Digital Tech Time

Our focus on oral language has linked well with the use of digital technology. Teachers have been able to make use of different resources to target aspects of progress outcomes in both computational thinking and designing and developing digital outcomes. Oral language is used to “create meaning and effect” and digital technologies are beneficial for “developing understanding of the connections between oral, written, and visual language.” (NZ Curriculum) Both areas require students to use language, symbols, and texts.

One example of this link was seen in Room 9, as junior students recorded each others’ reading so that it could be uploaded to Seesaw. This is a way of creating a connection with home and whānau to showcase reading occurring in class. In terms of digital outcomes, this task ensured there was an authentic context for the reading, identifying ‘end-users’ (whānau). Students were able to create, manipulate and share videos of themselves and others, identifying the digital device used and its purpose.

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The use of digital technology is an important part of being a future focused school. Being future focused is one of the eight principles in the New Zealand Curriculum. It encourages students to look to the future. Now an important part of the technology curriculum, digital technology ensures that “all learners have the opportunity to become digitally capable individuals” with a greater focus on students becoming “innovative creators of digital solutions, moving beyond solely being users and consumers of digital technologies.” (NZ Curriculum)

Room 8 used a website called Avatar Maker to support their writing. Senior students plan their writing in many ways, from brainstorm clouds to bullet points lists. Another way to plan writing, as juniors well know, is to draw a picture. To support their descriptive writing about a character, senior students were able to use Avatar Maker to design their character first. This task also helped students develop other digital skills, such as manipulating, storing, and retrieving their picture. Students had to set the size of the image, think about what format to save it as, and be able to find it again to insert it into a Google Doc file.

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“I tried barrier games due to our oral language focus. The context was geometry and using positional language. Students were focused on giving clear instructions and responding to instructions.” - Mrs Sprague 

Barrier games are a language game in which two players sit across from each other with a barrier between them. In this case, students were sitting back to back, taking turns cutting out a coloured shape, gluing it to their own grid, then instructing their partner to do the same. At the end, pairs showed each other their finished sheets to see if they matched. This worked particularly well in terms of computational thinking, as students were required to use their decomposition skills to break down a simple non-computerised task into precise step-by-step instructions. By comparing their shapes, students were able to identify and possibly correct errors.

“I planned to do a directional focus with children having to make up their own pathway through a 4x4 grid, and then have other children work out the path using positional language such as left, right, forward, and back.” - Mr Morehu

As a computational thinking task, there was an authentic context presented, which identified ‘end-users’ (other students). Students created step-by-step instructions and gave these instructions to others.

Room 4 and Room 5 both worked on clines, an activity teachers learned about at an oral language teacher only day in the last term break.  As explained on education website TKI, clines are gradients used to help learners refine their knowledge of words describing a similar attribute. For example, in English we use a range of words to describe temperature, for example, tepid, hot, boiling, cool, and freezing. After modelling the task, these words were given to students to place on the cline from highest to lowest temperature. Students were able to access a thesaurus online and come up with additional words to include. It was an authentic task, identifying ‘end-users’, and requiring the sequencing of language.

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It is exciting to see the way different curriculum areas are being integrated throughout this inquiry.

Keywords: Digital Technology, PLD, oral language

2021 Graham DigitalTechTime 8