I spent most of yesterday dressed as a burglar whilst videoconferencing with angry children! This was asÂ part of the wonderful Jolly Postman project in Rotherham. I have been supporting the two consultants who are leading on the project which involves twelve schools. Linda and Amy haveÂ tirelessy driven the work which is brilliantly structured and creative.
They managed to persuade one colleague to be filmed as a newsreader telling the children that Burglar Bill had stolen the Jolly Postmanâ€™s sack and that without it the people of Storyville would not be able to receive their letters. Another colleague was filmed as the Jolly Postman himself telling the children how miserable he was and how he was worried that his friends would suffer as a result of not having their letters.
The project started this term and during the October and November children have been able to send letters and cards by post to characters in the book and also able to use an email address which diverts to the consultantsâ€™ inboxes. On some weeks they have been dealing with up to 50 emails which they have used to encourage and motivate the children and to give them ideas for writing.
The extension of this was to give the children the opportunity to hot seat Burglar Bill live to find out why he had done the terrible deed and what he was going to do about it.
It is clear that a huge amount of work has gone into the project and certainly the organisation for yesterdayâ€™s videoconference was incredibly impressive. Andrew Lickley from YHGfL worked with us at a local secondary school and co-ordinated the calls to 19 classes whilst we also popped out to one school to do session live in the school hall.
During the day we encountered a few issues in schools who were not regular users of VC or where specific pieces of kit struggled to cope but out of the 19 calls I would say that 15 were perfectly fine. I just had to pretend that I was an old burglar who was a bit deaf for a few of the calls.
I have posted a tiny amount of it onto youtube obviously being incredibly careful to avoid any clips with identifiable children on it.
In terms of the learning there were some very astute children who had really got to grips with the story and asked some impressive questions. Some classes (often the youngest) were most concerned about the Jolly Postmanâ€™s feelings and what Burglar Bill was going to do to make him feel better. In one VC with a Year 3 class we ventured into a line of questioning of why Burglar Bill had chosen a life of crime, why he hadnâ€™t looked to get a job which didnâ€™t upset people and what he was going to do when he left prison. I was impressed with their level of reasoning andunderstanding of the text.
The experience has given me even more zeal about promoting the use of videoconferencing and it has also caused me to consider the opportunities that videoconference events will provide for undertaking Assessing Pupil Progress (APP) for Speaking and Listening. The materials will be shared with schools by QCDA early next year and I think that it is vital that the edtech community consider how ICT can be used to support it. There is already some work being done using podcasting and audio files to record evidence for Reading APP. The examples of Speaking and Listening which have been shown at conferences have some use of ICT but I think that it will be important forÂ us to support colleagues with developing other approaches to make accurate measurement of children’s progress and achievement. I think that the use of ICT will have a very important role in Assessment Focus 4 (Talking about Talk) which will focus on meta-cognition with children expected to consider the effectiveness of their performance as speakers and listeners. We ignore the opportunities this brings at our peril.