Sunday, February 17, 2013

Digital Resources are Improving Teaching and Learning

My students and I are currently working through a Teaching-Learning Cycle (T-L Cycle) with a "Reconciliation" theme. Its creation and evolution has come from the necessity to prepare them for their first Reconciliation (Religion), and it includes integration of other curriculum content like writing, reading, and dramatic arts.

With the addition of interactive Brightlink projectors in the classroom and software like RM Easiteach, I created an interactive framework to guide my students down a pathway that would benefit their learning and achievement. It was originally created in isolation but it has now been combined with high yield strategies to really give it a 'boost' in the right direction.

Interactive framework/pathway for preparing students for Reconciliation

The framework allows my class to venture through each of our topics interactively and it connects them to online texts (appropriate Bible stories) and You Tube videos. Prior to having the projector and software, I fondly recall gathering my students in front of the classroom computer monitor, all huddled together, to watch the digital media I wanted them to see. It was only 'interactive' if I let them use the mouse!

Example of a link to an online interactive story and a You Tube video

With the use of digital resources via our interactive white board, I am much more energized and passionate about my work and the students appear more involved and engaged. I love the number of video clips available to me via You Tube. From a short clip portraying Peter denying Jesus to a 15 minute video about Jesus visiting Zacchaeus, I am no longer held hostage by a 60 minute DVD that I need to cue up to capture the 5-10 minutes that will allow me to make my point and cause my students to reflect. Also, the online texts I use throughout this T-L Cycle allow the students to turn the pages sequentially and/or flip through the text as they make references and/or explain their thinking.

Another benefit of using online resources is that they are free and tend to be great 'visuals' for the students. One of the You Tube videos I show my students comes near the end of our preparation for first Reconciliation. It is a video of a mock Reconciliation! This might not be exciting to you but it is to me and my students! They get to SEE what they will be experiencing - what it looks like and sounds like. To quote one of my students, "Reconciliation won't be so scary now that we have seen what it looks like".

The access to digital resources and the ability to project them and interact with them is really adding a richness to my practice and my students learning. In combination with good pedagogy it is becoming a force to be reckoned with. I take the most joy in leveraging digital resources to teach my students how to be good people rooted in our Gospel values as I assist them in their Faith development. 

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