Interactive Whiteboards, Productive Pedagogies and Literacy Teaching in a Primary Context.

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1 Interactive Whiteboards, Productive Pedagogies and Literacy Teaching in a Primary Context. Authors: Peter Kent, Assistant Manager Centre for Teaching and Learning, ACT Department of Education. And Matthew Holdway Richardson Primary School, ACT Introduction The classroom use of Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) at Richardson Primary School (ACT) has produced improvements in students Literacy. These improved outcomes have been evidenced both with anecdotal observations of parents and teachers, as well as in formal standardised testing results. The success of IWBs at Richardson Primary has been driven by the methods which teachers have incorporated this tool within their teaching practice. These methods have been generalised into a pedagogical approach that has been labelled as e-teaching. Succinctly, e-teaching involves the use of ICTs to enhance the professional practice of teaching. Harnessing the potential of digital technology in presenting a concept, exploring the implications, placing the concept in various contexts, creating links with existing knowledge, and leading discussions that probe student understanding and allow students to take their learning in personally relevant directions. This paper will outline some of the teaching strategies that underpin e-teaching and describe how IWBs and e-teaching can be used to enhance the teaching and learning environment within a literacy context. Links will be draw between e-teaching and Productive Pedagogies. Striving To Better Oft We Mar What s Well. 1

2 Personal computers are designed for use by individuals. Individual, one-to-one interaction with personal computers is when they have their greatest effect. The individualised approach of personal computers makes them ideal for learning but in the process makes the task of teaching with personal computers difficult as teaching involves groups of people. Perhaps this is why the term e-teaching is unusual while e-learning is common. However, it is often the case that the quality of learning is determined by the quality of teaching. As such approaches to integrate ICTs into classrooms based solely around personal computers have often only had a limited impact in improving student outcomes (Higgins, S. and Moseley, D. (2001). Only one side of the teaching and learning process was being enhanced by technology. The kind hearted Albany in Shakespeare s King Lear sums it up best, striving to better oft we mar what s well. The widespread use of personal computers and their natural predilection towards individualised learning has unconsciously undermined what fundamentally underpins successful schools, that is, quality teaching by professional teachers. An Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) is a technology that is designed to facilitate group interaction. IWBs are technology that can enhance the teaching side of the teaching and learning process. When an IWB is used in conjunction with more traditional forms of personal computing both the teaching and learning dynamic of education are being enhanced through the use of technology, and at Richardson, improved learning outcomes were a consequence of combined e-teaching and e-learning approach. However, this paper will focus on the new approaches to teaching using IWBs. e-teaching and Productive Pedagogies The large size of an IWB facilitates group activities, the group being a central focus of daily classroom teaching. The interactivity, the tactile nature of students interactions with the board promotes an elevated level of engagement with the lesson. These factors alone will not make a significant difference to the quality of the teaching and learning process over the longer term. 2

3 Independent research (BECTA 2003) has now widely shown that when used wisely IWBs can produce a significant improvement to student learning. This section will describe what used wisely actually means and how teachers can best take advantage of the potential that IWBs offer. Reference will be made as to how IWBs can enhance the educational environment in a Productive Pedagogies context. Productive Pedagogies has been chosen as it incorporates an array of teaching strategies that support classroom environments, and are implemented across all key learning and year levels. As such all teachers, whatever their teaching context, should be able to engage and extract relevance from the concepts of e-teaching. For more information regarding Productive Pedagogies is contained on Education Queensland Web Site. e-teaching to Promote Intellectual Quality within Students Learning. Higher-order thinking and substantive conversations are indicators of the level of intellectual quality within the classroom. To promote higher-order thinking teachers need to create classroom activities that allow the class to manipulate information, and through this information ideas to help students explore various implications and construct their own knowledge. Teachers should assist in this process by leading conversations of intellectual substance. They should facilitate a dialogue between within the class such that the students gain a greater understanding of the concepts being taught, rather than focusing the students on being able to recite the content of the lesson. The content of a traditional whiteboard lesson is not very interactive. Often once the content has been written on the board in order to explore an idea with the class that content is probably erased and re-written in a different form. Reverting to the original content is often not possible without another process of erasing and re-writing. Interacting with content printed on paper is often even more difficult. 3

4 IWBs, either via lessons created within its proprietary software or via the use of various forms of learning objects allows for content with which the class can interact. Through this interaction with the content of the IWB teachers can: Examples promote higher order thinking, easily shifting the students focus from merely remembering the content of the board to gaining an deep understanding of concept being taught lead substantive conversations that allow the class to create or negotiate understanding of the subject matter present knowledge as problematic rather than fixed, open to multiple interpretations. Jolly Phonics This activity is used to support the Jolly Phonics program. The class is asked to sort the images depending on whether they begin with the sound identified in the oval. Information is not presented as fixed; rather through dialogue students are encouraged to find multiple correct answers for each image (eg. Banana or fruit ) Reading blends (Kindergarten / Year 1) This lesson is one of a series developing student understanding of chunking and spelling. This lesson would start with verbally pronouncing the blend, brainstorming on the IWB (not shown) words the students know that contain the particular blend, finally moving to matching beginning blends with ending sounds to spell words. A visual of the word has been added to make clear the word we are trying to spell. As a whole class we would read the blends in blue, discuss the pictures (What do you think the picture is of?) and then match them together. It was great to see students correctly and incorrectly match a beginning sound with an ending part due to the rich discussion we could have to solve the word. 4

5 Learning Objects and Digital Activities The internet is full of interactive games for students, and there are many excellent activities that schools can purchase. There are many valid uses for these types of resources within a literacy program. Teachers can model or guide a class through an activity or concept before students complete their learning activity individually. These types of resources are engaging for students and provide the class with a source of content that can easily be manipulated. By leading the class through the interactive elements of these resources teachers can generate rich discussions that relate to the concept being taught. Through these discussions teachers are able to probe for understanding and promote higher order thinking. The activities shown are from the Ideal Resources Primary Games collection. ( Sentence Building Within this activity the class will initially choose one of the pictures of Matt and then choose the correct words to make a statement describing the picture. Once completed, students may be asked to rearrange the words to create a question, ie. Is Matt running?, or to make a statement that Matt might say, ie. I am running. In this way teachers can lead a discussion about the grammatical structure of statements and questions. 5

6 e-teaching To Engage Students With Real, Practical Or Hypothetical Problems That Connect To Their World. Using an e-teaching approach the class can capture the students world digitally and then use what is captured as part of the lesson. In this way teachers promote connectedness within the classroom. Productive Pedagogies describes connectedness as making a connection to the larger social context, adding value and meaning beyond the instructional context. Basing lessons on real world problems and students personal experiences are often measures of the degree of connectedness within a class. In one way an IWB is just a touch screen computer the size of a regular whiteboard as such devices or programs that operate on a computer will run on an IWB. In a classroom context this results in a wide range of digital tools being able to converge through the IWB. Taking advantage of this convergence, IWB technology allows teachers to modify the context of the lesson. Through this interaction with the context of the lesson teachers can: connect the classes learning to the world beyond the classroom engage the students in learning that is relevant to their everyday life ensure that the curriculum has a real world focus. Examples News After each student had their turn of telling news to the whole class they were given the opportunity to autograph the IWB news page. Students were eager to write their names and also wanted to learn to spell their middle names and surnames to write them too. This gave teachers the chance to see individual student letter formations and draw conclusions about their fine motor skills. It was made more effective by the use of their photos. Student s handwriting samples could be saved and shown to them later in the year, demonstrating how much they had improved. 6

7 Group Editing Students written work can be scanned and placed on the IWB as the starting point for a group discussion. In this activity would make suggestions on how the scanned text could be edited for improvement, from spelling and grammar to whether the text meets the form of the appropriate genre. Context for the lesson was generated by a peer, student interest in and engagement with the activity is greatly enhanced. Negotiating Text for Literacy Lessons For literacy activities teachers can enhance relevance and engagement by allowing the class to choose the source of the text to be examined. Once the text has been chosen then pre-existing teaching strategies can apply. In this case the text was sourced from a new paper web site. Students who do not normally engage in books could be motivated to read and complete language exercises by downloading newspaper articles from the Internet. For teenage boys, articles from the sport pages can often engage their attention. It is very simple to create cloze exercises from text captured in this way. (In this example students have changed the colour of the proper nouns) e-teaching to capture thoughts and ideas that can assist in the development of metacognition skills and structured reflection. For teachers, critically reflecting on the effectiveness of their lessons is problematic. The creation of professional reflective journals is time consuming and often unrealistic within a busy school day. Insightful and constructive thoughts about lessons are easily lost over time. 7

8 Students in the modern world need to learn how to learn. This often requires the sharing and collection of problem solving strategies amongst a class. How can a teacher easily facilitate a class to capture and share mental problem solving strategies? IWBs and ICTs have the ability to quickly capture thoughts and reflections using audio visual recording. These captured thoughts can then form the basis of both in class and later reflection. Students can revisit their thoughts in order to better understand the learning process and structure their reflection. They can learn to learn. Examples Students were asked to reflect on spelling strategies for a range of different groups of words. Students could then replay these reflections during later lessons to examine the variety of strategies that are used within the class, and further refine their own spelling strategies. Students create an audio recording on the IWB of their news presentation. Over a number of weeks the students build up a number of these recordings. Either individually or as a group students can listen to these recordings reflecting up areas for commendation and areas for further improvement. Over time students can hear the improvement in their speaking skills and identify within themselves further areas for improvement. At the end of a lesson, the teacher makes a short second audio commentary regarding the strengths, weaknesses and future ideas for a lesson just taught. This audio is saved with the lesson. Some time later the audio recording can be used to prompt professional reflection that could either be personal or shared amongst a group of teachers. Students can scan a piece of their work and attach an audio commentary describing aspects of their learning relevant to what they have accomplished while it is fresh in their minds. Later, during a 3 Way Interview process a teacher can retrieve the work and replay the audio reflection in order to scaffold the student into the interview, and review and describe their learning process. 8

9 Evolution to e-teaching IWBs, and e-teaching, are still relatively new. Teaching with an IWB is an evolutionary process. Teachers at Richardson often began by reproducing what they were doing on a conventional whiteboard. The teachers evolved their pedagogy as they began to teach with IWBs. As they explored various features of the technology and gained in confidence the ways in which they used the IWB, tapping its potential increased. The rate in which the teachers changed their pedagogy varied between individuals. There was no jump needed to take advantage of the new technology, rather a series of small steps based around the e-teaching concepts that were taken when teachers felt comfortable. e-teaching: A Work in Progress The introduction of Interactive Whiteboards at Richardson Primary School has been an outstanding success by almost any measure. The key to the success has been the pedagogy that has been developed to take advantage of the possibilities that the technology provides. The use of interactive whiteboards within the classroom is still a relatively new concept and as such the pedagogies that underpin this use are constantly developing and expanding, e-teaching is very much a work in progress. References Higgins, S. and Moseley, D. (2001). Teachers thinking about ICT and learning: beliefs and outcomes. Teacher Development. Reading Online accessed June Queensland Department of Education. (2002). A Guide To Productive Pedagogies Classroom Reflection Manual. British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA). (2003). What The Research Says About Interactive Whiteboards. 9

10 Acknowledgements The development of e-teaching would not have been possible without the dedicated professionalism of the teaching staff at Richardson Primary. We both acknowledge and thank them for their efforts. 10

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