Looking forward to Assignment 2!

Look Forward on Life by Dino RWS, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Dino RWS 
Oh! I meant l-o-o-k-i-n-g-  f-o-r-w-a-r-d , not “looking forward” to Assignment 2!   I think you know what I mean.
Well, the Week 4 learning path has proven to be another massive week (in my opinion) for getting our thoughts ready for the unit plan which is Assignment 2.  The learning path was quite helpful in stepping us through the initial stages but I must admit to becoming utterly confused with identifying criteria from the curriculum documents and  jumping from Year 6 Science to Year 2 English and then a HPE one as well!.  To be honest, I have never planned my units/lessons this way before, so it was quite time consuming trying to work it all out.  Even some of the terminology was a little different to what I am accustomed to, for instance, I have always called them “content descriptors” (from the Australian Curriculum), but in this course, they are referred to as “learning objectives”.  Hopefully I’m getting it sorted though.  All the best with your planning!,
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Assignment 1 artefact: Completed!

Our assignment 1 task required us to create an online artefact that would be suitable for parents to view, explaining why, how and what ICTs we will use in our class to improve student learning.

I created a website using wix.com and sourced images and video clips from YouTube and Flickr via Search Creative Commons.  I also included a piece of background music on one of the pages, sourcing this too, through SoundCloud in Creative Commons.  Admittedly, my personal ICT skills are still “developing” but I feel quite proud of my little website although I am sure it could have been more creatively presented with a bit more “advanced” ICT skills.  I take some comfort in feeling that parents may not wish to be dazzled by my ICT prowess but rather discover the simple facts of why, how and what ICTs I will use with their precious child, free of the “edu-jargon” that can frequently accompany these types of explanations.  In the real world, I would provide parents with a link to this website either by email or Welcome Note sent home in the first weeks of the school year.

Here is the link to my online artefact.

http://u1024788.wix.com/icts-in-class

Where did all the jobs go?

In one of the earlier weeks’ learning paths, David posed a question about whether there would still be a need for teachers in the future?  At the time, I glossed over the question, busy with the earlier setting up of our digital tools for the course, but it is something that my thinking has returned to a few times.
Apparently, this week, a professor from Oxford (Associate Professor Michael Osbourne) has been visiting Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, to speak to students about the future of work.  Professor Osbourne is a specialist in machine learning and has recently published a study that found 47% of jobs in the United States are at risk of being replaced by automation within a generation.  His message to the QUT students was that if the United States were anything to go by, then robots and computer automation will transform Australia’s job market within two decades.
It seems that jobs in data entry, accountancy and heavy vehicle driving would decrease, possibly even disappear altogether.  Professor Osbourne discusses that the safer jobs to be in were those that required creativity, social or dextrous manual jobs.  A report about his visit can be viewed here.
As teachers in the twenty-first century, we are called on to be flexible and creative in the way we assist students to live and work successfully in the future.  Leonie questioned, what does the future classroom look like, feel like, sound like?  I guess that we just need to continue to adapt to new technologies as they arise.

Thinking about RAT

When considering the RAT framework in the Week 3 learning path, our attention was immediately drawn to two primary objectives:

  1. What are the children and teachers doing with the ICT?
  2. What quality of learning is being enabled by the use of ICT?

These questions encourage deep reflection by us, as future educators, to truly evaluate why we will incorporate an ICT into a lesson.  I’m afraid I have a confession to make …….

I am guilty of not maximising the capabilities of ICTs that are available.  Although only 4 weeks into this course, my eyes have really been opened to so many wonderful options available and the possibility of extending their use based on the RAT framework.  I’m afraid that I have used the IWB as a mere projector screen, but this is most probably due to my limited experience with it as well as the fact that I don’t yet fully understand what they are capable of in terms of “transforming” my lessons.

Kate mentioned the importance of reflecting about the usefulness of our ICT choices before and after a lesson, as a way of checking that students will actually engage with the lesson content rather than just using the ICT as a “time-filler or reward”.
Hopefully on this upcoming prac I will make use of the opportunity to learn more about designing purposeful learning experiences to transform and inspire the children.

Back again!

Well my blog has been looking rather sparse for the past few days, it’s not just me though, I think we’ve all been busy working on our Assignment 1 artefact.

I know I felt a great sense of relief when David sent out the blog reports last week showing I had at least met all the requirements for the Module 1 learning path and blogs.  Apart from trying to make some headway with the artefact, I had to have some surgery last week, so this kind of compounded my disinterest in blogging, mainly due to “anaesthetic brain”.  I think I was still trying to assimilate all of the Week 3 information and apply it to images and clips I found that may be useful for the assignment.  I definitely know I wasn’t alone.  Amanda and Brooke both mentioned their confusion as well!

I’m pleased to say, I’ve almost completed the assignment and hopefully managed to correctly attribute images and YouTube clips demonstrating Professional Standards for Teachers 4.5 (Use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically).  If I actually haven’t done this correctly and you happen to notice an absence of blogging from me – at least you’ll know where to find me.

P.S.  Please don’t worry about sending me a cake with a file in it – just send pizza and wine (lots of it) – I could do with the holiday!

A couple more useful sites

Over the years, I have saved many sites which I have stumbled on that I believe may be of use to me in the future.  Like Amanda and Emma there are many sites we turn to for resources and information, so I thought I would contribute another two to our growing list of helpful websites.

The first site I would like to draw your attention to is one which I have subscribed to now for some time.  The Watson Institute provides special education tips, advice and resources (they have great social stories and visuals).  I receive a daily “Teacher Tip of the Day” in my email and it simply gives a brief, useful piece of advice – today’s one was about avoiding meltdowns.

Another site I like is Brisbane Kids.  This site is an on-line community that provides frequent, helpful information about parenting, activities, gives reviews, details of child-friendly events in and around Brisbane as well as other general information for anyone who takes care of children.  I think it would be useful in future planning for class outings etc.

Aaaggghh …… Copyright and referencing!

After three years so far, of studying online and actually feeling quite confident with APA requirements for referencing, I now find myself feeling the same way as I did at the beginning of my studies – I don’t know where to begin.  Hence why you haven’t seen any beautiful images, witty quotes or helpful videos to enhance the overall attractiveness of my blog.  I’m not even sure how to do it or to reference them appropriately for the level of this course.

Fortunately for me, Raquel prepared a helpful summary, breaking down some of the pointers David provided us with.  In addition to this, David also prepared a 7 minute video explaining how to conduct Creative Commons searches.  This was helpful too, but in building my Wix website, I ran into a bit of difficulty as there seem to be limitations with Wix (which probably took me about 2 hours of fluffing around to realise!)

I can see how wonderful ICTs are in so many ways, but I can’t help but feel a little jealous of many of my peers with beautifully illustrated blogs, including Sky who has a beautiful blog and recently shared the way she uses technology to keep herself organised and better manage time.

Microsoft Office 365 have a brief promo video demonstrating how to get more time out of your day by using their products – it just hasn’t worked for me ……… yet!  (It is my understanding that I can include this video for use in my blog as it has share and embed buttons on the original webpage.  Please correct me if I am wrong).

A clever technology provided by volunteers!

At a time when bad things are happening all around us in the world (I’m specifically thinking of Australians on death row – I can’t seem to get this out of my head) as well as natural disasters and terrorism, it’s always heartening to hear a story that restores your faith and delivers hope.

Such a story came to my attention today.  When looking through my Facebook, a friend had shared a story about a little boy who had been born with a left arm and only part of his right arm.  His loving parents found out about e-NABLE, a community of international volunteers  who design, develop and produce 3-D printed arms using 3-D modelling software for anyone who needs one.  The personalised arm (Limbitless Arm) for this little boy contained all the sensors and electronic components (at the small cost of only $350) and his mother reports that it has completely changed his life.  I’m sure there are many more medical technologies which are equally exciting as this, but I just love how these are developed by VOLUNTEERS!  Wendy had mentioned about her own son who is deaf, and her personal wonder at the way technology has advanced to such a point that his new hearing aids will be hardly noticeable.

I just felt this was such a beautiful story and I wanted to share it with you.

Please read more about this little boy, Alex Pring here.

My concept map for why I would use ICTs in Special Education

Who knew?

I can’t believe I’m thinking it, let alone writing it ………. I have just had a bit (a big bit really) of ICT  F-U-N!!!!  I actually used  a wonderful tool called Text2Mindmap to create a concept map for why I would use ICTs in special education.  It has been something I have been working on all week, considering the use of ICTs in special education that is, as well as in preparation for Assignment 1.   My concept map illustrates my ideas at the moment but I truly expect it to grow and change as my experience and learning develops as well.

Many of my peers have posted their concept maps on our forums, Anna used bubbl.us in her on-campus tutorial to create her concept map and like myself, hadn’t ever heard of bubbl.us before this course.  Unfortunately I think she didn’t have as much fun as I did though.  Sandy used EDraw software to prepare her concept map, which turned out beautifully (I must say) fulfilling one of her goals to try out new software.

I’ve included my concept map below.

text2mindmap

How will we write?

After having considered Postman’s 5 things to know about technological change and e-learning, David goes and throws in this little gem –

“Will children always be required to learn how to write with their hands?”

Probably not much to some, but just enough to send MY brain on a detour for a while!  Didn’t take much, did it?  Pretty much on a daily basis, the children I work with (children with ASD) develop a seemingly immediate allergic reaction to pencils and paper at the mere mention of writing, even just a couple of words.  A recent blogpost in Autism Asperger’s Digest discusses this very thing, noting the way a simple writing task can trigger a major meltdown.  Mostofsky et al. (2009) explains that for someone with ASD, messages do not get sent from one section of the brain to another with the same frequency or as efficiently as it would in a neurotypical brain – impacting on a student’s ability to write.  The blog suggested a range of strategies to support the writing challenges faced by students with ASD, some of which I plan to start implementing from 9.00 am tomorrow!!

Saranna accepts that different technologies can be used to support different forms of learning and suggests that as Teachers, we need “to understand the proof, potential and promise of technology”.

With the increased use of technology in classrooms, the art of handwriting is fading.  An interesting article by Gwendolyn Bounds, How Handwriting Trains the Brain, cites research suggesting a real value in learning handwriting even as we increasingly communicate electronically with keyboards.  The article discusses how writing by hand engages the brain in learning.  With this in mind, handwriting curriculum creators have developed many digital handwriting tools and apps which can be used on iPhones, iPads and computers assisting children to trace letter shaped on the screens with a finger or stylus.

Even though keyboarding is a necessary skill for 21st century classrooms, Bounds records a teacher saying “you still need to be able to write and someone still needs to be able to read it”.