Element 1 – Revisiting your professional identity (blog entry)

Throughout this semester my personal identify has changed a fair amount. As a lot of my practicums have not been orientated around my Information Technology Systems area, this course has given me a greater insight of what is to expect. For example, I have not had the opportunity to be exposed to content such as assignments and units of work. With these additional resources I have become more confident with what I do know and areas on which I need to improve on.

It’s through the content in this course has make me think more laterally on how to approach elements such as workplace health and safety and computer safety within a classroom which was assessment in Element 4 in the first assignment. While I felt a lot of this content was implied for students to know, it wasn’t until then that made me stop and consider how these elements could be incorporated into the foundation weeks of my teaching.

Having access to provided professional resources such as IPT Online have been a huge benefit on building my knowledge on Coding which at this current stage is not one of my strongest points within ITS. Along with completing a few units in any free time I have, I have also signed up to other educational tools including Codecademy where I have almost completed the JavaScript unit, from which I will then complete the HTML and CSS unit. As time progresses I would be interesting in completing further professional development through a TAFE to expand my knowledge.

Within my other subjects at university I have been aiming to remove myself out of my comfort zone to write lesson plans and unit plans which evolve the ITS subject. In past years I have completed these types of plans on my other teaching area (Graphic) which is my strongest subject of the two. While some of these created plans might not be practical in all schools, it does however provide me to be more familiar with the ITS Syllabus document and supporting documents which can be found on the QCAA website.

One of the most effective and though provoking activities completed within this course was the content within week three where I created a graph on the steady incline of student participation within IPT. While this subject doesn’t in most degrees have much of a relation with ITS, it did however change my thinking on how to keep course content exciting and relevant. As noted in Morgan’s graph of ITS there has been a decline of female students from the year 2010. While I’m not too sure on why this change has occurred, it has made me think how I could “sell” the unit more to females and make them more interested in these computing students. Trends like these are not only isolated to ITS but also Graphics where a majority of the senior classes are male.

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Element 1 – Revisiting your professional identity (blog entry)

Element 4 – Differentiation

One of the biggest challenges that teacher are facing in the modern classroom are the attempts that teachers take to respond to an increasingly broad spectrum of student needs, backgrounds, and learning styles. When responding to this issue, the use of differentiation is a way of thinking about how teaching and learning can be applied through the use of a variety of strategies which will address and manage the variety if learning needs in the classroom.

There are a number of strategies available that the teacher can apply within a classroom to assist in identifying students requiring differentiation. Foremost the following strategies must be applied as soon as possible so the data collection process can begin from which classroom plans and units can be implemented.

As noted in this book here many teachers begin to gather information about their students through the reviewing of students’ academic histories. In many State School in Queensland this information is readily available. However if a student has transferred from a school which does not have this information available, the recommended strategy is to contact the school and speak to the students old teachers. A second strategy includes finding the students interest which assists in the planning of activities. Through this strategy in a high school setting, the teacher can make observations through the students computer backgrounds, overheard conversations or having a genuine conversations with individual students when they completing classroom tasks. Interest surveys, preferred ways of learning, and parental discussions are all other types of data gathering tools which will help in identifying the learners with a classroom.

The definition of differentiation is somewhat similar to equity where teachers need to assess students from the same set of criteria. However with differentiation the teacher is to develop tiered assessment for students instead of modifying them to be more appropriate. This could become a challenge for teachers as this would make marking of assessments harder when comparing two students work together. Also this requires further planning from teachers who already have compact schedules when preparing lessons for the wide variety of students. While it could be possible but there is always the chance that some students learning needs would not be met.

The book found in this link here, within Chapter 10 contains a variety of strategies for students with special needs such as those with Learning Disabilities, Behavioural Disorders, Physical Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders, or students with Dual Difference which is defined as a student who has strengths in one area but has difficulties in another.

When examining Gifted and Talented Students, which should not be confused with Higher Achiever students, these types of learners have knowledge that far surpass those of their classmates. In applying differentiation to this group of learners, the teacher is to provide opportunities for the students to go beyond what the curriculum and a particular teacher can offer. Therefore these students are to be provided with extra material that goes beyond what other students will be completing. However if a classroom contains a student that has a reading learning difficulty where that student is reading below the grade level, differentiation may include providing reading materials that are more appropriate or design assessment that is easier and more direct for the student understand.

Element 4 – Differentiation

Element 1 – What does it mean to be a computing specialist teacher? (blog entry)

Computer lab by ecastro, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  ecastro 

Upon personal reflection through the experiences I have gained over the past few years, being a computing specialist teacher greatly differs from other teaching disciplines in many significant areas. In numerous ways a computing teacher could be compared to an art teacher, where students are provided with opportunities to think creatively within a given topic. This brings forth the notion of individualism with a project. An example of this within an IT context would be students creating a website for a particular client. While there is scaffolding provided for the students to base their work off, the majority of the design and implementation work is conducted using computational thinking to reach the final objective.

However at times students use algorithmic thinking to solve problems. This is achieved through students using existing systems and standard in place to achieve their final result. This can be seen in creating a website where it’s required to use a certain language to achieve the desired result. For example HTML and CSS is used for the look of the website whereas JavaScript is used to create pop-up messages or inputting and storing of data. While similar elements of algorithmic thinking can be seen in disciplines such as Maths or Physics, in IT it’s used in a much more complex and broader way.

Though one of the biggest challenges facing a computing teacher presently is the notion of staying relevant within this ever changing technological environment. Unlike Maths where there has been only minor changes in how calculation are performed over the past century with the instruction of electronic calculators, in the computing discipline there are constant changes made to make sure we stay on trend. Hence the importance of personal development. To assist myself in staying relevant with any current technological trends I have subscribed to many relevant networks such as Scootle and QSITE where I aim to build on my repertoire of knowledge.

I am also constantly looking for effective way to improve not only the content itself but how I could deliver it. Through reflection of the lessons I have taught, I aim to seeking advice from fellow peers or experts to make sure any future learning episode I do will keep the student excited and engaged, with the ultimate aim of improving computing subject enrollments.

Element 1 – What does it mean to be a computing specialist teacher? (blog entry)