Before starting at King’s I had to prepare myself for a major pedagogical shock; no WiFi…
Instead of the 1:2:1 iPad environment we enjoyed at ISM, my new classroom consists of 23 Windows based desktops; a traditional computer lab if you like. So although we still now enjoy a 1:2:1 situation, the device was completely different and so was the context. In my previous life, I was a Year Six teacher who was using mobile technology in my class, across the curriculum, wherever it presented an opportunity to redefine learning. Now I am an ICT teacher faced with a room full of Windows PC’s and see each of my fifteen classes (Y4 – Y9) for a 3 x 35 minute lessons a week. A huge, and indeed challenging, change for me.
However, there are a few web-tools that I have been able to utilise to good effect and helped me to rise to the challenge. Even better, they are all completely free.
Popplet is a fantastic brain storming tool that can be used from lower KS2 up to PHD level. It allows the user to construct simple mind maps/ brain storm and include video and images in each ‘Popple’. The free version allows the user up to 5 Popplets and your account syncs with your mobile device. They are easy to embed upon a blog so work can be easily shared too.
Where would I be without blogging? Ever since seeing Deputy Mitchell and his pupils advocate school blogging so brilliantly at BETT 2011, I have loved blogging and the motivational benefits it brings to learning through real audience and feedback. The King’s Rochester Blog is still in it’s infancy but already we have some super keen bloggers who have already used their blog in a whole host of contexts.
King’s currently uses Moodle as it’s VLE/LMS. However, I have been using Edmodo in class as a way of exchanging links, files and video’s. It’s user friendly interface, versatility and class/group functions have made it invaluable in a WiFi-less classroom. It allows a level of teacher-student-teacher workflow that can enhance the continuity of lessons. Although Edmodo is capable of much more, using it to structure lessons, and share resources during them, has been highly successful.
Padlet allows instantaneous contributions from your whole class. It has proved it’s value in a whole host of different ways but in particular, class brainstorms/discussions. It allows quieter children the opportunity to have a voice in a classroom and, when used in conjunction with Edmodo /Wordpress, can form part of a cohesive and fluid workflow. It is easy to use, although you should be careful with the security settings ; ensure comments are moderated and locked once the Padlet is finished, especially if you choose to embed the Padlet.
Go Animate is a superb, cloud-based, animation tool that allows students to express their understanding, ideas and indeed narrative in a fun, dynamic and exciting way. It proved to be hugely popular across the ability ranges and the students were very enthusiastic about completing their work. The only drawback in the free version is a 30 second limit, but that in itself can be an advantage when trying to avoid long-winded presentations.
Prezi is now well established as an alternative presentation tool to PowerPoint and KeyNote. It is intuitive, has beautiful templates and is a stunning way to visualise information. It was used by y7 as part of their Challenge Based Learning project on sustainability to great effect and could be used across the curriculum. Once more, it’s ability to easily embed on a blog is another huge advantage over PowerPoint and KeyNote in a classroom workflow context.
An awesome web-tool that enables the user to make visual stories in minutes. You can set up your class(es) on Storybird with individual log-ins and even give them specific assignments. As teacher you have instant access to their work, so when used in conjunction with an IWB, is great for a WiFi-less workflow! The pupils at King’s have really enjoyed using it and their work will be published on our school blog when completed. Another bonus is that the books are easy to embed on blogs.
There are various other educational tools that we have utilised; Youtube, Wikipedia, Audacity, Google Docs, Scratch to name but a few and all of them have proved beneficial. My experience has told taught me that there are plenty of fabulous webtools out there for teachers to use in every subject. Indeed, Martin Burret documents all of these wonderfully in his ICT Magic wiki.
Therefore, in an ICT lab with wired web-access, children are able to inquire via the internet, cross reference, create podcasts or films and blog their work and reflections to a global audience. With WiFi they can do this across the curriculum using mobile devices and I am hugely excited by the possibility of that happening at King’s.