a 12-year old app developer and it got me thinking about how gaming could be used in the classroom as a learning tool or even a class project!

In thinking about the future of ICT’s, I remember some teachers in highschool becoming concerned that teachers jobs would be reduced as computers teach students everything through tutorials, lecturers and learning modules. In their eyes, teachers would only exist to to manage behaviour and solve ICT issues.

“Some people think that they can change education to be individual and module focused. That just sucks! Who would want to learn like that? .”  – Paul Andersen

This is exactly what I thought when I heard about it!

Paul Andersen is a highschool Science Teacher and revolutionised his classroom into a game! He argues, that the current education system puts students in the place of passive learners and that the only way to fight this is to appeal to students interests. In this digital age, one of the most common student interests is games!

He names the common pitfalls of teaching as:

  • Passive and teacher orientated
  • Grades focused
  • Failure is bad
  • There are always fast and slow learners – how do we meet the needs of both?

Meanwhile in the gaming world…

  • Activities are interactive, fun and engaging!
  • There are levels not grades. You are always progressing forward, one level at a time!
  • If you fail a level – you just keep trying until you learn how to do it!
  • It doesn’t matter how long or slow it takes to complete the game. You just finish it!

Paul applied his own old school gaming knowledge into his highschool Science classroom by making school fun! He realised that failure is stigmatised in schools but in games failure is okay! It’s part of the learning process.

“If it takes you 80 times to clear the third elevator stage on Donkey Kong, that’s okay!”  – Paul Andersen 

He also noted that in games, people progress through levels. You move at their own pace, master each level and level up as they learn things and by doing this, you become stronger.

So in applying this knowledge, Paul used online quizzes that students can try again and again until they get a high grade. He also used a leveling system. Students start at zero experience points and move up. He even included a Leader Board where students could view other students scores and try to beat them!

This all seems like fun and games, however Paul realised that he’d made a big error. “I gave the students a set of car keys and said off you go. Some students raced ahead, some fell behind and others crashed straight into wall. I need to do more scaffolding next year…” 

With Professional Experience coming up, I’m also questioning how I will teach and use ICT’s in my prac classroom. I wonder if I run into similar troubles?

To see the Peter Andersen’s talk for yourself, please view the youtube video below!

Reducing the carbon footprint of the classroom

Hello everyone,

Recently I was reading another students blog (Tayla) called, “Paperless Classrooms” and it got me thinking about ways that teachers can use ICT to reduce the amount of paper used in the classroom.

I remember in highschool, the teachers used bucket loads of paper for assignment coversheets, booklets and worksheets. Our Senior History course was particularly heavy with the amount of content, worksheets, research booklets and assignment booklets we would receive. Some students used to joke that he’d cut down half the Amazon forest over the holidays.

“Paperless Classrooms” raises some key strategies that teachers can use to reduce the load of paper used in their classrooms. Tayla recommended using programs such as One Note or Evernote for students to take notes because its simple to use and allows flexibility in using images, mind maps, webpages and tables.

Additionally, my highschool  Maths teacher began to use One Note in lessons to illustrate maths concepts and formulas to us by connecting her i-pad to the overhead projector. This meant, that our class was able to spend the first half of the lesson, listening to her explain the content to us and the other half doing the work ourselves in our Maths books. She would save the notes into dropbox for us to save to our computers. This made the learning more efficient because we could give her our full attention instead of multi-tasking between taking notes and listening.

On Practical experience, my teacher would sometimes have a worksheet shown on the overhead projector and the students would write the answers down into their books. Although using this method enabled her to save paper on worksheets, I still think that students need to have those worksheets to look back on and understand where the answers came from. This is instead of having a book full of answers but no context to them. In saying that, this method was only used in emergencies or a back up if the photocopying failed.

Although, I have to agree with Tayla that classrooms will never be totally paperless.

“While classrooms may not become completely paperless, using this approach is sure to cut down on excessive paper while allow students to create more dynamic records of their work, research and ideas.” – Tayla Foster

What other ICT’s could we use to reduce our paper usage? Please comment below, I’m keen to hear your responses!

Thanks for reading!

Falling down the rabbit hole of creativity

Hello everyone,

This week when writing my ICT Assignment I made a terrible mistake. One which I could have avoided if I’d looked at the Assignment examples provided on studydesk before I started. In fact, the assignment example had exactly the same content descriptors and learning experiences and even the same ICT’s which I wanted to use.

In my annoyance, I made the following comment on my private Facebook account:

“When you finish planning your unit plan and realise that one of the examples the lecturer provided online is exactly the same as yours. Face palm! 😦 ”

Despite my initial frustration and annoyance, I realised that this was actually an important learning experience for me. And I took the opportunity to re-evaluate myself and my current planning practices. Looking at my unit plan and the example online, I made two important conclusions.

My ideas had already been thought of and used before. Clearly, my unit plan wasn’t original.

And, I’d fallen into the trap of doing what is predictable.

I can do much better than this.

This was a wake up call that I wasn’t thinking outside the box hard enough. I need to be more creative.

So I decided to fall down the rabbit hole and explore my creativity.

alice by romana klee, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  romana klee 

I needed to be more curious about trying new things, new strategies, using the same knowledge in new ways. I also needed to provide learning experiences which would make my students curious about their learning too.

In addressing this problem, I decided to do the following:

  • I still went ahead with the theme for my unit.
  • I kept the same assessment task. (A historical narrative).
  • I used the same ICT’s but with a twist.

I had to re-evaluate myself, and explore who I am as a teacher.

 by Ego-Entity, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Ego-Entity 

I also had to consider how to best match my learning objectives with the actual assessment task and how I would assess my students. This caused me reflect upon my pedagogy and find new innovative ways to achieve the same objective that would engage my students. In this way I can also extend their learning further and make them curious about history!

Taking this into consideration, I decided on the following changes to my unit plan:

  • I changed my constructing learning objective to direct the learning focus to something different. Instead of looking at the reasons people migrated to Australia, I decided to focus on the role of significant individuals or groups and how they contributed to a colony.
  • I decided to stretch my use of ICT’s and use them in a different way. Instead of an infographic detailing chronological events, I decided that making infographics would be a great way for students to draft their assignments and just have the key points of what their writing about.
  • I changed my transforming learning objectives from inquiry to critically examining sources and determining point of view. I thought this was more appropriate for the learning focus and give students more substance to talk about in their historical narrative. Students would also make reference to the sources and make inferences about the point of view of the source in their story.
  • Additionally rather than students just writing a narrative detailing a journey to Australia, I decided that students would write about a significant group or individual and how they impacted on a colony. The perspective could be from a real historical person or a witness who saw the actions of these people take place. This gives students a broader creative license and enables a range of responses.
  • I decided that the special event I would use, would be a Parents night. The class would take the parents on a journey and in the process, learn about the colonies of Australia and the significant role migrants played in shaping this nation.

From making these changes, I feel that my unit plan is stronger and I feel more confident. This experience gave me the opportunity to reflect on how I develop my ideas and I learned how to extend myself further.

Moral of the story: Don’t go with the first thing that pops into your head or what makes sense.

 by Ego-Entity, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Ego-Entity 

Push yourself to try something new and use things in new ways. This makes the lesson more engaging and creative!

I’m interested to hear everybody’s thoughts and opinions on this. How have you pushed yourself to try new things or think in new ways during this course?

Thanks for reading 🙂

Touring the world without leaving the classroom!

Today has been an exciting day at university. I visited the National Museum in Canberra to take a 45 minute tour about Indigenous lifestyles and look at artifacts of spears and boomerangs, without even leaving the USQ campus.

How did I do this?

For those wondering, I do not have superhuman powers or the ability to be in two places at once :p

Thanks to the invention of robots and access to wifi and broadband, our history class was able to link our lecturers laptop to the wifi of a robot and complete a virtual tour of the National Museum of Australia. This allowed us to experience two different types of learning as described in the Decoding Learning Report. (for more information please click here).

First we were Learning by Exploring because we were able to use a video camera hooked to the robot to see a panoramic view of the gallery. We could manipulate the view to move side to side and focus on certain objects.  The robot used lasers to sense its surroundings and avoid people walking around. Our human guide, programmed the robot to move around the gallery and go to displays that he wanted to talk about.

Below is an image from the Museum website of the robot used for the virtual tour.

Additionally, we were Learning From Experts because we were able to interact with our human guide and he could answer any questions we had during the tour. To add to the experience, our guide was able to provide links on the screen that we could click on to view more information or photos about what he was telling us.  In fact, he actually said that doing the virtual tour provides a better experience than actually coming to the museum because he was able to provide links and photographs of other artifacts that aren’t on display.

Apparently the tour can host up to 15 people from 15 different locations all around the world, or you can also do a group tour through one computer like our history class did today. To find out more about the virtual tour and the robot, I’ve provided a link to the National Museum of Australia website here. 

The entire tutorial group was amazed that technology could actually allow us to see the National Museum of Australia online without having to go there. I’ve been there myself and the museum is huge and took me all day to cover most of the floors and even then, I felt there was still so much more I wanted to know.

I also learned today from the tour, that google have started the Google Cultural Institute which allows people to view online tours from museums all over the world. (The link is here). This means that as teachers we could take students all over the world such as the Louvre in Paris without even having to leave the classroom. How cool is that?

History doesn’t just benefit from this, the Google Cultural Institute has tours and galleries on art, space exploration, performing arts exhibitions, the list goes on! This pretty much covers all the humanities, arts and science subjects.

Using this technology, you can take your students anywhere in the world, learn from experts and explore different perspectives.

Imagine saying to your class, “Let’s go on a World Tour of the National Museum’s, first stop the Louvre!”

Could this be the future of school excursions or field trips?

Motivate, Collaborate, Create!

Hello everyone,

I just want to share with a digital artifact I created for my university course EDC3100 ICT and Pedagogy.

The purpose of the resource was to inform the parents of my Grade Six English class about the reasons why I am using ICT in the classroom. Real life examples supported by academic sources were used to convince parents that the ICTs we were using will enhance the students learning.

I had to come up with three reasons as to why I was using ICT’s. Mine were, Motivate, Collaborate, Create!

Creating the artifact has been a really enjoyable experience and I’m really happy with it. I was able to make another Powtoon (I’m getting really good at those), I finally mastered Prezi (I hope) and I even made my first ever infographic using Piktochart! (More tools to add to my PKM and teaching tool box 😀 )

I also learned a really important lesson which I’ll remember in the future when I’m teaching. That is, to use plain language when talking to parents and relate to them as people. Be to the point, don’t waste their time. Say exactly what you want to say!

I found the hardest part of this assignment was trying to avoid writing it like its a university assignment. I actually had a lot of people who were students from this course and just family have a look at the assignment. This way I had the perspective of fellow students who made sure I fulfilled the criteria and my family to make sure that what I wrote made sense!

Anyway here it is: Digital Artifact  (http://year6englishwhyuseicts.weebly.com/)

Classroom of the Future

The future …

What is in the future? How can we prepare for it?

As kids growing up the future always seems so far away and something not to worry about yet.

But these days, it seems the ‘future’ is right around around the corner and its becoming harder and harder to predict exactly what the future may be.

Recently I read a blog on feedly written by a fellow student, Brendan and he highlighted the importance of using ICT in education to give students 21st Century skills to prepare for the future.

He says, “We have students who can type 60 words per minute…. In grade two!!!” I know when I was in grade two, I could barely use a mouse!” 

Brendan also included a youtube video  which raises a number of concerning statistics which illustrate how rapidly our society is changing due to the influence of technology.

(To read Brendan’s original blog post please click here)

You can view the video below:

This video really illustrated to me, how students are already engaging in technology and developing skills needed to use technology for their own purposes.

This is not a new phenomenon.

Kids have always been resilient, creative beings who can take anything adults give them and turn it into something else.

For instance, at the shopping centre my little brother is 6 and normally sits in the trolley. And as we were shopping around Woolworths we kept putting lots of boxes in and he began selecting and placing the boxes around the trolley. I asked what he was doing and he says, “I’m building a monastery!” (Just like the one on the Lego Ninjago TV series :p)

Part of a problem adults have is that we become focused on what things are used for and don’t imagine new ways to use things. Perhaps we just don’t have time or are already occupied with more important things.

My point is that kids are applying those same creative skills to using technology and becoming experts or as we like to call them ‘technology natives’. In some instances they are usurping adult knowledge of the internet and technology.

As teachers it is becoming increasingly important to become acquainted with the technology that our students are using and find ways to make it relevant in the classroom. Perhaps they don’t teachers to show them how to use the technology but a little adult guidance wouldn’t go astray either…

An additional read,”New ICT tools in education: Classroom of the Future Project” available here which discusses ways transform a traditional classroom into a modern classroom by using multimodals, effective ICTs and rewriting the curriculum to further engage students. Definitely an interesting read!

Is social media making us Anti-social?

These days, anyone in the world can contact you during the day and night, whether it be work calling to fill in a shift, friends constantly messaging and updating their Facebook, new emails, apps advertising special deals on games or a notification saying that your great aunt just beat your candy crush score… again.

As a pre-service teacher, this can be quite daunting especially when your students begin adding you on Facebook or following you on Twitter. (Lucky this has not been my experience!)

Additionally, there’s also all those unwritten Facebook rules which we are just expected to follow. According to this article, there’s 34 of them. Also this video below summarises them down to 9 main ones.

So the inspiration from this blog post came from the quiz in Module 2 last week which asked, “is technology is making us anti-social?”

Straight away my answer was yes.

For a couple of reasons.

I’ve just recently had a terrible experience at a trip to the movies where a mate of mine was on his phone for the entire film! Despite all the comical ads about having your phone off and correct movie etiquette, he could not resist responding to facebook messages on his phone and scrolling through his news feed. And he had his flash on!

Also, I have not had a proper conversation with my teenage sister without her iphone being present for the last two years! I’m honestly beginning to feel like the third wheel in our relationship!

Tegan in her blog post, “Could you live without modern ICTs?” wrote about how she went for one hour without social media.

“So my hour begins…within ten minutes I was bored silly! I wanted to check Facebook, watch my favorite shows on television and believe it or not I was so bored I would have given anything to log onto studydesk just to do something!!”

Honestly, I have to agree with Tegan.

Last semester, I became really overwhelmed with the amount of messages, emails, text messages I was receiving and it actually began to affect my sleep and stress levels.

My yoga teacher told me that depression and anxiety in my generation is an epidemic and she warned me that social media could be the cause. She was right. A quick google search brought up three articles featured on Huffington Post, The Columbia Chronicle and Everyday Health which confirms there is a strong link between our social media usage and mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. (The article links are in blue).

I took her advice and actually began to take days off from social media especially on uni days.

And you know what?

It wasn’t that bad. I went back to doing things I used to do but never had time for. I had time to draw, paint and read books! I realised that while I’d been telling myself I don’t have time, I actually was just using that time to socialise with people online to the point where I became unhealthy.

After having no social media, I actually began to feel alot better and actually happier. Imagine that!

Have our lives really been transformed from doing amazing things like drawings, playing musical instruments, reading and playing board games with family to just waiting around for someone to come online to talk to?

Contemplate, Collaborate, Create

New-Mind-Map_435eof1e

Hello everyone!

It has a been a crazy two weeks for this course with the last module being at least three times the size of the first one :p

On the positive side it has given me the opportunity think deeply about the reasons why I should use ICT in my classroom. (prep for assignment 1).

New-Mind-Map_435eof1e

(Click on image to enlarge)

Above is my very detailed, intricate web of thoughts illustrating all the various reasons and influences on why I want to use ICT in my classroom.  Its confusing and complicated, right?

I created this mindmap using an awesome program called bubbl us. I’d definitely recommend this as a fantastic resource to use with students to help them brainstorm and come up with ideas in class.

Anyway in preparation for Assignment 1, I began to narrow my extensive list of reasons down to the “Big Three”. This took lots of consideration and deep thought because there are many reasons which I hold strongly however I decided to just focus on way that I want my students to use ICT in my classroom.

And since teachers like to use acronyms and simplify everything (according to rumours in the staffroom) I decided to call my three reasons, “The Three C’s.”

Contemplate, Collaborate and Create!

I want students to CONTEMPLATE or reflect on their learning, on their actions towards others and use this to make improvements. 

For this, I want students to be able to use ICT to reflect on their thinking processes, develop self analytical skills and be good digital citizens. For example, students could write a blog about their science project and reflect on their misconceptions and hypothesis. They could also use Audacity to build confidence in their public speaking. However this can also tie in to Applying social and ethical protocols and practices when using ICT of the Information and Communications General Capability of the Australian Curriculum. Students need to consider of how their actions affect others online and ensure their own online privacy.

I want students to COLLABORATE by working with other students to solve problems, work on projects and grow from each others ideas. 

ICT has the potential of changing the way group work is currently used by incorporating social media into the classroom using safe protocols. Students are aware of and usually skilled at, using current social media websites and messaging platforms and teachers can replicate the same programs in the classroom to facilitate learning.

For example in a literacy unit, a teacher could create a forum where students can provide their own perspectives and opinions on the themes, characters, settings and authors choices in the book. Students can learn from each other’s ideas and change their own perspectives. A major bonus for teachers is they can see all the students interactions with each other and ensure that students are following ethical and social protocols online. (This is much better than group work arguments that usually rely on ‘hear say’!)

I want students to CREATE brilliant web artifacts and projects using ICTs to transform their learning and build new knowledge. 

Lastly, using ICT students can create web artifacts and use their creativity to demonstrate their knowledge, thinking process and skills. Not one students project is the same even if they use the same software. Additionally ICT can take students to different roles such as playing the teacher and creating an artifact that teaches a younger group of students about a concept. Beyond student assignments, students can also create avatars and pretend to be a historical character or a book character to explore and develop new meanings. ICTs can also give students a voice by creating youtube videos about a topic of interest to them (such as environmental and political issues). The possibilities are endless! I wouldn’t be surprised if (in a few years time) students are making their own apps as a school assignment!

Below is a youtube link to a TV show called, Primary ICT Series which has an ICT expert go into schools and assess teachers use of ICT in their lessons. The reason why I have linked it is because the first minute summarises exactly how I want to use to ICT my classroom.

She highlights that using ICT should not replace current practices such as the paper and pencil method, it should enhance the students learning and take them further than using the paper and pencil method.

I think as educators this is something that we really need to be reflecting on when using ICT in the classroom and assessing how best to enhance the learning of our students and maximise their potential.

.