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Bridging the Gap between the CANS and the CANNOTS. - Mayfair School 2011

GOAL:

Increase capability of teachers and principals to improve students’ learning and achievement through e-learning

 SPECIFIC FOCUS:

Increase teacher competence and confidence in use of ICT to impact student learning

 BACKGROUND:

  • Mayfair School is a decile 2 contributing Primary School

  • We are part of the MagpieICTCluster in the Hawkes Bay.

  • We have 293 students with 14 teacher staff

 

CONTEXT: “What was important for us and why?

 We had a wide range of teacher competency with ICT, when we first started in the cluster.  However the majority of our teachers felt less than confident with using a computer for purposes other than publishing, taking the roll and emails. Digital cameras were being used widely within the school, but processing and editing was  being done by the teacher. The purposes for which computers were used in the classrooms were mainly ‘early finishers, keep busy’ type activities.  It’s important to note not all teachers were at this level, but there was a number who were.   

The main issues were

  • lack of confidence

  • lack of resourcing

  • lack of understanding and ability

Through surveying the staff the main indicators can be noted in the summary.

 We needed a system that would start to scaffold teachers in these deficits in order to ensure our students were exposed to e-learning technology and to change the mindset about the ‘scariness’ of computers and digital devices.


What did we do?

  • Buddy Classes: One of our more pro-active strategies.  Matched as close as possible younger with older students, combined with confident with less confident teachers.  (actually matched up pretty well).

  • Extra buddy time with Lead Teacher class (during Orchestra sessions, teacher was free, so took another class with their teacher at this time).  This encouraged teachers and students to continue the skills or activities during their own class time.

  • Cluster Facilitator: taught/modelled lessons to classes with less confident teachers, this helped to break down the ‘fear’ barriers, particularly with younger students, as older buddies weren’t used here and the lessons were seen as being successful regardless of the presence of an older child.  Some of these teachers then started to do more independent work away from their buddy classes..

  • An online central resource or reference: ‘Mayfairmagpiewiki’ icon for this was placed on the notices page (smartnet), easily accessible for teachers.  A ‘how to’ and ‘where to’ source of information.

  • Other interesting ‘sites to try’ made as screen shots on the welcome page of our intranet

  • Collaborative e-learning planning:  teams would complete a planning form together specifically linking e-learning to the ‘3R’s’ and integrated topic for that term.  Reviewed/added to mid and end of term.

  • Cluster workshops: teachers attended workshops of teachers from within the cluster, designed to attend courses matching their goal

  • One to one time with Lead Teacher.

All of these elements have been designed or steered toward changing the mindsets and encouraging the less confident/interested staff members

 

Key Results and Reflection:  “What happened?  

 Many Buddy classes met once a week or fortnight:

  • Less confident teachers need this form of scaffolding to show them ‘how to’ do the process and teach/manage the process

  • When teachers see a process in action they transfer it into their own class, on most occasions consolidation was required, but the transfer was still able to happen in stages.

  • Children exposed to a process will often lead their teachers, mainly in the classes where children had a particularly interest such as comic life or google earth in one instance.

  • Teachers were learning off students from the buddy class.  Teachers with less confidence are willing to use senior students as their own teachers.  In some instances these senior buddy children were occasionally pulled out of class to help in the junior room.

  • Greater confidence with ‘cows’ = greater use.  Hence force the set of 16 laptops combined with our 2-3 R1s in each class are not enough at present.

  • Greater use of laptops etc = higher internet usage.  In face the usage doubled and to cope with this we had to install a new server.

  • Some buddies didn’t meet. An accountability process would help.  Some buddy classes found it hard to co-ordinate a time.  Some teachers were not keen to buddy up making it more difficult for their buddy class to meet.  A rotation may also help here.

  • Less confident teachers enjoy the buddy process.  The older/younger buddy classes work really well for teachers and children.

Teams started to collaborate and integrate e-learning into their planning using a template on our school server.

  • Teams initially completed this form as they planned for the term.  One person in each team (usually the strongest in ICT) tended to take the lead and contribute the most.

  • As the term went on teams were not reviewing or adding to this

  • Some teams didn’t contribute

  • Some teams printed the form and wrote on it

  • The success of this within each team was very dependant on the attitude  and e-learning competence of the team leader.

  • An overall result is that teachers stopped using computers etc for ‘catch up’ or earlier finishers as much and started linking activities to Learning intentions etc.  Teachers were also venturing past the microsoft word for pubishing concept and getting creative in how they presented children’s learning and how they introduced children to learning new concepts etc.

 The use of blogs and wikis as an online learning tool/space increased.  Teachers were more willing to give this idea a go.

  • Some teachers with greater confidence started their own class blog or contributed to a team blog.

  • Less confident teachers started to contribute to team blogs, however when it comes to actually uploading or blogging as such they still need help.  BUT they get material ready for this.  Embedding is a difficult process for them.

  • Blogging is used very simply by most teachers who are less confident, but they’re asking for help to do the ‘flash’ stuff, as opposed to lack of interest or desire to do it.

  • Wikis are used in their classes as a resource for children, ie a links page.  They do use these well, however none of our less confident teachers are able to edit a wiki as yet.  

  • Retaining ‘how to’ set up or edit a blog or a wiki is really hard for the less confident teachers.  ¾ of these teachers are interested though, but frustrated in the process.


Overall the use of ICT within the classrooms has moved on from ‘fill the gap’ or ‘treats’ to incorporated learning, linking to specific learning outcomes.  Teachers are consolidating, introducing and producing now.

 Less confident teachers are still very dependant when learning new concepts and forget ‘how to’ very quickly, but their desire to use e-learning in the classroom has shifted, even if it’s just slightly.

     Eg:  

In our survey taken in November this year, one teacher recorded that she does not independently use laptops with her junior class and she does not feel overly confident in her personal use of the computer.  However later on in this survey she also states she uses her class computers less for early finishers and most dominantly as a consolidation tool.  She also states she will use laptops with her buddy class and how the children really benefit from and enjoy these sessions.  Her goal for 2012 is to be able to use and create a class blog.  This person’s attitude was initially very negative and fearful of e-learning.  

What have we learned?

 As a school we need to:

  1. Be aware that people are fearful of what they don’t understand.   Expectations can be subtly intensified over time.
  2. Hold team leaders and staff accountable to processes they want done in the school.  Sharing and reporting during staff meetings can be such a platform.
  3. Ensure teachers are equipped with a basic tool kit of ICT skills, and ensure staff are held accountable to achieving these.
  4. Provide staff and children with the tools to achieve these outcomes.  See the need/demand and meet it.  
  5. Ensure there is a strong leadership model set up for staff to follow
  6. Ensure staff are using devices/tools in the best possible way to ensure learning outcomes are achieved, ensure that the staff are fully aware of the implementation plan.

What are our next steps?

Based on our own findings and feedback from teachers

  1. Planning:  Create greater accountability.  Planning on google doc, linked to the mayfairmagpiewiki.  Review and reflect during staff meetings three times a term (15minute sessions)
  2. Buddy System:  
  • Create greater accountability - buddy teams share their discoveries, activities at staff meetings and assemblies.
  • Create a tool kit of skills to be achieved within the year. (for teachers)

 Focus on  3 main online tools: Google docs, symbaloo, blogspot

  1.  Introduce a second platform to staff and students, such as Ipads.
  2.  Continue with one to one and small group sessions: create better structure, timing, content.


Other relevant links: