The journey of blogging part 2

After nearly a year off, I am about to begin blogging again for the second ICT course in my per-service education.  This time I will be curating ICT tools that are relevant to classroom implementation and associated with The Australian Curriculum: Technologies.  Though I am still wrapping my head around it, I am looking forward to this.

The first week’s activities within the course encouraged students to utilise and experiment with the program called Scratch :  I found the program to be user friendly after a few attempts with some detailed instructions.  I did however, have some difficulty with one of the tasks that asked me to draw a simple polygon.  I was unable to complete the task because the tabs/’blocks’ that I required were not visible.

So far, not too bad!

Fi

Learning to BACK UP YOUR WORK

Whilst on prac I was enlightened on the importance of ensuring I have a back up for ALL my work.  Not just my USB, and here’s why.  I was talking to another pre-service teacher from the local university and my mentor teacher was with me.  The other student mentioned about how she lost her entire assignment due to ‘freak’ circumstances…her computer and USb were left in the driveway behind her car by her husband.  Before leaving for the day, she did not look around the car before getting in and reversing over her belongings.  She lost everything and had to re-do her current assignment, but all her previous work was gone.  My mentor teacher then shared with me her experience on losing everything she had on her USB.  She went to use her USB one day and it just wouldn’t read.  Unable to read anything she was desperate and sent it in to the local uni to see if the tech experts could figure it out..no luck, everything she had worked on for the last 4 years she could no longer access.  Which got me thinking,..If I lost all my uni work I think I would have a mini meltdown…how can I back it all up and not loose it?

The teacher in the room next door then recommended Dropbox, where basically you save or upload all your documents or photos etc to the internet.  It is password protected and you can then access your dropbox from any computer with internet access.  The only problem I Have is that with only 2.5 years worth of uni over, I have already filled up my usage space…so maybe prioritise the things you really want to keep on there.

dropbox

Noise level while working with computers

I managed to teach a session last week where all students were using iPads and or laptops at the same time.  The students were working in pairs, so the noise level in classroom was rapidly becoming too much.  Which had me thinking (unfortunately as an after-thought) that I wish I had access to headphones for the machines.  In similar fashion, Megan Lim seems to have come to the same realisation.  In a recent post, Megan refers to an article she found: ‘Engaging Early Years Foundation Stage children in computer-based play: A guide for practitioners, Stancer (2011)’.  Within, there are numerous tips, questions to consider and discussion points about the use of ICTs in an Early Childhood setting, including the appropriate use of headphones.  It also talks about the need for children of this age to learn through play.

While looking into the topic further I also found these helpful hints from Michelle Bourgeois…http://goo.gl/DTK7g.

Also note I have shortened the above URL by using Google URL Shortener, which has come in very handy for assignments.

A bit to catch up on

It seems like a long time since I posted, but I have just been so busy with prac.  Whilst I have been integrating ICTs into my lessons, I have had many complications along the way.  Between the internet connection at the school ‘playing up’, or just being REALLY SLOW, and some of the sites being blocked by one computer, but not others, to simply not having the time to do all the work that I had planned out and intended to get through.  It is just so frustrating at times.  But so rewarding when it  works out.  I am very grateful that my mentor teacher is completely understanding and can relate, so I don’t feel too stressed at the time, otherwise I think I would be completely deflated.

Anyway, apart from those experiences with ICTs, I have thoroughly enjoyed my prac and am not looking forward to returning to reality.  Throughout my journey I have maintained my connection with the TeachBytes site and am loving the great sites being posted.  So, I thought I’d share here too…If you need help teaching students with number lines,  Pearl Diver is great.  When I played it, it started off simply, then moved on to more complex levels, especially helpful for younger age groups, or anyone struggling with this concept.

ICTs for art

I went into my prac class again this morning and met with my mentor teacher.  I am in a grade 3 class and since next week is NAPLAN for 3 days, she asked me if I’d like to do some fun lessons later in the week.  She asked me if I knew any ICTs for art.  I had to admit that I hadn’t even thought of using ICTs for art…I had only thought of art as very hands on using real materials.  So when I got home I decided to do some googling and after a fair but of time consuming research I found http://bomomo.com/ and http://canvastic.net/net.html.  Both sites are free and easy to use and very simple, so they might be more suited to younger age groups, but I thought they were a good start for experimental linear drawings and colour pallets.  For further ideas visit http://www.educational-freeware.com/news/doodle.aspx

Early years technology

Throughout the learning journey for this course I have discovered many different sites and blogs that make recommendations and suggest various sites and activities to try.  I recently discovered a blog named TeachBytes and subscribed to follow their posts.  So far, there have been daily suggestions that are worthwhile and I have found to be interesting and very relevant, especially when looking at integrating technology into the classroom.  The latest site shared by TeachBytes was perfect for this weeks’ learning experience of further exploring topics of interest.  The site is basically Etch-A-Sketch Online, which I think would be fantastic for an Early Years setting, which is where they suggest its use.

digital citizenship

As mentioned in my previous post, this week’s activity was to investigate 2 topics of interest…this is my second.  Digital citizenship is something that I had not really thought about until a seminar I attended at my children’s school earlier this year.  I thought it was extremely important to teach students, as well as parents about the how and why technology is so useful in the classroom.  It is also important that this is taught for age appropriate levels, so a year 1 student is not going to have the same level of detail as a year 5 student.  the information night that I attended used this site to demonstrate the importance of digital citizenship.  Within it there is information on how to keep students safe online and how to ensure they use the internet respectfully and responsibly.  There are also links to Education Queensland information, which was very helpful too.

ICTs in a multi-age/composite class

Though I remain frustrated with my internet connection and speed as I have used the limit and don’t renew until Wednesday…can’t come soon enough, I have finally caught up and am completing the activities for this week (10).  We were asked to investigate 2 topics of interest, and one of the ones I chose is regarding ICTs in multi-age/composite classrooms.

I chose this as I have experience as a teacher aide in a prep/1 multi-age class.  I also know that there is a significant difference between the two types of classrooms and the style of teaching necessary to make them work.  The use of ICTs in this setting was very helpful, especially when trying to teach a concept to both ages.  Personally I found The National Grid for Learning to be very beneficial especially in Early Literacy Fundamentals such as letter formation and phonetics.  We used to use it on the IWB and students would be able to independently or in groups work through a variety of activities as well as practise important skills.

Whilst completing this weeks’ activities I also researched some fellow university students’ blogs and thought Marnie’s post on studyladder was worth sharing, as well as Kelly’s post on her research into ICTs in a multi-age class setting.

Sparklebox and Prac

I can’t believe I forgot about this site until just now.  In the classroom where I used to work, we used this site all the time to download a great variety of printable sheets/posters and activities for all content areas.  The website is Sparklebox, and the only reason I remembered it was because it came up while I was looking for ideas for my maths webquest assignment.  Sparklebox has thousands of resources for primary aged learning and from memory they’re all free to download.  Be sure if you google it that you add Australia on the end, otherwise you get the UK version – not a bad thing just different subject/content areas.

On another note I got a pingback from Nicole Dodge about a previous post regarding stress levels and prac.  She found some fantastic apps that help with time management and kindly shared them just in time for our upcoming prac.  Admittedly, I am a top candidate for high stress levels while on prac…between prac, developing new lesson plans on a daily basis, ongoing assignments, kids and work, I definitely need some help with time management from the apps mentioned, so thank you Nicole.

Square one

I feel like I have hit a cross road in the past week or so.  Unfortunately I seem to be back at square one when contemplating my feelings for technology.  About half way through last week, my internet decided to ‘give up’, apparently there is no obvious reason for it, so this is the only way I can describe it, as although I clearly have connection, it is EXTREMELY SLOW!  therefore my learning journey for all subjects, not just EDC3100 has become EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING!  I even found myself at one stage, wishing that I could do the workload in a workbook or something.  Which had me thinking…what is the alternative if this situation were to occur in a school? If I have planned a whole unit, say up to 10 weeks worth and I was relying on internet or computers for most of it, as I have done for most of my lesson/unit plans that I have completed for assessment throughout my degree, what would I do if I did not have reliable access to these technologies to execute my plan.  Even worksheets etc are usually saved on USB or computer.  Anyway, fantastic as it is, I still find technology to be unreliable at times and very frustrating.