Triumverate of EdTech

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When examining the use of devices to support learning in the classroom, it is helpful to divide the context into three major categories. Hardware, software and whether it is effective way to complete the task.

Our classroom has a Smart Board with speakers, visualizer, professional presenter, two digital cameras, a tripod and a class set of iPads. Students are given daily opportunities to use these devices in order to master the skills needed to use them effectively. All students can manipulate the Smart Board, adding shapes, text, images or record themselves solving Math problems. Students are able to manipulate the visualizer including the zoom, focus and all-important document positioning skills which are all needed to communicate their message. The students are able to use basic photography & filming techniques on digital cameras and recognize when to use a tripod. While speaking in front of the class or in assembly, they use the presenter tool properly. Our iPads are the source of our main digital diet, so we have undergone extensive training on the platform this year. In addition to skills based learning, aspects of digital citizenship are also explored when caring for the equipment.

The implementation of the device is an entirely different set of skills for both teacher and learner. As highlighted throughout Digging Out of a Digital Hole and specifically in the text of Projects, Problems & Challenges the most important question for technology integration is its effectiveness. Similar to the using the SAMR model and Problem Based Learning strategies; the question becomes how does this positively transform the task? Technology is not always the answer. The early days of chalk was followed by a long reign of paper and pencil but has now given way to an unprecedented digital epoch. Devices are used to document how students access, analyze and interpret information How they communicate their understanding and how they connect. Principles of design are embedded within the content of the curriculum while presentation skills are not just limited to the layout and format of the work. Students are always formally or informally collaborating with partners; coupled with developing presentation techniques especially in front of the class. The teacher’s role is provide the opportunity for the student to take the next step.

Students use devices to access our class created Global Book Project and skills based sites such as Hour of Code or Mathletics. Within the lesson they use Explain Everything to record their reflections and questions. Grade Two then upload using Easy Blog Jr. Grade Five would access my curriculum site which contained rich resources helping to deepen students understanding of their Unit of Inquiry.

Our goals for the new year in Grade Two will be focusing on apps which will target: spelling, phonics and other features of language. We also will be implementing e-Portfolios. Exciting time with lots to look forward to on the horizon.

The Game is Afoot

hour_of_code_certificateWhen it comes to game-based learning in  an educational context it is tough to beat the Hour of Code. A worldwide initiative, specifically targeted at teaching children through play, how to program a computer is the first stop in quality game based learning. A significant effort is being made, by many invested parties, to address the future gap in technology skills. Tasks are scaffolded from the very beginning, with dragging and organizing blocks of colour; all the way to creating animations and proper coding challenges. Activities are interesting and educationally solid. Students lead their own learning through multiple stages and disciplines. Hour of Code captures their imagination and inspires them in new ways. While engaging with the program, they are applying mathematical, language and thinking skills.

Other opportunities which extend game-based learning include the use of Makey Makey  and student coders graduating to the use of the Probot roamers. Makey Makey calls itself an “invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads through art, engineering, and everything in between”.  The Probot roamer allows the user to program directional instructions for the robots to follow. The roamer might follow a track by receiving instructions such as following or creating the outline of shapes, to demonstrate cardinal directions and ordinal numbers.A strong educational tool, game based learning has many powerful attributes to develop student understanding. It fosters a sense of ownership and identity which in turn creates positive self esteem. Giving students challenges which they can address in a fun and relaxing manner is always a winning situation. There is a growing pool of resources but spreading these types of activities across the curriculum continues to be our next frontier.makey_makeyprobot350