On my visit today I also picked up a link to an intriguing looking set of new online stories at Rockford's Rock Opera, that I will take a look at later, when finished the housekeeping.
Now I am really excited about the further possibilities, this opens up for using 2create and 2 Create a Story. 2Create and 2Create a Story, both export to flash, can include embedded sound effects and animation, so with space to upload and host these files, inclusion to a blog space offers a new set of multimodal text publication possibilities. Am now pondering how we might do the same thing with the student's Wordpress blogs. Watch this space.
After a visit to our y3 blog hosted by Ethink I have used the embed flash plugin to add one of the flash files created in 2 create a story to the blog. Can't wait to share this next term.
The process they engaged with was really fascinating, taking the role of narrator in the story, J had decided to tell all the unspoken parts, referring to the punctuation in the text, to help delegate speaking parts, while he and his friends used speech verbs, and picture cues to help discuss how they would read the text. They spent a considerable amount of time discussing this and rehearsing so this morning we set up Podium to enable them to record their efforts. Each pair of pages was allocated as a chapter, in order to enable the children to edit each piece of the story in short chunks, or to delete sections and rerecord until they were happy with it. This part of the process is something which previously they had only done supported so I was interested to see what would happen. They were very keen to get the story to sound the way they wanted it, deleting chunks and sometimes whole tracks before rerecording it, replaying after every recording session, and using the wave forms they quickly identified overly long periods of silence, pauses or gaps in the soundtrack. After being shown how they began to delete these spaces independently. In order to complete the recording they finally asked if they could stay in at playtime. On completing the file, I helped them to copy and paste the clips in each chapter together, and we added the enclosing music file. The completed story went down a storm with their class mates, and tomorrow they have been asked to share their story with children in other classes. We also published the file to our podcast station, which added that extra wow to the outcome. We hope you enjoy sharing it too. Baby Bear's Christmas Kiss can be found by following this link to the Buzz. Merry Christmas from Year 3.
The space was originally set up in response to coursework requirements at university, and if I am honest for a long time I struggled to find a purpose for it and so it lay abandoned and lonely. In September 2006, I found myself in the rarest of positions, I was without a class of my own, covering PPA with a colleague, while teaching ICT as a subject specialism across the school, in key stages 1 and 2 with the occasional adventure with foundation stage students. My learning took a steep curve, new strategies emerged or were required not only to manage students and their learning in the ICT suite, but also to share, store and evaluate their work, as well as opportunities to engage with tools first hand that I had not used previously. This space since last December, has become a valuable professional development tool, somewhere to think aloud, reflect upon, share, sometimes to sound off about but overall to log my thoughts, somewhere to wander and think about what might be, while celebrating the achievements of my students.
The tone and content may have changed a little since September with a return to the classroom full time and teaching and learning with a class of my own again but with this has come the opportunity to add continuity, whole curriculum context and the use of a base to apply and reflect on how earlier thoughts work during the day to days of classroom life.
I often visit my Feedburner account curious to find out about my visitors, subscribers, what they are reading and what they are searching for when directed to my blog. I have been interested over the time I have been writing to find that a common search query that leads folk here, even if only for a brief stay, goes something along the lines of...
"ICT Recommended hours"
What I have found increasingly exciting however are the number of visitors who now arrive here, not searching for ICT related issues alone. Although being primarily my thoughts as an ICT subject leader, what I hope my blog offers are embedded situations and thoughts that leave visitors much less concerned with the recommended hours per week or per year students should spend doing ICT , but stimulate thought about how ICTs could be used differently as tools to support work across the whole curriculum.
I cannot imagine many sites being visited through the search string
"pencil paper glue recommended hours"
Looking back over the year to date, as a professional development tool, deciding to keep a blog has to be one of the best decisions I have made as a teacher. Keeping a paper based "learning log" or "diary," as I used to do does not draw the same level of support or common interest. The journey I have engaged in over the past 12 months has not been alone, but thankfully has been enhanced by the support of colleagues who visit, have offered comments, shared their thoughts or through their linking to this space have encouraged and enabled me to share my work and adventures with a wider audience. I would like to thank everyone who over the past 12 months has supported and encouraged me, through their comments and promotion of the space. Hopefully you will continue to visit through 2008 and beyond. Thanks, :o)
Now for a song, courtesy of ErFinanza, GreyWorldwide and YouTube
As is fairly typical of a group with a new toy they have published the results in all sorts of pretty formats, but as we know not all of these are terribly useful unless we are aware of their purpose, and the contexts in which they can be used. So here we are, it is Christmas Eve and Santa is now struggling to use the tools he has been given to help him load his sleigh.
Part of being a good mathematician is not just being able to do the math, but is also about reasoning and thinking about which tools and strategies match the task. This Bar Chart was the starting point for this weeks maths sessions with my class. Was this the right tool to help Santa with the jobs he needed to do before setting out on his journey? If not how could we use the information we had to help us devise another tool that would make Santa's job of packing the sleigh easier.
The week was based on a teaching sequence that I hoped would allow students to explore how this information might be transformed and reprepresented, we carried out our own class survey, using a familiar device the pictogram, as a tally chart to help collect our data. We discussed the gifts that we would like for Christmas drawing and labeling these on sticky labels, then coming together to group and sort these on freize paper. We then discussed what we could see, focussing on the idea of this chart as a story. What story was our emerging "tally chart" telling us? Exploring the pictogram as a starting point and data source, we began to identify tools that were missing that might help our reader better understand what we had recorded. There was no title, and as the discussion unfolded an x axis was added, to label the gift categories. This too needed a label so our reader would understand that these were gifts, not random items. Since we had been working on scales, in one form or another for the last couple of weeks, one student suggested that another line could be added up the side and numbers marked in, our chart could have a scale and it could count in ones, (hmm perhaps we could add a y axis?) This scale would also need a label so readers could understand what it meant. The students were encouraged discussed the story again, and this time as the students commented these were recorded on the whiteboard as if responses to questions, before being asked to work in pairs to rewrite these as questions, rehearsing them aloud and remembering to include appropriate punctuation. Both our new hybrid pictogram, student comments and group questions were displayed to support the next session.
During session 2 we returned to the pictogram/tally we had developed yesterday, and the students were introduced to other ways of tallying, we could tick tally, this was abit like our pictogram as a data source, we had to count individual ticks, or images, but another way of representing the data we had collected the day before was to use a five bar gate system, and here we could use "clever counting," counting in groups of 5 and adding remainders. We began by asking how many students were in school yesterday. The children initially guessed, but were reminded of the tool we had used to help us think about gifts for Christmas. How could we use this tool to help us find the answer? If our survey was accurate, it would include one choice of gift from everyone who was here. The process of counting every block as with every tick, is laborious, but we soon agreed that there were 24 students in school. We began to talk about how we could have made counting easier, and I introduced the idea of five bar gate tallying, working through each column on our chart one at a time to build a running total, we had 5 sets of 5 and 4 left over this is 24. To model this system of tallying we carried out another quick but unrelated survey, using Mark Cogan's "Tally chart" ITP, observing what happened, when we reached 5. The students were asked why they thought this system might be called a 5 bar gate, and responses directed us to how the recording looked like a gate, with 4 uprights, and a cross through. Using our data from yesterday the students were encouraged to make their own tally charts, adding a total column. As a class these were then reviewed as we re represented this data, as a class frequency table in Excel, on the IWB. This final step in the session was a preparatory stage for our third session.
Session three involved us in looking at scales, and introducing the y axis. A helpful supporting rhyme for this came from my colleague as "y for the sky," an image which the children seemed to find useful. We began the session with a counting stick, counting horizontally in multiples of two, five and ten, before turning the stick to the vertical position as we had done with other scales last week and carrying out prediction tasks, eg if this is 0 and this is 100, what might each division in our scale be? How do we know? Where might 50 be? What about 20? 30? 25? and so on. 3 different images of yesterday's data were shared in the form of bar charts generated from the class frequency table and discussed. What could we see? What stories were they telling? This lead to children pointing out changes in the way the y axis scales were formed, one was counting in 2s, one 3's and the other 5s. The columns on the chart were all different, "no they weren't... they were different sizes but they had the same numbers in them.." beginning to refer back to previous sessions on scale some of the students began to recognise that even though the appearence of the chart content was different in each case, the scale on the y axis was determining how these numbers would be shown, and rather than each chart representing a different story, this remained the same, while how the chart represented the the story visually changed according to our choice of scale. This lead to a discussion of the importance of axis labels and titles. For the rest of the session the students were given paper charting frames, in which to represent the data we had collected, and challenged to include y axis scales, adding axis labels and good titles that would help their readers, understand the story their chart was telling.
With previous groups of older students I have used Excel to do this task, the students working in pairs to create charts and add labels at the computer. Although being pleased with the level of understanding the children generally achieved through this task the final outcomes showed some misunderstandings, not around charts, the visual representation was fine, but the paper based tool I had given for individual work. The label frames on the y axis seeming to cause particular problems, for some students who used this not to add labels, but to include their scales. On reflection, I think when I do this again, I will organise the group differently, having them work on the paper frame in pairs, and encouraging talking twos. We also need to consider the placement of numerical values on the y axis, we have not done any number track work this term, but student experiences, lead them not to mark intervals in some cases on the scale divisions, but in the spaces between, which may have been a confusion with how the x axis was organised on this chart type, or the tool they were offered, and is something I need to revisit and address in one more session. Although useful as an exercise in applying what they knew, it might have been better to build up the chart in stages, beginning with the addition of the scale first, moving to titles and labels as a class, before allowing the students to add the data.
Our final stage of the task was to ask which if any of these charts would be helpful to Santa when he began to load his sleigh. The discussion was great and the conclusions of the class resounding, all of the charts help him load it, but would be of little use when he came to deliver. He would need something more. Getting the gifts on the sleigh at one end was fine, but how would he know where to deliver them, and who was to get what. He could use a tally chart, or a frequency table with a check list/tick box to ensure that he had the right number of each gift, but to be extra safe he would need a list of addresses so he could unload at the children's houses when he got there.
Number play and exploration of the relationships between number and data, during my research project literature review, has been shown as something we rarely get to as an inherent part of data handling activity. A growing body of research shows that students involved in data handling activity, frequently spend more time drawing and colouring in graphs, than they do engaging with them to support questioning and reasoning and so rarely have time to use these for their intended purposes, as problem solving tools. The discussion, questioning and reasoning activity that began to emerge from this series of tasks was really useful in laying the foundations for future work, and I am looking forward to further work later, building on these foundations when we use data handling software together to engage with investigational activities around other themes later.
There is still the cost projectors to consider, but this initial solution cuts potential costs considerably. Maybe with the addition of an open source, cross platform, object based software suite, that enables use of legacy file formats from other IWB software suites, this will have an impact on the solutions offered by IWB providers. Below is a video of Johnny demonstrating his innovation, you can also find his original you tube post, here amazing and inspirational.
Next term we will be engaging with a geography based topic where we will be trying to integrate work on food and eating. This has set me thinking about how it might be interesting to adapt this to think about the journey of a meal. Perhaps beginning with food labels researching the origins of the ingredients, or even making a visit to the local supermarket, to photograph and note where the fruits and vegetables in our local five a day come from. The countries of origin could be geotagged by students using my quikmaps account, or following table top tasks as part of a shared session, for inclusion in our class blog or year group community pages. Maybe we could add these to our growing interactive school atlas, and be embedded in Tizz's Travels. Well some "food" for thought anyway. There are some interesting possibilities for this idea, and I am sure this would make an interesting starting point, not only for supporting understanding of our "place in space," but could be extended with older students around issues of global responsibility, sustainability and fair trade.
It reminded me of the fun my Y3 class had a while back with hieroglyphic writing tools on sites such as this at the University of Pensylvania's, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, where I made this Cartouche showing my name.
And also a Y4 class who loved using Viking Rune tools like the one I found here on the PBS Network, (unfortunately I couldn't embed my new found Viking name "Longshanks.") Students do find it fascinating and fun to play with ancient alphabets. To add another dimension to spelling and handwriting sessions, I downloaded a Futhark alphabet font set from Simply the Best a while back, and used these to make decoding games that really challenged some of the students thinking about how our alphabet works as a set of "sound pictures."
I like the context for the animation, which embeds the historical context of current schooling within the Forster Act, the view continues through out the animation showing how schools and schooling, but particularly how cultural views of the learner and learning seem to have have changed little, despite changes and technological developments since that time. The confused Martian from a world where distributed knowledge, networked learning, conversation and shared meaning making are recognised and day to day features of personalised education, provides a powerful image of the differences between personalised catologued curricular, and the one hat fits all delivered curriculum paradigm we are currently so fond of. I apologise in advance if my interpretations and this summary oversimplify the presentation, check it out. I guess what excited and stimulated me most was how what is presented herebegan to help me link ideas that emerged during recent inspirational presentations given by Professor Stephen Heppell and Lord Puttenham. Thanks again Linda.
The about this unit section says in this unit children will
- learn to develop visual ideas
- realise these ideas using ICT.
- use a computer graphics package to explore and experiment with ideas, amending and modifying their work to meet specific outcomes.
- learn to save their work as they go along (I would hope that by Y4 they are consolidating this).
- learn to use ICT tools appropriately and to select areas of an image to cut, copy and change. learn to export their work to other packages and import images from sources such as clip art, scanner or digital camera.
The key statement for me in this whole introduction is that "children will apply what they have learnt in this unit... to produce pictures, plans and maps in art, design and technology, and.. (or).. geography." When I originally designed my unit of work the series of tasks that evolved focused around the Design and make Process for a Christmas card, embedding the ICT skills in moving towards this outcome.The outcome for the "integrated task" says that children should use
"a variety of materials, created on and away from the computer, and use them to make a final image." This I interpreted to mean, drawing on available designs as well as the use of additional ICT tools and resources. The remainder of this post describes the process in its DT context, through ICT
IDEAS (Investigative, Disassembly and Evaluative Activities)
This unit was designed to fit with and work alongside a mechanisms unit for Design and Technology, where the design brief was to design and make an animated Christmas card. Students were provided with examples of existing cards, to evaluate, discussing and drawing from these common themes and ideas. In ICT sessions we also used the internet to explore Christmas scenes and images. We began also to use tools in Microsoft Paint to develop wire frames, of common Christmas Motifs. We focused on how shape tools could be used to form skeleton structures around which to develop our images, saving individual images, that might later be used as "stamps" in the composition of larger Christmas scenes.
FPTs (Focussed Practical Tasks)
The intention of any DT project is that all children should be able to realise a quality outcome, and in order to achieve this they must be provided with available designs to evaluate , innovate on and or develop. In class the students engaged in a range of making tasks, that involved them in constructing predefined mechanisms, rotary window type designs, the use of cams and lever based mechanisms, pop ups and sliders. As we engaged the students were required to evaluate as a class the outcomes they were creating. Drawing on previous experiences with cards, which parts of the images might we be able to animate, and which of the mechanisms might we use to enable this to happen. In my classroom I see FPTs as early prototyping activities, spaces and activities through which students can begin to visualise the relationships between the skills input, and the final design outcomes they hope to develop. Gill Hope, presents some really interesting ideas about design and technology in the Primary School, and the dangers inherent in requiring young children to draw and record what they want to make before they begin, design as a process is an ongoing sand iterative process, evolving continually as we evaluate and appraise our progress, and solve problems. Prototyping is a key area in the design process, and one which I feel should be as practical as possible. During DT activities, I am never without my digital camera, as I find this is one of the most powerful tools I have available to record and document student activity, and frequently use images captured through the use of Powerpoint to document learning stories. DT it seems for many is a real issue in terms of maintaining evidence, where do we store it? I find my hard drive or flash drive is ideal!?
The DMA (Design and Make Activity)
In DT sessions the students, made "mock ups," and working models which were separate initially from their cards. They went through processes of trial and error, drawing on the mechanism designs they were familiar with to bring about the effects they were trying to achieve, and when happy that their designs met the success criteria we had established earlier from our design brief, applied their mechanism to a card. These cards then were decorated to match the effect required. Some children used images and objects developed in ICT sessions to apply to their cards.
In ICT, the children now had a range of motifs and design types they had developed that they could use to make their Christmas Card. We used Microsoft Publisher to do this, beginning from a design Wizard, the students used the the step by step process to generate their own Christmas card writing frames. Choosing from the images they had developed they were able to recreate the card the way they wanted it to look, innovating on the presented design to include/import their own images, and to drag them around the page to where they would like to put them. They could also include text in the form of text boxes or through the use of Word Art, and add borders and boxes to break up the pages they were making. Using Publisher in this way the students were also engaging in visual prototyping, discussing the effects they were creating and and making decisions about which images they would like to include and why? Considering text effects, and how these impacted on the overall design and personal aesthetic they wanted to bring to the document. The students were able to use clipart to reform the border art they wanted to apply, or to bring in additional web based or clipart images. When completed the students were asked to publish the card they wanted to keep and take home to the "Published Work folder" on their home drives. We only allow monochrome printing in the ICT Suite, so black and white mock ups were printed by each child to learn the making process, but each child's individual card was also printed out to card on the Colour Laser Printer we have for special work.
Using the tools on the iBoard Christmas site, our year one students last year were also encouraged to make Christmas scenes. See my very first post Photofiltre and screen printing. I used the print screen function to capture and save the images they had developed, pasting these to a graphics package, cropping them to be saved as .jpg files using the student's names to index them. Using MS publisher, I later imported and printed cards individually, that they were able to fill in with their own greetings. They loved the quality of the output, and were really excited that they were able to give something they had made on the computer to a special someone .
Just thinking now how amazing and exciting it might be to develop this further to combine the DT and ICT elements through the use of the plotter cutter we have recently gained...
- Christmas Shape and Space Activities
- Getting ready for Christmas: (label and wrapping paper makers, dress up Santa, and mend or even "supe up"his sleigh, being among the tools available here)
- Christmas Writing: (drag and Drop Writing frames for letters and so on)
- and a collection of Christmas Shopping activities
There are 19 activities in all available to use free here, the students who used them loved the tools, I hope you do too, and that your experiences encourage you to explore further the fantastic Foundation and Key Stage One focussed tools they develop.
Hearing Thoughts for the day, short expressions about the things I like or look forward to about Christmas, memories of previous Christmases or even colleagues and community members recording their thoughts and memories about Christmas when they were a child, would make powerful tools for thinking about what this festival means to different people, and how it has changed over time, enabling and supporting discussions about the significance and meaning of the festival. I have to admit to being curious too, about how a public might react to primary school students sharing Christmas messages through this type of public broadcast, in tandem with those we often hear from Politicians, religious figures and celebrities at this time of year.
Our "greetings to the World," are developing slowly, but some of the students have begun to Use Think.com as a community space, practicing their email, internet and emerging web 2.o skills, to create Christmas pages of their own. The idea being that they will either, download images from the web, or create their own, uploading these to their Think spaces, adding a wish or greeting for the world, before sending a message to me that it is ready for inclusion in the school website. Adding to the website is a matter of download, copy and paste or insert using my choice of Web Development tool Ms FrontPage.
Some students have begun to expand on this remembering the pages we had on display last year, sending Christmas Funnies, or simple poems they have developed, and these too will be added to the space to celebrate their independent achievements.
Within the pages I have included links to some of the Websites I have used to support ICT activity in the classroom, these links are generally cross curricular in nature, but include things such as clipart site, links to pages about Christmas traditions around the world, and favourite site used by me with students from KS 1 last year, the iBoard online activities pages. There are also a number of resources and tools developed, for use with students, and some links to sections of the school website, describing and displaying student ICT outcomes around Christmas themes.
This year I am also interested in how we might begin to use the space to encourage colleagues to have a go at using Podium to develop simple podcasts, though time is short, and space to share this with colleagues limited I am convinced that the simplicity of the tool will enable colleagues to see how quickly they can prepare and develop a performance piece for publication. One idea I have shared is the notion of students performing their sections of the school performance, in class with these being recorded for upload. Another idea which has had mixed reaction is the idea of students creating a thought for the day type program, that could be developed during Guided Reading sessions, based on either reading from an available text or performance of something they have written and prepared. I have also proposed that if colleagues are unsure about the tool, if students rehearse and refine their performances, recording could be done using laptops during student Golden Time, and that I would be happy to work with small groups during this time. I would also be interested to see the quality of output from this tool, if we try to record students singing Christmas Carols and songs in real time, but this is an experiment for later.