Jodie Lopez is an ex primary school teacher who won a number of awards for her use of technology across the curriculum. She moved from full time teaching into working with education technology companies to help bridge the gap between schools and products/services on offer. Jodie is a mum of 2 young boys. As a Teaching Awards judge, she loves to see and hear about all the fantastic work teachers and school are doing. You can find Jodie at @jodieworld on Twitter where she is always happy to answer any questions you may have about technology for your school!
IIn my previous blog I wrote about how I was going to start using TTS equipment to support staff across two schools (one infant and one junior) to roll out new technology to support a newly launched computing curriculum from Nursery to Year 6.
Asking teachers to do anything new always requires a lot of patience and involving technology increases that need at least ten-fold. Not because teachers cannot learn new things – far from it! But merely because teachers are already juggling lots of things and they are very time-poor it makes it challenging to add something new without increasing the workload. If we throw too much into the mix too quickly, we will do much more harm than good. For that reason, this journey of technology introduction will take at least 2 years before we see a major impact across the whole school, although there will always be some small wins along the way – as you will find out later in this blog!
Bringing technology into the classroom
I have spoken in my last blog about why chunky, child-friendly technology, such as those items I am using from TTS, help to ease teachers and children in without putting expensive and easily breakable technology, such as high-end laptops and iPads, into every classroom when people are not ready.
The first stage of the introduction of the technology has already been completed. The new equipment has arrived, and the teachers have had a chance to have a play and pick one or two things they would like to get started with. After introducing them to the technology and handing over some packs of equipment to each classroom…I left them alone to settle in without my help. What always happens at this stage is that some teachers try everything, and some try nothing. Those are both fine – eventually, we want a happy medium between the two, but this is where patience comes in.
We (myself and the computing leads at each school) also introduced a brand-new curriculum which will be rolling out in September. This has been designed to include lots of cross-curricular uses of ICT in line with their long-term planning. It also includes discrete teaching of skills and a way of incorporating the skills progression in all classes, some of which are mixed year groups. Now that the vision has been shared the next few months are all about building confidence with the technology. The teachers know how to teach and they have all their subject knowledge for what they are teaching usually, we just want to find opportunities to add some technology in without it throwing teachers off their usual timetable too much.
I have already had many stories of success from the schools:
- Some teachers have been sharing their top tips for using the visualisers as part of staff meetings
- The computing leads have been doing 5-minute sessions as part of the weekly briefings to show something new each week
- I have been making videos showing teachers how to use specific technology and software or websites which have led to some exciting new projects already – particularly in Years 5 and 6.
Technology to support the wider classroom
I decided that the next thing I could do to help was to go into school and give some time to the Teaching Assistants – especially those who work with children with SEND, either 1:1 or in small groups.
I showed them KITT the Learning Companion, and they brought the children they work with down for a play with the technology too. This was a fulfilling and exciting day for me to be a part of as so many of the children fell in love with KITT and wanted to take their KITT back to class straight away and show their teacher what they had already recorded.
One child recorded lots of singing with KITT and it was a joy to watch the smile spread across their face as they listened back to their recordings. The girl was cuddling KITT and when I said she could keep KITT for the classroom she was so excited I got a tear in my eye!
Another child loves the TTS Easi-speak rainbow microphone and walked around with it on the lanyard so he could record thoughts and songs around the room – ideal for him as he often goes outside for learning and this way the TA can easily evidence and share his learning with the class teacher and his parents.
One child was quite worried by loud noises and found KITT and the microphones a bit too loud, but he did love working with his TA using the Talktime A4 recordable cards. The TA recorded instructions such as “draw me a flower” in a softly spoken voice. The child they followed the instructions, playing them back multiple times.
These are just some of the stories from that one day and represent something important to me about technology: by introducing technology for all, we can find those individuals for whom technology will become an essential in helping them to access the curriculum, and future jobs.
By rolling out this technology we will engage lots of children with new ways to do things, and perhaps change life chances for a handful of those children through inclusive classrooms. I have seen this time and again and it never fails to remind me of why I do the job I do. Whether children use technology to get better grades, or simply to express themselves in new ways, it makes all the effort worthwhile for me!