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.
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!
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:
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
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.
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
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.
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!