Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thinking about where to next with IT

This year has been my first year of teaching a Year 7 and a Year 8 class for Information Technology. As a primary trained teacher who hasn't been fulltime in the classroom for the last 5 years it was exciting yet challenging at the same time. Particularly as I had to rethink my ideas about assessment, class structure, class management etc.
For example, as primary teacher I am used to having extended blocks of time where as a class we could go off on a tangent or run with an idea that the students have come up with, or explore something deeply and make up for lost time later. The absolutely most frustrating thing I found about teaching secondary students was the time limit. 48 minutes periods in an IT class is a ridiculously short amount of time to ensure that we had the time to talk and think and learn before getting to the computers. And of course the kids always wanted to get to the computers straight away.
It also meant that the end of lessons were often chaotic with shouts of SAVE your work as they were rushing out the door to the next class. This was instead of the lovely "okay everyone lets come together and think and talk about what we have learnt today" that I was used to as a primary teacher.
Teaching older students also came with the delightful "why do we have to do this" "this is boring" responses- not that I didn't get that as a primary teacher although I did mainly teach elementary students so it was rarer.
Having said that though I was somewhat surprised sometimes as I really tried hard to provide some (what I thought) were pretty stimulating lessons and activities.
But that's okay, it just challenges me more.
I actually did a survey with the kids last week and asked them things like what did they enjoy the most, what did they least enjoy, was there anything I could have done better, did they understand my instructions, was I approachable when they had difficulties.
On the whole the comments were very positive. But one interesting thing was that almost all kids said they hated blogging and they loved creating their digital portfolios.
So that got me thinking that maybe what I should do is think more about using wikis as a way to have the kids document more of what they are thinking (blogging) but make it more possible to express themselves like they like to do in their digital portfolios.
The Cool Cat teacher blog has some great ideas for ways to use wikis that I think I might try.
I'm thinking that this might be the way to kill two birds with one stone....maybe.


Vicki A. Davis said...

Great post. I think one of the benefits of blogging is being introspective (albeit for the world to see!)

One thing that helps me is a beginning and ending routine for my class. Each class "concludes" at five minutes until the bell rings. That gives time for printer problems, saving problems, replacing paper in the printer problems, etc.

Wikis are great. I use a question of the week for my blogs and students usually like it. Ifyou need help with wikis, let me know.

AnnieB said...

thanks Vicki. This next year I have asked to have double periods which effectively means about an hour and a half each time. That will make it so much easier to allow for the discussion and beginning and ending of lessons as you mentioned. I'm interested in your question of the week. Can you direct me to where on your blog or website you might have discussed that? thanks.
PS I hope that I can join your next skypecast. It was so disappointing to miss it.