I’ve heard people say that it’s grim up north. I’m sorry, but I really have to disagree (quite strongly actually) as I’ve just come back from the Northern Grid Conference in Newcastle and I can safely say it was a fabulous event. Not only was it organised to perfection by the wonderful Simon Finch (and his amazing team) it was also truly inspiring! This was in no small part due to the amazing presenters and the pure diversity of the workshops on offer and I will blog more about that tomorrow. Today I’m going to focus on my own presentation, which was looking at inclusion and technology, as I did promise a few people I’d pop up some information as soon as I could. So here you go…
Presenting at the Northern Grid Conference was a little bit nerve racking!
I was originally going to present a 15 minute workshop but this ended up being extended due to my good friend, Mary Farmer, being indisposed by an eye op a few days before hand. This meant I now had 30 minutes to myself – a daunting thought (for both me and the people watching). To say I was slightly worried would be an understatement, but I did catch up with a number of familiar faces before my morning session (they know who they are) all of whom convinced me I’d be fine. I’m not sure ‘fine’ would be the word I’d actually choose but things did seem to go okay and I survived two workshops virtually unscathed!
There were a few things I mentioned that are already well referenced in this blog but Multimodal PowerPoints did seem popular and there is a short tutorial and information on those available here I also spoke a little about the importance of various round ‘a’ fonts and there are a bunch of them here that you might like if this interests you. I also touched on using games based and hand held learning but I intend to blog about this soon in more detail so stay tuned. One thing I did promise was that I would try and recreate my presentation in video format so people who couldn’t get there could watch it. So here you go -I hope it’s not too rushed and that you can get an idea of what I’m saying. There were other ideas I spoke about that I didn’t have time to include here – look out for a more in depth blog post about the conference later in the week.
We’re winding down to the end of term and there’s a chance to have a little bit of fun. I have come up with something the pupils could do in their ICT time which is fun on a number of levels.
I’ve been looking at the Molly Potter books recently and they have some fantastic activities to get pupils thinking. This activity (which I called What if? ) really produces a lot of interesting discussion. Give out a list of objects that all have magical properties and ask pupils to decide which ones they could use in school and on what day ( so they could link it to their class timetable if they wanted to). Items include a magic hat which helps you remember things and a key that can answer a certain amount of questions. Some of the items seem more obviously useful than others (although all have their merits) and listing a few possible uses can assist some of the pupils. Some pupils might play it safe and use the items to help them with class work etc. but there is scope for ideas that are truly inspired.
You could also try this second challenge (called Stranded!), which is about surviving in remote places and being able to design a shelter out of the things around you. Pupils are again given a list of possible choices and need to choose five items that might help them survive on a desert island. Some of the choices were electronic but, obviously, all of these needed battery power and some needed an internet connection (which there wasn’t likely to be on a desert island). Other choices included a torch, a sleeping bag and compass (obviously great if you know how to use it), in addition to other useful (or not?) items. This activity is another good one for problem solving and developing thinking. If you really consider the choices on offer you can come up with some great sensible answers (including making sure the torch was a wind up one) and good explanations on which items should be used and how(e.g. A sleeping bag would be useful as because you could unzip it and use it as a roof for a shelter). Some pupils, on the other hand, might look at the technology choices first (not considering signal or battery power) and may need a little guidance. But, however you use them, one thing both challenges are is fun.
Here’s an idea for a very short ICT session. What if all the children all do something completely different? No two children covering the same topic. Each one working independently, at their own level using the software of their choice. The only criteria – they have to discover something new that they hadn’t known before.
So this was how it works. Use the fruit machine style random name/word picker on ClassTools and fill it full of different topics: some which children will find irresistible and others that could be a little more academic or challenging. Put in a few things that I knew the pupils would have very little knowledge about (e.g. The Grand Canyon) and others that they would have studied in previous years. Each child can choose how they present any information (Ript, Prezi, PowerPoint, 2Publish+, 2CASS, Movie Maker, etc.). Explain the challenge to them, get each child to click the fruit machine and take the topic that came up. Then straight to the computers and off to work. They might come up with all sorts of new pieces of information, some of which you might refer to as ‘totally useless’ (a bit like a certain DJ’s ‘Factoids’). No matter! After all, everyone learns something new – including you!
You know, I’m pretty much the ‘out on a limb’ type: I often plan things that are a little bit unusual and have tenuous links to the topics being covered. I like a bit of leeway here and there. I like to take things in an unexpected direction. There are, however, skills to cover and these still need to be included in lessons as it’s an important part ICT. But doing it in a fun and engaging way is also key.
I like unusual activities. There’s the lovely menu project (as outlined on ‘Come Dine With Me) and a whole host of others. Ever thought about designing a theme park around a local area using PowerPoint (skills recapped: word art, text boxes, use of the spellchecker, inserting pictures, using Autoshapes and slide transition)? How about using Audacity and Movie Maker to create small information films and travel guides about our local area? What about linking ICT to Science work, using PowerPoint Autoshapes to design sportswear and logos. If your interested in making sessions challenging how about using my World Cup Challenge where pupils can go in any direction they chose as long as it fits the brief . there’s the Mathematical challenge and a number of others in the set.
Creative ICT can involve looking at different types of computer based art, graphics and photo editing packages. Pupils can try out a whole load of different types of software: some you might have installed at school (2Paint a Picture, Revelation Natural Art, to name a couple of common ones) and some that are web based (Bomomo, Brushster, SumoPaint etc.). Some that are mainly for photo editing and manipulation (Fotoflexer, Tuxpi etc.), photo collage applications (Andrea Mosaic, Shape Collage etc. ) and some that aren’t really art packages at all but have artistic merits (Wordle, PowerPoint, Textorizer etc.).
Pupils can use a Photo Album PowerPoint template or Ript to create digital art scrapbooks showcasing their efforts, writing little comments about their work. By the end of the session get them to decide on a favourite application and what they liked about it. So that everyone is focused on adding content to the scrapbook, add their names to the fruit machine random name generator available via Classtools – and use it to choose pupils to come up front and showcase their work – that way you can carry out some self evaluation and peer evaluation (like 2 stars and a wish) during your plenary.
Another Day – another PowerPoint Project. Today looking at designing your own PowerPoint templates.Now if you want to start creating your own PowerPoint templates there are tutorials for 2003 and 2007 available online to walk you through the process. For maximum impact it’s also an opportunity to use art based or photo editing software – I’m using Microsoft AutoCollage! Firstly, make a new folder and searched the internet and resource bank for suitable images for your theme. . You’ll need about 20 to 30 images but Microsoft AutoCollage allows up to 50 images to be used and will discard any that are not large enough to be included before you create the actual photo collage.
Once you’ve created your collage use photo editing software: installed stuff like PhotoSimple or internet based applications like Tuxpi; to make changes. You might like to colourise or posterise. Sepia and Greyscale can also work well. It’s just a personal choice. Now time for the next stage – creating slide backgrounds!
Insert your collage or image on a blank PowerPoint slide and trim it to fit exactly using the crop tool. Then use autoshapes to add a focus area for the main title, making sure the fill colour or gradient fill compliments the colours in our image. Then group these two elements and save them as a jpeg image. But one background a template does not make (did I sound like Yoda then?) so you’ll needed to work on.
For our second background add a rectangular autoshape the exact size of the slide (again using a suitable colour or gradient fill). Follow that by inserting your image and cropping it to a banner or sidebar, possibly adding an additional autoshape for a title spot. You could create both a banner and a sidebar combination on two separate slides. Again, the items on the slide were grouped and saved as jpeg images, giving at least two backgrounds to use. You can then save this as your very own design template to use in your PowerPoints.
Ript is a really cool tool to use with the pupils when covering different ways of collecting internet research. Of course there are any number of ideas you can use for this (and if you want some ideas just check out this link with ideas collected by Simon Haughton) but Ript is a little different as it bypasses the need for copying and pasting. You can use it to collect and present ideas, save them as jpgs, then print them off to use for reference.
Before you start ‘Ripting’ information, or start on other ways of presenting internet research, you can also looked at the different sections of a URL, how best to evaluate a website and how facts are validated on a site like wikipedia. Once this is covered it’s time to look at some of the information available to us over the world wide web. Used a few different search engines and compare results: the general concensus is that links from the BBC (which appear highly on all search engines) are the ones that would be most useful to use in school. This isn’t to suggest you cannot explore alternative sites. I just think many BBC sites have information that is presented in a much more ‘child friendly’ manner.
So what else could Ript be used for? I’ve been surprised at some of the suggestions I’ve heard from people lately: from making a calendar using a learn new facts each day website to using it as a photo collage tool: both excellent ideas. What can you come up with?
So, we’re just about to bring 2009 to a close and looking forward to 2010. It’s been a great year for my adventures in ICT: lots of fun with free online applications and downloads, the ongoing developments from the bods at 2Simple (which leave me in constant awe and wonder!), a new blog, a club wiki, the collaborative power of Twitter, Google Maps and Docs, Etherpad (soon to be RIP but many appearing in its place), the list of high spots goes on! So I thought I’d recap a few of my favourite moments – hopefully it will bring a smile to your faces too 🙂
Firstly I’d like to thank all the fantastic people I follow on Twitter for encouraging me to start this blog – the feedback has been amazing and I love reading everyone’s comments and ideas. I wasn’t really sure I had enough to contribute to the ever expanding use of ICT in the classroom (I know my OH would disagree) but I’m hopeful that I have ignited ideas and inspired some of you a little bit. It’s always nice to read a comment or see a tweet that refers to something in the blog – at least I know I’m on the right track and the help and support I have received from others has been most welcome. Thank you all!
I’ve also enjoyed using (or playing with) lots of the free tools available online or to download and fitting them into activities and planning. I’ve got a few particular favourites too: Ript – great for collecting and arranging research, Dabbleboard – collaborative brainstorming fun (plus all its alternative uses too), Mapwing, SumoPaint and so many others! Ongoing use in the fantastic range of products available from 2Simple software has also given me a huge amount of pleasure. It’s great to come across a collection of products that is so versatile and everyone enjoys using. If I’ve bored you with my ongoing waffles about the wonders of 2Paint a Picture and 2Publish+ (plus many others) well…tough! I will be boring you some more in 2010 with further ideas because I just love the stuff!! If you’re interested in finding out even more about 2Simple ideas then check out their own blog – it’s full of useful ideas and information!
I should name check a few people who have helped me along my way (with the blog and other ideas) – there are many and you all know who you are. I’d still be typing come Christmas day if I listed all of you now! Some, however, need to be properly thanked for their ongoing help and support to a relative novice. So…drum roll please… first up is Mark Warner (without whom I wouldn’t have even started tweeting or blogging): the man is full of ideas and runs a seemingly endless selection of inspirational sites (check him out if you haven’t already). I’d also like to give a special mention to the wonderful Tom Barrett for lighting a spark to get me started on creating a few curriculum linked Google Maps. So far I’ve created 3 (Pembroke Castle shapes, Amazon Rainforest and Castell Henllys) , but more are on the way (particularly linked to storytelling). Anthony Evans has also been a great inspiration for a long time – firstly through his Redbridge ICT blog and now through his work at 2Simple. He’s also the only person I have spoken to who is more obsessed with Doctor Who than I am (well – maybe) so, Anthony, I salute you. Finally a couple of shout outs to a special gang of Twitter friends. Fellow blogger Nicola Stables (we started blogging the same week!), plus new bloggers EDB35 and Simon Haughton (watch this space – they’re both going to be fab blogs that will be well worth following): you keep me going and I love getting your comments and feedback on ideas. Here’s to a productive 2010!!!