Sunday, November 20, 2011

If only (part 2)..

Having lamented the decline of ICT in UK schools, I spent the rest of the afternoon bugging Mrs RNG who was preparing for an interview tomorrow. One of her tasks is to teach crumple zones and she wanted to have a nice, simple way to demonstrate this effect (yes, I know there is loads of stuff like this on the interwebs but time and resources where somewhat limited). After much head scratching, it was decided to drop an egg onto (a) a plastic tray and then (b) the same tray covered in cling film (to simulate a deforming crumple zone) and so it was. We headed into the grounds of Chateau RNG armed with a clue of eggs, a tray and some cling film.

The iOS bit

Yesterday I finally upgraded my beloved, reliable and well abused iPhone 3G to a spanking new iPhone 4S. My main justification for this was the ability to film and edit high quality video on the go so this seemed like a good time to prove if this was a good enough reason. Armed with said iPhone and a copy of iMovie, I set about filming and editing our little experiment and ten minutes later, the results where loaded to my You Tube channel. Sweet, you can see the results below:

Now, this got me thinking (oh oh, here we go)

What if

What if we allowed the students to use there own ICT in class? What if we actually encouraged them to use the same communication methods they use to arrange a mob to smash up a phone box* and then post the results up to You Tube? What if, rather than write up an experiment, they filmed it, recorded there spoken conclusion rather than wrote it down? They could post it up to You Tube/Soundcloud etc and then share the link with you, kind of like modern ICT usage, the so of stuff we adults do.

This reminded me of one of my lesson last week, we where doing a worksheet about volcanoes and I saw an iPod Touch out on a desk. I approached the student and had a look to see which lame social networking site they where on. Up on the screen was a Wikipedia page about igneous rock!

If only...

*phone box, a kind of kiosk that may or may not contain a working telephone. Originally designed as a way for people without home telephones to communicate with others on the phone network. Now mostly used as toilets.

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If only...

I'm back teaching Science this term and it's quite an eye opener having spent three years teaching Project Based Learning (PBL). PBL was very ICT intensive, all students in year 7 where given their own netbook and where expected to use it most session. Now obviously a lot of time could be wasted with games etc. but a well managed lesson was a joy to behold. How different it is in Science. Our idea of ICT is to show a PowerPoint presentation or the odd video and getting the data loggers out. Lessons have structure and timings and generally, the teacher is in control. I teach a couple of groups I had last year and It is interesting to watch how the students behave. Generally, there is less time for being off task and students like the structure and knowing what they have to do but they lose out on some of the skills they where using in PBL. This is most obvious when it comes to report writing time. At my school, we use Attitude's to Learning (AtL's) as part of the report. We have 4 R's, Resilience, Resourcefulness, Reflectiveness and Reciprocity (based on Guy Claxton's Building Learning Power). When teaching PBL it was fairly easy to assign grades for these as they where built into the projects with plenty of scope to demonstrate them. In Science, we set the work so Resourcefulness is less easy to grade as little opportunity is given for students to be resourceful. Ditto with Reflectiveness so my task this year is to work on how to integrate more student guided learning into Science thus giving students opportunity to demonstrate Resourcefulness and Reflectiveness.

Off course, this would be an easy task if we weren't subject to quite large budget cuts in education here in the UK. We no longer have the money to supply all students with their own netbook. All that work on our Learning Platform and uploading resources, setting projects that require ICT etc. all for nothing. It's even worse when I think of how well my year 8 groups can integrate the use of their laptops into Science lessons. They will happily sit with a worksheet in front of them and use the netbook to look up words or complex processes like the Rock Cycle to help them answer questions. They will research uses of rocks for a mini project (we are doing rocks and weathering and I set the question " why are rocks so special" to run alongside the work in class) and share their research with me on Google docs as if it's second nature.

So what a shame then that the UK government have decided that a good way to cut the deficit is to slash education spending and cut ICT from the core curriculum. What happened to education being important for not only the individual but also the country?

Education, if only...

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