Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘Scratch’

Extend and Stretch

You all know I’m passionate about inclusion and that means including pupils who are more able in certain areas. It’s something that we all need to be aware of in the classroom as such pupils need to be challenged  there’s nothing worse than being bored. But how to do it? Where do you start? I have a number of things I like to use; some free, some not, but the trick is to keep them interested. Here are a few ideas that you might be able to use in your classroom.

  • The  Challenge Box…: I have two special boxes in my room. They are undeniably spangley and a little OTT. They are called challenge boxes: one small (for Foundation Phase challenges) and one large (for KS2). Inside there are a range of colour-coded cards (different colours for different skill levels) that have ‘one off’ challenges on them. I also have a couple of additional cards hanging up in poly-pockets, for quick challenges. Anyway, if a child finds a task too easy or finishes it quickly I always have a few meaningful extensions planned. If there is still time in the lesson and they have completed all tasks I will direct them to take a card of whatever colour from the box. The challenges will always relate to skills we have covered before – they are just independent tasks to get them thinking. For example…

 

  • It’s a mystery: Regularly, particularly if there is something happening in the world that I think needs investigating (like the World Cup, World Book Day etc), I will come up with a set of mystery challenges (usually 5 or 6) which I place in sealed envelopes. In each set there’s usually a challenge linked to Science, Geography, History, Literacy, Mathematics and local (i.e. Welsh or British) interest. There are some examples of these challenges here and one of the important things I feel is that I am sourcing a number of the resource – this cuts down on the children wasting time looking for relevant stuff. These sessions challenge all pupils and sometimes work better when pupils are split into pairs or small groups but that’s up to you.
  • Show them something cool: with younger pupils who are more able it’s nice sometimes to show them something extra a program can do and let them share it with their classmates (or other teachers) during a plenary session or back in class. It’s nice to feel special and kids love that you’re sharing a piece of added information just with them 🙂
  • Give them choices: let the pupils choose the best way to complete their task. I love planning activities for pupils as young as Year 1 where they can select what they want to use. In a recent session (recording factual information about the Antarctic gathered by using Zoom School) Y2 pupils chose to record their work using either 2Publish+, 2CASS or 2Publish Extra (via PurpleMash). They also chose their own template and the way they presented work, leading to work that ranged from fact sheets to reference books while all covering the same skills ( importing, copying, pasting, etc.) and the same topic. This also works with older children: asking them to make a multimedia presentation might lead to a selection of videos and animations fitting in alongside more traditional Powerpoints or items made using web based tools like Animoto or Prezi.
  • Use things that inspire and engage: if you can make room for a little gaming or game creation: it might take your lesson in unusual directions. I’ve recently brought in my ipad and shown pupils some of the great apps available – many of which could be used in the classroom. They are totally in love with it!  Bringing  in a console or something hand held (like a Nintendo DS) can have unexpected results – it just depends how you use it. Check out ideas from fantastic people like Tim Rylands and get technology working for you, and the pupils, in your classroom. On the flip side get pupils to create their own games or quizzes to challenge each other and link to topics or learning intentions. I’ve mentioned 2DIY recently (which I’ve just used with more able, younger pupils to create quizzes linked to their topic) but there are other things out there, includingScratch, which are equally useful especially with older pupils.
  • Buddy pupils up! Use your more able pupils to assist the ones that need a little extra support – not intrusively, just as a someone to encourage or chivvy them along. I also like using older pupils along side younger ones (in a sort of Yoda style mentor role). again this isn’t intrusive, just supportive, and the pupils really seem to get something out of it.

So there you go. Not rocket science but a few ideas to than can be used to extend and stretch your pupils. I’m sure you can think of loads I’ve missed but I’ll leave you to fill in the gaps. If you’re looking for a place to start (to get more ideas – technology wise) then this might be worth a look.

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BETTcha by golly wow 2010!

Like many other technologically minded people I made the (in my case long) trek to Olympia last week to spend a bit of quality time at the BETT2010. My main objective was to get to the Teachmeet and pick up some useful and interesting tips from other like minded professionals but, I have to admit, the whole time I was there (and that wasn’t very long compared to some!) I felt on a natural high. The excitement of meeting (and trying to recognise!) people I had previously only spoken to via twitter, or educational forums, combined with the whole learning new things and seeing new products was unbelievably uplifting.

I arrived on Friday night just about in time for the Teachmeet (I did miss a little bit of the action but not much). The atmosphere was fantastic and there was a real community spirit in the room. As well as meeting, chatting and mingling with a fantastic group of people I’d never before met in person , one of the things that immediately struck me was the totally supportive nature of all that were in the room. And there were some great presentations too: some heartfelt and passionate (take a bow Mr Drew Buddie) others fun and informative (yes, Miles Berry, I mean you). If you weren’t there, you were really missing out on something special. Here’s the main things I took away from the Teachmeet…

1. If you’re in ICT (or just in education in any capacity) and not on Twitter, sign up now  : I’m not kidding, it will change the way you teach and, by following the right people, ideas will flood in thick and fast.

2. Someone else can give an old favourite a new twist and get you inspired: I was not particularly enthusiastic about Scratch (although I did use it) until Miles Berry made it look more accessible and fun filled – many thanks 🙂

3. There is so much out there, so investigate and ask others: Hadn’t tried Glogster (despite knowing about it) until Drew inspired me at Teachmeet Takeover on Saturday, and there were lots of similar presentations that showed the possibilities of things I had looked at in passing about but hadn’t tried.

4. We can achieve much more by working together: the number of collaborative projects that have sprung up in the short time I’ve been using Twitter have really changed the way I use certain resources (like Google Maps and Google Earth) with children (Tom Barrett’s Google Maps maths idea is one that instantly springs to mind).

In fact, the whole Teachmeet vibe is what got me through giving my own takeover presentation about the use of Dabbleboard in the classroom(thanks to Mark Warner for the above photo) on Saturday:  cannot believe I did it and that people stayed and listened. You can even see a video of my efforts (I’m not saying you have to here) and the other contributors to the takeover sessions.

On a personal level I had a great time hanging out with new friends and just generally discussing how we use ICT. It was great to put faces to names and realised that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet. Everyone is aiming for the same goal – how to get better at doing what they do and the atmosphere was certainly conducive to such an ideal. It was also amazing to discover that some of my pupils had won a 2Simple competition (a total surprise!!) and it was a pleasure to just hang out with the enthusiastic team that work at 2Simple, who are producing such wonderful stuff at the moment You only have to read the blog regularly to see how keen I am on their products!

So there you have it: my BETT 2010 experience. See you all next time (looking forward to it already).