Once it is seen, it cannot be unseen

The three courses I am completing this semester are fairly different to one another. They are: ICT and Pedagogy (this course), Literacies Education (3 yr literacy), and Managing Challenging Behaviours (an elective). Yet here’s the thing, they all seem to have a strong focus on ICT.

I can put this down to a number of reasons. a) Maybe they don’t have a common theme, but because I am so interested in ICT through this course, I am seeing it everywhere I look. b) The ICT has always been there only I haven’t been paying attention to it. c) ICT are becoming more important in the classroom therefore to pre-service teacher education and subsequently they ARE becoming more prolific in my courses as I progress through my degree.

Either way, I guess there’s no avoiding them, and besides – I actually like ICT. I’m excited by the prospect of using them effectively and appropriately in my future classroom. My fellow EDC3100 student Spil2016 has also spoken about the same observation here.

Globe Brain

Image from public domain by Dawn Hudson. Globe Brain.

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians highlighted the rapid changes in ICT and how vitally important they are to successful learners. And the Queensland College of Teachers expanded on it in their Research Digest.

ICT are important and they are here to stay. As a future teacher I will do my upmost to guide my students to get the most out of ICT so they can become successful, active and informed global citizens of the future.

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If you can’t beat ’em…

My husband and I have always been, I guess you could say,  anti-tech as far as our kids are concerned. Technology seems to be anti-social and non-productive, so screen time is something that we monitor quite strictly. After all, we survived childhood without having our face 10 inches away from a screen for hours at a time.

But here’s the thing. Our eldest started school last year. And well it was fair to say that she was a little behind (most) of her peers in the technology department. Funny story… she tried to touch the screen of a computer and use it like an iPad because she didn’t know what a computer mouse was or what it was for.

Mouse

Image from public domain by Charles Rondeau. Mouse.

We, as a family, have come along way since then. Although my husband and I are still firm believers in playing outside, breathing fresh air and running through the grass, we are trying to combine that with appropriate amounts of our children’s time spent interacting with ICT.

Our daughter is now in Year 1. I am pleased to say that she has caught up in her technology skills deficit and is quite proficient in the use of desktop computers, laptops and iPads. Luckily for us, her school embraces technology and has fantastic facilities available for the students to use. Just this week I was emailed a list of apps from my daughter’s teacher that she can use to complete her homework.

Homework?! On an iPad?! Every 5 year old’s dream come true! And well, if it makes the homework battle easier, who am I to say no?!

Here’s a handy website that has age appropriate lists of some of the best apps of 2016 so far.

Begin with the end in mind

As I move through the final learning journal books of the second module, I’d like to make mention of the Backwards Design planning model that I have used to develop my unit plan for Assignment 2. Just like my fellow EDC3100 student Sophie Lofthouse has done in her blog post here.

Backwards Design isn’t backwards, it’s actually just common sense!

The Backwards Design process begins with the end goal in mind!

 

start-gate-for-a-game

Image from public domain by Circe Denyer. Start Gate for a Game.

Image for a moment – you have purchased a block of land. You clear the trees, prepare the ground and start pouring the concrete…. BUT YOU HAVEN’T DECIDED WHAT KIND OF HOUSE YOU ARE BUILDING!!! It doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

With most things in life, we usually have a preconceived idea of the end result or end destination. That’s how we know (or at least try) to make steps in the right direction – to make this goal a reality. This is the concept of Backwards Design.

 

game-finish-line

Image from public domain by Circe Denyer. Game Finish Line.

 

This is a quick and simple explanation of the process in Video format for all of you visual learners out there!

This course has highlighted the following formula:

Curriculum + Assessment + Pedagogy = Quality Learning

Broken down this means we are looking at:

What we want the students to learn + How they can prove that they have learnt it + The learning experiences we create to teach it to them = Quality Learning

Here is a great guide of the principles of Backwards Design from the Tasmanian Department of Education, based on the Wiggins & McTighe book, Understanding by Design (2nd ed).

 

Help! I’ve imagined something that hasn’t been created yet!

I think I may have hit a stumbling block in Assignment 2. And to be really fair, I have hardly started it! Sheesh! This is not looking good!

So, let me explain: My ideas for the unit plan are to have the students research a range of animals, their food requirements, their habitat and shelter requirements, and then apply this information to design their own zoo. Great idea, right?! I thought so.

Vintage Zoo Poster

Image from public domain by Dawn Hudson. Vintage Zoo Poster.

Anyway, so I would like to use an application or piece of software that I can load an image (the base map of the zoo) on to. Then the students can decide which animal goes where, based on their knowledge of the animals. I want the program to be able to have the ability for students to add pop-up windows for videos and pictures of the animals. And also pop-up text boxes to display information.

Ideally the program would also allow the students to add shapes, or outlines, so they could draw in where the enclosures are. But, as you probably have guessed…. Such a program/application DOES NOT EXIST!!! Arrrrggggghhhhhh!!!!!

This means my whole idea for the unit plan goes out the window. I’ve spent the best part of a whole day trying to find an appropriate program and so far I’ve come up empty handed.

Please help!  Have you ever heard of software that does this that I can have my students use to complete this task?

Let’s get creative for Assignment 2

Now that uni holidays are over and I need to get back into the swing of things I’ve decided to focus on assignment 2 for this course. And I’m not the only one! I’ve been reading through the blogs of my fellow EDC3100’ers and everyone seems to be starting to nut out Assignment 2 – Just like deniseas75! What are we looking at? Designing a 3 to 5 week unit plan that includes quality ICT-enriched learning experiences.

Sounds simple enough, right?!

place-on-the-map

Image from public domain by George Hodan. Place On The Map.

The context – My somewhere…

For this I’ve decided to use my first year Professional Experience classroom as my imaginary class. 22 x Year 4 students at an Independent School. The class included a standard range of abilities. One student with diagnosed ADHD, one ESL student, three very bright students and four students that required learning support to varying degrees.  And every one else in the class was somewhere in between.

 

Why choose this context?

I just love this age! When I entered the classroom I hadn’t previously had much experience with 8-9 year olds, but let me tell you – THEY ARE CLEVER! I didn’t realise how tech savvy they would be, and they are smart to boot! 8-9 year olds are old enough to start to develop some interesting concepts, yet young enough to still care about what you (the teacher) thinks!

 

The curriculum…

I’m going to design a unit plan in Geography. I am interested in designing something around the concept of students creating an interactive map. Maybe of their school, home, classroom or an imaginary place like a zoo.

 

Why this subject?

Why not?! I guess it’s something that would not traditionally be taught through ICTs. That’s a challenge in itself.

 

The next step from here is working out where this fits in the Australian Curriculum and also with the Queensland Studies Authority.

 

For now, here’s a list of pretty cool map creation programs that I can have a look through to see if they fit with the ideas rattling around in my head!

Set some goals! Get back into the driver’s seat

I’ve been using this time over the mid semester break to catch up on course work. That’s the plan anyway. Well, as we are about half way through I’ve assessed how much course work I’ve caught up on, and let me tell you, things are not looking good!

What really got me thinking was watching a TED Talk about Procrastination posted by fellow EDC3100 student everlastingdiscovery and I’ve come to think about how procrastination can also effect our future students.

 

Background Wallpaper

Image from Public Domain by Kai Stachowiak. Background Wallpaper.

 

How do we help? We need to teach our students how to make a plan! Set some goals! When students make a plan and set their own goals, it reverts the power back to them, and allows them to drive their own learning. They gain confidence to take on challenges and it improves the effectiveness of the strategies they use to complete tasks.

Here is a great resource from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development of the Victorian Government which outlines some ways that teachers can help students to set goals.

In the meantime, here is a list of 6 apps that might help me to set, monitor and achieve my goals. I think I need all the help I can get!