ICT: The Way To Engage The ‘Digital Natives’ In Our Classrooms


“Our students have changes radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach” (Prensky, 2001p. 1).

Today’s students, referred to as digital natives, are saturated with technology. I see babies in prams playing on their mum’s Iphone before they can learn to talk! The constant exposure and interaction with digital technology, through the use of computers, videogames, mobile phones and digital music players to name a few, has changed the way our new generation of students’  think and process information in the brain (Prensky, 2001).

 The use of technology during the early years of childhood has altered the brain structure to a different thinking pattern than any other generation (Prensky, 2001).  Digital natives are used to receiving information at a fast rate, getting instant gratification, parallel processing and multi-tasking (Prensky, 2001). This means that children are looking for a different learning experience, one that is familiar to them, as opposed to the experience that pre-digital aged teachers, who are teaching them, have created (Prensky, 2001). Hence the recent shift in education systems to incorporate ICT and other technologies in teaching and learning strategies across all Key Learning Areas (KLAs). This is reflected in the NSW syllabus in all KLA’s and also in the NSW Institute of Teachers’ Professional Teaching Element 4 – Aspect 4.1.5 Use a range of teaching strategies and resources including ICT and other technologies to foster interest and support learning.  The explicit reference to ICT and other technologies in these mandatory documents means that teacher’s are now accountable for transforming their ‘old’ pedagogy of  teaching, to one that is more current and engaging for today’s students, the digital natives. Teachers need to elevate the quality of learning through providing an environment that is relative to their students’ style of learning. Through the use of ICT and other technologies teachers can create meaningful and engaging learning experiences for their technology savvy students.

Below is my example of ICT being incorporated into a science lesson on ‘push and pull’. This Interactive White Board resource makes learning fun as they are able to use their kinesthetic skills to drag and drop items where they belong. ICT allows learning to become interactive and engaging for the digital native students.


During my school visits I observed how my school integrates ICT into their teaching. The school has been very proactive and devised an ICT skills scope and sequence for each stage, highlighting the curriculum links across all KLAs with ICT skills which teachers must incorporate in their teaching. These outcomes have been set up and enforced by the school.

In the year one class I am currently placed in, they incorporate ICT skills in their literacy program through PM readers (2 desktop computers are set up in their classroom for this), a daily activity on the Interactive White Board for students to display the date and weather and through incidentals such as, when the teacher was creating task group tags she asked the students to explain how to insert a picture into a Word document. They went through this procedure step by step. The school also has an E-Learning room, in which each class has time to use the computers for ICT skills learning and also to incorporate the use of computers into other KLA work. Each classroom has a Promethean Interactive Whiteboard, flip cameras and also access to a laptop portable library.

The Year’s 5 and 6 in the school are engaged in project based learning. The rationale behind this is that studies have supported that students who learn in an environment that represents authentic real experiences are better learners and are more equipped for the workplace.  The school has adopted this style of learning to engage students’ interest and motivation to learn; placing a huge emphasis on learning ICT skills and to enhance content meaning through the use of computers. One pitfall of using computers for the majority of school work is that teachers cannot completely assess the students’ spelling and grammar competency, as programs have tools to auto correct these. However, the school recognises that the use of technology is central for engaging students to learn content and the development of life skills a 21st century student needs in order to succeed.  Students are instructed to work from 12pm till home time using ICT as a platform for their content learning of the KLAs.  

I had the privilege to watch film documentaries that Years 5 & 6 students made about education systems around the world. The school gave the students an unforgettable experience of going to film making courses at NIDA and AFTRS (Australian Film, Television and Radio Studios) to learn about how to make professional films. The students used programs such as Movie Maker and Photo Story to develop their documentaries and deliver a professional result. I was astounded by the quality and professionalism of their films.

Teachers in all school’s need to approach ICT with “open arms” so that they allow their students to learn in a manner that complements the way their students’ think and process information. The use of ICT will enhance their learning experience, as the digital learning environment matches their way of learning. This in turn will make learning more engaging for this new generation of students and will increase the quality of their education. Today’s teachers need to embrace the way of the future of teaching.



Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon. 9(5).


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Pedagogy:The Art and Science of Teaching

After looking at the NSW Department of Education and Training: Quality Teaching in Public Schools adn the  NSW Institute of Teachers Professional Teaching Standards Element 5, Aspect 5.1.2 Establish supporting learning environments where students feel safe to risk full participation and Aspect 5.1.3 Demonstrate strategies to create a positive evironment supporting student effort and learning, I drew my attention to the way my colleague teacher teachers and how the three dimensions of pedagogy impact on her way of teaching. The three dimensions of pedagogy are;

  1. Intellectual Quality: refers to producing high levels of intellectual thinking. Teachers must ensure that they treat knowledge as a basis for setting challenging work that requires a deeper understanding and knowledge to problem-solve and engage in higher-order thinking through connections between ideas.
  2. Quality learning environment: refers to a positive environment which offers high support for learning. Teachers have high expectations that their students will achieve good results in their on-task ability, student engagement and quality of work.
  3. Significance: Teachers make meaningful and engaging learning experiences. Teachers recognise that learning becomes clear when teachers link work to out of school contexts so that learning becomes important to students.      (NSW Dept. of Education and Training, 2003)

The Quality Teaching standards provides a framework in which teachers should operate in. The reason these standards were developed was so that across school and classrooms teachers’ quality of pedagogical practices were different (NSW Dept. of Education and Training, 2003). This is only natural as pedagogy refers to how things are taught, not what is taught (as the content is clearly outlined in NSW syllabus).

In my classroom my colleague teacher ensures that students are constantly being challenged, this is demonstrated through her high order questions during class discussions and also during group work. Students are grouped for maths and literacy into ability groups so that she can set tasks to challenge each student to their full potential, according to their ability group.   My colleague teacher always models the quality of work that she expects. She mentioned that this is so important because on the rare occasion that she doesn’t, she notices a huge difference in their quality of work, their formatting such as not starting at the left hand side of the page, grammar and also their intellectual thinking is poor.  The feel of the classroom is definitely positive. There is lots of praise in the classroom and students feel very comfortable to ask questions which help to deepen their knowledge. The teacher doesn’t move on to another task unless it is fully completed to a certain standard of quality. During class discussions she always refers to examples where their learning is applicable. This has obviously made an impression on me as during a maths lesson on time I was delivering I asked them question of where they use times and referred to the use of stop watches in their cross country carnival they had the day before.

I believe this quality framework of pedagogy is so important to ensure that the integrity and quality of the teaching profession is uniform across classrooms and schools. The way in which a teacher teaches has a dramatic impact on their quality of achieving learning outcomes. As teachers we are role models for demonstrating what a high level of quality in learning looks like, therefore the Quality Teaching standards of pedagogy sets the bar for teachers and consequently students.       

To find out more about NSW Quality Teaching and pedagogy click on the link below;




 New South Wales Department of Education and Training ( 2003). Quality Teaching in Public Schools:Discussion Paper, cited in Book of Readings: Effective Teaching and Professional Practice 2011.

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Classroom Behaviour Management: Theory or Practice?

The last week of term at any school is often a challenge for teachers in terms of managing classroom behaviour. Students are tired and ready to play or ‘play up’ at any chance, whilst teachers are at the end of their patience and wanting to refresh and start again on a clean slate with many challenging students. Neither teacher nor students are to be criticised for their lack of patience or attention however, it is at this stage that both are tested in their performance or control of behaviour.

Entering a classroom as an unfamiliar teacher to the students on Wednesday, I looked at Lee & Marlene Canter’s Assertive Discipline Group Management Model (Konza et al. 2004) to attempt to manage the classroom effectively in an active Mathematics group work lesson. The model assumes the teacher to insist on students to behave properly and to emphasise that there will be consequences if students don’t behave in an appropriate manner (Konza et al. 2004), thus the teacher maintains control during a lesson that could potentially get out of control considering the type of lesson and situation.

 Whilst this model should have been effective for a noisy group work activity where by students are very physical (eg passing balls to each other and jumping up and down), I found myself disciplining more than teaching. The circumstances surrounding the time in which the lesson was performed may have lent itself better to employ Fritz Redls Model which focuses on outlining and student modelling acceptable behaviour before the activity whilst being more lenient to unacceptable behaviour due to circumstances (Kona et al. 2004). Redl’s approach on Tolerating would categorise this situation as ‘wrong place wrong time’ (Konza et al. 2004 p82) by considering the situation of the term finishing, an interrupted morning with library and P.E classes, followed by wet weather recess inside classroom which occurred directly before the lesson and also the fact that they had been on a Zoo excursion the day before not to mention the students are only in year 1. Redl’s model would have accepted certain ‘bad’ behaviour and followed up with those students at a later time (Konza et al. 2004). The model extends itself to more of a positive behaviour appraisal method, by ignoring difficult behaviour (Konza et al. 2004) and praising good behaviour to maintain continuity in the lesson and less on discipline.

In Redl’s model his forth concept, Preventative Planning, argues ‘that if children misbehave during certain times and/or in certain places then changes to class procedure might be necessary” (Konza et al. p83). Whilst I recognise that Students have to learn the life skill of behaving appropriately no matter the circumstance and that this approach could be considered as too lenient in most learning situations, I think that the model could have been applied in this teaching situation as both the student and the teacher are always exhausted by the end of term and maybe a different activity should have been undertaken that was less active and noisy.

Behaviour Management is definitely a skill of a teacher that develops over time, through a lot of practical experience. From managing the class as a whole to achieve learning outcomes to learning what discipline techniques students respond to best, each student may be different. This relates to the NSW Institute of Teachers Professional Teaching Standards Element 5: Aspect 5.1.5 Demonstrates knowledge of practical approaches to managing student behaviour and their applications in the classroom, and Element 5: Aspect 5.1.6 Demonstrates knowledge of principles and practices for managing classroom discipline. To be a great teacher you need to be dynamic in your teaching and behaviour management style.        





Bacall, A. (2011). CLS CartoonStock. Retrieved April 13, 2011, from CLS CartoonStock: http://www.cartoonstock.com/fullsearch.asp?ANDkeyword=behaviour+managment&ORkeyword=&TITLEkeyword=&NOTkeyword=&performSearch=TRUE&mainArchive=mainArchive&MA_Artist=&MA_Category=

 Konza, D., Grainger, J. & Bradshaw, K. (2004). Existing Models of Behaviour Management. In Classroom Management: A Survival Guide, (pp79-100). Social Science Press

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Cooperate with Cooperative Learning!

Group work or cooperative learning is an organisational strategy for teaching, whereby students engage in social interaction with their peers, developing skills in communication and responsibility whilst also learning syllabus content (Arthur, Gordon & Butterfield, 2003). In cooperative leaning students achieve learning outcomes that relate to socialisation skills and academic content. This type of learning also relates to the NSW Institute of Teacher Professional Teaching Standards Element 4: Aspect 4.1.4 Use student group structures as appropriate to address teaching and learning goals. I believe that cooperative learning is an important and necessary way of learning in the classroom as it encourages students to share view points, learn to accept or disagree appropriately and to develop different ways of thinking and skills of sharing knowledge (Arthur et al., 2003).

During my school visits, I have observed an effective use of group work in math and literacy lessons. The teacher has established small groups of like abilities so that students can work together at the same level. This is very efficient as often questions or tasks are set differently for each group according to the ability level. It also gives students a chance to interact with students they may not otherwise have much communication with and fosters a knowledge and learning hub, so that students in their ability group can discuss the work at hand (Whitton et al., 2010).

An example of the effective use of group work was in a literacy lesson. Students were given words in a sentence, from an informational text they had been reading, that was jumbled up. Each group was given different sentences depending on their ability group and had to work as a team, pooling all of their knowledge and ideas, to present the unjumbled sentence. Whilst the teacher and I were monitoring that students were on task, we were also observing that all students were participating in the activity. We were assessing the academic outcomes; the students’ knowledge of the informational book and sentence structure and also their social skills; their ability to ‘take turns’ in communication, be active listeners, accept or respect other people opinions and to collectively formulate an answer.

Largely base on a constructivist approach, co-operative learning empowers students to control and share the learning responsibly amongst their group. Students learn to be accountable to their learning to themselves and others (Arthur et al., 2003). The role of the teacher is a facilitator of the students learning experience, through empowering and guiding students towards achieving goals in the group activity (Arthur et al., 2003). In order for group work to be a success a lot of planning and management is required. Teachers must select how they will form the groups and also ensure that the task complements groups work. Fisher (1995, cited in Witton, Barker, Nosworthy, Sinclair & Nanlohy, 2010) identifies group work appropriate for tasks that involve interpretative discussion, problem-solving or a production of work. Teachers must ensure that students are not ‘free loading’ from others in their group that work more conscientiously, sometimes roles can be assigned to ensure that each students has a responsibility (Arthur et al., 2003). Hence teachers need to ensure their management skills of keeping all students on task are strong.

 I believe that cooperative learning is a great organisational strategy when used appropriately as students learn content whilst also learning life skills of working cooperatively in a team or group situation which are vital social skills in their future for success in the workplace and also in social situations.


Arthur, M., Gordon, C & Butterfield, N. (2003). The impact of curriculum and instruction. In Classroom Management: Creating Positive Learning Environments, (pp43-52). Thomson: Southbank, Victoria.

Whitton, D., Barker, K., Nosworthy, M. Sinclair, C. & Nanlohy, P. (2010). Learning for teaching: teaching for learning, ( 2nd ed.), (pp181-188). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia

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Bloom’s Taxonomy: Encouraging Higher Cognitive Thinking in Primary School Classrooms

Research tells us that teachers ask 300-400 questions a day, and hence is paramount in a teacher’s tool box for engaging students, encouraging discussion, stimulating higher cognitive thinking and evaluating learning progress of students (Barry & Kind 1998). This powerful tool that is abundantly present in the teaching profession is often taken for granted and not used effectively.

I looked at Bloom’s taxonomy, for the framework categorising the types of questions found in classrooms (Alford, Herbert & Fragenheim 2006).

I observed that the majority of questions asked in class discussion and on worksheets were factual, knowledge based questions that involve recalling information such as “list 4 facts about the animal’s shelter”. Whilst asking this type of question was an effective tool for assessing student learning, questions didn’t extended beyond the facts, an extension question such as “what other animals can you think of that might live in a shelter like rabbit?” Or to compare shelters of other animals would have been appropriate for students to take the next step of applying, comparing and contrasting facts to extend students thinking (Alford et al. 2006).

Higher cognitive thinking invites a further understanding of content such as problem solving, making judgements, evaluation and reflection to name a few (Alford et al. 2006). These questions, whilst far more challenging, can still assess students knowledge, as facts are the basis of their justification of an answer, and also gives students ownership and a sense of power over their education by getting students to make a judgement and commit to an idea, allowing them to reflect on a particular issues with a ‘safety net’ of a teacher to point out any implications on their ideas, a Socratic style of questioning ( Barry & Kind 1998). It encourages and teaches children to make their own decisions not just in a classroom setting but also a life skill.

An example of where students were able to use their ‘Design’ or ‘Synthesis’ (high cognitive) thinking skills (Alford et al. 2006), was their maths lesson. Students had been learning about clocks and had to apply their knowledge of the properties and elements of time and clocks to make their own clock. Whilst the higher achievers came up with extraordinary designs, so too did the lower abilities, which proves that teachers should not be afraid of challenging their students in these higher areas of thinking even with the lower abilities.

I believe that planning questions is just as vital as planning the lesson (Barry & Kind 1998) as it adds to the growth to students academically and personally. I recognise that higher cognitive questions must be introduced sequentially and match student level but I do support Barry & King’s (1998) theory that we should include half of the total number or questions asked as high cognitive thinking questions. If students are not challenged by thinking in higher cognitive ways they can easily plateau. By getting students who struggle to extend themselves in the other ways of thinking, it creates an avenue for teachers to encourage their learning so they can move into higher cognitive levels. This relates to NSW Institue of Teachers Professional Standards Element 4 : Aspect 4.1.2 Demonstrate a range of questioning techniques designed to support student learning; and Element 5: Aspect 5.1.4  Provide clear directions for classrom activities for classroom activities and engage students in purposeful learning activities.

For more on Blooms taxonomy visit:



Alford, G., Herbert, P., & Frangenheim, E. (2006). Bloom’s Taxonomy Overview. Innovative Teachers Companion , 176 – 224. ITC Publications.

Barry, K. & King, L. (1998). Developing Instructional Skills. Beginning Teaching and Beyond, (3rd ed.), 144-167. Social Science Press.

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