ICT & A Curriculum for Excellence Session 4

Catherine and I had our final training session on Monday night. We had a turnout of 15 of our colleagues.
this week we went over a few of the skills we covered last week and went into a bit more depth about editing digital video and adding sound. At the end of the session we used Promethean Activote to evaluate the course with the staff. This proved to be very successful – both an effective evaluation for Catherine and I and a fairly enjoyable experience for those doing the evaluation! We did ask quite a lot of questions, and I am sure people were starting get fidgety by the end of the evaluation, but we felt each question was important to give us feedback for future training sessions. The anonymous vote was effective as people were comfortable expressing their true opinions.
Before everyone went home, we asked people to put their skills into practice as soon as possible, before people forgot – this is a busy term and time is precious. We also asked for people to send us feedback about what they are doing with digital photography and digital video. I hope we hear how some of our colleagues use this training experience. Catherine and I are still working on the evaluation – we will post it up soon. Today Catherine and I are working on producing certificates fro everyone who attended over the past 4 weeks.
Session 4 notes
digital video skills list
Target sheet

The hope is that we will cover similar courses on Islay over the next session, covering different parts of ICT. Certainly everyone remarked on the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues as being an effective part of the training. Hopefully as we progress over the next session we will see even more collaboration between our schools.

ICT & A Curriculum for Excellence Session 3

This week we had a turnout of 13 members of staff from Pre5 and Primary. Catherine worked with one group to- consolidate digital photography skills and iphoto skills that were introduced last week, explore how to put photos into other documents, import music into itunes, introduce how to take footage using a digital video camera, look at how to playback through a projector.

Kathleen worked with another group to- review the use of imovie from last week, how to import movies from camera using a firewire, import film footage into i-movie, edit film clips in i-movie, view Sat Bance video of using digital video within a meaningful context. Discuss.

Staff are already showing an increase in levels of confidence in using digital photo and movie skills and from discussions with them are applying these skills to their teaching.
Many thanks to our fellow Glow mentor Sat Bance for allowing us to use a video of his presentation on ‘Digital Video’. Sat, we have also adapted your ‘how to’ imovie – thank you!
Training session 3
Feedback session 2
‘How to’ – imovie
We also handed out the Argyll & Bute helpsheets for imovie – link to A&B ICT resources here

Training Session 2

This week we had 17 colleagues from the Pre5 and Primary sectors join us to explore digital photography. After an intial skills audit, the group split into two, with Catherine working with colleagues on: transferring photographs from camera to computer, albums, editing, slideshows and printing.
Kathleen worked with colleagues to explore: iphoto – editing, storybooks, presentations, and imovie- making a movie using photos.
Feedback was positive with everyone commenting on the benefits of working with colleagues to explore the technology and discuss how it can be used. You can access more information and associated resources by clicking on the links-
Digital Camera Skills Sheet
ICT Target Sheet
Training Session 2 Notes
Feedback Session 2

ICT and a Curriculum for Excellence

As part of our Glow Mentor duties for Islay and Jura, Catherine and I have been hosting ICT training with A Curriculum for Excellence theme. The training is taking place over a four week block and is from 6.30 – 8.00 on a Monday evening.
The training is for all sectors, but is particularly suitable for Pre5 and Primary. The main emphasis is embedding ICT within the curriculum and using it as a tool.
Staff who attend work in similar age and stage groups to support one another at the planning stages. Colleagues have the opportunity to share ideas and work collaboratively on forward plans.
The next stage is to focus on one aspect of ICT and explore the skills required to use this tool most effectively. We have decided to look at digital photography and digital movie.
Over the next three weeks our colleagues will become more confident in using digital cameras and in embedding them in their learning and teaching.

Initial feedback is positive, with most people commenting on the benefits of planning together and sharing ideas. There has definitely been a real enthusiasm for using A Curriculum for Excellence as a base for this training – staff are seeing it as the way forward.
Click on the following for more information-
First training session
Training Sessions Poster
Evaluation of first session

Create and Present with P3/4

This term I have been working with Janice and P3/4 to explore different ways to Create and Present. P3/4 have been using the ‘Flat Stanley’ stories as a theme within several curricular areas, allowing lots of links between areas and a fun approach to learning.

As part of their enterprise topic, the children were making Flat Stanley stories of their own and creating Big Books to give to the Infant class to read. We decided to use the stories and explore different ways of presenting them using ICT.

Our first venture was to use ‘Comic Life’, and create a cartoon Flat Stanley adventure. The children worked in groups of two and three to make up a simple storyboard of their adventures. Each sketch represented a digital photograph. The children took their laminated Flat Stanleys and photographed them throughout the school and in the playground. Some of the murals and playground markings served as super backgrounds for
Stanley – in one adventure he hitches a lift with a giant butterfly, in another he is searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The photographs are remarkably effective and a super stimulus for imaginative writing.

Next the children transferred their photos onto a laptop. Now, this is where things almost came unstuck! As we had used several cameras and we were using several laptops, there was a bit of confusion over which photo was on which camera and on which computer! Let’s just say that during our feedback session we decided that we needed to be more organised next time! We talked about writing down on the storyboard which camera was used (they are all colour coded), and also which computer was being used by which group.

 Suffice to say, we got there in the end! Last week Janice worked with some of the groups who were using Comic Life, and I took some children to use the Digital Blue software (see last entry). We imported some of the Flat Stanley photos into the software and started making a presentation. The photos can be dragged out of the album and into a timeline. You can then add text and sound effects. We recorded one wee guy saying, “Help, I’m stuck in this jungle!” (photo of
Stanley strategically placed in a bush in the school playground!). Needless to say we ran out of time, but I can’t wait to finish the story, and neither can the children!

The Media Centre

In my last entry I mentionned our new ‘media centre’ in the Fab Lab. It all sounds very grand and terribly expensive, however this is not the case! Yes, we do have a digital video camera as part of our media centre toolkit, but that is the most expensive piece of kit. The camera also has associated equipment along with it – tripod, microphone etc. The children make regular use of the video camera to support class work, peer assess, or just to become more familiar with the technology.

In addition to the digital video camera kit, we have a small handheld camera called a ‘Digital Blue Moviemaker’ – it costs about £70, and you can get it from most of the main ICT suppliers. It’s a fantastic piece of kit, suitable for use from Pre5 right through the school. In fact, it was Catherine from Bowmore who showed me the camera, and she has been using it with her Pre5 children. It is shaped like a speed gun (sorry, it’s the only comparison I can think of!), and is very simple to operate. It can be used whilst connected to the computer, or on its own, but it does not have a long battery life.

The most appealing part of this camera is its associated software. The children can take some footage with the camera and incorporate all sorts of backgrounds, sounds and moving images. P1/2 were playing with it and we made a sea monster movie, complete with a ‘kraken’ like creature and sound effects. The whole process took about 40 minutes, and the children were showing their movie to other classes.

I had a laptop that didn’t work properly – the screen no longer works. I also had a big 19” monitor, so I have plugged the monitor into the laptop and have allocated it to the ‘Digital Blue’ camera. This way the camera is always accessible to the children and we are making best use of ICT equipment available to us.

Another natty wee piece of kit is the Logitech Webcam. Ian Stuart from Islay High first showed me this camera. It is extremely affordable at about £35, and is great fun to use with the children. It can take still images and movies and is fairly portable. The most exciting part of the kit is that its software calibrates your face and you can choose to become an animation within your movie. There are all sorts of choices but our children’s favourites are the alien, the cat and the shark.

There are all sorts of benefits from using this wee webcam; one being that the children can be totally anonymous on film. We intend to explore the use of this camera and uploading small snippets of film onto some of our school blogs.

Another benefit is that children can become different characters and so lose their inhibitions whilst ‘in character’. I saw a little girl who has significant behavioural issues. She also has a very low self esteem. She thoroughly enjoyed using this camera and software and was happy to show her film to the rest of the class.

One point to make is that both cameras required fairly new machines to work on – I tried the webcam on a Windows 98 machine and it laughed at me. You may want to think about that when ordering. Both my cameras are on machines with Windows XP.

In addition to the above equipment I have a digital stills camera available for the children to use, a printer and helpcards which I downloaded from the internet – a site called town4kids, which explains different aspects of working with digital media.

I also made up a story board template for our children to use which helps them focus in on the movie to give it a beginning, middle and end.

The children have been dabbling in the media centre, and they love the Digital Blue movie maker. It will be interesting to see how far they go with this.

The Fab Lab

Over the past few months we have been trying to revamp our old ICT suite – to create a learning environment for our children which encourages motivation, innovation and a freedom to learn. We rearranged the room, created storage space for resources and created focus points around the room. I had this vision that children would walk freely to and from their classrooms, using the room to enhance their learning experience. I hoped that children would make use of the room during intervals, to research personal topics, or just to try some of the fun activities. But the children didn’t come.  It puzzled me and bothered me that the room was not being used to any great extent. Children dabbled in the room, but usually only to carry out tasks on the computer, or practical maths work. There was no real evidence of children using the room because they wanted to, or because they felt motivated by the activities. Over the past few weeks I have watched the children come and go and suddenly I realised what the problem is – the jump from set task work to freedom to learn has been too great. We have expected the children to change the way they learn overnight. If the room is to be a success, we have to let the children dip their toes in the water of independent learning and then encourage them to go for it! I have been talking this over with my colleagues and Maggie – P5/6, suggested starting off with a couple of lunchtime clubs to give the children some free time in the room. Maggie is going to take a research club and I am going to take a media club. Our news team for our Eco Committee already make use of the room to carry out their publicity tasks. At the moment they are working on a newsletter, a new members’ leaflet and updating the blog – www.brilliantbeginnings.blogspot.com. I also need to work with the staff to encourage the children to use the room more often. P6/7 are going to take responsibility for setting weekly problems for the rest of the school to tackle. I have also just introduced our new ‘media centre’ to each of the classes and the kids have had great fun making little movie clips. Finally, we have settled on a new name for the room – it was the ICT Room. We had a whole school vote and from a choice of four – ‘The Learning Lab’, ‘Discovery Kids’, ‘The Studio’ (teachers’ favourite) and ‘The Fab Lab’, the children voted overwhelmingly for ‘The Fab Lab’. Here’s hoping!

Collecting and Analysing – P1/2

Sorry I haven’t made an entry for a while – it has been a busy time! So, a new year and a new term! As usual, I have been working with my colleagues to plan and team teach ICT. P1/2 are covering Collecting and Analysing. We have started off by looking at why we might want to collect information and how we can use it. First lesson we gathered information in two groups relating to going on holiday. Each group used a yes/no tick sheet and collected the information from within their group. They displayed the results on a graph and reported back on their findings to the other group. Where is the ICT in that, I hear you say, but we wanted to go over the necessary skills involved in gathering and analysing information before we added the ICT bit. Last week we sorted some information using a lovely Kidspiration activity on the Promethean board that Janice put together for us – great fun using photos of the children and sorting them into what clothes they had on that day. We then carried out a collecting and analysing activity using 2Simple – 2Graph. The children collected information about the colour of their swimming costumes and entered the information into a simple spreadsheet within the software. They then created different types of graphs and discussed the results. So that day we were covering maths, language, topic work, science, oh, and ICT. The graphs looked great on the board and prompted some fantastic discussion from the kids about their results. Over the next few weeks we will be going on to use skills to collect information for ourEco
School annual environmental review. The children will be presenting and reporting back these results to the rest of the school. We also have a fun day planned for the end of term with P1/2 and P3/4 getting together to work on a mini research project. The children will be working in small groups and they will be reinforcing the ICT skills they have covered this year. At the end of the activity the groups will present their findings to the rest of the class. There will be an emphasis on collaboration and peer support. I am looking forward to seeing how the children use and share their skills.

Collecting and Analysing – P5/6

Today I was working with P5/6 and they were producing graphs using the Appleworks spreadsheet facility. They had carried out a whole school survey of the children’s favourite fruits to help them with their preparations to run a fruit tuck shop as part of their enterprise topic. A couple of weeks back we did the preparation work. What is a survey? Why do you need surveys? How will a survey help with the fruit tuck shop? How will we carry out our survey? What will we do with the information once we have it? We then looked at examples of surveys and how they are used in real life. One of the most obvious for us was the environmental review we carry out each year in school as part of our eco school duties. One of our senior pupil Eco School Committee members came in and talked to the children about how useful the review has been to improve the facilities and environment of the school over the past few years. This was meaningful to the children as they have experience of the review and improvements first hand.

 Next step was to create a table as a framework for the survey – a valid skill in the whole process. We find that Appleworks is not particularly stable on our PC tablets – Word is much better. However, we can’t afford Word in all the machines, so in the name of consistency we all made our tables in Appleworks. Lots of talk came in here about columns and rows, tally marks and appropriate formats for the tables. We created a class table using a PC and digital projector, then the children went off to make their own.

Next was the survey. The class were split up into groups and each group was allocated a class to survey within the school. The children then reported back to the rest of the class in how they carried out the survey and what their results had initially revealed.

Which brings us back to today! The children used the spreadsheet facility to enter in their results and then created a graph. Next step was to copy the graph and paste it into a word processing document to write about what information the graph displayed and how they could use it in the fruit tuckshop.

One wee guy was having real problems with Appleworks on his tablet so I tapped into the expertise of our ANST teacher who happened to let it slip that she knew a wee bit about Excel. She worked with the wee man and produced a graph and report using Excel and Word. So then they showed the rest of the class (including me!) how they did it. Hurray! I’m not scared of Excel any more!

During the plenary we discussed how we could monitor the sale of fruit using tables, tally marks and spreadsheets. I am confident that the children could now do this independently and this is an excellent opportunity for the children to see how these skills can make a valid contribution to the enterprise process.

Great to see lots of learning for everyone. From now on I am going to make more use of Microsoft Office on the tablets. It was good for me to see today that the spreadsheet skills the children have learned are transferrable – from Appleworks to Excel. If a piece of software starts acting up the children quickly lose confidence in it and are not motivated to use it.  However this is an important process for the children to experience -don’t moan about something that isn’t working right -lets see how we can fix it and if we can’t, let’s work out a way round it.

Learning Together

Catherine MacMillan my fellow Islay mentor, works in Bowmore Pre5 Unit, which is housed within Bowmore Primary School. Catherine has done some fantastic work using her Promethean board in the unit and I have been keen to get her over to do training in Port Ellen. In light of our success with the Kidspiration training –bringing the training into the classroom and learning the skills in situ, Catherine and I thought it would be interesting to do a ‘skills swap’. Catherine has been to Port Ellen for one and a half days to teach interactive board skills to staff and pupils within the class environment from Pre5 right the way through to P6/7. This was enormously successful and you can read all about the training sessions on Catherine’s blog.

I went to Bowmore for half a day on Monday morning to go over PC tablet skills. Bowmore have 5 tablets and are looking to buy more. To enhance the set of tablets I took over another 7 and our tablet printer so that the children could work in pairs. I worked with P6/7 and then took a group of the P6/7s to work with the children in the Pre5 unit.

 I started off by getting the children to open Windows Journal and to identify 5 things which they could do on the tablets. I then got them to identify three things which they wanted to find out more about. I then put the children into groups and got them to make up a group brainstorm of the skills within the group and what they wanted to find out more about. As each group reported back I pointed out the skills within the class and that the children should use each other’s expertise to learn from one another. The children were actually very good on the tablets and this exercise was able to point out that the class had the ability to support one another to develop their skills. I stressed the value of this with the class teacher and encouraged her not to feel pressurised into knowing everything about the tablets because she can learn about them along with the children. The teacher was fortunate to have a classroom assistant who enjoyed using the tablets and she was very enthusiastic about making more use of them in class. The main message I tried to get across is to relax about using the tablets and to learn from one another – the only way to develop skills is to use them –get them out and have a go! I left the class with the Chinese proverb about ‘I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand’.

 I took a group of seven of the children with tablets in hands to the pre5 unit (Catherine’s territory!). This was purely a ‘hands-on’ session for the wee ones, however it was reinforcing newly acquired tablet skills with the older children. I paired off two wee ones to a big one and set up the printer. The children drew a picture in Journal and then they were able to see it being printed off. Catherine was amazed at how every child was engaged in the activity – even the children who were waiting to draw were absorbed in watching their pal use the tablet. Catherine also remarked on the interesting development in motor skills from using large movements on the Promethean board to smaller movements on the tablets. I think lots of people are surprised at how tablets can be used meaningfully at such an early age.

I had a great morning in Bowmore and I am looking forward to working with the rest of the school on Friday. Certainly the training has been enjoyable and motivating for all involved. However, it will be interesting for both Catherine and I to monitor the long term effect these training sessions have had in each of our schools.