Noelene Callaghan           

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My Blog

Increasing the Literacy of Stage 6 Students

Posted on March 23, 2016 at 1:50 AM

As teachers, we all spend a great amount of time teaching and reiterating the key concepts of literacy to our students. Regardless of the subject matter that we teach or the age or learning ability of our students, learning literacy is critical to brain development and overall educational success.


 

I have seen many primary teachers spend countless hours teaching young children components of literacy, key terminology and encourage them to practice those techniques over and over again until they are mastered. Such learning is necessary in order for our students to progress through the school stages and to possess the skillset that is necessary to learn the content learned in other KLA’s such as Maths, Science and PDHPE.

 


When students arrive in High School they have been drilled with reading and comprehension skills and can more than likely define every key literacy term including what a pronoun is. Unfortunately, much of this is lost throughout high school as there is very little space in the teaching timetable for students to solely learn literacy as its own subject area. Many teachers in various KLA’s (and in particularly, English) spend considerable time discussing the necessary literacy skills that are needed to complete particular class work tasks and assessment tasks.

 


With a huge emphasis now on NAPLAN tests, teachers are also studying the story behind the schools results and are working tirelessly to create and implement strategies that will assist their students beyond the national test and better prepare them for the HSC and future education.

 


As a stage 6 teacher, I have spent countless hours and lessons observing my students, asking them to write task after task in order to determine what literacy skills they need to work on. Within a matter of weeks, it was quite observable of what I needed to do to push my students from a band 4 to a band 5 or 6. And all they needed was to was be guided in a few key areas. I chose to do with some scaffolds that they could modify to suit their own personal needs.

 


Step 1.

I recorded all of the areas that all students in my class required assistance with. Even if there is just one student who doesn’t proofread their work, I still included this in my resources as I believe that all students would benefit from the skill. I then used Microsoft Powerpoint to create my Literacy Cards.

 

 



Step 2.

This is a really easy step, but just so long to complete. I simply printed enough of each Literacy Card for my 30 students (I chose a different colour paper for each literacy concept), laminated them all and cut them up.



Step 3.

I bought shower curtain rings from Bunnings (a Hardware store) for about $2 for a package of 8 rings. I simply hole punched the cards and inserted the ring. Now the cards are ready to be used by students.



 

My students are very positive about the cards and now ask me to provide them with the cards when they are working on their writing tasks (in particular, their extended responses and their reports). I have observed that my students are more conscientious of their work and are more determined to improve in their own writing each time they complete a task.



 

 

How to introduce Blended Learning into your classroom?

Posted on February 23, 2016 at 12:20 AM

There has been much debate lately of how much technology in the classroom is too much technology and at what point does it become unproductive. Unless students are only using technology and devices to play games, they will always learn something skillfully and/or cognitively.


As many schools move towards using Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) and putting an emphasis on using digital resources in the classroom, it is pivotal that Blended Learning pedagogies are used to maximise the learning of all students, and not those that are advantaged (technologically) outside of the classroom.


Blended learning is about effectively integrating ICTs into course design to enhance the teaching and learning experiences for students and teachers by enabling them to engage in ways that would not normally be available or effective in their usual environment. Using Blended Learning simply means that a range of resources are used to complete one task. The resources can range from laminated handouts, to using digital cameras to take photos of tasks to using the Internet to search for and create information.


Blended learning offers many advantages to schools. It can provide more flexible access to programs, increase the amount of in-class participation, enhance students’ sense of connectedness, and potentially be more financially efficient. However in order for blended learning to be successful, schools need to provide appropriate technical support, teaching assistance, professional development, and pre-equipped learning and teaching spaces. Additionally, adequate workload allowance needs to be provided to teachers teaching in blended synchronous mode to account for the extra time commitment it requires during preparation.

 

Who is Blended Learning suitable for?

Blended Learning pedagogies are suitable for all students in all year groups regardless of KLA. By using a Blended Learning approach, all students are advantaged of developing their cognitive and behavioural skills. In many cases the act of “blending” achieves better student experiences and outcomes, and more efficient teaching and course management practices. It can involve a mix of delivery modes, teaching approaches and learning styles. This is due its flexibility of attaining goals of any level of Bloom’s Taxonomy meaning that all students benefit.

 

An example of a task that used Blended Learning pedagogies required year 9 students to use traditional resources that support digitalised learning. Once students read newspaper articles, they completed their analysis on their e-portfolio. All images that were taken of their work (their pen and paper sketches) were also uploaded on to their e-portfolio. Students completed short quizzes to reinforce key terms and also used multiple online tools to maximise their learning. In this instance, students worked in many groups (that changed for each task). More information about this task can be accessed at https://sites.google.com/site/minecraftrhhs/minecraft-incursion

 

How do I design Blended Learning?

Designing for blended learning requires a systematic approach, starting with:

 

Planning for integrating blended learning into your course,

  • What so students do when they are learning well in this subject?
  • What do they need to support this learning?
  • What learning and teaching activities would best support the students’ learning?
  • How might the students demonstrate their learning and achievements?
  • Designing and developing the blended learning elements;

 

Why do I want to develop it

  •  What do I want students to do? Is it compulsory?
  • How will it help students’ learning?
  • Why would a student be bothered to engage in the blended learning elements?
  • How will I know/measure if students have achieved the desired outcomes?
  • Implementing the blended learning design;
  • Do you feel competent in using these tools and in guiding your students in how to use them?

 

Have you noted what some of the common problems or difficulties may be for students in using the tools you have chosen

  • Have you prepared (or have sourced) student help guides or training activities in the use of the blended learning tools/technologies you have chosen?
  • How can you manage student expectations about learning in the blended environment you have designed?

 

Reviewing (evaluating) the effectiveness of your blended learning design, and finally;

  • When should I evaluate?
  • What should I evaluate? (pedagogies, resources, delivery strategies)
  • How should I evaluate?

 

Planning for the next delivery of your course then involves improving the blended learning experience for both staff and students.

 

What are the challenges of Blended Learning?

Although there are a plethora of advantages of using Blended Learning, it is worth noting that some students feel that blended learning has a negative impact on their experience and learning. This is due to the on the teacher’s role in successfully creating these environments. Teachers who are unable to manage students completing different tasks simultaneously could please more effort in one particular component than another which will reduce the effect of the blended learning activity.


Students’ technical skills and familiarity with the communication platform are also issues that warrant consideration before attempting to teach using blended synchronous learning approaches. This requires teachers to spend significant time to explain and model how to use such tools.


However, as for any use of technology in education, it is important to not attribute the success of the learning experience to the technology itself. The teacher and the quality of their pedagogical practice is the main determinant of the student experience. To that extent, teacher practice, development and support should be the primary focus of any blended learning initiatives.


How to introduce Blended Learning into your classroom?

Posted on November 8, 2015 at 4:40 PM

There has been much debate lately of how much technology in the classroom is too much technology and at what point does it become unproductive. Unless students are only using technology and devices to play games, they will always learn something skillfully and/or cognitively.


As many schools move towards using Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) and putting an emphasis on using digital resources in the classroom, it is pivotal that Blended Learning pedagogies are used to maximise the learning of all students, and not those that are advantaged (technologically) outside of the classroom.

 

Blended learning is about effectively integrating ICTs into course design to enhance the teaching and learning experiences for students and teachers by enabling them to engage in ways that would not normally be available or effective in their usual environment. Using Blended Learning simply means that a range of resources are used to complete one task. The resources can range from laminated handouts, to using digital cameras to take photos of tasks to using the Internet to search for and create information.

 

Blended learning offers many advantages to schools. It can provide more flexible access to programs, increase the amount of in-class participation, enhance students’ sense of connectedness, and potentially be more financially efficient. However in order for blended learning to be successful, schools need to provide appropriate technical support, teaching assistance, professional development, and pre-equipped learning and teaching spaces. Additionally, adequate workload allowance needs to be provided to teachers teaching in blended synchronous mode to account for the extra time commitment it requires during preparation.

 

Who is Blended Learning suitable for?

Blended Learning pedagogies are suitable for all students in all year groups regardless of KLA. By using a Blended Learning approach, all students are advantaged of developing their cognitive and behavioural skills. In many cases the act of “blending” achieves better student experiences and outcomes, and more efficient teaching and course management practices. It can involve a mix of delivery modes, teaching approaches and learning styles. This is due its flexibility of attaining goals of any level of Bloom’s Taxonomy meaning that all students benefit.

 

An example of a task that used Blended Learning pedagogies required year 9 students to use traditional resources that support digitalised learning. Once students read newspaper articles, they completed their analysis on their e-portfolio. All images that were taken of their work (their pen and paper sketches) were also uploaded on to their e-portfolio. Students completed short quizzes to reinforce key terms and also used multiple online tools to maximise their learning. In this instance, students worked in many groups (that changed for each task). More information about this task can be accessed at https://sites.google.com/site/minecraftrhhs/minecraft-incursion

 

How do I design Blended Learning?

Designing for blended learning requires a systematic approach, starting with:

 

1. Planning for integrating blended learning into your course,

 

  • What so students do when they are learning well in this subject?
  • What do they need to support this learning?
  • What learning and teaching activities would best support the students’ learning?
  • How might the students demonstrate their learning and achievements?

2. Designing and developing the blended learning elements;

 

 

  • Why do I want to develop it
  • What do I want students to do? Is it compulsory?
  • How will it help students’ learning?
  • Why would a student be bothered to engage in the blended learning elements?
  • How will I know/measure if students have achieved the desired outcomes?

3. Implementing the blended learning design;

 

 

  • Do you feel competent in using these tools and in guiding your students in how to use them?
  • Have you noted what some of the common problems or difficulties may be for students in using the tools you have chosen
  • Have you prepared (or have sourced) student help guides or training activities in the use of the blended learning tools/technologies you have chosen?
  • How can you manage student expectations about learning in the blended environment you have designed?

4. Reviewing (evaluating) the effectiveness of your blended learning design, and finally;

 

 

  • When should I evaluate?
  • What should I evaluate? (pedagogies, resources, delivery strategies)
  • How should I evaluate?

 

Planning for the next delivery of your course then involves improving the blended learning experience for both staff and students.

 

What are the challenges of Blended Learning?
Although there are a plethora of advantages of using Blended Learning, it is worth noting that some students feel that blended learning has a negative impact on their experience and learning. This is due to the on the teacher’s role in successfully creating these environments. Teachers who are unable to manage students completing different tasks simultaneously could please more effort in one particular component than another which will reduce the effect of the blended learning activity.

 

Students’ technical skills and familiarity with the communication platform are also issues that warrant consideration before attempting to teach using blended synchronous learning approaches. This requires teachers to spend significant time to explain and model how to use such tools.

 

 

However, as for any use of technology in education, it is important to not attribute the success of the learning experience to the technology itself. The teacher and the quality of their pedagogical practice is the main determinant of the student experience. To that extent, teacher practice, development and support should be the primary focus of any blended learning initiatives.


 

 

 

The Option to Expand - using Minecraft in the School

Posted on May 6, 2015 at 3:15 AM

It has been six months since the implementation of Minecraft and after showcasing the efforts of my students in terms of Mineclass and Minecraft Edu as well as those efforts by other Australian and New Zealand Mineclass participants, it is time to open both Minecraft based programs to all students within my school.

 

However, this is not as simple as making a general announcement during assembly asking students to come and see me if they are interested in participating. Opening up this program to the students at my school could actually create hysteria which must be planned for. The main issues that I face include 'space'. Where do I hold meetings for this group. I am anticipating that over 500 students will initially want to participate in the Minecraft club and trying to accommodate them in one area will be rather difficult. I know that this is not necessary, however, the overall goal for this is to have a student led group and in order to learn as much as I possibly can, I must immerse myself in the virtual space with them physically near me so I can develop my own thinking and understanding of what game play is taking place.


The other main issue that I have to overcome at my school is determining accessibility. Many students do not have internet access at home nor do they possess a windows based device. Students rely on free wifi access from the local library or businesses and many use Chromebooks which prevent students from downloading and installing applications. Creating an equitable environment is pivotal to the success of this at Rooty Hill High School.


Thus, with this in mind, I will move forward by communicating with teachers and students and together we will determine the most appropriate steps to proceed.

Why learning long-life skills is not 'important' but 'critical'?

Posted on October 18, 2014 at 5:55 AM

We all dream of teaching our students skills that they can refer too or use later in life, but rarely are we realistically able to do this. Fortunately, as a teacher of technology, my chances of students developing skills over a longer period of time and then utilising them after they graduate from secondary school is higher…..or so one would think.

 

Today, I entered a telephone communication store at the closest Westfields to purchase a new sim card, only to find that I was back into a classroom setting where staff and managers spent a considerable amount of time trouble shooting technical problems. Although the staff were very apologetic and worked tirelessly to assist me, it was clear that the skills that I was teaching in class wouldn’t be able to ‘save’ my students if they were ever employed by this organisation. We (and I mean, me) facilitate a classroom where students stay on task, create new and innovative pieces of work but rarely sit in front of a computer and try to work out what they are required to do autonomously. Students are guided, follow structured lessons that allow them to learn 21st century learning skills such as communication and collaboration, but are we teaching our students how to sink or swim in situations that require them to solve technological questions?

 

In a bid to determine this, I have spent the afternoon devising a unit of work that I intend to teach this term that will see students work in teams in competition with each other to solve technological problems. The focal point of the unit of work will be based on the learning that has been learned this year, however, students will be provided with all of the information and then be required to break away and complete the task. Although this may seem simple, it requires students to think outside of the box and consider numerous options before unanimously agreeing on a decision to solve the problem. This coupled with using a new platform, Google Docs, is intended to develop the skills of our younger students whilst increasing their overall digital literacies and basic computer skills. I will document findings after the lessons are taught and hopefully be able to identify patterns of growth by all students.

 

Showcasing Student's Abilities

Posted on October 17, 2014 at 6:40 PM

As teachers, we spend an equally amount of time discussing lesson content, the latest TV shows and much much more with our students. We often discuss in depth, the capabilities of our students and listen to what they are in fact completing outside of classtime. But, very rarely, are we able to share these experiences with fellow educators.


Please find below a Blog written by a year 8 student (who is 13 years old). He is incredibly intelligent and has a passion for technology that all teachers admire (and sometimes wish for in other students). He is part of a global collaboration experience specific to Minecraft and has now also taken the role of being my Mentor....


Hello Guys!


I am FD, more commonly know as “Fir3face”. I am currently an Admin/Staff manager for the SpacePrison server. It was not always this way, I used to be a regular player on multiple servers, but I found my way into the role of moderation and I love it. My role as an Admin is to moderate, I make sure everyone is obeying the rules, whether in chat or in game, and punish accordingly. As well as this, I also look after the owner and do any tasks he needs done. My role as a Staff manager is to make sure that all Staff are doing their jobs properly, this means punishing to the protocol and doing what they are required to do. I check applications for Staff and train any new members to our fantastic Staff team. So lets get to how I got to such a high role.

 

I started about 2 years ago, I was nothing important at that stage, I was bored and wanted to try out moderation, not taking it seriously. I hopped on a small developing server, which was called Lazurcraft. It had about 20 unique players on it but only about 2 were online at a time. I asked if the owner needed help and he asked me to send him a small application, just to make sure I wasn’t a threat to the server. I got accepted instantly and was given a basic mod role. As a person that likes to go above and beyond, I decided to start helping him do stuff to benefit the server and help it grow. I helped him advertise, build, create new ideas and do any personal tasks he wanted done. Soon after I was promoted to Admin, which wasn’t a big step considering I was already doing the roles of an Admin essentially. 2 weeks passed and I didn’t hear anything from the owner, I didn’t see him online and eventually the server shut down. I didn’t hear from him again.

 

During the time I was staff on Lazurcraft, I met another admin, he was really close friends with the owner of Lazurcraft and had his own server. I gave up on minecraft for 2 months, I didn’t necessarily find it appealing to use my time on it at that stage. I decided to go on the other admin’s server, called SirBombleCraft. I asked if he needed help and he denied me, he wasn’t very fond of me at the time. I played on his server a lot more until eventually he awarded me with builder. I worked my way up the ranks the same way I did before, until I reached the point of Head-Admin. I was greedy back then and I was frustrated that he only gave Owner to his family. I abruptly quit the server and never came back.

 

I soon realized how foolish I was, weeks later the server randomly reached popularity, it had over 300 unique players, but I gave up that opportunity sadly. I despised big youtubers, but I was bored one day so I watched a youtuber named “Deadlox”. He played on a server called ToxicMC, it was unique as it was the only server I had seen that had incorporated “overpowered items” to make grinding for things easier and less boring/frustrating. I didn’t join the server until a week later. I have been playing on this server for over a year now and it has undergone extreme changes.

 

I joined ToxicMC and at that point it only had one server. It had around 500 unique players from the day of its release thanks to Deadlox. The owner couldn’t keep up with all the players fitting on one server so he shut it down and turned the server into an expanding network with 4 servers and renamed it to the TemptingMC Network. I applied for Staff but my application never got read, the Staff manager at that time wasn’t the greatest. The network expanded to 6  servers, I was incredibly active on the server’s forums where I met and became close friends with some players. One of these players became a mod, he kind fully introduced me to the owner, but he was busy at that stage managing a network that had now expanded to 2k+ unique players. I was also introduced to the leader of the build team. A big event went down about 2 weeks later, the build team leader got in a fight with the owner and was demoted. The next leader was a mutual friend of one of my friend’s, we were in a call messing around and he asked if I was a good builder, I said no but he insisted that he tested me for the build team. He saw potential in me and made me a builder, this moment although seems small, was the reason I was able to climb the ladder, although it didn’t seem like it at the time. Weeks later I found out that my friend had depression and he suicided, this was a really hard time as I had known him over the internet for 6 months, but I pushed on and continued regularly building for the network. The build team leader became a mod, he was a moderator for 2 months. He was frustrated because he wanted a promotion but never received it. He made a network exactly like this one and took a lot of the builders with him. The owner was frustrated and legally threatened them for copyright issues. Their server was shut down and he was stripped of his moderator and build team leader roles. He was one of my really close friends as well, but if he wasn’t demoted, I wouldn’t have stepped up. I had been studying the configuration of minecraft servers and the new build team leader lacked this knowledge. He made me second in charge team leader. This stepped me up to a personal level with the owner, and after finally gaining his trust 2 months later, despite some hiccups, he gave me the role of moderator. The owner realized he didn’t require a build team, so he took down the build team and that left me as a mod. I was recording some videos with the owner, doing personal tasks and improving the server. Soon after I was promoted to Admin, but the server shut down a week later. The owner has been developing a new server closely along me and the other Staff. And that brings us to now, SpacePrison was released last week and I was given the role of Staff Management. And the most important thing about this is, minecraft isn’t just a game, minecraft has given me skills in management and moderation, an opportunity I wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for this game. It was a long rocky road, but I am now at a satisfied position in which I am willing to stay that way for the upcoming years.

 

Games can’t do anything for you unless you use them to their fullest potential

PBL approach perfect for app development lessons

Posted on October 5, 2014 at 2:25 AM

As the use of Project Based Learning takes a more substantial position in programs and in teaching and learning ICT in secondary schools, teachers are looking at new ways to deliver content.

 

Moreover, with imminent changes in the space of technology in the Australian Curriculum, secondary students are now being required to code and develop HTML. A fantastic way to address the teaching and learning of this skill pedagogically is by allowing your students to develop their own app. This activity is not solely limited to the technologies subjects but can be a great learning activity or assessment task for any KLA. All the student requires is an idea for their app.

 


Why is teaching app development important?

 

Mobile phones have become as important as our wallets and purses in everyday living, thus development in this area is occurring at a very fast pace. Mobile devices have become a tremendous source of entertainment, communication, and information and also jobs for millions of individuals globally. This is why teaching app development is important and relevant.

 

 

What’s a good way to approach teaching app development to high school students?

 

App and game development is a challenging topic, even for experienced software developers. Devices change rapidly and the technical differences between Apple IOS, Google Android and Microsoft Mobile are immense.

 

Using a Project Based Learning approach, much of the work that is necessary is done away from the computer. Like any great

project, planning is vital for the success of the app. There are six easy steps that teachers can follow to create a fantastic and engaging lesson when developing apps. It should be noted, that this will require a number of continuous lessons. Actual times are dependent on student ability and available resources of the school.

 

Step 1 – Project Planning

 

In all Project Based Learning (PBL) programs, planning is critical. Planning will direct the student and scaffold their level of understanding of the topic, whilst providing them with an approach that is realistic in terms of attaining their overall goals with the app that they will develop in a specific time. Creating a traditional Gantt Chart (using Excel or a Web 2.0 tool) with students is important, in order for them to understand the amount of work that they need to invest into their app. This will enable students to understand the design process as well as appropriately allocate sufficient time to deliver the app by its due date.

 

It is also recommended that the teacher has played with the app development software so they know each of the stages that are involved (technically) and what is required prior to building the app. For instance, some app development software may offer free versions but are limited as to how many screens the app delivers and the functionality and tools it allows the user to access.

 

Step 2 – Designing the app

 

In order to design the app, it is recommended that students have access to apps that are available on Play Store or iOS. Conducting compare and contrast activities will also enable students to understand the type of apps that are available and why each one performs unique tasks. Students can then begin designing the look of their app. This can be done traditionally (using pencil and paper) or using storyboard creators and even Adobe Photoshop. Students should attempt to create the look of every screen that users can use on the app.

 

Step 3 – Site Map it

 

Steps 2 and 3 are typically performed synchronously. It is best to design the look of each app screen and then work out where each link will lead to. This will also help the student understand the operation of their own app, whilst providing them with an opportunity to ascertain if their app is too adventurous to complete, time wise. This also provides students with the opportunity to name each of their app screens which will simplify the technical development side.

 

Step 4 – Creating content (textual)

 

Although this may appear as an obvious step, creating the text content is often forgotten about or at the bottom of the priority list for students (in comparison to designing the app). Creating the text is also quite difficult for students. It needs to be short, concise and accurate. If the text is directional, the user must be able to understand the instruction easily and quickly. ‘Think, Pair, Share’ and other collaborative activities are a good way to help students develop this. It is also a good idea to allow students to write the text beside links or on their plans/site maps so that they can visualise how the text will appear with background colours and image and video files.

 

Step 5 – Finding or creating content (images, videos and/or audio)

 

Regardless of whether students want to create their own imagery, video or audio or find existing resources, both can be a timely exercise. It is imperative to know the file formats that are accepted by the app software that you are intending to use. Should the student opt to seek visual content, they should be aware of copyright and informed that they should seek work that is licenced by Creative Commons (which permits the sharing of files).

 

Step 6 – Create the app online

There are many softwares available to be used in your school that you can download (some are free and some are paid) for app development. These include TheAppBuilder, Good Barber, AppyPie and GameSalad. The majority are very simple to use and like other Web 2.0 tools, enable the user to create their app in a series of steps.

 

For those hard-core programmers (and Stage 6 classes), there are many codingspecific websites available. One great resource is Code Academy. Students can learn html, css, javascript and jquery — these are the fundamental components of mobile web sites. Students will be able to leverage these basic skills down the road if they want to seriously study mobile application or game development. Learning these skills and documenting the journey could also act as a fantastic major work where necessary.

Technology and Teacher Preparation

Posted on April 12, 2013 at 4:55 AM

Aspiring teachers want more digital avenues for learning, says a new report from Project Tomorrow.

 

 

The findings are included in the report Learning in the 21st Century: Digital Experiences and Expectations of Tomorrow’s Teachers, prepared by Blackboard Inc. and Project Tomorrow, which includes findings from the Speak Up for Aspiring Teachers survey of nearly 1,400 college students in teacher preparation programs during spring 2012. The data collected from the aspiring teachers was compared with the results of the surveys completed by 36,477 in-service K-12 teachers and 4,133 administrators during Speak Up surveys from fall 2011.

 

 

Since 2007, Project Tomorrow has collaborated with Blackboard Inc. to create a series of annual reports that focus on key trends in the use of technology to increase student achievement, teacher productivity and parental engagement. This new report is the latest in the series and provides new insights that will inform college and university based teacher preparation programs as well as the induction and professional development processes within K-12 schools and districts. Tomorrow’s teachers may have the keys to finally unlock the potential of technology to transform teaching and learning, but much depends upon their experiences in their preparation program and how well future school leadership can support their expectations for essential technology tools and resources.

 

 

Highlights from the report include the following:

 

 

Aspiring teachers are tapping into emerging technologies such as social media and mobile devices to self-prepare themselves for their future teaching assignments. For example, tomorrow’s teachers are leveraging social networking sites and discussion boards as informal professional development sources to complement their formal coursework.

 

In spite of their comfort with using technology tools, the aspiring teachers say that their field experiences as student teachers and observing their professors are the best way for them to learn about how to integrate technology within instruction.

 

School principals have high expectations for the pre-service technology experiences of their future teachers. The specific technology tools and techniques that the aspiring teachers are learning to use in their methods courses however do not match the expectations of those school principals.

 

Aspiring teachers place a high value on the role of technology to both impact student academic success and their own effectiveness as a teacher.

 

Thinking about their future teaching assignment, aspiring teachers consider access to technology tools and resources to support instructional plans as one of the top five factors that will determine their future success as a teacher.

 

Future teachers want more digital, mobile and social technology integrated into their training and, in turn, their future classrooms, according to a survey report released from Blackboard Inc. and Project Tomorrow®. According to the report, nearly 50 percent of students in teacher training programs use online podcasts and videos and turn to social networking sites to self-train for future teaching assignments.

 

 

The tendency for tomorrow’s teachers to leverage technology is a direct result of their own experience as “active learners” – students who expect technology to extend teaching and learning. The report finds that over half of the aspiring teachers polled (58 percent) are taking online classes and nearly the same amount (52 percent) use digital textbooks as a part of their education experience.

 

 

The findings, intended to inform preparation and professional development programs for new teachers, also reveal that today’s principals have high expectations for the use of technology in classrooms. Over 80 percent of principals polled want their future hires to use digital tools to connect and communicate with students and their parents.

 

 

“Due to increased access to digital learning tools throughout their lives, aspiring teachers gravitate toward online collaboration, which translates to a more self-directed teaching approach,” said Julie Evans, chief executive officer of Project Tomorrow. “The correlation between an educator’s familiarity with technology, and the strong likelihood of using that technology within instruction, is a good way to predict the future classroom.”

 

 

The survey also found that over 40 percent of students in teacher training programs sought career guidance online from educators outside of their institution, demonstrating the important role that access to and fluency in technology tools can play in their future success.

 

 

“In order to be effective in the classroom and create an engaging learning environment, a great teacher needs to realize that children today are exposed to a vast amount of technology outside of the classroom, and when they walk into a classroom, they are walking back in time,” said an aspiring elementary school teacher from Purdue University that participated in the survey.

 

 

To access the report, see http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/tomorrowsteachers_report2013.html

 

Traditional Classrooms v Constructivist Classrooms

Posted on April 10, 2013 at 9:40 PM

it's Assessment Season

Posted on April 2, 2013 at 4:10 AM

It has certainly been quite some time (in my standards) since I posted a Blog. Its certainly not a reflection of how little has been occurring at school or in my studies. In fact, it is the opposite. 

 

Like many schools, it is time when student assessments are due. We have really been pushing the boundaries with what we are expecting from our students in IST and I will admit, that it has been absolutely worthwhile. Year 7 have been exploring the concepts associated with Digital Citizenship and using Animation software to deliver their project whereas Year 8 IST have been thrown into Project-Based Learning which is the best experience I have had to date in my teaching career.

 

Year 7 students have been able to create and deliver 60 second animations that identify a social and ethical issue that is associated with using the Internet and Social Networking Sites. Students created fantastic work that not only identified the issue, but suggested strategies to combat these issues. 

 

In year 8, students are creating year long projects that will see them create a promotional website, a promotional poster and a movie. All of these will focus on Uluru. Students will work towards creating a movie that features Uluru, and in the meantime, create promotional material that will be accessible and viewed by all students and teachers in our school. The websites so far, look great. Im really impressed. Im now working with my extension students in creating posters that incorporate Augmented Reality. Stay posted for their progress

What is critical thinking?

Posted on February 22, 2013 at 8:55 PM

Defining Critical Thinking

Defining Critical Thinking is quite perplex. There are variations of definitions, some of which include specific terminology whereas others do not. Some such as Shanaz, Profetto-McGrath, Gul, Ashraf and Kauserall (2012) go further and state that educators quite easily confuse critical thinking with other terms such as ‘Problem Solving’, ‘Decision Making’, ‘Creative Thinking’, and ‘Evidence Based Practice’. This suggests that ‘critical thinking’ is more complex to those terms stated above.

 

It is agreed by educators that critical thinking is a central educational theme in the classroom (Saade, Morin, Tomas, 2012) and that critical thinking is a process that includes reasoning, problem solving and decision making skills to search for information that will enable us to yield more productive results (Saiz & Rivas, 2011). Critical thinking skills entails the ability(ies) of mental processes of discernment, analysis and evaluation applied to information in order to achieve a logical final understanding and/or judgement (Saade, Morin, Tomas, 2012). Stanton, et al, (2011) extend on this and state that critical thinking skills are likely to include iterative and cyclic activities, such as problem solving, development of competing hypothesis, calculating probabilities and making decisions.

 

Thus critical thinking is regarded as the most important skill in order to discern false, incomplete, obsolete information (Saade, Morin, Tomas, 2012) and a skilled critical thinker is the one who can acknowledge the difference between logical reasoning and personal opinion (Saade, Morin, Tomas, 2012).

 

Critical thinking stems from the ability of higher-order-thinking which has been linked to deep learning (deep learning can be defined as the intention to extract meaning which produces active learning processes that involve relating ideas and looking for patterns and principles on the one hand and using evidence and examining the logic of the argument on the other (Saade, Morin, Tomas, 2012). This also suggests that different learning activities lead to different levels of critical thinking (Saade, Morin, Tomas, 2012) which must be considered by educators in creating programs and developing classroom content.

 

So who are Critical Thinkers?

Branch (2000) states that individuals who attain the power of critical thinking are curious, open minded, systematic and analytical, they have self-esteem and are willing to search for the truth’ whereas, Demir (2011) states that critical thinking is not a random style of thinking, that those individuals with critical thinking need to examine the reasons of problems in depth, try to understand, oppose when needed and be able to look at occurrences without obsession and objectivity.

 

Critical Thinking and Learning

As critical thinking is at the core of most intellectual activity that involves students in learning to recognise or develop an argument, use evidence in support of that argument, draw reasoned conclusions, and use information to solve problems, educators can use tools such as promote interpreting, analysing, evaluating, explaining, sequencing, reasoning, comparing, questioning, inferring, hypothesising, appraising, testing and generalising (National Curriculum, 2013).