Sharing ideas and all things ICT… I am a Y2 teacher, AHT, ICT subject leader and mum

Archive for the ‘ICT’ Category

Wiltshire ICT conference October 2013 Inspire Create Teach

On a roll now so creating the second post of the evening – better late than never!  A couple of weeks ago as a celebration event to signify the end of the Inpsire Create Teach project ran by Wiltshire ICT team, a conference was held at Center Parcs, Longleat.

The keynote speakers were both entertaining and informative and set the scene for what was going to be a fab day for all involved.  We were the first cohort of the project which is now involved with cohort 2 and as we had completed the project were asked to present seminars of a topic of our choosing but realting to the project.  I anticipated that many would select a journey approach and I was keen to do something a little different but just as relevant.  For me, the most important dawn awakening was to surpass the motivational and engagement pull of technology (specifically the iPads we were using) and concentrate on the pedagogical underpinning that I believed was necessary to ensure deeper and more meaningful learning.  My Prezi was called iPadagogy – integrating iPads tomake learning relevant, ,meaningful and contextual.  It is below for you to peruse and enjoy (hopefully!)  The conference itself was great, opportunities to be with like minded people who wanted to share and help each other is always a brillliant incentive.  The event was and has always been very well orgainsed and was a real pleasure to be part of.

Eliminating Gaps – what really works?

Last Monday, at the Eliminating Gaps – What really works? conference, I was invited to give a workshop by my LA on using technology to engage learners and ultimately narrow those gaps in attainment and progress.  This followed a very successful project ran by Wiltshire ICT and Literacy Team called Playing the Writing Game (see previous posts for more details).  Basically, all participant teachers across the county found that their focus groups of 6 vulnerable grouped children make at least 2 sub levels of progress during the six month project and finished the project with a much higher  engagement in literacy and using ICT.  Games based learning was at the core of this project and was the subject of my workshop.  It was a bit like speed dating or a Teachmeet, where we had 6 minutes to show and tell the many virtues of GBL to one group of delegates and then each group moved in a round robin so all delegates got to see all four worshops.

I had brought along my ever growing collection of Wii games, along with pith helmets, night watchman hats etc to give a real flavour of what GBL has to offer.  Of course, six minutes is a tight time in which to fit in all that could and maybe should be said about collaboration, engagement, emmersion, shared learning,  build community, language opportunities and so on, but I did my very best!  I also signposted the http://swgamesbasedlearning.wordpress.com blog that would give even more ideas and hopefully inspire them to have a go!

The surprise of the day was just how many Headteachers, teachers etc have devices which are currently redundant in the back of the cupboard and could be put to much better use.  I can’t think of a better use than hooking those reluctant children in to a world which inspires them to write, talk and communicate.

All in all, a great day!

Let the sifting begin…

Monday’s deadline has arrived and the ever increasing pile of applications needs sorting.  I’m looking for many qualities in my Digital Leaders.  Over the past few weeks I  have looked at many excellent blogs of teachers and educators who have begun their DL journey and very kindly posted examples of the job description, application and interview forms etc.  Blogs such as:

http://greenfields-dls.blogspot.co.uk/

http://mrsmeeks.posterous.com/digital-leader-resources-59850

http://ianaddison.net/?s=digital+leaders

http://www.kristianstill.co.uk/wordpress/2011/09/10/digital-leaders-deliver/

The very helpful Chris Mayoh http://mrmayoh.bowlingparkprimary.net/tag/digital-leaders/

And the brilliant Sheli Blackburn http://www.digitalleadernetwork.co.uk/

These and others have given me the guidance and encouragement to set up our own DL’s in school.  I have tweaked, merged and added to their documents to make them relevant for my school setting.  Kristian Stilll has very kindly allowed me to adapt his fantastic logo to that which has our school colours too – thank you!  See below for the selection of documents I am using to get this project of the ground (I’ve left them as word docs to allow editing, should anyone want to use them).

WL Digital leaders poster

WL Digital Leaders Job Sheet (1)

WL Digital leaders interview questions

WL Digital leader spec and JD

WL Digital Leader contract.docx

WL Digital Leader application form

WL Digital_Leaders_letter_to_parents

The next stage is to sift through the 52 applications for the interview process.  Looking at their answers, I envisage the job not to be an easy one.

Beginning of our Digital Leader journey…

I’ve heard about the  many virtues of having inspired children as Digital Leaders (DL) from fellow tweeters and teaching blogs over the past 6 months and was really keen to get on board.  I wanted to do the research prior to implementing it at my school in order for it to have the maximum impact possible.

On Monday I put up posters around the school advertising vacancies for DL.  Qualities required were given, benefits to apllicants were given and brief descriptions of role were given.  I planned to take the KS2 assembly to do my best pitch!  Ideally I would want 8 children from the current years 3,4 and 5.

Today was the assembly, 240 children sitting agog (not  because I was taking an assembly!!) but because they had all seen the posters and were keen to find out more.  I did my spiel and talked in full about what I had planned and how excited I was about this project.  Reciprocal learning was the message – of course I didn’t use that phrase but ultimately that’s what it is.   I explained the role in more detail, talking about commitment, collaboration, teamwork, patience and fun!

My final message was that an application form needed to be completed and returned to me by next Monday.  I would be giving out the forms at lunch time, outside my room.  Lunch time duly arrived and no 5, not 10 BUT 77 children were gathered outside my classroom.  All eagerly awaiting my arrival (I was on PPA) to collect the application forms.

By the end of lunch time, 39 forms had been returned.  I’m anticipating that many children wanted a little longer to fully consider their reasons for applying…

I am completely gob-smacked by the level of excitement and keenness to be part of an exciting project that will be the beginning of our journey together.  The next step is to shortlist (once the deadline has arrived) and interview the applicants – I can’t wait!

Original DL logo used and adapted with kind permission from http://www.kristianstill.co.uk

Inspire Create Teach with iPads!

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.

Friend, follow, like, poke – new meanings


One particular thing I enjoy when I have the time is looking at the blogs of the ‘interesting people’ I follow on Twitter. It was whilst doing this that I came across not one but two of my ‘interesting people’s’ blogs and the inclusion of a very funny yet thought provoking video from YouTube. It’s called ‘Can I be your friend?’ made for the English National Opera by Don’t Panic marketing and acts out our online behaviour by acting it out in an offline or real situation. The video would definitely provide excellent content from which to extend further discussion from the children regarding e-safety, communication and social networking protocols. So thanks to @TimRylands and @Xannov for pointing this excellent resource out.

Tim Rylands.- WD40 to learning!

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!

SWGfL ICT Conference 5.7.11

I left writing this post until now as there were so many inspirational aspects to the fantastic conference held at UWE Exhibition Centre on Tuesday that I felt I needed to take stock, assimilate and then think about implementation.

The keynote speaker @ewanmcintosh opened the conference by immediately sewing seeds designed to challenge our thinking.  He said that children should be ‘problem finders’ and not ‘problem solvers’ (a subtle change with hugely beneficial consequences).  Children can only become ‘problem solvers’ by usas educators releasing the reins and allowing them to lead their own learning. ‘Capturing the learning as it happens’ was another theme that he linked to the general practice of EYFS teachers.

Ewan then went on to talking about ‘spaces’, 7 in particular:

– watching spaces

– secret spaces

– performing spaces

– group spaces

– data spaces

– participation spaces

– publishing spaces

It is in these spaces where learning can be celebrated and extended.  I was particularly interested in the final two as both myself and my class are relativley new to the world of blogging.  Our blogs are where I hope to capture the children’s learning and share photos, videos and their work to all who wish to visit to either blog.

I have recently completed an online ASD course and the idea of a secret place fits perfectly with the recommended environment for an autistic child.  A place that is safe, quiet, unstimulating and away from the crowds.  Although this is difficult to facilitate in a classroom, I want to try nonetheless.

While listening to Ewan speak, I intended to tweet what he was saying but instead I found myself captivated by the content and not wanting to lose focus on the fantastic ideas.  Later in the day I found Ewan behind me in a queue for coffee and we got chatting.  Provoking thought and challenging stale ideas were his motives and he certainly achieved that!

The closing speaker was Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University.  I had heard previously about the brilliance of his “Hole in the Wall” project which clearly showed that children can lead their own learning when their own curiosity is stimulated.   He has replicated his projects in different parts of the world with strikingly similar results.  I later learnt that his work inspired the book ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ that was made into a film.

Sugata demonstrated his dry wit when discussing how he approached the children with an idea to research.  He would give them the statement to learn about and then when the children asked “How, do we do that?” He would respond by saying “I have no idea and anyway I am leaving!”

I was struck by his view that only three or four should collaborate as a group using just a single computer.  The groups could swap around but the number of children to a pc should remain the same.  This made me think because I am keen for each child to have a pc each when researching, etc but Sugata believes that immersion, collaboration, talk, discussion and peer mentoring can only happen in groups which cannot be achieved when working independently.  Food for thought indeed!