Teaching Digital Technologies can be daunting if you're new to it. You may feel pressure or expectation to introduce lots of fancy (expensive!) whizz-bang equipment that you have no idea how to use. While these tools (robotics, coding software etc) are great, they are not the only way to deliver the Digital Technologies curriculum.
Sometimes, there just isn't the time, energy or budget.
Sometimes, it's nice just to get back to basics.
That's why I love sharing these hands-on activities that many of you will be familiar with from other learning areas. It doesn't matter that we're teaching children about cyber bullying, location services or digital footprints! The teaching strategies that we use in Literacy, Health or Science are just as applicable when teaching Digital Technologies (or ICT Capability). It's just the content that's different... and that's where The Tweeting Galah books come in. Each story in the series addresses a different topic about digital citizenship. The books provide the content - so you can focus on delivering a fun, hands-on lesson (you can read a full breakdown of the Australian curriculum that the stories meet here).
All the ideas outlined below are designed to help children develop and demonstrate their understanding of the Digital Technologies (or ICT Capability) messages from the stories.
Re-telling (and imaginative play) ideas
Re-telling is perhaps a strategy you would associate more with a Literacy lesson than a Digital Technologies lesson. But trust me, it can still be an effective strategy for children to demonstrate their understanding of key digital citizenship themes! After reading a story from The Tweeting Galah series, we want children to identify the key details – because it’s those key details that are the Digital Technologies (and ICT capability) learning objectives (i.e. What are the different uses of technology devices? How can we keep our personal information safe?)
Here are some re-telling activities ideas –
Book Box (Sensory Table)
After reading and discussing one of the stories as a class, give children time to explore and retell the story using various props and sensory materials that you have laid out for them. This works best individually or in small groups.
(Bonus: here's a practical use for that iPhone box everyone told you to throw out!)
Re-tell with character cut-outs
For an interactive, tangible activity you could have childrenre-tell the story using cut-outs of the characters (that they draw themselves) stuck onto pop sticks. They can draw their own backgrounds, or, if you're looking to bring in some Design Technologies/STEM, you could guide your class through wet-felting their own backgrounds (as seen in the photo above!)
Watch my video tutorial on how to do this here.
Re-telling with puppets
Who doesn't love puppets!? So versatile and great for re-telling stories. Your children could use the hand-made felt puppets from The Little Possum Imaginative Play Pack to re-tell the story of The Little Possum who Looked Up (or, create your own!) They will have a blast (pun intended) playing with Pebbles the Possum as she moves her way through the tree house (provided!) learning about the different ways technology can be used for work and play.
5 Finger Re-telling
Depending on how much time you want to spend on this you could have your children trace and cut out their own hands-on card or you may like to use the hand template included in the Digital Citizenship Activity Bundle (PDF) that comes with all The Tweeting Galah Teacher Packs. There’s also an anchor chart included to guide the initial classroom discussion.
Each finger represents a part of the retelling: characters, setting, problem, events and solution. Plus, the palm of the hand represents the main theme.
Sounding like a Literacy lesson? Yep this activity could 100% be used as an integrated Literacy / Digital Technologies (ICT Capability) lesson. But as the problem, events, solution and (most importantly) the theme of the stories are all about 'safe use of technology' and 'digital systems' - they help you meet some Digital Technologies learning objectives as well.
You may think role-play is just for Drama lessons… think again! Role-play is a great opportunity for children to explore the Digital Technologies themes from The Tweeting Galah stories on a deeper level.
Many of the stories in the series end with deliberate (albeit, subtle) cliff hangers. For instance, The Sensational Saga of the Bumbling Bilby ends with Balbina the Bilby knowing she needs to talk to her friends about the video they posted online without her permission ... but the story doesn’t actually include that conversation. The idea is for your class to discuss, research and decide how that conversation should go.
Here are some ways you could implement role-play into your lessons –
AR Character Selfie Cards
When you purchased The Teacher's Complete Printed Pack you would have received a set of AR Character Selfie Cards. These cards allow children to scan QR-like codes with a device (using a free and safe app called Zappar) and then photograph or record themselves with an animal face filter. There’s one for each key character in The Tweeting Galah and The Surfing Penguin books!
Apart from being super novel and fun, these cards offer plenty of role playing opportunities.
For instance, ask children to record photographs or videos of themselves as Balbina the Bilby – how does she feel before the obstacle course (nervous)? When she’s finished the obstacle course (embarrassed)? When she realises the video has been published online by her friends (upset)? And after she’s had a conversation with them (relieved/happy)?
Children could even then design and print a collage of these photographs and label them (tip: a great little way to integrate Digital Technologies with Health – 'talking about emotions and friendships').
If you have robots at your school (i.e. Spheros, Ozobots, Beebots) you could dress them up with some cardboard characters and use them to role play various scenarios from the books. This could serve as a re-telling activity as well, but I used to get my Year 4 students to script the conversation between Balbina and her friends, and then code Ozobots and narrate the story with their additional script at the end.
The added benefit of using these robots is that you are also teaching children about algorithms/coding (another component of the Digital Technologies curriculum).
Just act it out
No prep required (unless you want to raid the costumes cupboard or print out our ready-to-go character props) Simply pick a story and ask children to either act out the story exactly as it happened OR ask them to act out what comes next. For instance, children could work in pairs to script and perform what happens when Wing Commander Grey speaks with Gabbo the Galah about breaking school rules (from, The Tale of the Tweeting Galah). Children could perform for the class and even record themselves for Seesaw to share with families!
Each story in The Tweeting Galah series focuses on a different technology topic. Reflecting on the actions of the characters, and the themes of the stories is a simple way to ensure children’s understanding.
Each story includes reflection questions at the end. The purpose of these reflection questions is to guide classroom discussion, helping you direct the focus of your class to the important ‘take-away’ messages. They are also super helpful if you’re new to teaching Digital Technologies yourself!
Read out each question one-by-one after the story, and ask children to call out answers. Encourage debate and discussion where opinions differ.
Think, pair, share
Give children a chance to think quietly about a question, before pairing up with another child to discuss their answers and then sharing their answers as a class.
The Tweeting Galah Teacher Packs come with a Digital Citizenship Activity Bundle (PDF), which includes printable versions of all the reflection questions from the book. Simply have them printed before your lesson, and give children time to write out their responses. This is a great way to collect evidence of their understanding. (Tip: brighten up the marking process of these written worksheets by using our super cute and colourful Teacher Stamps!)
Which activity are you most excited about using in your classroom!?
I always love hearing and seeing how The Tweeting Galah is being used in classrooms. Please tag @thetweetinggalah on Instagram (or @kimmaslin on Twitter) so I can see what you are doing!