Tag Archives: ICT

What I want for my school.

Having decided what I want for education and children, I would like my school to be the place that delivers those things-

 

A school where children look forward to the day ahead.

 

A school where children are valued, and the children know it.

 

A school where the priorities are the needs of the children, the needs of the children and the needs of the children.

 

A school where the staff recognise the huge impact they can make in changing lives.

Some of these ideals would be delivered through the staff working in the school, others would be people from outside the school delivering these ideals.

 

Something I would love to improve is the quality of the buildings we make our children learn in, and their upkeep. In September of last year we were lucky enough to visit citizen M. Everyone (adults and the children we visited with) agreed that it was a fantastic space with wonderful seats, whiteboard walls you can write on, air conditioned work rooms, lots of glass for viewing other areas. These spaces have been designed by architects with the user in mind. School buildings are rarely like this. Chairs are uncomfortable , lighting is poor quality strip lighting, books are sometimes old, technology is often outdated (McDonalds and buses have open wifi before schools!!). When work in schools is completed it is rarely done to a standard we would wish for our own homes, and the main (only?) factor to be considered is cost, not user satisfaction. I wonder how many teachers in schools have thought about approaching a worker in school to ask about doing some work for them out of school?

These ideals sound very distant and a bit of a pipe-dream. If weren’t for the fact that I drive past 4 such schools every morning on my commute I might think so too.

 6008113604_e209af91bdSchool by Krzysztof Pacholak

Thoughts on using Technology in schools.

I came across this via zite which I use to find and share a load of good reading, infographics and ideas. This pretty much sums up my thoughts about using Technology in schools, and is what we should be aiming for when embedding ICT across the curriculum.

As it says at the bottom, it’s a tool not an outcome.

technology

The Apps I use.

Since beginning to use my iPad nearly 10 months ago I have added loads of Apps to it, some I have bought, others have been free. I thought I should share the ones I use a lot and share how I use them too.

Evernote: The App I use for notetaking, link keeping, article archiving and paper based note storage is Evernote. It can be downloaded onto phone, tablet, kindle and PC or Mac and it allows you to share things on one account between each device. I’m not the best at keeping bits of paper, so now I take a photo graph of them and Evernote them. By carefully tabbing them I can easily find stuff.

Hootsuite: This is my chosen twitter device, again available across multi-formats and once you have created your account your setup follows wherever you login. Hootsuite allows you to create lists for your twitter account and separate them into columns on a page and different pages too (I have a page for education, one for leisure).

Zite: Zite brings you content it thinks you will find interesting based on your twitter feed, google reader feed and articles you ‘like’ in Zite. Most of my reading for education is now done through Zite and the articles you read are easily shared via twitter and facebook. Zite also allows you to copy article directly across to Evernote (and allows you to tag then in Evernote)

IThoughts: I never really used mind map style planning before getting the iPad, but using this app allows you to change what’s in bubbles, move them around and delete the bubble altogether very easily. I find it’s a good way for me to put down ideas for topic planning, presentation planning etc.

Haiku Deck: Can’t get enough powerpoint!! Haiku Deck is presentational software which gives a full picture slide background (you choose the picture or they suggest) and then you put a limited amount of text on the page. I feel the end results are visually great, and move you away from a powerpoint comfort zone of putting too much text on each slide.

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Make Things Do Stuff

NESTA, Nominet Trust and Mozilla have create the website Make Things Do Stuff, with the following aim.

Make Things Do Stuff aims to mobilise the next generation of digital makers.

I’ve just had a quick look around their site but it looks great. There are a lot of projects on their which Digital Leaders will love, but which could also be developed in the classroom too. Have a look and see what you think.

http://www.makethingsdostuff.co.uk

Cranes In The Sky.

 

It’s not about the tool?

It’s not about the tool is a phrase which seems to crop up a lot in education currently. It’s usually connected to ICT with someone telling us it’s not about a piece of software, hardware, operating system etc. It’s about how it’s used and the learning that takes place.

I’m not convinced.

Tools which don’t work as well as they should.

It seems this is new thinking for education authorities, and it could be argued this is an attempt to hide their incorrect decisions of the past. An example – Interactive White Boards – Why buy so many of them, at such a huge cost? Where was the debate about the most effective use of the money? And why not make them at the correct height for pupils in the classroom?

If your school has elderly laptops/PC’s then the chances are that some fabulous pieces of free, Web 2.0 type software won’t run on them due to a missing upgrade.

Many schools don’t have free choice of web browser, they’re tied to IE (which can’t always upgrade to the newest version) which means that many tools are not on the ‘menu’ to be chosen from.

High Quality Tools

Moving away from ICT and education, when I take my bike out I love the fact that it’s responsive, comfortable and it enhances the pleasure I get from being out, making me more likely to go out on it.

The creatives in our house enjoy using the best art tools they can, and they help to expand their creativity. They don’t produce a lot of art on slates – I’m sure they could but they’d soon become disillusioned as they see other artists using finer, more appropriate, more enhancing tools.

Aspiration.

If we want to develop our children’s learning, if we want to provide aspiration, if we want to develop self-esteem, if we’re really serious about it then we need to have the BEST tools available for the job. Of course we need to debate what they are, of course we need to ensure that teachers are using them as best they can (they usually are by the way).

‘Wow’ factor.

Benjamin Franklin wrote when he was 16 about Temples of Learning. For me part a Temple conjures up images of beauty, craftsmanship and inspires feelings of awe – or as my P4/5 class might put it ‘wow’.

Schools need to, and can, provide the ‘wow’ factor in so many young lives and a large part of that is in the materials available in school. Schools are already providing the ‘wow’ factor in many young lives through the quality of staff they employ, their attitudes and their commitment to the children they teach. It’s time to provide some of the tools to match.

It’s not JUST about the tool, but Government and Local Authorities, the tool is a large part of it. Do you do all that you can?

 

Weeknotes…what happened?

I did think when I began my weeknotes that it could be an ambitious thing to try and write something once a week, and sure enough as term progressed and I got more tired, I got less productive and weeknotes weren’t written.

 

So, what did I do in the last 3 to 4 weeks.

  • P4/5 and P5 had their Dr Who showcase which brought the Dr Who topic to a conclusion. The work the children put into that (which was fantastic) can be seen on our pages on the school blog. There are still a few more scratch games to post up on there too. The topic inspired 2 children to create this wonderful drama at home!
  • The digital leaders never quite completed their podcast – I think a combination of Audacity and windows XP proved insurmountable for them. We will try again using the ‘Voice record’ app on the iOS systems. This looks to be a great app and much more friendly that Audacity, although not as high-end.
  • Ukulele news… The Girl has a electro-acoustic tenor. (Envy, jealousy etc) Looks great and sounds fantastic! I’m still playing away on my Uke and am trying to finger pick a bit.
  • Cooking – I made Easter Sunday dinner for the family. Lamb Shanks from the Ruhlman’s Twenty book (which is wonderful, never made anything bad from this book) and a Quorn alternative for The Girl and me. I also made a poppy seed torte from the Guardian cook which was dreadful.
  • Comic relief day in school was very successful – well done to Pupil Council, your ideas were brilliant. Again the school blog is the place to see photos of the day.
  • I used Mailstrom to re-organise my gmail account and have achieved Inbox zero, and not gone beyond 10 e-mails in my inbox since! Great program.
  • I made it to the Easter holidays, it was a tiring term and I’m not really feeling human yet, but I made it which I am really pleased about.

 

Weeknotes 2013 – Week 8.

Here’s what’s been going on this week.

  • Our cluster was privileged enough to have Sir John Jones speak to us at our staff meeting on Friday. It’s the 3rd time I’ve hear SJJ speak, twice in person and once on a video link. I find him to be funny and inspiring which is a good combination for a teacher to have and something which we should all aspire to. Among the things he said which made me think were his ideas about Rock Thinkers and Water Thinkers and the idea that we can’t keep on doing what we’re doing (even when it what we do is brilliant). I thought of British Cycling who are always changing things up to maintain their success, but also companies like Kodak who were at the pinnacle of the photography market, had digital photography available, but rather than develop that stayed with their traditions of film photography for too long, they didn’t go backwards in the digital age, they just got overtaken by the ‘water thinkers’ who moved more rapidly than them. I will post more of the ideas from SJJ here in the coming days.
  • Minecraft – wow. Our digital leaders are trying to create their own minecraft club and are doing a fantastic job. It will be great when it’s up and running. They are so creative with their ideas for their club, creating challenges, creating simple wiki websites with links to good sites on and despairing of my general uselessness at the game. The children in our school (and everywhere else in the known universe) are desperate to play minecraft, to create their own worlds, objects, towns, cities, homes with it. It’s something us teachers should begin trying to use to develop deeper learning, the children would be delighted.
  • We had maths training on measurement delivered by the excellent John Sexton. The session was on measure and one of the key messages I took away was the need to allow more time for practical measurement activities. These concrete experiences are what the children will use to support them in their measurement learning when the context is more challenging. It’s not good enough firing up the worksheet of conversions and so-called ‘real-life’ problems and hoping. If you want examples of amazing maths problems look at Dan Meyer’s brilliant work.
  • I attended our parent council meeting (and volunteered to run a family quiz at school) on Tuesday evening. It makes for a late night but it’s good to hear about what our children tell their parents about school life and how positive they are about it. The parent council also do a brilliant job in supporting the school through raising money and our profile in the community.
  • Pupil council at school are doing brilliant work (with little help from me as ever!!) on developing diamond time, organizing comic relief events, reviewing school meals (answering questions pupils have about school dinners). They are true independent learners and thinkers and are dealing brilliantly with the responsibilities and frustrations that real life contains. I am incredibly proud of their work.
  • I made another video – I hate it, you hate it, we all hate videoing ourselves but… making a quick video (don’t worry about your hair, your clothes, fancy editting etc) can get across an idea in 2 minutes that might take 30 minutes to blog.
  • On a ukulele front I discovered Richard G’s ukulele song book which has some great tunes to strum!
  • I discovered that Sky Sports is available for £4.99 a month on iPad – thus allowing me to keep up with all things cricket without a) paying for a full subscription and b) hogging our TV.
  • Finally the baseball season is nearly here which means I am back in charge of my fantasy baseball teams. Great fun, lots of geeky stats, lots of banter a good stress buster.

Weeknotes 2013 – Week 7

Here’s what’s been going on this week.

 

  • My Ukulele arrived. Whoop. Sounds great even with someone as ham-fisted as me playing it! I also attended the next Uke course. It was a bit meh as we didn’t cover anything new, just recapped the previous songs and chords we have done. Also, I get that not providing a tea or coffee saves cash in the short-term, but would the cost of providing a biscuit and a drink be repaid in the work and attitudes of the people taking part in a course? I’d be interested to see if there’s any research into it.
  • I had my half-term holiday, or a day off as it has reverted to. No-one has explained why the week has become one day again and why six weeks has become seven in the summer, but I’m sure there’s a well reasoned argument behind it. However, what seems to have been well researched and documented is the effects of summer holiday learning loss which suggests that “Two-thirds of the academic achievement gap in reading and language found among high school students has been explained through the learning loss that occurs during the summer months of the primary school years.” and “In general, low-income students lose around 3 months of grade-level equivalency during the summer months. Middle income students lose about 1 month of grade-level equivalency over the summer. Thus, the achievement gap widens, due to out-of-school influences and lack of summer learning opportunities” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_learning_loss
  • On our training day our maths guru Alison Earnshaw shared some more of her excellent work on calculation with us. Again, thought provoking ideas about how children learn (and are taught) number.
  • I developed my use of evernote to assess/evidence a piece of reading from a child. Simple to do, I photographed the page and the child recorded themselves reading it. The next step is to work with the child and discuss the reading and begin to create targets for reading development.
  • Digital leaders have been busy planning an in school minecraft club. It is hugely popular with loads of our children. What impressed me about our Digital leaders was their thoughts on how to make the club more than a ‘free play’ minecraft experience. Hopefully they will blog about it on our DL page.
  • Dannielle has published her nursery resources wiki. I am really pleased with the effort she has put into this in her own time and I hope it proves useful for our nursery staff.
  • I have begun working on the Learning Creative Learning MOOC and as part of this I’ve been looking again at Scratch and how it can be used as a creative tool. Clearly it can, but along with that I feel that some of it’s rigour (i.e. you have to be precise in your scripts, careful where you save it etc…) add to its value as a tool for use in the classroom.
  • As part of the LCL MOOC I also created a google+ group. This was so easy to set up, manage and use. The more I use Google+ the more I like it. It’s been a slow burner but it’s beginning to prove really useful for work ideas, storing photos from my phone with the instant upload feature, and even using Hangouts with my Mum!!
  • Finally, and sadly I completed season 2 of Borgen. Great series, great characters and storylines. Bring on series 3.
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