As luck would have it, my train journey time was doubled one evening last week. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be at all ‘lucky’ and in fact, would be a frustrating inconvenience. As it was, it meant that I could finally read Mark Anderson’s ‘The Perfect ICT Every Lesson.‘ (Because I appear to have started using the Kindle app on my iPad a bit… Not for actual books though- you know, story books).

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What follows, is a list of the key things I gained from reading this easily digestible book. Thoughts from the book are quoted and these are invariably followed by some of my own reflections.

‘Teachers who aren’t yet using communication devices and social media as learning tools are missing out on some wonderful learning opportunities. But, at home, their pupils are not!’  (from the foreword by Jackie Beere).

This is one of the drivers (not the only one) that leads my interest in technology for learning. Yes, we can have rules about things that are excluded in the classroom but we have to question technology’s exclusion when it could have such a positive effect on learning. Without a doubt, it is the fear that technology’s effect on learning will be detrimental that causes its exclusion and one key problem that CPD provision should be solving is empowering teachers to use technology effectively in the classroom.

‘Teachers often long for stability and consolidation rather than for more change or new initiatives. However, the high-speed world of new technology means this is no longer an option… At times it may feel risky and scary- but that’s learning for you!’ (from the foreword by Jackie Beere).

I wasn’t entirely sure I believed with the first part of this assertion. I think many of us are drawn to the profession because certain things constantly change and keep us on our toes. I can appreciate that it is sometimes not the best things that are undergoing the change, which I guess is what prompted this comment. I loved the last part of it. Learning isn’t always scary or risky but quite often it is; because there’s a hugely emotional dimension to it.

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Mark writes about blogging:

‘The fact that students now have a (potentially) global audience for their blog entries – and know that their work could be seen and commented upon by anyone – means they will spend more time refining their written work. This reinforces their learning and, as a result, their literacy improves substantially.’

I have decided to get my students using ‘Blogger’ this year as it comes free with their College Google account, which will therefore provide ease of use and sharing for us all. This statement from Mark makes me even more excited about the prospect of what my students will write and what the resulting higher standard of writing could look like!

There is a substantial focus on both literacy and digital literacy in this book- which show that technology is not to the detriment of important English skills and other important study habits. It is used to enable it.

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Classroom walls

I enjoyed the section of his book about bringing classroom walls to life with technology. Ever since getting my own classroom space, I’ve been about making the most of the walls and space. I’m looking forward to incorporating technology as part of my ‘Wall of Fame’- display of students’ work.

Tagxedo

I loved the idea provided about how this tool could be used in an English lesson. Keywords from a book are displayed in the Tagxedo and students attach sticky notes and string to link to the key ideas on display. Mark reminded me that Tagxedo will transform the words from an entire piece of work into an image and this might be especially great for my hall of fame too.

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Devices

‘The idea that there are rooms where you go ‘to do IT’ doesn’t help anyone to see how technology can support learning across the whole curriculum.’

Yay to the death of the IT room as far as I’m concerned! Technology is free-for-all, not solely for ‘IT experts.’ Mark does write at length about the pros and cons of BYOD versus 1-1 and it’s well worth a read. It’s certainly a very tricky issue indeed.

He stated that if staff decide against mobile technology in their classrooms or schools altogether ‘then you are going against a tsunami of evidence (love this description! :-)) which shows that the rest of the world is adopting the route… It is going to happen and already is happening. Embrace it.’

Other thoughts

I enjoyed exploring the additional links Mark provided and I’m looking forward to getting started with Pic Monkey.

As you get to grips with technology, there are likely to be four stages that you will (hopefully) work through: Survival, mastery, impact and finally innovation.

‘E-safety is, of course, absolutely key, but the potential benefits of social media, properly handled, can far outweigh the risks.’ 

He ends the book with,

‘Whilst I haven’t given you hard and fast rules, please take from this book the power, theb belief and the imperatuve that you can give all of these ideas a go and make them work for you in whatever setting you are in…. we can all learn from one another – just take these ideas and try them in your classroom!’

This blog may have read quite fragmented but if I was to fill in all the gaps of what his book covered, then I’d possibly on very dodgy ground copyright-wise. This book is ABSOLUTELY worth a read for any education professional; whether you’re a technology convert or not.

You can get the book here  Anderson, M (2013) The Perfect ICT Every Lesson [Kindle version] Available at: www.amazon.co.uk

Probably my favourite ‘Top Tip’ from the book is:

‘Always ask why you’re using digital rather than analogue methods. What does using technology bring to the learning?’

All images for this post were found after watching this video on using Google for finding copyright-free images. 

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