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Archive for April, 2012

Uncertainty…

Tomorrow I will begin my Practical Experience at a local public school. I am uncertain. I am uncertain about my cooperating teacher. I am uncertain about the class I will be with. I am uncertain about the experience. 

Robert E. Floden and Christopher M. Clar stated that “Teaching is evidently and inevitably uncertain. No teacher can be sure how a lesson will go or what a student will learn“. From this, I am slightly comforted. Knowing that all teachers, both practicing and pre-serviced, feel uncertain and unsure about what faces them in a classroom will help me tomorrow when I meet my cooperating teacher and class for the first time. 

So, I will take things as they come, and realised that everything happens for a reason, and by not perfecting a lesson means I am normal, not unusual. 

A Digital Excursion? Why not?

I stumbled upon an article that was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday 12th March 2012 that I found very relevant to modern Primary Education. “Incursion not excursion in the Interactive Age” discusses the use of Interactive Whiteboards for ‘incursions’, being that of video conferencing and digital excursions. This relates so closely to my Week Seven Post. This article supports all learning that I have participated regarding new technologies in the Primary School sector. It was said in the article, that this concept has great potential to be “absolutely wonderful”. 

But is it better?

Heather Whitely Robertson, from the Museum of Contemporary Arts (MCA), highlights a huge issue regarding equity in resources and accessibility to resources. She states that regional schools often lack in resources and support, and often cannot fund classes to visit museum, even if they are in their local area. I realised that Video Conferencing and digital excursions provide those regional schools with access to these fantastic resources, such as those that the MCA provides. The Opera House, Musica Viva and Bell Shakespeare are all apart of the movement that the MCA is. They provide digital excursions to schools, workshops and lessons via video conferencing, which I think is wonderful. It would give the teachers the ability to learn with the students and to save money that could be spent on resources to support the learning that is being done in the conferences.

From reading this, my answer to my posed question above would have to be YES!!!! 

By stumbling upon this article, I feel like I have stumbled upon a pot of gold!! The detail and insight that it gives pre-serviced and practicing teacher to the digital age is outstanding. Thank you to both the Sydney Morning Herald and this article for giving teachers and the general public more insight into the new ways of teaching that are approaching the Schooling System at great speed.

NOTE: here is an excellent video by Musica Viva showing how new technological resources can be used for teaching
http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/incursion-not-excursion-in-the-interactive-age-20120311-1usa2.html  

Some Extra Thoughts….

After pondering last weeks discussion on making connections beyond the classroom, I have come to a realisation. Technology has changed the way that we teach. I have spoken to practising teachers, primary aged children, my parents, my friends and my peers, and I have noticed that through the sudden explosion of technology, it has been able to enhance teaching dramatically. After reading the blog of a peer, I realised that teachers are able to use technology to increase their involvement and awareness of the interests of their students. She talks about how technologies, such as Penguin Cam, can allow students to “venture into the unknown” as well as making learning more equitable, as all students are given the opportunity to visit these fantastic and beautiful places in the world. 

This blog highlights that technology plays an important part in the modern world of teaching. Technology is useful and is being made very accessible to primary schools across Australia. I am still nervous about how often to use technology, but in this context, I would be more than happy to use technology, as I can see that it’s extremely beneficial to students’ learning. 

Week Seven: 11.04

Schools have now been given the opportunity to communicate to the wider community through the use of new technologies. With greater access to computers and the internet, schools, teachers and students are able to gain and deliver information more readily than in previous times. 

The Interactive Whiteboard (IWB), even though I am not the biggest fan, can assist teachers in gaining and delivering more and more information, which will ultimately assist the student in learning. 

In April 2011, the NSW Government announced that they would send 4300 new Interactive Whiteboards into NSW classrooms. This has allowed for many students to have access to the excellent opportunities that come with having an IWB. 
Video Conferencing is one aspect in which was discussed in our class. After using various sites and listening to various ideas from my peers, I can see the benefit of this tool. An example that was given about the excellent use of video conferencing was that of author Morris Gleitzman, who visited Chipping Norton Primary School and conducted a video conference with Stage 3 students within that school and twelve others!!!! When I read this, as you may as well, I was shocked that this is possible. I would definitely see this as a positive for school communication as the students are able to contact, listen to and ask questions to  people without travelling to the site in which these people are in, such as that of Gleitzman’s visit to Chipping Norton P.S.

Web-Cam’s were also another aspect that grabbed my attention. Through looking at given sites and then finding my own, I was able to see how amazing web-cams can be!! I have used them in the past to look at the weather and surf in various areas across New South Wales, but after this class, I can see that web-cams can be used for more educational purposes!!! I would use this in my future classroom, as it allows students to access areas around the globe that they may never be able to access in person. The virtual world makes it possible. The National Geographic website gives links to Live Web-cams, such as the ‘Watch Live Polar Bears. Students may never see a Polar Bear in it’s natural habitat, so this site give students an opportunity to do so. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the concept of ‘Class Homepages’. Classes have created these pages to inform parents and the students on class activities, homework as well as class values and morals. I would say, from reading two class homepages, that they are similar to a class blog. However, I found that the teachers created these ones. Oldfield Brow Primary School, in the United Kingdom, has class homepages. I found that this would be an excellent communication devise for teachers to contact parents. This site gives parents information about the class, how and what they are learning as well as reward systems to allow the parents of the students to be more involved in their child’s learning process. I would definitely use this communication devise as a teacher, but I would try and follow the lead of Mr. Cummings’ class homepage. He involves his students more than Class F at Oldfield Brow, which I believe is an extremely important aspect of learning; involving the students in all aspects. 

Communication within and between schools has changed significantly, and I believe that it is mostly for the best. As I have stated before, I do not believe in using technology for all aspects of teaching, however, with this new information about various ways to show students the world and communicate with them and the school community, I believe that it should be available to all classrooms to enhance overall learning. But, is it worth the $158million that the NSW Government has invested in new learning technologies for schools? That is another topic of debate!

Week Six: 4.04

Never do Online of that which is better done offline” 

This quote is fabulous. This quote has changed my views on teaching and the way in which it should be approached. In discussing Australia’s equality in Education, this statement was stated by a substitute lecturer, who has inspired me and My Teaching Philosophy. Today, my views have been altered. Lately, I have been unsure in my career path, but this lecturer, and in particular this statement, has helped me overcome some of my doubts. People come into teaching with the desire to teach on the idyllic Eastern Sea-Board, which is understandable. It is a lovely area and I would love to teach on it someday, but I feel my first ‘port of call’ is to those in low socio-economic areas, rural and Indigenous schools. That is where I would like to go. Away from the clutter of the ‘Big Smoke’ and out into the country where the students may not have the best access to teaching staff, teaching resources and facilities to be as ‘appealing’ as the urban schools. I believe that by teaching in these areas would benefit more people than teaching in an urban school. This is what I would like to do. This is where I would like to go, and thanks to this lecturer, I can see some light and that this idea may become reality. 

I have been told, as has many Teachers-In-Training, that technology is the way of the future, we must embrace it, use it in all areas to assist in our teaching as students will connect with it more and be more engaged, and possibly learn more from using technology. This lecturer also stated that if a piece of technology replaces a teacher then that is good, because if that happens the teacher was not a good teacher. She has highlighted that teachers are the key to education, not a computer or a SmartBoard or an iPad, or any other technologies. Students learn through the teacher and their peers. Technology can assist, by all means, but I believe that it should not be the soul focus of a classroom. Teachers should be vibrant and fun and provide students with ‘hands-on’ activities that can be applied to life outside of school. Students want to come to school and have fun. It has been stated that “early childhood experiences have a significant influence on school education” and future attitudes and views on education. 

My Teaching Philosophy has definitely been altered today. Thank you to the lecturer who has assisted me in this realisation that technology is not the ‘be all and end all’ of teaching. We must teach as teachers and only use these new devices when they are appropriate. We must know how to use them and their extremely useful applications, however, we are the ones that will allow the future workers of Australia to learn and to enjoy it.

Use you before you use someone else.

Equity in Education

This week, it was our groups turn to conduct a “Literature Circle” within our class. The reading, A Vision for 2020: Achieve Equity in Education. A Contribution to Public Discussion of the 2020 Summit Idea by Save our Schools – the national independent advocacy group. April 2008 , discusses the need to have equity among education in Australia. I did an understanding of the ‘Close the Gap program within Australia prior to this reading, which strives to bring the life expectancy. health and education of the Indigenous community to the level of the non-Indigenous community. However, I was surprised that the gap is still quite large, with the article stating “On average, 15 year old Indigenous students are over two years of schooling behind non-Indigenous students in reading, mathematics and science” (p1). These statistics highlight the inequity that is present in Australian Education. To me, this is shocking. Australia is seen, world-wide, as a free, safe and educated nation. If education equity is this poor within Australia, we are not a fully educated nation. 

The article also discusses the inequity between high and low socio-economic status (SES) communities. This is not just in relation to rural and urban areas, but discusses the high and low SES communities in all areas. The article discusses the points of access to resources and the quality of teachers. This is the reason I am currently studying Primary School teaching. I want to eliminate this inequity between low and high SES communities, as well as the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, in the vital area of education. Teachers are the link in these situations. They are the one who will assist the most in closing these gaps and making Australia a more equitable place for education. 

By volunteering in rural Australian schools, in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, as a teacher, or by requesting to be placed in a rural or disadvantage school, you will assisting to close the gap in education, which, I believe, is the first step in achieving equity in Australia.