Over the past few years I have been a great advocate of class based action research projects. They allow me to focus on a particular aspect of eduation whereby I am given time to apply and reflect on my own teaching practice with the aim to improve it. At the end of March, I submitted a bid for £5000 that would pay for 15 iPads. My proposal was based on our needs at our school. The expected outcomes of buying and using the iPads in the classrom would be:
- Transform teaching and learning by changing the current classroom culture and embedding creative use of ICT
- Make the classroom teaching and learning more interactive and creative in facilitating learning
- Facilitate more personalised learning that is strongly linked to learners needs
- Raise expectations and reduce the gap for lower performers
- Raise standards in reading and writing for all
- Close the digital divide and improve standards for all children
- Motivate and engage reluctant readers and writers
- Provide a platform for developing speaking and listening skills which in turn impact positively on reading and writing skills
- Utilising emerging technologies in the classroom and exploring potential impact in supporting learning
- Develop and embed effective inclusion strategies for children with SEND
- Initiate an ICT cluster group to share good outcomes and practice
- Develop role of Digital Leaders
- Organise a Teachmeet/Kidsmeet
My baseline assessment is to target a cohort (unsure which year group at this point as not sure where I’ll be in September) in order to track, monitor and assess achievement and impact throughout the project. Writing and reading levels will be used as a baseline and ambitious targets set with a specific focus on targeting those children who are underachieving. Alongside this we would interview children on their attitudes to learning and engagement in this as well as parental observations on this. This would then be re-assessed at the end of the project. Interim data and performance indicators will be used to monitor the impact of ICT on learners.
Initial implementation of the iPads would be to provide a contextual hub for learning from which the children would utilise technology to develop language skills by accessing modelled apps, games and research. Reluctant writers and readers would be engaged and motivated by seeing, hearing and exploring good language with a view to communicate learning by sharing and having an audience. This could be achieved by provision and access to iPads and the wealth of opportunities they offer. The focus will be on talk for reading and writing and there are a number of apps and functions on the ipads which will support and enhance this.
By developing the use of ICT in one year group we will be able to use action research to target successful strategies to support learning in reading and writing through the development of language skills. This can then be disseminated to other classes and enhance the work of the school in raising standards.
Having a bank of iPads offers flexibility of learning as they could be rotated class to class or timetabled for use in class or in small groups across the school. The iPads will give us provision and access to all children across the school through a range of exciting opportunities. Other pockets of underachievement could then also be addressed using this medium.
As an aside, we have a number of children with SEND and believe Ipads will provide an additional focus for continued inclusion and enhanced learning. IPads would be instrumental in providing visual learning, helping with therapy and turn taking. These devices would also help non-verbal children communicate more effectively. These children are less likely in some instances to have access to ICT at home so we will be able to reduce the gap for them in their successful use of digital resources as part of learning.
I’m always looking for ways to improve learning and maintain motivation and engagement for the children I teach. This project is an exciting one which I cannot wait to get underway. I hope to post my progress throughout this project and share my findings.
After a manic few terms, at last an opportunity to get stuck into some more GBL has presented itself. Since moving to Y4 in September, I have been searching for a Wii game to use in my guided reading and writing sessions (last year while in Y5, I used My Word Coach). I think I have found the perfect game – Margot’s Word Brain on the Wii. It has five main games like, wordsearch, word mine, a sort of scrabble game, a crossowrd maker and a game similar to Boggle. These allows all ability children to particiapte fully as you can find, search etc 3 – 6 letter words. We tried it out in class today and it went down a storm.
I was amazed that last year 28 out of the 30 children in my Y5 class had a Wii, and this year is no exception either. This makes life very much simpler as the children view learning using the Wii as a treat PLUS they are all so very good at using the controls etc. They can certainly teach me a thing or two…
So, the plan is now to utilise Margot’s Word Brain in daily sessions to improve word finding skills, vocabulary and have fun to boot!
We’re also using Wild African Safari as part of out Stories from other cultures literacy unit to enhance writin of settings and character descriptions. See previous posts about how we used it previously.
Let the games begin….
I never miss an opportunity to hear the great Tim Rylands (@timrylands) speak. His presentations are always jam packed with ideas to motivate and inspire learning. I have been very fortunate to hear Tim several times and each time the delegates leave the room with smiles on their faces and an expression of how to implement his ideas (as do I!) Tim is the WD40 to those rusty cog’s of learning (it is intended to be a compliment!) His seminar quickly became a participatory event where almost immediately we were standing, imitating parachuting down from above….what can I say? We were all doing it!!! Throughout, tools and links were given to direct us to the newest ideas that were in the main FREE (not to be sniffed out this day and age!) A very comprehensive list of tools for teacher’s toolkit. They are too many to list but as Mr R reminded us could be found through this link –https://bitly.com/bundles/mrwalkersmate/
Always a pleasure and always such a fruitful opportunity to loosen those rusty cogs!
New year, new term, new topic! A non-fiction unit that would encompass a big history focus as well as incorporating more games based learning incentives to encourage writing?? Night at the Museum film fits the bill perfectly. Much of my Christmas holiday was spent getting used to the game and all that it involved (with the great help of my 16yr old son, who was far more adept than I could ever be on the Wii!) Total immersion into the environment that the game creates lots of possibilities that tick lots of non-fiction boxes. After a couple of planning sessions with my fellow Yr5 colleague, we came up with persuasive adverts, tour guides (non-chron. reports), job adverts for a night watchman like Larry and infomercials to persuade visitors to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum which involves using ‘greenscreen’ technology!
We began the adventure by flying to New York using Google Earth (much like we did to the Serengeti National Park when using the African Safari Wii game). This sets a context and gives the children a sense of travelling to the USA to begin their new adventure. Let the immersion begin….
The organisation of 30 children was such that for the first 15 minutes or so, I picked 5 children from the hat to play the game while everyone watched. Although they have had experience in games based learning previously, I wanted them to get the story and set up of this great environment BEFORE having tasks to complete. Then the class were divided into groups which have a rotation of tasks to complete over the next few days or so. One group would be ‘Larry’ and play the game, another group would be writing down what it feels like to be left in a museum on their own for a night, another group had A3 copies of the floor plan to plot where the audiotours for the exhibits were and the last group took notes once the audiotours were activated. The information on these audio tours just gave a taster which the children wanted to explore more so, our ICT slot was spent researching the Easter Island statues, Aztec temples, California redwood trees, Grand Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt, T-Rex and Nautilus’. They got in their pairs and researched one aspect and then we ‘snowballed’ the information to ensure that everybody has notes on each aspect of the audiotour.
In order to keep the level of concentration and involvement as high as possible, we have about 20 minutes playing the game and the 20 minutes writing. This way they are keen to get back to the game but are also aware of the need to get as much information written in note form to enable them to produce a tourguide (non-chron report). Needless to say the children are keen to continue the process. That’s the story so far, more as and when it happens…
The last few weeks have been hectic to say the least but after dipping our toe into the world of games based learning with My Word Coach, we proceeded onto Wild African Safari. As mentioned in previous posts, we have covered a lot of ground (not just across the Serengeti National Park) but also with our literacy and ICT. At the beginning I was hoping to get the more reluctant writers engaged but as I have just finished marking their writing, I have found that my class has really enjoyed this topic and produced some lovely pieces of writing (I just wish I had begun earlier in order to have expanded even further across the curriculum). I will definitely do this again next year!! Even though this particular game has come to an end, I am looking forward to sharing my conclusions and ideas with colleagues in the project and beyond. I look forward to being involved in using Wild Earth African Safari and Another Code R with Year 6 after Christmas. If you have used any of the Wii games in your classrooms, I would love to hear from you, either comment below or tweet me at @nickynewbury.
What fun!!! A fantastic site called Switcheroozoo that allows children to create their own animal from a mixture of others. My children just loved the amusing and fantastical morphing of their favourite animals. They have named them amazing names and created a habitat that suits each of their new creations. The complete freedom and random nature of this site is a huge attraction and the giggles continued throughout the session in the ICT suite.
Create your own Wallace and Gromit character to share on Facebook/Twitter etc or email to friends and family – fun!