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Entries in change (2)


Integrated, Creative Educational Technology: A Fresh ICT Development


Using ICT to drive subjects needn't be a chore.

What you're about to read is this:


1. Why we're changing things around.

2. What we're doing. Maybe you're doing this or wish to adopt too.

3. A closer look. Examples.

Integrated, creative educational technology means learning to use technology as the joint driving force for the lesson or project in hand. This is the mantra and ethos behind all of the changes we're putting in place at our school. It's a tall order. We have a very mixed set of abilites from both students and teachers alike - new students when they arrive seem to be off the pace and, by contrast, new staff seem to be right on. You can see, then, it's also very difficult to manage training for such a large number of teachers that is both meaningful and has an end skill they can use in the classroom.

So in terms of training we are soon to be running the ICDL (ECDL) - a stalwort of basic qualifications in ICT but I feel it's quite limiting (We have become a testing center thanks to my counter part in secondary). I like the structure of the ICDL, I just wish there was an equivalent for giving you options of other office products. It's fine if Microsoft Office is your only means presenting, text editing, web browsing and communicating but at our school it isn't. We have just implemented a full roll-out of Google apps for school - 1500 accounts for Year 2 to IB. Therefore everyone from the kids to staff are creating and sharing documents (or at least have the option to do so) for each other to collaborate on. We have 45 iOS devices too and we know the difficulities in making universal web-based files on there. Getting them out of the device is always my main goal. So sharing, collaborating is this modern approach to ICT we should all be adopting. Why? Because our students are keen to do it, are keen to be involved in it and can do it because they know it's a labour saving device.

Our colleagues need advice and first hand experience of this - this is also the point of putting someone in the classroom to lead and demonstrate that it isn't all coding and fancy stuff. Simply adding an iPod touch + app/ laptop + online game to an extended plenary can be the difference between your core group getting a concept or missing the point. There are though those lessons where I am going reasonably technical for some - iMovie is one. Scratch as a method of presentation. Mostly though I am choosing a middle ground - something the class teacher will look at and think "I could do this myself. What's the big deal?"

Long term timetable for in-cass ICT

This year our integrated ICT curriculum is being built from scratch. After a long time contesting the merits and pitfalls of a discrete ICT curriculum it seems the best approach is to boldy take ICT back into the classroom. This means a lot of work. A lot of building resources from existing objectives. A lot of planning. A lot of meetings in different year groups. And a changing timetable every half term (or thereabouts). This means I might lose a few Saturday mornings!

We have kicked off the year with the steady weekly teaching of ICT to Reception using the iPads and then in the ICT suite rotating every 5 weeks. This is because last year we went all the way to Easter thinking we had enough time to teach the year group about logging in and finding common links. For various reasons we didn't. Reception children this year though are, in this order, all about:

1. Play and discovery. For this we use Interactive books and simple games. Initially these apps are: Cat in the Hat. Spot the Red Dot. Toca Robot. Drawing free. Photo Booth. Mad Pad. Paint My Wings. Red Fish (Poisson Rouge)

2. Knowledge and Understanding of the World. Toca Suite. Toca Store. Toca Doctor. Toca house. Toca Train. And role play. Learning about Letter formations and initial sounds. QR codes for Occupations etc.

Click to see Video

3. Key PC skills. Turn it on. Turn on the Monitor. Logging in with the 3 magic keys. (Ctrl, Alt, Del). Pointing and finding. Finding applications. Double clicking. Closing. Shut Down (without pressing the power button!). Using common menus. Using common equipment, cameras etc.

Now, the rest of the year groups as you can see above are given blocks of specialist ICT time. This time is for teachers to work alongside me planning and delivering Topic or Literacy lessons where ICT is thought about in as much detail as the original lesson. In addition to this, the classes also receive a maths lesson, planned and delivered by me once a week.

If we take Year 2 as an example (above). You can see what the teachers want to teach themselves in blue and what they want to take on in their own ICT time. This term we are making a longer project called 'All About Me, VIP' and making a film in iMovie (some of the photos are in the slideshow above). This ties in with their Literacy with instructional language (later examples) and building 'Super Sentences' a strategy to add adjectives and connectives . The whole project will focus on the parent's event where we showcase the children's work ever an afternoon. All parents can see the videos both in the class and download via


Click to Play

In the slideshow you can also see the children's maths work. Building on the literacy sessions we've combined Maths and Literacy as they are about to start on a instructional text topic. We used the Bee-Bots to make maps and a treasure hunt. They made a game where they had to create directions using cards and compete against each other by passing on their instructions and scoring by pausing on the treasure. A fun way to talk about instructions and incorporates the Bee-Bots (always fun) and the iPod/ iPad app making them share, talk and guide each other in new way.

To round up: Using ICT to drive subjects needn't be a chore. You just need to be open to something new and fun. We didn't go the 'explore' forst route as we are tight for time. But, in future when we are making circuits in Scratch we certainly will be. In the meantime this is what we're doing and it's a darn sight better and more meaningful than teaching discrete ICT.


#21CLHK '12 - How will I integrate technology in my classroom now? 

The 2012 21CLHK comference has just finished this weekend and now I have several tasks I'm sure other EdTech leaders have to think about. In fact, I now have many.

There were so many great strands going on at the conference that in the end I had to basically double up and dip in and out of a few towards the end and try to get a flavour of what was going on. The best of what I saw and heard came from Robyn Treyvaud and Sugatra Mitra's keynotes. Many people commented on Punya Mishra and the cross-over of Tachnology in TPACK . But in terms of our needs the former two hit the nail on the head. If you don't know who these people are then follow the links. But rest assured that they are key figures in education and technological usage within education.

The rest of the event was based around unconference type events that ranged from the basic tools needed to the more in-depth and leadership based discussions.





An example session run by Chris Smith from As you can see from the slide show that if you're familiar with the tools then you can glean the basic premise from here and share with your staff.

Where it got a little more in-depth was from the keynotes by the people at the top of this post and the more abstract questions like "how will a future 21st Century school look?" (in terms of curriculum) and, of course, the school leadership strands. Where you really had to be on your techical game though was in Dana Watts's e-portfolio session. This really made me think deeper about making online devices such as to manage multiple classes of e-portfolios. (the slideshow below is Dana's and not mine had to download to embed!)

What impressed me most was the unifying voice of the need to address the curriculum as it stands: The model that has been around for centuries. 
Dr. Mitra and his HiWEL research suggests that children no longer need the direction of the teacher as it traditonally stands. Instead the teacher will become the mediator (by as he put "a network of grandmas" referring to his research in teaching via Skype). His idea, based on the historical evidence of teaching and schooling losing key lessons (think: medievel times and the need to learn to ride a horse and use a sword) and then brought up to speed - the death of traditional mathematics. This was posed in the form of an analogy of a shopper at the check-out - who uses more mathematics? The shopper or the shop assistant? Followed up by 'the Internet as a prothesis for the brain' raised a few interesting sub-questions. What about over reliance on devices?
What I also enjoyed was the need to instil a games based learning module in classes rather than the Scratch and Kodu game building I currently employ. As much as I love the making (and playing ) of computer games it would make a lot more sense to it integrated in the classroom rather than in the ICT lab.

Task 1:

The upshot of this is that we need kit. So, with the great suggestion from a teacher at Kellet School, Hong Kong I am going to set up an armistice of tech gadgets. All parents in EPC will be asked if they want to hand over unused Nintendo DSs if they want to. I will begin with this console first as it easy to administer and add games (copies obviously) and use directly in the classroom. See here and here. We will then move on to the larger consoles like Wiis, XBOX, PSP, CUBE, N64 or other oldies like NES and SNES if we're (I say we, I mean me) lucky.
This should give me enough leverage to broker a Games based learning module when we move to a facilitator model of teaching next year.
If, I revert back the explanation of the changes above, I am pleased to have learned first hand the other side of this idea of accepting obselescence in education from Ewan MacIntosh and Tom Barrett in November. They partially touch on a similar theme where the learner is and should have more control of their learning. Step one: Collect a sample of online games suitable like this from Frankie Tam and these from persuasive games.

Task 2:

Open up the approach to teaching ICT in KS2 (to begin with before moving to KS1). The impetus gained from the training in November allowed one of the best game making projects I have ever witnessed. I'm not sure if this is to with the children's familiarity of scratch but Tom and Ewan's mantra of letting go of the reins really paid off.
The tasks in a nutshell: find the bigger question at the beginning of the topic and set the steps needed from then on.

Task 3:

Re-evaluate the purchasing and school improvement plan for next year based on the above. What equipment does a group of 4-6 children need to be successful in... X, Y, Z topic?

Task 4:

This one is more immediate: Policy and the re-writing of the first steps needed to creating a better, more parent and student focused framework for Digital Citizenship. Initially, I will begin by inviting parents in for a coffee morning and explaingin to them that I am re-writing this and need their input. What does digital citizenship look like in Year 3 now and how would you like it, as a parent/ student, to look? This I hope will be adopted at a similar time in KS3 and 4.
To summarise then, 21CLHK is fabulous and probably one of the best conferences I've too. That and TechEx at Patana School, Bangkok just for the sheer scale and the amount of thinking needed on our part to address your own vision.  I think also the quality of attendees and keynote speakers is something I was taken aback by. I just hope that our school can send more than one person next year as there is necessary learning at every corner.