Melissa Giddins

Exploring technology and literacy in education.

Drowning not Waving

The last six months of 2010, my focus was wrenched dramatically away from all extracurricular activity, including posting on my own blog, participating in twitter chat and presenting at various conferences. Instead, my focus was narrowed to student results. Specifically, how to achieve more Band 6 results in the HSC in our English courses, most particularly in Advanced English.  I underwent an executive development project specifically looking at this, from an action research perspective.

Then, on a personal level, I became a foster mother for the first time in November, which impacted rather forcefully on my spare time, in fact, making spare time non-existent. 

The next thing I know, a new year has begun and a new term is well underway. My foster daughter left my care last week and with the initial flurry of work setting up the school year, somehow it is March by the time I raise my head and notice the world at large.

My focus is still on raising results and growing depth of expertise in myself and my faculty, which is where a lot of my time is still going. However, a few interesting things have happened.

I have a Year 10 and Year 11 class this year that have laptops in the classroom.  It took me two weeks to remember to tell both classes to set up their OneNote notebooks with our template.  At this point I realised that for the first time at the beginning of the year I had not worked with my faculty on evaluating and adapting the templates for a new year.  I had not reminded them to set up the OneNote notebooks for Year 10, as I had the last two years, and I had not provided the usual resources on how to do this.

This was interesting in that a lot of the teachers went ahead and did it anyway, using last year’s resources and simply adapting as they went. A few teachers just began their year happily ignoring the fact that they were supposed to be incorporating technology into their teaching and learning, and that students had laptops in their bags that were going unused. 

It was interesting standing back and realising that even some of our most technological-resistant teachers had been merrily integrating technology as a standard part of their lessons – only eighteen months from the initial introduction of laptops into classrooms, and I was watching it become a more “normal” part of everyday teaching and learning.

I can also say though, that without me driving it, there is definitely less integration of technology in most classrooms. Clearly a leader is required to keep momentum rolling and give new ideas and inspiration. I wholeheartedly feel that I have dropped the technology ball so far this year.

Last year, I was speaking about 2011 and how interesting it would be when we try to teach a senior curriculum with the first lot of students with laptops in the classroom.  I have prepared resources, spoken at conferences about it and generally been both enthused and apprehensive about the opportunities and challenges that this will engender.

And then, I started teaching Year 11 – we had redesigned the program at the end of 2010 and I was very gung-ho to get into it and trial the new first term. And I completely ignored the laptops. I forgot about them. I didn’t plan for them and as a result, didn’t incorporate them. Me, the “guru” of integrating technology, failed to integrate it at all.  To cap it all off, a student in one of my classes asked me if we were ever going to use the IWB in my room.  No-one has ever asked me that before, usually because it is constantly on. But the IWB has been dark all year so far. A cursory 15 minutes spent with Year 10 and Year 11 telling them to set up their OneNote notebooks is about the extent of it.

Ok perhaps I am being a tad harsh on myself, I did get podcasts, websites and other resources onto Moodle for all my classes, and we are still very busy communicating via Edmodo, which is still working extremely well after four years of utilisation with different classes. I have also continued to pass resources on to my faculty, and populate my virtual staffroom with appropriate resources.  There is no doubt though that I am NOT doing a good job at integrating technology in my senior class and, in fact, I am pretty much teaching it as though the laptops don’t exist.  This, of course, needs to change!

My plan is to take some time in the school holidays at the end of this term, to focus on planning technology integration then I will  just wipe the slate clean and start Term 2 as if it is the beginning of the school year (when it comes to the integration of technology that is).

Now, instead of being ashamed of my lack of technology use, I am again enthused about using some time to plan and then get it all rolling again.  The ideas that were bubbling last year are now solidifying into practical activities and uses. I am looking forward now to picking up the ball and running with it – after all, it is my job as an educational leader to lead the way, to try things first, to model and hopefully to inspire.

 Why even write this post? Because I think that we all need reminding every now and then that we are human, we cannot do everything all the time, and that sometimes our personal life is worth more of our attention.

I hope to chronicle more of my adventures as I try integrating technology in my senior classes and I look forward to this new adventure. After all, a change is as good as a holiday, right?


March 14, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. I know you wrote this a few weeks ago but since I, too, feel as if I have just come up for air, have just got around to reading my regular blogs, for the first time this term, I thought I’d say hello!

    My mission this year was to use Edmodo more effectively so I have been integrating technology into year 11 and year 10 via Edmodo. I’ve been really happy with the results although I think its time to step up into the social networking side of it.

    Promise I’ll look in more often, Mel.

    Comment by Lyn | April 2, 2011 | Reply

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