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Archive for March, 2012

Week Five: 27.03

I attended a different tutorial class this week, as I was unable to attend my regular class. I embraced this opportunity, as I would be able to hear how another lecturer explained concepts to his class. After attending his class, it allowed me to see that the way in which a teacher explains and engages with their class is critical to the learning process. I found out that even though both my lecturer and the lecturer of the different tutorial were teaching the same content, the way in which they presented it and answered questions throughout the class changes the way in which it is learnt. I found that the lecturers had different teaching styles, which suit different students accordingly. I found this interesting and considering the effects it has on students.

This week, we began to learn about the application of Notebook in order to use SmartBoards within classrooms. It was discussed that SmartBoards are useful in the classroom as they encourage engagement with both online and offline activities, motivates students to learn and lessons can be personalised using the applications of Notebook. As I have said in previous posts, I am a little wary of new technologies and I am not 100% confident in using them or seeing their benefit. While the lecturer was discussing features of the SmartBoard and its application, Notebook, and how it will assist us as teachers in the classroom, the SmartBoard blacked out twice and the touch-feature was never aligned properly (even after it was reset!!!). It was ironic that we were being taught how fantastic this new technology is, yet it kept failing while being used. Is this really going to help teachers? If every time we go to use this ‘fantastic’ piece of technology and continually does not work, then how much will our students learn? How much time will we waste trying to fix it? 

It was said during class, that there is no evidence that SmartBoards actually improve the academic levels of students, found within the literature (Higgins, S., Beauchamp, G. & Miller, D. (2007). Reviewing the Literature on Interactive Whiteboards. Learning, Media and Technology, 32 (3), 213-225.), however it does increase motivation due to its kinaesthetic, visual and audio appeal.  National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM ) states that “things they [students] can touch and manipulate are particularly helpful” to learning. This may be true on some levels, but I believe that SmartBoards may not be the best answer for teaching students. I am supported by another blogger, who is a practicing teacher. He states that “Unfortunately, with devices like Smart Boards, images come and go, and the teacher is often looking at a computer screen for part of the class“, which I believe is true. SmartBoards cannot replace a teacher or real interactions between peers and teachers.

During Professional Experience Two, I was encouraged by my cooperating teacher to use the SmartBoard for my lessons. I used it to do the morning maths questions for the Stage Two students as well as for comprehension and other mathematics lessons. It was helpful to show the entire class the questions clearly, but sometimes the answers would appear automatically (even though they were covered using ‘screenshade’ on the connected computer), the typing pad on the SmartBoard never worked, and it broke for two days, meaning I needed to re-plan my lessons. I know that these mishaps are a part of teaching, but I believe that if they can avoided, why not avoid them? Why continually go back and use something for all lessons that has a high risk of breaking?

SmartBoards are useful in classrooms to give the students variety, but from the information that I was given during this weeks class and the hiccups I witnessed as well as past experience from Professional Experience Two, I do not believe that SmartBoards should be used for all lessons everyday. 

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Week Four: 21.03

When I was in Primary School (an awfully long time ago!), we had a portfolio. A few times a term, my teacher would inform us that we would be doing some ‘portfolio work’. We worked, that work would go to our portfolio, the teacher would select some items to show improvements and assessments and then the portfolio would be sent home for our parents to read. That is what I thought portfolio’s were, that is what I thought their purpose was, and that is how I though they were created. 

After todays class, once again, my views have changed. This weeks reading discussed E-Portfolios, being that of an electronic portfolio. This, I learnt, allows the resources within the folio to be easily accessed by parents, students, teachers, and can be seen by others without having to send a hard copy. Barrett (2010) states that “the key aspect of an e-portfolio is…reflection on the evidence“.

I learnt that there is a new and modern way of approaching portfolios. This can be done through E-Portfolios or by hard copies. It is being encouraged that teachers allow students to have more of an input into work that goes into their portfolio. This will give the students more power and pride in their work, and may increase their desire to perform to a higher standard within the classroom. 

In our class, it was said that E-portfolios allow for collaboration and integration of students work, more so than hard portfolios, as they can be edited and are easily accessible and portable. It also allows students to reflect upon their work, which both Barrett (2010) and my tutor said was an extremely important aspect of portfolios. Folios must show student progression, and should not only show the best work of the student. It must show the students “efforts, progress and achievements” (Northwest Evaluation Association, 1990). Teachers should also create a set of criteria for students to follow when creating and choosing works to be included in their portfolio. This will make sure that students who favour a particular KLA, such as art, do not have a portfolio full of art work and little of anything else!! That would not make for a portfolio that showed progress in a students work!!!!!

This class, once again, has changed my perceptions on technology. I have a better understanding of how to assess students and track their progression throughout a year. I believe that E-portfolios are the best way to log and account for students work and assessment. It keeps it in a neat and ordered fashion, and allows for parents to have access to their students work in a safe environment, as well as allowing grandparents/aunts/uncles/family members to view the students work on their own computers without it being copied and sent through the mail! 

My Teaching Philosophy?

At the moment, we are in our Professional Experience Tutorial and my tutor mentioned a ‘teaching philosophy’. It had nothing to do with our discussion, but I was caught on those two words. It got me thinking, what is my teaching philosophy? Do all teachers have a teaching philosophy? What do I believe? What are my views on teaching? 

I think that is a question I will ponder. Throughout this semester and with the assistance of my current subjects, hopefully I develop a philosophy that is suited to me at this point in my training. I found that a teaching philosophy should reflect your personal and needs of your students and departmentBefore finding this site, I didn’t know what a Teaching Philosophy specifically entailed. But now I do. I need to figure out what my objectives will be as a teacher, or what they are as a Prac. Student. 

My Teaching Philosophy? 

What They Said..

I was going through some of my fellow classmates blogs, and I came across one for a girl in my class. Her statement got me thinking. She wrote that “Teachers who can successfully integrate blogging into the classroom in a structured and rich way are overcoming their aversion to emerging technologies and helping students to gain the most from their schooling experiences.”I completely with this statement, as I believe that teachers must be open to the new technologies that are being created for the wider community and the amazing technologies being created for the classroom. These include Smartboards, computers, i-Pads and Mac computers, as well as other items not thought of such as calculators. The statement by my classmate highlights this remarkable well. Teachers need to be open to new ways of communicating with their students, their students parents and the wider community. Blogging is an excellent way to do this, and teachers who adapt this new concept will allow their students to, as my classmate stated, gain the most out of their schooling experience. 

Week Three: 14.03

The reading for this week discussed the concept of blogging within a Primary school classroom. Once again, like last weeks reading, my mind has been further opened to accepting the usefulness of technology within the classroom!! I think this is definitely a positive thing, and cannot wait to see what I will be more accepting towards in the coming classes!! 

The reading, by McGrail & Davis (2011), highlighted the importance of blogging, and the presenters of this weeks Literature Circles highlighted that really well! Congratulations, girls! You showed the rest of the class why we need to implement blogging and gave excellent examples, thank you!! The challenges of blogging were highlighted, being that of the attitudes of the teacher/school, internet safety and students confidence, but were supplemented with resolutions, making the thought of blogging appealing. I think my biggest challenge with blogging would be my attitude towards blogging. I never blogged during primary school, and although I am on Facebook, I don’t use it as a form of blogging like many others do. By reading this article, my attitude to blogging has shifted slightly and I am more willing to try it. Creating this blog was a good step (I believe) to overcoming my ‘fear’ and dislike of blogging, and I think it is working! The article also discussed how blogging could assist students in learning. It created a safe community where the students could freely discuss issues that related to them and were able to be more preceptive to their audience (McGrail & Davis, 2011, p. 426). Our class agreed with this, as the students stopped writing for themselves and began to write to their audience and their needs, allowing for them to be more mature writers. Blogging gives students a stronger writers voice, which McGrail & Davis support by stating that the voices of participants were powerful. This idea is also supported by a blog regarding “Literacy Resources” (http://literacyresourcesandideas.edublogs.org/20-days-to-better-blogging-with-children/). This blog stated that the main reason to involve children in blogging is that it develops their writers voice. It also helps them to reflect on their work, their decisions and thoughts, which McGrail & Davis also supports. 

I believe that students are able to learn important grammar, spelling, punctuation and ways of expressing ideas through their peers more than that of their teachers. This statement comes from personal experience, and I believe that through blogging, students are able to ‘catch on’ to what their peers are writing about and how they’re expressing their ideas and are able to imitate these ways of writing, improving the literacy skills of the students. A participant in McGrail & Davis’ article was corrected by a peer on his spelling of guitar. The two students were able to make the focus of the comments about the interesting factors about the guitar, rather than the spelling, but the writer was now aware and may have more desire to correct himself as the assistance came from a peer! 

The views on blogging within our class was basically equal. From the comments mentioned, it sounded like most people agreed with blogging being of great assistance in the classroom for developing writing skills, confidence and a greater understanding of others as well as literacy skills. I am now ‘pro-blogging’!!! 

Week Two: 07.03

The second week of PE3 was more engaging than the last. I found it more engaging and practical, as I feel I would be able to use the information received in a classroom setting.

Learning about the TPACK model opened my eyes and ideas about technology and how it can greatly assist in the learning process in a Primary School classroom. Initially, I saw technology as a negative aspect of education, as students are given less writing time and may not develop correct writing skills due to the major influence of technology. However, in this tutorial, I learnt that technology must not take away from classroom teaching, but it is an excellent tool to supplement and support learning. Through combining content, pedagogy and technology, I feel that students are able to have a more rich learning experience in all Key Learning Areas (KLA). 

This week’s Literature Circle was another ‘eye-opener’, as it highlighted the various ways software within technology can be used to teach students more, enhancing their learning and the learning process. Roblyer, M (2006). Teaching with instructional Software. In M. Roblyer (Ed.) Integrating Educational technology into teaching. (4th ed.) Merrill. Prentice Hall. Columbus, Ohio. Chaper 3, questioned technology and teaching strategies that allowed me to think more about the use of technology in teaching. Roblyer (2006) asked “If computer programs can be created to do essentially anything, why not program computers to teach?” This insightful question highlighted that using computers and other new technologies, such as Apple products (i-pad, i-phone, i-pod, etc) and the internet, will assist teachers greatly. Teachers are now able to get students to reflect on lessons and concepts through blogging, reinforce concepts through educational games such as Maths Invaders or Ttaps, or even teach a completely new concept using interactive whiteboards to allow the students to become fully involved in lessons. 

This lesson in PE3 was extremely helpful and is beginning to change my perception on the use of technology in a classroom. 

Week One: 29.02

The first week of Professional Experience 3: Integrating Learning Technologies (PE3) was interesting, different and unexpected. It does not appear to be like PE2 or PE1. It is focusing more on the tools that we as teachers have access to, rather than classroom management. I feel that this will be useful to us when we enter our third prac, future pracs and then when we enter our careers as teachers. Watching the DVD of Global Transformation in Education highlighted that the introduction and concepts of technology in schools/classrooms wasn’t a sudden advancement. It happened gradually, but in a short time frame. 

This DVD also showed me that we must teach students how to research, rather than just the information. Being able to research and be in control of their own research gives students more freedom and skills to ‘survive’ the dynamic and modern world in which technology is a main contributing factor in. 

I feel that this subject will be extremely benefitial for me as a student, as well as a teacher. It has, already in the first week, been able to show me websites and resources that I never knew existed (one of these being blogging!). I think I will thoroughly enjoy this subject and I am looking forward to next week. I do hope, however, that we are given more detail about our up coming assignment, being that of E-Learning Resource Analysis