A recent Teacher-Only Day saw me invited to work alongside the teachers at Wellesley College. We were kickstarting inquiries into how we can best integrate technology into effective literacy practice:
The key points we explored included:
- the way technologies can help us integrate contexts that are meaningful to the students into effective learning – and the vital importance of designing learning so it is inclusive (we used a combo of mobile technology and Flickr as an example);
- the way curriculum, pedagogy and technology integrate, according to students’ needs;
- the importance of getting started on a deliberate trial – a teacher inquiry – that is planned, implemented and reviewed in ways that fit with what each teacher believes is important for themselves and their students.
Huge thanks to the staff for inviting me to work with them – and best wishes for an exciting term 1.
This is a post about learning…but bear with me while I work off a ranty-preamble…
The six-year-old had a lesson on banking today from a well-known Southern Hemisphere bank. Let’s call it the Absolutely Solid Bank, for argument’s sake. She came home, all excited about a cash-gobbling monster stomping through stories with a salutary message: ‘Zoom to your needs, and wait for your wants.’ No argument from me thus far.
But then we argued…sorry, strongly discussed…the need for her to then wear a tattoo emblazoned with the brand of the bank that was a freebie at the end of the lesson. She loved the colour, the idea of the tattoo. And, apparently, everyone will have them on tomorrow…
What got to me most was the way the kids were being branded (albeit temporarily) by a corporate logo, sucked in by a shiny, ‘cool’ ploy (not to mention the looong list of crazy chemicals that are in these stick-on tats). So I resorted to bribery (money in her piggy bank in exchange for the tattoo. Fair, sensible, even ironic swap). If the bank wants to be altruistic, then the learning experience is fine. Otherwise, perhaps they shouldn’t be allowed to come and market themselves to primary children.
I love the message of saving, and I believe strongly in the value of financial literacy. But not at the expense of learning about the value of information literacy and the power of advertising. A hard lesson to learn when the person is teaching the first, but exploiting the second.
And when they come armed with shiny bribes.
[Image source: Naypong]
It was when my 3 year old earned her first ‘critter’ for her animal collection – Marshmallow Mouse for the learning about the letter ‘M’ – and begged for more time on the computer that I began to see why this tool has been so successful.
Reading Eggs is a (subscription-only, although there is a trial) Australian tool for 4-7 year olds that sets out to engage children in readings, from playing games in the online playroom to moving through phonics to phrases and sentences. Children, led by an engaging wee ant called Sam, move their self-designed avatar around a map, completing lessons on the way, earning prizes and animals.
My then 4 year old collected eggs that she can exchange for prizes, read 22 books and collected nearly 100 golden eggs before she lost interest last year. The game clearly engages children immediately – it’s bright, colourful and they can see their animal collections building with every lesson. At times, the activities seemed a little similar (perhaps that’s why she lost interest?), and the busy dashboard requires a parent to work through activities with younger children, but I am intrigued to see if the second child hangs in there.
After all, who’s next, after Marshmallow Mouse? Lesson 2 is the letter ‘S’ so her new ‘critter’ might be a Super Spider, a Singing Snake, or even a Silly Sausage;-)