Memorable unit

We have consistently conducted this inquiry for two academic years now. For a couple of reasons, this year’s has been a memorable one for  my teaching Assistant and I. Inquiry based teaching and learning has always taught us the need to reflect on our learning journey from time to time in order to improve and grow. Comparatively, when I reflect on my previous inquiries and the current one, I have seen a noticeable improvement. There has been a marked improvement in our current method of inquiry in comparison with the old; planning, lesson delivery, instructional strategies etc.

‘Technology has the tendency to change the way people access information and connect with each other’ is the central idea of my memorable unit.

We  live in a world where almost everything we do, be it work, studies, entertainment, recreation etc. takes place on one form of a screen or another i.e. some type of tablet or smart phone; searching for information, playing games and connecting with family and friends around the world etc. has become seamless courtesy of the wonders of technology. The use of modern technology in education is the future. Therefore we must urge and guide our learners to fully embrace it but that can only happen when we as facilitators are open about the use of it too. This gives me a greater motivation to effectively integrate the use of technology in my teaching and learning. One of my plans this year is to try and integrate technology in my lessons as much as I can. We commenced the use of Seesaw and there was no better time to make it an integral part of our lessons. Also, our learners were assigned email addresses by the school which automatically qualified them to access Google Classroom. We explored how to send emails, use Google docs, Google forms and use Google classroom effectively. Google Docs has made our online collaboration easier and convenient and Google Classroom has extended our classroom as we chat, question, assign work, share links etc.

Over the long break, I extensively browsed Alice Keeler’s website and I was able to identify a couple of templates and add-on resources that would be useful in class. I found more than I would ever need but the one thing that particularly caught my attention was her rubric tab we used it to instantly assess the learners’ work, giving feedback and we later e-mailed their rubrics to their school-created mails.

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Alice Keeler’s rubric template

Also, If there was one thing that made the unit of inquiry memorable, was the fact that the learners  were, and have become, digitally-responsible citizens and they embarked on a one-on-one school campaign to educate other learners about the opportunities and dangers of using social media as well as making posters to be distributed around the school as part of our reflection and taking action.

And the icing on the cake; at the end of every unit, we embark a Unit-U turn (a session where the entire PYP team visits each other’s class and the teacher goes through the whole inquiry as facilitated by him or her). That’s a great way of peer assessing our colleagues as well as reflecting on our inquiry process — something we constantly try to incorporate in our learners. Using the simple majority rule, our class was adjudged the best by virtue of our method of inquiry. We were hugely humbled by the award but we have, at the same time, taken it as a challenge to maintain even higher teaching and learning standards. Our PYPC presented with a certificate and were given a treat as well.

 

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This is my 3rd year as a homeroom teacher at Al-Rayan International School.  Truth be told, I have been blessed to work with a great team of colleagues who continue to inspire and guide me in my career led by my PYP coordinator, primary head and our principal. It would not have been the same without you; your feedback, helping hand, suggestions etc.  were hugely beneficial.

@n_dowuona

 

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Technology

Technology has the tendency to change the way people access information and connect with each other was our first central idea of six this academic year.

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After six weeks of learning, we have been able to make remarkable progress in the use of technological devices especially for some of the learners who had mostly used the devices for playing games other than academic work. The learners used their devices to access information, present their findings as well as extend our class virtually. During our initial discussion, most of the learners were able express their opinion about how people accessed information in the past; tying a note to a bird’s leg , writing letters, playing drums and ‘smoke  message’ (people searched to identify the source of a smoke) are some of the ways they imagined people accessed information in the past.

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Making our theme board

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Making our theme board

I also told the learners about the experience in Ghana in the ’90s of mobile telephone services. In the late 90s, people had to book a week’s appointment to be able to call their relatives abroad at the Central Post Office locate at the heart of the city, Accra. There were long winding queues of people from all walks of life converging on daily basis to make a maximum of about 5 minutes call which would cost you a fortune. The introduction of mobile telephone services did not come cheap initially; a sim card was sold at ₵1.5 million (approximately $37 today). Thanks to technology, smart phones are accessible by millions now  and the proliferation of mobile telecommunication operators has made things cheaper and convenient now; sim cards are virtually free of charge and call rates are relatively cheaper.

As part of our tuning in learning engagements, we used the I see, I think, I wonder teaching strategy after the learners have seen pictures of technological devices used from the past. This led us into a hearty discussion about sophisticated instruments in general with the view that someone may use the word ‘technology’. I then asked the question ‘how do we get to watch live football matches in Ghana?’ (More than half of our learners are football enthusiasts). Before I could close say a word, a chorus answer echoed from the center of the class ‘technology!’ After that, we used the Think, Puzzle, Explore teaching strategy to assess the learners’ prior knowledge of ‘technology’. Most of the learners demonstrated very good knowledge of technology by either giving some good examples of devices they use at home or one that they have watched a documentary or read about.

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In addition, we tasked the learners to guess the central idea using a couple of key words- technology, change, access, information, connect. The following week, the learners worked in groups to conduct a survey in the school. They stomped through the corridors of the school soliciting and capturing images of things that uses technology. Each group had about 2-3 camera/iPad/tablet to capture the images and they later sent us the images via email. The learners also researched about computer, telephone, television, cars and airplane with the aid of a checklist: the inventor, uses, popular brands, . One group of the learners created a model of their research topic; television. After the presentation, their colleagues asked them few questions with regard to their research.

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Conducting a survey

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Asking questions

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Learners conducting a survey

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A learner conducting a survey

We created a virtual classroom on Google classroom. Our virtual classroom has been of immerse assistance in communicating with the learners as well as posting video or links as a way of consolidating a lesson, differentiating etc. We explored the basic uses of the both our emails and Google Classroom so the learners would be able to maximize the uses of these online tools.

capture3At the sorting out stage, the learners drew timelines of the various technological devices other than the ones they researched about. We also used the De Bono’s six thinking hats to analyze the word ‘technology’.

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using the six thinking hats

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Sample of a group work

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Work in progress

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Work in progress

This enabled the learners to have a holistic view of technology and as part of literacy lesson, the learners wrote about ‘A day without technology; how would it be like?’. It was quite interesting, reading some of the things the learners wrote about.

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English integration

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English integration

Technology would have been nothing without the people behind the invention or pioneers of the various devices so the learners studied about 10 people who have impacted technology positively

Additionally, we organized a debate ‘Should computers replace teachers?’ The debate was the learners’ first experiences but I must confess it was very heated at a point especially at the rebuttal rounds with each group making good contributions.

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Collaboration and planning

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Speaking for the motion

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Discussing debate points

At the end of the unit, the learners created posters to raise awareness about online safety and our responsibility on the internet.

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Posters

 

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