iPads

One thing I’d really love to own is an iPad. From what I have seen, they are amazing and their uses are endless! I am reluctant to buy one though without having used one myself to see how it all works. Unfortunately my Prac school didn’t have iPads. They did have iPods but these were unavailable for use during my visit. My three children have iPods though and they really are clever little devices.

The school where I work as a Teacher Assistant purchased 2 class sets of iPads while I was on leave so I’m excited to see how they are used in the classroom before I take the leap and buy one for myself. My friend Jamie talks about iPads in this post. She compares them to tablets and laptops. There are just so many options… and they all do something unique. My fear is spending the money on a device and then something better being released shortly after. I dislike that we have such a throw-away society these days. I think back to the amount of desktops/laptops we have had over the years… it is cheaper to buy a new one rather than repair one most of the time, and new technology forces the older devices out.

I’m thinking though, that none of this will change… this is only the beginning!

Interruptions!

The biggest hurdle I had on my Practical Experience was the constant interruptions to our day. I have not had my head in the sand, I know that a day in a classroom never goes exactly to plan and that teachers need to be flexible but I found it to be in excess over my 3 week visit. The first week was NAPLAN testing, which we knew about.. and then there was Eisteddfod. There were many choir groups in the school which had limited practice so this was jammed into a week. At times I lost half the class and others the entire class for up to 2 hours at a time. Then there were kids that took part in instrumental music programs that entered in Eisteddfod as well. Sporting commitments outside of school took kids out of class, the CLIP program, Arts Council… and then just general chats from the Principal when issues arose and requests from buddy classes to participate in reading. All of this is fine… but it really impacted on the way I was able to plan to implement ICTs in the classroom.

To be able to use laptops in the classroom, these needed to be booked out in advance. Often we booked them out and then were called out during this time, forfeiting our time slot. These were shared between the Preps through to Year 7’s so time was scarce some days. And then there were the lessons that were cut quite short. The time it takes to set up and log on to these devices doesn’t allow much more time for the actual lesson to take place, providing that we then had to shut down and return them to the tech lab.

With all of that aside… I learnt to be FLEXIBLE! I still got through most of the work I had planned to, by chopping and changing things around and cutting the least important parts out. I found that I had to explicitly teach some concepts with all of the ‘fluff’… I found this article called The Flexible Teacher. Obviously the interruptions I have mentioned are not the only ones I had – behaviours, toilet stops, drink stops… they all add up and cause chaos at times. There’s always room to learn new strategies to help ensure that we’re doing what we set out to do – help these students learn!

Interactive Whiteboards

I thought I knew how to use the Interactive Whiteboard quite well… until I spent 3 weeks teaching with one! It really takes some practice to find your way around this device to be able to use it to its full potential. I learnt so much in those 3 weeks and feel much more confident now that I’ve had a decent amount of time to use it. I still have so much to learn though and look forward to using it in more complex ways at my next Prac. Something I really enjoyed and found kept me organised was creating my lessons in PowerPoint and then teaching from  my slides on the IWB. I love that everything I create can be kept this way, saved for use another time. I think back to teachers long before technology got so clever, writing everything on blackboards only to rubbed off at the end of the lesson. So much time can be saved these days, and there are many sites which share flipcharts and resources. The options really are endless. I  just need to work on some organisation techniques for everything I find.

A site I found very helpful that shares resources, and even just for general ideas is Promethean Planet. There are many resources to be found and used there. I also downloaded Active Inspire onto my home laptop to assist me in finding my way around the program at home. This did help, although nothing is better to practice on than the real thing. The students enjoyed ‘helping me’ to get myself organised too! One thing I learnt very quickly was the ‘no show’ function… this way I could get myself organised without distracting the kids!

PRAC is almost here…

Less than 2 weeks now until I start Prac with my Year 7 class (I am very nervous!). I spent a few hours today looking through the plan my mentor sent me and trying to get things clear in my head before I try and put anything down on paper. I am lucky that she is very organised and has given me topics to run with. It’s my job now to do the best I can with them, engaging all 29 almost-teenage kids!! With ICTs being such a big focus of this Prac I have to remember one of the biggest focus points of EDC3100 – that we integrate ICTs rather than just use them. A fellow student, Katie, blogged about this exact topic here and outlines it very well in an easy-to-read table format. I need to make sure that the ICTs I am choosing to use fit well with the content of the lessons and enhance it. I need to engage and encourage them… I’ll do my best 🙂

Re-use and recycle!!

I’ve just remembered a great idea learnt from my mentor teacher when I visited her last term. I was asking her about ways to learn the students’ names. I usually make up name tags and ask the students to place them on their desks but thought this might be a little ‘un-cool’ for almost teenage Year 7 students. She suggested that I ask the students to write their names and a little something about themselves on their individual whiteboards. She pulled out of one of the student’s desks – a DVD case. The cover was taken out and replaced with a blank piece of white paper. The students each have their own and use these as whiteboards. What a fantastic idea!!! Not only are they recycling something, these little things are able to be closed up and packed away neatly, they can stand on their desk like little triangles, or they can be opened out and held up to answer questions during classroom activities

I think I will use these often during Prac, especially during activities where one student might be chosen at a time to use the Interactive Whiteboard and I want all of the other students to be engaged and participating in the activity as well.

I have seen these cases for sale at our local Video Ezy store for a small cost but have never thought of using them for anything other than carrying CD’s and DVD’s. I just thought I’d share 🙂

I came across this example of the same idea on Pinterest

This might just T.I.P. me over the edge…

Well here’s ANOTHER planning model/framework to remember… I’m not sure that I can remember all of these things and keep up with them. The only way I’ll get them to sink in is to use them in my lesson planning and hope that they start to make sense. Here’s what the TIP model is all about:

Wiencke and Roblyer (2004) describe the TIP model this way

The Technology Integration Planning (TIP) Model was designed to give teachers a systematic way to address the challenges involved in integrating technology into teaching (Roblyer, 2003). By carrying out the steps in each of the model’s five phases, teachers perform a set of planning, implementation, and assessment activities that help assure their technology use will be both efficient and successful in meeting the needs they have identified.

I learn best by seeing examples of these types of things in use so I searched for some using Google. I found some on Slideshare. This one is called Using Technology in the Classroom and applies the model to a class profile, working through each of the phases. I also found this  Severe Weather Unit which integrates the TIP model into a unit. It looks quite interesting!
Here is the image provided in our EDC3100 course to help us to understand the types of questions which should be addressed during each of the 5 phases of the model to ensure we know WHY we are integrating ICT’s and how they are enhancing the students’ learning.  We always start with what we want the students to learn and how they will demonstrate their learning (Jones, 2013).

 

50 Apps students will be using in your classroom

I googled ‘iphone resources in the classroom‘ tonight and found this – 50 Apps that students will be using in your classroom. I had a quick read through and found some that I know/use and some that I hadn’t heard of before (quite a few actually!). A couple that jumped out at me were:

  • Flashcards – an app that helps you create your own flashcards to help study for tests and exams, or I was thinking that they could even work in place of palm cards
  • MyHomework – to keep those older kids organised!
  • Flashlight – I actually use this app all the time, it turns my phone into a bright flashlight. Just another thing your iphone can do !!

The people that come up with these fabulous apps amaze me. The ideas really are endless. My daughter is struggling a little with the concept of multiplication. It just isn’t coming naturally to her, so my next search is for something that helps her to ‘get it’!

One little device… one huge workload!

I’ve never really stopped and thought exactly how much my iPhone does for me. I stumbled across Mrs Morgan’s blog tonight and her post titled ‘How much changes in 10 years?’

She provided the photograph you can see below which compares the iPhone of today with the devices it has taken place of, devices which were common to us only 10 years ago. This one little ‘phone’ is not just a phone, it’s: a computer, digital camera, video camera, watch, timer, voice recorder, game console,  music player and much more. I can check the weather, do my grocery shopping, order pizza , send and receive messages, photos, videos and emails instantly! So many of life’s little everyday moments are captured now with the ease of this tiny hand-held device, those which we often see on sites like Instagram and Facebook.

I can’t even imagine where the next 10 years are going to take us. I am guessing it will be my kids (both my own and my students) who help to keep me informed and up to date 🙂

 

ABC Splash!

While searching for resources for my Science unit plan I came across this site – ABC Splash! It has SO many awesome articles, games and video clips that can be used in the classroom and beyond.

You can choose to search through Early Primary, Upper Primary, Secondary, Parents and Teachers. The Primary and Secondary options then take you to the the KLA’s of Maths, English, Science and History. I can’t believe I haven’t come across it before, it is fantastic!

I wish I could remember to use every great site I find, but I come across so many I seem to forget about them. I am going to have to start up some sort of word document full of pictures and links, sort them into the KLA’s and then continue adding to them as I go. Some day…. when I find all that spare time I used to have…

Handwriting… or is it?

I just stumbled across a blog about Queensland Cursive Handwriting and its use in schools, over at Wendy’s blog. She provided a link to the downloads for the fonts which is not something I have thought to look for before. I will use this on Prac when I can for handouts to better model the writing I am expecting of the children. I try and steer away from ‘pretty’ fonts because they can often get quite confusing for children to read. It pays to practice writing in this font yourself too, students most certainly pick on you when you get it wrong 🙂 Check out Wendy’s blog about the fonts here.