Integrating and managing technology is something I enjoy and this year I am teaching all grade 6 students technology and writing. At present we are digitally story telling telling through programming with Scratch. Telling a story is one thing but being able to use computation to do it is infusing mathematics with writing, art and technology. Students have learned basic control structures in class and then planned a story that they want to tell. This year they will also be incorporating sound into their projects.
After reading the Horizon report I’m reminded of how much mobile apps and tablets are transforming how we teach and learn. This made wonder why there wasn’t a Scratch app for the iPad. I remembered researching this a year or two ago. I googled “Scratch app iPad” and the first hit was “Apple Rejects Kid-Friendly Programming App” from Wired. Hopefully this changes in the future as touch friendly programming adapts for tablets. It would be great to be able to interact with the blocks more with the touch technology. There are a handful of schools that have move to a 1:1 iPad environment and hopefully with this push of iPads in education that critical apps for education like Scratch make it to the app store and are approved.
A new addition to my job this year is a 40% allocation of sharing the MS Technology Learning Facilitator role with Gary Bertoia. We both have a 40% allocation each for this role. We have been working with teachers, students and also working on a lot on backend systems and planning technology in the MS. It’s certainly been busy a year but so far it’s going great.
One recent excitement is that we launched a school hosted Minecraft Server which our Dragon Ninja Tech Team are currently beta testing. In addition, to our weekly Dragon Ninja Tech Team meetings we now have Minecraft Monday’s though students’ are so keen it could be Minecraft Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s. I’ve learned more about Minecraft in the last two days from students then I have from reading about it the last year or two. Which gets to my final point.
The Horizon Report highlights Game-Based Learning and it is showing up more and more in my reader. I think the first time I heard the phrase Game-Based Learning and had a deep conversations about it was in an unconference session with Ewan Macintosh at Learning 2.008 in Shanghai. Game-Based Learning fits so well with TPACK and Punya’s Mishra’s idea of repurposing for education. The “TPACK framework require teachers to go beyond their knowledge of particular disciplines, technologies, and pedagogical techniques in isolation” (Mishra & Koehler, 2009). I’m getting a lot of ideas about how teacher’s could use Minecraft in their classroom. I look forward to repurposing Minecraft “so that fun, cool tools can be educational” (Mishra & Koehler, 2009).
My plan to is to further infuse TPACK and the SAMR model into my practice both as a teacher and technology learning facilitator. Also, there is a need to support teachers and integrate best practices with classroom management of our current 1:1 program. The 23 computer tips from Dean Groom are a good place for teachers to start with classroom management and 1:1. There are many great points and as I read it, I kept saying “tick, tick” and to a large extent we are doing or have done many of the points.
Technology changes how people teach and learn. It changes how the classroom is setup. I need to revisit classroom layouts at our school and check whether they are supporting teachers and students learning in a 1:1 environment. This could be something as simple as moving a projector plug so the teacher laptop is in a better positions with classroom tables. Technology forces us to think differently and teach differently.mTechnology changes how people teach and learn. I will continue to support teachers with technology integration. It is year two of our 1:1 program in middle school and already teachers are thinking differently and teaching differently.