As a Sketchup nerd I like to think of new and different ways I can use it in lessons, and look at how I can get most from the pupils when I do. While it is incredibly easy to link it to Maths, looking at measure, direction, etc, I often find it hard to give literacy links. Today though I used it as a story telling tool. Pupils were shown the model I had created (below) and we had a great discussion building a story around it. Using it as a setting we decided on characters, plot points and who to build the story around. The descriptive language when describing the castle was great, and having it on the board as a visual learning tool worked really well. The fact there was nothing else but the castle also helped the pupils with their writing. They had the castle, but they had to decide where it was and what its surroundings looked like. Lower ability pupils were able to come up to board and move around the castle, imagining themselves and the centre of the building, while Higher ability look it as a stimulus and wrote pages!

When talking with the class, and having all this discussion it made me think of Epic Citadel. It felt like I had built my own and was getting the same reaction from the kids. They we engaged and enthusiastic about exploring the castle in the same way they are when using the app. Obviously I know it is nowhere near the same level of detail or scale, however it opened up a whole world of opportunities. I could do the same thing on any number of worlds or settings, going from a sprawling city to a visit on a space station. All created by me, to my specification, to get what I want from the pupils. Yes, it might take  bit of time and practice, but save it and you have it there for any lesson in the future.

Why not try describing a stay in an Anderson Shelter, or describe life on a pirate ship. You could even try your very own classroom!

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.

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?

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