What’s in a name? Well, the letters ‘a’, ‘n’, ‘a’……

Phonics.

If your first thought on hearing that word is “yuck”, then think again! Without phonics you wouldn’t be able to read what I’ve written on this blog, and that would leave me feeling rather silly and isolated on my little language island, so HOORAY FOR PHONICS!

Remember when you were at primary school? Well, I’m willing to bet that every one of us english speaking folk experienced some form of synthetic phonics way back when. Synthetic phonics is the method of letter learning that involves the age-old technique that more often than not goes something like this:

“This is the letter A. It makes an ‘a’ sound. Can you say it? Great! Now write it. Now write it again and again and chant the sound ’til you collapse with exhaustion!”

Not really – that’s just six year old me venting my frustration umpteen years later….and therein lies my point. While phonics is the bedrock of language learning, why does it have to be so BORING? The answer is…..IT DOESN’T! WOOHOOO! The way phonics programs are being taught is ever changing…at least that is what my university professors keep saying so hopefully they are right and I am not just naive for believing them…..let’s go with the former!

So, while it is vital  to teach phonics using this letter-sound relation system (experts have proven it and everything; isn’t that something), the importance of connecting these words in context in the form of planned reading sessions with students is an increasingly well-embraced method for teaching; it immediately gives the phonics skills being taught a purpose beyond “TEACHER SAYS YOU MUST KNOW THIS. BIG TICK AND GOLD STAR WILL BE AWARDED. YAY.”

Another thing many early years teachers are embracing is a more flexible, sensibly scaffolded program that takes into account the multitude of ways students come prepared for school. Some students may have had a large amount of experience with language; their parents may read to them every day and on some incredible occasions they may have even learnt some of the written language already. Then there are those on the opposite end of that spectrum – for whatever reason, they have little experience in texts of various forms and have never really considered written language at all. Either way, the old “letter of the week” format isn’t quite cutting it any more in class and it is now, like always, it is the job of teachers to change it. Ensuring no one element of phonics is dwelt on too long ensures no student disengages with the concepts being taught – those that are a little behind can catch up, and those who are way ahead get just enough of a refresher to be completely confident. No sleeping students will be seen!

There has been a significant decline in reading for pleasure over the past fifty years and bringing joy back to phonics could well be the key to opening up the door to all the wonders that texts can give us. So let’s refuse to call phonics boring, and defy any child who hates it. Give them some choice, let them work in groups, spread letters around your classroom and let kids discover something together – let them feel as smart as they are, which is (usually) very! Don’t let them fall to the wayside because they’re bored. Don’t just teach phonics, think about phonics, think about your students.

Having said all that, we’ll see if even I can carry out this idealistic plan. Time will tell!

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Trying new tools – “What’s a….Voki?”

“I have my doubts about this…”

Well, never fear Mr Tawny Frogmouth, with Voki you can speak like a bonafide disney character.

A Voki is a little animated character that speaks in a voice you choose, with words you provide; a quirky and fun tool for students to present speeches.

http://www.voki.com/pickup.php?scid=10189640&height=267&width=200

via I just made a new Voki. See it here:.

After the necessary hiatus, I’m still a work in progress.

It has been a few months since my last post to this site. University is generally an exhausting endeavour; this blog was initially set up as a project to map my ongoing digital discovery. However, having finished said task, I have returned in the hope of continuing to store my knowledge and resource-gatheringso that perhaps someone else somewhere might say “Hey, that’s pretty neat!”

PEER FEEDBACK: A valuable indicator.

Here are the peer marks I received on the final session of my official blog journey:

MARK 1:BLOG MARK NORY

Name of marker:­­­­­­­­ Suzanne Brautigam 17642839

MARK 2:BLOG MARK BEN

Name of marker:­­­­­­­­ Ben 17100586


Here is the mark I provided for Nory Soffian:

BLOG MARK BY ME

When I received my feedback I was very pleased with the outcomes of both peer marks, but came away from the experience with a few new ideas of how to structure my posts and make them more engaging visually. I decided after seeing the work others had done that a more personal approach to design (including images of myself, for example) was appealing to the viewer. As such I decided to include an image of my face along with a short description of my blog’s purpose int the “We’re Always Learning” tab at the top of each page.

I went back over some of my posts also to view where I could have included more in-depth content and found a few grammatical errors as I did so; this editing process was extremely valuable to me, as it clarified the purpose of each post and helped me express myself more clearly.

ENCOURAGING DIGITAL FLUENCY – Lesson Plan

 

Year: 5 

Lesson: What does this book tell me? A brainstorming exercise.

 

Resources: 1)Reference texts,

2)computers with internet access,

3)bubbl.us website,

4)focus task worksheet,

5)example bubbl.us chart

Topic: Students read the first two chapters of a text provided, before brainstorming what the book tells them on a literal level (who, what, where, when) and an abstract level (moral, symbols) using bubbl.us software. 
Steps:1) Explain task and show examples of completed task for students to use as reference

2) Allow children to form pairs (or some groups of three if numbers are uneven)

3) Assign each group a text to read and write a list of things they discovered while reading it.

4) Show students how to work bubbl.us in a short tutorial session

5) Allow students to form their own style of flow chart based on the suggested focus (literal and abstract meaning from text)

6) Go around to each group’s computer and have student’s briefly explain their readings and how they set up their ideas based on reading.

 

 

 
Evaluation: 

One risk with this activity is that it is a little too broad which could lead to confusion so checking groups as they work would be a wise idea to reduce confusion.  Another issue could be that students have issues using the bubbl.us site, in which case vigilance is again necessary.

 

 

 

INTERNET SECURITY RISKS – “Don’t click that!”

news.com.au (2011). Is it safe? [Image]. Retrieved from: http://resources3.news.com.au/images/2010/02/15/1225830/482299-computer-internet-security-lock.jpg

Identity theft, Facebook comments, fraud, email spam as well as cyber bullying were just a few of the issues we explored this week and I must admit that despite my google-search presence of zero, I had barely considered some of these issues. During class I searched for information regarding the kinds of scams being run through social media such as facebook – specifically a case where a link supposedly showing footage of the MH387 wreckage for the first time in reality led people to downloading malicious software. It is shocking how easy it can be to become a victim to virus-laden ploys; in a classroom this could become a significant issue if students are not correctly monitored during any online sessions.

Examining the different elements of online security was extremely eye-opening. There are so many factors to consider in ensuring your online security is not compromised. If you are present in some form online, even without images or your own legal name, there are many ways to get around privacy settings. Essentially, it comes down to the individual to be responsible for the image they portray in their online presence. As a teacher in training, it is imperative I remember that students, parents and colleagues can view my public online posts and keep these projections of myself professional at all times.

Here’s some excellent advice from the Queensland Police:


 

REFERENCES:

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration & creativity. South Melbourne, VIC:
Oxford University Press.

 

LIFELONG LEARNING – Never close your mind.

And how right you are, Mr. Einstein!
Rawforbeauty (2012). Once you stop learning you start dying [Image]. Retrieved from http://rawforbeauty.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/1932212_524217811020228_1718841467_n.jpg
As an educator, it is clear that there is nothing static about learning. No one person has ever learnt all there is to know and as such it is an educator’s duty to keep updated with the latest developments in all aspects of knowledge (Smith and Ferrier, 2002). Technological aspects of education are particularly fast-moving; to stop moving forward with these developments would be irresponsible for any teacher as students expect their teachers to provide them with at the very least enough to be considered knowledgeable themselves. This expectation that educators will be proficient in all aspects of the ever growing digital stage is coined by Howell (2012) as digital expectancy.

I have already begun to set myself a standard in terms of my own digital fluency. Building up a significant repertoire of digital skills is crucial if I wish to remain an asset to students within my classes; taking part in professional development and subscribing to groups and digital update forums online are just some of the ways I hope to grow in my knowledge throughout the entirety of my life.

For a rather entertaining look at life-long learning:

http://algetler.com/ways-to-be-a-lifelong-learner/

For information and services promoting Life-long development:

http://lifelong.net.au/


 

REFERENCES:

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration & creativity. South Melbourne, VIC:
Oxford University Press.

Smith, C. S. & Ferrier, F. (2002). Lifelong Learning: Proceedings of a symposium. Retrieved from: http://monash.edu/education/non-cms/centres/ceet/docs/otherpapers/BIACTUACproceedings.pdf

DIGITAL BLURRING – Putting the “fun” in digital function.

Digital blurring is an extremely interesting topic as it suggests that skills gained in our digital experiences can translate from those virtual media into our own lives (Howell, 2012). Instances where computer games or programs not specifically designed with an educational purpose in mind have taught a ‘real-life’ skill are being documented increasingly (Gee, 2003). As more people begin viewing digital media as a potential learning tool, the potential for innovation on what is being developed grows; for example a game that involves construction may well be the way for a student to begin developing their architectural vision long before they are officially instructed as part of an educational institution (Pivec, and Dziabenko, 2004).

This concept is fascinating to me, and I hope to be capable in the future of exploring the possibilities of using platforms for learning that students are more naturally inclined to engage with. The idea that technology can change the level to which we interact and engage with real-life situations is incredible.

Now, it may not exactly be digital blurring, but this video showing how story-telling can become a much deeper experience thanks to digital media opened me to the idea that maybe this type of digital interaction could enthuse students to the idea of greater narrative depth.


 

REFERENCES:

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration & creativity. South Melbourne, VIC:
Oxford University Press.

Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. Computers in Entertainment (CIE) – Theoretical and Practical Computer Applications in Entertainment, 1(1), p. 20. doi: 10.1145/950566.950595

Pivec, M. & Dziabenko, O. (2004). Game-Based Learning in Universities and Lifelong Learning: “UniGame: Social Skills and Knowledge Training” Game Concept. Journal of Universal Computer Science, 10(1) (2004), pp. 14-26.

DIGITALLY FLUENT? I’d say I’m a 7/10.

Image
Langwitches (2014). Digital Fluency [Image]. Retrieved from: https://langwitches.wikispaces.com/Digital+Fluency
According to Howell (2012) and 21st Century Information Fluency (https://21cif.com/resources/difcore/dif_faqs.htm)
Digital fluency is the extent to which an individual can interact, understand and meaningfully engage with any given technology (Howell, 2012; Gee and Hayes, 2011). In my case, this is a point I have to consistently improve on. This is due not only to the fact that I do not engage with as many different types of technology as I could but also that I, as is the case with the majority of people, cannot keep updated with every new innovation as it arrives in the market. So fast and broad is the change of old to new technology that it is near impossible for any individual to follow.

This creates for me the frightening pressure of taking the extra time and effort to ensure that I am not only aware of the newest technologies relevant to my field (i.e. teaching) but that I am familiar with how each functions at least on a basic level. Students and parents are what has been termed by Howell (2012) to be digitally expectant – they expect educational professionals to be the expert in what they are teaching. In the case of technological education, it becomes the educator’s responsibility to continually expand their knowledge of what is new in the field and to sort out what is most relevant to student’s needs as future members of various different vocations.

 


REFERENCES

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration & creativity. South Melbourne, VIC:
Oxford University Press.

Gee, J. P. & Hayes, E. R. (2011). Language and learning in the digital age. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

 

 

HOW CAN I USE THIS TO LEARN? Applying technology successfully.

 

With so many technological tools available for use, particularly in Australian schools, it can be difficult to know just when to apply particular technologies in a classroom setting. It is essential to realise that technological tools are only deemed “useful” if they elevate the learning experience for students (Howell, 2012; Gee and Hayes, 2011). It is deceptively easy to fall into the trap of “technology for the sake of technology” in a classroom context; there is no purpose including an application or tool if in context it complicates a process or does not serve a specific educational purpose.As an example, when teaching reading one could not expect students to apply what they have gained from their reading in an image editting program with no guidance or suggestion. Of course if a task was set that led students to illustrate their interpretation of a text using an image, this guidance could set the scene for a gainful inclusion of technological tools in the classroom.

bubblus
Creative displays of thinking processes: the site ‘bubbl.us’ is a useful site for creating charts of many different kinds.

This image is an illustration of just one extremely useful internet-based application. Using bubbl.us (https://bubbl.us), anything from flow diagrams to  become extremely simple to create without the need for supplying resources such as paper or pens.

SOME BROADLY APPLICABLE SITES:

http://www.wordle.net/
https://bubbl.us/

 


 

REFERENCES:

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration & creativity. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Gee, J. P. & Hayes, E. R. (2011). Language and learning in the digital age. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.