Reflecting on the ups and downs of integrating ICTs

So after reading Nadyne’s post about what she is learning from using ICTs I thought I too would use this medium to help me nut out my ups and downs that I have had with ICTs over the past couple of weeks. Hopefully, it will also help me to get my ideas together for Part D of our assignment.

ICT experiences that worked well:

  • Mobile phones! I never thought I would say it but I found mobile phones in the classroom came in handy… Firstly, when a student is away and they miss some of the content, they can use their phone to take a photo of another student’s notes. This save time copying out notes and is authentic integration – it seems like the most natural thing to do for these students – the thought of copying the notes out by hand just seems like punishment for being sick.
  • Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) – this seems to work really well in my school. There are strict rules around having devices shut down during direct teaching time; however, it gives students the chance to type their notes, google answers to questions that might come up, access lectures and powerpoint to save taking notes at all, etc.
  • Saving resources – there is a lot less need for photocopying and handouts when teachers can make digital copies available on the google site for the students to access.
  • YouTube! I love YouTube! We are looking at Poetry / Song Lyrics in Year 11 / Year 12 and Media in Year 10 and having access to various digital media, poetry skits, music clips, etc increases the students engagement in the topic so much more.
  • Classroom 70 inch TV – My school has removed all their interactive whiteboards and replaced them with large flat screen TVs. They are so good. No problems with calibration here! lol They are so clear and easy to view by all students – much better than 20 odd students all gathering around a little box TV like we used to 🙂

ICT experiences that didn’t go so well…

  • Discussion forum – I tried to use a discussion forum and through that the students would pick it up really easily because they are so ICT proficient but it went pretty poorly. I should have modeled how to use the ICT first and remind students of the rules of etiquette. It also was poorly constructed with too many questions to respond to in one thread – rather than one issue per thread – I have four complex reasoning tasks in one thread :/
  • Technology failure! Our internet completely crashed (school-wide) about 10 minutes into one of my lessons. The entire lesson revolved around the students watching a media clip on YouTube and then completing activities that responded to this clip. The internet crashed just as I was uploading the clip. I thought I had made backup plans like having my powerpoint as back up on USB but no alternative for the internet failing.

What I have learnt…

  • Scaffolding is not only needed for content but also for ICTs.
  • Back up plan – have a back up for EVERYTHING!
  • Make slides available on the classes Google site so the students can access them easily.
  • Remember that people will WRITE things in discussion forums that they would not ordinarily SAY in classroom discussions – establish rules and consequences prior to engagement in online discussion forums.
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BYOD used well

After reading Amy’s post about students playing with their devices while they are supposed to be listening to their teacher, it made me reflect on my school’s Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) policy and how it works well in the classrooms I have observed. When I was teacher aiding I would often witness students using ICTs inappropriately during direct teaching time but in the school I am currently completing my professional experience in, students are almost always only using their devices for purposeful learning. I think it has to do with an extremely effective whole of school approach to learning and behaviour management. For example, students (school-wide) understand when they enter a classroom, they must stand quietly behind their chair until being invited to sit down. This same school-wide policy about the use of personal devices is adhered to by the teachers and students alike. Students are welcome to use their mobile phones, iPads, laptops, etc in class; however, they must be sitting on the desk with a dark screen (or closed for a laptop) until the teacher invites students to use it. I have had the luxury of observing 4 different teachers in my school (my mentor is a HOD so he has lots of spares that I choose to fill in other classes) and have noticed a lot of commonalities among the classrooms and the management styles. I have never seen a school-wide classroom / behaviour management system implemented so well!

Frameworks and theories

Ok, so in the learning path forum which requested that we consider what we know about the theories and frameworks taught throughout the course, I think I failed miserably with properly identifying how some of them and how they can help with my planning and teaching using ICTs. Thankfully, I am not the only one who has been working over this process and with the guidance of a few of my peers, I have a much greater understanding of the frameworks. Nadyne, for example, shared a great Bloom’s Taxonomy resource and Mel made me realise that the SAMR model will benefit my reflection and improve the quality of authentic technology integration into future classes. Furthermore, Lynette’s thorough coverage of the frameworks has given me something to work on as I commence writing Part B of Assignment 3 today and also refreshed my memory of the CLEM framework which can be used to aid in my learning of new technologies such as the Google Suite which is utilised heavily by the school I am about to commence prac at. Oh my goodness, thank God for Diigo – these little beauties are all going to be saved so I can refer back to them over the next couple of days!

The countdown begins…

ONLY 5 MORE SLEEPS!!!! Ok, I now I am really beginning to stress out about prac and all the impending planning so I have started searching the internet for ideas. I am lucky in that my mentor has given me a class and unit to work on – it is Year 10 English – Media Representations. Thanks to the ICTs I was been introduced to through this course, I feel that my research and planning skills have been greatly enhanced and I just thought I would share my early planning strategy with everyone…

I have gone into the Australian Curriculum and clicked on the Year 10 English descriptors relevant to my media unit, then accessed the relevant Scootle resources which are linked to the elaborations. I then saved any that I think might be good into my diigo account. I figure that way, when I have to actually start planning specific lessons, I won’t have to do half as much research.

I hope others might find this an effective way to research and save lesson planning ideas in the lead up to prac. Good luck 🙂

First impressions…

So, it looks like there are a few of us who are doing their first day of prac this week to make up for the public holiday at the beginning of next term. Like Michelle and Sara, I too had my first day of prac this week and thought that I would share my impressions of the context and learning environment. Firstly, there is technology galore! They have a cinema screen in the school lecture hall with staged seating for viewing (the Year 11 class was using it for their To Kill a Mockingbird study where they are comparing the novel with the film), most of the kids have their own private laptops and iPads, and my mentor has just upgraded from an IWB to a newer TV type thing (I’ll make sure I find out the technical name for that as soon as I return). I have also been given the option to choose a grade and unit that I want to teach. I selected the Year 9 media unit. The students have just started it this week and have begun looking at the structure and purpose of print-based news sources – i.e, newspapers – so first lesson back I will be covering the structure of an online news article and the different online formats that news comes in. This will give us an opportunity to look at resources such as twitter, news.com.au, and iPad news apps. I just need to work out what teaching strategies I will use to do this J. Furthermore, it is a co-educational school and there seems to be a fair balance of boys and girls; however, I did observe a group of boys sitting up the back who seemed to be feeding off each other clowning around. I am thinking I might need to subtly and strategically mix them up during some of the collaborative activities to ensure they are working productively… maybe, they might surprise me 🙂

I am grateful!

As the day winds on, and I spend yet another hour or two sitting in front I my computer working on the endless essays that confront me this term, I am sooooo grateful for digital technology! I am grateful that, at the click of a button, I can have thousands of relevant, peer-reviewed, journal articles at my finger tips via the USQ Library. I am grateful that I can use Facebook groups to get instant feedback from peers about my ideas and concerns for an assessment. I am grateful that I don’t have to write everything by hand and that word processors make typing and editing assignments so much more effective and efficient.

So this is a super cliche post but I am having one of those days working on a super frustrating English Literature critical essay and truly am super grateful to have some much information available to me without having to leave my home.

Google suite

My prac placement was confirmed yesterday, it was such a relief to have my preferred school approved. This morning I was able to meet the site coordinator to discuss some of the basics of beginning prac. Here is what I have worked out so far…

  • I will start on 18 Sept (my make-up day for the Labour Day holiday)
  • I have met my mentor
  • Had a tour of the school
  • Learnt the sign-in and out process
  • Found the parking area
  • Completed their OHS orientation
  • I will work from 8am – 4pm (classes run from 8.30am to 3pm), with a staff meeting on Monday afternoon until 5pm
  • Discovered that my school doesn’t have a pupil-free day (it is an independent school)

Wow, I am getting super excited!!!

I also discussed the ICT policy of the school and found out that they have a “bring your own devices” policy where students and staff bring their own laptops, iPad’s etc to login to the school’s domain. This is really exciting because computer access in my previous placements (state schools) have been very difficult. Also, the school uses the Google Suite (i.e. Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Slides, etc) as a standard suite in all classes and my school login (on my own personal computer) will give me access to my classes. I am not overly familiar with this software so it will probably be a big learning curve but I am glad I know in advance so I can start brushing up on my skills.

Getting to know your students

Thank you Nadyne for sharing a very interesting blog post about What Makes a Parent Love a Teacher, I too think the free downloadable chart provided in this blog is a great way to get to know and develop relationships with our students. AND perfect timing for finding such a great resource as we are all about to begin our professional experience. I love that we will have one day to meet all of our students before we actually begin our 3 weeks of prac, I plan on using this document and a print out of the role (with photographs) to try and remember as many of the students in my class as possible. If others would like to read more on Nadyne’s blog, you can find her post here.

Googling myself

Ok, so I thought I would look for my digital footprint online by Googling my name, “Sara Rogers”. The google images search came up with photos from athletes to lingerie clad pole-dancers! Fortunately, there were no actual photos of me… which is fairly surprising considering I have one on this blog. I guess, had I have scrolled far enough through the pages something may have come up but the first page was entertaining enough for the purposes of this task. Next, on the web there was a wardrobe consultant, photographer, stripper, and trend specialist, but again, no sign of me. YAY! Next I googled “Sara Rogers Facebook” and much to my surprise, my profile still remain absent. I have never done this kind of search before but I am super glad that I did. It looks like I have successfully made by digital footprint rather scarce – as long as no one confuses me for one of the other Sara Rogers listed on the net 😉

Take this lollipop!

OMG! I have followed the steps on StudyDesk which led me to this page that dares me to take the lollipop and connect with facebook. It is completely legit but super scary to think about what could happen if your facebook page got into the wrong hands! My heart is still racing! I think this would really engage our students in understanding cybersafety… if only Facebook wasn’t blocked on school computers :/