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Our World is truly amazing…

Today, Wednesday June 6th 2012, the planet of Venus will pass over the Sun. It began at 8:15am today and will end at approximately 2:45pm today. Venus is travelling at about 1000km/hour. This statistic highlights to us how large our solar system actually is. This phenomena will not occur again until 2117!!! 

How does this relate to Primary Teaching and technology? 
The media has been covering this outstanding sight all morning, and through various websites, the transition is able to be viewed through live streaming. This is probably the best way to view the transition, as it has been said that the radiation during this transition is much greater than normal. Students within a classroom are safely able to use the technology of live streaming to view this transition. 

This reinforces the my previous blog, Week Seven which discusses video-conferencing and virtual excursions. The viewing of Venus’ transit can be viewed through the Sydney Observatory Website. 



New Technologies in the Classroom…

Technology is becoming more and more involved within our lives. This is visible through the media and accessing Social Networking sites, through the new devices to assist us in our lives and through ways to gather information. If technology is taking over our lives, then it must be starting to work its way into our classrooms. 

Electronic books and mobile phones are becoming more and more prevalent in society, and students have got an increased access to these items. It was found in the Horizon Report 2011 Edition that some schools are embracing the idea of using these technologies within the classroom. Many schools, according to this report, as using technologies to assist in learning. I believe that this is an excellent idea, if the technology doesn’t become the focus of the lesson. Many students already have an understanding of how these items work and can be used, so teachers won’t have to spend as long with technical issues and will be able to teach. It was found within an article written by Jamillah Knowles, that children are using technology from a young age. Through a case study on an 8 month old baby in England and her mother, the article found that the 8 month old child knows “which button to press to make the screen light up, and she will do this incessantly in regards to her mother’s I-phone. The child uses this as teething toy and “doesn’t know what to do” with real teething toys in which her parents have bought her. 

If children know how to use technology from the age of 8 months, then by the time they begin Primary School they should have a pretty good understanding of how it works and how to use technology to learn. 

There are going to be advantages and, of course, disadvantages when talking about incorporating new technologies into our classrooms, as nothing comes without negative attributes. It was discussed within my class that technology in classrooms allows for instantaneous access to information and the technology is portable and pieces of work or information can be stored on a “Cloud”, allowing it to be access from other devices. However, technology can be dangerous, especially the internet. Teachers need to be careful and teach their students about internet safety before engaging and entering the online world. Technology can also be unreliable, so if using it, teachers need to have a hard copy of their lesson or a back-up plan for technology failure!! 

An Eye-Opener about Technology in Classrooms…

While I sat in my class the other day, I was asked a question that my peers were also asked to answer. “Do you download music from the internet?” Do you? Think about that question, just like my peers and I did when we were asked it. We were then asked another question. “Would you copy an Educational Program CD for your students, even though it has Government Copy Right Laws attached?” Would you?

Downloading Music and copying an educational program both breach Australian Copy Right Laws. As pre-service teachers, training to one day enter our own classroom, we must set examples for our students. If we illegally copy a program, then we are showing our students that breaking the Law is acceptable. It most certainly is not acceptable, and we need to be role models for our future students. 

As teachers, we must hold our values and our ethics close to us, to ensure that we stand by them. By teaching by our values and ethics, you will be teaching in a manner in which you feel comfortable with. 

Teachers have a responsibility for their students within the class, and their school. Technology is a new gateway for bullying, identify theft and access to new information. Teachers must teach their students on Cyber-Safety and have an understanding about Cyber-Space themselves, in order to help protect and teach their students about how to be safe on the Internet. The Government website, Cyber-Smart, has programs for students from Early Stage One through to Stage Five that help address issues regarding Cyber-Space. These can be used during Staff Meetings, during parent meetings or during class time with students.

Teachers must be aware of Cyber-Space and ethical behaviours. By teaching your students ethical behaviour and about how to handle Cyber-Space, you are helping them to stay safe in the future. 

Discussing Practicum within Class

Within our class this week, we discussed our experiences with technology whilst on our school practicums. Many if my peers had excellent experiences with technology on practicum, and by listening to others tales, I realised that my class and my Cooperating teacher did not use the technology at hand in the manner that it was intended for. 

Within my classroom, there were six computers at the back of the room in which students had access to, one computer at the front of the room in which the Interactive WhiteBoard was connected to, and an Interactive WhiteBoard. The Interactive Whiteboard was used on a few occasion which I witnessed and believe were very educational and useful for teaching, such as through Mathematics lessons where it was used to show a video to complement a previously discussed Maths concept. The Interactive Whiteboard was also used to enhance Play-Building within the classroom and was used for a Video Conference on Spell-O-Drome. However, these were the only times I saw technology being used for educational purposes whilst on practicum and I thought that my peers would be in a similar boat to me, but I was wrong. 

There were people within my class who had excellent experiences with using technology within their classrooms while on practicum. One of my peers in particular had a great experience. She was in close contact with a “technology expert” and she highlighted to my peer, who shared this experience with us, that the Interactive Whiteboard can be used everyday without too many challenges. This teacher would allow her students to come and create Notebook files, and this enabled them to have a deeper understanding of technology.

It was mentioned within my class that the Interactive Whiteboard promotes collegiality and connections between students, teachers and parents. Teachers can use technology to inspire students, such as welcoming them to a day with an inspirational quote or a video to begin the day. 

Interactive Whiteboards can be lead to “poor didactic teaching”, as quoted by my lecturer. However, she continues by saying that technology can be a tool for greatness, and we as pre-serviced teachers must embrace it.

My Teaching Philosophy update….

I was inspired today, and after reading an amazing quote, I realised that my teaching philosophy has been added to, if not changed. I didn’t know if teaching was a profession I wanted to be involved in. After my practical experience, I have realised that I would like to enter into the world of teaching. I didn’t know if teaching was a profession I wanted to be involved in. After my practical experience, I have realised that I would like to enter into the world of teaching. 

This quote has inspired me: 

Teaching is all about inspiring, engaging, and empowering our children and young people. It is about making a difference to future generations. TEACH – and make a difference.”

I can now see, after teaching children for two weeks whilst on practicum, that teaching is about “making a difference“. It is about educating our society into becoming productive and assisting people to accomplish their dreams. 

Technology gives teachers an edge. It gives teachers another way to show students new experiences and to teach them in a new way. This new way, in which technology has provided, may be the way that a student understands a new concept. Without the use of technology, that particular student may not have ever understood that concept, and by this occurring, the student may have given up on education. This would be very extreme, and as teachers and pre-serviced teachers, we know that it would generally take many misunderstandings for students to loose faith in education, but it is possible. 

Becoming a person who can make a difference in one persons life is amazing. However, becoming a person who can make a difference in the lives of hundreds of people (depending on how many years one teaches) is a feeling which I cannot wait to experience. 


Teachers must be educated…

Teachers must, and I mean must, be up to date with their understandings of technology. If a class teacher has little understanding of the technology that is within his or her classroom, then they as a teacher will not suffer, it will be their students who will miss out on learning through these new and exciting avenues.

My cooperating teacher was very good at using the technology which was available to the classroom and the school. The Smartboard was used regularly. It was used for Mathematics lessons, where a short movie would be played to emphasise new concepts such as equivalent fractions and positioning. The Smartboard was also used to show students short-films on play-building and how theatre is constructed, as well as showing the students how to navigate certain internet sites such as ‘Read, Think, Write‘. 

After reading an article called “How to Bring Teachers up to Speed with Technology“, I realised that teachers need to be supported and educated in the field of technology. Bridget McCrea, the author of this article, highlights that if teachers are not supported and taught how to best use technology, then they are most likely to “retreat to their old ways of teaching” which would be a waste of the Government’s money that is being used for education (buying the new and expensive technological items) and is detracting from the opportunity of students to engage in technology and, therefore, engaging in new and exciting experiences that are offered through technology.

As a pre-serviced teacher, I am engaging in classes that teach about technology, how to use it and the benefits it has within the classroom. If you are a practicing teacher and are not up to date, or you are unsure about how to use technology, I highly recommend you learn. Technology can assist you within your classroom. I do not believe in using only technology when teaching, but it can be used to complement your teaching and allows students to hear information in a new way and through a new medium.

I highly recommend that you watch this YouTube video. It is helpful and highlights the important and useful features of Smartboards, which will enable teachers to use Smartboards to benefit them and their students.

Smartboards: Why are they so easy to use?

Video Conferencing in Schools

Whilst on practicum, some teachers went to a school down the road to participate in a video conferencing session on the topic of “Spell-O-drome“. I was unable to attend this, as there was not enough room for me and other pre-serviced teachers, which was very unfortunate. 

My cooperating teacher was unable to attend, however, I spoke to a teacher who did, and he said it was very useful and video conferencing had been done a number of times between schools and other institutes. He said it allowed the teachers to gain the relevant and important information without having to leave their class (to allow them to travel) and it did not extract from time with family and completing work outside of school hours. These conferences took place at 4pm and ran for approximately 1 hour, so as the teacher said, he was not inconvenienced and gain a considerable amount of information out of the sessions.

This is what technology is meant to do. It is meant to assist teachers and students to allow for learning to be improved within the classroom. It is excellent that professional learning conferences can be conducted virtually, as it allows for teachers to complete their work and to be with their class.