Leigh is a Health and Human Development and Home Economics teacher at Warrandyte High School. For this pilot project Leigh and her Year 12 class investigated the United Nations’ (UN) eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG), their purpose, the reasons why they are important and progress towards achieving the goals.
For a teacher to be an effective initiator and facilitator involves planning, clear learning intentions and the willingness to experiment and explore. This story documents one of Leigh’s teaching journeys and successes.
In addressing the key knowledge and key skills, Leigh tasked her students with designing a presentation using a Mind Mapping tool Inspiration. In small groups, students were required to research one UN MDG, they then summarise, organise and present the information they collected to the rest of the class. Inspiration allows students to visually show connections between information; insert images, graphs, video and audio a well as present and share information with others. ‘I wanted students to learn about the Millennium Development Goals, their purpose and be able to provide two examples of programs relevant to the UN MDG, via a video clip. I placed students into eight groups of three and gave each group a different UN MDG. They then had to present this to the class.’
Before designing the task, Leigh explored and learnt about the functionality of Inspiration. Inspiration is a tool that allows for the creation of a wide range of presentations, and is especially useful for visually planning and organising work and communicating and presenting knowledge. Inspiration is part of the eduSTAR software suite http://www.inspiration.com/Inspiration.
Previously, Leigh would have implemented a more teacher-focused approach to address these key knowledge and skills. She would have presented the material to students, asked them to complete a worksheet and printed out the latest progress report for each UN MDG. 'The students had to go the UN MDG progress report and other online resources to gather and organise information on their allocated UN MDG. They then inserted images, videos and data into their Mind Map. Students used the data to evaluate progress towards achieving the UN MDG. They presented and shared their Mind Map with the class, this included being able to tell the class what the data in their Mind Map meant.'
By shifting the responsibility onto her students Leigh gave them ownership over their learning. They worked cooperatively, were engaged with the task and were able to gain a deeper understanding of the content and were able to apply this understanding in other contexts, as was evident in their improved School-assessed Coursework (SAC) results.
For Leigh, finding the time to learn and explore the software was one of her biggest challenges. Now that she is familiar with Inspiration she feels this is a tool she can continue to use and explore further to enhance learning and teaching in other topics and in other classes. She also hopes to explore other tools in the future. ‘I will try and use technology more in my classroom. It is only the first year our Year 12 students have had access to their own laptops so I will make greater use of technology for teaching and learning in the future.’
Inspiration enabled students to include text, data and video relevant to their allocated MDG
‘I definitely felt the students learnt the content on UN MDG better than usual. Their SAC marks reflected this – with a marked improvement in the lower–end students’ results.’ (Leigh)
‘Some of the kids in the class loved it (the software) and have been using it a lot since then.’ (Leigh)
Some students were keen to learn about the Inspiration program, while other students were a bit reluctant. I think in Year 12 many students just want to get through the content and don’t want to spend time learning new technology. My role is to help them understand the benefits that technology can afford, such as linking concepts together and gaining a deeper understanding.
I felt the technology really engaged the lower-level achieving students in the class. They enjoyed using the program and it kept them on task a lot longer than usual. This enabled them to develop a greater understanding of the UN MDG. They were keen to present their findings to the class.
I would encourage teachers to use more technology in their classrooms. It has been an interesting experience. It has made me very aware of my lack of knowledge of applications out there. I know I need to learn more to cater for the students who will be learning in classrooms in the future. It has motivated me to do and learn more.
There was a definite improvement in SAC results.
Inspiration gives students greater flexibility to organise information and ideas for revision.
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