Statement of Beliefs about teaching and ICT
Knowledge is acquired information that changes rapidly in conjunction with our experiences. Therefore, learning is a continual process and it enables students to make sense of the world.
What I believe about learning
I believe that learning begins from birth and can occur at any time and any where; therefore learning is not restricted to classroom experiences. All people have the ability to learn, however, learning develops at different rates and different ways due to a variety of reasons along a developmental continuum. Regardless of where children are within their development, learning occurs when there is a high expectation to learn. According to Howard Gardner, people have a unique blend of intelligences, therefore impacting on their personal learning styles. While some students prefer visual cues, others prefer verbal cues, while other students are kinaesthetic learners. However not all lessons can provide for all learners. Therefore, I believe in applying Skinner’s Behaviourism framework by providing positive reinforcement therefore keeping the students interested in the lessons. Throughout my practicum, I was able to achieve this by using a simple stamp and insect stickers.
For many years working as a teacher’s aide and throughout my practicum’s associated with studying education, I have observed that learning should be scaffolded and is best achieved through small individual steps in a variety of ways that meet the student’s individual needs. I believe that Lev Vygotsky’s (1978) theoretical framework of Social Constructivism enables children to construct their knowledge and make meaning through active participation in social experiences. Therefore, facilitating communication within small group activities promotes a shared understanding of ideas which enables students to use their prior knowledge to link with the new learning taking place. However, within these groups, students are not just learning facts. The Constructivism framework based on Jean Piagets work stresses the need for learners to construct knowledge by working on authentic problems. It is my belief that encouraging students to investigate real life problems while working collaboratively within a group will allow a higher level of thinking to take place. I believe by making connections between prior knowledge, experience, high expectations, valuing differences, support, social interaction and connectedness to the outside world, and then, learning will be at its optimum.
What I believe about teaching
All children need confidence, self-motivation and engagement to participate in the learning process. For this reason, teachers should begin with what each student already knows in order to develop a teaching program. All programs need to scaffold student’s learning and provide experiences that suit the individual learning needs and learning styles. According to Howard Gardner, this is how teachers can guide students to the next stage of their development.
In addition, students should be given opportunities to solve problems, become risk-takers and independent learners. In harmony with the work of Jean Piaget, teachers should provide a range of stimulating and challenging learning experiences, resources and teaching strategies in order for students to construct their own knowledge from their own experiences. The theory of Constructivism says that learners construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. Therefore in my class during my practicum, children were taught the foundational concepts and then given the opportunity to reflect on and talk about their activities. I provided the students with a checklist sheet in order to assist them in remembering the steps they used and a reflection sheet that prompted thoughts of the processes they used. As students talked about what was learnt, they were able to learn not only from their own experiences but also from the experiences of their peers.
According to the theory of Constructivism, learning activities need to be grounded in real-world contexts as authenticity of a task stimulates and engages the students. Therefore, when planning the unit on Creating an Insect, I incorporated the use of digital cameras so the students could explore nature and find insects in their natural habitat. (PP1) While the students were finding insects to photograph they were also giving consideration to where they live and what they eat in order to complete an insect chart on their findings. (PP2) The students created their insect chart, using a Word document, and these were displayed for parents to view. (PP3)
In addition, some lessons need to be based on the theory of Behaviourism in order to assist students to memorise important basic information. I believe this is vital when planning and implementing spelling and number facts tasks. To support the teaching of both literacy and numeracy for a range of diverse learners, I was able to create simple activities to be used on the interactive whiteboard. (PV2)
Teachers also need to include the theory of Social Constructivism in their teaching as group work promotes social and communication skills by creating a classroom environment that emphasizes collaboration. For this reason, I planned literacy rotational activities that facilitated communication and collaboration. For example, one group used a game called Silly Sentences. The students would work together to create sentences and then compile them to make a silly story.
What I believe about using digital technologies in learning and teaching
I believe that using digital technologies are vital to the role of learning and teaching as they:
- Promote student motivation and engagement within lessons
- Provide opportunities for students to access information from a variety of digital sources
- Cater to different learning styles
- Provide opportunities for students to self pace
- Provide real life contexts that are connected to the outside world
- Enable students to take risks through investigations to explore new ideas and knowledge
In addition, there are so many resources and prepared programs on offer that teachers can incorporate ICT’s to support and scaffold the learning of all students according to their individual needs. (PK1) Because of the capacity to store information, learning can be interrupted and resumed as necessary and data can be moved from one location to another.
In teaching year 2 during my practicum, I found that it is initially beneficial to reduce the options when getting the students to use the computers. Instead of asking a student to do a web search on any topic, I would tell them the site I wanted them to find, which was “Let’s talk about Insects”. I had already reviewed the program and found that it complemented the insect construction theme that was being taught and the literacy component of the program met the needs of the beginning readers within the class. (PV3)
How these beliefs reflected in your teaching practice
Learners are not empty vessels. They come to the school with already formulated knowledge, ideas and understandings. Because learning is based on prior knowledge, children have different starting points. Consequently, teaching is very much catering for individual differences. As previously established, my teaching practices are solidly linked with theoretical frameworks such as Behaviourism, Constructivism and Social Constructivism. In addition to these frameworks, I also endeavour to display the same understanding of learners outlined by Howard Gardner.
I believe that by integrating ICT into units of work, teachers are able to provide individualised and relevant learning for each individual. The inclusion of ICT also assists us as educators to provide a more purposeful and meaningful curriculum. Throughout my practicum, I observed that students respond positively to digital tasks and tend to achieve better outcomes as they are motivated by technology. As I have attended professional development in this area, I was able to use my knowledge of designing activities for interactive whiteboards in order to scaffold students learning. (PV1) I was able to find resources for the all the lessons I taught, either you-tube clips, interactive calculators, visual cues to support literacy tasks and e-books for guided reading. (PV3)
In teaching during my practicum, I was able to use the interactive whiteboard when introducing a topic to support students learning by providing a structured and interesting method of interacting with the material. (PP7) When teaching the students how to safely search the internet for insect building sites, I was able to utilize the interactive whiteboard. This enabled me to model safe practices for all students when using digital resources. (PV3) Using Microsoft Word software allowed me to create a template for students to use when completing the Insect Chart task. This meant that I was able to scaffold their presentation and the task could be saved in a folder and used again later. (PK1) My students were given many opportunities to work individually, with buddies, in small groups and in whole class situations to enhance their learning process. However, during all lessons I would take anecdotal notes and record observations of what students can do on a checklist that I designed. (PP8) This information was compiled and emailed to the mentor teachers. (PR1) They used this data to provide feedback on the student’s assessment task.
As a new teacher, I will endeavour to incorporate ICT into my planning. I believe that using ICT is not an option but a necessary part of school planning in order for our student to become valued members of society.
The primary school is located east of Ipswich City within an older residential area with families from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds. Due to closures of other primary schools in the area, this school has had an influx in student numbers. The current enrolment is approximately 540 students, with the majority of the population identified as white Australians. There are only 8% of students identified as Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander and 2% of students from other nationalities. Consequently, there is only 0.5% of students who have English as a Second Language (ESL), while 10% of the student population are identified as students with special needs.
I attended this primary school for 3 weeks, from May 24th until June 11th 2010, in order to complete a practicum with a year 2 class. The class had 26 students, 12 boys and 14 girls. Within the class there is one student going through the verification process for a Speech Language Impairment and another student who is ascertained as having an Intellectual Impairment. Two teachers share this class (3 days, 2 days); however their communication was so effective that all the students are thriving within this class. There is no computer lab within the school; however, the classroom has 2 computers. There is 1 interactive whiteboard mounted on the wall within the classroom, however, it is too high for the students to use effectively and it needs to be shared with the other year 2 classes. The school has 1 digital camera available per year level, so for the purpose of our activities I was able to use both the year 1 and year 2 cameras.
This school believes in providing an environment for students to realise and strive to achieve their full potential. This is done by providing a balanced curriculum program designed to enhance students' capacity to act as responsible citizens. Consequently, I was able to observe lessons from a number of Key Learning Areas. These lessons included, literacy sessions that incorporated rotational groups and lessons with specialist staff in the areas of music, health and physical education, health and science. However, at the time of this practicum, all year two classes were under going Year Two Diagnostic Net Testing and moderation. Due to all the testing in the first week, I missed the opportunity to observe maths lessons.
The lessons I taught that incorporated the use of ICT include the following:
- Maths - Place value & money (5 Lessons)
- Literacy - Contractions (1 lesson), spelling activities (2 lessons) Poetry (4 lessons)
- Literacy rotational groups (4 lessons) guided reading, comprehension, browsing box and reading games
- Unit work on insect incorporating ICT and technology (6 lessons)
- Physical education (2 lessons)
Throughout each of these lessons, I endeavoured to use ICT in order to enhance student engagement, therefore promoting student learning. (PP2) For example when organising literacy groups, I needed cover the topic of silk worms. To start the topic, I used the interactive whiteboard to show 5 short you-tube clips covering the life cycle of a silkworm and showing how silk thread in gathered by humans from the cocoons. (PP7) During rotations, instead of guided reading from a paper printed book, the students read an e-book entitled “Silkworms” from the interactive whiteboard. (PP5)
The unit of work I presented was designed for a year 2 class. The mentor teachers requested that I complete a unit on constructing an insect. They provide me with the unit straight from the Queensland Studies Authority website (file attached). (PP4) This unit is based on technology and required the students to construct a model insect. The mentor teachers were happy for me to adapt this unit in order to incorporate ICT, as long as the students were still able to construct their insect as they needed to give marks relating to this assessment task. The mentor teachers informed me that the students had limited experience in terms of using ICT devices due to the shortage of resources, therefore, within my lessons I would initially need to teach them the necessary skills in order for them to complete the tasks successfully. For that reason, I planned a unit consisting of 6 lessons in which the students were required to individually use digital cameras to take photos of insects, insert photos into a word document, create an insect chart, use website programs to design their own insect, investigate how to join materials together for construction, build their insect, photograph their work and reflect on their work. (PP1) This unit was written as six lessons, however, due to Year Two Diagnostic Net Testing and the fact that there were only two computers in the classroom, the first few lessons were completed as small groups. Throughout this unit, the students were taught how to use a digital camera in order to gather information for an Insect Chart that they were required to create. (PP3) As the students had limited experience with computers, I created an Insect Chart template for them to complete using Word. (PP6) This enabled all students to complete the task, even the students that required additional learning support. (PP4) Throughout each lesson, students were firstly taught how to use the ICT devices and then they were given opportunity to investigate and explore using the ICT devices. Observations were made in regards to how the students managed to use the device independently and all data was recorded electronically and shared with both mentor teachers via email. (PP8)
Reflection on implementation
Throughout my practicum, I consider that I experienced many successes in using ICT within the classroom. I felt confident in creating interactive activities to be used on the interactive whiteboard. Within the unit, Create an insect, I planned as many opportunities as possible for students to experience the use of ICT devices. (PP1) For example:
- students are required to individually use digital cameras to take photos of insects,
- insert photos into a word document,
- create an insect chart using a word document,
- use website programs to design their own insect, and
- photograph their work and reflect on their work.
While observing the students engaging with ICT’s, I could see that within a group of 26 students, there is a wide range of intelligences and the impact this has on the students learning styles, therefore affecting the way the students engage with the devices. Overall, I feel that my unit was able to assist students to construct knowledge relating to ICT while working on authentic projects. I believe that I was able to make connections between prior knowledge and new skills enabling the students to experience success using ICT’s within this unit of work.
When reflecting on what I learnt, I keep thinking about the fact that these ICT devices are in the classroom:
- A camera
- 2 computers
- Interactive whiteboard
However, the students had very limited skills in operating them. I guess that there is so much pressure on teachers to cover other areas of the curriculum, that finding time to incorporate ICT’s can be difficult. This practicum has shown me that it is worth planning to use ICT’s in conjunction with all Key Learning Areas (KLA) as students find them stimulating and motivating.
I found that initially that some students required a lot of support, especially when using the computers. However, by the end of three weeks, most of the students were displaying confidence in navigating the computer independently. Therefore, as a new educator, I will strive to incorporate ICT devices within my regular classroom practices.
The best recommendation that I can make, is that all teachers are encouraged to increase the use of ICT’s within the classroom. I understand that some teachers just feel that it is too hard or they are afraid as they are not confident in using ICT themselves. If these teachers were able to observe how ICT can promote student motivation and engagement while catering for the diverse learners within the classroom, then they would realise that ICT’s are vital to the role of teaching and learning. Therefore, with a little support and regular ICT professional development, I feel that all teachers would become efficient at incorporating ICT’s within their classrooms.
Personal learning goals
My personal learning goals include:
Keeping up with current trends - As ICT’s are constantly changing, I know that I there is constantly new program and devices that can be used within the classroom. If schools are able to provide the resource for eLearning, mLearning or uLearning to occur, then teachers need to know how to use these devices effectively to enhance student learning.
Utilizing prepared programs - While I am confident in creating activities I realise that this is a time consuming task. Therefore I need to become more aware of existing programs instead of creating my own activities all the time. For example, I would like to become familiar with a literacy program called Clicker 5. In addition, I am aware that there are many websites that could be utilized effectively to support student learning in all Key Learning Areas (KLA).
Networking with colleagues - By sharing resources and talking about teaching ideas with my colleagues, I feel I will be constantly aware of the need to incorporate ICT within my classroom. Teachers have the opportunity to become part of many discussion boards. I believe these networks can provide teachers with fresh ideas and assist with accessing resources. My goal is to join some of these discuss boards.
Bosbcn. (2006). Silkworm processing. Retrieved May 30, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1RTqAWKenM&feature=fvw
Campbell, R., & Green, D. (2006). Literacies and learners: current perspectives (3rd ed.). NSW: Pearson Education Australia.
Kindersley, D. (2009). Silly sentences game. Australia: DK Games.
Finger, G., Russell, G., Jamieson-Proctor, R., & Russell, N. (2007). Transforming learning with ICT: Making it happen. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia.
Gujodotcom. (2009) Cycle of the silkworm life: 2/33. Retrieved May 30, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRddpfcAVAg&feature=related
Gujodotcom. (2010) Cycle of the silkworm life: 31/33. Retrieved May 30, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8cx_c_eVJ8&feature=related
Gujodotcom. (2010) Cycle of the silkworm life: 25/33. Retrieved May 30, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaaKg2qsNHs&feature=related
Gujodotcom. (2010) Cycle of the silkworm life: 26/33. Retrieved May 30, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3iDI-Z7Xp8&feature=related
Queensland Studies Authority. (2009). Insect designer: Teachers guide. Retrieved May 19, 2010, from https://qcar.qsa.qld.edu.au/assessmentbank/html/package.html?uid=A0000013223
University of Illinois Extension. (2010). Let’s talk about insects. Retrieved May 24, 2010, from http://urbanext.illinois.edu/insects/newbug.html
- First name: Neva
- Last name: Osborne
- Student ID: 0050085511
- Email address: email@example.com
Unit Plan - Create an Insect
My mentor teachers requested that I utilize the Insect designer unit plan which was produced by the Queensland Studies Authority within my teaching experience as it was related to an assessment task. However, the mentor teachers were happy for me to adapt this unit in order to incorporate ICT. The original unit plan guides children through using technology processes to design and make a model insect. Students are encouraged to explore different materials and techniques and then select suitable resources to make their own model. I was able to incorporate ICT’s such as cameras, computers, printers and an interactive whiteboard into this unit. The mentor teachers informed me that the students had limited experience in terms of using ICT devices due to the shortage of resources, therefore, within my lessons I would initially need to teach them the necessary skills in order for them to complete the tasks successfully.
Within my unit, Create an insect, students are expected to individually use digital cameras to take photos of insects, insert photos into a word document, create an insect chart, use website programs to design their own insect, investigate how to join materials together for construction, build their insect, photograph their work and reflect on their work. (PP1)
Throughout the unit, students will not only work within the classroom, they will be required to explore the school grounds. In an ideal situation, the students would also assess a computer lab enabling all students to participate at the same time instead of this being a small group activity.
The main pedagogical approaches I have used within this unit are direct instruction, modelling and scaffolding. These pedagogical approaches are particularly important as the students have limited knowledge of how to use ICT devices. Throughout the unit, the students are encouraged to explore the features of all ICT devices, as exposure to these devices will build student knowledge and confidence.
The sequence of learning outlined in the unit plan starts with students taking photos of insects. This is allows the students to use a digital camera while thinking about the identifying features of an insect. The student need to know that insects have 6 legs and 3 body parts, without this knowledge they will be unsuccessful in creating their own insect. The unit also expects student to complete an Insect chart, once again this provides to opportunity for students to use ICT’s, however there is more to it. The students need to know what insect eat and where they live in order to tell people about their own insect as this is part of the assessment. When designing their own insect, students seem to struggle as they do not know where to start. The ”Let’s talk about insects” website can be used to scaffold the students thoughts. This site allows them to use different legs, wings and antennae to design an insect. The students are then able to change the colours of each body part. Once the students have explored these options, they are full of design ideas.
The resources that are used within this unit are designed to enhance student knowledge while enabling them to take risks and explore with ICT’s. Students respond positively to digital tasks, therefore linking these with the assessment tasks has been done to assist the students to achieve better outcomes.
QSA unit plan, Create an insect unit plan and lesson plans
Items of evidence
Within this area of Items of evidence, I have provided five different folders. The first of these folders is entitled Documents supporting the unit plan. Included in this folder are items such as:
The criteria sheet that was shared with the class in the first lesson in order to show the students what was expected from them
A checklist and reflection sheets which are designed to assist students to reflect on their work by asking question such as “What did you learn about designing?”
An ICT data collection form that provides the teacher with an overview of the skill of each student in regards to using ICT devices
The Insect Chart template and samples of students work showing how the student were able to compile the photos they took with the information they found on different insects (PP3)
Create an Insect poster which was printed in order to share learning experiences with parents (PP2)
A copy of a Smart Technologies certificate showing that I have attending professional development in order to develop my skills in creating activities for interactive whiteboards (PV1)
The second folder entitled Photo evidence contains photographs showing the students using ICT devices in order to acheive the curriculum goal. (PP1)
The third folder provide evidence of professional communication between my mentor teacher and myself using email. (PR1)
The fourth folder contains the student permission form along with the covering letter, signed by the deputy principal, that was sent home to parents.
The last folder contains a letter of support on school letterhead (that is blocked out) from my mentor teachers.