- Data projector - This little device enabled me to work in real time with students by demonstrating processes. It also stopped the dermatitis I got when using chalk only to be replaced by RSI - just kidding.
- Computers (hardware & software)- Since the introduction into education some thirty odd years ago, these machines have enabled students to access information, apply concepts, develop very professional looking pieces of work (no matter what their ability level) and provide a multitude of tools to practise skills i.e. games.
- Calculators - Some days this is a love hate relationship, but they do enable students to complete tasks that otherwise would cause them bucket loads of stress. The hate part comes when students blindly accept what is in the display. To use them successfully students need a good handle on their basic number facts, otherwise 153 x 6 = 738. OOOPS! One wrong key hit and it all goes out the window.
- Butcher's Paper - Where would the big picture be without this resource? Yes, I can recall the groans when butcher's paper was produced at workshops, but it certainly got the job done. Very effective with students who have visual and learning disabilities, because you are able to space and enlarge the information. I have also used this resource with students when they needed to grasp the concept of a square metre and develop flowcharts. (You can also use it to wrap your fish and chips.)
- Earphones - Plug them in! Pop them on! A student is now in their own learning world listening to information etc. They provide an entire class with the opportunity to continue working uninterrupted.
- Electronic dictionaries - What a find! I avidly followed the progress of several students and their spelling prowess when I introduced these devices into the classroom. Using the prediction option, initially, they were able to complete most spelling corrections independently. This freed up my time and gave them confidence in their own ability. They required them less frequently during their time in the course.
- Games - I always had a treasure trove of games e.g. Triominoes, Scrabble, Da Vinci Code etc. Why? The time spent talking, recording scores, assisting other players, learning strategies and sometimes bending the rules developed a great sense of camaraderie and dramatically reduced behaviour management issues. We all need some fun in our day.
- Newspapers - From the headlines to the comics this resource provides a smorgasbord of activities. I used the photos and cartoons to get non-readers involved in reading, by interpreting the graphic and dictating their story to a tutor. They'd type this up and use online readers to initially assist them with reading the finished product. I upgraded to using the online versions, but missed the ink on the fingers.
- Cameras - Both still and video cameras enabled me to get students immersed in projects. One activity had students writing a book about the local area through photos. Videoing students preparing for job interviews helped them address some negative habits they had developed and reinforced the positive behaviours.
- Trundle Wheel - Light, easy to operate and only requires operator to walk a straight line, if that's the case. Measurements are quickly taken with a reasonable degree of accuracy and you don't need a degree to read the output.
- (Batteries - Half the above resources wouldn't work without them.)
There are a myriad of tools/resources that I have used to become an effective teacher, some are low tech while others are not so low tech.
Most jobs today require some level of computer literacy. During the course of my teaching I have worked with adults and youth who needed to improve both their overall literacy and computer skills. Most youth can access the internet and play games but when it comes to using specific software their skills can be very limited.
I have found the best strategy for introducing 'technophobe' adults to the computer is peer tutoring. Some older students coming into the class were unable to find the ON button for the computer, let alone access a program. Involving students who had been in the class for a longer time and undergone the computer lessons broke down the barriers faster than class sessions with myself or the tutor. What was the 'kerching' moment? On most occasions it was the peer tutor's own story of wrestling the technology into submission.
The second strategy was using the data project to slowly guide the student through procedures in 'real time'. It's time to bring out the MOET when a 64 year old student, who was computer illiterate when he started the class, can produce word documents that include: tables, computer generated graphs, graphics and footers. This did take a few months and he still typed with one finger, but the published work was fantastic.
The third strategy is very personalised and not always achieveable. CUT THE FINGER NAILS! One woman finally explained her aversion to using the computer was breaking or chipping a nail. Here I hit a brick wall and could only suggest voice recognition software to save the sculptured horny plates. At least, by the end of her course, she was tentatively typing with two fingers and accessing the internet. Success can come in drips and dollops.
Have you ever explored the options that Windows has to offer? There are inbuilt assistive tools that give you and your students the opportunity to optimise access and active participation in learning. Check out the options in Accessories or go to www.microsoft.com/enable/. On the Microsoft site you can access tutorials, guides and video demonstrations on how to use the tools.
Here is the thread to find these tools:
1. Start button
2. All Programs
4. Ease of Access folder
5. Select Ease of Access Centre-
- Start On-Screen Keyboard
- Set up High-Contrast.
Enjoy the exploration and hopefully you and your students will benefit from these tools.
Having been in the education field for over 33 years, I've never been able to compartmentalise these areas. However, due to timetabling and policy I felt like I was droning on for hours (or was it years) on the same subject. It has taken me a few of those 33 years to refine my teaching strategies, hopefully like a good red wine maturing, but it was worth the tweaking or in some cases all out cauterisation.
The fine tuning has enabled me to bring a real life approach to literacy and numeracy for post school students. By real life I mean, exposing students to tasks that are interconnected and embedded just as they are outside the classroom. Has that made my teaching life easier? Yes and no! Yes, because the students are motivated with the material and delivery. No, because I couldn't find appropriate teaching resources. That's why this web site has come about.
Before setting to work on the learning resources I review the concepts and skills that students will require to complete the tasks. I cover these concepts/skills in a more formal teaching setting, however, I make these lessons very interactive and hands-on. Also prior to starting the integrated resources, I review the activities. Some days it felt like I was juggling chainsaws (as no doubt you all do), but I managed to carve a few good pieces along the way without losing any fingers. Sanity is another matter!