The Balancing Act of Technology in the Classroom
The incorporation of iPads and digital technologies as learning tools at Living Faith has been done with extensive thought and discussion on both the benefits and the challenges. We use these digital tools in a way where we see the most benefit, especially in terms of students’ engagement and in preparing our students for the future, whilst managing the associated challenges and providing sufficient balance.
At Living Faith, we see an iPad as one of many beneficial classroom tools that are used to support deep classroom learning. Our incorporation of digital technologies is filtered through the different year levels, with the upper grades engaging more frequently than in the younger years. Although we have 1:1 iPads at school, not all lessons require iPad use and generally, the majority of classroom activities especially in the junior primary involve hands-on or play-based approaches. For example, in Daily 5 in the early years, while some tasks may involve the use of an iPad, most involve a wide array of hands-on activities such as playdough, stamps, blocks, tactical games, rainbow writing, independent reading, string writing, reading to a partner, fine motor games, letter or sound craft and listening to their teacher read to the whole class.
In our planning, we aim at preparing students for the future by teaching important 21st-century soft skills and digital literacy gradually through each year level. This includes the safe and responsible use of technologies, which is a requirement of the Australian Curriculum. Students also engage with computer programming, robotics and even website and app development integrated into their subjects.
What are some of the ways we incorporate digital technology?
- Prep students learn the basics of how to use an iPad and utilise a range of apps to develop their literacy and numeracy skills.
- In Year 1, students use the Scratch Junior app to program a character to move across selected environments, focussing on developing foundational skills in computational thinking and an awareness of digital systems.
- In Year 2, students integrate media arts and green screen technology to create superhero scenes as part of their Performing Arts lessons.
- In Year 3, students design and build a ‘Bluebot city’ as part of their Maths unit. Students then program their Blue-Bot robot to navigate the streets of their map incorporating a wide range of mathematical concepts.
- In Year 4, students use the CoSpaces program to build virtual and augmented reality worlds that explain the voyage of the First Fleet and the experiences and impact of early colonisation.
- In Maths, Year 5 students work with robotic ‘Spheros’ to create the ‘Sphero Olympics’. This focuses on 360-degree angles, perimeter and area concepts as well as mapping and locations on a cartesian plane. As part of the Year 5 Hub Market, students also design a functioning website to help sell their products to the wider community.
- As part of their natural disasters unit in Year 6, students design an app to help teach and explain the impacts of natural disasters in the world.
The key, as with all educational tools and resources, is establishing the right balance. Incorporating digital technology offers our students a wide range of skill sets and opportunities. It can help add authenticity and meaning to their learning experiences, as well as adding that extra layer of engagement and fun.
- Bianca Ravi, Director of Learning