Chrissy is a Health and Human Development and Home Economics teacher at Greensborough College. During this pilot project Chrissy produced a series of lessons for her Year 12 Health and Human Development class using digital technologies to communicate and represent key concepts. Technology was used to create visual stimulus to assist students to remember information. While not everything went to plan for Chrissy, it is clear that she and her students embraced the opportunity to try something different, opened new doors in terms of digital technologies in the classroom and created momentum to keep exploring, growing, learning and sharing.
Here we will look specifically at how Chrissy introduced her students to the role of the United Nations (UN) in providing global health and sustainable development through the following areas of action: world peace and security, human rights, humanitarian assistance and social and economic development. Chrissy planned a lesson to visually represent the UN’s four areas of action. In planning for this lesson, Chrissy was aware that at this stage in Unit 4 she needed to energise her students in the lead up to the end-of-year exam; she explains ‘It was about trying to find that snapshot, that image, that visual to bring the content to life. In the past we would have just learnt the content with the UN symbol and headings.’ In her aim to make the content more accessible and visual Chrissy chose to use AutoCollage, an eduSTAR software program that creates a collage from a set of images.
So, why did Chrissy choose to teach the UN’s areas of action using AutoCollage? ‘I decided it was a tool that my students would be comfortable to work with. It is visual and easy to navigate. It allowed my students to create a picture that they could then use as a study stimulus and also was a quick and fun activity to introduce this topic.’
After brainstorming each of the four action areas and reading a refugee story from UNHCR (http://www.unhcr.org/5087ac2a6.html), Chrissy’s students were tasked with finding images related to each of the action areas to create their collage. Chrissy highlights that ‘we’re dealing with issues that aren’t in our backyard, they’re in developing countries, they’re not always areas that our students understand or have first-hand knowledge of.’ By finding their own images Chrissy felt it would help her students ‘find that connection for themselves with the topic rather than me giving them images that are meaningful to me.’
By using AutoCollage to assist her students to find a connection to and later recall the content, Chrissy believes that her teaching was enhanced. She also found the program was user friendly and accessible for her students, giving them feelings of satisfaction when the images they selected and inputted were created into a visual representation of the UN’s four action areas.
AutoCollage was one digital learning tool that Chrissy experimented with during this pilot project. She leaves us with this for her next steps, ‘I am looking forward to incorporating more (digital learning) tools into my everyday teaching and, having had a positive experience, am motivated to keep going. It has been great to work with others and have the program (pilot project) as the extrinsic motivation but now that my skills, confidence and experience have grown I want to do more!’
Students loved AutoCollage because it was quick and they felt in control.
The focus of this lesson was to introduce students to the action areas of the United Nations and identify the role of each action area in providing global health and sustainable development. The success of this lesson was evident during the School-assessed Coursework (SAC) test assessing this outcome where students were able to visualise their AutoCollage to help them remember the content.
The fairly instant gratification for students when producing their AutoCollage helped to motivate their learning and provide an excellent starting point to then unpack each action area and make connections with the key knowledge and key skills required.
Teacher comment: ‘What I wanted to do was get them out visiting stories, finding images and be able to draw connections. It was interesting because we’d just done the SAC on the UN’s areas and they were able to find those connections using images in AutoCollage’.
Student One: ‘When you’re reading from a textbook it’s hard to visualise it ... in a photo it’s just a simple snapshot of what you’re trying to learn’.
Student Two: ‘I’ve enjoyed experimenting and trying different things. You’re never going to learn stuff unless you try new stuff ... we were given the opportunity to try different programs that helped with our research and also our studying for the SACs.’
It helped you to visualise and remember.
Students will explore and discover, the more that we did the better they got.
Using technology to prepare for the exam.
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