In 2014, Andrew Iddles joined us on the trip to the Somosomo District School. His leadership and input in the design and delivery of classroom activities was highly commendable. He took a lot of interest and developed some very meaningful tasks and experiments that were focussed on teaching concepts in electricity to children in Years 4 and 5. An admirable quality in Andrew is that while he is a deep thinker – he is also an excellent team player. In this blog, Andrew reflects on his experiences on the trip of a lifetime to Somosomo District School in Taveuni…
I can still remember my first lecture for Teaching Primary ICT. This chirpy, comical and optimistic young man starts the lecture by explaining all the positives of turning up to his lecture at 8 am in the morning. Following this, to break the ice this wise spring chicken plays a ‘guess how long I have been teaching for’ game, where the winner has the ‘privilege’ of sitting down for a coffee with him. What stuck with most in this lecture, was the enthusiasm the lecturer had for the use of ICT in everyday life, his passion for its place in education, and the fact that ICT its self does not teach students effectively, but rather ICT is just a tool, that when used the right way can create so many opportunities for deeper and broader learning in education – this has been my motivation to share, engage and educate, both students and teachers, about using ICT in the classroom. This man was Dr Vinesh Chandra, the president of The SEE Project inc., who at the time I only knew as my lecturer, and just 18 months later Vinesh is now my good friend, my uncle, and just recently, one of my Fijian dads.
My name is Andrew Iddles, and I am currently (2014) completing my 4th year of my Bachelor of Primary Education at QUT. Like so many others, I chose to study teaching so that I can ‘make a difference’, however thanks to the opportunities provided and inspired by The SEE Project I have been able to do more than I ever imagined, and I am yet to even finish my degree. Over the past 18 months I have been to Fiji three times and volunteered for over 8 weeks across 4 schools. In each school, the focus has been on sharing ideas to effectively integrate ICT’s into a range of subject areas, to enhance the learning experiences of students of the 21st century.
June 25th – July 7th 2014 – Somosomo District School
In June 2014, I embarked on a 12 day trip to Fiji, as part of a team of 16 staff and students from the Queensland University of Technology. We would spend the majority of our time on Taveuni Island, the third largest island of Fiji, where we would share, engage and educate teachers, students and community about the advantages of effectively integrating ICT into the classroom.
With us we took a class set of second hand laptops, a science kit, library books and stationary, which would all be donated to Somosomo District School, a small school located on Taveuni Island.
A big thanks must be given to QUT for the donation of laptops, and also to all those who supported our crowdfunding efforts, which raised enough money for the science kit, library books and stationary items.
The purpose of our trip was not only to provide resources to the school, but more importantly to showcase how they can effectively be used in the classroom. For many students and some teachers, this was the first time they had seen or touched a laptop, so having everyone actively engaged in the lessons was so important.
I worked in a group of 5 people, made up of 3 Bachelor of Primary Education students, 1 Bachelor of Information Technology student and 1 Bachelor of Electrical Engineering student. We planned to teach Year 5 and 6 Science: Physics, focusing on the topics parallel and series circuits, and conductors and insulators. We chose these topics after we were told that at this school, and many others in Fiji, these topics would be using chalk, talk and text books. From our experiences, we knew that such abstract ideas are best learned through hands on experiences. To provide this hands on experience we put together a science kit, filled with globes, wires, batteries and multimeters.
In the first lesson the students created simple (series) circuits and came to conclusions about the relationship between complete/ incomplete circuits and a flow of electricity.
In the second lesson students created series and parallel circuits, with one, two and three bulbs, and made observations about the similarities and differences. They also used multimeters to identify the voltage and amperage of each circuit.
In the third lesson, students tested a range of materials to see if they were conductors or insulators. Students placed the materials between two alligator chips, and learned that if the material is a conductor the globe will light up, and if it is an insulator the globe will not light up. This was related to the first lesson, so students were able to come to the conclusion that conductors allow electricity to pass through them, where as insulators do not. The students also took photos using the laptop, which would be used as evidence to show what they have learned.
In the final lesson, students used the laptops to create a presentation to share what they had learned about conductors and insulators. They imported the photos that they had taken to make their presentations more engaging and educational.
Here is an example of the presentations that were created (I have redone the speaking component).
On the final day of our week teaching the school hosted an open day, where the students shared what they had learned throughout the week with other students, teachers, family and other members of the community.
After the completion of the open day, the students presented an amazing thank you and goodbye ceremony for all of us visiting from Australia.
Something that we quickly noticed during our time in Fiji was how amazing everyone is at singing. Before leaving, I asked 4 students from Year 6 if they would like me to take a recording of them so that their voices could be heard around the world– they excitedly said “Yes!”
Of cause, being in Fiji and all, it certainly was not all work and no play. There was plenty of time throughout our teaching week, and in the days after, to enjoy the kind people, the welcoming culture and the beautiful environment that IS Fiji.
On our last night in Fiji, we enjoyed a traditional Fijian lovo feast for dinner. The food is cooked in a lovo pit, and tastes a bit like a barbecue, but a little more smokey – tokoka (delicious).
This trip was such a life changing experience for me. On reflection, I learned so much about myself, about Fiji and about my future profession as a teacher.
- Planning for teaching needs to be dynamic, especially when teaching in an unfamiliar context – content knowledge is more important than planning lessons.
- Kuni lenga – Just relax and don’t stress.
- The best kind of happiness comes from family, friends and community – not money.
- Fijian people have the ability to make their home, feel like your home.
- When you think you have finished your plate of food, there is another plate waiting for you.