A pre-service teacher's journey to solve the ICT + Pedagogy equation

Making the most out of what you have — June 12, 2015

Making the most out of what you have

As I first familiarised myself with my Professional Experience context, I noticed that there were only half a dozen computers and 4-5 iPads, in addition to the Interactive Whiteboard, available within the classroom. Being a small school, this is definitely something that can be worked around considering the class consisted of 17 students, however there was a time there where I thought “but what if all students need to be completing the same task on the computers at the same time? Surely there’s no real way around that!” Well, I was wrong. One thing I really learnt during this placement was making the most of what you have. And in terms of ICTs, this is exactly what is done on a daily basis at the school.

My mentor has worked very hard and the class is now set in a routine for Literacy Groups that is scheduled twice a week. While one group engaged in Guided Reading, another would be completing their Soundwaves books. Then there were the ICT users logging on to Reading Eggs, whilst another group would watch a spelling video on the Interactive Whiteboard. Of course this followed with them all swapping after 45 minutes. I gained a lot out of simply seeing this rotational activity in action. The transitioning of this session alone was effective and the students were really engaged in the ICTs they were using because they were well aware of what they had to do.

I am now really interested to learn more about how schools make the most of their ICTs!

– Kristie

Time-Poor Uni Student, Time-Poor Teacher —

Time-Poor Uni Student, Time-Poor Teacher

Logging into WordPress today has given me a sense of relief to see that it isn’t just me who is drowning in assignments after three wonderful (yet exhausting) weeks of prac. Rachel describes this as ‘a million and 10 things to do’ and I couldn’t agree more. While I always have good intentions to have assessment completed in advance, the full time uni life certainly tests you when you have other commitments as well.

After a quick Google search, I found an excellent document (found here) that provides 10 strategies for time management. The document mentions the use of a planning tool and writes how this assists in improving productivity, if used consistently. For me, my planning tool is my iPhone as it is nearly the only thing I have on hand majority of the time. Whenever I think of something I need to do, I add it to Notes.

I believe that the use of a planning tool will not only be advantageous as a uni student, but a teacher as well. My mentor on my previous Professional Experience placement used Sticky Notes on their computer to jot down things as a to-do list, as soon as the task was brought to their attention. I saw how effective this was and thought to myself – “yet another ICT used to increase efficiency of work!”  I am sure there are so many more ICT planning tools used in classrooms to help time-poor teachers get by! Do you know of any?

– Kristie

The Start of Another HUGE Learning Curve! — May 12, 2015

The Start of Another HUGE Learning Curve!

Today I met my mentor and the staff at the school I will be completing my Professional Experience placement. I am now even more excited to begin my prac and I definitely feel that I have a huge challenge ahead of me. I will be teaching in a small school where there are 33 students in total and the class I am in has students from Year 2-6!!! Yep that’s right, five grades in the one classroom. Although I was slightly made aware today, I am very intrigued about how this operates and how the teacher manages to cater for every individual in the classroom. Does ICT assist in this differentiation? I will keep you posted!

I was very relieved to hear that students are using educational ICTs in the classroom, including Studyladder and Reading Eggs. I have heard so much about these resources but have never had the opportunity to see these in use firsthand so I am definitely looking forward to this aspect of my placement aswell.

I am sure this is only the beginning of another huge learning curve! Looking forward to hearing about everyone else’s prac prep and experiences 🙂

– Kristie

Success in the Classroom — April 30, 2015

Success in the Classroom

After reading Amy’s post on measuring success, I was left with her question “how do you measure success in the classroom?” Amy breaks up success into two categories – academic and personal. I think this is a great way to scaffold and respond to an issue of such broad nature! This got me thinking and I consider success in the classroom very similarly, whether it be the success of myself as the educator or the students as learners.

Whilst teaching a lesson, I look around the classroom to gauge the interest of students as I believe this factor is key to success. When I can tell students are not interested in what is being taught, it is obvious success levels are going to crash and burn. The verbal feedback received from students at the end of the lesson also helps me to measure the success of my lesson as the honesty of children certainly isn’t lacking! It is almost guaranteed that they will tell you if they didn’t enjoy something. If students can finish a lesson I have taught with a smile on their face, to me this screams success.

Additionally, I determine success through formative assessment and simple teaching strategies such as walking around the room to check if students understand the task. From understanding comes achievement and I think this is another integral component of measuring success. I’m sure we have all witnessed the excitement of receiving a good grade and what a sweet taste of victory that is!

Currently completing the ICT and Pedagogy course has me forever asking myself “where do ICTs fit in all of this?” ICTs provide many avenues to success through their provision of resourceful information, engaging stimuli and multiple different methods for content delivery. They are also largely beneficial in helping us collect and consolidate data to efficiently measure the success of our students. This link provides some great tips for setting your classroom up for success, with some clever pointers on ICT integration! Head over and take a look 🙂

– Kristie

Prioritising Technology Integration over Technology Use — April 29, 2015

Prioritising Technology Integration over Technology Use

After completing course content for nine weeks now, there is a message screaming at me loud and clear – ICTs must be integrated purposefully in the classroom. While I have already previously blogged about this, I feel the need to expand on it a little more. This has been at the back of my mind the whole time I have been working on the second assignment, however I still find myself guilty of incorporating ICTs for the simple purposes of research, typing up a document or presenting a powerpoint, due to my own experiences with technology in the classroom. Haylea emphasises this in her blog, found here, where she says that she also found herself forgetting to incorporate ICTs in her unit and when she decided to, initially it was a mere replacement for pen and paper, rather than a purposeful integration. I know how easy this is to do as I continue to forget that ICT can now replace, amplify and transform traditional learning experiences, of which very much differ to how I learnt at school.

During last week’s learning path, we were exposed to a table by Aditi Rao that explicitly describes key distinctions between using ICTs and purposefully incorporating ICTs. I have found this comparison extremely beneficial as I see this as the difference between how I learnt/how I picture ICTs in the classroom (Using ICTs) to how ICT SHOULD BE implemented in today’s classroom in a meaningful way (Technology Integration). It is obvious by looking at this table that technology integration has a lot more positive outcomes than simply using ICTs, and therefore I will definitely be using this as a point of reference throughout the completion of my unit plan!

– Kristie

Assessment using ICTs — April 28, 2015

Assessment using ICTs

While I work away on my unit plan, I continue to reflect on what I have done to ensure I complete the task effectively. Right now, my biggest concern is the summative assessment piece that students will work towards during my unit. The Week 8 learning path revealed that our assessment doesn’t need to include ICTs and for a minute there, I was quite enticed to just say “students will create a poster”. But it wasn’t until I got to the next page of the Moodle book that I realised there are so many more benefits to completing assessments using ICTs. A big one being that students are provided that extra challenge to showcase a variety of their abilities in the one assessment item. Providing an assessment task that is authentic can also be achieved using ICTs as the online environment opens up many possibilities for various different audiences, other than class members and school staff, and links the classroom to the real world. 

Due to the above, my focus for my summative assessment of the unit has now transferred to students using ICTs to produce something in a multimodal form in which they post up to the class blog where parents and other members of the community can view it. As the criteria I have chosen asks for students to respond to a communal issue, I think the need for online access is even more significant. This progression of ideas has just proven to me how important reflection is as a pre-service teacher. 

I find it astounding how ICTs are now used for assessment – both formative and summative. Here is a blog by a teacher who uses the app Plickers to complete formative assessment in her classroom. Take a read!

– Kristie

Are games appropriate in education? — April 27, 2015

Are games appropriate in education?

So Week 9 of Semester 1 approaches us which means we only have one more week until our second assignment for ICT and Pedagogy is due! Scary. Within one of my learning experiences of the unit plan, I have incorporated an online game that students can gain and apply knowledge within the one platform. However, doing so raised a very contentious question – are games appropriate in education?

Many would argue that games are becoming an unhealthy consumption of student lives and children are becoming increasingly addicted. It is obvious that this is where a large interest of theirs lies. In education, one of our main goals is to engage students in their learning so that they are willing to reach academic success. With this said, wouldn’t it be wise to incorporate games in our everyday classrooms that underlie important subject area concepts to do this?

This article by Elena Malykhina mentions the educational version of the currently popular game Minecraft, called MinecraftEdu. Other interesting points of gaming in education are raised in this article – I suggest you take a read! MinecraftEdu is just one example of how a game can be adapted to the learning environment to teach mathematical concepts such as area, perimeter and probability. It can also be used to teach foreign language, all while the students think they are just playing a game! As teachers, it is our job to ensure students aren’t getting distracted by the gaming resource by reinforcing the learning that is occurring.

I believe that as long as games are implemented authentically and purposefully in the classroom, they can draw out some extraordinary advantages to student success. What are your thoughts?

– Kristie