Lego Robotics – MINDSTORMS NXT count me in!!

A few years ago my son received a lego MINDSTORMS NXT set from Santa. It has given us hours of fun with ICT using science and mathematics concepts to make and program robots. When we were living on the Gold Coast my children attended Pacific Pines Primary School and during our time there the lego robotics group won the QLD championships and had to travel to Perth, WA for the Australian championships. Sadly we have since moved away and the schools we’ve attended don’t have such groups.

In my current teaching context there are so many students that aren’t into football, soccer and any other physically exerting sport, however they are very interested in computers, science, ICT and spend a lot of time gaming. I only wish that more schools were able to provide a club such as lego robotics for these kids to extend and develop their minds.

My goal as a teacher is to raise funds in conjuction with the P&C committee and student council within my school community and set up a lego robotics club. I have searched around for information about lego robotic in Australian Schools and found a group called Robotics Club Australia which is based in Sydney and run weekly and holiday workshops for students in their area through roboticslearning.com.au. The website says that other locations including Brisbane in Qld will be opening up soon. I would very much also like to attend some PD to become a certified practitioner of lego robotics to let my inner child run wild with the kids.

Looking forward to finding more about this in the future.

 

To NAPLAN or not?

Many of my peers have made the dreaded decision to defer the start date of EDC3100 prac until NAPLAN testing has finished. For me, I have decided to dive in and start on the scheduled day. Yes, my year seven class will be NAPLAN testing for one to two sessions per day and are unlikely to carry on with explicit teaching however, at some point in my beginner teaching days I am likely to have to supervise a NAPLAN testing period. I’ve decided use this time to get to know and analyse student names and their virtual school bags. When it comes to ICT in the classroom, I am confident using computers, internet, cameras, ipads however, my prac class doesn’t have any interactive smart boards and I have never seen one used let alone plan to use one in my ICT rich lessons;  So I intend on asking my mentor teacher if there are any lower grades that wouldn’t mind a prac student observing their lessons that involve the use of ICT’s such as interactive smart boards.

The flip side of teaching ICT

The following cartoon was posted in my course materials for this week. Naturally I went into reflection mode. Working as a teacher aide whist studying has its benefits, one of them being consistently in a class environment week in and week out. One of the problems that I have come across with regard to the integration of TK into CK and PK is the reliability of software and hardware. As a pre-service teacher one advantage that I would like to receive from my studies in preparation for my own class is to have the knowledge to diagnose server issues and software issues with ICT. Knowing my thirst for knowledge this is something that I may pursue outside of the classroom. Seeing how many students are disadvantaged by broken down ICT and waiting up to a week for an ICT expert to come and diagnose a simple server connection error, it would be good to be able to fix it myself.

 

Conflicting thoughts about unit planning

Its hard to reflect on this however, I have come across the first item in this course (EDC3100) that is causing me some pedagogical discomfort. I am finding the Unit planner template hard and confusing to use. Although seeing the situation from another perspective it is good to experience a different way to backward plan a unit of work. It just confirms my preferred pedagogical planning tools. I’ve also found that all is well and good to investigate ICT rich tools for integration into curriculum as an isolated learning activity, but planning for an entire unit (as small as this one is) is far more challenging than I ever thought.

I am looking forward to prac in a few weeks time however focusing on ICTs will be an enormous challenge for me, although I can only do my best with the resources that are available to me and my students.

Mind mapping Tools

Assignment 2 is a challenge although surprisingly I am thoroughly enjoying the thinking processes to achieve a great outcome. It has been great to revisit backward unit planning although dividing my unit into separate learning experiences is new to me and has been my biggest challenge so far with this course.

I am a big fan of using life road maps to visually display and record historical inquiry. However, as I am producing engaging ICT rich learning experiences why not a life road map embedded within ICT. So far I have found four ICT interactive mind-mapping tools suitable for year six students to use. I used Bubbl.us earlier in this course and found it very simple and interesting to use. Here are some new items to add to my tooklit:

  • Text 2 Mindmap I particularly like. Students can type their details and the program will convert it into a mind map. Very simple for students to use without having any prior experience. Their tech savvy nature will make it work first time.
  • Mind42
  • Mindmeister

 

Testing my PLN – it works!

Very much enjoying a somewhat less intense assessment for Assignment 2. Just about finished Stage 2 and began searching for some big ideas for ICT integration to fit in with a year 6 Historical Community of Inquiry. I remember seeing somewhere throughout EDC3100 a video of a teacher that posted a question/video/picture up on the screen and students were able to reply and annotate with voice, videos and pictures thus creating a collaborative learning experience that prompted higher order critical thinking. For the life of me I could not think what it was called and I couldn’t find any evidence of it in my toolbelt.

I needed to pull out the big guns and opened up to my PLN for help. First I posted on facebook hoping that someone at home studying today would read my post and recognise seeing the tool I was looking for. Within 5 minutes other course participants were sharing their ideas with me. Nicole Hargreaves shared with me a tool called popcorn maker. You can read all about it from Nicole’s blog. I remember watching the video from a link on the USQ study desk however, never really took the time to analyse its benefits and functionality until specifically looking for a particular tool. I then took to twitter and the EDC3100 Diigo group for further assistance.

Finally discovered to tool I was looking for on Study Desk which linked to a wiki called 50+ web 2.0 ways to tell a story. The tool I’m going to use for my big ideas in Assignment 2 is Voicethread. Voicethread is a cloud based web 2.0 tool that designed for tertiary online learning however has been adapted to suit collaborative classroom learning. Whist the process of searching for a lost tool took 4 hours from start to finish, it would have taken days if not for my PLN. Now I’m focused and back on track. I hope that I can repay the favour given to me today by Nicole and assist someone looking for info in the future.

ICTs for Integration not Isolation

Here is an online artefact that I have produced outlining my reasons why integrating ICTs into students learning is a good idea.

Wow! are the only words I have at the moment to express a lot of emotion at the completion of my biggest challenge to date.  When I count up all the obstacles that have been before me this semester I have succeeded.

I hope you enjoy watching my prezi ICTs for Integration not Isolation as much as I have enjoyed making it.

Google Books – closing the gap for online learning

I must share Google Books with everyone as was recomended to me by Miss K Lobegieger. Google Books is a specialised search function of google where you can enter any search topic and a number of online resources pop up. My EDC3100 Assignment is due in less than 24 hours and the USQ library online database and catalogue has been down for over four days now. Google Books may just get me out of a giant black hole that was consuming me on my search for supporting evidence.

Scootle & TPACK – ICT in everyday learning

Whilst researching for supporting evidence for assignment work I stumbled across a resource in Scootle for teachers. Called ‘A toolkit for teachers’ it draws on the TPACK framework for teachers illustrating professional knowledge for teaching and learning in a 21st century classroom. Used as a professional learning tool it is divided into TPACK sections of:

  • Pedagogy – here the primary KLA’s are divided among student years and recommends the best framework to teaching curriculum in each KLA.
  • Content – added to the pedagogy is the Australian Curriculum content descriptors that fit each pedagogy framework. The examples are of complete units and teacher plans to guide and assist planning. There are also links to scootle digital resources based on curriculum content descriptors also.
  • Technology – outlines a toolkit of resources ‘software, hardware and web2.0 based apps.’ divided amongst each best use. For example under audio tools is audacity, garage band and podcast.

Here is a video produced by Scootle that explains the Tookit for teachers resource in more detail.

I have definitely bookmarked this for future investigation.

Head Down Tail Up – Assignment 1

I never thought that I would delve so deep into an assignment and use so many tools embedded in the one artifact. I have begun by selecting a reusable prezi template and then began modifying to suit my assignment plan and context. So far I’ve used and embedded iPhoto on my macbook to video an introduction, Powerpoint diagrams converted to pictures to illustrate educational goals, Goanimate to illustrate supporting evidence and youtube as a vehicle for uploading video. Its exhausting just listing them out and I’m not yet finished. I wonder what other tools I can come up with to add diversity and interest to my presentation.