National ICT Pedagogy Packages

Introduction

There are 12 Professional Learning Packages developed for use by pre-service teachers. The packages are examples of ICT pedagogy that should illustrate the intent of the ICT dimensions of the national standards. The packages vary in quality and usefulness in our opinion. This is not necessarily the opinion of USQ or its staff.

USQ is undertaking a review of the packages collecting opinion from multiple staff and students. The following questions guide the response to the review.

• Do they exemplify good use of ICT?
• Are they pedagogically sound and meet curriculum needs?
• Can the packages be used in courses, in part or in full and how?
• Do the students and staff recognise how using technology supports the curriculum and/or the pedagogy (TPACK components)?
• Do the packages assist students to think about ICT pedagogy and do they sponsor powerful conversations or significant personal reflections?
 

Completed reviews are available from Digital Learning Futures for those people interested.  Extracts below describe the package and make a general comment on their usefulness.

The packages are available at the Teaching Teachers to the Future site. You will require a login to the Learning Federation to view the packages.

Recommended packages

English Early Years

English years 5-8

Early years maths

Maths years 9-10

Science year 10

Note: We think all packages have strengths; especially since the background materials and resources make them all worth a browse. We have not highly recommended many of them because either the ICT use in the package is not exemplary or because the curriculum idea is not as powerful as it could be. Most preservice teachers will use the packages to create a set of thoughts about more creative uses of ICT and more creative lesson and unit ideas. We have summarised each package below, so you can choose which ones are most useful to you. 

Summary of the packages

 ENGLISH: Early Years

Creating Multimodal texts. Who am I? Creating personal narratives

This package explores how you might plan and teach a unit of English in which students learn to analyse and create multimodal texts. The core idea is that students will use digital photographs from a school event or one with which they are familiar to analyse how to communicate meaning (and feelings) and then construct a personal narrative from three photographs by overlaying multimodal elements. It involves the teacher using a white board as a projector and students using a Photostory piece of software.

The idea is good, solid and simple. Teachers who generally provide students with this opportunity to develop digital stories as multimodal texts using ICT are meeting the demands of the new national curriculum and meeting the expectations that teachers and students use ICT purposefully in classrooms for learning. The package describes how the package meets national curriculum goals and how the lesson ideas are demonstrating the national standards for teachers. In doing this, they point to the relevant dimensions (or their content and intent), without specifically referencing them.
The videos of the teacher explaining her unit are just terrific.


ENGLISH: years 5-8

Living English through Multimodal texts: Exploring “The Lost thing”


This package explores how you might plan and teach a unit of English in which students learn to analyse and create multimodal texts in quite a creative idea. They are asked to develop an audio recording of a character in a style that reflects a character  as portrayed in a  book. It is an example of higher order thinking that requires students to use their deep understanding of a character to construct a new text. It is a good teaching idea in many respects and one presented well in this package.

The technology used is simple but it is the perfect fit for the job. It really demonstrates that if the teacher has a good interpretation of their curriculum and the pedagogical skills to facilitate student learning for that purpose, the use of ICT can be simple and straight forward but highly effective. Although we recommend this package, we believe the package needs to have a much stronger description of Technology Knowledge. There is a focus on pretty trivial technical skills, when the most powerful use of the technology is more about the use of technology to communicate and create and how technology can improve how we access and understand ideas in texts.Thus the asessment of ICT in the assessment session is trivial and poorly constructed. It is a missed opportunity. Even so, the actual use of technology in the unit idea and lessons is great.

ENGLISH Years 9-10

Lesson plan Tweeting Shakespeare.

This package explores a Year 9 English class working on soliloquies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Students will distil the meaning of an assigned soliloquy by a character into a tweet – 140 characters.

The core idea is that students will use the tweet genre to distil out the core idea in a soliloquy.  They work in groups of 4 to share ideas and then refine their description to share with others. It’s a reasonable curriculum idea, though in the lesson plan, the teacher focuses too much on the technology: 10 mins on what a tweet is and 30 mins to log into Edmodo, a safe educational social space for kids. It has been written by someone not immersed in the culture of the space, especially in how the group work is organised – tweeting to 4 people (why?) and giving each person in the group a trivial role – one reads, one types, one checks for spelling and one checks it arrives (as if that makes sense). The social space should be used more for sharing ideas rather than narrowing down to the perfect tweet. The lesson should be designed more openly to see what students do in the space when responding to each other. The teacher should get out of the way and not control and plan out how it will happen and who will do what. Social spaces are not like that. The teacher might be very surprised at what the kids get out of this if they focus more on the conversations students have, than controlling the sequence. Even so, it is a reasonable idea and one which will stimulate some good thinking of further ideas by preservice teachers.

Maths Early Years
Skip Counting

The lessons focus on skip counting with a 100 board looking for patterns and making them explicit. The lesson plan is based on using an interactive whiteboard but other digital 100 charts are listed as alternatives. Alternatives using a number line are also suggested. In lesson two, students use flip cameras to film number patterns found around the school and load them onto their laptops.

In the final lesson, students use the constant function on calculators to generate and record other number patterns.

The supplied video footage shows the class engagement and leads well into the subsequent TPACK based discussion.
Could be used as a benchmark model of embedding ICT in lesson planning. All early years preservice teachers should study this package of lessons as a model of appropriate ICT integration. It is a great example of using a diversity of appropriate technologies to engage students and facilitate learning. In the footage provided, most students appeared already comfortable with a range of number patterns so mainly reinforced existing knowledge with some new learning probable for individuals. The lessons would work equally well with students less familiar with number patterns.


Maths 5 to 8
Developing Proportional Reasoning

Exploring relationships between common fractions and percentages while developing proportional reasoning. Students analyse a Google Earth image of their school grounds assigning “key features” labels to the different land uses they know about in their own grounds. They use a 10x10 grid overlay to identify proportions of the grounds devoted to different uses. This is the main mechanism for moving to proportional thinking.

The package includes footage from a classroom implementation of the four lessons and a series of learning objects to explore. The final two lessons involve analysing the use of the grounds in a different school looking for similarities and differences. This leads to the task of designing an ideal school.

The learning objects selected are quite simplistic really requiring nothing more than counting squares and colouring them in. They make good design almost impossible due to the random placement of items on the grid leaving students no choice but to put remaining facilities in disjointed remaining spaces. They may be best used to discuss poor design!!

Opportunities to explore the use of spreadsheets to work with percentages and graphs are missed. This may have been a better use of learning student time.

 

Maths 9 and 10
Bivariate data relationships

The relationship between two variables is explored in a number of ways beginning with simple body measurements entered into a graphics calculator to exploring linear relationships between a range of body measurements with Tinkerplot and finally using Gapminder to explore huge data sets visually.

The package uses three complex and powerful ICT tools to explore data at the rate of one lesson each. In reality, most students will need either prior experience or considerably more exposure to the analysis tools to be able to develop an understanding of deeper patterns in the data.

The choice of Tinkerplots is interesting and should provoke considerable preservice teacher discussion. The data is copied from Excel so a choice needs to be made between using Excel or Tinkerplots to explore the data. Student prior knowledge combined with the strengths of the software would guide this decision. The “cost” of learning new software needs to be balanced against the benefit to be gained from it.


SCIENCE: Early Years
Lesson plan: Metal Muncher: Metals and non metals

This package explores a Year 4 science unit designed to enable students to use experiments and class activities to understand the difference between metals and non metals and develop some scientific literacy skills. The unit is quite straightforward and this example lesson involves students using a learning object, Metal Muncher to simulate testing of materials and classifying materials into metals and non-metals. Its a trivial learning object. Students are then expected to develop a digital poster and it is not clear what that is or what it achieves
.
The package as a whole contains some useful materials and links to useful resources. It does describe the TPACK model particularly well and will be a useful teaching resource in undergraduate programs. It is not an exemplary instance of either ICT use or the teaching of science. There are missed opportunities to really engage students in metals and to help them understand why their knowledge of metals will assist them to make decisions about using metals in their world or to develop their general appreciation of scientific process. There is an instance in a video of the teacher misrepresenting the science using a Venn diagram. The simulation and thus the teachers interpretation of the science, has a poor classification mechanism for classifying metals.


SCIENCE: Year 7

Lesson plan: Water purification

This package explores using data loggers to gather scientific data and then using spreadsheets to manipulate data, as well as using a publication device like a blog to publish scientific information to a real audience.

The core idea is that students will gather water quality information over a few days and then use it to represent information digitally and investigate if the local creek has problems. It may have been useful to have a problem to solve where the data helps you make decisions, but even so, seeing what story the data tells you is a robust scientific inquiry process. It is not clear what the students tell on their blog but it could involve a range of really great ideas, communicating to the community about the issues and successes of the intervention work in the local creeks.

Use of data loggers and then manipulating the data is expected in junior and senior science in modern curriculum. So it makes sense to include this in a national package. The lesson plans simply describe going to the creek with the dataloggers. It would probably been much better to pick out the lessons where students used the data when they came back – what learning did the students do when they investigated the data and how did the teacher facilitate that? Not a lot of learning occurs on the trip itself. The science objectives of the unit focus more on data manipulation and communication and so the package needed to share the lessons plans about those parts. The little video part where students downloads data and put it into a spreadsheet only showed the beginning of that process, when the interesting part occurs when the data is in the spreadsheet and is being used. So our conclusion is that the idea is a worthy example package, but it missed the opportunity to focus on the interesting and more difficult parts to achieve pedagogically.

SCIENCE: Year 10

Lesson plan: Conservation of Energy : Skatepark Learning object


This package explores the idea that Energy is transferred from one form to another and deals with the complex concept that energy is not created or disappears. The Resource package suggests the use of a learning object called SkatePark and links to a fantastic website of teacher materials.

The package as a whole is very useful. It describes the TPACK model very well and is a strong curriculum and pedagogical use of ICT. It captures well, the intent of the national curriculum goals and teachers will appreciate this interpretation of curriculum and how it was implemented.

The lesson designs are quite simple and straightforward but sophisticated to account for higher order thinking, deep understanding and strong communication. The curriculum fit is excellent. It is an example of helping students understand and communicate about a concept, one that is quite difficult for students to grasp.

 

History: Early years

 Some Victorian students created an animation to audio recordings of interviews of older people talking about the depression. This video is the central resource of this package. The unit probably asks students to research and then write the personal history of an older person. The lesson plans covers designing the interview. This lesson does not involve any ICT except using a white board system as a projector to record student ideas. A second lesson involves the teacher helping students learn how to handle a camera effectively. In a third lesson students video an interview.

The idea is okay and interviewing older people is commonly done in schools. The animation developed originally was the coolest idea in the package which could have focused more on that as the core idea for this unit.

 The package is supposed to be suitable for year 2, though in the footage students of about year 4/5 were involved. Six year olds probably would not have been interested in the depression. If this was their first experiences of history units, there are probably eras much closer to the students generations that might have been more suitable. There are a decreasing group of 90 year olds who could help out…. It would work better for much older children and at one point in the resources, the reader is directed to a video about the year 10 curriculum; so perhaps it was not really designed for 6 year olds.

History: Years 5-6

Lesson Plan: Indigenous Australians and frontier conflicts

Two activities in the context of Indigenous Australians enabling students to practice different techniques and skills in an historical enquiry process.

1. Looking at an image/representation from colonial Australia and assisting students to develop an understanding of multiple perspectives. Students look at the image from an Indigenous perspective and from a non-Indigenous perspective and then, like historians, analyse and annotate the visual sources.
 
2. Students are invited to choose an eminent Indigenous Australian, and use digital resources to conduct their own historical inquiries, giving them a hands-on understanding of how historians work. The students develop an understanding of time and sequence and other key historical skills through creating a digital  interactive timeline to demonstrate the key events of the person's life in relation to a specific time in Australian history.

 Both are reasonable ideas. The first has more curriculum usefulness but the use of ICT in this example is fairly low level. The second idea is very commonly done and has someinterest by using software which develops an interactive multimedia timeline. Most videos do not show the ICT pedagogy part of the lessons, but two do and do it well. The lesson plans standards are less than we expect from USQ students and not good examples. The historical inquiry processes could have been improved greatly by use of an information literacy process, the big 6 process or something similar. The historical inquiry process required in the Australian Curriculum would have been useful.

It is always a concern that children undertake Indigenous studies activities and do not speak to an Indigenous person. I think this ought to be central to any national exemplar as a role model. There are many local Indigenous people in the community who are worthy of study rather than always doing the famous Indigenous person thing, every one does. This package should spark creativity about what else to do.

 

History: Years 9-10

Lesson Plan: Immigration since Vietnam

The focus here is about developing and practicing historical inquiry skills while researching post Vietnam War immigration and developing a wiki about the research. Authenticity and reliability for sources seems to be the core research concept in the lesson. The wiki products are peer reviewed for historical accuracy and relevance. The first lesson of 10 is the object of the videos and there is good discussion about using online searches with simple interactive whiteboard use. There seems to be an open ended research agenda and students seem to have to form their own questions.

 

This project is a strategically placed opportunity to really shift thinking about historical inquiry as gathering facts from faceless web pages and other sources to considering the role of social media on historians practice, on what is recorded and lost/archived, accessibility to sources and generally how ICT is changing how the community interacts with its own history. There are so many impacts of technology on history and historical processes and schools must help students take a leadership role in how their future understanding of history is shaped. The national curriculum is in danger of being interpreted as nothing much has changed in studies of history except that researches have more convenient access to sources. This lesson plan and unit reinforces this old view really and is a huge missed opportunity to shape a more necessary understanding of technology and history. The wiki idea could be great but falls short. It seems rather pointless with no audience or purpose.

The lack of detail about what students might put on a wiki or how they might use the wiki as a solution to some problem or issue with an authentic audience is not really evident and it is not clear if there was a greater purpose for the wiki other than to share a summary of facts or sources with other students. It would have been useful for the teacher to explain this in the videos or in the text. It is probably a great idea, but this package does not capture any of that value.

The resources and discussion about ICT and historical enquiry and unpacking of TPACK is a strength of the package. It is worth browsing and is an okay example of using ICT but not exemplary. The videos will be interesting to some and do help add depth to the package.