Well I have just finished my first week of professional experience placement and I have loved every minute of it so far! I am completing my placement in a kindergarten classroom at Henschke Primary School in Wagga Wagga NSW. We have access to a range of technologies in the classroom including an IWB, six computers, two laptops, and a class set of iPads. Given the emphasis on integrating technology with classroom pedagogy on this placement, I was worried about how I would do this with a class of five and six year olds. How would these little people know how to use these technologies when they are only just learning how to read and write? I thought it was going to be very difficult to teach the children how to use the technologies in order to enhance their learning. Boy was I wrong!
When I entered the classroom on the first day of placement, I observed the children interacting with a range of different technologies. In the morning routine, the children changed the date on the calendar and marked the roll in a flipchart presentation on the IWB. In the writing lesson, the teacher modelled how to write a sentence on the IWB and then a few children were chosen to have a go at writing their own sentence on the IWB. I was particularly amazed at this, as many of the children were still learning how to write a sentence with pencil and paper, and yet they could readily write a sentence using the IWB pen and functions (a skill that took me a long time to master at university!). In reading groups, the children completed different activities using ‘Reading Eggs’ software on the computers and on the IWB. Again, I was amazed at how quickly and efficiently the children navigated these technologies! In one group the children had the option to read from a selection of picture books or to read and view electronic copies of these books on the iPads. Of course, most of the children chose to use the iPads!
During this first week of placement I was also fortunate to observe an integrated literacy and technology lesson with my class. A specialised technology teacher within the school ran the lesson. This benefited both myself and my mentor teacher as much as the children. The technology teacher connected her iPad to the IWB so that whatever she was viewing on her iPad was projected onto the IWB for the children to see. The technology teacher then showed the children how to use the camera function on the iPad to take photos. Many of the children were already familiar with this function as they spoke about taking ‘selfies’ with their parent’s phones. The technology teacher then introduced the children to an app on the iPad called ‘Book Creator’. The teacher showed the children how create a title page for the book. The teacher showed the children how to insert text to write a title for the book. The teacher showed the children how to change the size, colour and font of the text. Then the teacher showed the children how to insert a photo (that she had just taken using the camera function) into the title page. Finally, the teacher demonstrated how to insert a series of pages into the book. On these pages, the teacher inserted text to write a sentence. The children were engaged throughout the teacher’s demonstration which was clearly displayed on the IWB for everyone to see.
The children were very enthusiastic to have a go at creating their own books with the ‘Book Creator’ app on the iPads. The children worked with a partner to create their own book. First the children took photos of each other using the camera function on the iPad. Then the children created a title page for their book, inserting text to write a title and inserting the photos they had just taken. The children inserted a series of pages into their book. On these pages, they inserted text to write a sentence describing their partner. The children experimented with changing the size, colour and font of their sentences.
As you can see I was very surprised at how competent and proficient these children already are with technology! My observations of the integrated literacy and technology lesson highlighted to me the importance of INTEGRATING technology with classroom pedagogy. Chalich (2015) argues that, “the effective use of technology in the curriculum should be not viewed as an add-on or something that is taught in isolation; rather, it needs to be effectively integrated across all key learning areas” (para. 3). In the Australian Curriculum, students develop ICT capability as they learn to use technology effectively and appropriately to access, create and communicate information and ideas, solve problems and work collaboratively in ALL LEARNING AREAS at school and in their lives beyond school. Chalich (2015) also emphasises the importance of teachers reflecting upon how they are integrating technology into their classrooms. Is it an act of replacement, amplification or transformation? Therefore, my goal as I go forward in this placement is to integrate technology with classroom pedagogy in as many learning areas as I can, in order to enhance my students’ learning in these areas. I am particularly excited to use ‘Book Creator’ in my next writing lesson! I will continue to refer to the RAT Model to reflect on and evaluate my integration of technology with classroom pedagogy.
I hope everyone is having a fantastic placement and learning as much about integrating technology with classroom pedagogy as I am!
Chalich, Z. (2015). Integrating technology with classroom pedagogy – Accelerate student learning. Retrieved from https://www.educationtechnologysolutions.com.au/2015/08/integrating-technology-with-classroom-pedagogy-accelerate-student-learning/