The last few weeks of the half term are always a bit hectic in the build up to Christmas. Often pupils are busy preparing for their Christmas performances, or with year 6…SATs still! If you’re all APP’s out, or want to get a break from the making nativity props why not have a quick Xmas ICT session. Below are 5 quick lessons and activities that can be adapted to different year groups, and should bring some festive cheer into your ICT suite, even for the biggest techno-scrooge!

1. Make the kids do your Christmas Shopping!

Give your pupils a list of items you need to buy online and time limit to find them in. Pupils should use some web research skills to try and find the cheapest price. They can then choose how they want to present it, I tend to go for a bit of Excel so I can get another bit of database evidence for them! You could push you top pupils by giving them a list of people to buy for with a budget. Thinking about what they like and whether their choices are appropriate. Always a fun little lesson,, and you’re bound to hear a shout of ‘I found it cheaper!’ at some point!

Capture2. Build your very own tree (sort of)

Those who follow my blog will know I try to do as much as I can with Google Sketchup, I love it! So if I have even the smallest of opportunities I try to shoe horn it in! Last week with my year 4 pupils we had a go at building some Xmas trees, complete with a star on top and multi-coloured baubles. To challenge those with a higher level of ability why not try adding a helix (spiral) of tinsel around the outside. Very trick to do, but will keep the kids enthralled. If you have some pupils who find it to difficult get them to try drawing one in 2D on the program.

3. Save Christmas Game

If you don’t have 2DIY in your school stop what you are doing and go get it! One of the styles of game you can make is a ‘Collecting Game’. The idea behind the game is simple. You have a main character who moves around the board collecting points, but make sure you avoid the bad guys! Basically every game ever! With my year 2 class we had some fun making a game where a child was saving Christmas for Santa. The background was a wonderful snow scene, and the main character had to go around collecting all the presents Santa had lost….but watch out! There are some Grinch like characters roaming around doing their best to spoil the day! The conversation and sharing that come out of a lesson like this is fantastic. Pupils love having a go at each others games, and often engage in some great critical discussions without even knowing it!

4. Animations 

This half term I have been looking at a variety of animations with the pupils and it’s something they love. Why not spend the morning making a lovely Christmas video. Pupils could make their characters out of plasticine, or the cheats way are these awesome Christmas cones from the guys over at Twinkl. In a morning you should be able to throw something together, then on the last day of term why not have a Christmas Movie show with popcorn and everything!

5. Blogging fun

Blogging with the kids is something I have recently tried to do more and more, and I’m really trying to get the pupils to blog of their own accord. Over the holidays I like to set a blogging challenge for the pupils as an extra bit of homework. The school I work at is full of different cultures and our children spend their winter holidays in a wide variety of different ways. I try to get the pupils to share what they, and their families do for the holiday season. Those who excel at blogging have had a go at adding pictures and video clips to share with their friends. For those pupils who struggle it’s also a great space for them to just sit and have a go at some writing. They all know it comes to me before it gets published so let them have a go!

 

Hope you all enjoy your Christmas build up as well as your holidays! Hope some of these ideas have saved you a bit of time, and have some fun!

 xmas

Embedded image permalinkExciting  time ahead at school! This week we are organising the arrival of some living eggs.We ran this project last year and the kids took so much from the experience, the picture to the left is when our chicks were just a few hours old. They got to see this whole process, coming up and visiting the chicks during the day to see their progress. As usual we tried to add a little ICT to the mix by setting up a live stream via a webcam. This worked really well, with the classes checking the feed every morning during registration.

This year I want to add a bit more tech to the equation, and get the pupils using the experience more in the classroom. Applying the technology and making sure it is all up and running allows for the classes to make the most of the birds, and hopefully allow for some great learning to take place. Below I have listed a few ways that a school could use ICT to make the most of having living eggs, and some possible lesson ideas.

  • Set up a webcam with a live feed on your network. This can stream live on your school website for all to view. This could be used by pupils or parents at home. It could also come in useful for the member of staff who is in charge of the project, allowing them to have a look and check up throughout the day
  • Allow the pupils some time to work with the digital cameras. Pupils get the most from photography when they have an interesting subject to use. Allow them some time with the birds to try and get some interesting shots, then come back to the computer suite to do some quick photo editing.
  • Internet Research. Often it can be a couple of weeks before the eggs start to hatch, so keep the pupils interested and give them the opportunity to find out how the whole process works. Older pupils could research before taking younger pupils to see the chicks while explaining the process.
  • Google Sketchup. Anyone that follows my blog will know I’m a big fan of Sketchup, and using it with all ages. The idea of using it with this project came from a pupil last year who did it in her own time. She emailed me a file which showed a dream environment for the chickens to grow up in, all mapped out on Sketchup. The level of detail was superb, and the research beforehand to find out the ideal conditions was great. So I stole her work and got the rest of the class to do it!
  • Blog about it. Pupils could start a ‘Chick Watch’ blog, keeping other informed of developments and changes, the literacy coordinator loved this! Pupils can also learn to embed images to their work, and for the toppies they could embed the live feed or a video. On a similar note some pupils could create podcasts to broadcast on your website. These could be live updates or information on how they develop.
  • Literacy tasks. There are a whole heap of literacy based activities that could be done on the computers too. For example (big breath) letters of thanks to the farmers, descriptions, stories, newspaper reports, information booklets, instructions for care, day by day diary and invitations to parents.

 

Wow, as I was writing that I came up with a few more ideas that I originally thought! I can honestly say that having something like living eggs in your school can be a great inspiration and discussion generator. I can do nothing but encourage it! Please have a share or comment, and if your school is planning on getting some living eggs please keep up updated! I would love to link with another school doing a similar project.

photo 1Yesterday we had the amazing Deputy Mitchell come and pay us a visit as school, to try to get our pupils to start blogging. Shattered now, but I think everyone involved had a fun day. Our school is part of a trust with other schools in the surrounding area, and for this event we all came together as digital leaders.

It was great to see so many young digital leaders take to blogging so easily. During the day they were given an introduction to blogging, ranging from creating a blog post to embedding elements into their posts. With their own blog available to them they spent the day adding new and interesting posts about the work they were taking part in.

In the afternoon the pupils got chance to look at how other schools and communities around the world use blogging. They looks at different classes and how pupils used their sites, as well as how some schools used it as a website. They were also given the opportunity to comment on and share what they had found.

The highlight of the day for the pupils though was when they took part in a quick writing challenge. They connected (using blogging power) to another primary school over in Manchester. After a few minutes of introductions and questions they moved on to creating sentences and paragraphs from image inspirations. I loved seeing pupils engaging with others, both in the classroom and across the web.

After a very long day I think everyone got the most from the event. The pupils were engaged for the whole day, and the teachers got chance for a quick catchup (always fun!). I would also like to say thank you to David for coming and inspiring the pupils within the Shine Partnership. We are all ready to start blogging, and hope you come back soon to see how we’re getting on!

Currently I’m writing my curriculum plan for next year. As part of my TLr role in the school I look at how other subjects could best use and incorporate ICT into their lessons. This could range from simple little hints, or large term based projects. As a specialist teach I also get to spend lots of time working with the lead teachers in our school. I know not all schools have this luxury, but if you can it’s really worthwhile, I wanted to share some of the ways I have worked with our Literacy leader to use ICT:

  1. Blogging – Get your class blogging in their lessons. Get them blogging about anything! Giving pupils the understanding that what they write will be published puts great emphasis on their content. To find out more about blogging have a look at this previous post.
  2. QR Codes – place QR codes around your classroom for pupils go independently use in lessons. The possibilities are endless as to what the codes could link to. In the past mine for linked you sites containing adjectives or connectives to try to increase their vocabulary, but I have also used them for things like character fact files when looking at a specific text. Really good for providing pupils with opportunities for independent learning.
  3. Podcasting – My school recently started broadcasting its own radio station, with it we started to produce some podcasts. Initially it was the digital leaders, but our plan is to spread it across the school. Your pupils could speak about book for a project, or share ideas on a poet. Maybe you could podcast about a character and their journey through the book. The possibilities are endless!
  4. Instructional Texts – Use your pupils literacy skills to help others in ICT. One of my year 6 groups set up a quick blog space that was designed to help others with their ICT problems. It worked a bit like the genius bar at Apple stores, only without the blue t-shirts! Pupils would post questions, with my genius’ getting back to then within a couple of days. They also posted self-help guides and crib sheets. Not only was it making my life easier, but I got to see some fantastic instructional writing from my pupils! Give it a go!
  5. Skype Hot Seating – I got this idea from a recent teach meet. I haven’t had the chance to try in myself, but I would love to in the future. The idea is that your class use Skype to hot seat a character or person of interest in their current topic. This could be an astronaut during a space theme, to Santa at Christmas time. Get another teacher in your school to take on the character, and be prepared for some fantastic questioning from your pupils. A word of note to the person being the character….prepare! Kids will ask HARD questions!!

I hope some of these ideas give you some inspiration, and try to incorporate ICT in literacy. Activities and ideas like these prove that it’s not just about online word game websites!

Do you have any other ideas I could have written about? How do yo use ICT and mobile devices in your literacy lessons?

Over the past few years I have been a big fan of pupils blogging, both internally through our VLE system and publicly. I have seen some major benefits in learning and I want to share with you some of the key reasons you should start, and maybe a few tips to help you on your way. There can be some pit falls, but when it work it WORKS! Lets go through some of the reasons you should start:

Helps to develop writing skills

Obviously writing a blog will give pupils opportunity to improve the quality of their writing. If the topic of the blog is something they are interested in mean they will get passionate about what they write. With peers in their classroom looking at their blogs it will give them responsibility over what they write. Adding a rating system will also improve this. Do people like what they are writing? What could they do to improve? Speaking to pupils about putting their work publicly online can also be an inspiration for improved writing. Let them know the whole world could see it, is it good enough for that?

Showcase for pupils work

Giving pupils a blog gives them an open forum to share their world worldwide (potentially!). Often when pupils complete work in the classroom that’s where it stays, not even parents know what has been going on until parents evening! With a blog pupils can post their work and their audience knows no bounds. It could be a simple as the class next door, to schools on the other side of the world. If you make comments available it also allows for these schools to leave feedback on your children’s work, a different look at peer assessment.  when a child receives a positive comment on their blog it goes far beyond anything I could say as their teacher!

Encourages independent thinking

Blogging in the classroom can really inspire pupils to become independent in their learning and thinking. When they are able to publish what they have an interest in they take ownership of the quality of their work. They take the lead when finding the required information, think about how they want to present their work, and what they want to include in their posts.

Inspires learning 

Using a blog in your class allows for teaching and learning to take place simultaneously with your pupils. By using research skills, multimedia posts, instant feedback and comments your pupils are teaching others around them as well as learning without realising it! If you train your pupils to leave good questions and effective feedback on posts, you are allowing pupils to take on the role of student and teacher.

Engages with your wider community

With OFSTED taking a greater look at how your school gets involved with the local community a blog is a great start. You could start blogging to other classes in your school, posts to parents, communicating and sharing work with other schools around you. Get comments back from parents and people who live in the area. Linking your blog on your school website is a great way to ensure you get traffic.

 

Now here are a few quick tips to make your blog successful: 

  1. Use a wide range of media in your posts, not just text
  2. Find a platform that is easy and engaging for your pupils, do they want to use it?
  3. Connect your blog to your school website
  4. Start up links with other classes and schools
  5. Stick with it, it might take some time to take off
  6. End your post with a question to encourage comments and feedback
  7. Teach them how to use the platform before you go public.
  8. Tell parents about the project, get them involved early. Its more than likely they will be the ones commenting to begin with!
  9. Gets pupils to look at other blogs for inspiration
  10. Teach pupils about the importance of drafting, then posting.

 

I hope that’s enough to get you started, and has given you some ideas to try out with your class. If you think I’ve missed something, or have a specific question please get in touch, I love a comment as much as the kids do!

 

 

So for the past few years I have been a big advocate for getting pupils to blog about their work, school life, and anything in between. However for some strange reason I have never created my own. I share my work and ideas with people of twitter and on the TES, but sometimes you just need a bit more room to move. Hopefully this is the right place for me.

Right now it feel like I’m sat at my desk talking to myself, please comment, share, and discuss anything I write!

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