Monthly Archives: December 2011

Beyond the school gates – how technology helps

This year has seen a rise in the use of techology to support learning beyond school. Some of the approaches we have been using for a while at Hawes Side really helped to bridge the home-school gap and the installation of a green screen further supported us in extending learning opportunities. Here are some of this year’s biggest successes in the use of technology to take learning beyond the school gates.

Blogging – this has continued to rise and be utilised to support and share learning. The introduction of staff surgeries and a coaching appoach to its development has obviously helped get everyone on board and it was no mean feat to get all 21 classes up and running! The live blogging this year, from York and Robin Wood, were really powerful and got the parents engaged like never before. They were able to follow their children’s exploits on the two residentials and comment back. The pupils and staff blogged about everything, from the coach journey and what they had for breakfast to the Minster, the Jorvik Centre and much more. Seeing what they were up to and being able to comment back on things as they were happening was a revelation for many. It is now very much a part of how we intend to take blogging forward.

Green Screen – we were fortunate enough this year, to work closely with CMS, a Blackpool media company who fitted us a green screen sudio. We have been meeting with the company regularly to develop the system and now have a great little set up that the children have confidently made excellent use of. There are many examples of how this has helped extend the childen’s learning but my favourite story from the green screen was Emily’s advert. One of our Y6 classes were filming adverts they’d written to support work on persuasive writing. I watched some of them on the class blog and was impressed with Emily’s as she is such a quiet girl and her advert belied this fact! I tweeted out the advert and received a message back from Mr Tobin aka @narthernlad to ask if he could use the advert as a stimulus for his Y3 writing lesson! Emily was delighted when Ian sent pictures back from his class showing them watching her advert and producing their own work based on it! The green screen, and the use of twitter to share learning is certainly something we wil be expanding on in 2012.


Web 2.0 – like children in a toy shop we have continued to play with lot of web 2.0 tools and made use of some more than others. Among the favourites in school are wordle and tagxedo, wallwisher, voki, voicethread, photopeach, animoto and prezi. Wallwisher has been used well to link with partner schools around Europe and Australia, to gauge parents views on things and collect their thoughts and ideas. We have used it to ask questions of our partner schools and community and it is a simple and effective way of collating feedback. Dropping our school development plan into wordle was also reassuring as the words learning and children came out the largest!

QR Codes – the children have really enjoyed using QR codes. They stick them on displays to lead viewers to further information, they stick them in their books to link to online content and each class door displays a QR code that leads to ther class blog. Next year we intend to create trails with facts and puzzles around school to make a tour of the site an interactive experience!

School Website – our website is always being developed and this year we have changed a lot of content and its look. Thanks to the green screen we have added video introductions and tours with testimonials from staff and children. We have moved away from a text heavy site that no one really wants to wade through and replaced it with a more fun, interactive and engaging experience. We have woked with a company called Virtualsixty to build what we hope is a more appealing and exciting introduction to the school and more. The use of programmes such as I am Learning ensure that the children and their families are able to extend learning by logging on via the website.


The New Digital Leaders

Last week our Digital Leaders gave presentations on a number of programmes, tools and applications they have been researching and trialling over the last month. This year’s group have a slightly different remit than previous incumbents as they introduce staff and pupils to the possibilities of the new green screen, but their confidence, understanding and ability illustrate how children’s approach to technology to support learning is changing.

Our previous ICT groups have operated under different names; The ICT Group, The ICT strategy Group, Web 2.0 Kids but essentially it is a group of 10 and 11 year olds who support the school in developing the use of technology in the classroom. From road testing hardware to presenting on Web 2.0 to staff the group have a key role in taking us forward.

Our first ICT Group was formed several years ago, when we asked a group of interested Y6 children to take away some netbooks to trial. We asked them to play with them for a week and let us know what they thought. Their findings surprised us- they said they were ok for connectivity but the keyboard was too small and children would want full size laptops-but most importantly we realised we had been missing an important voice in our development of technology in school, the user. Me of them gave us a detailed written summary of the netbooks’ capabilities and potential for classroom use!

Since then our different groups of digital leaders have sported less confident staff in the development of class blogs (each year group is assigned Pupil ICT support) researched and presented on web 2.0 tools (identifying a key number to support learning) and presented nationally on their work at the ICT Register event. In the summer we held our first ever ‘kidsmeet’ which gave the children the chance to share what they had been doing with other schools who were using similar approaches. They regularly share their findings with staff and governors on different aspects of technology and in the new year, our New Digital Leaders will present to a larger number of schools on the ‘I am Learning’ platform.

The children have an important voice in the development of technology across the school. Year after year they surprise us with their increasing knowledge, their mature approach to its use to support learning and their willingness to research, share and move our thinking forward.