How I… use technology to digitally enhance teaching and learning in RE – Matthew Jones

Throughout the first part of my training I believed that a good teacher was someone with a good PowerPoint. I remember planning every single aspect of my lessons on a PowerPoint, believing that I must absolutely rigidly stick to the sequence of slides, otherwise the lessons would go off plan. Two years into my career and thankfully I have seen the light, the PowerPoint doesn’t make the teacher, in fact it is often liberating to teach without one!

For a long time, Microsoft was the only technology I exposed myself and students too. All my lessons were planned on and delivered through PowerPoint, it wasn’t until this year I started to look into the many existing and also new and emerging technologies that can be used to digitally enhance learning in the RE classroom. I believe that RE can often be a subject not linked with using technology much. It all started with the trusty visualiser, I love using this piece of kit, it allows me to live mark, plan and answer exam questions right in-front of my students, giving them an opportunity not only to open up the exam specification but also to see the thought process behind answering a GCSE style question. This new addition to my teaching and learning got me thinking of the many different ways we can integrate technology into our classrooms not only with the aim of supporting pupil progress and collecting assessment data but also with the hope of engaging pupils with the subject.

My next step was to set up a departmental website on Weebly, with revision guides for KS4 and homework support for KS3 classes. As a department we were able to create QR codes which were stuck in planners, meaning pupils could scan and access all of the information they needed on their phones or tablet devices for additional support which has so far proved successful. This was also linked to other blogs created by members of the department so that students have a wealth of resources available to them.

Recently, I completed the Apple Teacher qualification which opened my eyes to the potential apple technology can have in the classroom. It’s ability to allow me to teach with apps, such as Quizlet and Nearpod, which not only allow me to assess learning in real time and collect and store formative assessment data, but they also afford me the opportunity to open up the real world from within my classroom. An example of which would be, Nearpod which allows you the opportunity to walk your pupils through the Sistine Chapel, so that they can see the Creation of Adam painting in all of its wonder and glory, the way it was intended. Technology gives us the opportunity to instil a sense of awe and wonder in our pupils, that perhaps other teaching styles cannot.

However, probably the most revolutionary aspect of technology I use regularly to enhance my teaching is twitter! Twitter is full of dedicated and knowledge rich-

practitioners with tons of ideas that they want to share with others in the profession. I use twitter every day, and often signpost other teachers that use tech in the classroom, and whilst I’m fairly new and still finding my feet in the world of digitally enhanced teaching I am sharing my research and evidence via Twitter. You can follow this journey via @tjones_m.

My final thought is this, technology without pedagogy is useless. In order to properly integrate technology into the classroom successfully first ask yourself the question “what is the purpose?”. If the answer is because it will genuinely enhance your teaching, then great go for it, however, sometimes sticking to a PowerPoint and a whiteboard is ok too.

 

Matthew Jones, Secondary Teacher of Religious Education. Wirral

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