Unit 12: Digital stories

I’m feeling quite excited. To think l’ve completed the PLN and about to post my digital story! It’s a great sense of satisfaction and achievement. It’s interesting that the frustrations, the enormity of the workload and the feeling of being overwhelmed have faded into the background.

I chose Animoto as it’s relatively easy to use and l’m quite happy with the results. There are some features that could be improved, however l think it’s a tool that l could support students in using. The PLN program has been just like travelling, being introduced to new places and people, experiencing things for the first time and all of the emotions associated with travelling.  The music l selected is titled ‘Flying’ by Mike Strickland, which l feel is quite a reflective piece and also a very appropriate title. Not that it was always a smooth flight as l weathered storms, heavy rain and grey days, along with sunshine and blue sky!

It’s been a year of so many learnings. Thanks to the PLN support team at the SLV. Your guidance, encouragement and support has been greatly appreciated. Thanks to the wider PLN community for your generosity in sharing knowledge and supporting my journey. There are improved outcomes for both me as a teacher and the students. I’ll always continue to travel.

Travels in 2011……..

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Unit 11: Gaming in education

Online games is a new area for me. I’ve played and enjoyed board games, however don’t have much experience with digital games. So this unit has opened up a whole new area. I can see their application across education could be quite broad. Really enjoyed watching Jane McGonigal’s TED Talk and hearing of the games created based on current world issues. I’ve forwarded some of this material on to a colleague who’s using games in some of his current teaching. I’ll explore further the ‘Librarian’s Guide to Gaming’.

I reflected on the board game l played with a 5 year old at the weekend and the conversation and interaction that resulted from this game.

Our school doesn’t allow students to ‘play online games’ when they’re at school. In contrast it’s interesting to read some statistics of the number of hours young people spend playing games. We need to look at how we can incorporate games into education, and as with most things, we need to keep things in balance.

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Unit 10: Learning and teaching tools 2

FUSE is a treasure trove! I’ve explored different sections and found several useful resources: ‘Bright Ideas’ under the Teachers category, and due to recently covering a unit on research skills with Year 8 students, the SLV Ergo site. As l was familiar with both these sites, l then explored the Secondary Students category.

My focus was to find some resources to support the Year 8 Learning Support students with their major science project. The Research and Reading component of the Study Guides and Strategies site http://www.studygs.net/shared/reading.htm contains a wealth of useful ideas. The students are about to present their project, so l plan on using this link in next week’s classes.

I’ve directed the students to several free to use music and sound sites, as well as the Creative Commons sites for their images. I wasn’t aware of SchoolTube or the education portal of YouTube, so l had fun exploring them. ‘Hope for technology: an interview with digital natives’ and some Creative Commons clips – ‘Find and use Creative Commons Photos in Flickr” and ‘Creative Commons – Kiwi’ would be useful for both staff and student use. I’ve uploaded the CC clips to our Learning Support wiki.

I recently promoted ‘Inside a Dog’ to a Year 7 class and encouraged the students to vote in the Inky Awards by adding a link to our Libraty blog. We’re promoting ‘Good Reads’ and other online reader sites this aftenoon when we run a staff professional development session.

The Khan Academy is an interesting concept. I could see it’s use for particular subjects with particular students. As my main focus is working with Learning Support students, I’ve been reflecting on the application with students who need quite directed, individualised and interactive learning. Initially, l was hesitant about whether this application would be beneficial for them. However one-on-one teaching is what the article is talking about. I can see the benefits of students being able to review videos as many times as they want and the benefits of using online lessons to support the ineraction that takes place in the classroom. This is an area l’ll talk about further with classroom teachers next year.

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Unit 9: Research Tools

While I’m waiting for our IT department to open the door so l can have Firefox installed and then experiment with Zotero, l’ve checked out the SLV databases and Google docs! With each program task l learn, l think ‘this is amazing’ – the range of applications and the possibilities out there for myself and students. And now it’s online research and Google docs!

Access to online databases from school or home 24/7, whether they be the school’s, SLV’s or public libraries, is a fantastic resource that people need to be made aware of. I’m sure if students or teachers can’t find an appropriate database through one of these avenues, they’ll find them in another. I’m all for promoting the range of institutions people have access to. On each occasion l’ve referred library clients to these databases, they’ve been quite astounded with what they offer. On a school level, we could improve our promotion of these databases. I think they would be useful for middle and upper secondary students.

Ergo is a wonderful resource. I’ve used it at a guide for my study and research skills classes with Year 7 and Year 8 this year. All the students now have it on their favourites bar! Some aspects are probably more appropriate for older students, however my aim is that now that the younger students are aware of it, they will have grasped the ‘6 steps to better research’. If the students remember these steps each time they research, what a great start!

Google docs make sense. When watching the You Tube clips, l found myself saying ‘Yes!’ as l’d often wondered about the whole management and time spent on emailing attachments. We’ve used a library blog for communicating ideas amongst the library staff. I’d be interested in trying google docs for a similiar purpose, also for when we’re collating procedures. I could also see it’s use in the classroom when everyone’s working on a similiar topic. I’ll certainly keep it in mind for when the occasion arises and look forward to exploring it further.

I’ve installed Firefox, although l don’t get any further when l try to use Zotero. A call to our I.T. department will hopefully shed some light on this problem. I was introduced to Zotero in the recent web conference and think it would be very useful for older secondary students. So for now, l’ll move to the next task. Exciting to see what’s in store……..

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Unit 8: Professional learning

The amount of professional learning online is quite amazing. It certainly doesn’t take the place of spending a day with Joyce Valenza or Steve Hargadon and fellow teachers, however it supplements this professional development in an inspiring way. The benefits of being able to view resources to support learning in the 21st century, regardless of where we are and when it is, cannot be underestimated. The sharing, the networks and the peer learning for me this year has meant my learning has been exponential. This must therefore mean enhanced learning for the teachers and students l work with.

I love the idea of screencasting. It’s come my way at such an opportune time. I’ve been working with Learning Support students and, as has been mentioned, we all learn in different ways and therefore, as teachers, need to deliver in different modes. I had been pondering the possibility of adding some screencasts to their WIKI. To think they could access it if they’d missed our class or needed to view it on further occasions in order to understand the concept. I think it’s now over to me to give it a try!

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Unit 7: Pedagogy or technology

Due to returning to the education sector this year and working through the PLN, l’m being exposed to the enormous area of technology in education. Exploring the use of technology in schools highlights so many different aspects for students, staff and parents – policies, knowledge, ability, use and attitudes.

One of my early experiences this year was when a Year 8 Learning Support student asked whether he could use his mobile phone to photograph what was written on the whiteboard. Wonderful that he was keen to have the information, however not possible due to mobile phones being banned at school. A later discussion with VCE students revealed that some teachers allow this practice. Interesting for me to hear that policies are perhaps a little flexible and practices differ depending on the teacher and students.

My observation of showing my 10 year old nephew a kindle and viewing the PLN video clips displayed digital natives intrigue with technology and willingness to play. My discussion with VCE students revealed quite a mature attitude towards technology and it’s ‘useful’ applications. The boys use various mobile devices and web tools for specific and useful purposes. However it’s their sisters who use Facebook and text messaging to a staggering extent! The boys experience of teachers use of technology in the classroom correlates with age – the younger the teacher, the greater the use!

As the weeks progress, my thoughts re the importance of educating our school communities regarding the constructive use of technology are all the more confirmed.

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I’ve really enjoyed watching Slideshare presentations & now l’m embedding one of my own! This is a presentation l made up quickly based on some work l’m doing with the Year 8 Learning Suppport students. I can see the value of having it online so it’s accessible for the students and teachers to view at any time. Hope it works………….

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