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ICT Integration: So how did it go?

Snake, Bye

I tried out this ICT task in class the today. The following are some notes on how it went and changes I would make.

  • Engagement – Students were quite excited by how the task was introduced. I made a reference to schoolies week (and the connection that had to accommodation options on the Gold Coast) which gained their attention. A few students had heard of the Q1 building and at least a few students were familiar with its status as the worlds tallest residential building and Australia’s tallest building. They also were energised as I suggested that the textbook exercises they had been doing were simply the same question, with cosmetic changes, ad nauseum. When I explained that they could actually work out the heights of structures in Google Earth by measuring the length of their shadows, a number of students were audibly excited by the prospect. So far so good.
  • On-task / Off-task – Roughly half the class was primarily engaged in on-task behaviour throughout the lesson. For the rest, any small hurdles to overcome quickly resulted in off-task behaviour. Some problems and attempted solutions are included;
    • Inexplicably, some student’s accounts didn’t have Google Earth installed (although it is meant to be on every student account). This was relatively easy to deal with as they were working in pairs and having the other student log in usually sorted this out. If not, I was able to log the students in on my account.
    • No internet credit. Yes, unfortunately the college I am placed at charges students for their internet access. I feel strongly about this inequity and had suggested to students before the task if they weren’t happy to use their own quota, I would log them in. This wasn’t an issue but it chewed through a little bit of time.
    • Uncertainty about how to calculate heights. Some of the weaker students struggled to calculate scale factors, let alone apply them. I directed these students to a modeled example on the whiteboard and asked them to query me again if they were still unsure. Using an IWB in this situation would have been great.

All of these small issues rapidly resulted in off-task behaviour such as checking email. re-skinning their student portal page, or searching for the house they were partying at one the weekend.

For next time ….

If I were to run this task again I would make sure I could get access to a room with an IWB or data projector such that I could model the task. Presenting a series of escalatingly challenging problems as a guided lesson with modelling at each step may have helped to reduce off-task behaviour and student engagement. This would not necessarily detract from the exploratory nature of the task as some time could be left for more open ended task, after the guided tasks were completed. Students would also be better equiped to deal with an open exploration and more comfortable working in the Google Earth environment.

Despite the issues I experienced, I would definitely teach this lesson again. Those students who engaged with the task were enjoying themselves whilst doing maths problems (a major breakthrough for some students) and I feel they satisfied the learning objectives (though I did not assess this formally). Improvements in classroom management, and structuring the task to give students greater direction would allow a greater fraction of the class to enjoy and gain understanding from the lesson. As previously stated, an IWB or computer with a data projector would have been a useful tool such that I could model tasks and capture student attention when required.

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