Reflections from the recent IB conference: 1

At the recent IB conference in Rome, one of the sessions I attended was run by Oulu International School about mapping technology skills throughout PYP and MYP. OIS made a conscious decision to rename ICT to Educational Technology (ET), making the connection to how technology is used for learning! The first questions posed to focus thoughts were:

  • Is there a plan in the classroom? (not just the tech lesson, but all lessons)
  • Does it improve learning?
  • Does it change learning?

These questions also tie in to the thinking surrounding the SAMR model that was shared with staff recently: technologyatIST.

At OIS, the library and ET team played a vital role in collaborating and creating guidelines – the library as media specialist playing a central role in tying the whole school together. Interestingly, OIS also work with a local university to help train staff on the latest innovations and developments in tech.

First step when mapping the skills (rather than the tools) is to conduct a whole school (teacher and student) audit of tech skills – this will highlight where the ‘holes’ are, using such a template: mapping skills ICT These websites have some useful checklists:

Could we build this around the IB AtL skills?

  • Communication: What are the basic skills we want a staff/ student to demonstrate (level 1) when communicating with technology?
  • Social (for collaboration): how do we want staff / students to collaborate using technology?
  • Self-management (for organisation; affective use; and reflection): What technology skills will teachers / students use for organisation? How would teachers / students use technology with care? How will teachers / students use technology for reflection?
  • Research (for information literacy; and media literacy): How will teachers / students use technology for research?
  • Thinking (for critical thinking; creative thinking; and transfer): What technology skills will teachers / students use to demonstrate / develop critical thinking? etc…

How would a teacher / student demonstrate [communication] using technology?

OIS had developed the following areas as part of their skills mapping:

  • word processing skills
  • graphics skills
  • touch typing
  • what is the internet?
  • web page literacy skills
  • additional skills

These areas were broken down into blocks (G1-2, G3-4…) and what particular skills would be focussed on in these grades, in these areas. They also tied in the ET work with the units, so for example, a unit task may have included creating a brochure. The skills for creating this brochure were then taught in both the tech lesson and reinforced in the unit lesson. Skills were then transferable!

A final thought, when thinking about technology in the classroom, the following questions are helpful in structuring the curriculum:

What is your plan in the classroom? How can technology (and tech/design lessons) help with this?

  • Who do you teach? Who are your target group?
  • What do you teach? What is the content?
  • How will you teach it? What technology will you use to help teach this?

Co-teaching, team teaching

This year at the school I work at, we are going to doing some team teaching in various grades. Hopefully it will be a great opportunity for teachers to collaborate in greater depth and learn from each other. Being a diverse group of international and local teachers, young and old(er), we all bring something different to the table and I am hoping this scheduling will give people a chance to be more reflective and constructive in their feedback and delivery of the curriculum. We are meeting next week to discuss it all further and talk about some of the links shared.

One recent one that I came across through is this post by Elizabeth Stein. I thought her reflective questions were thought-provoking – not just thinking about something you did in the classroom, but also what impact it had on the learning for students. You can read her post here. She also talks about co-teaching and 5 key questions to ask yourselves as a co-teaching team – they are practical questions that need the time spending on them so as to iron out unnecessary confusion as to who does what and when.

To paraphrase, the questions to discuss with your partner are:

1. How will introduce ourselves to our students? (setting the tone, acknowledging and appreciating what both teachers bring to the classroom).

2. Do you have any pet peeves? (open communication with each other is important for the relationship to develop, remember its professional not personal)

3. When will we plan together? (not on your own, or a 5 minute discussion before the lesson, but dedicated time together)

4. What classroom management practices shall we put in place? (does everyone know the boundaries?)

5. How will we share the instructional responsibilities? (who does what, when, how and with who?)

A further article which was helpful in clarifying what team teaching is was this one from Scholastic. The article got us started on thinking about the kind of working relationship to develop with our partners and is well worth the read if this is something you too are embarking on this academic year.

Back to school

Another one from my ‘saved for later’ that I have been dying to use (posting them in the holidays would not get quite the reaction I would hope, more ‘do you realise the rest of us are on holidays!?’ so I’m hoping to time it right)

I think what would apply most in our house involves thoughts of water sprinklers! Although the google one rings pretty close to home after my 5 year old recently asked me for my number as she was going to google me! yikes…