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SMART CLASSROOMS - Migrant children benefit from digital pedagogy

May 2009

Participating in the classroom ... Woodridge State School Year 7 teacher Belinda Johnston with students Hser Eh Soe (front) and Nee Ni Hel.

A Woodridge State School teacher is going to great lengths to ensure her students get the most from their time in the classroom.

With three-quarters of the school's population from non-English speaking homes, Year 7 teacher Belinda Johnston has embraced digital pedagogy - a concept that enhances her teaching practices and helps all students learn.

'For these children, English is not their first language and as a teacher it's my responsibility to find another way of communicating with and engaging them in learning,' Miss Johnston said.

'All students, no matter where they are from, deserve to have every opportunity to achieve.

'It's up to the classroom teacher to provide his or her students with a diverse range of learning experiences that will help them actively participate in the classroom.'

Miss Johnston was recently awarded her Digital Pedagogy Licence, after having her ICT Certificate for a few years.

The digital pedagogy initiative benefits the 30 per cent of children who cannot read or write in their first language and in most cases have not attended school before arriving in Australia.

Miss Johnston said many children had access to ICT at home so the best way to communicate with and engage them was to use visual aids.

'Since the introduction of ICT, I have even found that productivity has increased - they are still going after 2.45pm,' she said.

Miss Johnston's lessons, which follow the Education Queensland curriculum, generally involve using digital cameras, computers, project rooms and virtual classrooms.

Even the traditional "pen and paper" test, used by most schools, has been altered to incorporate ICT.

'Because some of the students struggle with reading and writing, I sometimes get them to explain their answers with photos or by using the Smartboard,' Miss Johnston said.

'This gives the migrant children in my class a chance to understand what I am teaching them and be engaged by what they are learning.

'Without the use of ICT, this is incredibly challenging for students who do not have a grip of the language their teacher is using.

Teaching is about finding a way to engage all students, not just a majority of them.'

For more information visit the Smart Classrooms website.