On Wednesday 7th March I held a training day with John Jefferies on the use of Web 2.0 applications and blogs in the Primary classroom.
This post is designed toÂ a place to keep my notes for the day and links for each of the sessions.
Â I have written an article for the Primary News Magazine in Lincolnshire called â€œWill 2011 be the year of blogging?â€ (a question I first heardÂ askedÂ by Simon Finch of Northern Grid) which shows what I consider to be the benefits to childrenâ€™s writing that can be derived from using blogging in your class. I also expressed some concerns that it be seen as a â€œsilver bulletâ€ for writing standards â€“ we all know that a silver bullet is only effective if you know how to fire it accurately! â€“ I remember the excitement when teachers started using PowerPoint as an authoring tool however, whilst many examples had the most wonderful sound clips of applause, whooshes and pings, there were too many examples where the quality of writing was significantly lower than when the children wrote in their books. This is a concern that I have over some blogging in that if schools invest time in it and there is no net result in terms of the standards of writing then it will be no more sustained than podcasting which was introduced with great fanfares in the mid 00s. It is vital that teachers and schools have a clear vision of what they want blogging in their schools to achieve â€“ the sense of purposeÂ and how they will seek to create an audience for their pupils will be vital in this. Teachers need to strike a balance between gaining engagement through giving the children a space to write and also giving a strong model of how to write accurately using different text types.
Here are some classes who are already blogging
Angry Birds in the classroom – This blog post by Kevin McLaughlin shows a really innovate use of Angry Birds asÂ the stimulus for cross curricular work.Wallwisher This online version of post it notes is a Â fantastic means of collating pupil views, ideas and work.ÂIsle of Tune This is a free to use application which I love and have seen referenced in teachers’ blogs but have not seen used in the classroom yet. It allows the user to design a settlement on an island but the twist is that each element which is placed next to a road has a musical value and therefore a tune can be composed. When accessing it for the first time make sure that, as well as playing with building your own town, you visit the Shared Islands.ÂÂ Tagul and Wordle – these two are not the only online applications which create word clouds from text inputted but they will give you everything you need. They are great for use both in the classroom and for presenting to colleagues.Â TagulÂ and WordleÂ can be found on the links.
This is the most wonderful free to access tool which couldÂ have significant impact in the Primary classroom. It is important to note that tech-nervous teachers will find it threatening but could use theÂ same approach using the recorder tool on theÂ IWB or Photostory 2.The beauty of Voicethread is that it can easily be embedded into a school web site or VLE and can display the work of a range of children on one page. It allows different usersÂ to post written,Â oral or video comments Â onto the same page about the same image or video. They can annotate the image to illustrate their comments.
Storybird is a fantastic Web 2.0 application which allows the user to author their own stories on an online template using images provided by the web site. It would be brilliant for use with whole class, groupsÂ even in one to one situations. I have seen it used to support MFL teaching as well as literacy and am a huge fan. This is the education page of the site. The images are all quites stylised but incredibly engaging for pupils who can choose imagesÂ from collectionsÂ by artist or theme within each artist’s work. It is very intuitive to use and has been designed to allowÂ schools to embed stories within their web sites.Voki is a wonderful, free tool which has been in a wide range of ways in Primary schools. It is similar to crazy talk in that it allows the user to create a visual image which apears to speak the audio file recorded.It is incredibly intuitive for new users and can be used to support in more than just literacy (including giving feedback in Maths, science, MFL, History and Geography.)
This is one of my favourite online secrets which I cannotÂ believe has not been snapped up by more Primary schoolÂ teachers.Â I
know that Bill Boyd is in Australia speaking at a conference about this site at the moment but went back to one of my old blog posts after the Storytyne Â event for this quote.
Â Inanimate Alice
Bill Boyd talked about his work with a group of teachers using Inanimate Alice.Â It tells the story of the 8 year oldÂ Alice and her adventure in China. At present the book has four different chapters in four different locations. The text is written by an award winningÂ author and is incredibly high quality. The text is moved through page by page which can be re-visited by clicking on the relevant icon. It is an interactive text which is divided into different frames using a wide range of modes. It used diageticÂ and non diagetic sound, animations, video films, exploded diagrams with a handheld mobile device as the main interaction tool between the character and the user.
The character was born digital (Alice was conceived as a digital project), it is a high quality text, has highly interactive engagement, uses trans-media engagement, covers different continents, gives potential for wide curriculum coverage and is progressively challenging â€“ she moves from 8, 10, 11 and 13 in the fourth chapter. It is used widely in the Pacific Rim particularly in Australia but is being worldwide.