Monday, March 31, 2008


I am at the Sitech Champion Schools Conference this weekend at Owhata School, Rotorua. We have just been welcomed warmly by students from Owhata school and the team from Sitech and Breathe Technology. Great to see such an enthusiastic team behind Garry: Jenny; Nat; Jonathan; and others. Sitech have now joined iwth Umajin and it is always good to catch up with Alison and Russell from Umajin. I'm loving catching up with my old cluster. Nga Tii Roa not only add to the familiar faces but front the workshops as presenters. Just to think 3 years ago....

My search light at this conference:

"How are the tools impacting into the pedagogy of teaching and learning?
Are the tools changing classroom cultures?"

Peter Kent, the opening keynote, touched on this at the start so we were off in the right direction for me at least. People often are locked in by what they don’t know. This was illustrated beautifully with a You Tube video to do with escalators:

It was good to hear Peter so simply put out 3 points of Good Teaching:

1. High expectation of learners (intellectual quality),

2. Environment which is supportive of students. What engages and is useful for stdts?

3. Learning which is relevant.

Technology will not improve anything if it is not linked and embedded into this. Peter suggests IWBs facilitate No. 2 above. I suggest that yep, they can. They can also provide support to an environment which is more traditional. The teacher at the front with the chalk....

It is not the teacher's job to use the IWB – The teacher's job is to manage learning, ask the questions etc.

3 levels of using the IWB – What type of interaction occurs?

  1. Best: Students asking questions of students and you.
  2. Middle: Students asking qs of the teacher
  3. Low Level: Teacher asking qs of students

IWBS support all 3 but good use supports the first.

E-Volution of E-Teaching. This led me to reflect on our own cluster's teacher inquiry process. I am left feeling even more confident that the thinking that went into our inquiry process provides a good foundation. It is a scaffolded process which will help us all to spiral on up. The progression supports the moving up from as Peter puts it -

"1. Using ICTs to do what we have always done. The tools have little impact other than superficial.

2. Choose one idea, need or problem to research, trial and implement.

3. Experiment, Review, Plan and Discuss

4. Share, Teach others, Reflect, Grow.

5. Embed and Spiral on Up."

It is not the tool that makes the difference in learning. It is the way the tools are used.

ICTs are different from many other tools. They challenge our practice. Being part of a professional learning community helps us to deepen these understandings, widen our perceptions and extend the possibilities.

ICTs have the potential to change the user but only the user can really change their own practice. It comes down to pedagogy. Our mental model, firmly embedded in our subconscious, is what controls our actions. We need to consider what our mental model for good teaching/learning really is.

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