Over the past decade, teachers have been expected to integrate digital technologies into their classrooms.
Governments have prioritised including digital technology in schools and even pre-service teacher training programs are being advised to enhance teacher education by using innovative technology practices.
However, despite the resources that have been allocated to ensure that technology is integrated into classrooms, teachers are still in the process of figuring out how best to implement technology in their classrooms.
Teach For Australia Associates and Alumni around the country are now beginning to implement more and more innovative teaching methods into their classrooms.
At Warnbro Community High School in Western Australia, first year Associate Laure Braconnier has introduced the use of Zoom into her lessons to help students engage with experts from outside the school community.
Earlier this year in her Year 11 mathematics class, Laure decided that she needed the help of a financial professional to help engage students when learning about simple interest rates.
With the help of video conferencing platform Zoom, Laure was able to bring some real life experience into the classroom.
“To introduce the concept to my students, I decided that it was better to seek the help of a finance professional,” Laure said when asked about the Zoom experience.
“Bob spoke to the students about simple interest and compound interest before students then got the opportunity to ask him questions.”
While this was the first time that Laure had introduced video-conferencing into her classroom, it definitely won’t be the last.
“After the conference, my students were absolutely thrilled to have gone through such a learning experience and straight away asked if we could do more of it,” Laure said.
One of Laure’s students, Jerome, found the lesson particularly interesting.
“The lesson was very interesting and unique with the way we learnt about interest rates. I don’t think I have ever been in a classroom that’s taught through facetime so that was cool,” Jerome said.
Laure will now try and replicate these lessons as the class moves forward with rates and ratios.
“Let’s see if a cook or an architect can chat with my students about how to adjust recipe quantities using ratios or draw a blueprint using scale ratios.”
Although there are many reasons as to why technology in the classroom doesn’t seem to work for teachers, Teach For Australia Alumn Jeremy Lu is bucking that trend.
The introduction of Zoom into TFA led classrooms also follows the successful integration of GroupMap, Jeremy Lu’s (Cohort 2017) business venture, into classrooms in Western Australia.
GroupMap is a tool for brainstorming with students, facilitating discussion and providing feedback. The tool allows teachers to use visual templates and graphic organisers to scaffold their lesson plan into thinking exercises and give everyone the opportunity to share their thinking in a safe, moderated way.
“We basically wanted to solve the problem that teachers were time poor but needed a way to see what students were thinking and to be able to easily provide feedback collectively and individually,” Jeremy recalls.
To date, GroupMap has over 50 templates such as KWL, exit tickets, problem solving, character analysis, design thinking, student voting and creative thinking activities. The tool also gives teachers the ability to create their own based on their subject area.