Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tech Tips Tuesday

This Week's Tip: Attempting to Implement the Quality Teaching Model with the Aid of ICT #1

One of my goals for this year is to find a way to use ICT as a tool with the Quality Teaching Model (currently being implemented in NSW and the ACT) to improve teaching and learning in the classroom. I do a lot of this automatically, but I want to be able to share these ideas with others. Of course, the success of the lesson is not solely dependent on the actual ICT, so it makes it a little hard to suggest that any one tool or strategy is good for any one of the elements of the Quality Teaching Model. I want to share this journey with you and help you to see that the ICT needs to be embedded in quality teaching and pedagogy and not just used as an add-on.

For example, today ICT wasn't the focus of my lesson, but was definitely a helpful tool in my preparation. My students and I have been reading "New Gold Mountain" by Christopher W Cheng, which is about a Chinese boy, Shu Cheong, who came to Australia to find gold during the goldrush. I want my students to connect with the story personally and to gain a greater respect for Chinese culture as a result. As Shu Cheong is learning to write English words in the book, I thought it might be helpful for students to try writing their names with Chinese characters. In preparation for today's lesson, I downloaded the following videos from You Tube and translated all my students' names into Chinese characters at Chinese Names.org. After reading and discussing a few pages together as a class, we watched the videos to see Chinese calligraphy being created by the experts.

While students were watching, I set out some black ink, brushes and paper on each of the desks. Students then attempted to write their names using the little name strips I'd prepared for them earlier. Also whilst reading, we did a Google search for Cai Shen in our attempt to find out more about one of the gods mentioned in the book. Throughout the book reference is given to Chinese religious beliefs so we wanted to know more in order to understand his perspective more fully.

Quality Teaching Model Coding
For this lesson I will only look at the Intellectual Quality dimension.
The videos helped to provide deep knowledge about the art of calligraphy and the style used by calligraphers. It didn't really provide detailed knowledge about the history of calligraphy, but it did allow students to see calligraphy in action.
Students haven't yet demonstrated a deep understanding of their experience with trying to write in another script. Further discussion would allow me to see whether this activity has helped them to identify with the experiences of the Shu Cheong in the book.
Our discussion during reading touched on metalanguage when we defined some words in the text. To improve this element further, I could have discussed the Chinese script and sought comparisons with the script we use for English (does anyone know what our script is called?).
The videos inspired substantive communication around calligraphy and it's use in both China and Japan. Students shared of their own experiences with calligraphy and together we discussed whether Chinese script should be written horizontally or vertically.
I don't feel that this lesson really allowed for higher order thinking. The lesson was generally teacher-directed and students didn't really ask or answer any questions that required higher order thinking.
The discussion around religious beliefs added a little to the provision for problematic knowledge - where ideas can be shared from a variety of viewpoints - but again, I feel that we explored the ideas of Chinese spirituality, but only touched on other religious viewpoints.

As I hope you can see, it's not the resources that you use that make it quality teaching or not, it's what you do with them and the thinking that results through discussion and careful questioning. I see that I have some work to do to further improve my teaching in these areas!

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