Earlier this week I ordered Arduino and Raspberry Pi kits online from Wiltronics and today they arrived! If you haven’t heard of Arduino or Raspberry Pi before then here’s a brief explanation. Arduino is a programmable microcontroller board that can be used to make your own projects. You can add different sensors and modules, write code, plug it in to a computer and easily run the code. Rasberry Pi is a computer the size of a credit card which can plug into a keyboard and TV. The Arduino is a micro-controller which can run individual programs but the Raspberry Pi is a computer that can a full operating system. This guide explains more of the differences between Arduino and Rasberry Pi and explains which one is more suitable for what you’re wanting to do.
I purchased the Arduino Uno R3 board, a Freetronics Eleven Arduino Uno compatible board, and the Raspberry Pi Model B board (which came in a bundle with a case, WiFi dongle, AC power supply, card reader, 8GB SD card, HDMI cable, and Ethernet cable). The original Arduino Uno board was only about $32 and the Raspberry Pi board alone is just over $40, however the bundle was a good deal and I also wanted to buy the Freetronics Arduino compatible board as it has a Mini-USB connector and a few other improvements – it was about $38. I also purchased a light sensor module and RGBLED module. I hope to buy some other sensors soon!
To get started, I decided to get a book which is called Programming Arduino – Getting Started with Sketches (Simon Monk). This book is excellent value! It has really clear instructions and provides useful sample programs – the C Language introduction and basic programming guide is a great inclusion. I’ve only just started using the Arduino board and I’m already having fun. I haven’t done much but I’m excited about the potential for using it in the classroom. I’m also looking forward to using the Raspberry Pi and creating my own projects. So far I have just fiddled around with programming a flashing LED light and using a light sensor which sends readings back to the computer.
This very simple project requires only a few lines of code and shows values from the light sensor readings on each new line (a lower number being low light and a higher number being brighter light).
So far it has been a lot of fun learning how to use the Arduino board. I can’t wait to see how it works in the classroom and what kind of projects my students might make. I will keep my blog updated with different projects I hope to use next year with the Arduino and Raspberry Pi kits. Please leave comments if you have used Arduino/Raspberry Pi or you want to find out more about it.
So there has been a lot of talk lately about the ‘flipped class’ and how teachers should be trying it out. There have been lots of blog posts and tweets from teachers who have been trying it out and lots of posts and tweets from other teachers who want to know more about what the flipped class is, how does it work, and what impact will it have?
This week I stumbled upon a blog which is a collaboration between two teachers in the U.S. – Andrew Thomasson and Cheryl Morris. These two teachers didn’t know each other and met on Twitter. After having a Facetime conversation they came up with an idea to create content together and use it to teach their students. On their blog they have created a series of videos and useful resources. They are two teachers from different places who are trying out the flipped class in collaboration.
For those of you like me who have been thinking about the flipped classroom and asking questions, I suggest you check out this blog post from Cheryl Morris, Andrew Thomasson, Karl Lindgren-Streicher, Crystal Kirch, and Kate Baker. It has some of the most frequently asked questions about the flipped class and provides some answers, tips, and ideas for teachers to think about. Some of the main questions raised are “what if my students don’t do homework”, “what if I don’t have the available technology”, and “what if my students haven’t watched the video”.
One of the interesting points raised in the blog post is that there is no one right way to flip your class, but there is the ‘flipped mindset’. The flipped mindset involves three pillars:
- Teachers make the most of their face-to-face time with their students
- The classroom is a student-centered classroom
- There is a focus on higher-level thinking
In regard to the first pillar, the blog post raises the point that you don’t have to stick to set rules to follow the idea of the flipped class. It is important to make the most of face-to-face time with student. Two questions raised before were “what if my students haven’t watched the video” and “what if my students don’t do homework”. This response is taken from the blog post which provides some really interesting ideas:
“If the use of video is what is holding you back from flipping, then hear this: IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE VIDEO! What it IS all about is your students, and how you can best serve them in the time you get face-to-face in the classroom. If something is less important, you can off-load it to out of class time. If your students won’t do homework, then make your class asynchronous or set up stations for different learning tasks. I should clarify: this doesn’t mean that there is never time given in class to students acquiring knowledge. If that’s the best use of your class time, then that’s fine. The key here is reflection and understanding of your students.” – Source: http://www.morrisflipsenglish.com (2012).
I really liked the idea of setting up stations for different learning tasks and the point that what is important is that reflection and understanding of students is the key thing. Another interesting point raised is that you don’t need to have videos or set homework to have a flipped class. What you need to do is ask these questions: Do you plan your face-to-face time with students to allow for tasks that require real thinking and the highest cognitive load? Are students the centre of your classroom and do you guide them rather than instruct them? Do you encourage collaboration instead of competition and do you let your students see you as also being a learner? Are you asking your students to analyse, apply, synthesise, evaluate, and create or are you just content with basic knowledge and understanding?
If you follow those three pillars, then yes, you have a flipped mindset and you have flipped your class. Check out the blog post here for more information and tips, and make sure you check out the videos and resources too. Also, search Twitter using the hashtag #flipclass to see what other teachers are doing. I think the point is that you aren’t just following a script or a set of rules, but that you are willing to take risks, encourage your students to take risks, focus on their learning and guiding their learning, and really just make sure that whatever direction you take that your students enjoy learning.
Morris, C., Thomasson, A., Lindgren-Streicher, K., Kirch, C., & Baker, K. (2012). So you want to flip your class… Retrieved October 26, 2012, from http://www.morrisflipsenglish.com/1/post/2012/07/so-you-want-to-flip-your-class.html
In June 2012, I was given the opportunity along with another ACU student to complete a teaching experience placement at Luurnpa Catholic School in Balgo Hills, a remote indigenous community in the Western Australian outback. I had never been to a remote indigenous community before but spending a month in Balgo Hills has definitely been the best experience I’ve had during my course and I will definitely remember my time in Balgo for a long time to come.
While I was at Luurnpa Catholic School, I worked alongside some amazing teachers taking secondary Construction, IT, Literacy, and Numeracy classes. I enjoyed learning from the other teachers and the community, teaching and getting to know the students, learning more about Aboriginal life and culture, and making friends with the extremely kind and welcoming staff at Lurrnpa Catholic School. The highlights of my time in Balgo included building tables with secondary students in Construction classes, visiting some of the amazing places near Balgo (such as the Wolfe Creek meteorite crater, Old Balgo and Lake Gregory), and making some great new friends.
Here are some photos of the Secondary Construction outdoor tables project from start to finish. The students constructed two tables for the Kutjungka Trade Training Centre and a further two tables for the Primary A students at the school. Students were able to learn about safety in the woodwork room, timber measuring, cutting, construction, joining, and finishing skills. They were very happy with the finished job and I really enjoyed working with the students on the project.
I gained an experience and insight into remote and indigenous communities, indigenous culture, and different teaching styles. I really enjoyed teaching an amazing and diverse bunch of students – they were a lot of fun to teach! All of the teachers there were really helpful too and I was able to get some really useful feedback and advice on teaching. I am so grateful for the time I had in Balgo and would love to go back there again! If you’ve ever thought of doing a practical experience placement in a remote community I would definitely recommend it!
During the EDST441 unit (Information and Communication Technology Curriculum & Teaching 1) at ACU I have picked up many valuable teaching skills, resources, new knowledge on ICT content and methods of teaching as well as having the privelege of seeing how other teachers would teach their students and applying ICT in the classroom. I have gained new insights and have been able to listen to the ideas of other teachers and share my own ideas. There have been opportunities to discuss a range of topics in information and communication technology in the field of education. Going through each core and option topic one-by-one has been a great way of dissecting the different components of the course and fully understanding the way in which the syllabus is taught.
One thing I really like about the IST syllabus is the way that the core and option topics are integrated – I believe this provides opportunities for content to be covered from several different approaches and for information to be linked and relevant to other information being learnt. There is a good range of topics in the syllabus such as databases, robots, programming, and website development – this provides a large range of hands-on, interactive, and enjoyable learning experiences that provide students with real skills for use in the real world that can be applied throughout life. I believe that the course would be enjoyable for both teachers and students, and encourage them both to take a keen interest in technology and keep developing these skills as technology moves forward.
I believe that teaching Information and Software Technology will challenge me to keep up to date with the content I am teaching and to build on my knowledge in area of IST/ICT. I feel that the course provides me with many opportunities to use a variety of teaching methods and techniques, and the opportunities to cater for different learning styles with a range of learning experiences. I have enjoyed learning more about IST and especially how to teach it. I believe that teachers should teach what they enjoy teaching and I feel that I will continue to enjoy teaching information and software technology for many years to come as the exciting technologies that my students and I work with will evolve and change throughout my career as a teacher.
Assessment for learning expresses the goal of the learning experience for both teachers and students, helps students learn better and provides a way for students to improve based on feedback, helps learners take responsibility for their learning, and includes all learners (Board of Studies, 2003). I believe that assessment is crucial for both students and teachers and the advice on assessment and programming should not be ignored or skimmed through by teachers who want to teach effectively. One point that I like is that assessment for learning encourages self-assessment and peer assessment, and that students can use strategies to monitor their own learning.
I think that blogging is a good way for students to reflect on learning experiences and their strategies they used in the learning experience and that is one reason why I would encourage my students to blog. I think that interactive quizzes and group projects can also be a good way for students to enjoy learning and take part in self-assessment and peer assessment. Also, I believe strongly that it is very important that the learning experiences and tasks that students take part in are linked to the outcomes being assessed. I think it is important to find the right balance, making sure that learning is enjoyable for students and relevant, but also achieves what it is meant to do and meet the required objectives.
Board of Studies. (2003). Information and software technology years 7-10 syllabus. Sydney: Board of Studies.
In the Database Design option topic, students learn about database development (purposes, components, inputs, outputs, data types), collecting organising and storing data (data sources, storage, validation and verification of data), data processing and analysing methods (editing, searching, storing, calculations), methods of presenting data (forms and reports), integration (importing and exporting data), and project development (Board of Studies, 2003).
A usueful resource I found is an article by an American teacher who shares her methods and experiences in teaching databases to students. I liked the point which was raised about teaching the concept of databases and giving visual explanations of the components of a databases before the students sit down and use a program such as Microsoft Access. There is also an activity that can be used for teaching databases to students.The resource can be found here: http://www.fi.edu/fellows/fellow4/may99/database.html (Watson, 2012). I think that it would be useful for students to create a relevant and real-world that they could continue to use or the school could use such as a sports carnival student results database.
Another resource which I think is useful is a worksheet which helps students to identify the components of a database before creating a database – http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/ict/databases.htm (Wright, 2011).
Board of Studies. (2003). Information and software technology years 7-10 syllabus. Sydney: Board of Studies.
Watson, G. (2012). Database. Retrieved May 11, 2012, from http://www.fi.edu/fellows/fellow4/may99/database.html
Wright, J. (2011). Database. Retrieved May 11, 2012, from http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/ict/databases.htm
Technology in the workplace is a great topic to go over with students and people can touch on this in the People core topic but it can be brought up in many of the option topics and throughout the whole IST course as different topics can be easily linked to real life jobs and experiences. There are a number of issues that can be discussed when talking about technology in the workplace such as robots and automated systems taking the place of humans in different industries, improvements to safety in the workplace (for example, computer programmed machines completing dangerous tasks instead of human workers), changes to costs and spending, the role of employees, and the arrival of new careers in recent years and requirements for employees such as good computer skills.
This subject is great for class discussions because there are a number of different issues and pros and cons of technology in the workplace. Below are two videos, one where Steve Jobs talks about how technology is changing our lives and one which shows robots building Toyota Camry Hybrid cars in a factory.
Video source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hN_-qs2x4Bo (Sheif, 2011).
Video source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82w_r2D1Ooo (Gizmodo, 2009).
Gizmodo. (2009). Toyota Camry Hybrid factory robots. Retrieved April 8, 2012, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82w_r2D1Ooo
Sheif. (2011). Steve Jobs on how technology is changing the world. Retrieved April 8, 2012, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hN_-qs2x4Bo