Over the past couple of days Kerrie Foord, our Assistant Principal, and I have been privileged to be at the Future Schools Conference in Sydney.To say that I am feeling mentally stretched is an understatement. After what I have seen happening out there in schools across Australia and the globe, my conclusion is, that for some schools, we are not really talking about the future … we are talking about the here and now.
But some of us are not even close to being caught up with the times yet and there is a huge divide between the haves and the have nots; but this divide is not necessarily about money to buy equipment – this divide comes because, as Paul Hamilton (@PaulHamilton8) says, we have the people whose attitude is ‘yes but’ and those who say ‘yes and …’. These ‘yes and’ innovative teachers are needed in our schools to encourage others. They are the ones who will encourage us to integrate technology into our lessons that align with our Key Learning Area outcomes. They are the ones who will inspire us to be creative with our use of digital technologies, to improve our ICT general capabilities so that we can play, learn, communicate and collaborate.
As I sat, feeling inspired, challenged and awed at all I was seeing and hearing I wished that every teacher from our school and every school in Australia could be there to see what was possible – is possible using digital technologies. It needs a real ‘This is important! We can do it!’ attitude.
Someone with this ‘I can and I will do it’ resolve is Anne Mirtschin (@murcha) who teaches in a small rural school in Victoria. Using what resources she has at hand and by making connections with teachers throughout the world through media like Twitter, she has helped her students to become global citizens. Anne is a great example of, ‘where there is passion there is a way’.
The ‘Young Learners Conference’ has caused us to have a hard look at what we are doing in our school. We are not yet a ‘future school’ and we as a staff are nearly all ‘Early Learners’ in this area. As the new Digital Technologies Curriculum is eventually rolled out, we will need to look at the outcomes and make sure that our older students can meet the early outcomes before we teach the later ones. We can’t assume that they have the expected skills and knowledge; just because they are consumers, we can’t be sure that they have enough knowledge to be adept at creating digital solutions and using the potential of the systems in place.
So, what can I take back to our school from this?
- Our teachers and students need to be encouraged to access technology wherever possible in their learning to increase levels of engagement and to learn its purpose.
- We need a clearly planned scope and sequence with Digital Technologies so that we are incorporating the knowledge and skills in all the KLAs.
- Our staff need to be able to access regular professional development in Digital Technologies that is at their level and useful to them and their students.
- We need to learn and teach ‘coding’ to prepare our students to think computationally and creatively.
- Our teachers and our students need time to play, experiment and learn together using digital technologies.
- Our internet and computers need a major update. Without a fast reliable internet and computers that support modern platforms there is frustration and a reluctance to use the technology that we do have, in our lessons.
Attending this Future Schools Conference has opened my eyes to what passionate and creative educators are achieving with young learners and technology. Throughout the conference I tweeted out some of what I was learning in the hope that other teachers at our school and beyond would be following, learning and catching the passion with me.
I would like to thank the organisers and presenters who came from near and far for sharing their expertise and creativity.
Credits go to:
Dr Kari Stubbs ( @karistubbs) Meaningful Learning through Digital Play
Paul Hamilton (@ Paul Hamilton8)) Transforming Teachers into Technology Driven Innovators
Samantha Lind Creating 21st Century Learners
Meredith Ebbs (@iMerinet) Getting Started with Coding at K-2 Classrooms
Anna Kinnane, Grant Baker and Paula Christophersen – The Panel – Embracing the NEW Digital Technologies Curriculum
Anne Mirtschin (@murcha) Learning Adventures in the Connected Classroom
Jennie Magiera (@MsMagiera) Power of the Pupil
Gail Lovely (@glovely) Early Learning Technologies Playground: Robots, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Real Learning
Kate Highfield (@KateyTwit) Creators or Consumers? Media and Technology in Learning and Play
Michelle Meracis (@MichelleMeracis) KidzTek: Full STEAM Ahead in the Early Years Classroom
Nicola Flanagan (@nicashgrove) Catering for the Young Innovators of the Future: Aligning the technology, curriculum and pedagogy
Kristine Kopelke and Sally Gower from Meridan SS ; Creating digital construction zones for young learners
Catherine Newton (@mrsnewton) Leveraging technology to build a learning community