Reflecting On Our E-learning Opportunities

I spend considerable time reading and appreciating what my PLN and various well respected experts have written about educating our pupils and I have just realised it has been many weeks since I took the time to record any ideas or reflections on my own personal blog.

My class and I will be hosting a second year trainee teacher for the next 5 weeks and I look forward to sharing many ideas and thoughts with her. I especially look forward to developing her ability to integrate our three new classroom ipads into her teaching programmes. I know my pupils will be very willing and enthusiastic to show her what they have already mastered and the apps they favour.

Our class blog is continuing to be received well by parents and extended families. Mums and Dad’s often say “We didn’t know you had been doing that until we saw it on the blog!”

They especially appreciate the pages with literacy, numeracy and online reading that their children can do while at home. I have realised how many more hours of learning that my 5 and 6 year olds are doing other than their in the classroom.

Have just read Allanah’s blog about “is your blog an intersection or destination?”, I know the Room 14 blog leads my children and their families in many directions.

 

The Importance Of The Home School Partnership.

The Importance of Partnerships

I dreamed I stood in a studio

And watched two sculptors there.

The clay they worked was a young child’s mind,

And they fashioned it with care.

One was a teacher, the tools she used

Were books and music and art;

One a parent with a guiding hand,

And a gentle, loving heart.

Day after day the teacher worked,

With a touch that was deft and sure,

While the family also did their part,

And polished and smoothed it o’er.

And when at last the task was done,

They were proud of what they had wrought,

For the things they had moulded into the child

Could neither be sold nor bought.

And each agreed they may have failed

If each had worked alone,

For behind the teacher stood the school,

And behind the parent, the family home.

-Author Unknown

Reflecting On Term 1

It has been a very busy first term and the holidays are less than a week away. My plans for e learning development in my classroom have not come to fruition as yet, due to the diverse learning needs and behaviours of some pupils. I had wanted to focus on digital story telling, but have needed to prioritise by using our computers in other ways.

Our three classroom computers are used right throughout the day. My pupils have only been at school for six months, but are becoming increasingly confident with their keyboard skills, Kidpix, a variety of literacy and numeracy learning activities and Lexia. We record voice on my Ipad, Vocaroo and Audiopal. We regularly use the flip video to record activities and view them  forself assessment and reflection. I am looking forward soon to upgrading my 1 year old Ipad 1 for a newer version.

The children enjoy sharing their learning on the class blog and make suggestions as to what they want to post.Parents and extended families enjoy finding out what has been happening. When we have activities that parents are not there for during the day they say ” we will catch up on what you have done by looking on the blog”. Parents are asking me to post photos of activities for Grandparents in other locations to view.

All parents of children in our school sign Internet agreements to give permission for images and work to be posted online. Here lies my DILEMMA! I am very aware of the dangers of posting images of children online but some parents really enjoy seeing their little darlings on the blog. I enjoy and take pride in the blog I have created with my class but have started worrying about the implications. Yes, I am building a home/ school partnership but do I need to make changes?

Today I attended another very successful and enjoyable unconference organised by Allanah King. I appreciate and value all our colleagues who willingly share their ideas and skills. It was also a great opportunity to meet teachers who up until now have just been online contacts.

As with all our opportunities to develop our ICT and e-learning knowledge and skills, the quote I read recently “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow”  becomes of more relevance and importance.

 

 

Let The Year Begin!

One month of 2012 has alread passed and tomorrow is our Teacher Only Day at school. The holidays have been great, but now my classroom is all set up and initial first day activities have been prepared. I look forward to greeting my class of year 1 children on Tuesday 7 February. Having  all started school during the last term of 2011 these wee people  will at least be returning to a familiar environment. As I finished some preparations today I was wondering what their expectations of the first few days back will be? They have all been born into the 21st century. Although it is over 50 years since I started school, I remember my first week. How different the classroom and learning experiences are today!!

Engagement And Raising Achievement

Tomorrow we have another Link Learning ICT Lead Teacher meeting to attend. It is always an enjoyable time working our way through the programme planned by Allanah and Charles, who provide us with opportunities to share, develop and extend our knowledge, skills and interests.

Looking through the planned agenda, I read that we are asked to be prepared to discuss a successful way we have engaged or raised the achievment in our classes using ICT since our last meeting.

I am looking forward to hearing the ideas and contributions from other teachers who work at the similar class level as I do. I can not visualise teaching without ICT now and have no difficulty identifying the many ways I engage my children during each day.

Children are learning to use the digital camera to record their learning activities.

They expect to me to video their activities so they can self assess, reflect and review what they have been learning.

They collaborate with me to make regular postings on our class blog. They share this with parents and extended family. They make comments on the blog from their homes.

We use the data projector for group and class lessons, to find images to support our discussions, learning games to support our reading, writing and maths learning and we regularly read some blogs from other schools and make comments on these.

Children work cooperatively with selected activities on my ipad.

 We use Vocarro and Audiopal to record voice for our blog.

Our class has their regular lesson in the computer suite each week to develop and reinforce skills and knowledge.

Throughout each day children are timetabled to work independently on the Lexia programme.

What I want to know is:

  “How are others measuring how ICT is raising  the achievement level in Junior Classes, compared with children who are not using ICT in their classrooms?”

How do we know that our ICT programmes are making a difference?

My apologies in advance if  I am the only one who does not know the answer. I look forward to your ideas and explanations.

“Some more thoughts….”

Observing, interacting and discussing with my class I know they like  the way the programmes and activities we use provide instant feed back.

The selected activities provide children with opportunities to reason, understand and be creative.

I believe effective use of ICT in the classroom depends upon the choices that a teacher makes about how to integrate the programmes and tools into their teaching. Children need to know the learning intention before the activity.

Teachers need time and opportunity to develop the skills necessary to effectively use ICT in their classroom programmes.

 

 

Lead Teacher Day Reflections

 

We had our  Lead Teacher Day for the term last week. It is always an enjoyable time to work amongst other teachers who have like minded passion to extend their knowledge and ability to integrate ICT into their daily programmes. Allanah’s planned agenda for the day was once again very busy. There were many opportunities for thought provoking discussion and sharing of ideas and skills.

It is great to see Skype is catching on and teachers are discovering many ways this can be useful in their programmes. Many of us have used Skype for some time in our personal communications and with our growing PLN, and now confidence is developing to allow children to communicate locally, nationally and internationally.

Allanah encouraged us all to make a posting on our VLN and slowly but surely I believe teachers are showing increasing understanding of how this can benefit us as we join and share ideas in areas we are especially interested in.

The session we had on Creative Commons was very thought provoking. I believe most of us will give increasing consideration to what we read and use or create on our computers. We must come to terms with misconceptions that because we created it, it must be ours!! I think  this topic will provide opportunities for great discussions with our staff and BOT.

The Knowledge Cafe session we had was also very interesting. The main question to be discussed was “How are we helping our staff to come to grips with and use ICT to enhance children’s learning?” My school is fortunate that our teachers are becoming increasingly keen to develop their knowledge and skills. Our three lead teachers are available to assist and guide as necessary and new ideas are being tried and developed.

We do not have a choice in this matter. We are in the second decade of the 21st century and we need to be providing our students with future based skills to allow them opportunities for success with their learning. Parents should be expecting to see children developing these skills. With my class of 5 and 6 year olds I know that there is not one child who turns down an opportunity to write at the computer, read a big book on sites such as Oxford Owl, do literacy activites at Reading time, maths games at Maths time, Lexia, write a blog post, read blogs from other classes and other schools, read their story and record it on Vocaroo, use the flip video to film plays, story reading etc. This all comes so natural to these little children. They are motivated and easily engaged on tasks when learning in this way. I am the one who has had to learn and I am very rewarded watching the results of my endeavours.

Bring it on kids!  Make me keep learning to provide you with further skills and opportunities.

 

The End Of Term Two.

We are over half way through another school year. As I added up my register yesterday I was reflecting on the progress made by each and every child throughout the past 11 weeks especially. My little year 1 and 2 pupils are taking increasing responsibility for their learning. The use of the two class computers, data projector and my ipad on occasions allows opportunities for everyone to work together and be appropriately challenged.

I am able to observe and support children as they ask questions of each other and try new ideas. They are able to see and monitor their own achievements and progress. They are gaining satisfaction and enjoyment from their work. But best of all for many of them they are gaining an increasing positive image of themselves as learners.

But the best part  is that most  of this is happening through the children working together and being engaged in the many online  literacy and numeracy activities available.  They are calling these learning opportunities “games”. We all know children learn by play!

Keeping Our Kids safe Online

Yesterday we had another Lead Teacher Day with Allanah. She has been writing us a very valuable resource about Cybersafety.  At our school we have Internet user agreements and discuss Hectors World with our classes. Charles stressed to us that some parents are very unaware of the importance of teaching and supporting their children about being safe online. Schools must continue to take responsibility for helping children become cyber safe, cyber savvy and  responsible digital citizens.  Thank you Allanah and Charles.

When I returned to school at 3.00pm, I introduced my Syndicate to Allanah’s  resource and we had some  interesting discussion about the photos we put on our blogs. It is not just  families and close friends who may be viewing these images.

A Day With ICT In A Y1/2 Classroom.

I am one of a small group of teachers in our school of more than 400 pupils, who is lucky to have a data projector for my daily use. Recently when two more projectors and screens were set up in Junior classrooms, I was asked how I integrated this technology into my daily programme. That was an easy task to provide answers for and I recorded a diary the next day of all the ways we had used our data projector from 8.30am- 3.00pm.

Yesterday I again kept a note of the tasks we used our projector for and decided  to add it to my blog.

8.30   Data projector turned on as children started entering the classroom. Most recent blog post put on screen for the parents to read. Children checked for new messages in web notes site and added where relevant. We checked for comments on our blog from other schools, answered questions and made return comments.

9.10   Two children each day have responsibility to add weather and date to a site we use. This is then printed out.

9.20   A small group of children work collaboratively editing a piece of writing on the screen to practise key board skills. They then do some shared writing. Seeing the text on the big screen appears to be more motivational than on a small computer screen.

9.25  At the  end of Guided writing time, good examples of the day’s work is shared and the children are learning to read and record their writing using Vocaroo. We have been experimenting with posting audio to our blog as well.

11.00  Selected Reading Group is allowed to work together to play Literacy games from our class blog. One example of this is our blends activity. They also enjoy Cup Stacker to speed up their key board skills.

12.15 is the time we do our Phonics programme. I put one word of a rhyming family on the screen and then time a group children to see how quickly they can type in 4 more words, e.g. day, pay, stay, play, tray. The rest of the class enjoy watching and encouraging and one again the big screen allows for this.

1.35 Maths. Small groups have turns to play the maths games on our blog and recently we were able to watch some wonderful Youtube videos to support our Geometry Shapes unit.

2.15. Topic Time. We are at present in the middle of a Inquiry Learning Unit on Disasters. The children are very motivated to watch videos and look at images of disasters. A couple of days ago we watch a volcano erupting and there was total engagement from my whole class, something that would not have happened had I been showing them pictures in a book.

Naturally our activities change from day to day, but this has just been a snap shot of our ICT  programme.