Monday, December 03, 2007

Another week in ICT

Blogging and Podcasting-

Its all happening!
During Subject Leaders, I often nag (or as I like to call it inspire) people to make use of Web 2.0 applications. It is my opinion that all ICT subject leaders should be bloggers and I think we should not underestimate the power of the blog as both a communication and collaboration tool.Used regularly this could act as a direct link between home and school, pupil and pupil and pupils and teachers. What's more this tool allows the true application of the 'wisdom of crowds', or two heads are better than one. And all that aside, it is just so easy to blog, whereas the Dream weaver or digital brain made site is just a big hassle! For me the blog allow me to record my ICT journey and day to day experiences, while taking on board the encouragement, criticism or questions of others.

We have been talking about Blogging and Podcasting fro some time over the last few meetings. Many teachers had set up their Google home page to read my blog, or those of my favourites such as Simon Mills Inspirations site.

But this week I have begun to discover little fires of blogging and podcasting are beginning to be fanned into flame, and I hope that the success of these can be shared beyond the ICT rooms of those involved.

The first success comes from Val Barker @ Gearies Infants and all the other teachers who appear to have taken up the blogging challenge. Here Val has acted as a trainer and a pioneer, beginning the blogging process and showing others how to do it. Val is using the main blog as a sort of easy to publish website, while other teachers are using a blog to keep the choir up to date, while another rather visionary teacher is using a blog to carry out research with the children around poetry.

The author of the blog- who I believe is Dan ( one of our ASTS) hopes to work with the children to answer the following through his blogging.

Will a focus on increased first hand experiences of poetry and performances improve overall literacy attainment?

Can this idea be developed through a child autonomous research project?

In a nutshell, can we as adults scaffold a research process that allows children to unveil possible answers to the questions we would like to try and solve?

Readers of the Podcasting blog will know that this has also been an exciting week for Podcasting. We had the Podcasting network meeting, which allowed us to showcase the work and the plans for further work in: Manford, Fairlop and Redbridge. I was really struck by the work of the Year Two class at Fairlop, these children performed an interview with Samuel Pepys along with a song. They were clear, audible, engaged and using the correct vocabulary, all within an appropriate curriculum context. I also visited Hatton school this week, to look at (among other things) the podcasting work done by Dan Plane. Dan's work on Podcasting with children from a range of abilities has been picked up by Podium and is featured on their blog. When sitting in on a session I was taken with how pleased the children were to hear their compositions played back, surely a boost to their self esteem.

When thinking about Podcasting in the primary school, I think there are so
me important considerations and questions. Some of these I have the answers to, or at least bits of answers to in my head. I have listed these questions below and maybe other readers/bloggers may have some thoughts:

  1. Why not just use a Tape Recorder? ( As first mentioned on Linda's blog)
  2. Scripted or unscripted?
  3. How do you organise a group of 30 children to create a set of podcasts and avoid background noise from each other?
  4. Why bother- does it raise standards?

  1. A tape recorder does not allow the easy manipulation of sound and editing of tracks that you get with Audacity or Podium. In ICT and Literacy children are supposed to review, modify and evaluate. When using a tape recorder then I am only able to review, in order to modify I need to erase the whole thing and rerecord.
  2. Scripted or unscripted- From watching children (and adults) struggle to know what to say when placed in front of a mic it seems clear to me that children need a focus, otherwise they wonder why they're being asked to 'say something'. Rob from Redbridge raised the point that on real radio shows there are a team of researchers who compile show notes and questions for intervie, the show does not just happen! And though I can see that most schools begin with the experimental stage of podcasting. This may manifest itself as the test podcast or as an imitation urban style radio show. The challenge to teachers is how to take the medium form the club and into the classroom .
  3. The key to managing 30 children creating podcasts is classroom management. This means not allowing the children to begin by selecting music as this can take too long and will mean they will quickly run out of time. As for having a class of 30 in and ICT suite with up to 15 microphones, yes this is hard and seems a recipe for failure, but it has worked in some schools. What do you think?
  4. Why bother two reasons - The first was the look on the child's face i saw last Friday when she listened back to her podcast, clearly a boost to her self esteem. The other reason is a motivation to write. In Redbridge primary, the Podcast club have been given notebooks to create their scripts. They are told that these will not be marked and that they belong to the children. Remarkably these books are filling up very quickly with legible and detailed show notes and scripts.

This week I have worked with teachers on effective use of the IWB, or to put it more precisely the SMARTBOARD. I have been encouraged by those teachers who have been excited by the power and potential of the IWB. For some teachers it is a neglected resource, something that they may only know how to write on and run websites like Education City on. For others it is hard to consider life without it.

Among other things I have been promoting the key message around relevance and connection in what we display on the board. I elaborated under each of the slides below:

I have used to download Youtube videos of fire engines form Ilford and Dagenham. Displaying one or all of these on the IWB will provide a powerful stimulus for writing, and as each clip does not actually show what happened next. Then we have a good platform to ask a range of higher order inference questions. Furthermore Literacy units in Year 2 and 3 often mention using films as texts.

The slide above shows a good context for shared writing. It combines a local image of Barking allotments along with the very cheap ( but essential) Oxford Reading tree clipart. It would be a good idea to create a notebook gallery file, in order to quickly access the resources. The same idea could be applied to the slide below.

The idea presented in this slide is that the IWB allows us to easily display images that are relevant to and within a child's everyday experience. So, rather than demonstrating counting with on-screen counters or flat clipart circles, why not also use objects like cola bottles or write word problems involving a WII or a number 25 bendy bus.

I am ( as always) keen to know your thoughts on the above


Dan Plane said...

I think it's worth adding to the "why bother" reasons for podcasting (and indeed blogging or any other ICT applications.) that it's a part of the world we live in now and will almost certainly be a part of the world our pupils will be living in. We shouldn't be trailing behind everyone else, we should be up at the front to give our pupils as much of a head start as possible! said...

Thanks Anthony for drawing me back into this 'conversation'. Blogging has had to take a back seat during this unusal term, even though I have missed the information exchange!

I began to respond to your blog but my reply became to lengthy and I have now put it up on my blog.

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