In our school I (the ICT Specialist) have made great strides in integrating ICT more into the curriculum. We still have a computer lab and assigned lab times, but little by little I am working my way into the classrooms and co-teaching lessons with our primary and middle schools.
I officially meet with each class bi-weekly (although I tend to have informal meetings much more often) to discuss integration into either their units or their stand alone lessons. We are a bilingual school and I tend to work most with the English speaking teachers mostly because they are the ones who are working during ICT time. I have integrated and co-taught some lessons with some of our Italian teachers as well.
It is not always easy with many teachers wanting to create “projects” without true integration. I think my time as a classroom PYP teacher in the past helps me try to guide them away from this idea. I try to either be part of the summative or formative assessments in each unit so the teachers can see the integration better themselves. I might start working with a class in co-teaching or in the lab and the students need to then work in their classrooms (with portable computers) to finish.
I try to connect to the UOI whenever possible but I don’t want to force any connections. Doing so tends to lead to more of a “Project based” rather than “Inquiry based” Learning.
When I cannot find a relative connection I also will connect with stand alone lessons. For example now with our year 1 I am connecting with maths and we are exploring place value. I have worked with our year 4 class in maths with creating charts and graphs, we then took those lessons and used them to create infographics for their following unit on migration, immigration and emigration.
I was recently asked if I felt the work I assign for our students could become monotone. I don’t feel that what the students at my school do is monotone. If my class time was used only to do the research for all of their projects, then yes it definitely would become very monotone. As I said before that is basically how my lessons were seen. Time to research for something they were doing in class. Other times I would try to make my own projects but in 6 hours per unit we would never be able to create something worthwhile. They would either not have enough time to do proper research or not have enough time to finsh their work.
I will try to give you an example of how I worked with our year four class this unit. In the planning meetings (before the unit) we were discussing which ways to create a summative assessment. We didn’t say that it needed to be an ICT based project or not, we just wanted to see what we thought would best show the students understanding of the central idea. It just so happened that we decided that we would have the students create a prezi.com presentation.
We decided that the students would cover information each week in class about their city of choice (their unit was about how civilizations and cities developed around water). Each week they would look at the reason why cities developed in those areas and they would do research in class or at home.
During my first lesson for this unit we were in the computer lab for one hour where we discussed the idea behind their project and reviewed prezi.com. They had used the program in year 3 but it has been updated. I discussed the importance of citing their resources (providing examples) and how to search for images and information more successfully using Google advanced search techniques.
During the next four lessons, we were in the classroom with our portable computers. The students would then have 2 hour lessons instead of 1 hour lessons because we normally have half groups in the lab. They would use this time to work in prezi inserting the information they found and searching for images and videos that fit into their project. Each week I would show them a tip or trick that might help but for the most part they were busy working.
In the third and fourth week the teachers signed out the portable computers and lab on their own and worked with the class on their own using the ICT skills they learned in our co-teaching lessons to help the students.
During the final week of the unit the teachers had the students present their work and they were graded using a rubric that we developed together.
In the past all of the specialist teachers at our school had tried to connecct to every UOI but we noticed that most of the time you are not making good connections. One example would be doing water painting during a unit about water in the world.
If you are going to try to do that, one thing I found to be benificial is to pay a lot of attention to the concepts and skills that are being covered in the UOI and see if you can make a connection with them. That method still created a problem with the fact that I found myself very limited in time trying to introduce, create and present projects and/or lessons that would never fit in the one hour a week that I have with each class. With only six hours of teaching per unit there still were many problems.
Last January I started to change how I integrate with our teachers. I meet with them at least on a bi-weekly basis where we discuss how we can work together. It has gone really well. I might connect with the UOI or even with something they are covering in Language or Math that might be taught as stand-alone.
What I am trying to do is make my lessons more part of what they are doing in their classrooms and not a seperate class. Yes I still spend time introducing new software and skills but when I do it I explain that we are learning this software to complete part of their work in class. It could be part of the summative or formative assessments or any other part of the unit. At times I will co-teach lessons with the classroom teachers to help the students see how everything is interconnected.
This is a little more difficult with the Year 1 classes, where I tend to begin the year getting to know the students and their computer skill level. This helps me when I will begin to integrate with them on a more later on in the year.
The PSHE teacher at my school, who is quite tech savy, has been looking into software he can use with iPods and iPads (if possible also Android) in his classroom. He found the free Dartfish EasyTAG app that he has been using for the past two weeks that he feels gives adds greatly to his lessons.
This app allows the students to track what is happening in the games that they are playing in real time. For example if they are playing a game called Speed Ball the people who are not participating in the current game can keep track of the stats for their classmates. You can set up different scoring panels for different types of games. You can keep track of different match-ups as well. Another great aspect of this app is that you can export the results either via email or through iTunes.
For more information on the product you can visit the Dartfish EasyTAG website.
Or you could just download the FREE app and give it a try.
The more time I spend trying to figure out the best way to integrate ICT into my PYP classes, the more I keep changing what I am doing in class.
My first two years in the program I was basically finding a connection to each of the Units of Inquiry for each class. Here are some examples:
Unit of Inquiry – ICT project
- Energy – Glogster poster on how to save Energy
- Landscapes – Excel spreadsheet and charts on the worlds tallest mountains
- Governments – Prezi presentation on different types of government
- Story telling – Storybird to create online stories
Technically the students were working on projects that were related to their unit, but the connection was limited and was more of a project based unit and not inquiry based.
This year our single subject teachers (ICT, Music, Art, PE etc.) along with our PYP Coordinator came up with a plan to make a strong and stable connection with one unit from each year level. That way they could work with the classroom teachers on all phases of the unit. During the other units of the year we would still focus on using inquiry based projects. These projects would more be based on the concepts or skills that were associated with the unit.
I also added an idea I got from listening to Brad Flickinger’s podcast of trying to have the students learn one skill really well throughout the year. For example: Year 5 – Documentaries, Year 4 – Podcasts. Having each class only for an hour a week proved to be to limiting for this approach. I found myself having the students working to often with pen and paper in my classroom. Another problem is that it would also take us more time to finish each project than was allotted to each unit.
Over the winter holiday break I read through the ICT in the PYP documentation from the OCC. I noticed that I had good ideas but I was still teaching classes that were too independent compared to what they were doing in class. They suggest that the ICT classes be used as a tool for the classroom, with limited stand alone lessons. They also suggest not to make a project just for projects sake but to have it be more meaningful to what the students are already doing in their classrooms.
I spoke with our Board and PYP Coordinator to establish a way for me to meet with each class on a bi-weekly basis to better integrate what they are doing in their classes with what is being done during my lessons. I know I should have been doing this already but my time at the school is precious due to the fact that I am the ICT teacher and I am responsible for taking care and fixing all of the tech related problems in the school.
The classroom teachers are really enthused with this new possibility. We are already coming up with fun and exciting ideas on how to use technology in their lessons. Connecting both to their units and also to their stand alone lessons.
This is just starting and I will keep you informed as to how things are going in the next few weeks.