Improving Classroom Learning With ICT

Improving Classroom Learning with ICT, written by colleagues Rosamund Sutherland, Susan Robertson and Peter John and published as part of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme's Improving Learning Series by Routledge, presents the findings of the InterActive Project, based at The University of Bristol's Graduate School Of Education between 2000-2004.

Improving Classroom Learning With ICT, sets out to draw together evidence from this wide ranging research project, drawing on teacher's and learner's experiences of ICT to

  • explain why the process of integrating ICT is not straightforward
  • discuss whether the roll out of hardware and infrastructure alone are sufficient to ensure full integration and exploitation of ICT investment
  • emphasise the pivotal role that teachers play in supporting learning with ICT across the curriculum.
  • argue that teachers need a greater understanding of how to put ICTs to use in teaching and learning
  • highlight that out of school use of ICT has an impact on in school learning.
  • consider what kinds of professional development are most effective in supporting teachers to use technology creatively and productively.
Throughout the book case studies are used to illustrate key issues identified while also elaborating on how current and emerging theoretical ideas look in the classroom. The classroom based case studies are based in so called Subject Design initiatives, sequences of classoom activities, specifically developed to embed technologies in support of curricular learning outcomes. Many of these include vignettes and writings by the teachers themselves who planned, managed and worked these in the classroom.

I feel privileged to have been part of the project, and to have had some of my work included among many developed by other talented practioners, cross phase and cross curriculum within this text. The book is not a how to, or one that deals with the teaching of ICT, but is concerned with looking at the wider issues surrounding the implementation and develpment of ICTs as learning tools, and is described by the authors themselves as being of interest to all those concerned with maximising the benefits of ICT in the classroom.

Full Reference:
Sutherland, R., Robertson, S. & John, P. (2008) Improving Classroom Learning with ICT , UK, Routledge.


Great Multimodal Starting Points for Writing -Text Number 8 and 9

Would like to take credit for finding this movie, but I found it as a suggested tool on the Lancashire Grid For Learning's, website as frame and starting point for a unit of work on explanatory texts. The Shirt Machine by Jon Davis. Also on the Lancs site is a suggested plan for developing work around the video, linked to the new framework for Primary Literacy's longer unit structure.

get The Shirt Machine in HD on

While thinking about this post a number of other possible digital texts began to spring to mind that could be used as talk for writing frames with this genre, in explaining processes.These include personal favourites such as Wallace and Grommit's Gracking Contraptions by Aardman's, that were included on The Curse of The Were-Rabbit DVD release, but can also be found as part of this Aardman Playlist onYouTube.

In reading, thinking about and comparing types of explanatory texts, we also used a downloaded CommonCraft video, displayed on a laptop in class,
as part of a carousel task today. Encouraging the students to use this alongside marking ladders to identify features used in this presentation type and to begin comparing it with other written explanations.


Great Multimodal Starting Points for Writing -Text Number 7

This might just be Text Number 7 in my collection of great multimodal starting points for writing. Spotted on You Tube Today and having thoroughly enjoyed its puns and back story, am beginning to wonder what it might offer as a starting point for persuasive writing or perhaps as a stimulus presenting one perspective for a discursive text.


Early Examples of Our Iron Man Moving Story Books

To complete our extended literacy unit on stories set in imaginary places the students have been developing prequels to the Iron Man and presenting these as multimodal outcomes in the form of pop up or animated storybooks .

As an extended literacy unit this has worked extremely well, and the students have been completely captured by the process. The use of ICT has been limited to the development and presentation of text for their DT project and as a literacy tool has acted to scaffold paired text review and editing by supporting the talk for writing process. The children were encouraged to use the wordprocessor to help review their work and revise stories developed over the drafting period against agreed success criteria. The key benefits of using wordprocessors in this way are that work does not need to be constantly rewritten, it can be revisited and text altered without the resulting outcomes needing to be continually rewritten. I also use a cascade saving process with my students so we can track changes in a document over time, and if we should lose something we later decide we want to keep, we can go back to previous versions of the file and copy/paste it back in.

During the writing process I have introduced the students formally for the first time to use of the spell checker. There is a tendency for students left to use this tool without specific teaching to spot the red zigzag, drop the spell check menu and then choose the first word that appears. It is important for students to realise the contingency of these devices, and that the same spelling strategies they use when they write by hand apply when we write on the computer. A wordprocessor is not the font of all knowledge and they need to take an active part in the decisions they make when using tools such as this. The students have been encouraged to use the spell checker alongside a host of other classroom tools, including dry wipe whiteboards and provided spelling banks as well as to draw on their own and their learning buddy's reading experiences to check the "look" of the words they are selecting. A real challenge was that in our success criteria we had included the use of invented words and obviously these did not appear in the dictionary. This did however lead to the challenge of how we actually spell these? Whether we have used the correct phonology? Does this word say what I want it to and will my reader be able to understand and pronounce what I have written?

Since we have been using Word to work on our stories I also asked the children to think about what the green grammar checker might be telling us about what we have written. Have we written in full sentences? Can we hear why Word may have highlighted this as an error. Sometimes even this tool makes mistakes, as anyone constantly reminded to insert semicolons, remove then, rearrange a sentence or add a comma will no doubt confirm. The tools allowed some challenge to student thinking in support of recent thinking around homophones, and the appearence of Fragment suggestions prompting suggestions to think about whether what was presented was actually a full sentence, or serving as a reminder about the inclusion of appropriate punctuation.

Within the evealuation stages of the DT Process the children did a great deal of prototyping, and were encouraged to use recycled materials to develop these. Some children decided to recycle their prototypes too or extended their work at home hence the use of lined paper for some of the illustrations. What does not appear here, but I want to add later perhaps as a Flickr slide show, is the range mechanisms used. My favourites include a rocker mechanism developed to show the Iron Man emerging and decending into the waves, that set out to give the sea its rough feel, and another that tried to illustrate and simulate the swimming/bobbing motion of the Iron man heading for shore.

As a class the opening lines and "where did he come from? Nobody knows," No longer applies. From
  • crash landings caused by asteroid or meteorite collisions
  • encounters with chocolate eating candy monsters
  • attacks from intergalactic space termites
  • being shot down during orbital battles
  • being distracted by our ring-a-mones, boiling kettles
  • or taking turns too tightly during space based drag races
Each Iron Man in our stories finally plunges, falls, tumbles or roars towards the seas of the small blue planet we call home, before walking or swimming towards the opening of the Ted Hughes Tale.

Responding to Bert

This week we have been reviewing student learning, following an extended unit of work based around stories from fantasy settings. As part of our professional learning, we are also begining to work with the APP Materials published by the DCFS. We decided to see how the students would respond independently to creating a narrative of a slightly different type building on the experiences of the unit. We used the dialogue free narrative, "Bert" to extend the students' recent work exploring how the feelings and actions of characters help create mood in settings and stories we create. Using this non dialogue based text as a frame to hang their story on, we hoped to draw on the available design repertoire developed in one narrative context while applying them in another. Rather than writing a whole story, we also focussed on a "burst" write, that was based in one scene from the the story, a point where there was a change in mood and setting, in order to help us see how the students would use opener choices as section links before moving on to develop their description, through use of vocabulary collected during our previous unit, and within talk for writing sessions building to the task.

Examples of talk for writing

Throughout the week we used the whole movie in sections to support our build up to the writing session and vocabluary collection.

Using no image and only the sound track students discussed what they could hear from selected parts of the story, and worked in pairs to develop word showers, inferring and creating noun/verb or noun/adjective phrases from the opening scene, eg taps squeaking, birds singing, doors clicking/clunking, feet thumping, piano music. We discussed how characters might be feeling at this point in the story and what clues lead us to think this, the upbeat, light nature of the piano music for example.

These ideas were then applied to the movie without sound, by asking the children to predict where their sounds fitted movements and actions in the movie, focussing on the visual elements. The children also added to their word showers things they had observed before drawing together how visual clues such as the light airy nature of the kitchen, the sunshine and blue sky might provide clues as to the time of day, and add the music in suuporting ours and the feelings of the characters .

Finally we played the clip with sound and action together, to review with our talk partners, how our thoughts about sound and visual elements worked together.

Throughout the week we also wanted to link how visual ideas from the story can be used when we read other text types, helping us to understand what "written" stories are telling us, by visualising a scene we have just read, imagining what it would look/sound like. To help with this we chose other scenes to explore, and presented these in other formats, such as frame captures, placed in IWB notebooks to rub and reveal, collecting descriptive words and phrases for the setting, exploring character gesture and movement. We also shared teacher models of "written texts" based on scenes from the film and worked with these using ideas from the video task to support visualisation and inference based on personal experience as we engaged with comprehension exercises.

As start the day tasks, children were provided with example vocabulary they had collected to create "Super Sentences" with, some of these were stolen for use throughout the week in activities where students worked to expand and develop verb choice and addition of adverbials.

In my class I have a large number of boys (2:1 male to female) many are reluctant writers. They will talk for England, act out stories as part of structured talk for writing and reading activities. They have some fantastic ideas but getting them to submit these to paper has been a mammoth task.

Below are a few of the short paragraphs developed Friday in response to the work of the week and although not extensive when combined with other similar tasks provide insight into what as a group they have gained from the work we have done and are capable of.

Bert was frustrated and stomped to the park. He sat on an old rusty fence. Smack! He was hit by a rock. He turned around and to his surprise he saw his family. He ran into his mums arms. They went home and lived happily ever after.

Bert was walking slowly with his head down under the purple clouds. He sat down on the grey bench From nowhere a solid stone hit him. It was his real mum and 5 children. Bert was happy, jumpy jolly and excited, but most of all he had his family. They all went home and watched a movie with popcorn, and they all lived happily ever after.

Bert slowly dragged himself across the grass, thinking why his family had left him behind. He sat down on the bench, still wondering. Maybe he didn't have a family. He sat there just thinking. Suddenly something hit him. he felt winded..

Bert was so sad because his family didn't like him. He was different to everyone else. He thought he would go and take a stroll in the park. He came to a bench. He sat down and started to cry. Something moved behind him.

One Grouchy day Bert was walking about. He was feeling lonely so he sat down on the rusty broken fence. Suddenly something pushed him off it. So he turned around, he got the shock of his life at what he saw. It was his mum and dad and sisters. They ran around playing happily. It was time to go to bed so they all settled in for the night.


6 Great Multimodal Starting Points for Writing

Have had a great afternoon browsing, rereading and bookmarking some of my favourite Mulitimodal and Visual Texts. I bookmarked these on Delicious, but have also decided to share them here with the notes I jotted as I went and in order to provide back links to a couple of previous posts where I reflected on the use of a couple.

YouTube - Bert - Moon Sung Lee
Animated story, dialogue free narrative. Great for multimodal reading actvities and talk for writing. Previous Post Spot the Inference.

YouTube - Kiwi! - Don Permedi
Another great dialogue free narrative. Suggested uses by visitors include support for framing y5 narrative units either alongside or instead of the piano.
Links to previous Post: Kiwi by Don Permedi

YouTube - Geri's Game From Pixar
Another useful story for prediction, inference, freeze framing and discussing feelings from Pixar

YouTube - Mike's New Car From Pixar

Some fantastic moments in this movie for freezeframing, discussing thoughts and feelings through exagerated gesture? Just what was going through Sully's mind before he replied to Mike's question? What did he realy think about his new car?

YouTube - DIVX version of Birds Short from Pixar
Not entirely dialogue free but what what might be being said? Just what is going on here? How do the characters respond to each other and the arrival of the larger bird? What do the small birds think of him, and how de we know? Can we create a sense of atmosphere, using clues from action and gesture? What might a human voice over for this film sound like?

YouTube - Michael Dudok De Wit - The Monk and the Fish
A dialogue free narrative, useful for talking about the structure of film, scene setting and camera shots, framing and angle. See reference on Teachers'TV
Reading Film: The Lesson
Reading Film: The Monk and The Fish