Learning about Technology: The Only Limit is Imagination
Imagination, creative thinking and problem solving are some of the skills our children need to take on this ever evolving journey of education.
Good pedagogy cannot be replaced by technology. The connections and relationships we as teachers develop with our students are irreplaceable and will remain to be the most important aspect in students learning. However technology is a must in classrooms of today and if utilised effectively, can enhance teaching.
Always looking for new ideas to enhance student learning led me down the technology pathway. A chance meeting and discussion with a colleague introduced me to several ideas and, in conjunction with my fellow Year 5 teaching colleague, Genius Hour was launched at St Catherine’s.
Genius Hour involves students completing research projects on anything they are interested in or passionate about so long as it is a non-google-able question. Many class discussions followed as the girls decided on their topics. This led to more discussions and research on the ways in which they could present their projects.
The girls embraced Genius Hour wholeheartedly and were very excited to explore the different apps. One particular app called Plotagon proved to be quite popular. This involved the students selecting characters, expressions, entering dialogue and scenes. After they had researched their project they then had to decide how they would present their findings to the class. In Plotagon they manipulated the characters to present their findings by typing in the dialogue for each character they chose. Some were in the format of an interview whilst others were similar to a TV show presentation. The topics were quite diverse, from genetics, history of ballet, how their family was affected by war to interior decorating.
One presentation would spark discussions which in turn would create an interest for another project. Their enthusiasm inspired me to seek new avenues for them to present their research project.
Technology is constantly changing and evolving and as educators we need to learn about the latest app appropriate for our students. I have been fortunate enough to attend a two day conference run by Teach Tech Play as well as a Professional Development day on Augmented and Virtual Reality.
As teachers we are always looking for the ‘ah-ha’ moments from our students. At the Teach Tech Play conference, I attended a session on Google Expeditions using a Google Cardboard 3D viewer. I shared my google cardboard (3D viewer) with my students and they were blown away with what they experienced. Using the ‘cardboard’ the students can take a virtual tour of anything or anywhere in the world with 360 degree vision. It brings the world to you.
There were also wonderful apps shown to us on the Teaching, Learning and Technology Professional Development Conference run by St Catherine’s School. These included 4D Anatomy, Eon Experience, Zaption, Elements 4D and Layer. It really inspired all teaching staff to the wonders of technology and also how we as teachers can utilise these technologies to enhance our students’ learning by capturing their curiosity and developing their passion for continuing to think and learn.
Coding activities in our classrooms are also equipping students with the 21st Century skills required for jobs in the future. Coding helps students understand how computer programs work and students engage in various activities to make images move and perform tasks.
St Catherine’s is also trialling some amazing virtual reality technology in the classroom that brings a hands on 3D program to a whole new level. Technologies such as this ensures that future learning for our students will be a very exciting one.
It is so rewarding to have the opportunity to introduce new technologies to my students and to see how quickly they engage, interact and work their way through the various apps. Imagination, creative thinking and problem solving are some of the skills our children need to take on this ever evolving journey of education.