Teaching with Tech

Student Privacy

This is the 8th #EdublogsClub prompt. As the coordinator of ICT in my school, I have been encouraging teachers to publish student work online. I believe it is important for students to share their work because they have a real audience and are motivated to do their best.  They love it when family members comment on their work. It also teaches them how to be a good digital citizen and enables conversations about what is safe to post, using an authentic situation.

I discuss what is safe to post online throughout the year with all year levels (Kindergarten to Year 6). For example, when creating videos with Year 5s, we talk about the fact that they will be going on the Internet. A discussion about what is safe to have in the video ensues – ie not the school logo. Cybersmart Detectives is a fantastic resource aimed at Year 4, which shows what information shouldn’t be posted and what to do if something goes wrong.

Where I struggle is when trying to use the many excellent educational tools, which require student accounts and for students to be 13+ to join. For example, Tynker is a great resource for teaching coding skills in middle primary, however, I need to obtain parent consent for students under 13 to join. Often, this is quite difficult as parents do not return forms and then I end up with one or two students who cannot have an account (I am not a classroom teacher, therefore, cannot follow these parents up in person). If you have ideas for how to work around this, please let me know.

 

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Challenging Situations

For #EdublogsClub Challenge number 6, we have been tasked to write about a challenging situation and how we overcame it. There are many challenges I face as a teacher, however, I would like to write about how I helped my daughter overcome her challenges in Year 12.

While in Year 12, my daughter started to suffer from anxiety due to the immense pressure she put on herself. Not only was she convinced that she was going to fail, but she also had put high expectations on herself to get As, even though she didn’t need a high ATAR (uni entry score) for her uni course. Course entry was mainly based on a portfolio of her work.

At the beginning of the year, I told her I was concerned she was going to burn out and that she needed to have an outlet. She is very stubborn and refused to listen to me – what would her mother know! About half way through the year, the anxiety attacks started. She would curl up on the loungeroom floor, unable to do anything. I’d get her up off the floor and take her to a cafe for some hot chips (her favourite snack) just to take her mind off it.

With the workload mounting up, she became more and more convinced that she would not be able to get it all done. I sat down with her and wrote out a study plan. We discussed each assignment and what she had to do, breaking them down into individual steps and then writing, on a desk planner, when each step had to be done. This helped her focus on individual tasks one at a time, rather than becoming overwhelmed with it all.

When it came to her trial exams, she became really anxious and on the morning of the exams, refused to go. Again, I broke it down into individual steps. I said, “The first thing we are going to do is put on your shoes (she was already dressed).” Next was to walk out to the car, etc. We kept moving until we got to the exams.

Now she is about to start her second year of uni, studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts in Computer Game Design. She is having a wonderful time, still working very hard but has realised that she doesn’t have to push herself to get High Distinctions because in the whole scheme of things, her future employment will be based on a portfolio of her work. She is getting Distinctions and I’m very proud!

I find this same process of breaking down tasks into individual steps helps me when my job becomes overwhelming. I also find that I need to make sure I build in time for myself every day. If I keep working without a break, I get to the point where I cannot work anymore – it’s too much (just like my daughter did when she would lay down on the loungeroom floor). I found that helping her taught me some valuable skills, which I use every day.

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Free Web Tools

I must admit, I’ve got a little behind in the Edublogs Prompts, I missed number 3 and 4 but am back again with prompt 5 – my favourite free web tools. There are so many that I use and have used in the past. They change regularly, however, the ones that always remain on my list are:

There are many free sites for teaching coding. Code.org has a fantastic curriculum, which teaches coding skills through game-play and videos for all grades. It also has unplugged activities and lessons. I love using Tynker with my grade 3s and 4s. It has 6 free lessons, but I teach students to create their own projects to make interactive presentations and quizzes. It uses visual programming, however, students can switch to HTML view. My grade 6s use Scratch to create their own games on Digital Citizenship topics. I have just started experimenting with Apple’s Swift Playgrounds app on the iPad – it is brilliant for moving students into writing a programming language instead of dragging and dropping blocks.

ABCYA for K-5 is a great site for kids to play games and learn at the same time. There are several games which teach keyboard and mouse skills, as well as literacy and numeracy. It’s free with advertising but I find students don’t pay any attention to the ad’s because they’re too busy having fun.

I use Pinterest all the time for storing all those fabulous websites I find while exploring Digital Technologies in education (the subject I teach). I also store my favourite recipes there!

The next Web Tool on my list to try is Kahoot for assessing student learning during a lesson.

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My Teaching Space

This week, for the #EdublogsClub prompt, we have been asked to blog about where we spend the majority of our work days. I spend my time in my classroom, which is the computer lab because I teach Digital Technologies. I don’t have much choice regarding the layout because I have 3 long benches that can’t be moved.

At the front of my room, I am fortunate enough to have a large space for students to sit in front of the interactive data projector. This space is also used for robotics activities. My desk is at the front of the room as well, however, I never get time to sit down during my classes.

Adjacent to my classroom is a recording and green screen room, where students can do their recordings away from the classroom noise. This was supposed to be my office, however, I couldn’t stop thinking about how great it would be to have a quiet recording space! 

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Newbie Blogger!

For many years now, I have been following inspirational teacher blogs and thinking about blogging myself. I had a go at Tweeting, however, didn’t know what to write about. I wanted to comment on posts, however, was too frightened to do so – I have never been a good writer. English was my worst subject at school!

This year, I thought I’d take the plunge and sign up for the weekly blogging challenge at #EdublogsClub. I did this last year, however, never wrote a single post. Recently, I have been ensuring I write comments on other blogs, as a good place to begin overcoming my fear of putting myself out there (I’m a huge introvert). It has been a liberating experience, just writing comments on other teacher posts and having them respond positively. I recommend starting that way to anyone who is having trouble taking the first step.

My goals are to follow the weekly prompts and ensure I set aside time to write every week. I also would like to use my blogging to reflect on my teaching practice and share my experiences with others. Of course, I am hoping to improve my writing skills as well – it will be interesting to compare my last post with this one. So here I am, writing my first blog post ever!

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