Friday, 10 August 2012

Teaching my first 1:1 Laptop class - Year 7

Well after teaching my first week at my new P-7 school across all grades I experienced a good mix of ICT equipment/resources. Most classrooms have Smart Board access and students were familiar with how to operate it, however, the most interesting experience this week has been teaching the grade 7 students Roman History with laptops. This was my first experience with 1:1 and I was curious, after reading so much about it, to see how it would operate. 

The students seemed to have good ownership of their laptops (some were decorated with stickers) and all took great care with them – they had obviously been grilled well on school rules of operations regarding laptops. I was lucky in the fact that my class had an excellent behaviour management system in place and a firm regular classroom teacher, so behaviour was not an issue and the class was bright and interested in the subject matter. 

After discussing an overview of Roman history, creating a concept map and some general class discussion I sent them to their laptops. I had been given a map of Ancient Rome for the students to work from so I assigned them an Inquiry question (pick one of the landmarks on the map and tell me: what it is, where it is, when it was built, why it was built there and what its importance was) and gave students a short list of useful sites to get them started. After about 5 minutes of students looking through the suggested sites I advised them they could use Google to search for more information if necessary and this sped the process up (they were wary of using Google until instructed - again mostly, I suspect, because of firm classroom rules about this already). As I’ve taken over from another History teacher I’m unaware of how much discussion they have had about ‘reliable sources’ etc..  so this is on my ‘to-do list’ next fortnight when I see them again. Overall, I was impressed at how confident the students were to use their laptops and how well they worked unaided. Two or three laptops dropped their internet connection and I encouraged those students to find a partner and share a laptop (preferably another student researching the same landmark). 

To enable Primary students to work well with ICTs research suggests that teachers should:
  • Embed ICTs into the curriculum, aligning them with pedagogy and assessment (Luke, 1999).
  • Provide scaffolding with ICT tools to enhance learning (Goodison, 2003).
  • Move students from lower to higher order thinking activities with ICTs (Department of Education, Training and Employment)
  • Ensure students feel a sense of ownership about the ICT used in the classroom (Fluck, 2011)
Ownership, as I stated earlier, didn't seem to be a problem with these students - however, I will aim to build the remainder of my lessons with them around the other three research  points and, in fairness, I was given 5 minutes preparation time prior to taking this lesson.

Critiquing my lesson with 1:1 I felt it was a success because the students researched so much information (some stayed in after the bell rang because they wanted to finish it), time-wise I wish I had allocated much more time to self-directed research because it was such a success. Next time I will build on an Inquiry question or aim to get the students to create their own Inquiry question. Now these were Year 7 students so were able to self-study with no problem, so I’d be interested to know how this would work with Year 2/3 students? If you have a suggestion of how I should run the Year 7 1:1 laptop class next time feel free to let me know… always looking for more ideas!

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