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ICT2LRN Reflective Summary 6, December 2012

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Who are we?

The ICT2LRN Cluster comprises of 10 schools across the Southland Region, based around Invercargill.

Where: Southland

ICT-PD Cohort: 2010

What was important for us?

Our two main areas of focus were to showcase and celebrate our progress while planning for that momentum to continue into next year. We had developed a cluster of schools with a wide range of elearning abilities and expertise and we wanted to share this progress with our parent communities.

It was also important that this progress continued into 2013 and all Principal’s expressed a desire to continue working together with the professional relationships that we had formed over the last three years.

Why was this important?

It was obvious to Principals and Lead Teachers that most, if not all, teachers had become much more confident and positive about the integration of elearning into their classroom programmes. It was important that this progress continued into 2013 and all Principal’s expressed a desire to continue working together with the professional relationships that we had formed over the last three years.

What we did.

Our cluster activities were focussed on three areas. We developed the use of Teaching as Inquiry in our appraisal systems, further built on our Inquiry Model processes, and continuing to integrate the use of ICT tools and eLearning into our classroom curriculum. 

Teaching as Inquiry

This year schools were given the option of continuing with using the teacher inquiry as a development tool for their staff. The schools that did continue decided to incorporate their appraisal systems and goals with their teacher inquiries. They found that guiding teachers towards a school wide goal, and allowing them to chose personal inquiry goals that helped meet the school wide goal gave the best of two worlds – personal choice and ownership together with a combined common focus 

Some schools also found that having a Teacher inquiry goal for the year gave teachers the time to develop and reflect on their progress in little bite sized chunks. This gave them the space needed to build on their teaching strategies and spread the workload over a larger period of time.

Inquiry Process

All schools used Inquiry as a context to develop their use of eLearning over the length of the 3 years and they also took the opportunity to develop their planning and assessment processes. Most have developed the use of The Kath Murdoch Model and adapted it to their own school curriculum.

This semester many schools worked on deepening their assessment rubrics and matrices to help teacher better assess student achievement and age bands of understandings or ‘best fits’. Many worked on developing the planning for student ‘knowledge’, skills and ‘attitudes’.

Schools have worked on different strategies to develop their inquiry understandings with their students. Two schools are building some ‘discovery time’ and mini inquiries for their junior classes. They are finding new ways to incorporate thinking tools and questioning strategies, also and furthering the use of these in class. 

ICT  / eLearning Integration

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The big event this semester was the cluster Media Awards in Term 4. All schools created and entered a range of media for judging by local experts from their respected industries. We involved radio personalities and photography lecturers and even a BBC Producer to judge and give feedback on the categories.

The awards evening was held at the Ascot Hotel and attended by over 700 parents and students from across the cluster. The biggest spin off from the event was that schools commented on the benefit of an authentic audience for their classes and increased ICT skills as a result. Schools also enjoyed seeing the range of media being produced and the obvious links to student learning.

We also uploaded each winning entry to the cluster YouTube page and the result is a wonderful resource of expert examples of media in a wide range of categories and ages!

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Students and teachers are very motivated for next year’s event and already planning what they will do and create in their schools.

Schools have worked to increase their access to technology and build more robust infrastructure across their schools. They have bought more iPads, laptops and opened up BYOD policies across their senior teams. Principals are working hard to develop a wireless network that can be sustainable for multiple devices being used at once, an important part of preparing for the expected growth in device numbers across their schools, whether student or school owned.

Schools have also continued to develop their teacher and student knowledge base across the cluster. They are holding ‘in school’ techie workshops for both teachers and students and the ‘student expert’ model (tech angels etc.) is widely used.

What happened as a result?

One of the best ways for us to measure the progress of the cluster has been the 2 surveys completed in Term 1, 2011 and then again in Term 4, 2012. Here are some of our findings and how they relate to our cluster goals.

2011 Survey Results

2012 Survey Results

Survey Results – Summary 2011 - 2012

 

Goal 1

 

  • Higher level of student confidence and independence
  • Increased use of student / classroom blogs, mobile devices, presentation tools and IWB resources.

 

 

Goal 2 - 3

 

  • Reported increase in teacher use of tools.
  • More web2.0 tools, school networks and online sites being used in classrooms.
  • More teachers are sharing with other colleagues online through twitter, blogs and other social media sites.
  • There are more students displaying safe online behaviour at school and at home.
  • Teachers are reporting a greater understanding of effective eLearning pedagogy.
  • School curriculums are better reflecting the potential of eLearning for student achievement.
  • There is greater utilisation of school SMS systems.
  • Increased access to an effective range of ICT tools and resources across the schools. 

 

 

Goal 4

 

  • Students have more opportunities to share their learning with families.
  • There is little reported change in the uptake of parents / whanau taking opportunities to engage with student learning.
  • Slight increase in schools giving their communities opportunities to provide feedback about ICT development in schools.
  • There are increased digital connections between home and school.

 

 

Goal 5

 

  • More teachers are using the Internet for professional reflection and their eLearning development.
  • More teachers are sharing their skills and knowledge online.

 

What have we learned?

Over the last 3 years the ICT2LRN cluster has learned three important factors that determine successful PD towards ICT integration and eLearning for our schools.

  1. ELearning and ICT tools are very important tools and strategies that can lift student achievement and are best used when integrated and embed in a school’s curriculum, teacher practice and classroom programmes. They are best utilised when they are a natural part of the learning process and not an extra or focus of the learning.

“ICT tools are another item in our tool box and like any tool, they need be balanced with other tools.”  Cluster Principal

  1. The PD development of teachers takes time and a differentiated approach. What works for one teacher may not work for another and School leaders successfully drive expertise when they plan for different levels of motivation, experience and aptitude. For those less able or willing it has been important to set small achievable goals and adequately resource teachers with the time and space to observe, trial, think and reflect.
  1. Schools have discovered the importance of having access to equipment (more iPads, for example!) and a robust infrastructure to cope with the increased demand for wireless and server capacity. Principals have also found the benefits of having open filtering on web access and the need to consistently update and address school policies on Internet use, BYOD agreements and student cyber safety guidelines.

 What are our next steps?

Our principals want to develop a network of passionate lead teachers who will meet, share and plan for future initiatives that will continue the progress the cluster has made. We would like to organise another Media Awards event and techies for teachers and students.

We also wish to develop a resource bank of contacts for teacher expertise. This would give schools a contact point should they want help or development with a certain ICT tool or strategy in the future.

Comments

  • Brenda Matthews

    Kia ora - I am new to elearning and have been impressed with the level of commitment from this group - when looking at the goals - I can see where I personally fit into achieving some of these goals and how I can become more confident in using ict - note the use of angels i have heard of before but  have not utilised in my class room - I will make this a priority next year - in 2013 - naku noa - brenda matthews