The use of ICT in the classroom can be a source of great motivation for students, but how then can you be sure there is effective engagement in their learning? Here are some tips which you will learn in our most popular online course for teachers today.
Planning for Progression
Planning is a common practice by teachers, but it can sometimes be overlooked when it comes to the use of ICT in the classroom. Mostly, this is a result of our knowledge and over dependence of students’ everyday use of technology.
Progression, in any subject is to do with ensuring that students develop their knowledge and skills as they grow older and more mature. When using ICT in the classroom, it is to do with how a student can learn concepts and skills of increasing difficulty.
Planning for progression in student ICT capabilities involves you as a teacher, having a good level of knowledge of each student’s capabilities in ICT. Failing to plan for this, can lead to the duplication of work and this then leads to a danger of students stagnating in their learning, inevitably leading disruptive behaviour in the classroom.
How to plan for progression in ICT capability?
To overcome this obstacle, it will be important to first consider the following two approaches:
- Determine the ICT teaching objectives for the planning period (year/term/half-term).
- Clarify key topics for each subject for the planning period.
- Identify opportunities for ICT within each subject.
- Select and adapt the ICT projects which are most appropriate for achieving the ICT objectives with the subject contexts.
(Bennett, Hamill, & Pickford, 2007, p. 51)
- What is the educational purpose of the ICT activity – to develop student ICT capability, support the subject in its learning or both (recommended)?
- Will the students need to be monitored to identify opportune moments for teacher intervention to enhance their ICT skills?
- Does it provide the students with the experience of using ICT as a tool for learning?
- Are there opportunities to assess students’ ICT capability?
- Will the students work cooperatively or collaboratively?
(Kennewell et al., 2000, p.90)
Determine a starting point for their ICT capability journey
In order to plan for progression it is important that you have an appreciation of where the children are, where they ought to be and where they might be heading next. Determine a starting point and then give them accurate directions that will enable them to plot a course.
One way to achieve this is by planning a pre-lesson which will set them a similar ICT activity that will allow to take notes, observe and monitor their capabilities in ICT at that time. Then use the record of ICT capabilities for students to plan appropriately – the hallmark of a proficient teacher.
Challenging students with ICT and stretching more capable students
If there is ever to be a more challenging learning area to teach in schools today then it either has to be about teaching with ICT. Children today are fluent with technology even more than the generations before them. As a teacher, you need to set challenges for students with ICT that will help them progress further in their capabilities.
It is important to remember that increasing the level of challenge for students does not mean giving them more sophisticated software to use. Progression in student capabilities is not achieved in this way as it will only teach them new techniques. More sophisticated software should be used because the task demands it. Challenging students could simply be related to the subject context, or the style and mode of presentation. An example might be asking students if they have thought about changing the size of the text, including another picture or modifying the content if they are working on a slide.
Of course, you cannot challenge someone unless you know what they are capable of doing and gauging the level of challenge for ICT activities can be difficult, particularly as the children progress. For example, a student might be highly efficient at using on piece of software but inexperienced with another. Despite this, you will find that those students who are confident users of ICT will be able to transfer their knowledge and skills across a range of various software.
Intervene at the appropriate moments
In my view, a student can also be challenged intellectually by ensuring that when you teach ICT capability that you place emphasis on the development of higher order skills. If you have a set of questions written down for the planned moments, the unplanned moments and also at the times when you want to drive learning forward more, it is a great method to keep students thinking and on their toes throughout the lesson.
Focus on the Concepts behind the skills
This can be done through whole class discussion about examples and non-examples of a concept, both with and without ICT. Challenge naïve ideas about handling ICT tools, particularly when monitoring the progress of individuals. For example, when students use spaces to spread out text on a line or page, show the effect of extra text so the spaces move to a different position or line.
Fearing lack of Tech Support
One of major reasons for disengagement with ICT in the classroom is the fear of technical problems or thereof. Of course, if your school does not have adequate technical support, this may add further stress to you and even your students!
Here is what you need to know.
Students don’t have to be sitting at a computer in order to develop their capabilities. The understanding of concepts and higher order skills can be enhanced with whole class questioning. Group discussions about the processes necessary to carry out a task can also be achieved and you as a teacher can model the planning, hypothesising and evaluating. So plan ahead!
By following these points, student engagement in ICT can increase whilst developing their capabilities in ICT. Remember always to monitor their progress in ICT activities so to ensure continuity and progression.
ICT Teaching Strategies in Primary Education
They don’t call it Primary education for no reason!
Among many countries such as Australia, governments are recognising the importance of integrating ICT throughout the curriculum. The Victorian Curriculum, which mirrors the Australian Curriculum also places emphasis on this.
You might have already guessed that I am Australian, right?
You would be correct, but it serves as a great example and anyway, no matter what curriculum you teach, if you know it follows suit, then the following ICT teaching strategies will be an excellent way for you to stand out amongst your colleagues as an ICT integrator.
The Australian Curriculum, has placed the responsibility of ICT capability progression amongst the hands of primary teachers. From Foundation level to Year 6, four out of 6 levels of progression are present (see image).
They have done this for good reason. Primary education is just that. From early childhood it picks up students’ learning and builds on it.
Back to the point, this is the reason why learning evidenced based ICT teaching strategies is so important.
The national curriculum recognises the integration of digital technologies throughout the learning areas as General Capability – in particularly, ICT capability!
It is actually a requirement that teachers teach this and other general capability through their key learning areas.
So the ICT teaching strategies that I am about to demonstrate meets this range.
Here are my ICT teaching strategies for primary education.
Number 1: Establish a starting point for learning
If progression in student learning is your objective as a classroom teacher, then it is vital that you do this. Establish a starting point can be achieved for any lesson which involves the use of ICT and where specific ICT techniques, routines and processes.
For example, right at the beginning of the year if the previous year’s teacher didn’t share any information with in relation to student progression in ICT capability (and they should), then do some pre-assessing.
Set up a small literacy-ICT activity and list some ICT techniques that you expect students to know in order to complete the task.
Then monitor and keep track of their progress in a pre-made record sheet which you can go over at the end of the lesson and use for future planning.
This ICT teaching strategy can be repeated throughout the year if you are unsure of student progress in ICT capability learning.
Number 2: Integrate Digital technologies and Develop ICT Capability
As mentioned, the integration of digital technologies throughout key learning areas is recognised as ICT capability.
However, research has shown that ICT capability is more than this.
It actually comprises of 5 key components which together constitute ICT capability.
These components are techniques, routines, concepts, processes and higher order skills.
From my experience, to integrate digital technologies is then to plan and seek opportunities to develop each of these components.
As an ICT teaching strategy this is the ‘bees nees’.
To achieve this, you need to do the following.
ICT teaching strategies to improve the Routine use of ICT in learning can be improved with focused practice tasks. So for students who are slower to learn routines this is ideal.
ICT techniques is what constitute as routines, so the ICT teaching strategies for this are slightly different. It helps to name the ICT technique and the name should not be seen as something extra to learn. Instead, it means to be a way of communicating and thinking about the actions and its effects.
For Processes, the best ICT teaching strategy for this is to discuss whenever possible with students what they are doing at the process level. Avoid talking to them about the next technique and instead draw on images and analogies where it is helpful in order to help students gain a feeling for the whole process.
Now for this component, it is my belief that the ICT teaching strategies to do with this is what makes ICT capability stand out better than just ordinary ICT skills. Higher order skills will only be developed if you as the teacher help students to plan, monitor and evaluate their ICT work.
You can do this in whole class teaching.
Eventually, you will let the students do some of this for themselves and this can be done if you ask them strategic and evaluative questions, encouraging students in groups to ask these questions of each other and then expecting individuals to ask these questions of themselves.
Finally, focus on the Concepts behind the skills. Use whole class teaching to discuss examples and non-examples of a concept, both with and without ICT, in order to highlight the important features of the concept. For example, a poster is not a message as it is not communicated to a person.
Additionally, another ICT teaching strategy would be to challenge naïve ideas about handling particular ICT tools. For example, when students use spaces to spread out the text on a line or page, you could show them the effect of adding extra text so that the spaces move to a different position on the line.