Tuesday, 18 April 2017

MIEExpert Spotlight #26: Neliswa Zini from Queenstown in South Africa talks about her ICT in the classroom journey

This is the 25th post in the series "MIEExpert Spotlight" for South Africa. The tab with all the posts can be found at: http://bit.ly/1ZYy8Z7. Today we focus on Neliswa Zini. Neliswa has sent us this post about herself and how she started using ICT in the classroom.

"My name is Neliswa Zini. I live in Queenstown in Eastern Cape Province in South Africa. I currently teach at Shiloh Junior and Senior Primary School, where I offer NS/TECH in Grade 4, Mathematics grade 5 and English (FAL), Social Sciences and EMS in grade 7.

Introduction to ICT technology
I started using technology in 2009. My husband introduced me to the PC. He taught me some of the basics. Then I used his desktop to compile my IQMS file. I only used Microsoft Word at that time. I realised that using a computer saves so much time as you don’t have to rewrite the whole document when you want to create a new one. You just edit it here and there.

In 2012 I decided to do a Computer Clerk Course at Boston City Campus College.

After that I bought my own laptop and did all my planning such as lesson plans, assessment plans, recording sheets etc. using Ms Word and Ms Excel. As an IQMS co-ordinator I conducted staff development through training workshops at my school. I used Ms PowerPoint for my presentations.

In 2014 Telkom Foundation Project donated 21 laptops to my school. That gace us a total of 33 technology devices because we already had a computer lab with 22 desktops. However, at that time our computer lab was not really functional. In fact it was only used by our computer teacher and the Admin Clerk!

Teaching with ICT  technology
Then in 2015 Nosithembele Colleen Gcobo came with her team to train teachers in ICT integration at my school. She soon realised that I already knew what they were training. I ended up assisting them with the training. After that I was fortunately chosen to attend the SchoolNet ICT Integration conference in Durban.


I learned a lot about teaching with technology at that conference. I was introduced to new Microsoft tools like Office Mix, OneNote, Sway, Movie Maker etc. I fell in love with technology and I realised that I was using my laptop as an expensive pen, as I was only using it for my planning.

On my arrival back at school I started using technology in the classroom the way it was supposed to be (i.e. integrating technology into teaching and learning). I started by training my learners in computer basics.

I planned an English (FAL) grade 4 lesson, reading and viewing using Movie Maker. I used an overhead projector and white board to display my lesson. 


Here is the movie i created:

video


My learners were so excited. Everyone wanted to give me the answer when I asked questions.

After I finished teaching my lesson I gave them an assessment task and asked them to type their responses.
This exercise helped my learners who usually have spelling problems. From then on I continued using technology in my classroom. I planned and taught Maths lessons – Long Division and Shapes - using PowerPoint. I also used Excel for teaching Data Collection – Charts. 

In May 2016 I attended a summit at Gauteng where I learned a lot more about technology. Since then my planning takes place using OneNote.

Using Sway in the classroom
Although I have the challenge of poor Internet access, I told myself that I was not going to stay discouraged by the Internet challenge for ever. I used my own router to connect to the Internet. Then I made a grade 4 NS/TECH lesson –Water cycle using Sway. I’ve shared my sway on Twitter and Facebook.



As a teacher who is always willing to share my knowledge, I invited my colleagues to the computer lab and trained them in ICT integration. I shared everything I’ve experienced with them. That motivated them to start to integrate ICT in their classrooms. Here is my principal with the grade 7 learners.


I inspired my colleagues. I also showed them that technology can help learners who experience barriers to learning, particularly those with learning difficulties.

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Now Nosithembele Colleen Gcobo and I are planning to make a joint lesson whereby our grade 7 learners will work collaboratively on an English FAL project through Skype. We will use our own routers as we both experience an Internet access challenge at school. By doing this I am slowly becoming a part of a global professional learning network called #Make What’s Next starting with my neighbourhood. I also engage my learners in learning through gamification. While they play with cards in the classroom they learn counting in Maths without realising it. They also have fun at the same time.


Professional Development using the Microsoft Educator Community
I consistently do extra personal Professional Development on the Microsoft Educator Community (https://education.microsoft.com/) earning badges and points.  I have been tweeting about this:
I conclude by saying that teaching with technology is the best strategy to slowly turn around the vicious cycle of failure experienced by learners with learning difficulties. When I talk about learners with learning difficulties I’m talking about those learners who are of average to above average of intelligence, but their achievement is below the expected outcome. They experience a difficulty in the acquisition of reading, writing and mathematical problems. Technology is the best mechanism to deliver deliver/implement the curriculum in ways that are relevant and meaningful to the diverse needs of all learners.

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