Come full circle…

Part of our final week’s reflection included a question whether our Professional Experience (PE) changed our views on the role of ICTs in learning and teaching. If so, how?

Here’s a summary of my response:

I used to think of ICTs as a

  • huge form of distraction for children
  • a possible form of addiction
  • a key factor in children losing interest in off-screen activities
  • result in children developing shorter attention spans

However, with careful and cautious consideration on the quality and quantity of exposure to ICTs and also how to properly integrate ICTs, ICTs can act as a platform to

  • act as a platform to introduce concepts/skills
  • spark students’ interest in learning
  • help to make abstract concepts more understandable for young children – basically enhancing learning
  • as another avenue to express themselves and be creative

Nevertheless, I STILL do value the importance of play-based learning in early childhood as Janine mentioned in her blog. I chanced upon this website ‘Irresistible Ideas for Play-based Learning‘ that Janine linked to, much earlier in my course of study and I am amazed EVERY time I visit the site to get some ideas. Regardless of the interactivity, high visual appeal and entertainment that is offered by digital media, this site proves that basic, non-screen, traditional, dirty, sensorial play can be as interactive, visually appealing and entertaining as well!

Perhaps ICTs-based Play can come in between the cracks to achieve what hands-on, traditional play cannot?

After all the main objective of our PE was to ‘enhance student learning’, no? 😉

I may just keep a tag on the topic and lookout for researches and innovations in future 🙂

Paper…wins?

In one part of the lessons I was assigned to teach, I actually scanned 4 books about seasons to read to the children as they were too small. This was done after showing an animated video of a tree through the seasons.

Later on they had an art session where they had to  illustrate all 4 seasons on 4 bookmarks. I left my lap top and the books in front of the class for them to refer. 

Guess what? Most of them went to refer to the small books on seasons instead of my lap top! I was quite surprised actually!

This was definitely a good incident for me to reflect on for my lesson. To me, I would think that the sensorial, tactile experience of flipping the page and touching it appealed to them more than my lap top. These parents from an article by Richtel and Bosman (2011) in the New York Times too have the same idea about print books 🙂 

Some parents do not want to make the switch for even their school-age children. Alexandra Tyler and her husband read on Kindles, but for their son Wolfie, 7, it is print all the way.

“Somehow, I think it’s different,” she said. “When you read a book, a proper kid’s book, it engages all the senses. It’s teaching them to turn the page properly. You get the smell of paper, the touch.”

SMART Notebook 11

In case you were wondering, SMART Notebook 11 is not another brand new model of notebook/laptop. It is the software for the SMARTTECH brands of Interactive Whiteboards. Imagine super customising a power point presentation and writing/marking/drawing/editing/painting on it simultaneously as you view it – that is more or less what the Smart Notebook 11 software does.

Being a temporary teacher and practical student, it is more than understandable that we are not given the password for the license to use the Notebook 11 software for free. So, I downloaded the 30-day free-trial version, it, just in time for prac!

As it took me some time to learn how to create and edit it for prac, I only used it once for one lesson. It takes a wee bit long to load and can your computer can lag, especially if you have a lower capacity processor.

The school was introducing the theme of seasons and weather for May. I decided to review the weather observation that was done using the digital camera for the previous week. The children quite liked dragging the weather symbols as I set the infinity cloner on to count what kind of weather did we have and subsequently reinforcing their recently introduced math concept of more and less. 

Here’s a print screen of a notebook 11 file I created.

Print Screen of Weather Lesson created using Notebook 11 software

Print Screen of Weather Lesson created using Notebook 11 software

More elaboration of my prac experience in my next blog post! 🙂 cheers!

Topic of Interest – Interactive Whiteboards’ Single Touch

Most of the time technology changes and gets better. Sometimes it isn’t the case though, when a product turns out faulty or does not meet the needs of the market. However, I can confidently say that making Interactive Whiteboards (IWB) multi-touch is definitely a GOOD change and improvement!

The IWB that my prac site currently uses is single touch. I may be wrong but if I am not mistaken, the brand is Smart Technologies. It was purchased last year but I think that Smart Technologies have since come up with multi-touch IWBs such as the Promethean Board as mentioned in Bec’s post.

I am going to start using the IWB this week. However, with a large class, I think I cannot expect 100% engagement or focus as they will have to wait for their turn to have a go at the IWB.

So I guess the only solution to engaging everyone with a single-touch IWB would be to conduct the lesson in smaller groups.

I would love to hear any other suggestions 🙂

If you are a principal or know anyone who is wanting to invest in a IWB, here is a helpful list comparing the different series of Smart Technologies IWB by Video Centric.

Cheers! 🙂

Topic of Interest – ICTs and EAR-ly Childhood

I have already started prac and was assigned to monitor two sessions where children were given time to play computer games.

From the two sessions with the children, I have discovered that sometimes the sounds from all 7 computers providing instructions at once can be very overwhelming, not just to the children but to me as well!

Mind you, the computer lab is in a room, not in an open space so I definitely got quite an ‘EARful’ from the computers!  haha

Obviously the listening to the audio instructions are important as not all of them can read full sentences yet.

It got me thinking about the need for children to use headphones. From this useful document – Engaging Early Years Foundation Stage children in computer-based play: A guide for practitioners by Stnacer (2011), I got to know that educators must exercise caution when using headphones as it must be at a comfortable noise levels and in order to encouraged shared experiences, we may want to consider using headphone splitters.

….and IF game sounds are starting to be a little too overwhelming for both you and your students, you might want to check out Itch-A-Skitch – an online game I found out from Fiona’s post, who in turn found it from Teachbytes – a blog by Ms. Aditi Rao, a technology integration specialist!

References
Stancer, A. (2011). Engaging Early Years Foundation Stage children in computer-based play: A guide for practitioners. Retrieved May 12, 2013, from http://www.cfbt.com/evidenceforeducation/PDF/Engaging%20Early%20Years%20Foundation%20Stage%20children%20in%20computer-based%20play.pdf