Aim for the impossible.

Listening to and watching a video with Gary Stager
posted back in week 4 of EDC3100 has provided some real food for thought as the speaker touched on many key points of learning for Early Childhood. He spoke of providing periods of uninterrupted play, of expecting students to achieve by providing them with time and opportunity to construct their learning and of aiming for the impossible.

I feel that so often we limit student learning by interrupting them for all sort of reasons such as time to eat, time to pack away, time to rest etc. etc. This video is 40 mins in length but worth every minute when it comes to clarifying what is important in creating the opportunity to learn new and exciting ways to construct knowledge.

The Tower of Babel in reverse.

This comment caught my attention as we have recently been discussing the effects on the Tower of Babel and I thought what a clever analogy of Information Communication Technologies this is. Not so long ago a mouse was a small fury animal that squeaked and no-one wanted them in their home and the desktop was the top of the desk. I’m sure their sure many more that could be compared. So much has changed with the ’21st Century language”.

I have been reading an article by Chris Dede (2009) a Harvard Graduate who has collated many different frameworks and ideas about 21st Century Learning and he uses the phrase about the Tower of Babel to describe the confusion that is perceived when incorporating a new technology language into the existing language where words that have a familiar meaning such as mouse suddenly have new meanings which people then need to be able to learn in order to communicate effectively.

I can see where some of our course material fits within these frameworks but will spend more time reading and linking to literature.  Chris also provides many new references that we can use directly when considering how to integrate ICT into the classrooms.

Thought I would also share with you the ICT capabilities page from the Australian Curriculum since this has been the basis for so much of the course discussion.

FUN enables the learning in Early Childhood.

I have looked and linked to so many sites today if I had a piece of string attached to my mouse I could have knitted a cable sweater I’m sure. Thinking of knitting that is about the only task I have not found on the sites I have visited today in search of technology that can be introduced and integrated into the Early Childhood classroom. So grab a Kit Kat, a box of Cadburys or an apple and read on about the amazing opportunities out there for students to develop digital literacy skills as described in this article from Early Childhood Australia.

On the PBS kids site I could not go past the range of activities attached to the Dr Seus series as our family has a long association with this master of language and rhyme. This site has tips for Parents and resources for Educators. It is sure to  become a favourite for me. I was directed to this site by Michelle on the class forum.

The Turtle diary is also a great resource in that it has each range of activities separated into age groups and the site is easy to navigate around. The English area has both letter names and phonics available so it gets a double vote from me for that as so many I looked at only had the letter names and this is not what is being taught in school at Pre-primary level. The site also has letter names but they are separated and labelled accordingly, my thanks to Kirstie for this link..

The artisan website has lots to offer but I think it is aimed more at older primary age students. This includes make your own comic links, stitch your own duvet, self portraits just to  name a few. I have included it here for those who have older children to consider. Thanks Michelle for the link.

The sheppard website also provides a wide range of materials to be used in Early childhood education from games and quizzes to maths and language there is something here for everyone, once again thanks to Michelle.

The Sparkle box provides free teaching resources which can be downloaded and printed. There are resources for Parents and some resources are available in 12 different languages which is excellent when looking for different language resources. Belinda directed me to this site from the class forum.

Emma introduced me to Bee Bots which I have only ever heard about briefly and while I think they may be great for lower primary I wonder how pre-primary would cope with the concepts, though being in the pre-primary class the last three weeks and watching them adapt to iPad technology I probably know the answer before I finish the question. They would be fine. This link provides some more information about Bee Bots.

Natalie has provided some Time Management Resources which I think will be useful regardless of the age of the teacher or the students. I had a quick scan of the index then went and read about the 5 Time Zone Concept. Zones featured are: Goals, Plans, Personal organising system, Commitment and Energy. Now I have a few plans for post study so I might experiment with how to implement some of these. Natalie also had a Quiz about time Management that I like. Thanks Natalie for some very relevant information.

The link to Using ICT in the Early Years also came from Natalie and is a great website to find all sorts of resources for Teachers and Parents about implementing the use of ICT in the Early Years. There are links to websites for Teachers and for children.

Starfall.com opened in 2002 as a free public service to teachers and parents and provides a wealth of information on one site. The opening line says ” where children learn to read”, it is an American site with some ‘interesting singing’ but still children will engage with the colour and entertainment while they learn.

I have only linked to a few of the many sites and resources available for use in Early childhood, but to quote a link that our lecturer provided this week, Cheryl on her website says the  ‘without knowledge we are powerless to make effective decisions in this changing society and  information age’, how true that is.

The way to bring the information into the class is to start early so that students are ready for the new technologies and opportunities of the future.

 

 

Posting ponderings from professional experience.

Professional experience is completed for EDC3100. I have been blessed to spend three glorious weeks in the best pre-primary class with an amazing mentor. What have I learnt, where to begin, and what to say that will adequately convey the amount of learning that has taken place both in terms of digital context and also the teaching context.

On the digital scene, I have learnt that students in general are keen to engage with new technologies and as I have mentioned before being digital natives makes this just part of everyday learning for them. I have touched the surface of integrating the use of the IWB in the classroom. Reading on another students blog on the class forum about a class that has an Apple TV I was reminded about this post I made earlier this year about Apple TV’s.

Teaching is such a rewarding career path and being able to share knowledge with these young learners was very encouraging as they appreciate the effort and give lots of verbal feedback such as the students who told me in week one ” you are a very good teacher you know” – I think it was the surprise in her voice that made me smile the most!

I visited a post by another student today about professional experience and it is easy to see how the use of technology and therefore advantage or disadvantage is linked to school resources when you read Mrs Poulter’s blog about her professional experience.

I have been looking around at resources available to use in Early childhood and found this link from Michelle’s post have found lots but for now I will provide a  link here for this website which has so much to look at available. I like that it has different grades clearly outlined and there is so much too look at in each area. More on the topic of Early childhood later today.

Week 2 started with a snake and ended with a digital party.

As the title suggests this week has been a bit out of the ordinary for many reasons. After the snake removal episode which I documented here the week was so busy and my teaching is going well according to my mentor. I have been teaching about half of everyday and have a full day planned ready for Monday. The students have been preparing for the past two weeks for a late celebration and Mothers Day concert for the Mums. Lots of practice in class and in the presentation hall. The pre-primary students did an amazing job singing, twirling, acting and enjoying their musical performance. Every child had either a Mum or Nana attend for them. It was so encouraging to see their effort and the Parent’s relationship with the teacher and therefore the school.

Friday was one of the busiest this week, though everyday is so flat out and they really pack a full day of learning in between 8.15am and 2.25pm. First there was the school photos, then we were preparing for the party so cupcakes and zucchini slice were prepared and the rest of the menu ordered to suit the day. The concert was amazing and at the end of it all some really positive feedback from my mentor.

What of the technology within all of this learning? This week I have uses the Interactive whiteboard more and created some really special lessons using the internet and the IWB. Considering I had not used one at all a week ago I am feeling quite confident now about using it and have worked out a few different things by myself which is always  a confidence boost.

I have introduced the iPads to the class and the first day they were using a drawing program to compliment their art work they have been doing to celebrate Mums. they have also had time to freely explore the iPads in the morning after they complete their daily name and number practice. during this time they can explore what the iPad does and in this time those of the class who are experienced iPad users are encouraged to help the less experienced to navigate  their way around the iPad and the provided programs.

It has been so interesting to watch the students with no experience become so confident in accessing the programs with in a matter of days. These children really are keen to explore and learn using technology. The term digital natives which is one I initially resisted using really does describe the reality for these children. The internet was born before them and so they are growing up with technologies and are conversant in the digital language of computers, iPads, video games and the internet.

The other piece of technology I have introduced the students to are these cameras.

Students have been able to take photos of their friends and family at the party and have negotiated the turn taking as they have waited for their friends to have a turn and then passed the camera on to someone else. They have really enjoyed using the cameras so it has been a great experience.

 

Learning through connecting

This is the title of Kate’s blog and in this weeks post Kate talks about a program http://www.interactivelearningdiary.co.uk/ that provides Early Years Educators with an easier way of documenting student’s learning. I like the fact that this program potentially reduces the amount of resources digital or otherwise that Educators are required to keep with them or close by in order to document learning and provided evidence of learning that occurs on a daily basis. Kate concludes with the comment that it is only available in the UK.

At work we have been using a product called momentumeylf  and if you go to their website their is a short introductory video. http://www.momentumeylf.com.au/ at the start some staff were reluctant to engage with the new software and the overall program documentation is different to our paper copies but we have gradually focused more and more on the program and as with anything else the staff are feeling more and more comfortable with it each time they use it. I am not sure if they have developed any ipad apps yet but I know they have lots of new ideas in the pipeline for supporting Early Years. Thanks for the link Kate.

 

 

Score, surprise, and snakes, say success.

What a day, week 2 day 1.

Dead snake in the classroom.

Surprise miscommunication about how the lesson should go. In the end it went the full circle and came back past where we had both started with our ideas and ended up by the students doing much more of the lesson than was originally planned.

Assignment scores are back. Good news.

Success was hiding amongst the challenges of the day and the students did a great job working with the technology and creating their own invitations. Tomorrow could be more challenging we are going to look at how information is different depending on its location. e.g. whiteboard, IWB, books, and iPads. Should be very interesting and as Mrs Hargreaves pointed out from Katie’s post.

For today I am more than happy with my results in class from snake remover (I did tell you it was dead?) to ICT intergrater and then on to successful recipient of a good mark for assignment 2. Let the sun go down and come up again.

Praise God for His Faithfulness.

What is an ICT rich lesson?

I have been pondering this question over and over as I completed my first week of prac with varying degrees of success due to technology or the lack of it on some days with internet failure.

In pre-primary it is a little more challenging to integrate the technology for the students to use due in part to their ages and the lack of reading ability. I did try one experience in class with one student which was not a great success. I thought that since the students were creating all sorts of beautiful items for Mothers Day gifts it might be nice to use the photos the families had provided and create a short DVD using Animoto. The plan was to do this with the students one on one during their free choice play time.

Good idea x 25 students who need lots of help to learn the scanning process then help loading the photos and it is not such a great idea. I did work through the process with one student who was very quick to learn the upload process and confident to try whatever was asked of him. He is very technology savvy as he has daily access to an iPad at home and his Parents believe in letting him learn to use the technology for his benefit. Result not such a good idea, I calculated that even if every child was as quick to learn as the first then I would need around 15-20 hours to complete this task.

On a far more encouraging note the students have really engaged with the digital microscopes from early last week. These have been connected each morning to the Laptops and during free play time the students access these and investigate the different leaves, flower petals or whatever else they choose. Some of the comments as the students have been looking at the flower petals and leaves have demonstrated their ability to really appreciate the beauty of the natural world.

” Look over here at this green bit it so beautiful, its really, really beautiful”!

I visited Michelle’s post this morning to see what was on her mind about ICT rich lessons and was reminded of the need to plan the lesson and then add the technology and not vice versa otherwise this leads to the tail wagging the dog instead of the dog wagging the tail as described in David Jones photo (2013). (This photo is taken in a mirror so the dog appears backwards).

So I do not think I have mastered the ICT rich lesson just yet. I am creating lessons with ICT content but I wonder at which point the lesson becomes rich in ICT? Is it when there is one, two or three items of ICT being used in that one lesson or is it when the overall day is saturated with ICT? A good question to pose to the class forum.

 

 

Topics of Interest

Last week we were required to research two topics of interest as part of our learning path. I have chosen to research Interactive Whiteboards (commonly known as IWB) and the Integration of Information Communication Technologies (ICT’s) into Early Childhood.

Todays post will feature the Interactive Whiteboard- the pros and cons and anything else that I find that might be useful. I have already looked at a number of blogs with resources so I thought it might be time to start writing so I have a clear path of my learning journey.

My credit for my very first lesson using the IWB goes to my wonderful mentor at the school where I am completing my prac. My mentor, we will call her Gloria, was very patient at explaining the various features of the IWB to me. Gloria obviously did a very good job as I completed the first task I was set with no dramas at all.

Onto the research.

I visited Kylies blog and found a very interesting article called

“Guidelines for effective school/classroom use of Interactive Whiteboards by Diana Bannister (2010) from the University of Wolverhampton in the UK. This article talks about Tools, Techniques and Applications.

I love that this article considers some of the research from Europe about the use of IWB in the classroom. Judge (2010) as cited in this article sees IWB’s as classroom devices that have a positive influence on teachers professional practice, and Beuchamp and Parkinson (2005) acknowledge that the software that comes with the IWB often poses a challenge as well as an opportunity for teachers and students.

New Software I think is a bit like a new pair of shoes. after you have walked with them a while they are not difficult at all to manage and they become part of you daily wardrobe.

Higgins et al (2007) concludes:

“Good teaching remains good teaching with or without the technology; the technology might enhance the pedagogy only If the teachers and pupils engaged with it and understand its potential in such a way that the technology is not seen as an end in itself as another pedagogical means to achieve teaching and learning goals.” Read more from this article here.

Tash Brown also looked at Interactive whiteboards and provided a list of 65 resources for use with the IWB.

Tash also directed me to this link to Kerpoof which is an exciting site for creating all sorts of interesting things using the IWB. This will be very handy for the invitations we will be making at school next week for a class celebration.

Mitch also looked at the pros and cons of using IWB in the classrooms. Some of his comments were:

Pros:

IWB’s are easy to use even for beginners. They have the potential to rapidly demonstrate the use of different modes of delivery. ICTs from many different sources can be integrated into one lesson. The IWB could include a you tube video, some data input from another website, the opportunity to input students own data, and the use of a music site all within one easy lesson.

Cons:

The cost of a Smart board or IWB is exceptionally more than a traditional non digital whiteboard. There is the potential for damage to the surface which would be expensive to repair and the IWB would be unuseable during that time. The secure attachment of the board to the wall in a place suitable for the Teacher may mean it is too high for the effective use by very young students.

More resources:

Hands on websites kids love

Nathan’s blog about IWB’s and many more resources.

To finish off today I have visited Emma’s site which always provides a clear and concise summary of any topic we are looking at.

There are so many more resources out there so I will just keep looking. I think to summarise today I will say that the IWB has huge potential as a learning and teaching tool. The lesson plan plus the IWB has the potential to  bring the lesson alive.

 

 

To see or not to see with a digital microscope

Today on my second day of prac I introduced the class to some digital microscopes. I tested one out at home last night so I knew what to expect in the class and then installed it at school on the teachers laptop and linked to the IWB. The name of the digital magnifying glass is a TTS children’s digital microscope  and can be used as any other magnifying glass except this one looks like and egg with a camera button on the top, and it also lets you take photos and study them.

The product description says

“The digital Microscope is a battery free device to use with a computer with a USB port. It magnifies the specimen up to 35x on a 14″ monitor. Snapshots can be taken by simply pressing the shutter button on the product. video recording is also available”.

Amazing- the students looked at the leaves from the plants we were discussing and the language was amazing as was the sight of the clear veins running up the middle of these leaves.

God’s creation really does declare his handiwork.

The croton leaf we were looking at was red. The colour we could see with the microscope was a beautiful sparkling blue. I asked the children what they thought the sparkling blue bit might be.

One child, we will call him William, put up his hand and said

“it looks like water when your standing high up and you look at the sparkling water”. 

He could well be correct, I am going to try and find out in time for the lesson tomorrow.

I also visited Rebecca’s blog and found this amazing link to a blog by a Mother who is home schooling her children in Africa. WOW. What a great read.

The great finds just keep happening tonight. While I was looking for the name of the magnifying glass described above I found this link for Early Years Technology. This is one of my ideals so this will become a favourite site. I know it is pounds when it comes to the price but once you know what you are looking for you can always search Australian suppliers to see if it can be purchased in Australia, and if it cant it will only take few days and it will be here such is the global technology we are surrounded by.