The Technology Journey – The benefits when used efficiently

First of all, a big shout out to the 33 people who read my last blog. Think I might need to work on the publicity of my blogging a bit! Still it is early days I guess and I’m more impressed that I have actually made it to Blog 2!

There are a number of people who blog/tweet about using technology in the classroom. It’s the in-thing to do. A lot of these blogs really are excellent and provide great ideas for the classroom (I’m hoping to join this list of excellent bloggers who provide great ideas soon!) However, I think that the skill as a teacher comes when choosing where and when using technology is appropriate. I remember a conversation I had with a colleague a while back. It was based around technology and the question was basically about how it would improve the child’s learning. It was a great point in fairness. It is easy to be sucked into using technology for the sake of it.

When I took over the role of Computing co-ordinator in September last year, we knew that an OFSTED visit was imminent. I spent a fair bit of time thinking of the resources I wanted and how we would use technology to enhance learning across the curriculum. Subsequently what we are finding is that the use of technology has increased massively in our school. More importantly, the technology we are using is increasing not only in quantity but the quality of the education our school provides. When OFSTED came calling, they had this to say;

ofsted

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that the use of technology was the overbearing factor in our OFSTED success but it is evident (and was at the time of the inspection) that at our school the use of it is a strength. The teachers at our school have worked their socks off to achieve not only the OFSTED grading we got, but to sustain the improvement in the subsequent period. Some of this is down to a willingness to embrace new technologies but also because teachers at our school  know when to implement technology and when other methods are more appropriate to the task. This is of huge importance.

How did we do it? How are we doing it? We started by using our own school blogs. Many schools run blogs but I think ours is unique. This is because all our school blogs are run by children in Year 5 and 6 with minimal adult input. These are then showcased to the parents through various social media. The blogs can be found here http://www.standensbarnblogs.org.uk Using digital leaders has also been an important factor. We started with some training with the University of Northampton and since then they have presented at Teachmeets as well as enhancing the professional development of teachers by teaching pupils in the classroom. A fairly big achievement when you’re 9 or 10!

This led us to taking the DLs to the Excel. I have to be honest, I found the BETT show quite disappointing this year. The highlight for me was being able to take the digital leaders to look around and hopefully see the ‘bigger picture’ of technology. However, it seemed that the show itself has been overrun by what I would call ‘faddy’ technology. That thing where you will hear about it now and it will soon disappear. Every corner I turned there seemed to be a company trying to sell a 3D printer. Even worse, do companies really make money from selling software that helps you choose where to seat children in your class? Technology should never attempt to replace the skills of a teacher but ENHANCE them.

So when is best to use technology? There can’t be a hard and fast rule but one thing is for certain, the experience of the teacher will dictate when it should be used. You need  a teacher who is prepared to take risks. Things will go wrong along the way. It is a learning curve.

I’d like to think we are moving away from ‘lack of confidence’ contributing towards less technology use. However, as I have said, there is a time and place for its use. For example, whilst E-reading is all the rage, and I love apps such as Flipboard that really engage boys in reading, I still don’t think you can beat a book! Does e-reading help to increase the reading skills of children?Maybe, maybe not. Yes it can contribute but give me a guided reading session and an opportunity to speak to each other any day.

So in conclusion, I am hoping to blog again soon when some of the enhancements that technology can provide will be discussed! Hopefully with at least 35 readers! Have a good Bank Holiday weekend and remember, stay happy!

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Is life really that bad as a teacher?

I’ve been meaning to start a blog for ages. In fact I actually got round to writing one a while back and never got round to publishing. It’s probably because procrastination is a favourite hobby of mine. In my blogs I hope to share lots of the good pratice (well I think it is good anyway) I use in class as well as sharing the things I have learnt from other people in Education. There is so much out there now. I do wonder why there aren’t more people using Social Networks to improve their practice. Maybe I’m new-fashioned.

So just to totally contradict my first paragraph, my first blog will be about THE job. I do actually love being a teacher. It is a great job. I know this because I never got into teaching until I was 30 and I spent the preceding 14 years in jobs I hated. Going into work and counting down the hours till hometime is not how anybody should earn a living (I do pass this information onto my year 6 class on a regualr basis!)

As I said at the start, social media is now a great tool for use in teaching. However, lately it seems that teachers are loving a moan all over Twitter and Blogs! You may say now that this blog is hypocritical (it probably is. I am moaning a bit) but let’s be honest, think about all the big Education issues over the past few years (pensions, curriculum, SATs RESITS!!) and then think of all the hours and energy that has been wasted complaining about them. Not to mention the strike days which further alienated us as teachers! Just think if more of that energy was put into enjoying the job and creating great learning opportunities for children! I know one thing for certain. Children in my class are only going to achieve those level 4s if I give 100% towards their learning.

And the reason I say all this? Teaching is a brilliant job! Let’s be honest, the holidays are great! The audience you have are normally very welcoming (if you keep them interested enough) and there is enough challenges to make everyday interesting! But also, teachers blogging about crappy ideas and decisions by the powers that be are pretty pointless. It is also preaching to be the converted because I would imagine that teachers already know that these ideas and decisions are crappy without being fed 500 words+ about why they are crappy. I saw a brilliant blog (I forget the author) but it was about the proposed SATs resits. It basically said, it’s a bad idea. And I think everyone agrees! Job done!

So that is it. First blog done. I really hope I do write another and that next time I’m not so bloody cantankerous and actually share something positive. Enjoy going back to school. It’s not that long till the next holidays 🙂

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