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Use of ICT Tools in Teaching Practice to Enrich Student Learning at Firth Primary School

Firth Primary School is located in the township of Matamata, New Zealand. We are a co-educational school and cater for children from year 0-6. At Firth we aim to provide learners with the values, knowledge and competencies that will enable them to grown and flourish and to become successful 21st century learners. At Firth learning is a partnership between home, school and the wider community providing students with positive learning opportunities.

The Focus
Our action plan for the ICT contract this year is focused on sustaining and enhancing teacher use of ICT tools in their teaching practice to enrich student learning. Staff and students are building their confidence and strengthening their use of e-Learning in their everyday teaching and learning allowing students to become effective 21st century learners.

The Rationale
This focus was based on meeting the needs of our staff and students in becoming effective 21st century facilitators and learners respectively. Therefore, we based our focus on our vision and mission statements, strategic plan, community survey and student progress in curriculum areas. Our annual targets were also influenced by national and cluster e-learning goals and success indicators.

What did you do?
• Class blogs became compulsory throughout the school.
• Blogs were used by teachers to enhance everyday learning.
• Students were encouraged to continue using the blogs at school and home to support their learning.
• An ICT teacher support group was developed, this group was available to develop teachers knowledge and support them with any computer issues that needed to be resolved.
• ICT extension groups had specific time to develop skills and knowledge in programmes used within the school. They were taught how to up date and maintain Firth News Blog. These students were also able to support teachers with programmes used in their teaching.
• Leasing interactive teaching stations for some of the junior classes to facilitate their daily teaching practice.
• Purchased 2 new data projectors and RED sound system for senior rooms to enhance daily teaching.
• Upgrade of some classroom computers.
• Extra digital cameras purchased for children to use.
• New sound system was purchased for the multipurpose room.
• Encourage the use of web 0.2 tools in the classroom and at home.
• Utilised Cluster facilitator for staff PD.
• Purchased a new server.
What happened?
• Every Wednesday a blogging group met to set up and develop classroom blogs (One term).
• Our school ICT group (teaching staff) made their time available to support staff when they needed help with any ICT issue.
• Expert blogger available after the first term for one on one help.
• Teachers have been finding and adding new programmes to their blogs to increase student learning.
• Students in the ICT extension group maintained the blog and explored new learning across a variety of programmes.
• Junior teachers had PD to learn about their new teaching stations. They embraced the new technology and used it to motivate and inspire learners and to raise the learning in their classrooms.
• New hardware, cameras, projectors etc., used to record, edit and share school life to our community.
• Judi Buckley visited teachers and shared her patience and wisdom with our staff to develop their steadily growing knowledge.
• Every classroom has their own classroom folder on the server where information can be stored and accessed by the students and the classroom teacher.
• A common folder is available where school wide information can be stored for teachers to access.

Kids Talk

What did you learn?
The more we that used e-Learning tools in our classroom the more we realised that trial and error was an important part in learning to grow and flourish with IT in our fast changing world. We found that students were extending their learning beyond the classroom by accessing information and data via school blogs. Children and parents frequently left positive and constructive comments and often requested specific information to be uploaded to our blogs. Teachers and students have enjoyed the ease at which websites and 2.0 tools can be accessed and revisited as required. New pedagogical practises and learning has become evident throughout the school and the frequency at which IT is used by both teachers and students reflects our changing attitudes and increased enthusiasm towards e-Learning in todays digitalised climate.

Next steps?
• To sustain teacher and student knowledge.
• Encourage teachers to continue with ICT PD.
• ICT group (Teaching) to facilitate PD sessions during the year.
• ICT group (Teaching) continue with support for staff.
• Extension group sessions to maintain Firth News Blog.
• Continue to up grade school hardware.
• Review school policies due to the rate at which the technologies change.