St Mary’s DSG, Pretoria
St Mary’s DSG Pretoria use XT in their computer centre as well as on the SMART interactive whiteboards in their classrooms. We interviewed Andrea Hundermark, the school IT teacher and computer guru, about how she uses XT on a daily basis.
How long have you been teaching, where did you study and what is your current job title?
I studied at Natal Training College in Pietermaritzburg. I have been teaching for 27 years, starting in Pinetown in Natal, then in Kimberley in the Northern Cape before coming to Pretoria. I studied part time at CEFT (now CESA), completing my FDE in Computer Science. I have taught Gr 3, 4, 5 and 7 as a class teacher and Gr 6 & 7 as a maths teacher. I now teach Grade 0 – 7 as the computer teacher. I am the only computer teacher so my job description is, “anything and everything to do with computers”. This includes developing lessons, learning how new software functions, teaching girls, training teachers, encouraging teachers to use technology, assisting with extra classes using CAI, running a computer club, everything to do with reports in our Junior School and much more.
Why do you need XT?
There is very little software available like XT that has South African content. The content in XT is easy to adapt, change or add to. It is excellent for enrichment and self study for our girls. When they complete a task during my IT lesson, they never waste time and immediately embark on self study and curriculum revision in XT.
How do you use XT and why do you like it?
In computer literacy classes I introduce our girls to XT so that when a teacher wants to use the content in XT for an integrated lesson or a test, the girls know exactly how to use the software. Some teachers use it in their classrooms on their Smartboards as a class activity. Authoring can be done at home which is a big benefit. Girls are sometimes taken out of their comfort zone as they are not familiar with all the content but have learnt how to make calculated guesses when answering, which are often correct, or learn about something they did not know before. EvaluNet as a company have also given us, DSG, permission to develop lessons using XT content, to use with our Smart Automated Response System.
Which features do you use most?
Our girls use the Study Mode for curriculum revision, then love to challenge each other to Challenge Mode exercises. We use the Exam Mode with some classes, which removes the marking load from the teachers. In fact I find it difficult to say which features I use the most as I use as many as possible.
Did you use anything similar before XT?
Tell us about a situation where XT helped you out/saved the day …
Last year we had a substitute teacher who came in to teach Natural Science. As soon as she heard she could have her exam written and marked on the computer she mailed me her grade 6 exam paper and within a very short while I had set up the exam in XT, just by copying & pasting her questions and answers. I then printed it out for her to check. The girls enjoyed this method of testing and the teacher was thrilled that her marking was completely taken care of.
Any tips or tricks for other XT customers?
Understand the difference between a Question Pool and an Exercise before working with them. Start by using the XT Question Pools to set up exercises for your pupils, then use your own worksheets which you have already developed for your first attempts at making your own Question Pools. It is very quick and easy to copy and paste from your Word documents.
I wish I could encourage more teachers to use XT as the girls love working with it, marking is done for automatically and it really is quick and easy to use once you understand how to work with it.
Visit the St Mary’s DSG Pretoria web site.