Sunday, November 18, 2007

Highs and Lows of last week

What I like about Tom Barrett's blog, is that he reports on the success, but he also questions why things may have gone very sadly wrong. I think I have been reticent to include any mishaps in this blog, for fear of looking a bit daft. Yet as you know things do go wrong with ICT and it is important to try to learn from these mishaps, rather than trying to cover them up or gloss over them. If you haven't read Tom's Blog yet, then add it to your Google reader or homepage, as it i makes an exciting , innovative read on wet Saturday afternoon in Ilford.

One of the problems of working as a consultant is that due to the itinerant nature of our work, we are never at the same network of machines or PC. As a result of this I can find audio settings may be unpredictability different or a plug in may be missing.

This week I have seen and trained teachers to make use of technology using applications that fit my criteria of software must haves, that is:

  • A clear and easy to navigate interface
  • A short learning curve for instant use, but with the possibility of extending use to advanced skills and outcomes
  • Intuitive controls
On Monday I delivered training with an excellent ICT coordinator on effective cross-curricular ICT. She began the session with a brainstorming session across the 25 staff who were sat at their PCS. To gather the opinions of all that were gathered, in a spirit of open and frank anonymity, she used 2connect, this created a giant spider diagram of ideas at the front of the classroom , that meant everybody could see each other's ideas, and everyone could have the chance to contribute without fear or the need to develop their points publicly.

As the session was about cross-curricular ICT,I had hoped to get people using a package that could easily be used for Literacy and Foundation subjects. Taking the year 2 Literacy unit, which has the outcome create a website! I began to debunk this by demonstrating how web sites do not operate in a linear fashion, unlike printed texts.

The ICT text on the above provides a number of routes for the reader to take, by means of clicking on the links on the left bar or across the sub headings. While the conventional text above is mostly read form start to finish in a linear line by line left to right procedure.

I had been quite thrown by the Year Two Unit in the Renewed Framework for literacy, which had a rather unexemplified outcome. In particular the line: ' Design a Website', then I met up with one of the authors of the units on some recent strategy training. We talked through the unit and no the suggestion is not that children master Html or Dreamweaver. Rather the point is to demonstrate the non- linear nature of ICT texts/Websites and how they are organised both page by page and how they are linked as a whole.

With this mind, and following my recent focus on providing children with relevance and authetic applications of ICT capabaility I decided to build the bare bones of web site as an exemplar for the teachers I was training. As the school had 2Create, I built this project using this software, though it could be done in Powerpoint and in Textease Studio CT.

The teachers could add extra pages, text and images in the same way that I would have given my Year Two children writing frames to scaffold their writing on paper.

In theory this was all very easy and accessible, but the system and the server was brand spanking new and shockwave/Flash player had not been installed. Therefore the walls of the training session crumbled around us mid session. In true Tim Barrett style, I should learn form this, and I can only say test test and test again and remember to take time to familiarise yourself with another schools system.

There have been some very definite highs this week. I worked with a Year 3 teacher on Chronological reports. The class had already looked at paper based reports and were now thinking about the benefits and ease of use of on-screen chronological reports. In order to do this we used the NGFL Animals database and got the children to answer a range of questions that increased in complexity. This was the first time the children had used a bank of wireless laptops, and indeed it was the first time that children had used mouse pads as opposed to 'proper mice'.

As you'd expect the children took to the new hardware really well and the ICT factor ratcheted a seemingly mundane lesson into something which generated a lot of "ooohs" and "yeahss" from the class.

On Friday I worked one to one with a teacher on debunking Year Six literacy units. The school did not have Podium, so we worked on Audacity, which worked like a songbird on the Teacher's machine but stayed silent on my machine, something maybe to do with my messing around with encoders and codecs earlier this term!! I don't use Audacity as much as Podium, but when I do I remember to pull in the effects, this allows you to change pitch and robotise or Pinky and Perkyise speech. I hope Softease pull in and effects option to Podium 2.0 , alongside the multi layering option.

Ok enough!!

A very long Blog entry, but I want to just mention the Year 6 newsroom simulation unit, got really excited about this last Friday. I have seen a school in Hendon do this using Digi-blue and I am keen to have a go at it with a class myself.

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