Thursday, 4 June 2009

Street Life

Day one: PM - First ICT lesson in new suite.
The concept was to provide a flexible display option to the open plan ICT Suite within our 'Learning Street'. I took my year 4 class down the street on Wednesday afternoon and got the four 42" screens fired up, using one of the new desktop PC's as the input. The result the children were presented with an identical desktop as there one following log in. The objective of the lesson was: 'To set up subject folders in my documents' this was included to ensure that the children's file management system on our new network started out on the right foot. Having the 'my documents' folder displayed directly in front of the children was an excellent teaching aid - the children found it easy to see the demonstration of the skills required (ok not rocket science to make and name a folder)and were able to transfer those skills effectively to there own computers. The close proximity of the screen kept all the children focussed even those whose concentration tended to wander. On a negative side the control point at one end of the tables was difficult when demonstrating, whilst children had visual stimulus there were some limitations to their aural input (possible use of air mouse to allow central presentation)The outcome however was encouraging - all children achieved the lesson objective, some of these in a surprisingly quick time. Verdict: My initial thoughts are all predominantly positive. It looks good, sounds good and does the job what more could I ask?

Day Two: PM - Parents Open afternoon
The afternoon was punctuated my year 6 pupils showing an assortment of parents and family around the new school building. The Smart table, now comfortably located in its own area, proved a big hit as parents joined in with pupils trying to answer questions on Henry VIII's wives. As I walked around the school I was greeted with:
Nursery - children playing on games on the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB).
Reception - Whiteboard on and counting games being played - nursery rhymes being streamed via the computer to the speakers located in the outside play area.
Year 1 - IWB on and children engaged in activities on the board.
Year 2 - Children writing on IWB, gross and fine motor skills being utilised.
Year 4 - Children led by TA (or was it the other way round?) creating Smartboard pages on Henry VIII's wives - inserting pictures, handwriting converted to text - using information researched from books, internet and taken from Smart table activities. The TA said afterwards "I had a really good time" (is that right at work?)
Year 5 - Classical music being streamed via computer to outside decking area and into classroom.

Now this was not a typical day at school, and the plethora of new ICT equipment in every classroom has a certain amount of novelty value. however I am encouraged by the way the staff have embraced the technology and tried to utilise it. My aim was to make the equipment as user friendly as possible and so every classroom has exactly the same set-up of Smartboard, visualiser and internal and external speaker and amp system. thereby trying to ensure that in any classroom the teacher or TA (they all received the same training) can operate and use the equipment. Still getting teething problems (normally user error) and I am running around in a similar way to the proverbial decapitated fowl, but all, I hope, for a good reason. I truly believe that technological awareness is an essential part of a child's education. They need to see, be aware and where possible, use as many different tools as we as educators can provide. I still have Activevote and Activeexpression to introduce as well as our media streaming server and ICT enrichment week. The challenge rolls on but the first hurdle has been cleared.

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