Josie Woon talks about the benefits that being involved in Enabling e-Learning community groups brings to teachers of priority learners, and the learners themselves.
When I first joined the VLN I had a class of high needs. I had probably 50% of my class; were children that had really high learning needs, and specific for each child that was very individual. So I was trying to use the VLN to give myself some tools, and a couple of the children in the class couldn’t form letters correctly and they couldn’t do this independently; you had to be standing over them all the time.
So when I introduced the iPads to my class, one of them was a hand writing application. It was to help with engagement, it was to help with forming letters, and it was to help with him to be able to just see that learning was accessible to him and he could do it. So when I started that, I kind of felt like iPads in the classroom or technology in the classroom was for everybody. I’ve kind of changed my beliefs a little bit and I feel that for me I need to use the iPads to target learning needs in specific areas for individual children.
So I use it for children; ESOL children to develop their writing skills, I use it for children who come in two or three levels lower than where they should be for reading, to build up their high frequency words. Children who don’t have the oral language can then build stories, on like Book Creator, and have them videoing themselves speaking so it gives all those children an opportunity to see themselves as learners. They then share it with the class, opportunities that they often wouldn’t have any other way, they can now see themselves succeeding, and then we’re able to share that with the school and the world on our blog.
Over that year I found my priority learners weren’t the group that were always at the bottom of the barrel, they weren’t the low writing group, they weren’t the low reading group, they weren’t the low maths group. They were the group that got to use the technology in a fun and interactive way that then made them a magnet for the rest of the children. The other children wanted to join with them, and learn with them, and show them, and they were able to then show the other children in my class what to do. So I found the impact, was it created positive, happy children in my class, it created children that were succeeding, even though it might have been small steps for them, it was steps and that’s all I wanted for them. And by the end of the year they’d all made progress in the areas that I’d targeted, and they left my class feeling like they were successful learners.
The whole experience with the VLN has changed my beliefs because I never really thought I’d get the relationships and the information from an online network. You kind of feel like that’s where you’ve got to go to courses, or you’ve got to have a facilitator come in and take a session, or an ongoing session over a year or two, and I’ve found that it’s built up my professional knowledge, it’s built up my capacity to ask questions, it’s built up my capacity to answer questions confidently.
I’ve then had emails from teachers about different things that I’ve commented on which has been amazing. They’ve shared their blogs with me, they’ve shared their wikis, they’ve shared iPad applications that they’ve used with their children in their classes. So on the whole it’s been just an amazing experience and I hope to continue, I hope to have more of a voice on the VLN and get involved in more groups, not just the Enabling e-Learning and the iPad/iPod user group which I know that I’m seen in at the moment.
I’d like to get out with the Literacy a little bit more, and talk about what’s coming, and how we can use ICT to facilitate children’s literacy.