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ICT in action

What is happening in a school near you.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Good old technology!

Last night I Skyped (internet telephone) with my colleague Marlyn. I had spotted a little photo montage on another blog which said flickr.com above it. On further exploration I realised that it led to an amazing bit of software that allows you to post photos in the way you can see in the blog. So Marlyn and I decided we just had to have one for ours. Two heads are definitely better that one and despite the fact that we are geographically so far apart Skyping and typing and internet accessing all at the same time led to two happy bunnies and little sets of photos on our respective blogs. But...if you are looking at this blog in a school in Argyll you will not see the photos, just a wee empty box as iGear blocks it.
Today one of my P2's wanted to go on the internet to play some games on poissonrouge.com- a great website for infants. We set it up on the interactive whiteboard for big play but unfortunately the internet access was too slow and some of the pages wouldn't load. I certainly hope the authority gets all this bandwidth sorted soon as we will not be able to use the amazing resources that are out there properly until then.
In the morning we did sums with the sum machine from the numeracy area of ready resources on the board. I designated our only P1 to be the board master-she had to press all the right numbers and buttons to make take away stories of 11 whilst the P2's worked out the answers. At the end of the session she received a round of applause for her excellent command of the board. Again, what at first glance appeared a pretty mundane activity became an absorbing and engaging activity for all-even the one who couldn't work out the answers,but she really knows the number 11 now!

Monday, February 27, 2006

A visitor in the classroom

Today was shared reflective practice day when we visited one another's classrooms to see what happens behind closed doors. This was an interesting thing to do but perhaps not as enlightening as it would be in a larger school. I get on well with my colleagues- we share ideas/problems/thoughts and resources readily. I have worked with Ellen for over 20 years and we have a very good working relationship. Ellen wanted to see synthetic phonics in action. A magnet board lesson with P2 on ing/ang/ong/ung was just the ticket. This led on to a discussion of spelling programmes we use in school and the possibility of making some changes. We did not feel the need to record anything on paper. I went to her class at maths time and it was interesting to see the progress that my former pupils had made.
What struck me was the skill with which one teacher juggles a 3 stage composite working on a variety of maths activities-weight, time, area of right angled triangles and decimals- every child engaged and challenged appropriately. I, of course am doing the same thing with a 3 stage composite of younger children. Being so involved in it, I feel that we often fail to appreciate our own teaching skills and it is worth remembering what a good job we are doing.
(The visiting teachers did not wish to be photographed-the clipart in no way reflects the mood or dress sense of those participating.)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

To Bee or not to BeeBot

Just back from the U17 MacDougall League Cup Shinty Final. Kyles were victorious against a very determined Oban team. The final score 5-1.

Part of being a Masterclasser in Argyll and Bute involves submitting a folio of our ICT activities which can be viewed on Andrew's website. We are then allocated funding at either basic, intermediate or advanced level to purchase ICT related items to enhance learning and teaching skills. Last year I purchased extra licences for Kidspiration, 2Simple software and bought the new KidPix Deluxe 4 which has certainly been a hit with the children and covers many aspects of ICT skills. You wouldn't think it would be hard spending money but it's a bit like standing in a sweetie shop, surrounded by so many goodies unable to make up your mind. Anyway, I think I am almost there and I am definitely getting some Beebots. We have one in our Pre-5 Unit and it is just so cute....We have a Roamer in school and I got some support materials for it last year but the Beebot so fits the bill for infants and I can use some of the Roamer mats for it as well. I shall tell you about the progress of my purchases once they arrive and how I have been using them in due course-watch this space.

Friday, February 24, 2006

One potato,two potato......

Today we unpacked our 3 seed potatoes. I ordered these through the potatoes for schools project. The idea is that we grow our potatoes along with another 1100 schools across the UK. On a set date in June we will dig up and weigh them. A digital camera is the prize for the heaviest crop. The website www.potatoesforschools.co.uk contains a range of resources to support the project. We used the whiteboard when looking up the website and played an interactive game about healthy eating. I don't even like potatoes......unless you count chips....or crisps

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Look what I made!

They are a creative lot. This is an example of what you can do with a scallop shell, some sand and our finds from the beach visit.

2 and a half hours well spent

It really is amazing just what is contained inside some applications. I love KidPix 4 which has an incredible amount things to do,see and explore. Last night I decided to trawl through all the grids,backgrounds and resource library of the Activboard software-Wow. My brain was just whizzing with the potential for interactive possibilities. The children discovered dress up dolls which included clowns and pirates. We have just completed a pirates topic so they were desperate to try out the features and extras for the pirates as you can see above. I would liken the board to a treasure chest- you don't know what you've got till you open it up and you won't be disappointed.
During my excavation I found targets similar to dartboards. I managed to devise a whole class P1,2 and 3 maths activity. P1 had to identify the numbers where I placed the counters then practise writing them on her whiteboard ( I only have 1 P1). P2 added or subtracted the numbers writing them on their whiteboards. P3 multiplied or divided the numbers. I wasn't sure of how this activity would last but they were really keen. When I put the clock on and gave them 20 seconds to write down their answers before the buzzer sounded the tension was audible! Suddenly having to pit there wits against the clock added a new dimension to the activity. We eventually tore ourselves away from the board and went back to doing some SPMG written work. I think I shall summon up the dartboard again tomorrow!

Look what I found!

Thought you might like to see another view of the beach visit. Forgot to bring the digital camera home yesterday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Today the sun shone, the birds were tweeting and the tide had gone far enough out to allow our first visit to the beach for our topic 'Living by the sea'. Last week we had created a beach picture on the IWB using the backgrounds and clipart from the Promethean built in resources. This week- the real thing. Our visit was brief (due to the east wind coming in from Siberia) but fruitful-shells, interesting pebbles, bits of crockery, dried seaweed and some feathers. We are creating our own beach scene with rockpool back in class. On our next visit we shall visit some rockpools. Whilst looking on the web for information about beaches I came across the site for Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. An amazing wealth of resources, some of which we looked at using the board. An interactive game for putting the right creatures in rockpools was enjoyed by the kids.
We tried to watch some Quicktime movies of jellyfish swimming and limpets rushing over the rocks (speeded up of course)but were unable to view them. They had worked at home successfully so I don't know what the problem was. Now I was just thinking that a fact finding mission to Monterey Bay would be great but when you've got a resource like this on the doorstep - who needs to go abroad?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It ain't all plain sailing

All aboard the Good Ship Interactive- back at school and raring to go. Kids fired up-new duck tape to hold the wires to the carpet 'That looks better" I heard someone say- easy pleased my class. Used the board for a handwriting demo and then again at maths time. I had downloaded some maths activities from the Promethean website. Now a word about these. The titles all seem to be like this "add20%tosub20%add20%" Just a tad confusing so I have been changing their names to addition to5 or stories within10.
The activity itself proclaimed it would be easy to print out for the children to do on paper so after a few done interactively-we printed..no we didn't because I forgot to change to the school printer from my home printer-soon realised-silly me. The activity was over 7 pages. I didn't want all 7 therefore I asked it to print each page individually. Lesson 1-don't ask printers to do things because they don't listen- command them. As we waited patiently for the document to spool I managed to fit a quick lesson in about the phrase; "Houston we have a problem" (there were rockets on the worksheets) and by the time we had gone to the moon and back the printer was trying to spit out 5 copies of 7 pages!!! Oh the ink cartridges!
Later in the day at choosing time, Nathan and Diane played snakes and ladders. They made their own counters and used the magnificent tumbling dice from special tools. I can see a market for this device alone-a little handheld tumbling electronic dice-about the size of an iPod. No more dice clattering on table tops-no more getting lost under the furniture-no sneaky changing it when no-one is looking...bliss.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The real deal

This is a photo of the very whiteboard that I have been waxing lyrical about. The screen shows a grid within which various patterns and designs have been added. I did not intend to use the whiteboard as part of this art lesson it just happened spontaneously. As the children created designs inside their grids on paper I encouraged them to share their ideas.We then drew them on the whiteboard. I just love it when things like that happen!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Youth over experience

To those who are anxious to know- the Under 30's beat the Over 30's by 3 goals to nil. A spirited defence by hubby kept the young pups without a goal until 20 minutes into the second half. Giving his father no quarter my son scored the first 2 goals and set up the 3rd. All's fair in love and war.......photo shows a friendlier occassion.

And so to ICT

As a teacher of P1/2/3 and a member of Masterclass I have been given a loan of an interactive whiteboard and some Activote pods. They are from Promethean and I have now been using the board for just over a week.
Initially I realised I would have to reorganise my classroom and find a permanent place for the projector and laptop to sit. In another life I would like to be an interior designer-so the day after Andrew Brown- our ICT co-ordinator had delivered the board, we set about reorganising the classroom. Job done and by 9:30 the board was set up, calibrated and ready to revolutionise the classroom!
Now the kids in my class really enjoyed it when we used the digital projector for various lessons and are a very ICT orientated bunch- I do try to integrate ICT across the curriculum when possible and appropriate. Day 1 was spent just trying out some of the built in software and making use of Kidspiration for story writing- as the week has progressed the potential use of the board just keeps on growing as has its interactivity.
I am as they say just a few pages ahead of the kids- I take my laptop home and explore the built in software. Each day I am therefore able to say-"Look what I found last night!" I am greeted in the playground of a morning by comments such as 'I wonder how the whiteboard is today?" "Who will calibrate it today Mrs Macdonald?" My colleagues keep popping in for a look when they can and my headteacher knows what she would like to get next financial session.
I have included the 'IWB' as a structured play activity allowing 2 children at a time the chance to play with the board. They take seriously the responsibility and work well to keep out of each others shadow and navigate their way around the board.
One of the most successful activities so far was a maths activity. We found some spinners-each child took it in turns to spin the spinners to create a 3 number sum. The child in charge wrote it on a small whiteboard while the others wrote in their jotters. P2 did an addition- P3 a times then added the 3rd number. The children were completetly engaged in the activity-mistakes were discussed. A simple activity but the use of the board made such a difference to the time they were able to concentrate for- they were adamant everyone should have a turn- all 13 involved in this maths session.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Holiday weekend

Just off to watch the Under 30's play the Over 30's at shinty. With husband in one team and son in the other I shall have to be a neutral supporter. Shinty season gets underway again at the beginning of March so my ICT activities will be interspersed with gadding about Scotland to support Kyles Athletic Shinty Club. I shall let you know later how the teams fared. The event is a fundraiser for the Primary School Shinty Club with reception and disco after!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Welcome to my blog

Another new experience. My first blog. No school today-In service. I should now be a better thinker so I shall just PMI this blogging business- get back to you when I have done my thinking!