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PAKENHAM SPRINGS PRIMARY SCHOOL

CASE STUDY | snapshot February 2021


Pakenham Springs Primary School is a government school situated in the Metro South East. They have approximately 800 students with a dedicated STEM/DT teacher specialist teacher for their Level 3, 4, 5 and 6 classes. Each class has a dedicated 1 hour per week session.

Digital Technologies is taught within the STEM classes, sometimes in the form of stand alone topics and other times integrated into the Science or Design and Technology curricula. The Digital Technologies curriculum has been reported on for 3 years. Over the course of this time, digital devices have increased in the STEM room. The main devices used are iPads and laptops, which students share.

Professional learning
The STEM specialist teacher has built their professional practice through professional readings, attending professional network meetings and observing STEM teachers in different school local to the area.

Our biggest success

Winning gold at 2019 RoboCup competition. Students showing potential in coding. Using Minecraft in the classroom. Having a variety of resources to teach about robotics.

Our biggest challenge

Learning the different types of technology and projects to teach the curriculum across different disciplines.

CURRICULUM IMPLEMENTATION

Levels 3-4
Unit Overview 

 Levels 5-6
Unit overview 


Spotlighted Unit: Building communities with Minecraft (Levels 5-6)

Focussed topics: Online collaborative projects + algorithmic thinking

GOING FORWARD

What we identified for development

Improving student depth of understanding of coding - reading block code and script.

3 things we would avoid or do differently

1. Teach initial coding concepts before introducing EV3 robot kits. Students were learning how to use the robots without really understanding what all the code blocks mean.

2. Integrate more digital aspects when teaching Science concepts.

3. Ground students with more background information before diving into a particular tech tool or Digital Technologies concept.

INPUT FROM DLTV and ACS

NOTE: This advice is relevant to this school snapshot as at February 2021, with documents provided at that time.

starting out   >   building practices   >   consolidating practices

Pakenham Springs Primary School has begun utilising relevant learning technologies and setting aside dedicated staff, resources and time for the delivery of the Digital Technologies learning area. Their current approach also looks for opportunities to integrate skills and knowledge from the Digital Technologies content descriptors with other learning areas like Science and Design and Technology.

A common concern in Australian schools is lack of teacher background in the core concepts, particularly in areas like coding and digital systems. Content knowledge and pedagogical advice are available from multiple sources, so we recommend a program of formal or informal professional learning to continue unpacking and applying the content descriptors in the curriculum.

The case study notes that Pakenham Springs staff have identified past issues with diving too quickly into a tech tool (eg. EV3 robots) without first grounding students in computational thinking and the relevant coding skills or concepts.

In the case of algorithmic thinking, one valuable goal is to move from a primarily tool-driven approach (eg. using the generic learning sequence provided with a robotics kit) to an outcome-driven approach where the teacher chooses and designs activities and challenges with a goal of building algorithmic thinking in line with the skills given in the curriculum content descriptors.

Finally, the approach of a specialist classroom and teacher can carry vulnerability in case of staff change. We recommend a deliberate strategy to ensure that the school can continue to deliver Digital Technologies and utilise the range of learning tools should a crucial staff member move on.

CONTACT

School contact: Tanjil-Lea Delport, STEM Teacher

Phone: (03) 5945 7400  (school office)

Email: pakenham.springs.ps@edumail.vic.gov.au, subject line: ‘Attention: Tanjil-Lea Delport DT Implementation’

© Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria

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