Last week was a big week, in more ways than one.
I completed my contribution to a major sideline project that I’ve been working on for months (details coming in a month or two), and I started work as a temporary ICT Support teacher at a school in Perth.
I’m working 3 days / week, for 4 weeks, and I’ve been given (mostly) free reign … in a school where the admin actively interested in the use of ICT to connect, communicate, and collaborate beyond classroom walls. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to apply my ICT knowledge and skills locally; and I am hopeful that I can make a positive difference with the teachers and students I’m working with.
So Week 1 was spent something like this:
- Meeting and getting to know staff (Yrs 1-7). I was relieved to see that this went rather well, and I’m looking forward to developing deeper relationships over the next few weeks
- Creating and distributing an ICT survey – exploring staff skills, learning interests, and literacy priorities for the term
- Deciding my ICT /literacy focus for each class
- Working out school systems for ICT access, which includes iPod Touches, iPads, and MacBooks; and getting to know the ICT Angels (student ICT leaders).
As I hadn’t had a chance to talk to teachers prior to my first day, I decided to introduce teachers and students to Puppet Pals, a digital storytelling app. Teachers’ skills and confidence with ICT varies significantly; however, I found virtually all of them to be very keen to learn and experiment. One of the Year 3 teachers is very skilled in the use of iPads, and gave me some great ideas for using PuppetPals – which I’ll take to my other classes this coming week.
At this time, I’m focussing on using iPads to support literacy – in particular storytelling, oral language, and writing. I’m also taking pains to encourage students to collaboratively problem solve how to use all the features of the app. My point is that there is no need for the teacher to be the expert in the app – so long as they know how to use it to support teaching and learning (i.e. focus on the pedagogy, not the tech).
The level of students’ excitement about Puppet Pals has to been seen to be believed – I was even stopped in the playground by a Year 2 student who’d downloaded the app on his iPod Touch, and was planning his story for next week 🙂
In one of the Year 2 classes, the classroom teacher was extremely surprised to see a little girl, who never talks in class, actively communicating with her partner, and contributing to the audio recording. And to top it off, we found two boys, who normally can’t work together in class, quietly problem-solving in the corner.
On a note for future, audio recording in class can be challenging – when there are lots of students working at once. I had expected this, but will plan for it more carefully when students practice recording more prepared stories later this week.
Students had been learning how to use Mac Pages to record their Science research; however, a string of technical problems led to an interesting experiment with a shared class Google Doc. It works, once students get over the shock at being able to watch each-other type (and deleting other people’s work – sigh). Normally, I’d have set up individual docs – but this was a last minute idea. We’ll see how we go.
Students are working on presentations about Asian countries. The teacher freely admits to not knowing much about ICT, but is happy to support my experimentation. After some discussion, the students and I decided that they would present their work using (their choice of) Pages (brochures), PowerPoint, or Comic Life.
We are also working on a Google Doc, where students are sharing 5 questions they’d like to ask someone in their focus Asian country. We should have that finished by next week, when I’ll tweet it out & request responses from my PLN throughout Asia. There are a few challenges (e.g. Laos, Myanmar), but we should (hopefully) be able to get answers for most countries.
Students are working on (movie) comic sketches about the Western Australian election, (reluctantly) learning how to write scripts, organise props and characters, etc. My chance remark that we might be able to experiment with green-screening in iMovie was so warmly received that the Deputy Principal (and ICT leader) ordered a green-screen kit off eBay later that afternoon!
After attending @paulfuller75’s presentation at the ECAWA conference in 2011, I can’t wait to get my hands on this kit! I’m going to have a LOT of fun 🙂 Next week, students will be exploring and experimenting with camera angles, and rehearsing their presentations.
There are a few things which I’ll be working on – on and off during the next four weeks, and hopefully beyond –
- Establishing a school ICT wiki for staff
- Helping the student ICT Angels with the school blog, which I’d like to see become more iPad friendly & include more multimedia.
- Working with three classroom teachers to help develop class blogs
- Introduce as many teachers as I can to Google Docs and @edmodo, although more many this will be a long term goal.
We’ll see how we go.