My Personal Position on the use of technology in the classroom.

As this is my final subject of my Masters of Education, I reflect on how my personal position towards technology within the classroom has changed from my initial ideas in this area. One of the reasons I began my Masters was I was witnessing so many changes in education. I really wanted to remain current and my lack of IT skills had me very nervous.

Remaining current as a teacher, is an area where I have definitely changed my initial opinions. I’d see other teachers using IT within their classrooms and feel that was something that I needed to do also. This subject in particular has stressed however, that technology is a tool, one that must be chosen because it is the best tool for the job. Back in module one, Whitby (2012, ABC Future Tense audio) suggests that the central issue regarding technology in education shouldn’t be the technology itself (relating to the amount and type of technology being used) but the quality of the teaching and the quality of the learning. I believe we have learnt to look deeper than Prensky’s (2001) ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’ debate to understand that technology should not be used just because our students have been born within a technologically rich age. Bain & Weston (2012) actually state within their Faulty Assumptions about ICT and Schools that “increasing access and use of ICT has no effect on student achievement”(p.9). As I continued working through the modules and assignments within this subject, these ideas were further reiterated and this enhanced my opinion of technology within my own classroom.

Technology should not just be used in our classrooms for the simple sake of using it. It must, like any other tool at our perusal, assist in achieving our specific learning outcomes for our subject and be used to create meaningful learning experiences (Simmons & Hawkins, 2009,p.62). It is highly important to view technology on the basis of what it can achieve for our students. Again, is it the BEST tool for the job, or will more traditional materials, such as pen & paper, do exactly the same thing (and then one doesn’t have to worry about some of the technical problems, costs and management issues that can arise from using IT). Technology can be used to successfully integrate learning theories to achieve the best experiences for students (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p.46).ICT is the tool for successful teaching and learning, not the catalyst (Watson, 2001,p.264).

Bigum (2012) refers to an idea of ‘domestication’, where new technology is used in a familiar way. When I first went looking for software resources to use for assignment 1, I was initially turned off by eduCanon (which I actually decided to go with) and I was turned off for this very reason. I felt the resource did ‘domesticate’ – as I was using technology to do something that was familiar (the viewing of a youtube video). Although the program allowed me to provide focus questions, overall, I felt that it really didn’t allow for much extension of students. However, I decided it was a resource that is a little different & students may initially engage with it. This experience of critically evaluating why I was using the resource, I found very helpful in establishing my own guidelines for choosing, out of the enormous range of software available, what would be most successful for my own classroom. This is a skill that I will take with me to use in future considerations.

Another important aspect that has changed my personal position about using technology is that I need to allow myself the opportunity to discover it. Research suggests the importance of professional development opportunities for teachers in providing them with the confidence to use technology within their classrooms (Rackley & Viruru, 2014, pg. 2603). One thing I have discovered however, especially from the assignments within this subject, is that having the opportunity to find and play with various software applications can be a highly effective way to gain skills in technology. I can not expect myself to be an expert, and I have discovered I do not need to be one. I can create effective lessons where both myself and my students are learning together (Chai, Lim & Pek, 2005, p.393).

Overall, as I complete this subject, and my Masters, I am excited by how my attitude towards using technology in my classroom has changed. I feel energised and confident to try new software and strategies, as well as equipped to evaluate why I’m using it, and I believe this will enhance my lessons tremendously.

References

The ABC. (2012). 21st century education. Future Tense. Retrieved 25 November, 2014, from                 http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/resources_teach/framework_teach/docs/9principles.pdf

Bain, A. & Weston, M.E. (2012). The Learning Edge. New York: Teachers College Press.

Bigum, C. (2012). Schools and Computers: Tales of a Digital Romance. Transformative Approaches to       New Technologies and Student Diversity in Futures Oriented Classrooms. L. Rowan and C. Bigum, Springer Netherlands: 15-28.

Chai, C., Lim, C., & Pek, M. (2005) Classroom management issues in information and communication technology (ICT)-mediated learning environments: back to the basics. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia. 14(4) p391.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.

Rackley, R., & Viruru, R. (2014, March). Preparing Teachers for the BYOD Classroom. In Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (Vol. 2014, No. 1,       pp. 2608-2613).

Roblyer, M.D & Doering, A.H. (2013) Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th ed). Pearson: Boston.

Simmons, C., & Hawkins, C. (2009). Planning to teach an ICT lesson. In Teaching ICT (pp. 54-105). London ; Sage Publications Ltd.

Watson, D.M. (2001). Pedagogy before Technology: Rethinking the Relationship between ICR and Teaching. Education and Information Technologies, 6(4), 251-266

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Classroom Behaviour Management and Technology

classroom-management-02

To better manage all these behaviours, this teacher best get off her butt!!

Within the article by Chai, Lim & Pek (2005) there are three of the 5 elements that I can easily incorporate into my own lessons. The element regarding technical assistance and support, I am lucky that I do not need to worry about this at my particular school as we have fantastic IT support staff that can be utilised at any time during the lesson.

Supporting Activities for ICT tools

I believe the suggestion of providing step by step printed instruction sheets is a helpful idea and one that I could easily utilise for the lessons I am designing for the second assignment. By providing scaffolds, some students will be able to work independently, freeing the teacher up to focus on the less able students. Students will also be able to revise these insturctions if they are retained in their workbooks. I could see an extenstion of this within my own classroom and that is also providing a demo portfolio for students to see. Therefore they have an idea of the direction they are heading and also the expectations regarding their work.

Role of Teacher

The article refers to a ‘guide on the side’. By setting up learning experiences where students can work at their own pace and ask for assistance if required, works in the majority of art lessons and IT based lessons could be of no exception. Having the teacher freed up so they can be actively circling the room, I find successful for general classroom management.

Establishment of Rules and Procedures

The idea of routines expressed in the article I believe is of prime importance. At the moment (new year, new classes) I am busy setting up routines, especially entry procedures as this is the first step of a successful lesson. Getting students to bring their iPads into the classroom but then not open them up and play games while I am giving instructions is a challenge I’m currently dealing with and having to come up with some creative strategies to counteract.

In regards to the second article, Laffey, Espinosa, Moore & Lodree (2003) refer to a study of primary aged children with behaviour difficulties in a lower socio-economic area of the US. Although this study discusses the implementation of a mathematics program where students are removed or ‘pulled out’ of class to participate, there are some suggestions that could be utilised within any classroom, (any age, stage or subject).

What stood out for me from the article was the reference made that the learning experiences chosen for the students provided opportunity for self regulation, engagement and were selected to both scaffold the students’ behaviour and academic performances (Laffey et. al, 2003, p.428). Even in my senior art classrooms, I still have to remind my students how to behave in certain situations, regardless of whether we are using technology or whether it is a practical lesson. I have a number of expectations (which are in the form of posters) hanging around the room that I use as quick reminders for students who are off task.

The idea of self regulation discussed can be related to the lessons I have been working on for my second assignment. I have been designing lessons around students creating a digital portfolio of work. Digital portfolios have been found to create learning environments that provide choice, self-regulation, exploration, discovery and introspection (Saul, 2011, p.136). So in a way this is similar to the ideas expressed regarding the mathematics lessons within this reading.

Another point brought up in this article was the idea that the software selected is appropriate for the individual student (Laffey et. al, 2003, p.433). This is a good reminder for teachers that we need to try IT first, (button bash as Jacqui would suggest) and find out if it will work for our students. If our students are bored, disinterested or simply can not utilise the IT we are providing, there will be more scope for disruptive behaviour to occur.

References

Chai, C., Lim, C., & Pek, M. (2005) Classroom management issues in information and communication technology (ICT)-mediated learning environments: back to the basics. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia. 14(4) p391.

Laffey, J. M., Espinosa, L., Moore, J., & Lodree, A. (2003). Supporting Learning and Behavior of At-Risk Young Children: Computers in Urban Education. Journal Of Research On Technology In Education, 35(4), 423.

Saul, M. B. (2011). Utilizing ungraded portfolios for evaluation in fine arts (Order No. NS23027). Retrieved from: http://search.proquest.com/docview/1515695486?accountid=10344

Planning, conducting and assessing technology lessons

'I need five weekly lesson plan books. Not only do I tend to overplan, but I feel more comfortable with contingency plans.'The outcomes that I am looking at for my Assignment 2 lessons are NSW Visual Arts Syllabus outcomes:

4.1: uses a range of strategies to explore different art making conventions and procedures to make artworks

4.6: Selects different materials and different techniques to make art

I am using the software application Evernote to have year 8 students create a digital portfolio of their art work. The lessons that I have designed will see students complete a range of works, using different techniques and materials, based on landscapes and what they learn about Impressionism. The creation of a digital portfolio should really assist me in assessment (one of the reasons I’d like to have my students create them). It means that I can assess students from home without taking large amounts of work home with me but I think it’ll also have other benefits including tracking down who owns pieces of work (year 8 boys are notorious for not putting their names on their artworks & this can make assessment extremely tedious). Having work photographed and saved to their individual portfolios will also assist if works are lost.

I found the Assessment page of the Digital Revolution’s website (http://lrrpublic.cli.det.nsw.edu.au/lrrSecure/Sites/Web/assess_approach/) was really helpful in considering some additional ways I could have students self and peer assess these portfolios. One of the benefits of using Evernote is the ease in being able to share the portfolios with others and so it would be very easy to ‘swap’ portfolios so that students could view and assess their peers. Students will use their digital portfolio as an extension of their own Visual Diaries and so the skills of self reflection will be used when they comment on the successes and weaknesses of their works. The link to Rubistar (http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php ) was also really helpful and will make creating rubrics for classes a little simpler.

 

Advice on Planning lessons

In regards to advice that I can give regarding the planning of lessons is echoed in Simmons & Hawkins (2009) article. They mention early in the article that a teacher should go into the classroom with a back up task/lesson in case the technology fails (p.55). This is a very important part of planning a technology lesson – so many times I’ve been caught out when I haven’t done this and it makes for a very long lesson. I also tend to ‘overplan’ lessons. Seldom do I actually get through everything that I have planned but this is a good thing. If I have a student who requires extension work, the rest of the lesson is there for them to continue on with. It also makes for a cohesive continuation in the lesson sequence – the next lesson begins with what I didn’t get completed and I think its beneficial for students to have this as it often allows for revision and reflection.

References

Simmons, C., & Hawkins, C. (2009). Planning to teach an ICT lesson. In Teaching ICT (pp. 54-105). London ; Sage Publications Ltd.

Collaborative Learning & Assignment 2 – Starting to get that Frazzled Feeling

According to Laurillard (2009) the benefits of collaborative learning is “that learners have to share and discuss the actions they take, and the products they make, in the practice environment.” She goes on to say that collaborative learning enables focus to student discussion, “enables them to learn from and build on the outputs of their peers, and to share their reflections and interpretations of what happened within their practice”(p.10). As I start planning Assignment 2, these are the types of learning experiences that I want my students to gain from the technology I decide to use. Note the term – decide to use…..Yes, again I’m at the stage where there is so much that I want to use for the assignment but I know I can’t use them all and I need to narrow down my ideas. The theme for the lessons will be Impressionism as I hope to use them in my year 8 class during term1. Some ideas I am currently considering:

A webquest that provides an introduction for students to Impressionism (used so students are directed to certain websites and works for discussion)

Photo App – so students can simply change a photograph they take into an Impressionist like scene – this would be used as the inspiration for an actual painting students would complete.

Wordfoto App – students import their Impressionist photo & use descriptive language to link the features they see in their photo to what they know about Impressionism.

Edmodo – a place to share. All tasks will be shared on the class Edmodo page to enable discussion.

As you can see – a few ideas? I’m not quite sure whether I’m trying to do too much and whether what I am planning is actually really extending the student’s learning experiences. Any thoughts would be great 🙂

References

Laurillard, D. (2009). The pedagogical challenges to collaborative technologies. International Journal Of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning,4(1), 5-20. doi:10.1007/s11412-008-9056-2

Collaborative Learning

groups

This article by Luckin (2009) et.al. discusses some of the issues involved in using collaborative learning processes in the classroom. According to the article some of the challenges that were often experienced by teachers who created group work experiences were:

*students being off task through ‘small talk’

* not all group members offering ideas

* conflicts between individual group members.

The article discusses the differences between cooperative and collaborative learning and suggests that cooperative learning be considered the starting point of successful collaborative learning (p.8). The author of this chapter advises that teaching students highly structured skills     in terms of group formation, interaction procedure and outcomes of activity, provides a good foundation for collaborative learning. As the students mature in their practice of engaging in group work, the structures can be gradually removed (p.8). The reading reports the benefits of students gaining skills in cooperative learning and suggests that less structured groups achieve the highest level of knowledge advancement.

Vygotsky is also discussed. Lev Vygotsky incorporated the social aspect to learning. He proposed that the cognitive processes begin with social interactions which children can internalize and use independently once they have processed them. Bodrova & Leong (1996) wrote that what a child does with assistance today is what a child will do independently tomorrow (p.35). Modelling lies at the core of this learning theory and collaborative learning provides the opportunity for students to learn through assistance and modelling from peers. As Luckin (2009) et. al refers, collaborative learning is a strategy that can successfully cater to a diverse range of learners (p.14).

Overall, this article stresses that we can not merely expect our students to be able to work collaboratively. Like many things, regardless of their age or stage, teachers are required to put in foundations and teach the skills required to foster successful cooperative learning practices within their classrooms. In my classroom I can see how I would need to create my own foundations for group work in art, which may be different to how the students complete group work in other subjects.

References

Bodrova, E., & Leong, D. J. (1996). Defining the zone of proximal development. In Tools of the mind : the Vygotskian approach to early childhood education (pp. 35-41). Englewood Cliffs, N. J. : Merrill.

Luckin, R., Clark, W., Logan, K., Graber, R., Oliver, M. and Mee, A. (2009). Do Web 2.0 tools really open the door to learning: practices, perceptions and profiles of 11-16 year old learners. Learning, Media and Technology, 34: 2.

Teaching them to be safe & be good digital citizens

Screenshot digital citizenship

Digital Education Revolution Digital Citizenship website:

The school I work in uses our learning to learn program which is offered to our boys in years 7 & 8 as a place where digital citizenship and safety is learnt about. Students have had visits from the police liason officer throughout the year regarding how they can safeguard themselves when it comes to accessing and posting information. The digital revolution’s nsw digital citizenship website (http://www.digitalcitizenship.nsw.edu.au/index.html) is a good place for students to gain some interactive lessons on how to act appropriately within a digital world. Even when I use Edmodo in the classroom, I have to remind students how to act appropriately when they comment so that anything that may offend others has been carefully considered. Edmodo is a good place for younger students to learn online etiquette, as ultimately, as the teacher I can view what is being posted and if needed, remove comments and take further action against students who are not behaving themselves. I believe its very important that students know how serious cyber bullying can be and how serious the consequences, but I do think students are really beginning to understand this. I know at our school any online bullying is taken extremely seriously. Having the police visit the students was great as they were able to discuss the legalities involved with some of the things students see, access and share digitally & it helps to reinforce what the school needs to do to keep our students safe and happy.

Using 2.0 tools & social media in my lesson plans

I started using Edmodo (although sparingly) in my classes last year. I found it was a great way to get students to share works they had found during class tasks and provide comments and discussion. I would really like to continue using Edmodo this year and increase the amount of time I use it, especially in my junior classes. So I plan to refer to this within Assignment 2. I haven’t fully settled on the other technologies that I will be using in Assignment 2. I have always wanted to create my own webquest and think this may be another web 2.0 tool that I could incorporate into these lessons. My year 8s begin the year with an Impressionist and Landscape unit so I will be using this as my overall theme for my lessons.

Every time that internet resources are used within my class I find students are easily distracted. The boys have this idea that using the internet means playing game apps whenever Mrs Taylor’s back is turned. How playing-games_Apple-iPad3to fully change this, I really don’t know how…..(I always have to hand out a couple of demerits, which always puts a dampner what could be a great lesson). How do you cope with these distractions in the classroom?

Looking at Article: Schools & Computers: Tales of a Digital Romance by C. Bigum (2012)

Mentioned in the introduction of this article is the comments made by Google CEO Eric Schmidt that the world produces more information every two days that has been produced in total from the origins of humankind to 2003 – 5 exabytes every 2 days! That’s just amazing, but makes me wonder – how can we ever keep up?

In the article, Bigum refers to his idea of ‘domestication’ where new technology is used in a familiar way. This relates to how the technology can be part of the normal classroom routine and where new technology is used by schools in old/familiar ways. When I first went looking for software resources to use for assignment 1, I was initially turned off by eduCanon (which I actually decided to go with) and I was turned off for this very reason. I felt the resource did ‘domesticate’ – it did feel a bit like I was using technology just to do something that was old and familiar. Yes, it does make a youtube video appear more ‘educational’ by providing focus questions, but overall, I felt that it really didn’t allow for much extension of students, particularly the free version. However, it is a resource that is a little different & students may initially engage with it. It just probably wouldn’t be something I would use all the time. It also raises the question, does ICT always have to provide something new to be a positive addition to the classroom?

Bigum, C. (2012). Schools and Computers: Tales of a Digital Romance. Transformative Approaches to New Technologies and Student Diversity in Futures Oriented Classrooms. L. Rowan and C. Bigum, Springer Netherlands: 15-28.

 

Connections between Learning Theories and Assignment 1

So I’ve got back from my family’s Christmas break and its time to play catch up with some of these module responses. For my assignment, I chose to look at eduCanon (as a laptop resource) & PicCollage (as a iPad resource). The eduCanon resource allowed me to take a youtube clip & imbed focus questions into it (a bit like comprehension style questions). I thought of PicCollage as a way students could display their work & photographs, like a scrapbook or poster for others in the class.

Maddux (2001) et.al explains that many teachers will take an “eclectic approach” when it comes to taking approaches from each learning theory and this appears to be of no exception with these two software resources (pg.143). Roblyer and Doering (2013) believe that both directed instruction and constructivist strategies can be provide the most meaningful roles (p.35).

In terms of the Behaviourist theory the biggest consistency is probably the use of repetition in terms of the ideas regarding Visual arts which are repeated and referred to throughout these resources, however, the major inconsistency is there is no definite right or wrong answers, particularly in relation to the practical work with PicCollage. In Visual Arts it is imperative that students at this stage gain confidence to both discuss and create pieces of art and it is my personal belief, this can not occur when there is the risk of them getting it ‘wrong’. The laptop resource, eduCanon, does allow some right/wrong responses, similarily to any comprehension task. Another inconsistency is that students will not work on these tasks in isolation, due to my belief, which is further reiterated by Maddux (2001) et.al, as being not the most effective way to learn and can isolate students (p.130). It is highly important that students within a classroom environment learn to discuss the artworks of others and of their own so as to allow for concrete exercising of their acquired knowledge and also highlight the fact that they are part of a community. My role as a Visual Arts teacher is far from the behaviourist view of a teacher, I do not want my students to learn through rote learning methods but be able to construct their own views, opinions and more importantly, an appreciation for a range of artmaking.

In terms of the Cognitivist theory there is the consistency through the idea of a learning processes model and the ideas that learning is a journey and not an end result. This can be seen in the PicCollage activities which can become more advanced as the students continues through the activities. Consistencies can also be seen as some of the information relating to vocabulary and artworks is given to the students from the teacher, for which the student is then required to respond to. This can be seen in the eduCanon resource, where the information is chosen and set by the teacher for the students to complete.

In terms of the Constructivist Learning theory, these lessons emphasise the need to “make meaning by doing”(Harasim, (2012), p.14). As Visual Arts is a practical subject, it is inevitable that there will be opportunities for students to practically respond to the information they are being told about. In these software applications, the information that relate to the Visual Arts subject are further enhanced by the students ability to take that information and put it into practice – either through the making of their own practical work (PicCollage) or by the analysis of key art concepts (eduCanon). The teacher is the ‘facilitator’ and provides to the students appropriate modelling and guidance. This is important when completing the PicCollage tasks as I do not want students to merely copy the work of other artists, but show an understanding of how to use what they know about art by creating their own, original works. The students are required to be active participants and evaluate their progress & PicCollage allows the students to put many of their images together, side by side, to make this evaluation effective. Both these resources allow for students to gain further stimuli from their class peers by sharing the artworks and their ideas about these artworks using the Edmodo platform or through discussion with others. So, although there are elements found in these software applications from each learning theory, the way that I’d like to use them in my classroom is more grounded in Constructivist theories.

Harasim, L. (2012). Introduction to learning theory and technology. In Learning theory and online technology (pp. 1-14). New York, NY: Routledge.

Maddux, C.D., Johnson, D.L. & Willis, J. (2001). Technology and Theories of Learning. In Educational  Computing; Learning with Tomorrow’s Technologies (pp. 125-145) Allyn & Bacon: Boston.

Roblyer, M.D & Doering, A.H. (2013) Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th ed). Pearson: Boston.