Saturday, March 26, 2011

What is the reality of ICT in the English classroom?

I always thought, I will use computers in my classroom, show my kids a youtube video to get them inspired, and perhaps they can even type up their responses. I felt this was a good integration of ICT and would give my students some experience with the necessary ICT skills that they would need in their future social and workplace environments. I was wrong; this is a good start, but it is superficial learning, almost using ICT for the sake of using it. Realistically, most of the students within my class would have already gained these skills before Stage 4. 

For me the switch has only just clicked. For the last four years at university, we have been discussing education then tacking ICT onto it. I have just started two courses that link ICT with Education, ICT and Education are not being perceived as two separate things. Therefore, I have just made the connection and had an epiphany, not in the Christian sense, but to the power, usefulness and essentialness of ICT education. It is necessary to every learning environment and curriculum today.  

Considering Cuttance’s statement:

“The integration of I.C.T. into all major social institutions and organisations means that the necessity to equip young people with the capacity to understand and utilise the potential of such environments is no longer an option, but is now an imperative.”
(2001, p73)  

What responsibility do we have as practitioners to give our students the skills and understandings of contemporary ICT? Yes there is an Digital Education Revolution, yes there are smart boards in most classrooms, teachers do have laptops, and there are many switched on teachers out there. But, what is the reality? What is really happening out there? Do teachers know how to successfully integrate ICT for meaningful learning? Ken Robinson in his TED Talk, Changing Education Paradigms suggests that the institution of education is “trying to meet the future by what they did in the past” (2010). Many of us are ignoring that our students are “living in the most intensely stimulating period in the history of the earth, they are being besieged with information and calls their attention from every platform, computers, IPhones, advertising, from hundreds of television channels.“ (Robinson, 2010). If we do not include multiple ICTs and applications in our pedagogy are we alienating children who don’t see any purpose to going to school? 

As a teacher with the NSW DET we are required to use some ICT in our classroom, but morally I know our students deserve so much more. Patrick Larkin on his blog Connected Principals suggests that  "We have all heard about the fact  that we are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet.  Following this line of thinking, can we really do this if we are not modifying our own current job descriptions?  We are our own biggest obstacles in moving forward." This is their future, they are the future of our society. We need to keep ourselves and our students current with the rest of society, businesses and the world.

At this stage the NSW Board of Studies (BOS) English, Stage 4, 5 and 6 Syllabi have one or two ICT outcomes. These outcomes can easily be achieved through the superficial activities of word processing or watching a video online. There are a couple of small paragraphs in the syllabi in under the ‘cross –curriculum content’, which once again can be met by using Word, PowerPoint and Google in one or two periods throughout a unit of work. I experienced this curriculum first hand as a student, and now as a student teacher and this is how many teachers are still happily fulfilling the outcomes. These teachers are not bad or negligent teachers, many genuinely believe they are giving their students the necessary ICT skills for the future. I think one of the key issues is cost and the fast pace of technology. I am not disregarding the many updated, innovated current teachers, i.e. all you bloggers out there. I am simply suggesting there are factors suppressing the successful use of ICTs in learning. Its not as simple as answering, but I want to know: How can we overcome these issues?

Even since I was at school, technology has changed and made things available that I could never have imagined. Take for instance Web2.0, touch screens, mobile tablets, applications and touch phones. The multiple ways we can access, create, share and collaborate information allows for a deeper understanding and interaction with concepts or ideas then we have ever had before.  How do we convince current teachers, early career teachers and communities that in integrating ICT learning is not being lost, but enhanced? That it is never too late to learn and interact with ICT and it is necessary part of society?

In my next blog I will approach ways to incorporate ICT into the English and History classroom and meet the syllabus outcomes.

Just a quick list of ICTs that can be used in the classroom:
Internet - Web2.0:  Blogs, Wikis, Edmodo, Prezi, Diigo, Twitter, , Youtube, Moodle
-          Ebooks, Video chat, Messanger , Email
Intranet/ portal -  Only people within the school network can see.
-          Host moodle site which might include the school applications, library bookings, email, cyber safety links, tale, student portal.
Note books - Content creation, viewing (Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative suite etc)
-          Access to software packages such as the internet, word processing
Mobile phones
Video cameras
Digital cameras
Sound recording – microphones - Podcasts
Video conference
Scanners, printers and photocopiers

Cuttance, P (2001) “Information and Communication Technologies” School Innovation: Pathway to the Knowledge Society, Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs pp.73-100.

Larkin, Patrick (2011) "Are you on The Path to 1:1", Connected Principals, accessed on 26/03/2011 

Robinson, Ken (2010) “Changing Education Paradigms” from, accessed on 26/03/2011:

Friday, March 25, 2011

IPads for learning

I have been exploring the idea of using IPads in the classroom, as a practitioner I can see how it is useful, especially considering classroom mobility. However, for our students I am struggling to see how they would differ to a notebook?

VIC school are doing a trial and this is what they say:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

HSC Core Study: Webquest

In case you are looking for some ideas on approaching the core study: Pompeii and Herculaneum, I am making a webquest:

This site is now complete and ready to be used. 

I would appreciate any feedback as well. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ken Robinson: Changing education paradigms | Video on

Ken Robinson: Changing education paradigms | Video on

I am about to finish my teaching degree, how do I get a job?

Something that has become apparent to me in my final semester at university is the fact no one knows what the next process is… Apparently, the academics whom are helping us gain our degree have no idea on how we actually get accredited and get a job.

Therefore, as I am learning, I will update this blog and help my friends or students who stumble on this and are looking to teach in NSW public schools.

So far I know the following steps are necessary:

1. Go to the NSW Instate of Teachers Website:
·         You will need to sign up for an account: On the left hand side there is blue tabs, click on the one that says ‘My account’ à click on ‘log in users’ à just below the log on button is a small blue text ‘create an account’ à click on this and fill in the prompts.
·         Once you have created your account you will need to log on using your user name and password, which should be emailed to you à click on the top blue tab which says ‘teacher’ à do the process 1.-10. Steps (statement of eligibility)
·         Once you have done this you need to send a certified copy of your birth certificate & current transcript (don’t worry if you haven’t finished your degree as long as it shows you are enrolled in all of the subjects you need to complete).
·         Once you have sent away the documents the Institute of Teachers will send you something or contact you with an accreditation number (still go onto the next step while you wait for this).
·         End section…

2.       Now you can apply through the DET Graduate Recruitment Program.
·         Select Final Year Teacher Education Students (click on the icon) à follow the prompts, remember to save at every page, before you go along. 
·         If you have your accreditation number you will be able to submit. However, I am up to this point of waiting so I am unsure of what to do next.

The following blog, by the GRP is fantastic at outlining everything you need to know. I will update this as soon as I know the next step.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Assessment: comments and marks

Assessment is something I have really been thinking about recently. It is such an important part of teaching for several reasons, however I also see how problematic it can be. 

In Bianca’s blog she makes a great comment in pointing out issues in her stage 6 classroom.
“Well, I too am a teacher and I too feel the awful mounting pressures of the need to fill students with content necessary to excel in the end of year examination. My Stage 6 class badly want the content – I can see it in their eyes, ‘Please Miss, please just write on the board what we need to know and let us put it in our essays!’ And I know what needs to go in there. But so far I have been resistant to ‘give’ it to them that easily – I have refused to ‘reduce’ the world of literature and ideas  (which in my current case is the man himself, Mr W. Shakespeare) to an essay scaffold and dot points. Does that make me a bad teacher? Well it makes me feel like one. “  

Bianca is discussing the issue of content verses understanding. We have such a strong history of rote learning throughout our schooling it is hard for many students to actually feel they are learning anything if they are not taking copious amounts of work and being given the answer. I know my HSC experience was very similar. On reflection, I felt that the teachers who were not giving me the strait forward information I needed to know were horrible and wanting me to fail. In retrospect, they were the teachers wanting me to have knowledge I could take into life with me rather than just pass the test, enduring understandings. These are the teachers I remember now, they had my best interest in mind. 

As a soon to be teacher in the public school system, I have to accept the fact I do not necessarily agree with many summative assessment practices. However, reading Working inside the Black Box: Assessment for Learning in the Classroom by Black and et al, I realise just because the assessment is summative doesn’t mean I can’t use it as a tool for my students to learn from, a tool of assessment for learning! 

Black and et al have found that “Students given marks are likely to see it as a way to compare themselves with others; those given only comments see it as helping them to improve. The latter group outperforms the former.” (18, 2004) A question to myself is how can I use this information in my classroom, especially in stage 6 when marks/grades are necessary? My idea is to hand back the assignment with comments only, once students have reflected on their assessment comments and acknowledged areas in which they did well and how they could improve, only then will they get their assessment mark back. My question to you is, is this ethical, and is this allowed? How much can I expect my students to do to show they have understood the comments?

Here is the link to Bianca's Blog entry:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Myth busted - private schools get more than nearby public schools | Daily Telegraph Maralyn Parker Blog

Myth busted - private schools get more than nearby public schools | Daily Telegraph Maralyn Parker Blog

The most common person in the world!!! Interesting video!

Switching off at the end of the day…

Something that I really struggle with and always have is leaving behind my day, weather that be work, family, friends of study. I have been working on the same assignment for 12 hours now and I know it is time to switch off my laptop, my brain and think of something else, perhaps sleep. When I go to work, uni or hang out with my friends I am able to commit to that particular activity without worrying about my other interests. Why then is it at the end of the day I cannot commit to some me time. I logically know that I am no longer being productive on my assignment and sleep would benefit me, however I have now felt the need to ‘invest’ some time into my educational studies. Hence, developing my blog. 

Perhaps I am feeling stressed. I just found a good link, for those of us who need a little assistance with our stress

I guess I just do not value ‘me’ time over my other commitment. Consequently, this makes me think about asking students to engage in my classroom when they have, what they would consider to be, more important things to think about. 

I think in my personal reflections upon my life I am reiterating the importance to always think from others points of view when you are asking them to do something. Hopefully I remember this when I have my own class.