I want to inspire the students in my class to reach beyond the boundaries of my experience. I want to open the world up to them and the best way that I can do that is through technology. I have included in this article some of the apps and programs that have inspired me. I have taken on the challenge of learning to code with the aim of participating in the Hour of Code held by Code.org. Their aim is to get 10 million people globally to participate in one hour of coding in December, writes Sallyann Burtenshaw, teacher at St Bernard’s Primary Bateman’s Bay, NSW
Being a complete novice I started early in the hope that by December I will be able to complete more than five minutes of coding without tearing out my hair. A session on http://codecademy.com/ confirmed that I haven’t started too early. I recommend this site for anyone with permanent scratch marks on their forehead. (I’m wondering if this is how Scratch got its name.)
Scratch is a great Coding App to use with the kids, who of course quickly become the teachers. I am constantly amazed at how swiftly their brains adapt to new stimulus. Using the experts in your class is by far the quickest way to learn and is a great survival strategy for those of us who are not naturals.
This is a little gem with a trillion uses. I have used this successfully for Kinder orientation. When parents come into the school they are able to scan QR codes to see the band performing, sports sessions in motion, choir etc.
I have also used this code for reading buddies. I filmed the buddies reading then made codes which were displayed in kindergarten. During silent reading the Kinder students were able to have a number of books read to them by scanning the code with the iPad.
Anyone with a school band may want to look up Skype Classroom Let’s Unite The World With Music (https://education.skype.com/projects/3242-let-us-link-the-world-with-music-skylight). The aim is to create a global concert in which musicians will follow the sun sharing a piece of classical music for 24 hours creating a bridge of peace. There are loads of other great activities on Skype Classroom aimed at connecting classrooms all over the world.
‘Oh no!’ I hear you shout but the kids love it and it can be a great tool for encouraging creativity. I am using Minecraft as a reward to build collaborative learning in HSIE. Teams that are working collaboratively get to build part of the imaginary world created by the class. On this world they have to provide the building blocks of society which address the topic of needs and wants.
Minecraft also has a competition out: Build Australia’s Perfect National Park which some children are working on at home. There is also a site called Autcraft which is designed to create a safe place for children with ASD to play mincecrat. http://www.autcraft.com/
I recently completed a free eight day trial of Stile. This is an Australian made collaborative platform similar to Edmodo. It is very user friendly. I found that it put everything that I needed in one place which in a crowded curriculum is gold. There is a cost involved but I would recommend anyone with BYOD having a look. If you are using it in your school I would love to get some feedback on its effectiveness.
I hope this has inspired you to take up the technology challenge. The following quote got me stated on my journey. “Inspiration doesn’t happen to you. It must be generated by you.” Susan Sazza.