AGQTP AISV PD

This blog is a result of an opportunity provided by the AGQTP professional development sessions through the Association of Independent Schools of Victoria in 2009.

David Williams: Professional Reflection

Motivation

ICA Casey College is in its third year of operation and one of the founding features was to be the development of a robotics program. The staff member who was to lead this unexpectedly left the College at the beginning of our second year. When the documentation from the AISV came through for the project I saw it as an ideal opportunity to use it as a launching point for our robotics program. However, my knowledge in this area was minimal but I took up the challenge regardless. I had good support in my colleague, Lyndal who had some experience in robotics.  

Intended goals / outcomes

Whole College:

  • To establish a robotics program within the College.
  • To have select staff participate in an introductory robotics professional development session.

Student: Through units in robotics students will

  • further develop and apply their Mathematical, Scientific and ICT knowledge.
  • further develop and apply the skills necessary for managing their personal learning and using thinking processes.

Personal:

  • To develop the necessary knowledge and ability to set up and implement an introductory robotics unit.
  • To improve my knowledge and ability in the area of ICT.

 

Description of the activity

Briefly describe the flow of the activity.  What did students do?  Where did it take place? What kinds of resources did they use?  What types of interactions did they have? etc.

I set up a WordPress Blog as a starting point for my Year Six unit in Robotics this term. The students accessed the Blog to engage with the initial task on the robotics page, which required them to click on a link to view a talk by Rodney Brooks, ‘Robots will invade our lives’ on the TED website. They were required to respond by developing a series of questions using our College’s Levels of Thinking as a guide.

The next stage of the task involved students working together to share their questions. From the Science page on the Blog they had to utilize the questions they created to develop further questions or adjust their original ones to outline a scientific investigation into the following topic: Robotics and artificial intelligence: enhancer of or threat to human existence? Investigate the use of robotics and artificial intelligence in history, industry, medicine, the military, literature and film.

This investigation task is currently implemented in support of the actual Lego Mindstorms robotics introductory unit in Science and Technology lessons. As other TED or online talks become available I add them to the robotics page on the blog for students to view and respond to. The intention is to further stimulate their investigation and also challenge them to think critically, analytically and be evaluative while engaging with the topic.

The unit on robotics was planned for this term. Therefore, my class is only just now beginning to engage with the blog. I am also using it for a staff presentation this week.

I have also created other pages in other Key Learning Areas where students can access materials and resources to assist and make their home learning more convenient.

Use of Online / Web 2 resources & tools

Anecdotes from Design / Implementation

The original stimulus task set up on the blog to launch the robotics unit was a powerful one in that engaged the students and generated some good discussion. From there the whole class was able to develop their investigation task themselves through a think, pair, share process.

As I mentioned above this is now being implemented this term, therefore more time is required for students to engage with the blog.

Final Reflection

The beauty of the AGQTP PD was that it gave me an opportunity to take the time out of the everyday pleasures and difficulties of teaching, administration, counselling, negotiating, reprimanding, encouraging, investigating etc and participate in an enriching and challenging ICT course. I have never been proficient in ICT. This was a chance for me to learn some new skills to enhance my teaching and stimulate and improve my students learning. It also provided benefits for our College in regards to establishing the beginnings of our robotics program.

This allowed targeted staff to participate in the introductory Lego Mindstrorm Robotics PD. We also had opportunities to present and trial some of the Web 2.0 tools (WordPress & Nings) with staff in our own pedagogy development.

The two main struggles that I faced was more limited knowledge in this area (suffering vertigo while undertaking such a steep learning curve) and being able to devote the time that I needed and wanted between the AISV professional development days.  Knowing that we had a robotics unit planned for term 4 gave me a focal point to decide what exactly I would use and trial in relation to Web 2.0 tools. Once I began planning aspects of the unit I then was able to develop the blog as a part of the planning process.

In the process of investigating, researching and trialling the development of our own pedagogy in terms of technology at ICA Casey College and sharing our learning from the AGQTP AISV PD we have been debating the following issue or puzzle: Is the e-Principle (technology) a pedagogy or a learning tool?  Strong cases for both sides of the issue have been presented by staff at the College and we are yet to come to a consensus and reach a conclusion.

The insight gained for me personally, and I believe also for other staff, through the process of implementing ICT in the classroom and participating in our own developmental phase of our pedagogy trial at the College, is the challenge of preparing students for the future. They need to have initiative and be flexible and adaptable, critical thinkers and problem solvers, curious and imaginative, collaborators and leaders, analysers and evaluators of information and effective communicators in the oral and written form. These are the characteristics and dispositions required by students in order to develop their social, political, economic and environmental capital. The greater their capital, the greater are their opportunities and the better their resilience when facing the ever changing demands of the world around them.

This is no easy task. It requires a well researched and developed pedagogy with an emphasis on Literacy, Numeracy, Thinking, management of personal learning and ICT. It is dynamic and ever changing and evolving. It is like the elusive Holy Grail that one searches for but never quite reaches!

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