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Primary School iLearn showcase

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Alison Forrow
Digital Literacy Coach
Seán McHugh
ICT Integrator and K-12 Digital Literacy Coach
Seán's teaching experiences span over 20 years; in London, Malaysia and since 2001 in Singapore as as one of the Digital Literacy Coaches at UWCSEA's Dover Campus. His role is to facilitate activities, both formal and informal, within a range of contexts and involving a variety of participants, which contribute to enhanced teacher understanding and practice involving digital technologies to support learning and teaching.

 

Primary School iLearn showcase

UWCSEA Dover Primary School teachers share tech-teaching tips‘Team Time’ is a 40 minute meeting that takes place weekly in each grade in the Primary School. It is a time when the Digital Literacy Coaches (DLCs) are available to work with a grade level team to facilitate collaborative and individualised (Hixon & Buckenmeyer, 2009) opportunities to learn from and with other teachers (Pickering, 2007). These shorter, smaller and more frequent meetings were instituted at the start of the iLearn initiative three years ago, to facilitate collaborative, small-group work which is more effective than would be possible in larger, infrequent meetings (Cordingley et al, 2005; Devereux, 2009).

Most weeks these are informal forums for collaboration; teachers are able to discuss technical and curriculum questions, classroom management issues and assessment practices, as well as how to use available technology, and share tips and shortcuts learned with or from their students (Ciampa & Gallagher, 2013). One teacher’s skill with a particular tool can quickly become ‘viral,’ very much imitating the way they observe their own students learning from each other.

The problem in a school as large as UWCSEA is finding ways for these powerful practices to expand beyond the bounds of one grade, or even one classroom, to impact teaching practice in other classrooms and grades as well. The expansion from teach time to a Primary School ‘ICT showcase’ came from the need to find a way for teachers to be able to share the ways they use ICTs to enhance their teaching with
each other.

The annual showcase effectively extends ‘Team Time’ from grade to whole school, also involving subject specialist teachers from Art, Music, and Languages. All teachers attend and share, in small informal groups, about the ways they have been integrating digital technologies—with a focus on specific aspects of technology enhanced learning and the specific digital tools that they feel have proved effective. The DLCs act as mediators to facilitate conversations around what can be achieved in other grades and contexts.

The enthusiasm between teachers who normally have little to do with each other, such as Spanish and Kindergarten teachers, was evident at the event as they inspired each other by sharing what comes most naturally to them and the ways their own students are making pedagogical magic with digital technologies. This is where the evidence of the value of iLearn is most apparent, in the way ‘ordinary’ activities, are significantly enriched by the increasingly ubiquitous availability of technologies
in classrooms.

Overall, studies suggest that instructional technology is also growing increasingly more effective. This growing effectiveness should not come as a great surprise, as today’s digital devices are faster, friendlier, and more visually and aurally sophisticated. Certainly with the advent of touch screen technologies one can argue that these technologies’ have never been easier to use, nor more intuitive. In addition, students are more ‘computer-literate’ today than they were, and as the Showcase so clearly demonstrates, our teachers have become just as sophisticated in the uses of the same technologies in a short span of three years.

Digital technologies are thriving in this climate, and these devices—which have transformed society in so many ways—are also making teaching even more effective.

 

Sources
Ciampa K and Gallagher T L (2013). Professional learning to support elementary teachers’ use of the iPod Touch in the classroom, Professional Development in Education, DOI:10.1080/19415257.2012.749802

Cordingley P, Bell M, Evans D and Firth A (2005). ‘The impact of collaborative continuing professional development (CPD) on classroom teaching and learning. Review: How do collaborative and sustained CPD and sustained but not collaborative CPD affect teaching and learning?’ Research Evidence in Education Library London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

Hammond M, Crosson S, Fragkouli E, Ingram J, Johnston-Wilder P, Johnston-Wilder S, Kingston Y, Pop M and Wray D (2009). Why do some students teachers make very good use of ICT? An exploratory case study. Technology, Pedagogy and education, 18: 1, 59–73

Hixon E and Buckenmeyer J (2009). Revisiting technology integration in schools: Implications for professional development. Computers in the Schools, 26(2), 130-146.

This story was adapted from a blog post on the UWCSEA Dover Digital Literacy Coaches blog - click here to read the original post.

24 Jun 2014
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