Information and Communications Technologies has to be my subject of choice. It was the first thing I turned to once I had graduated from high school and even though I never managed to land a career in the industry, it still remained a hobby of mine. It’s a subject that I would like to think that I know quite well and would feel fairly comfortable teaching.
The school of hard ‘Rocks’.
This semester (Semester 1 of my third year at University) presents me with a subject that I have ‘taken by the horns’. I love the idea of using technology in the classroom and choosing ICT as my subject of choice is a ‘no-brainer’ in that regard. Science is my second subject of choice, but considering I haven’t touched anything science related since I left high school, it has presented me with a steep learning curve.
I had to teach myself basic Geology during my first practicum of my second year. I found myself constantly behind the 8-ball as I tried to figure out enough theory, and build enough of a resource base to cover the 2-3 lessons that I had each day. I used YouTube, created PowerPoint presentations, and created my own word-based resources for each class.
Don’t fall in the hole.
One thing that I couldn’t help thinking was that there had to be a better way to bring what I had learned the night before to the class. By the end of the practicum I was beginning to succumb to what I call the ‘textbook attack’, as I found that my limited use of technology was beginning to fail me.
I came across this blog recently. One particular passage stands out particularly for me. “You do not teach ICT’s but you do teach learning areas … ICT’s are not criteria and they are not assessed because you assess the learning activities focused on the learning area”. I took this to mean that ICT’s are a tool to teach and learn, but selecting the right task for the learning is more important.
As part of my assessment for this term I will be developing a unit plan for teaching science to Middle school students. This will be an interesting challenge for me as I will have to really consider how I will be using ICT’s not only to teach the subject, but also to give students a way to develop and display their own knowledge and learning.
The lesson that turned.
One of the year 9 lessons that I taught was about the Newcastle Earthquake way back in 1989. It was a typical lesson of YouTube videos and power point slides that wasn’t really feeling very productive. One student was making faces at me and trying to distract me while the rest of the class was laughing at the helmet hair style that the news reporter was wearing in the YouTube clip. However for this lesson I was particularly proud of the task I had set. Students were to access the Geoscience Australia web site and search Austrailia, and other parts of the world, for earthquake activity, and report to me their findings.
The student’s loved this task. They were finding records of small tremors, registering between 1.5 and 2.5 on the Richter scale, that were occurring within the state of Queensland, and comparing them to areas of the world that are better known for tectonic plate activity, such as California.
The lesson I learned.
As teachers, we need to find and build better resources for our students. Not just for ways of giving them information, but for ways of keeping them interested in learning. The mood of the Australian Earthquake lesson had completely changed once the students began their task. They had re-engaged with the subject matter and even managed to produce some very well thought out responses to the activity. i was receiving verbal reports from them making comparisons between different countries, explanations on how the tectonic plates were possibly affecting certain parts of the world, and students were even explaining, with a fair degree of accuracy, how the Richter scale works when collecting earthquake data.