Technology is amazing, inspiring, fun and can help us within such a broad spectrum of tasks. And yet we all know of colleagues that anxiously choose to avoid using any form of technology if they can help it.
Our children are growing-up surrounded by technology, so let’s embrace that and be excited to use it with them. There will be jobs available to them that don’t even exist yet. Of course there are times when using technology isn’t the best fit, and that’s just fine too - it’s all about choosing the best tool for the job.
IT can be embedded in all other subjects and
sometimes it’s easy to forget that we have to teach basic Digital Literacy
skills in order to progress to other things. Geography may decide to make a bar
graph to represent rainfall… “But Sir! We don’t know how to make a bar graph…”
Communication cross-department is key. What are your colleagues' expectations
of students in their subjects? What skills will they need to have in place to
succeed and progress?
Attitudes to IT will vary greatly - some
colleagues are always keen to learn, others will stick with what they know.
Making IT fun can greatly help colleagues open to trying something new and also
Embedding IT can be done in so many different
ways… it doesn’t always have to be done using a computer! ‘Unplugged’ tasks can
encourage and develop computational thinking and start conversations about
sequencing and algorithms. Reception students have an excellent grasp already
of the importance of order when getting dressed. “You can’t wear your pants
over your trousers!” Can Food Technology create an algorithm for making pizzas?
Once again, students already know and understand the importance of correct
instructions. No-one turned the oven on? Has anyone forgotten the cheese?
Beebots make excellent route markers for the
school dog… Can the Beebot complete the route before Fido does?
Encouraging and embracing technology not only
excites your students, but colleagues will be keen to see what you are doing.
Can you run a CPD session for them? Doesn’t have to be anything too fancy or
time-consuming - or maybe invite a colleague into your lesson so they can see
the IT in full-swing. Primary school students in particular love showing other
teachers what they are achieving and demonstrating something new to you… “Let
me show you!”
We all enjoy using different technologies -
and this will carry over into the classroom. If you have someone with a passion
for Lego, maybe they could run an afterschool Lego Club? Is someone great with
animation? Maybe they could run a Scratch club? Robotics, Coding, Programming,
Animation… IT is not just about making a spreadsheet (albeit a useful skill to
learn…) Some of these clubs don’t have to be done in school either. In times
when our classrooms sometimes need to be virtual, consider Virtual After-School
clubs where ‘bubbles’ can happily mix again. What about an Online Art Gallery
to display your students work?
Sharing good practise with colleagues both in
and out of school is something we should all be proactive about. Someone may
have a new app to showcase, maybe a project they’d like to show off? We all
benefit from seeing how others do things - it can both inspire and reassure.
ICT Coordinators in Primaries may find that by communicating with their local
Secondary Schools, they can plan a learning path for students that will help
with Primary / Secondary transition. Finances are also a factor here. Schools
are increasingly having to think of creative and resourceful ways to budget.
Can you share equipment with other local schools? There are lots of
considerations… How often does the kit rotate schools? How do you keep an eye
on damage? Is there a process for paying for repairs? How is the kit
transported? (Plus the inevitable cleaning…) If done efficiently, this concept
of a Kit Library enables a large number of students to benefit from some really
exciting and innovative technology but at a fraction of the cost.
Local businesses are also a great way of
bringing technology into your classroom. Might they sponsor a project? Could
they run a workshop for you? Again, collaborating with other schools can help
financially and makes for a great Newsletter story.
When we use the phrase ‘IT Skills’, different
people think about different things. Often your subject will dictate what you
feel is a priority. Some may think about Word Processing, Spreadsheets,
Presentations, Databases… Others will think of Touch Typing. For younger
students we may start thinking about hand-eye coordination. Many Reception students
will come into your classroom fully adept with using an iPad, but have no idea
what a mouse is.
There are a range of apps available that
encourage hand-eye coordination, for both Apple and Android equipment, New to
using apps in school? Reach out to colleagues for advice, use the power of
Social Media, things like #CASChat and ask folk that have been there, done
IT skills can also encompass Online Safety,
Internet Research and Information Reliability. Whilst Online Safety needs to be
done with a certain element of sensibility, using trusted and reliable
resources, both Internet Research and Information Reliability can be done in
all sorts of ways. Some of us are old enough to remember the Spaghetti Tree in
Panorama - (too young?! Google it…) There are some excellent resources about
believing what we read on the Internet. Can you create a website? It may be
slightly time-consuming, but you’ll use it again and again… you can constantly
update and amend and your students will be amazed and no doubt impressed that
you made it!
Essentially embedding IT into your classroom and ultimately the ethos of your school is key to students learning. Industry is telling us that young people are arriving at the workplace with a lack of Digital Skills. It is our responsibility to ensure we start them on the right path. As educators it is our task to enthuse and encourage the use of technology for a variety of tasks. To not be put-off if something goes wrong… How many of us abandon the printer when there’s an error, rather than seeing if we can fix it? Some of your young people may be curious to see if they can help..”Our printer at home does this, Miss…” Every subject can use technology in some way or another. It may not be obvious or ‘usual’ but that shouldn’t matter. Evidence what you are doing, both for parents /.carers but also for your colleagues. Be proud of both your achievements and your student’s achievements with technology - communicate with people at home about the kit you’ve been using. When the students enjoy using technology, they will talk about it, they will want to discover more. Think diversity - GCSE Computer Science is still notoriously boy-heavy. Let’s try and move that along… There are some excellent role models out there; let’s try and create some more for future generations!