Out with the Old! In with the New!

Me  versus  Me

Date: This time last year (part 1)

At this time, I was still relatively new to my year group and was currently in the middle of my second term. Being part of a new year group, I was less willing to take risks with the structure of my lessons. Although, as a year group, we were adapting and changing the planning I wasn’t really comfortable moving beyond the parameters of the planning that we had agreed on-TOO RISKY!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Date: This year, current time (part 1)

Wehay! I am no longer new to my year group and feel more comfortable with the subjects I am teaching. I have also started the COETAIL course and feel more empowered to adapt and change the lessons that I teach. Ultimately, I feel more able to experiment with different technologies and teaching styles.

Date: This time last year (part 2)

I am teaching the first lesson of our Religious Education Unit on Sikhism. I decide to follow the lesson plan exactly. The first part of the lesson involves the children sitting together on the carpet and watching a PowerPoint of photographs showing different aspects of Sikh  life. The children then work in pairs to discuss what they have watched while deciding what questions they would like to find the answers to. Meanwhile, I act as the question coordinator for student feedback while the rest of the children listen to the responses of their peers-PLAY IT SAFE! MAKE SURE THE CHILDREN ASK THE QUESTIONS I WANT THEM TO ASK!

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Date: This year, current time (part 2)

Again, it is time to teach the first lesson of the RE unit but this time I am going to combine the lesson with a recent unit on ‘Staying Safe’. It may work! It may not! But I am going to have a go and see what happens. So, this time the children work on laptops with access to a locally networked version of the same PowerPoint. As before, they are creating different questions based on what they observe about Sikh life from the PowerPoint. They can choose to work individually, with partners or in groups-it is entirely up to them! I am still unsure about their ability to use Google Docs or Microsoft Word so I get them to write their questions in their books! STILL PLAYING IT SAFE, AS I AM NOT COMFORTABLE WITH USING GOOGLE DOCS IN CLASS YET!

Date: This time last year (part 3)

The Children go off to quietly write their questions in books. After they have finished, we come back to the carpet and share some more of the questions they have come up with. We then talk about some of the answers to the questions that they are interested in-to be honest I actually provide some of the answers, but not all, as I simply don’t know most of the answers to the questions- MUST MAKE SURE THEY HAVE BEEN GIVEN SOME OF THE ANSWERS BECAUSE THEN I KNOW THEY HAVE LEARNED SOMETHING ABOUT SIKHISM!

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Date: This year, current time (part 3)

So, they have finished writing out their questions about the PowerPoint on Sikh life. Now I ask them if they would like to find some of the answers to their own questions. The class feedback suggests that they are keen to find the answers to the original questions they were interested in asking. So this is where we add our cross-curricular link to a previous safety lesson on search engines. The children are given a choice of four different search engines, that they have previously evaluated, to find the answers to their questions. As they attempt to use the search engines to find the answers to their questions they are also asked to think about the usefulness of each of the search engines they are using.

The children now switch to searching for the answers to their questions while also deciding which search engine is the safest, most appropriate and most effective. At the end of the lesson the children feedback any facts about Sikhism that they think their peers might be interested in as well as providing information on the functionality of the search engines they have used.

Has technology been effectively embedded within the curriculum?

For this reworked lesson, I would say that the answer has to be ‘Yes!’

I took a chance with this lesson and decided to combine technology with a flipped lesson approach. The use of the laptops to create questions worked quite well but I think it would have worked much better with some form of online or desktop word processor e.g. Google Docs or Microsoft Word. The only problem with this would have been the time factor; you see, my current class tend to take five times longer typing than they do writing.

It also has to be said that the cross curricular link with the ‘Safety unit’ worked really well and actually got many of the children thinking not only about the different facets of Sihkism but also the importance of using the right search engine.

What does this mean?

It means that technology can be embedded within any curriculum area; it may only be applied in a single lesson; it may become an integral part of the whole unit; it may be used as a homelearning task. The point is that it can be used on any level, and at any level, within any curriculum format. While looking at the NETS standards for students, I was pretty certain that the children had met the following standards:

1c.Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues
3b.Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media
3c. Evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks
4c. Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions
6b. Select and use applications effectively and productively

Remember- all you need are the resources and the willingness to take a chance!

Of course you can always stack the deck…

4 thoughts on “Out with the Old! In with the New!

  1. Wondering about even setting up a Google Doc that is shared among the group so that when they find good sources via their searching they can paste them into the Google Doc. This way everyone’s knowledge is used by everyone else (Connectivism) I found 5 links but I get to use 25 that have been vetted by my classmates.

    Learning about how a network works and how everyone adding value to the collective makes all of us smarter might be a great lesson as well……just a thought for the next risk taking challenge.


  2. It’s a great idea to directly compare what you were doing last year to now – clearly you’ve gone forward! I planned and taught that lesson too and I remember thinking I was being innovative a few years back in letting the kids discuss in talk partners what they thought about each picture and generating their own questions!
    By having it set up on a laptop they could look at the images at their own pace, with greater freedom to focus the ones that meant the most to them. This is much more learner centred.

    Maybe you could use pearltrees or something similar and let the kids start building up a bank of useful webpages they’d come across in their research. They’d just be cutting and pasting the links which shouldn’t take too long. Perhaps they could then share this with another class to support their learning. Websites recommended by fellow learners!


  3. Oh and absolutely classic Del Boy! My kids are too young but I wonder if your lot could figure out the ending from “two pair” 😉


  4. It’s great to see the difference a year makes Neil. Fantastic! How happy you are with the newer approach comes across so clearly in the post. Have you toyed with extending that freedom of choice to the idea of how the classroom is laid out also? I think on so many occasions we expect children to think creatively and energetically, whilst they are sat stiffly in groups at tables – it doesn’t work for so many adults, so I often wonder why do we impose it so often on children?
    As for typing speed, I have found that the more exposure the quicker it gets and before long it’s no longer an issue. Keep taking risks, Rodney you plonker!


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