This year, over the course of a half term, I allocated some time for the children to plan and carry out their own projects in school about anything they wanted. This was based around Google’s ‘20% time’ in which employees can spend 20% of their time working on their own ideas. My instructions were that children must be able to state what they are learning at all times, in addition to what they have learnt previously and what mistakes/lessons have been learnt. This kind of learning directly addresses the ‘learning muscles’ referred to in many books and research papers. It also focuses on the higher level of blooms taxonomy, creating.
Overall the project was reasonably successful. Some groups were obviously a lot better than others and needed little guidance. I carried this out in year 5 so they were reasonably independent. If trialling this in lower years I would consider giving example projects to the children, especially lower ability, so that their projects would have more structure. I would also give older children a copy of the (new?) national curriculum and ask them to highlight which areas they would address during their project. This could help to focus them on learning specific to the curriculum.
Below are some pictures of some of the projects, along with some examples of the ‘learning records’ I asked them to complete.
Checking and improving writing is an area I have been trying to develop in my classroom with my lower ability year 5 children. They find checking their work really difficult. After giving them a couple of chances to make improvements and redraft on their netbooks, I trialled partnering them up with a higher ability pupil from the same year group. The children then addressed any targets with a green pen, using their peers for support. Some even re-wrote out parts of their writing to make it even better. We have four sets in our year group so it was quite a change for my set 4 to be working with set 1, spread out across the floor in the hall!
It was a successful session and I will be repeating it periodically as the opportunity presents itself.
I have been using the iPods (or any computer device) to support the development of ‘skimming and scanning’ texts to find answers. I set up a multiple choice quiz on Socrative, then let the children read a text before answering the questions using the iPod app. This could have also been accessed via the website if no iPods available.
Children’s scores are available live on the whiteboard at the front to give a ‘competitive’ nature to the activity. As they scored low on their first try, I let them have multiple tries – choosing to work with a partner if they wanted to.
I am constantly trying to think of ways to engage lower ability reluctant readers in comprehension activities. I used ‘The Enchanced Wood’ as the text as they really enjoy this!
In lower sets/ability levels I am always looking for ways to try and engage the children in reading. ICT helps with this as well as providing them a unique opportunity to listen to themselves read!
In the first part of the video you can see the children reading into an iPod sound recording app (Diary of a Wimpy Kid). They then listen to it back before deciding what level they are based on their fluency (AF1). We do this a few times in a half term.
Next you see a child accessing Socrative apps on the iPod. I had previously set up a test set on the Socrative website, the children can then access these via the app on an Apple device or via a website on a normal computer. You can view the results live as they are completing them and send all the results to your email at the end (via an Excel spreadsheet!). Even though it is still comprehension, they are always more engaged when doing it this way rather than the traditional way! Best of all, it is completely free! www.socrative.com
AF1-2 Activities from S Fox on Vimeo.
Here are some of the apps that both myself and the children use regularly! We use other ones also although these ones are used the most! Be sure to check out the Apple Volume Purchase Programme (http://www.apple.com/uk/education/volume-purchase-program/) so that you are ticking the correct legal boxes!
WordPress – Great for keeping blogs updated on the move.
Book Creator – creating iBooks and publishing them.
Big Cat Books – Ace for lower ability readers.
iMovie – creating any kind of video clips or longer movies and uploading.
iPhoto – Photo editing software
Vimeo – access to your online Vimeo account (if you have one, we use it for most of our videos)
Action Movie – create own mini action films with special effects
MovieFX – same kind of thing as Action Movie
FX Studio – Ace for creating videos and supports green screening!
Socrative Student & Teacher apps – create your own interactive quizzes, used to spice up reading comprehension.
Showme – Like an interactive whiteboard which allows you, or the children, to record tutorials and upload/share to web.
Google Drive / Drop Box – Access your files through your iPad.
Class Dojo – App for the website as a tool for behaviour management.
You have found the blog for Steve Fox, AST for North Lincolnshire Council.