No Computers to Be Found! No Screens at All! They’re Not Allowed in the Classroom!!!

Digital Citizenship in the PYP: Day 1 of 3

Workshop facilitator: Nathan Pope: @Chinaheadk12

Homework for this evening is to read this article:

At Waldorf School in Silicon Valley, Technology Can Wait – The New York Times (1)

Waldorf School frowns upon the use of computers and screens within classroom environments and discourages home use.

I had to go back and check the dates of this article and was amazed that this was only written in 2011… if you read the article you would understand my confusion.

The article goes on to explain that children do not need computers in education, instead this school is “focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks. Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans”.

My experience is polar opposite to this mindset.

Other points to note in summary of this article:

  • The debate comes down to subjectivity, parental choice and a difference of opinion over a single word: engagement.
  • Advocates for equipping schools with technology say computers can hold students’ attention and, in fact, that young people who have been weaned on electronic devices will not tune in without them.
  • “Teaching is a human experience,” he said. “Technology is a distraction when we need literacy, numeracy and critical thinking.”
  • And where advocates for stocking classrooms with technology say children need computer time to compete in the modern world, Waldorf parents counter: what’s the rush, given how easy it is to pick up those skills?

My thoughts on these points:

  • The word engagement is key. Student engagement should not be centred around the use of technology. I believe hands on, visual and human based interactions in learning are of the upmost importance. Technology should be used to enhance the learning experience, using the tech is not the learning experience. We are not teaching technology for the sake of the tools, we are using technology to support the learning process. If we are just using the technology for the sake of learning about a new tool we need to seriously rethink our approaches to teaching and learning.
  • The whole notion of working with children who have been raised with a dependence on electronic devices to maintain attention and engagement is frankly a scary thought! I believe that balance with devices is important and children require boundaries with the amount of screen time they have day to day. It seems that it has become socially acceptable/ tolerated for people to look at their devices at ‘inappropriate’ times, adults are just as guilty of this offence as children. What happened to the good old days of eye contact and having a lunch with a friend, or listening in a staff meeting, a friendly interaction at the grocery store with the checkout attendant, without the interruption of a mobile phone notification? I’m thinking that people need to be taught digital manners as well as digital citizenship! Working in Junior Primary I’m constantly reminding and supporting children with eye contact, body language cues, reading people’s reactions, emotions and expressions. Look up and engage with others around you! There is no need to use a device to engage a student, sometimes the tech does that but it is not the reason we use it.
  • Human interactions are of vital importance. We are more capable of connecting and collaborating with people from all around the world than ever before. We can learn from others, critically reflect on content that we are sharing and question how we could solve problems. Critical thinking and problem solving is a big part of digital interactions. We can do this in person, face to face and we can also do this digitally. Some children are better at communicating online than in person, I personally find that I’m a better communicator whilst online too! Not that I don’t enjoy speaking with people, it’s simply that I’m capable of clearly communicating my points of view after reflection and consideration whilst typing on my blog rather than in real time conversation. I’m a slow processor and appreciate time to think things over before expressing my opinion.
  • Lastly, just how easy is it to pick up computer and digital technology skills? If you isolate a student from using a computer and then introduce it to them at a later stage in their development they won’t simply pick it up and know what to do with it. We learnt about the phrase ‘Digital Natives’ during our workshop today, please visit the podcast and article: http://podcast.concordiashanghai.org/blog/2014/11/17/tech-talk-roundtable-72-digital-natives-use-digital-spears/
  • Students are not born with tech knowledge and they need to be taught how to navigate through a digital world. So much of what they will need in their lives revolves around being a digital citizen and learning the skills required to collaborate, create and critically analyse things that are online.

Another great video to watch after todays session to get this point across:

Enjoyed the reading and looking forward to sharing this post for further discussion in tomorrow’s workshop.

Thanks for reading

Jade

Sensory Needs: Putting the Pieces Together

Presentor: Dino Mennillo: Occupational Therapy for Children

On the 10th of August I attended a sensory needs training session with a colleague, as we have a few students in our classes who require sensory stimulation and output.

Here are some of the notes taken and areas that I will be implementing in my teaching practice.

What is it, how do we recognise it?

  • Sensory integration therapy, can we offer this in the classroom? Yes. How?
  • Restless students, movement and fidgeting.

Sensory preferences: There are different types of sensory needs in students.

1.  Under sensitive: these are the students who love sand, messy play, seeks lots of movement.

2. Over sensitive: avoids noisy, messy play activities, doesn’t like to be touched.

3. Tactile: Deeper firmer touch is more tolerable, use putty, shaving cream, beans

Parent Involvement:

There was a huge focus on this point and I was pleased to hear it.

  • It is the parent’s job to get the foundations right. Your child’s body learns when they fall, we need to let them fall, play, climb etc. We are seeing too many children who are not being given the opportunity to play, take risks, climb trees etc. So their bodies are not learning movements and developing the core strength, coordination and balance they need. Get your children involved in sports, playing games outdoors, give them time to play and move.

Importance of Play

  • Parent Questions: What time does your child go to sleep at night? Sleep patterns, ask the basic questions. Screen time before bed? Activities before bed? Limit screen time before bed and first thing in the morning.  It is recommended that school age children from Reception to Year 7 get 12 hours of sleep per night. This should be brought up at Parent information evenings.

 Classroom Strategies to Implement:

  • Provide regular movement breaks. Get this happening before they get restless, short spouts of movement. Get up walk to drink taps, do a small lap of the yard, 5 star jumps on the spot. Get them moving, it will help with their concentration and physical need for movement. I have been implementing brain breaks in my class with students and have noticed improvements in focus, concentration levels and quality of work.
  • Bum bags for fidget toys. This strategy allows the sensory need to be fulfilled but does not distract the student from the learning. Keep the sensory toy in the bum bag, if it comes out of the bum bag it gets taken away.

Sensory Diet: The Key to Sensory Success

  • Intensity (when they have the physical activity make sure it is intense so that it last for the period of time to aid focus),
  • Duration (Short breaks for 2-5 minutes),
  • Frequency (Have the breaks every 15-20 minutes). Get the pattern for sensory breaks right.

Key Points

Discussions and Questions at the end:

  • Handwriting and Pencil grip. This can’t change after age of 5 years old. You can try but unlikely to change it. When writing your left hand is the helper, one side of the brain switches off. 2 minutes a day colouring in on a vertical surface will improve handwriting/ pencil grip.
  • Develop typing skills instead. To be typing both sides of the brain need to be working.

Complexity of Writing

Certificate of Attendance Dino Mennillo: Occupational Therapy for Children

This was a useful session and I was able to use some of the information and strategies shared within my current school context.

Welcome back to school! Let’s play!

IB: Play-Based Learning in the PYP

PAC: Wednesday 14th to Friday 16th of January 2015

Presenter: Jo Fahey & Workshop Facilitator: Heather O’Hara

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It’s only a couple of weeks until the children come back to school and I’m trying to get my junior primary headset back and what better way to do that than to engage with play-based learning!

For the last three years I’ve been teaching in Year 6 in the MYP, prior to that I was teaching Year 2’s in the PYP and now I’m back! Very excited to be back too. My colleagues in year 6 would often say to me, “You’re such a JP teacher”, usually as I sat on the floor with my students, materials sprawled across the floor. I am generally a visual and hands on learner and I believe this way of learning is natural for myself and many children. This is also known as exploratory learning or play-based learning. Using materials, props, resources to make meaning and sense of our world.

We listened to Jo Fahey about the importance of socio-dramatic play. Research has shown that students are highly engaged and participate in an authentic and mature way whilst role-playing. These play experiences help students to make sense of their world and how it works. It also allows students to take on roles and responsibilities as global citizens.

We then went to our workshop with Heather O’Hara. As part of this course we explored the definition of play:

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We then looked at the image of the child and what was at the core of what we do as educators to meet the needs of children. Why do we teach? What is the purpose behind what we do? What do we as educators do to support and develop the child?

Great read: Your Image of the Child: Where Teaching Begins by Loris Malaguzzi

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We had some interesting discussions about the words inquiry, play and learning. Are these words interchangeable? We couldn’t come to an agreement but it was agreed that playing is inquiry and learning is a product of both.

I loved exploring learning spaces at PAC. We visited the ELC and Reception rooms. In particular I enjoyed looking at this writing space pictured below. It showed intention and purpose, involved sensory elements and tied in students prior knowledge and resources to further develop their understandings. It was an inviting and engaging learning space to assist playing with writing.

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I have also been inspired by Reggio classrooms. Something I have been researching and trying to work on in my own learning spaces for the last few years.

Here are some links to my Pinterest boards regarding Reggio and Play-Based Learning:

https://www.pinterest.com/jadevidovich/reggio/

https://www.pinterest.com/jadevidovich/play-based-learning/

These images were in the PAC Early Learning Centre. I particularly liked the grass mat and wooden blocks and tree stumps. Things I have been on the look out for and am acquiring soon 🙂

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We explored this Central Idea:

Respectful and careful consideration of space, materials and relationships infuse all aspects of early childhood instruction.

From here my group came up with these lines of inquiry:

Developing Learning Spaces
Why is it important to change and develop learning spaces?
How can spaces be utilised effectively?
How can spaces be a provocation for learning?

Materials for Engagement & Exploration
How important are materials and resources for learning?
What types of materials engage the learner?
How do we select appropriate materials for learning?
Forming Positive Relationships
What does a positive relationship look like?
Why are positive relationships important to student well-being and their development?
How do we know that we are encouraging positive connections with self, peers, environment and the community/ wider-world?
It was great to listen to and discuss our own beliefs and experiences around these. We also had time to do our own research about each of these areas. Some other groups took us outside to explore how nature and the outdoor spaces around us can be learning spaces that engage students and activate inquiry and play-based learning. Visiting other learning spaces at PAC and this group time was probably the most enjoyable part of the course. I was also able to look at my current planners and think about how to set up my class as a provocation for our first inquiry. This was useful reflective time.
I’m looking forward to setting up my classroom for 2015.
Stay tuned for pictures of playful, intentional and purposeful learning spaces on my blog.
Thanks Heather O’Hara for running the course for the last three days. It has given me time to get my JP headset back and explore ideas for including more play in my learning space.
Lets start 2015!
Action Plan: 
1. Set up my classroom with the ideas I’ve accumulated over the last 3 days. Post pictures on my blog.
2. Share these play-based ideas with my staff and encourage this to be resourced and funded by the school.
3. Keep contact with the group to share our play-based learning strategies. Do this via Twitter, Pinterest and the Wiki.

ACEC: Australian Computers in Education Conference: CyberSmart

CyberSmart

Embedding a Cyber Smart program into the curriculum.

Presenter: Greg Gebhart

National Curriculum: Standard 4

4.4 Maintain Student Safety

  • Provide learning opportunities on cyber bullying and how to report
  • Provide students with the information on safe use of social media.

4.5 Use ICT Safely, responsibility and ethically

  • Provide lessons to students on plagiarism
  • Provide students with the curriculum that identifies key online risks and issues.

How do we embed Cyber Safety within current programs in the curriculum?

There is no doubt that we, as educators see the importance of raising student awareness about issues regarding online safety. There are constant changes, risks and obstacles we face online and it is our responsibility to equip our students with the tools and strategies to safely engage with the online world. In my teaching experience I have created a Digital Citizenship Unit of Inquiry with my Year 6 students to address such issues.

I found this statistic fascinating: The average number of student personal digital devices is 4 or more each! This includes devices such as iPad’s, phones, laptops, gaming consoles, iPods etc. It was also interesting to note that whilst the number of mobile phones for students hasn’t really changed, they have instead progressed from standard mobile phones to Smart Phones, allowing further access to online activities.

Less than 5% of Primary Schools students are on Facebook. There has been a shift away from Facebook and a move towards other social networking sites and apps such as Instagram and Kik. This is due to Facebook becoming an increasingly adult world where students are being friended by their parents, family members etc. We need to remind our students about the security settings within each app and site. For example many students are using Instagram to upload their personal pics, not realising that even though they are sharing these pictures with their friends lists, the pictures themselves become property of Google images and can be used on Google and found by strangers if searched. I have students in Year 6 who are currently using Instagram and I wonder if they realise this…note to self: remind my class about this in our next Digital Citizenship lesson.

Here are some Sites/ Apps which are popular amongst students ranging from primary to high school age:

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KIK: Kik has limited security settings, it is meant for young adults (17+), we find many offenders on this app, searching for young people. Do not recommend KIK to students, talk about the lack of safety and how to change the settings to not allow strangers to connect with you.

YouTube (13+): So many students have YouTube accounts and upload videos of themselves to share with others. Again there are privacy settings and choices of who you share your videos with. Golden rule of if you wouldn’t share this with your grandma, don’t share it online.

Vine (17+) (6 second videos) Risky behaviours are being displayed here, students dare each other to do things to get their 6 seconds of fame online. We need to warn students about these risky behaviours and what impact 6 seconds can have on your digital reputation.

Tumbler (13+) (majority of kids not using this now)

askFM (13+) ask.com has recently purchased this site and have promised to clean the site up and restructure it. It is not one to recommend to children.

Whisper. This site has been linked to teenage suicides, it allows people to comment and be completely anonymous, which is why students like it, but also allows for some terrible posting and behaviours.

SnapChat: This app is being used by some of my students. The idea is that students can share a photo and set a time limit for that photo and then it “disappears”. The issue is that these images are being shared but then captured and stored and shared again! There are Snap Chat cheats to collect the images without the sender realising their photo has been captured. The names of the cheats are: Snap Save, Snap-Hack Pro, Snap Capture. I wonder if my students are aware of this???

It is so important for us to create an awareness of the importance of Security Settings. We need to not only tell students to change their settings but also show them where they are and how to activate them. Sometimes it is simply one setting that can take you from high risk to low risk.

We need to develop the idea of Digital Identities and how they are your real identity too. Teaching the whole person and developing their well-being. Cyber safety is viewed negatively in the eyes of students, there is the “been there done that” mentality. However, the Digital Citizenship topic is seen in a positive light, looking at who you are as a person online and the values and behaviours you display that project who you are as a person.

Resources to investigate:

CyberSmart Website: Some great resources for teachers, parents and students

http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/Schools/Cybersafety%20policy%20guidance/Holistic%20approach%20to%20cybersafety.aspx

Bogus Websites to share with kids: https://infolit.wikispaces.com/Bogus+websites

This website gives examples of websites that are full of completely false facts. They are quite clever but can be used to teach students how to identify good sources of information. Check them out.

 

End of Term Confidence Builders

Towards the end of a term I find that many students are feeling a little run down and tired (as are the teachers!). The result of this tends to be students who are a little less tolerant of others. Small things that usually wouldn’t bother them before now really irritate them. So towards the end of the term I like to do a confidence building activity to boost the confidence of students and assists in developing an awareness of how they are interacting with each other.

Lesson Overview

Students brainstorm as a class as many Confidence Builders or (Boosters) and Confidence Busters we can. This comes from the You Can Do It Program (http://www.youcandoiteducation.com.au/)

Here is an example of the brainstorm the Year 6’s did today:

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Students were then given this template and asked to write a Confidence Booster on everybody else’s page in their class.

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The Confidence Booster needed to be specific, genuine and considerate. We discussed what each of these meant before allowing students to start the task.

I posted the following instructions on Edmodo for my students to direct them in the process.

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Once each child had commented on each other’s pages they could decorate their image and post a reflection on their personal learning blogs.  Some lovely examples:

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The reactions from my students have always been positive ones. Faces light up when they read the comments made by their peers. Each comment is genuine, specific and considerate. It makes a real difference in attitudes towards each other at the end of a busy term. I noticed students being a lot kinder towards one another after this task.

I also think it is important to participate in this task as their teacher and comment on each page. I created a page and had my students give me some feedback too. Gave me what I like to call “Warm Fuzzies” meaning a happy feeling in my heart. I too hope my students experienced this feeling today.

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So if you’re looking for something to do with your class to boost their confidence and build on positive attitiudes and interactions, you might like to give this one a go.

 

Catering for Differentiation: Not just a saying, evidence of action.

Catering for Differentiation

Earlier this week a parent emailed me about their child’s IEP (Individual Education Plan). The parent questioned what I was doing to cater for their child’s learning needs and asked if I was actioning the plan. I wrote the IEP with assistance from our Learning Support Team and the school counsellor, I have actioned the plan to support the learning and behaviour management of my student.

This email allowed me to reflect on my practice and provide evidence of catering for differentiation within my response to the parent email. I think that as educators, we often differentiate without realising that we are doing it. It comes naturally; we alter our plans and teaching methodologies to suit individuals. These are my modified emails/ responses to outline how I catered for one of my students.

Email Conversations:

Parent Email 1:

Hi Jade,

The current unit of inquiry requires an investigation of Maori and Australian experience with settlers. Could you please email me the process steps you have provided to (student name) to undertake this work (as per the IEP)?

Regards, Parent

My 1st Response:

Hi Parent,

Absolutely.

1. We began this assignment on Monday and the first step was to brainstorm prior knowledge about the Maori people and Aboriginal Australians. To cater for Student’s needs in this particular task I allowed (name) to work with a partner, other students chose to work in small groups, which I know doesn’t always suit (name’s) learning style/ needs. They created Venn diagrams comparing what they already knew about the two cultures.  We also wrote down some questions we had about these cultures ready for our next lesson to direct our lines of inquiry.

2. Today we will begin to inquire into Maori & Aboriginal Australian history. I have pre-selected some video links for (name) (and others) to view along with some printed texts, this will ensure time is not wasted searching online and students will mainly focus on the questions they developed on Monday. We will share the inquiry process in groups or partners. In (name’s) case I will encourage them to continue the investigation with a friend and ‘check in’ on their progress at intervals throughout the lesson.

3. On Thursday we will continue the inquiry process. Again I will provide texts and some sites for (name) to read/search. The main focus here will be looking at the impact British Settlers had on both Maori & Aboriginal cultures and how they differed.

Class discussions will also take place to share learning and understandings; I have created guiding questions & prompts to make sure everyone is on the right track. Notes will be taken independently on their understandings from discussions.

4. On Friday, students will individually reflect on their findings and answer this question on their blog:

How was the collision of cultures in New Zealand different from Australia?

 This will involve comparing and contrasting how the Aboriginal and Maori peoples reacted and dealt with the arrival of British settlers.

It is important that in your response to the above questions you discuss both the differences themselves as well as the reasons for them.

 Your blog post will need to include a bibliography of websites and texts used.

This is an in class investigation, not a homework task. All students will be given this week to complete the task.

As always I will be supporting (name) with redirection, tuning in tasks and providing relevant texts for their use. The benefit of working with a partner will allow them to use texts selected by a peer too. (Name) has appeared to be quite interested and engaged in this topic based on reactions from Monday.

I hope this has been suffice, it is actually refreshing to write down this process for you as I usually do it naturally without communicating it. This is something I must remember to blog about as part of my personal professional reflection on my practice, of course omitting student and parent names.

Thanks Parent.

If you have anymore questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

Hope to hear back from you soon.

Regards

Jade

Parent Email 2:

Hi Jade,

Thanks, but I meant the list of steps on ‘how to do this assignment’ for my child.

I.e.

1. Write a list of what you know about aboriginal Australians and settlers.

2. Write a list of what you know about Maori people and settlers.

3. Create a Venn diagram.

4. List questions you need answered.

Next lesson:

5. Search xxxx

6. View xxx and write down important points.

7. What key words or phrases would you use to search the Internet to answer your questions?

Etc.

From the IEP I thought (name) was to have a ‘to do’ list. (Name) is a bright student who needs direction – They completed their homework last night then we spoke about the school-based work. The ‘to do’ list will guide and teach them how to do research.

It was the same problem last year as (name) didn’t understand how to do the research and work was left to the end.

Could you please help (name) with a list of steps to follow?

Thanks Parent.

My 2nd Response: Humanities Task Week 3

Hi Parent,

I have attached a checklist for the inquiry process we have been doing in class. It is a ‘to do list’ which will hopefully guide (name) through the process. I will keep on developing this process, I feel that some steps may need to be broken down even further, which I can do verbally if need be. These are my initial attempts and I will be speaking with the Deputy Principal about receiving extra support from the school as I am finding it challenging to dedicate more time on developing this by myself and would appreciate some guidance and feedback with this. I want to develop a template of ‘to do lists’ that I can update easily and regularly, just need time to get this done and I’m hoping that Learning Support can assist with this process.

Appreciate your support

Will chat with you soon.

Regards

Jade

Parent Email 3:

Hi Jade,

Thanks so much, this is what is needed. I am happy to help you develop these if the school is not so helpful.

Regards Parent

The parent was pleased with the checklist and process provided. This is an ongoing process to assist one student with his learning needs.

This is evidence of my communication method with parents and how I aim to collaboratively work with parents and other staff to assist and meet the needs of individual students.

So often teaching professionals use the term “catering for differentiation” but lack the understanding or evidence of how they actually do this. It is something that teachers do on a daily basis, sometimes without even realising it. I think it is important to reflect on moments like these to acknowledge how much teachers do for each individual child in their classroom. It is important to provide an education to our students, but it is more important to ensure that the education they are receiving is in fact suitable for their learning needs, styles and preferences. Are we catering for differentiation? Well in my case, I think so.