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29 March 2017

Can Minecraft help your child get ready for NAPLAN online?

For parents with children at certain WA public schools, it will come as no surprise that students will be typing, tapping, dragging and dropping their answers when they do NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) tests next term.

Seventy-six – or almost one in 10 – WA public schools will carry out the tests online, while the other nearly 750 public schools will continue with tests on paper before phasing in NAPLAN online by 2019.

Bunbury PS students use devices in the classroom.

Bunbury Primary School has almost 100 iPads, more than 100 desktop computers, 180 students in a Bring Your Own Device program, wireless connectivity and interactive whiteboards in classrooms; and coding, robotics and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) resources.

While switching to online testing may seem like a big jump, schools moving to the format this year have been preparing extensively with technology upgrades and training for teachers.

And they are using some novel ways to help students gain the digital know-how and confidence to navigate through the tests.

Franca Dillon, associate principal at Bunbury Primary School, says the school has good technology in place which teachers are familiar with, so it made sense to “get in on the ground floor” of online testing.

“We have recently had further wireless technology upgrades which have increased internet connectivity in our classrooms,” she says.

“We are also lucky to have a school based IT Technician for additional support.

“Our teachers have been training and preparing for the transition to NAPLAN online and we have good back-up plans in place in case there are any issues with the technology during the testing period.”

Ms Dillon says that communicating with staff and parents in the lead up to testing online has been essential.

“Our school has sent parents some tips about incorporating technology easily at home – seven easy and fun activities they can use to further build their children’s digital skills,” she says.

“As an example, the popular game Minecraft is actually very useful. Children can click, drag and drop items to recreate landmarks and familiar places in the game environment.”

Students at the southwest school will use iPads and desktop computers to complete the tests.

“Our Year 3 and 5 students have had access to desktop computers and iPads. We will provide students with access to both platforms to complete the tests,” she says.

For students in Year 3, the writing component of the tests will still have children putting pen to paper to compose their texts.

Ms Dillon said the key to NAPLAN was good literacy and numeracy teaching and learning year-round.

“We have to keep NAPLAN in perspective: it’s only one test on one day however we prepare our students to ensure they perform to the best of their ability,” she says.

For more information about NAPLAN online see the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority’s Public Demonstration website, where you can check out examples of the tests.

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