Monday, 30 March 2009

Kellett Is a Nice School

It's important to make that clear before we continue with this thread! The short films you are about to view bare no relation to what school life is really like at Kellett!

Year 7 students have just completed their English/ICT film module. During the module they are encouraged to look at aspects of movie making, including scripting, directing and editing. They also have to story board their films, file a shooting schedule and arrange for props and locations themselves. Important lessons include how to frame action and how to ensure continuity within their films.

Three of the completed films are shown below.

This is the second year we've worked on this project and again it has been a huge success. Working with a much larger year group was challenging but the students rose to the challenge and applied themselves really well. A great job!

If Teacher Tube is downloading slowly, the movies are also hosted on our Youtube page here.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

School Visits

It's always good to get out and visit other schools to see what they're up to.

Last week I was lucky enough to visit two schools in HK for completely different reasons.

First up was Yew Chung Inernational School in Kowloon Tong. I met with Dan Everest from there along with Jane Harris from CIS to discuss our use of the programming software Scratch.

We've all used the software in completely different ways and it was good to talk about what we had learnt and share our expertise. Yew Cheung have been using Scratch in their Literacy lessons to enhance student understanding of MacBeth, whilst CIS have embedded their work on Scratch within Numeracy, using it to explore shape and space. At Kellett we've been using Scratch to investigate aspects of computer game design with our P6 and Y7 classes.

Whilst our experiences are clearly different there were some common trends for all of us.

Firstly, the usefulness of Scratch as a classroom tool is obvious. It is engaging and stimulating for pupils and there is an easy entry level for those students who need to work at a basic starting point.

Secondly, the scope for students to extend and self-explore progression in the software is enormous. Tasks can be open ended and exploratory in their nature, which means students can continue to expand their horizons within the environment at their own pace.

Thirdly, we all agreed one of the marked successes of working with the software was the emergence of experts within the classroom who take on the role of mentor with their peers. These self-acting "pupil teachers' are able to add their advice and insight into the software. Students seem to naturally accept this type of help and have far fewer hang-ups about it than teachers do.
The days of the 'sage on the stage' are long gone. It's simply not possible for teachers to have a wide enough experience and expertise on new software and we need to accept that's ok! That can be quite a difficult thing for teachers to do and can be a major barrier to 21st Century Learning. Most students don't have a problem with it.

As a result of our discussions and sharing we now have a bank of good practice using Scratch and we are now formulating ways we can develop this further. It may be that the upcoming World Scratch Day Event at the Cyberport in Hong Kong gives us the opportunity.

Saturday May 16th is World Scratch Day and events are taking place around the world to showcase and introduce the software to teachers who are new to the platform, as well as those who have more experience. HK's event is at the Cyberport and the programme looks to contain some interesting sessions. I will be meeting with the group involved in organising the event shortly, so will have more information then.

My second school visit in as many days was to Canadian International School. I accompanied our new ICT Strategy Manager, Billy Ling to look at Canadian's successful implementation of the Apple platform into their school. It was certainly impressive and gives us lots of helpful information as we look to develop our infrastructure for the future.

One of the key aspects of schools progressing in the the 21st Century is the ability they have to share their expertise, either through a teacher's own development of their personal learning netoworks, or through good old fashioned sitting down and talking face-to-face! Without that things would be so much more difficult.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Another Great Application

I'm pretty sure it was Lee Kolbert who first pointed out what a great web site Today's Meet is. Originally designed to run as a back channel during conference presentations, this excellent tool offers a time limited, Twitter style communication platform that could be used by classroom teachers.

Last week I asked our teachers to use Todays Meet to think of ways that it could be utilised to help teaching and learning.

This is what they came up with;
  • If you are watching video footage as a stimulus, children can enter their first responses as they watch the footage, note taking on a forum basis
  • I can see this being used as a homework tool. Set a problem to be solved and the children respond and can see all other responses
  • I'm wondering if this can be used across a year group so all three classes could see peers comments on a common topic e.g. Cross class collaboration
  • This would be great for evaluating artists' work. All children can respond to the art work at the same time as well as responding to each other
  • It could provide a platform for older pupils to have discussions for group homework. Providing an open "room" for ideas to be easily shared.
  • Students could post arguments for science ethics topics, either for or against and then discuss in class
  • Students can make a brief comment on a text I have set them for homework!
  • It would be amazing as a homework tool for our Big Talk Topics - children can post comments about the topic as well as the 'dinner talk'
  • Real time peer assessment of presentations.

These are just a few ideas complied over a rushed Friday - there's clearly lots of scope for using this tool and we'll be trying out some different ways in the coming weeks. If anybody is using this in an educational context, please let us know!

Friday, 13 March 2009

The Non-Netbook

I love this video which is currently doing the rounds and is beginning to attain cult status as viewing figures go through the roof. It is apparently the result of an impromtu walkabout by a teacher in a classroom at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.

The ensuing conversation, whilst being very funny, raises huge issues and questions with regard to how our students see their use of knowledge resources.

We could of course discuss the implications that this has for us as teachers... but I don't have a spare 20 hours to consider it at the moment so I'm just enjoying it instead!

My favourite bit is when he clicks on the word to try to get some context help.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Music and ICT

Following on from our photography module, most year groups will now be spending a few lessons looking at Music in ICT. It's fair to say that these two areas of the curriculum are very closely related and it's not unusual to see students using laptops in the Music room rather than instruments.

Early lessons involve creating sequences and working with loops. We use 2Simple's Music Toolkit to cover a lot of the objectives, but also make use of some web sites too.

An old favourite is the BBCs One Studio Sequencer which is no longer being updated but does still work! This is an excellent site for creating sequences and some great tunes have already been made.

Some younger students have been looking at Super Duper Music Looper. There is an online version which although very limited, does show how music can be painted into timelines. The adding of sounds into a timeline is an important skill and students will be developing this type of skill throughout the module.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

What's Going On in ICT??

Dear Parents, and other interested parties!

Ever feel the need to find out what we're doing in ICT?!

It's always a bit of an eye opener when I talk to parents and show them the work we're doing in ICT and they say something like; "I never realised you did that sort of thing."

The ICT curriculum has come a long way in a short amount of time and as I've said before, if you think it's changing fast now, just wait and see what happens next! Keeping up with current developments is a real task for teachers, but it's important they do so if they are to successfully embed technology into what they do and provide students with challenges that are real and relevant.

One if the ways I keep in touch with developments is by using a Personal Learning Network (PLN)of colleagues, ex-colleagues, friends, leading thinkers in ed-tech etc as a basis for my ideas. Sometimes I read what they're up to via their blogs (using Google Reader), sometimes I'm in closer contact via forums or Nings, but more recently I've invested a bit of time in Twitter.

I've had a Twitter account for around about a year, but after my initial efforts at updating I sort of gave up on it. However, it has now begun to become a more widely used tool in education and in society itself. High profile users of Twitter include Lance Armstrong and Stephen Fry and their use has been highlighted in the media. Use of the software around important world events has also raised awareness.

Having revived my account I now find that more people I know and want to discuss my work with are using Twitter and that meaningful conversations are beginning to take place. I'm sure this will be a help to my own professional development and therefore impact upon the work of my students.

As well as my own account I have also set up a Kellett ICT Twitter account and will use this to update what's going on in our lessons (hopefully) on a day-to-day basis.

If you already have a Twitter account and would like to follow us, our account name is kellettict, or you can just click on the Follow me on Twitter link in the right hand side of this page.

If you would like to know more about Twitter, you can visit the web site, or see what Wikipedia has to say about it.

We look forward to you following us!!