Hello 2015

I am always amazed at how time flies. I tell myself that I will be able to post weekly, or even fortnightly, yet, due to the demands of my job… and the down time I need to recover and re-energise… I am seeing a pattern where my good intentions just aren’t happening.

This year looks to be the same. I cannot believe we are in March already… and the end of term 1 is nearing!

To give you some background information, this is what my role involves:

  • I am a grade 2 classroom teacher and the grade 2 team leader.
  • I lead 8 staff and approximately 110 students.
  • I am my school’s eLearning leader and I assist my school’s Assistant Principal with the direction of eLearning within my school.
  • I am a Digital Learning Leader (coach). I am released an extra 3 hours a week to coach staff with integrating iPads in their learning and teaching program.
  • I support the other Digital Learning Leaders in my school with how to coach, as up until now, I’ve been the only one in a formal ICT peer coaching role.

Add to this the conference presentations and consultancy work I do external to my primary position. This makes it clear for you to see that I am quite time poor. In saying this, though, I do need to make a change… a change for me… a change where I can stop to smell the roses, whilst still pursuing my passions.

 smell-the-roses-live

So, for me, it is clear that I need to write down my goals and share them with the world. I believe this will make me more accountable towards achieving what I want and need to do…

Here goes… This year, I will:

  • post to my blog at least once a fortnight
  • continue to explore STEAM and introduce new approaches with my class
  • continue to explore coding and provide my students with opportunities to expand their skills
  • reconnect with my passion for robotics and provide my students with opportunities to create simple robots
  • continue to run my KidzTek program and share the successes and challenges my students and I face
  • ensure I have some down time so my work/life balance is not so one-sided.

I look forward to sticking to my goals and sharing my journey with you. Please feel free to comment and ask questions along the way 🙂

Hello 2014!!!

Wow! What a crazy 7 months it has been since my last post! Towards the end of last year, I was run off my feet organising the Grade 6 Celebration (Graduation), writing end of year reports and coaching for a DEECD professional learning initiative, Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century. This year, I have changed year levels – I’m now teaching grade 2! – so I am getting my head around a lot of changes. To say I have been busy is an understatement!

ipadsTo provide you with a brief overview, at my current school, Manor Lakes P-12 College, we run 1:1 iPad programs in Prep, 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and 9. I’ve been leading the 1:1 iPad program in grade 6 for the past 3 years (2011 – 2013), so it is a welcome change to move into an Early Years classroom to share my experience and vision with a new team and group of students. I worked with this cohort and their teachers last year when I was an ICT peer coach… and I am excited to be released a few hours a week again this year to continue coaching. I love this part of my job 🙂 I was trained as an ICT Peer Coach by DEECD, in conjunction with Microsoft, during 2008 and 2009 when the school I was working at, Dallas Brooks Community Primary School, was one of 9 state schools recognised for best practice in effective ICT integration. During that time, I held the positions of ICT Co-ordinator and Learning & Teaching/eLearning Leading Teacher.

Since beginning in grade 2 this year, I have reviewed the recommended school apps and have created a list of “must have” free apps to support our learning and teaching program. Over the year, there is no doubt this list will grow. I just felt that in order to begin to use the iPads in a purposeful way now, it was important to provide a list of free apps to students and their parents so we can start the ball rolling. The uptake of paid apps has been quite poor in the past, hence the reason for a list of free equivalents 🙂

While I’m on the topic of free apps, I have also updated the list of free apps I use with students at my school. I will be talking about these at an upcoming conference. This morning, I spent an hour or so downloading some more cool free apps. I look forward to sharing these with you in future posts 🙂

1:1 iPad Program – Tips and Advice

It’s hard to believe I’ve been working in a 1:1 iPad classroom for over two years now. At first I recall feeling overwhelmed by the unknown. I’d been in 1:1 laptop programs for the three years prior to this shift and honestly didn’t know what to do or where to start. At the time, I didn’t even own an iPhone – I was a Sony Ericsson fan, so I couldn’t rely on knowledge or experience from a ‘like’ device as a start. It was daunting, yet also exciting! I found myself in a position many of my colleagues had found themselves in, that being thrown into a 1:1 setting with unfamiliar technology. This was a true first for me!

So, what did I do? I actually thought back to the conversations I’d had with past colleagues and took my own advice, as outlined below:

 

Discovery time

Let your students explore apps. Allow time each day for students to see what they can find out, especially something they think nobody else knows. Use this time to explore apps as well.

 

Share time / Reflection

Promote share time and reflection. Encourage students to share what they have found out with you and their peers. Also ask students to explain how they built on their knowledge of the app. Share your experiences too.

 

Collaboration

Promote collaboration and working together. After all, two heads are better than one.

 

Experts

Highlight the expertise and talents of all students. Make them the “go to” person for the app/s they are familiar with. You don’t have to be the bearer of all knowledge. Don’t be afraid to learn with and from your students!

 

Purpose

Always think about the purpose of the activity. What do you want your students to learn? If technology can support this, fantastic! If it can’t, then don’t force it.

 

Pedagogy is the driver

Just reinforcing the tip and tweet above 🙂 Always focus on the learning!

 

Stages

You are going to go through different stages, as outlined in the SAMR model below. That’s okay. Your students are going to work through different stages as well. By allowing time to share and grow together, you will get there. Be proud of what you and your students accomplish and try not to compare yourself with others and their journey, as hard as that may be.

 

Student voice / Student choice

Promote student voice through student choice. Set the task, but don’t set the way to complete the task. Ask students to share how they plan to complete the task, i.e. the app/s they are going to use. This will help those students who are unsure of where or how start. It also reinforces class experts and supports students’ learning preferences and needs.

 

Creativity

Motivate students to be creative. Ask them to think about what makes an awesome graphic, game, web page, etc. Ask them how they can replicate this in their work. Encourage your students to “WOW” you and “Do better than their best!” Be honest and tell them you won’t accept an image and some text. The results will amaze you!

 

Cloud technology

Take the time to set up a shared space where students can save and share their work. I use Dropbox. I have set up a class folder that all students access, as well as individual folders that only each student and I access. There are many sites available that provide the same service. Find the one that best meets your needs.

 

Learning with iPads

Last year, my colleague, Jessica Gallagher, and I were extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity to present at ULearn, an international learning and teaching conference held in New Zealand. We presented how we integrate iPads in a 1:1 setting. Our hands-on workshop was booked out. Throughout the conference, attendees thanked Jess and myself for inspiring them and suggesting purposeful ways iPads can be integrated. They loved our list of free apps too.

This year, Jess and I are presenting a similar session at the ICTEV conference. Shortly after our abstract was accepted, we were approached by ICTEV to write an article about our session for a publication about mobile devices. We are flattered that we’ve been recognised as innovative educators who promote student voice and student choice through effective ICT integration.

Please read our article below.

 

Learning with iPads – By Jessica Gallagher and Michelle Meracis

Manor Lakes P-12 College is a government school in Wyndham Vale, a rapidly growing residential area. The school opened in 2009 with 450 students. Today, the school has approximately 1600 P-11 students and 200+ dedicated staff. The College is set amongst large grounds with numerous active and passive play areas.

Manor Lakes P-12 College strives to provide a personalised learning program through a rigorous curriculum that integrates the use of Information and Communication Technology. Currently, students in years Prep, 1, 6, 7 and 8 participate in a 1:1 iPad program and students in years 9-11 participate in a BYOD model. This allows for learning to take place anywhere, anytime. Mobile devices have not simply replaced pen and paper; they have rather enhanced student creativity and collaboration.

iPads were first introduced to grade 5 students in late 2010 when the college was asked to take part in the DEECD iPad trial. In the very beginning, apps were mainly used to support and reinforce concepts covered in classes. They were introduced during warm-ups as a way of tuning students into learning and, in some cases, to front load students. Now, iPads are a tool used to support the learning process when and where students see fit. Teachers set learning tasks and students choose how to complete and present them.

 

Literacy

Staff and students at Manor Lakes P-12 College use a number of apps to support and reinforce literacy skills, particularly in the areas of vocabulary building, note-taking, planning, drafting and publishing. Many of the apps have been suggested by staff, but most have been discovered, tried, tested and shared by the students.

Some of the apps we use during the first 10-15 minutes of literacy lessons, our warm-up/tuning-in time, include Chicktionary Lite, Whirly Word, Story Spine, Mad Libs, Words with Friends and Hanging with Friends. All of these are free. Chicktionary Lite and Whirly Word are both anagram based games. They require students to create a number of words out of the given letters. Story Spine and Mad Libs both focus on the strategies and skills required for creating an interesting narrative. Mad Libs reinforces parts of speech too. Words with Friends is a game similar to Scrabble and Hanging with Friends, as the name suggests, is similar to Hangman. In our classrooms, we alternate between using the Apple TV to explore these literacy apps as a whole class and giving students quiet time to work independently.

Many students prefer to take notes on their iPad using apps such as Popplet Lite, SimpleMind+, Corkulous and Lino. These apps allow students to record notes in a speedy manner, move them around and alter where necessary. They are also popular for planning written texts, as are Bamboo Paper and Idea Sketch. Sound Note is another great note taking and planning app as it allows students to verbally record their ideas, as well as type and draw them. As teachers, we love that our students are planning and organising their ideas using these apps, but we encourage them to write in their books too. There is a time and a place for writing straight on the iPad; it is all about the purpose of the activity.

In terms of publishing, iMovie, Storyrobe and Explain Everything are at the top of our students’ lists. Students find it easy to import text, images and photos into these apps and voice record over them. Toontastic is another app that students enjoy using. Its layout complements the 7 Steps to Writing Success program and reinforces the sequence and strategies necessary for composing a correctly structured narrative. We have heard some students say that they like how Toontastic has clear steps for them to follow, making the process of writing and publishing so much easier.

Another great publishing app is Wattpad. This app allows students to publish their work to a global audience and read the published pieces of those also signed up to it. We have noticed that students who generally refuse to write anything are suddenly motivated to write and publish their work. The published pieces are sorted into genres, making it easy for users to locate something of interest.

During independent reading, students have the option of selecting physical or digital texts to read. In many cases, students read pieces from Wattpad. They also read iBooks, eBooks, online books and material from web sites, such as newspapers and history based texts. As teachers, we roam and engage in conversations with our students to ensure the texts they are reading are appropriate for their reading level and age group.

 

Numeracy

Similar to literacy, we use a number of apps to support and reinforce numeracy skills. Many of these apps are discovered by students and shared on a daily basis. In most cases, these fun and addictive games are played during the warm-up/tuning-in time at the start of each lesson. Currently, the most popular math apps include MathBoard, Mathletics, Math Dragon, Math Ninja, Math vs Zombies, Number Battle, Pick-a-Path, Shuttle Mission Math and Speedo Math.

One particular app we have found to “stand out” from the rest in terms of supporting and reinforcing student learning is Virtual Manipulatives. This app is an interactive fraction wall that can be viewed in fraction, decimal and percentage form. Students can drag tiles out to a main working space for simple comparison and manipulation. Equivalent fractions, decimals and percentages are all in the same colour too, making the connections easier to see and make. Students of all ages and abilities have benefited from this app.

Drawing apps have been useful during small teaching focus groups. Rather than students writing on paper or a small whiteboard, students complete equations on their iPad in a drawing app and save their work directly to their camera roll. This image is then inserted into their digital portfolio or used as the background to a voice recording that outlines the steps undertaken to complete the problem. In the beginning, students used Reel Director, Splice, iMovie and Storyrobe to create their tutorials. Over the past two years they have moved onto screen recording apps like Explain Everything, Educreations and ShowMe Interactive to produce the same result.

In the beginning, students kept their tutorials on their own iPad, sharing their work with their peers and teachers only when prompted. Now, students export their tutorials to their camera roll and either email them to their teachers or upload them to a shared folder in Dropbox. Our students really enjoy watching and listening to the different ways they each learn. We are currently collecting the student made tutorials so we have a bank to select from to support student learning across the college, as well as to front load students in a way similar to a flipped classroom; the main difference being that these tutorials have been created for students, by students, using “kid speak” rather than “teacher talk”.

An idea we have been looking into is having a student video record their teacher on an iPad during the introduction of a lesson to later post to a shared space, i.e. Dropbox, YouTube. At present, students take photos of the examples completed on the board to refer to, but if someone records their teacher, an immediate tutorial can be created for students to watch and listen to again, anywhere, anytime. As an alternative to this idea, because not everyone likes to be videoed, teachers have started to connect their iPads to an Apple TV and then record themselves using a screen recording app introducing the lesson. A tutorial is instantly created and, during the lesson, it is uploaded to Dropbox for students to refer to. Students are encouraged to view the tutorial prior to the following lesson to reinforce the concepts and skills already covered.

 

Inquiry

For inquiry based work, students select the apps they feel best meet their presentation needs. This may include using one or a number of apps. Over the years, we have seen a big shift from a picture and some text in Keynote to top quality graphic designs created in PicCollage. Some students take these designs one step further by importing them into iMovie to produce digital masterpieces including voice recordings and original music composed in GarageBand. Like all lessons in each learning area, as a class, we discuss the apps that can be used to complete certain tasks, to model thinking about our thinking, as well as to assist those who may be a little unsure of where to start. Ultimately, though, the choice is up to the student as to how they present their work.

A very popular app amongst students of all ages and abilities at the moment is Haiku Deck. It is very similar to PowerPoint and Keynote, yet adding images as backgrounds, positioning text and rearranging the order of slides is much easier. Its simple features make it an effective and powerful app to produce impressive presentations.

 

Collaboration

Since the beginning of the 1:1 iPad program, we have been amazed by the natural transition towards collaboration and peer coaching amongst students. It is common for students to sit on the floor in small groups to assist each other and discuss the tasks they are completing. The design of the devices lends themselves quite easily to students passing iPads around to share and showcase what they’ve done and how they’ve accomplished this.

This has been particularly evident in the iBuddies program, where classes in grades prep and 6 pair up and participate in purposeful lessons that provide students with opportunities to work collaboratively on their iPads. Over the past two years, we have observed the preps learning and practising foundation skills and the grade 6s strengthening their peer coaching and leadership capacity. A bonus from last year’s experience has been the way this year’s grade 1 students have supported their current teachers with using the iPads to enhance their learning by selecting appropriate apps to complete class tasks. This has been very helpful in supporting the grade 1 teachers, many who are new to the college, with effectively integrating the technology in their learning and teaching programs.

It is evident that student voice is a strong component of our 1:1 program. A large part of its success stems from students having the freedom to choose the app/s they want to use for a task and then being able to explain why they chose it and deemed it to be appropriate. This emphasis has really strengthened our students’ abilities to articulate and reflect on their learning.

 

Cloud Technology

With a major focus on digital learning environments, we have needed to explore ways for students to share work completed on their iPads with their teachers and peers. In the very beginning, this was through email. Every student at Manor Lakes P-12 College has an email account. Over the past two years, we have moved across to using Dropbox. Within Dropbox, teachers create one shared class folder that all students in that grade are invited to access. Teachers also create individual folders for each student that only them and that student access. This set up is made possible by students having their own Dropbox account. Managing work this way has proved to be less time consuming as teachers don’t need to scroll through and open copious emails to download attachments, they can rather access student folders and view submitted work on any connected device.

A number of classes are also using Edmodo and Google Drive as mediums to share and submit work. Teachers at Manor Lakes P-12 College work with their students to select the preferred space to use and work within, again demonstrating the college’s focus on student voice.

 

The use of iPads in classrooms at Manor Lakes P-12 College has certainly opened up new and exciting ways for students to create, collaborate, connect, share and reflect. They have allowed students of all abilities to feel immediate success and produce work of an outstanding quality.

iLearning

Following on from our class experts, my “iLearning” program was further developed. I had introduced iPlay and iPortfolios to my students last year and decided to expand this concept to cover more ways to promote thinking, creativity and collaboration.

 

iCreate

iCreate began as a way of embracing my students’ creativity. I was truly amazed by the brilliant constructions my students were producing in Minecraft. One of my students had been home sick for a couple of days and emailed through to me some dinosaurs she had constructed to cheer up her younger sister, who was also home sick with her. During the same week, another student had shared with me some work she had completed in an app called PicCollage. This app wasn’t on our school list, it was one she had found herself. I was surprised by how professional her work looked, in terms of layout, balance, text and image size, etc. Having an art and ICT background myself, it was clear that this student was a natural in considering the elements of design in her work. I also had a number of students in my class who played musical instruments, so they enjoyed tinkering in Garageband, as well as a student who was very keen on movie making. With such a creative class, it was obvious I had to do something to show I valued and was impressed by such talents.

 

iDiscuss

iDiscuss was formed because I wanted a space for my students to interact and respond to individual posts. I had a class blog last year and I loved the way my students commented on posts that were made. One downfall I found, though, was that on all of the pages, other than my home page, there was only one comment box at the bottom of the page. This, in my mind, defeated the purpose of responding to posts. I say this because I wanted my students’ comments to particular posts to be clearly identifiable. In the comment boxes on these pages, you needed to scroll down to read what was written.

This year I explored the discussion tool on wikispaces. It was easy to embed, yet my students needed to sign up to wikispaces and become a member of our class wikispace. Due to learning and teaching content being placed on our class wikispace, I decided this wasn’t the way I wanted to go – I didn’t want my students to accidentally delete information. I know I could have protected pages, I just hoped there was another option. I spent a while searching embeddable discussion tools and eventually came across one I liked – Nabble.

Nabble offers free access to discussion tools; however, after a trial period, a subscription is required if you don’t want advertisements displayed. For $25 for the year, I didn’t mind paying to remove the advertisements.

To date, my students enjoy responding to my posts. I now intend to open the discussion topics up to my students in order to cater for ideas and interests.

 

iExplore

Last year I encouraged my students to explore the internet in order to pursue personal curiousities. I occasionally posted links and infographics on our Discovery Learning page in order to spark discussions and initiate interest. This worked really well, so this year I repackaged this concept as iExplore.

 

iPoll

iPoll came about as a result of listening to my students and respecting their “voice”.  At the end of term 1, I posted a poll to see if my students wanted holiday homework. Of course, they didn’t 🙂 What they did want, though, was the opportunity to continue to vote on a range of topics selected by either them or me.

This data is real as it reflects my students’ responses. During our ‘Data’ unit in mathematics, we analysed these results. We looked at the different ways the data was graphed, we discussed which graphs were easier to read and questioned why the results were presented as percentages. During our ‘Sustainability‘ unit, we also hypothesised why litter is such a problem at our school, based upon the results presented.

Collecting data through this means has proved to be a rich learning experience for my students. It has also provided my class and my school with real data about a range of topics.

 

iQuote

Throughout my day, I often find myself sharing quotes and sayings with my students. These are shared to support what we’ve been learning or in response to an incident that’s happened. A class discussion follows where we unpack the meaning they take from the quote or saying and how it relates to the situation at hand.

Some of my students have really been inspired by this and have come to school with their own quotes and sayings to share with the class. Sometimes these are shared just before a recess break and sometimes they are shared at the end of the day as a way to promote thinking and reflection.

In some ways, I often think we overlook the messages and lessons we can learn from quotes, sayings, proverbs, etc. That is why I created the iQuote page on my class wiksipace, to expose my students more to thinking about their thinking.

Starting Fresh

Let’s rewind to the start of the year… many of my students entered my classroom with very little experience with iPads. A number of students had received their iPads for Christmas, some had only received their iPads the week before school started. A handful of students had managed to install a few of the free apps from the list they received at the end of last year, some students hadn’t set up an iTunes account so they didn’t have any apps, other than the default ones, installed. Then there were a couple of students who didn’t have an iPad yet. This was very different to my experience at the start of 2011 where my students had been using school owned iPads for 4 to 5 months with all apps required to support learning installed.

At the start of this year, as a way to cater for these different entry points, my students spent a lot of time exploring apps, working together, sharing discoveries and peer coaching each other. When it came time to complete tasks, we discussed possible apps to use and how to use them. We established class experts, that is, students who were familiar with particular apps and were happy to share their knowledge and skills. Students created tutorials, or rather “how-to” guides, for particular apps, to document this. We also had a daily “share time” where students communicated something they’d learnt about an app. It was fantastic to see my class establish a collaborative work ethic from the very beginning where they accepted we were all learning together, including me. I think that is one of the most important things to accept and value when establishing a 1:1 mobile device learning environment – that the teacher (adult) isn’t the bearer of all knowledge, that we can only build on what we know if we are open to learning together.

Please find attached the list of apps we use in our 1:1 iPad program: 1-1 iPad App List 2012

Collaboration

One thing I am noticing more and more during this learning journey with iPads is the way my students like to sit on the floor in pairs or small groups to discuss their learning and what they are doing on their iPads. I have always given my students the choice to sit at their tables or on the floor whilst undertaking independent work tasks, but I’m becoming more aware that very few students are remaining at their tables. After being involved in 1:1 laptop programs for two to three years, I’m seeing a greater degree of collaboration amongst my students with the iPads than I did with laptops. They hand their iPads between each other like they are workbooks. They are happy to share them. They are happy for someone else to use theirs. They are happy to work together. They are happy to learn with and from each other. Upon reflection, I find I am like this too. I am happy for my students [and young nephews] to use my iPad and show me what they can do; however, I wouldn’t be as comfortable having them use my laptop. What does this say about iPads and how we use them in the classroom? What does this say about iPads and how students view them in relation to their learning? What does this say about iPads and how we should use them in the classroom?

Stephen Heppell actually made me conscious of this when I heard him speak at the DEECD iPad trial PL last month. He spoke about students’ seating choices within learning spaces, the way a number of schools overseas encourage students to take their shoes off during class and how willingly students hand over their iPads to their peers. Maybe this could be something for you to think about too…

iPals

Grade 6 students + Prep buddies + iPads = iPals

Grade 6 students have often paired up with prep students as a way of providing prep students with an older friend to turn to in the playground should they have a problem. It has also been an opportunity for grade 6 students to demonstrate a greater level of responsibility within a school, to be role models, to prove they truly are leaders. This year, rather than run the usual ‘Prep Buddies’ program, the year 6 and prep teams decided that we wanted to maintain the focus of the buddy program, yet incorporate the iPads and student to student coaching.

I have been fortunate to work as an ICT Peer Coach in the past. I loved the experience and came to see peer coaching as taking on many forms – educator to student, student to educator and student to student. I found student to student coaching quite powerful. From my observations, students responded better to what I call “kid speak”. Sometimes, “teacher talk” was just too complicated and frustrating for them to grasp and understand. I noticed this to be the case with student to educator coaching too. Students had a different way of explaining to educators how to use certain programs and create things. Many educators responded better to working with students as well. In my opinion, this pairing was very effective for the professional growth of some educators too because it opened their minds to learning with students, moving them beyond the mind shift that they had to be the bearer and instructor of all knowledge and skills.

My class paired up with Prep Kim. Kim and I decided it would be best for my students to meet in her classroom so her students were in their comfort zone. Meeting and working with “big kids” can be a daunting experience for preps.

From the moment my students entered the prep classroom, the prep students’ eyes beamed. They knew the grade 6 students were bringing their iPads and they knew they were going to have a chance to play on them. I say play for a reason here because I believe it is really important to have play and discovery time in all areas of learning, whether it be looking through new books, decoding and writing new words, using a calculator, playing a musical instrument, experimenting with new pastels and paints or exploring software and mobile devices.

It was amazing! From the moment the iPads were in the preps’ hands, they knew exactly what to do. They were sliding their fingers across the screen, as well as turning and shaking the iPad around. Many students opted to play games, whilst others chose to draw pictures. A few even decided to create a little movie in PuppetPals, including voice recordings. I was particularly blown away by the excitement level of one prep student who made a PuppetPals movie. He jumped up and down and giggled when he played the movie for Kim. Afterwards, he clearly articulated his experience and what he learnt. It became very clear then that the iPads not only provided opportunities to support the prep students’ interests and preferred learning styles, they also provided opportunities to support their oral language and reflection experiences. This was evident during the session’s share time too. Many prep students not only recounted what they did and what they played, they also clearly explained what they liked and what they learnt.

Now that the preps have had their discovery time, Kim and I hope the grade 6 students can work with their iPals to create little movies to support what they are learning in class. We will still allow for discovery time at the beginning of our sessions, to tune the students into learning, but our main focus will be on reinforcing concepts covered in class. I will provide some guidance to my students prior to our iPals session, but in most cases, it will the grade 6 students working with the preps to create something that incorporates a number of apps and skills.

I, personally, want to see the iPads used at the transformative level, not just as a substitute… even with preps. I believe the devices are more than just a game console, word processor and web browser… they are true multimedia devices. It just takes some vision, creativity and risk taking to see this and make this happen… and we, at Manor Lakes College, will make this happen!

Please click on the following links to see some movies created by the preps and their buddies:

Learning with iPads

This year I am co-leading the iPad trial within my school with Corrie Barclay, my school’s ICT Leading Teacher.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to effectively integrate iPads in my learning and teaching program. I want my students’ learning experiences to be more than just using the stand alone apps. I don’t want my students to just type up stories in Pages or play games. I want my students to reflect on their learning, to track their progress, to think at a deeper level, to become creative authors and to transfer skills across different apps. I believe in the benefits of gaming, I just don’t want that to be the focus for the use of iPads in my classroom. I want to encourage discovery learning and peer coaching… and I want to promote student voice as well. I want my students to know that I value and acknowledge their thoughts, opinions and ideas. I also want my students to choose the app/s they feel best enables them to complete the learning tasks set.

Seeing I wasn’t part of the iPad experience last year, I wanted to hear what my students liked about the iPads, how they used them last year and how they would like to use them to assist their learning this year. To my surprise, my students’ responses weren’t all about playing games:

“I love using MathBoard because I love setting my own problems.”

“Touch Physics helps you with your thinking.”

“eBooks make reading fun!”

“I like Brain Quest because you answer questions and learn new facts.”

“I like how the games help me with my hand – eye co-ordination.”

These statements will help my team and I plan lessons our students will enjoy and be engaged in because they will feel a sense of ownership over the lesson design.

DSCF5552

About Me

I am a primary school teacher. I teach at Manor Lakes College (MLC). I have been teaching for the past 14 years and have taught in a range of schools – government and independent… disadvantaged to privileged. Prior to teaching, I worked at The Univeristy of Melbourne and for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD).

I currently teach a year 6 class. My school is very fortunate to be part of the DEECD iPad trial. All students in year 6 at my school have iPads. I have co-ordinated and been part of 1:1 laptop programs in the past, so integrating technology effectively is not new to me.

In the past, at my previous school, Dallas Primary School and Kindergarten, now known as Dallas Brooks Community Primary School and Kindergarten, I held the positions of eLearning / Learning & Teaching Leading Teacher and ICT Peer Coach. I taught the equivalent of 3 days a week in a year 6 classroom and then, for the other 2 days, I supported 3 teachers with integrating ICT in meaningful and purposeful ways in their learning and teaching programs. I love peer coaching and would one day love to become a full time eCoach.

I have a strong interest and background in Art, Gifted Education, Learning Technologies and Mathematics, I have a Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Education and have presented around Victoria on a number of topics, including computers in the primary classroom, mathematical software, differentiated curriculum and ICT peer coaching. I have also worked closely with representatives from Cisco, IBM and Microsoft on educational projects.