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Educ 1066- Assessment #2

The topic I have chosen for my portfolio is Natural Disasters. The year level group this topic will be
targeted at is Years 3-4. Each of these resources will be assessed under 7 forms of criteria and their
usefulness in the classroom will be discussed.

Part A- Portfolio
Resource 1: National Geographic website: Natural Disasters section
http://environment.nationalgeographic.com.au/environment/natural-disasters/

This page can be found on the National Geographic website. It is specific to Natural Disasters and
offers students or teachers a wide range of options. These include a list of all the different forms of
natural disasters, recent catastrophes that have taken place, images and videos of disasters,
information on disaster survival, quizzes and advertisements for books that can be bought on the
topic. It is a resource that is frequently updated, from a respected source, has an engaging and
professional layout and is appropriate for all ages. The teacher will need to be specific as to what
topics are covered, as some may be too advanced for younger children.

Resource 2: BTN: Natural Disasters Topic


http://www.abc.net.au/btn/topics.htm

Natural Disasters is just one of the many topics on this site designed to educate children on current
events. It provides teachers with constantly updated video news stories and also with worksheets
that relate to the video that has just been watched. Students can watch this on an interactive
whiteboard or their own mobile devices, then complete the worksheet provided by the teacher. It is
a very well-known and well-used resource that is very current, reliable, easy to navigate, and easy
for children to understand. Some videos may need to be watched beforehand to ensure some
images are not too graphic for sensitive students.

Resource 3: Fragile Earth: IPad App


https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/fragile-earth/id515226237?mt=8

This is a fascinating resource that can be used provoke the thoughts of students concerning the
effect of natural disasters. This app can be used for both IPhones and IPads, and shows photos that
depict the before and after of sites affected by natural disasters. It then provides an explanation as
to what happened, where it was and how the disaster occurred. It gives references to where its
information was cited from, and is extremely engaging, easy to navigate and well laid out. For Years
3-4 students it may difficult for them to understand, but with added teacher discussion it is a very
useful thought provoking resource. It also requires purchase.

Resource 4: BBC Natural Disasters section


http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/earth/natural_disasters

This site is similar to that of National Geographic. Both offer links to all forms of natural disasters to
click on, and also provides videos relevant to the form of natural disaster chosen. There are also
further links at the side of the page to famous natural disasters that have taken place, which go into
more detail. While this site is simple to navigate, very engaging, informative and easy for children to
understand, a lot of the pages cite Wikipedia for their information. A more reliable source would be
preferable. Also, a number of the links are to topics well above Year 3-4 level.

Resource 5: Stopping Natural Disasters game


http://www.stopdisastersgame.org/en/playgame.html

This game is designed to help children engage in higher order thinking. In the activity they are
required to prepare an area for an oncoming disaster, such as a bushfire, tsunami or hurricane. As
they complete the required tasks, informative tabs pop up, explaining what they are doing and why.
This resource is very interactive, reliable and comprehensible. Its complexity makes it debatable as
to whether this is a suitable resource for year 3-4 however. At the very least, the teacher will have to
take students through a demonstration, and playing this game once would not be as beneficial as
playing it multiple times.

Resource 6: ‘No Strings’ Charity- Educational Puppet Videos


https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFAC9E4174F7FF167

The creators of this charity were responsible for the Muppets and Sesame Street, and they applied
their puppetry skills to help children of all countries understand the dangers of natural disasters and
how to stay safe. There are 10 videos on this playlist covering a range of natural disasters in a
number of different languages. Clearly this is a very child-friendly resource with reliable information.
It is easy for the children to understand, and also provides them with a greater global perspective. It
may be aimed at a slightly younger age bracket but it is still useful nonetheless.

Resource 7: Flip-Through Natural Disaster’s Book- Whiteboard Compatible


https://www.teachervision.com/natural-disasters/web-book/71477.html

In this resource, a teacher can take their class through a reading of an e-book on natural disasters.
This is much more convenient than a teacher using an actual book, as the whole class is able to read
the text on the pages easily. The publisher DK and its eye-witness series is respected worldwide,
suggesting that the information given in this book is trustworthy. The publication date is 2009 so it
could be more relevant. However it is appropriate and the teacher is on hand to assist their
understanding of trickier concepts. To access the resources on the TeacherVision website you are
required to sign up and pay an annual fee.

Resource 8: NASA- Earth Observatory Natural Hazards


http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/

This resource provides the viewer with satellite images of recent natural disasters that have taken
place all over the world. It is completely up to date; a world map shows pins of recent disasters and
a student or teacher can click on these pins to show satellite photos of the disaster taking place.
There are labels illustrating the location and elements of the disaster, and there is also a
summarising paragraph below explaining what happened. This resource is extremely reliable and
easy to navigate. It is very interactive; however younger children may not find the plainer layout
stimulating.
Resource 9: Jackie French- Flood: Children’s book

This book was in fact used in a library lesson at my placement school. The students in Years 3-4
found the story engaging and easy to understand, and when the teacher discussed it with them they
showed clear learning and a comprehension of what being in a flood would be like. The book is
about a recent flood in Queensland and tells the story of the local inhabitants and their acts of
bravery and community. The illustrations are impressive, the text is easy to read and the story line is
ideal for that age group.

Resource 10: ‘The Homeschool Den’ Natural Disaster’s activities

http://thehomeschoolden.blogspot.com.au/search/label/Natural%20Disasters%20Unit%20and%20A
ctivities

This is the most amateur resource on this list; however it still provides helpful suggestions for
creative activities and tasks that a teacher can assign to their students. There are number of art and
craft options such as tissue paper volcanoes and clay tectonic plates. These give children a visual
representation of natural disasters and a greater understanding of how they come about. The layout
is more for adults and teachers who will use the resources, but the tasks themselves seem
appropriate, engaging and easy to instruct the students with. There are also worksheets that can
provide the students with information about the tasks they are undertaking.

Resources Criteria: Current Reliable Comprehensible Engaging Interactive Appropriate Layout


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Part B- Rationale
How can ICT be used to enhance learning and teaching?

Classrooms have always utilised technology and multimedia in the classroom. They stimulate
creativity and higher order thinking. However, never has technology so influenced the way teachers
operate than in today’s schooling systems. Waves of rapid technological advancement have resulted
in a complete revolution of what is taught, how and why. ICT (Information and Communication
Technologies) sees a new emphasis of learner responsibility and overall pedagogical freedom. The
forces behind the incorporation of ICT in learning are, as Pinheiro & Simoes (2012 p.382) state,
‘already changing the organisation and delivery of higher education’. Some teachers disagree with
the extent to which ICT is being applied; others feel that it is not enough. This rationale seeks to
examine these different opinions and analyse the ways to which ICT can be used to enhance learning
and teaching.

Perhaps the greatest change current technology has brought about is the global communication that
is now possible. Not only has it extended the reach of possible communication, it has also improved
the speed and convenience of it. This notion is known as connectivism and is not separate from
classrooms. Downes (2012, p.85) explains that connectivism sees knowledge as ‘literally the set of
connections formed by actions and experiences’. Correct incorporation and use of digital
technologies can lead to the successful development of networked students. Networked learning is
an excellent tool in the 21st century and it allows student to overcome temporal or spatial barriers to
collaborate and assist each other in their own learning and development. As teachers, we should be
enabling our students to take control of their own learning, create successful learning relationships,
form positive networks with other students, find relevant and appropriate sources and develop a
sense of adventure and creativity when it comes to new technological methods of networked
learning. Although this may raise the question as to whether a teacher is required at all, students still
need an instructor who can model, guide, induce change, protect against harmful sites and help
them differentiate between good and bad sites and resources. However, we must still ask how a
classroom of networked learners can be achieved.

There are a number of technological resources that teachers can utilise in their efforts to cultivate
connected students. Wikis and blogs are an excellent example of this. Wikis allow students to
organise themselves into learning and specific topic groups, and after undertaking research children
can share the information they have uncovered. This enables students to improve their own
research skills by comparing them to others, to view and appreciate the methods and results of
others and also provides them with self- esteem and confidence which is an essential learning
characteristic. This capitalises on the knowledge that children learn better if they have found the
information for themselves. Wikis also enable students to share and interact with various forms of
multimedia, not just plain text. This results in an exciting and engaging experience.

Blogs are very useful as a forum where students can engage in discussions and debates about topics
studied in class. Views can be shared, points can be argued and conclusions can be drawn, and all
lead to higher order thinking processes. The great benefit of such resources is that students do not
have to be in class to participate. They can write their thoughts at home and the next day their
opinions can be discussed as a class under the mediation and direction of the teacher. There is no
paper or pens and mess and all of it can be viewed quickly at any time or place. It should also be
noted that teachers are not exempt from the benefits of being part of a networked learning
community. Already on placement I have seen the site Pinterest being used on several occasions. It
is often relied for links to innovative learning tasks and activities on specific topics that teachers and
parents have shared online.

Another outcome of current technological advancements that has significant implications in teaching
is mobile technologies. The entertainment uses of devices such as mobile phones, tablets and
laptops are well-known, but they are also versatile and highly useful educational tools. In addition to
the almost certain access students will have with mobile technologies outside of the classrooms,
schools have greatly increased their presence inside the classroom as well. The rapid improvement
in mobile technologies such as larger screens, greater storage capacity and better mobile-specific
resources available make them even more appealing. Several of the resources above were
compatible with mobile devices. The ‘Fragile Earth’ IPad app for example would be extremely useful
in a classroom that had access to IPads. The same could be said for the ‘Stopping Natural Disasters’
game. This could be played on both tablets and laptops. The clear motivation that students have to
engage with mobile technologies is leading teachers to examine how these tools can be successfully
assimilated into the pedagogical process (Bradley et al. 2009).

Perhaps the greatest benefit of mobile technologies for teachers is that it facilitates lesson
customisation. Working to the different learning needs of a classroom full of children has always
been a major pedagogical dilemma, but mobile technologies provide a solution. Teachers are able to
set up separate lesson plans and tasks that cater to specific children’s needs. These students are
then able to access and work on these on their own personal devices. They can move at their own
pace and the technology can alter the required difficulty levels of tasks and assistance when needed.
Other beneficial characteristics of mobile technologies include portability, a conduciveness to social
interactivity, wireless connectivity, its ability to perform a multitude of uses in a small learning space
and potential for individualisation.

This last trait is often under-estimated in a learning context. A child often becomes much more
stimulated and engaged when they can stamp their own identity onto a device. Another example of
capitalizing on this sense of ownership is hanging up students work throughout the classroom, and
also the site ClassDojo. This is a teacher managed website where students all have their own
personal ‘monsters’ on a class-wide board, and points are assigned or taken away in relation to the
child’s achievements and misbehaviour. The site reinforces positive behaviour with pop-up
encouraging messages and bright colours. This can be shown on an interactive whiteboard as an
incentive and behaviour management tool. The flip through Natural Disasters book that was listed as
a resource in the last task is another example of how interactive whiteboards can be used in the
classroom.

To conclude, there is a multitude of ways that ICT can be used to influence the learning of our
students. Not only does technology make the process of teaching more convenient, it also promotes
a sense of global perspective and communication, can cater much more effectively to the different
learning needs of students and also encourages higher order thinking processes. It also improves the
way teachers instruct their students and interact with their international colleagues. We need to be
aware and adaptable in this age of significant change, where children are learning in an environment
fundamentally different to that of their teachers (Groundwater Smith et al, 2015, p. 142)
References
Pinheiro, MM, & Simoes, D 2012, 'Constructing Knowledge: An Experience of Active and
Collaborative Learning in ICT Classrooms’, Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology - TOJET,
vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 382-389.

Downes S, 2012, ‘Connectivism and Connective Knowledge’, National Research Council, Canada.

Barbour, MK, Grzebyk, TQ, & Eye, J 2014, 'Any Time, Any Place, Any Pace-Really? Examining Mobile
Learning in a Virtual School Environment', Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, vol. 15, no.
1, pp. 114-127.

Bradley, C, Haynes, R, Cook, J, Boyle, T, Smith, C 2009, ‘Design and Development of Multimedia
Learning Objects for Mobile Phones’, Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and
Training, pp. 157-179.

Groundwater-Smith, S, Ewing R & Le Cornu, R 2015, Teaching challenges & dilemmas, 5th edn,
Cengage Learning, VIC.