Staff at St Hilda's talk about the difference using technology has made to teaching and learning. The change their approach teaching allows more time for teacher–student interaction. Students can make choices about what tools they use for learning. Principal Melissa Bell comments, "The focus is on processing the information, doing things with it and developing it." It enables differentiated learning within the classroom.
One of the biggest things for us has just been that teachers now see a class of 25 as 25 individual learners. I think the students see themselves as individual learners rather than just a member of a given class. When I talk to students they’re really articulate about why they’re doing what they’re doing and where they’ll go next with that, where they’re having problems, what the successes have been.
Something we’ve found with having to change the way we go about teaching lessons is it allows us a lot more time for teacher–student interaction.
There’s a lot less delivery. Delivery can be managed by other means. So podcasts and blogs and material shared out but the focus really is on processing the information and doing things with it and developing it.
I think that the benefits of this is that it really does differentiate the learning within the classroom. It enables you to extend students based on where they perceive their strengths to be. It allows you to give them challenge in a format that they are passionate about because they’ve chosen to do it that way.
I think the other thing that it means for us now is that students can make choices about what tools they use for learning. So you won’t walk into a class here and see 25 girls all using laptops at once. You may see some using a range of digital tools, some working in different ways. So it’s making a choice about what learning approaches suit each learner at any given time.
We’ve very much moved away from the traditional teaching of mathematics of textbooks, pencils, papers, calculators. I teach it in a contextual way - so to have the laptops there that enables the girls to research things to enable them to put their maths in context is invaluable. If we want to find something out we go and do it.
It provides them some available instant tools that they can work with, to gather information, to process information, then to transfer that out to actually make a physical artwork. So it works well from that point of view.
Generally I’ll set the class as task, a wide task, then I will give them the opportunity to create it in whichever forum they deem fit.
I think for teachers now they see themselves as coaches and facilitators, which we all read about, and it’s easy to say but to see it happen in a classroom is quite powerful.
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