INTERACTIVE WHITEBOARDS (IWBs) YAY OR NAY?

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There have been mixed opinions on the effectiveness and use of IWBs by my colleagues during our first professional experience and by the teaching body as a whole as they have slowly become a centrepiece of the Primary classroom. Some mentioned the trouble and time it took to prepare Notebook slides and activities the night before a lesson and the ICT issues encountered during the lesson which made theirs a dreaded first experience. On the other hand, my personal experiences have only been positive with the IWB giving the opportunity to engage and motivate students through interactive activities and access to multiple modes of learning and information.

The interactive aspect of the IWB is of key importance as reiterated by Higgins, Beauchamp and Miller (2007), through a three stage process of interaction:

  1. Using the IWB to support traditional didactic teaching.
  2. Stimulation of interactivity through questioning and involvement of pupils.
  3. Enhancement of the interactive experience through using the technology to stimulate and develop interactive learning.

This is also in line with the move towards New Literacies as the IWB provides a foundation for its delivery in the classroom. Whilst it may not be proven that IWBs impact student outcome, it has definitely redefined the teacher student relationship and interaction in the classroom for the better where it is used effectively as an ‘Interactive’ White Board.

References

Higgins, S., G. Beauchamp, and D. Miller (2007), Reviewing the literature on interactive whiteboards, Learning, Media and technology32(3), 213-225.

– MR. QUAN

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ELEMENTS OF AN AMAZING CLASS BLOG

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Some examples of great classroom blogs:

3/4C @ The Junction: http://tjps34c.edublogs.org/

This is a prime example of a model classroom blog to use with a Primary classroom. Blog posts are made on a regular basis and is directly related to learning that occurs in the classroom. It includes student created material and media that has been created in the classroom for students and parents to reflect on and observe the learning that occurs in the classroom. As a teacher, this is a great reflective tool to look back on lessons and assess the interactiveness of tasks while as a learner, it makes learning more fun, relevant and interactive beyond the boundaries of the classroom. The blog also emphasises the connected nature of the blogging experience with students able to comment and communicate with other students around the world.

Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog: http://yollisclassblog.blogspot.com.au/

This is another example of a great classroom blog with a greater focus on getting students and the rest of the world to interact in the learning experience. Blog posts include online lessons that were conducted and tutorials that were created by the students’ themselves to show that there is a blurred line between being a learner and being a teacher. This blog poses many activities and questions that students are able to take home after leaving the classroom which further emphasises the nature of learning extending beyond the classroom. This blog also embraces other relevant digital tools such as Twitter. For example, one blog post posed a question to Twitter followers to identify what feather was shown to show that learning through blogging can be collaborative and engaging across borders and the world.

More examples of great classroom blogs at Edublogs

– MR. QUAN

THE AGE OF THE DIGITAL CLASSROOM

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Following on from my previous post about ‘New Literacies’, teachers in the 21st Century must not only use technology for the sake of using it in the classroom, but must find ways to integrate it into the classroom experience to enhance learning and make learning relevant to our students (Barone, 2009). Barone’s (2009) article Literacy Instruction With Digital and Media Technologies highlights THREE important facts that we must embrace:

  1. Preparing students for ‘New Literacies’ by preparing ourselves: As with any form of learning, students must be exposed to it explicitly throughout their school experience and build on their prior knowledge of technology and digital media at home. Through scaffolded experiences, students should be provided with opportunities to explore and understand how these new modes of interaction and learning work through exposure to digital technologies from Kindergarten. Teachers must prepare themselves with the confidence, resources and right attitude to be able to teach this as with any other curriculum area.
  2. Rework of traditional student assessment modes: Imagine written assessments where students are assessed on their ability to type a report using new technological tools rather than handwritten paper assessments. Teachers must adjust and modify their traditional assessments to move towards evaluating traditional content knowledge through new modes of literacy. This is not saying remove all assessment of traditional literacy, but rather, assessing skills and literacies that are more relevant and familiar to the learner of today.
  3. Immersing the classroom experience in ‘New Literacies’: Looking at the success of Fernley, it is evident that immersing the teaching and learning experience through use of technology has helped in motivating students to learn as well as assist teachers in changing their attitudes to adopting this radical change in the way classroom lessons are taught. From an online classroom blog to students collecting their daily activities and homework from their online folder, an enriched learning environment can be created to enhance learning and provide the guidance for students to develop the relevant skills to succeed in a future filled with technology.

References

Barone, D., & Wright, T. E. (2008). Literacy Instruction with Digital and Media Technologies. The Reading Teacher, 62(4), 292-302. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy2.library.usyd.edu.au/docview/203281892/fulltextPDF?accountid=14757

– MR. QUAN

WHAT ARE “NEW LITERACIES”?

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We are in the midst of a literary revolution (or evolution). To prepare our young people of tomorrow to be active contributors to modern society, the children of today not only need to be literate in the traditional views of literacy (reading, writing, listening,  speaking and responding), but will need the ability to apply this across an increasingly expanding range of formats such as social networks, television, media platforms and film.

The term “New Literacies” can be used to encompass this transformation of the way we learn, communicate and interact in a society which is multimodal, multiliterate and increasingly in the digital domain (Houtman, 2013). The multimodal aspect refers to the way meaning is created and shared across a vast array of written, spoken, visual and kinaesthetic modes. Multiliteracies refers to the way these forms of meaning making are taught, used and created by society and how interaction will shape the learning experience. The interplay of these new and transforming forms of communication and the the ever changing digital environment we live in, forms the term we can coin as “new literacies”.

In a world where popular teenage fashion bloggers have a greater influence on young children than renowned scholarly authors, teachers must embrace “new literacies” in the classroom to be more socially, culturally and technologically relevant and interactive with the students we teach. A focus should be placed on the word “interactive” in the above statement as students will take the lead in the learning and Leu et al. (2013) states “teachers will increasingly become orchestrators of learning contexts rather than dispensers of literacy skills” (as cited in Houtman, 2013). However, it is important that focus still be placed on quality literature and adapt the way these are communicated to students and change the mode through which students interact with them.

References

Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues? In the Library with the Lead Pipe.  Retrieved fromhttp://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2013/new-literacies-learning-and-libraries-how-can-frameworks-from-other-fields-help-us-think-about-the-issues/ Accessed February 14th, 2014

– MR. QUAN

TRIBUTE TO GREENWASHING – THE MEDIA SHOW

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This short clip emphasises the importance of educating young children on what they see on the internet and in mass media through a satirical look at well known companies promoting their seemingly environmentally friendly image. As young children are being increasingly exposed to internet and media content at a young age where their minds and thoughts are easily moulded and we as teachers, must make explicit to students that they shouldn’t be taking everything they see online or on television at first glance. As continuous learners ourselves, we must also be cautious when selecting media resources and content used in the classroom to ensure our students are still being exposed to quality “new literature” and are aware of the underlying meaning and ways issues are subjectively depicted in the media.

Coming up… more on “New Literacies” in my following post.

– MR. QUAN