Who are WALT and WILF?

Do you have WALT and WILF in your classroom?  We do!  In my professional experience classroom, my mentor teacher actively uses WALT and WILF, and encourages me to incorporate them into my lessons as well.

WALT and WILF are  classroom helper signs which she fills in collaboratively with the students at the beginning of each lesson and can be referred back  upon at any time during the lesson.  WALT can also be to reflect upon the lessons objectives at the end of the lesson, while WILF ensures that students are producing the work that the teacher requires.

WALT – We are learning to …

WILF – What I’m looking for …

WALT and WILF signs can be downloaded from the Mrs Pancake website and can then be laminated so that they can be reused for each lesson.

ICT Resources for Early Childhood Classrooms

In response to our areas of interest question for this week, I’ve been researching the types of ICT products available for Early Childhood teachers and students. The tricky bit about this is that many of the plethora of programs available on line tend to constitute little more than busywork with little learning content. These in themselves may be useful, particularly in kindergarten settings where children are in fact learning about colours, shapes and are also developing the basic ICT skills including mouse skills.

In my search for something a bit more educationally substantial, I came across the PBS site that I shared via Diigo which lists a nice little range if IWB programs particularly designed for early years students.

The game Curious George.How Tall, uses the popular cartoon character Curious George and asks students to measure various items using non-standard units of measurement as required by the Australian Curriculum in Mathematics. I think this is a great tool as it is visually representative and required students to estimate the height of objects before actually measuring them out. The program also allows students to self assess as it doesn’t inform them if their estimation was correct or incorrect, instead, gives them the tools to discover the correct answer.

Another activity on the PBS site was Fuzzy Lion Ears. This program links with the Australian Curriculum literacy component, asking young children to listen to a word while viewing the word with a letter missing, then choosing the missing letter from a short list. This exercise asks that children listen effectively and use phonetics skills to decide which letter is missing.

Interactive upper primary lesson tools from Mr. Haughton

I’ve linked information to Simon Haughton before in my blog and he’s proving to be a great resource in my PLN. From what I can gather, Simon is a specialist ICT teacher working in a primary school in the UK, and he appears to be incredibly passionate about his job and very sharing of his knowledge. Today, Simon posted a digital poster advertising free classroom resources that he’s developed.

simon-haughton-poster

It seems that the math website is still under development, however, looking at the literacy website, I was very impressed. The site is easy to use, (even teachers will be able to find their way around!) and gives resources for the students to build their own literacy artifacts in different traditional mediums; advertisements, diary entries, discussion text, instructional text, letter writing, narrative story, newspaper report, non-chronological report,playscript and recount.

This is an example of the writing prompts for a narrative story.

narrativeprompts

Another useful site that Simon has advertised on his poster includes one with lesson ideas for ICT skills which could be embedded into any subject. The site gives students (and teachers) a simple, illustrated checklist of markers of good, great and super ICT use for a whole host of text and image programs, a list of digital creativity tools, a list of programs which enable multimedia authoring such as creation of interactive educational games, a list of sites which allow students to experiment with computer programming and finally a range of activities based around digital research and communication. In her blog titled Expanding my assessment toolbag compartment, Mrs Frintzilas has spoken about ways to assess student learning through ICTs, in particular Google forms. Using Simon’s checklists for digital skills could be a great way for both students and teachers to assess student ability in various ICT skills either as formative or summative assessment.

I’m really impressed that these lesson tools are authentic, user friendly and fit perfectly with the TPACK idea that ICT should not be included in classroom activities purely for the sake of having and ICT component. These lessons actually teach and support learning outcomes for the student.

Mapping Words

I was just working away at an assignment for another course when I came upon this cool resource, Educator Resources : Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus.

I really think it is a great way to undertake group investigation into words which may be a part of learning experiences in any subject. Imagine breaking down new words in a literacy or language lesson, looking at scientific or historical terminology or discovering what’s behind musical or artistic terms.

It also meets a number of multiple intelligences (I know, I’m banging on about multiple intelligences AGAIN), especially when used as a group experience using an electronic whiteboard.  The images are active, catering to those who learn through movement or visually, the format is mathematical/logistical, discussion arising from the image is interpersonal and the theme is linguistic.

I did a simple search of the word school and the initial response can be viewed below.  A line of thought can be traced by clicking on responses in the areas that meet your needs.

 

Australian Curriculum General Capability in ICT

(ACARA, n.d.)

In preparing my unit plan for assessment two, I was required to incorporate aspects from the Australian Curriculum General Capability for ICT.  ACARA supplied the image above which is useful in explaining an overview of the skills and understandings to be reached by students.

The strands, Managing and operating ICT & Applying social and ethical protocols and practices while using ICT, encompass the other aspects and should be present in every ICT interaction undertaken by students.  In essence, they represent the basic skills and understandings required of all ICT users, how to use ICT effectively in a safe and legal manner.

Communicating, creating, and investigating with ICT are the ways in which students apply the previous two strands in order to create knowledge, communicate or demonstrate understanding.

The central sphere is the ICT capability itself, attained when the surrounding strands have been effectively implemented.  In this way, the student’s use of ICT can be related to the teacher’s TPACK.  TPACK is the resultant capability of understanding and applying pedagogy, ICT use and subject knowledge as explained by Faeza in her blog.

Through drawing parallels between how teachers teach and what students learn, we should be able to become more organic and holistic planners, resulting in benefits to ourselves, but especially our students.

 

ACARA. (n.d.). Information and communication technology (ICT) capability, Australian Curriculum, v4.2. Retrieved on 22 March 2013 from <http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Information-and-Communication-Technology-capability/Organising-elements/Organising-elements>.

Another Learning Framework: Dimensions of Learning

There seems to be an endless list of resources that teachers can use to ensure that they are planning their units and lessons in ways that not only impart knowledge but do so in continuum’s which follow a logical order of knowledge construction.

The well known Blooms taxonomy is perhaps the basis for many of these frameworks.  It describes a learners construction of knowledge from it’s basis, through to higher order thinking skills.  A graphic description complete with key words was found at Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day and provided by Enokson via Flickr under Creative Commons.

 

The Dimensions of Learning model is represented by six phases, I found a quite detailed description of the framework on the Prince George’s County Public Schools website (USA) which I have taken information from and compiled into a table so that it can be easily accessed and compared with the Blooms Taxonomy table we’ve just looked at.

 

My first thought about the framework is that it begins, not with the basics of knowledge, but with the attitudes of the individual students, class as a group and the teacher.  That successful knowledge construction and transformation begins with pedagogical choices which impact upon the learning environment.  The framework then moves on through the basics of knowledge, thought processes and authenticity to finally arrive, as Blooms does, with higher order thought.

As interesting as this exercise was, I decided, for the purposes of my assignment focusing on Year 2 Science, to use the 5E’s model which was specifically designed to assist teachers in meeting curricular requirements of the Science thread of the Australian Curriculum.

The Tablet Makes a School Comeback

With the ever evolving world of computing continuing it’s unending march (to wherever it’s going!), I personally foresee that it will not be laptops that will populate every classroom, the age of tablets is well and truly upon us.  I make this prediction based on the cost of hardware, classroom space being at a premium and the rate at which this technology is evolving.  I believe that, until something better, cheaper & stronger comes along, that tablet devices, such as iPads, will soon be the requirement for students.

 

 

Already, many public schools are leaning toward this hardware option.  Last year I was privileged to undertake Professional Experience within a brand spanking new state school which was built with a private sector partner.  In this small school (only about 250 students last year, but growing rapidly), the Preparatory classrooms, of which there were two, shared week about use of six iPads as well as each classroom having four desktop computers and weekly access to the school computer lab.  The iPads were utilised both for leisure and reward activities and classroom activities including building ecards (literacy) for Fathers Day, and taking photographs for an authentic shape recognition exercise.

Reading the 4teachers blog today I discovered a link outlining 62 Interesting ways to use an iPad in the classroom.  I think it’s worth a look!

 

Happy reading,

Bec Twidale.

 

Using Audio Podcasts in the Classroom

Throughout the process of considering ICT use in classrooms I have liked the idea of a class blog or set of blogs (such as offered by edublogs), however, Simon Haughton has opened my eyes to the world of Audio Podcasting.  In a nutshell, a class can produce a range of ‘radio’ style segments which they publish as podcasts, and it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive to set up.  As Simon explains in his blog, there are simple iPad applications which can be used to record the podcast and publishing is free.

I can see many benefits to this type of ICT integration.  There are several steps required to create a quality podcast including;

  • brainstorming content for the podcast
  • researching content
  • writing the script
  • presenting the content
  • technical applications including recording and posting the podcast

Within a classroom, each of these tasks requires a different skill set which means that ‘teams’ can be formed for each task based on children’s orientations and ‘multiple intelligences’. This can be done as described below.

  • Brainstorming – Interpersonal, Naturalistic, Logical/mathematical
  • Researching – Logical/mathematical, Linguistic, Intrapersonal, Naturalistic
  • Script Writing- Linguistic, Intrapersonal
  • Presenting – Interpersonal, Linguistic, Musical
  • Technical – Intrapersonal, Logical/mathematical, Musical, Bodily/kinesthetic, Visual/spatial

Positions within teams may also rotate by say the term, with some students staying on as ‘expert peers’ while others get to experience and expand their skills in new sectors.

I am drawn to this form of communication which can be used to present class news, conclusions about project topics and just about anything which could be posted on a blog, as I am specialising in Early Childhood Education, where children’s literacy development may present barriers to detailed blog posting.  A younger production team would be able to produce a quality podcast with scaffolded assistance from the teacher, especially if the presenting was broken up between many students who were each given a short script (perhaps as little as one sentence) to memorise in class, and planning and researching were undertaken as whole class exercises, lead by the teacher.

 

 

Do My Digital Experiences Provide Genuine Value to My Students?

Mrs Frintzilas has done it again! Another great blog filled with useful information.

I was particularly interested in a link she provided, care of another contact, which simply lays out the difference between using and integrating ICTs within the classroom.

This table originated on the website teachbytes and has helped me evaluate the digital experiences which will form part of my Year 2 Unit Plan on life cycles of living things. I have been able to check which experiences have genuine value to the students in either constructing or transferring knowledge as required by the Australian Curriculum. By becoming more aware of the issues with ICT integration into my classroom, and adding tools to my personal toolbelt, my students will benefit from tasks which are targeted and authentic, leading to a rich learning environment.

Rao, A. (2013, 29 March). “What’s the Difference Between “Using Technology” and “Technology Integration”?, teachbytes [website]. Retrieved from .

Scootle, Making Curriculum Linking Child’s Play.

As pointed out by one of my colleagues in her blog, our introduction to Scootle is tinged, in her words, with both excitement and astonishment. I can’t believe that in two years of university study I had never even heard the word Scootle mentioned.

What a wonderful site it is, especially for new teachers, those established teachers struggling to incorporate ICTs into their teaching or looking for ways to implement the Australian Curriculum.

In a nutshell, Scootle is a website which contains a hoard of resources for teachers. It’s so much more than that though. Resources are categorised into eight resource types;

  • Learning objects
  • Image
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Collections
  • Teacher resource
  • Assessment resource
  • Dataset.

Even better than that, all resources are linked to the Australian Curriculum by subject, content descriptor and year level, so that, not only can you do a standard search but you can also select a content descriptor and year level to find resources which directly relate to what is to be taught.

Having flicked through a few activities (Learning objects), I did find a few of them to be of questionable usefulness or have flaws such as long introductions which can’t be skipped, the overall usefulness of Scootle in incorporating a range ICTs into teaching can’t be overlooked.

Now we’ll go on a brief field trip of the Scootle site.

My Professional Experience site has linked me with a Year 1 class, so I’ve taken this as my inspirations for this search.  I would imagine that I will be required to teach at least one mathematics lesson during my fifteen day practicum.

So, I chose the Mathematics tab and scrolled  down to Year 1 Content Descriptions, then clicked on “Represent and solve simple addition and subtraction problems using a range of strategies including counting on, partitioning and rearranging parts (ACMNA015), then viewed elaborations and matching resources.

A list of resources resulted.  I was able to quickly choose the type of resource I was after by looking at the blue icon next to the image of each result.  The blue box denotes Learning Objects.  Not only could I read the description of the item, but I could also view the items popularity with other educators and a star rating, which I think is particularly useful for new educators.  Having viewed and trialled the resources which I thought were interesting, I decided to review Counting Beetles.

 

 

This program asks students to use a range of strategies to count, add and subtract familiar objects (beetles) and lends itself well as a group activity with teacher instruction and scaffolding. The graphics are of great quality and well animated with the beetles actually crawling across the page.  The addition of hiding beetles leads children to use memory and higher order thinking, perhaps tally marking or other written system to keep track of the beetles they are adding and subtracting.  There are three levels of activity, increasing in difficulty which means that the program can be used to introduce, practice and extend the subject.

Overall, this ICT takes the place of traditional concrete object addition and subtraction teaching strategies with little change to content or process and as such is categorised within the Support Mode of the Computer Practice Framework.

I wonder what exciting discoveries my EDC3100 colleagues have made on Scootle.