The end that leads to a beginning…

When I decided to complete this unit I had no idea what “Using Computers in the Classroom” would entail.  I guess I have always considered myself fairly up to date with technology and new innovations and have always enjoyed working with computers but this unit has shown me that this was far from reality. Many of the innovations I had not heard of including my own topic I became an “expert” on, Twitter. I had no idea that such tools existed and I realised just how more advanced things had become.

 

I believe that with any new skills and learning experiences it takes time and practice to get to know something. I know that I was in the “don’t know” category when it came to Twitter and I needed a little push to become more involved and begin using it properly. I felt as though I would never want to use it but it was only because I didn’t know how to use it properly. I have gone from a “don’t know” to a “know” through the guidance of more knowledgeable others mainly Sue Waters. I found that reading about Twitter helped me to gain an understanding of its uses and value.

 

Then it was up to me to familiarise myself with the ins and outs. It took time and patience but it was worth while. I think with technologies you have to invest time to fully understand the value of the tool and perhaps this is where a lot of us fall short of leaving the “don’t know” category. I know that I myself am guilty of this.

 

I believe that bridging the gap must involve proper training, such as the tutorials we were part of each week and time to play and experiment and try new things. You have to be prepared to take a risk and find out what works and what doesn’t because if you don’t jump in the deep end sometimes you never learn to swim! Also, as I found, reading about new innovations and finding out what others have to say about them is an essential factor in bridging the gap. This is where our Wiki pages come in. What better way to find out information than straight from a page created by new “innovation experts”?

 

The type of world our young student’s are entering into demands a certain level of technological awareness and capabilities. I believe that as teachers we need to be keeping up with at least some of these innovations so that we can prepare students for the type of futures and careers they embark on. This unit has provided me with a whole new level of awareness when it comes to using computers in the classroom and I hope that soon I will be using what I have learnt with my own class!

 

Interactive Whiteboards

This is one innovation that I really want to learn more about, or how to use better I should say. I’ve been in a school were every classroom had an interactive whiteboard but they were rarely used simply because the teachers didn’t know how to use them. If only I had some experience with them myself during that prac! I love the idea of using them with young children as I believe they can help them in a range of different learning areas. The possibilities and lessons are endless and it supports an active and collaborative learning environment. Children can use them to sign in first thing in the morning, or edit a story specifically designed for the children by the teacher. There are also already made lessons which comes in very handy for busy teachers.

 

The interactive whiteboard provides immediate feedback and the teacher can control the activity as they are the ones who have created it. I think it is a great tool to incorporate ICT into the classroom and have children become familiar with. Older children may be able to create their own lessons for their peers which allows them to become the teacher as well as the learner. I can’t wait to experiment and learn more about the interactive whiteboard and I certainly look forward to one day using one in my own classroom.

Kids on the Net

With studying early childhood this particular session really appealed to me. I have often been concerned about allowing children to go onto the internet to complete “research” particularly in whole class situations as it is difficult to monitor what each student looks at and it is very easy for them to become sidetracked. Kidzui I believe provides a solution to this problem. It is made up of kid’s pages from the web and each and every page has been reviewed by teachers, parents and people who are passionate about kids. While it does only provide basic results, sometimes this is all young children need. They don’t need to be bombarded with hundreds of search results that they then have to filter through, it’s just not practical. Zoeybot was another search engine we explored and I think it would be a good tool that parents could use to help their children with research.

 

The best thing that came from this session though was a range of different sites we explored that were specifically “for kids”. Quite eye opening as some of the sites that were recommended contained completely inappropriate content. On the other hand I discovered beanbaglearning.com which allows teachers, parents and older students to search for tutors based on subject area or tutor name. But the best site I discovered was lookybook.com. I am completely addicted and have used this site for a number of assignments in the last couple of weeks. It allows you to literally browse through children’s books and displays them page by page. It then provides the option to buy. A great resource that I will definitely use! It may even be appropriate to let young children read the books online themselves. All in all a very helpful and interesting tutorial!!

Clickers

After attending the tutorial on Clickers given by Robert and Chris I have several thoughts about using them in the classroom. Its immediate advantages are that they involve the whole class, gather information quickly and children like the interaction that comes from using them. It’s new, different and fun and it lets children see what others in the class are thinking.  They can be used to deliver short tests, multiple choice questions, quizzes and to gather statistics. This article further discusses some of the advantages of using clickers.

 

 It was great to be able to use them ourselves in the class and I believe that children would really enjoy using them. However, I don’t believe that I would use them on a regular basis. I would definitely use them every so often to bring variety and something different into my learning program.

 

Some of the disadvantages were discussed in the tutorial and include the initial cost, lack of open ended questioning, initial set up and the fact that teachers may see it as an easy way out using multiple choice tests. These are all things one must consider however I really do think they are a great tool and I would love to trial them with students myself. I can really see children in years 2 and 3 loving the use of clickers and I think it would be a great lesson idea to provide the students with something fun, interactive and inclusive of all students.

Google Mad

Another innovation to add to the Google family… and a large one it is at that! I like the idea of being able to use Google Groups with fellow staff members to create a place where information and ideas can be shared based on a common interest or topic. It was suggested in the tutorial that it could be used to communicate with parents such as sending important information or letters home. I think this would be useful if your students are very young and it ensures parents receive the information that they need. However, I think there has to be a line drawn and I’m not sure how I would feel about having a group specifically for parents.

 

After seeing how Google docs works I really wish I had known about it earlier especially for group assignments! Emailing documents back and forth and having everyone add their own “parts” could have been so much easier. I like that more than one person can edit one document at the same time. As far as using it in the classroom is concerned I think there may be better programs to use for young children if you wanted them to edit a document for example. However I think it would be very useful to use with staff members on things like letters to parents, newsletters etc.

 

We have a winner…

After a few weeks of getting to know different innovations that although brilliant in their own rights would not necessarily be so brilliant in the early childhood classroom we now have Google Earth!

Wayd and Geoff took us through the ins and outs of this wonderful tool and it was very easy to see how it can be incorporated into daily classroom lessons. I think its great that students can search for any place, landmark, building, street and even house in the world and be given an actual image. Not only that students can use the navigation tools to make it as though they are standing right next to what they have searched for. I can easily see myself using this one day in my own classroom.

I am aware that there are some privacy issues with using Streetview however, in comparison so some of the other innovations we have looked at there is far less to be concerned about.

Overall it was a good session where we got to re-explore Google Earth and remind ourselves at how useful this tool can be in the classroom.

Second Life

This weeks presentation was on Second Life, something I had never heard of. Jess and Hayley did an excellent job of introducing this innovation and providing us with some unsight into how it works. This was particularly difficult for them considering we were unable to all download and use it ourselves. Using Habbo was a great way to allow us to use a similar tool that provides a similar type of experience. I think I learnt most through playing around with this and interacting with the class online in the virtual room Hayley and Jess had created for us.

As far as using Second Life in the classroom, only time and experience using it will tell. Studying early childhood I would have to say that I find it hard to see a place for it. However, I do beleive that for highschool and university students it could be extremely beneficial when used correctly. This article provides some ideas for the use of Second Life by educators.  Like anything, to completely understand and master something takes experience and practice. Second Life is definitely one of those things and I am hoping to learn more about it in the future.

Twitter Teaching

As 1pm on Thursday grew nearer and nearer the reality of having to complete a one hour presentation on something I had only just started becoming familiar with dawned. In under an hour Matt and I had to teach a classroom of education students how to use Twitter and look like we had some idea of what we were actually talking about. With edublogs down (kinda a big part of our presentation!!) mild panic began to seep in just a little.

Looking back I am pleased to say that the presentation ended up going very well. Edublogs came back up with 15 minutes to spare and Matt and I were able to provide the class with both the pros and cons of using Twitter in the Classroom by giving them examples of what other educators had said. I’d personally like to thank Sue Waters for her help, not only with setting up her blog but also with her Twitter wisdom and advice. From her guidance Matt and I were able to provide an interactive presentation where everyone was able to see a practical example of how Twitter works. Thank you also to those who responded to our “weather” question!

Having absolutely no idea what Twitter was and having to become an expert on it in less than 7 weeks it is safe to say that I have learnt alot. By using Twitter I have been able to connect with others who share the same interests and proffessional careers that of which one day I hope to be myself . At my fingertips I now have access to a wealth of information, advice and ideas from others all around the world.

I would like to invite you to add the following education students who have now begun Twittering. I know it was a great help having people from Sue’s network add me when Twitter made no sense at all and I thought I would never be able to use it!
@mferrinda  @raquirk @jess_colgan @haylzvg @linapell @louisevdp @geoffclarke @christinaly @Wayda

Finally I’d like to also say thank you to every who attended Thursdays class for having an open mind and being willing to participate and learn something new!

Take 2…

At the end of last weeks class I thought that I wouldnt remember a single thing that we had been taught. Take two this week and its not as bad as I thought. Still having some problems figuring out how everything links together and getting pretty lost trying to remember all the different passwords and usernamers I created. I found it really frustrating last week that my computer would not allow me to keep up with the instructions Sue was giving us, the pages wouldnt load fast enough and so I was always a few steps behind which led to a feeling of overwhelment continually trying to catch up. Because of this I dont think I actually took in what I was doing so if anyone asked me to create a new blog or show them how to do it I’m not sure I could confidently show them. I think that the more I use this and the more I explore my own and others blogs I will begin to understand how it all works. 

Over the next few weeks Im looking forward to reading about how everyone else is finding all of this and hopefully Im not the only one who is feeling clueless!! Its been good to receive some comments personally so I think its about time I started leaving some for others! I guess this is the second big step for me in the world of blogging one that I have been a little reluctant to take but like others have said its simply evoking and continuing conversation, which we all do on a daily basis anyway…so watch this space!

Jumping in the Deep End

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m Kate and I am a student studying Early Childhood Education.  I am currently in my fourth year and studying only two units this semester before my ATP next year.

I believe a blog is where people have the freedom to make comments and critical observations of ideas and information presented by other people or sources. Having never written a blog before this whole experience is very new to me.

The purpose of this blog will be to record my ideas, opinions and thoughts and to create conversations in regards to a range of technologies.