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!
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!
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!