I have begun to open negotiations around the idea of Tizz having a blog of his own, like the amazing Max the Monkey who visited our website a while back from Australia. The idea being to develop empathetic writing by students in Key Stage 2 who could write a diary from Tizz's Point of view. I would also like to see some of our older students, using Tizz as a starting point in their work on a passport to the world, contributing imaginary visits to the school website, that younger students could explore. This could be a focus for web site development and multimodal text work, using 2 Create, 2 Create a Story, Photo Story and maybe even Podcasting. Our Geography Subject leader is currently applying for and putting together a Global School's bid, with the current excitement in some areas of the school about what the Tizz's Travels area is beginning to offer, and with the addition of web 2.0 environments and tools such as geotagging and empathetic blogging I can't help feeling this area of our website has powerful potentials in supporting development and evidencing this process.
Presenting orally to a group can be really difficult, and many adults find this diffficult being heavily dependent on written scripts, with the inevitable consequence that we tend to read our slides, rather than use them as prompts to innovate our presentation around, and the resultant "death By PowerPoint" scenario. Observing students using PowerPoint to talk to groups recently I have become increasingly aware of this as an issue, and is something with which I felt I needed to begin engaging. I decided to use visual scripts with the year 3s because I wanted them
- to become familiar with the content they were to talk about
- pick out highlights and significant events from their visit
- rehearse and share their content as they wrote
- to engage with the oral basis for the written text they were creating
- have a scaffold upon which to hang their text development process
Points to Note:
Using the chapter tool to organise turn taking is still I think a really good idea, with emergent users, however what I didn't realise was that the script created was not for the whole episode, and each chapter needed to be scripted seperately. So next time, I will need to either encourage the children to record using the script to create a whole chapter, or encourage the children to create their script elsewhere and copy and paste sections into the individual chapter script windows. If you have used or have a copy of Podium perhaps you will try this out and see what I mean.
I also had some difficulties this evening uploading the podcast to our ftp space, and this is something I will have to explore further with my LA and technician, as I feel it probably has more to do with the firewall in school, than it does with the publishing process described. Eventually with a bit of playing around I managed to get the podcast so far published to a colleague's LA space, but this is not going to help in persuading my colleagues about how amazing this tool is. The learning benefits I have begun to notice this afternoon and from previous observed sessions, far outweigh the barriers that a few technical difficulties are currently causing, and I must get these resolved. If you are interested in having a listen, then here is the rss link for Y3's first report on their visit to the SS Great Britain. To subscribe to the feed, we are recommending to colleagues in school that they use iTunes as an aggregator, though some of you may use others such as Juice.
Subscribing to this podcast Using iTunes
click and drag to select the link and then copy it.
http://ictadvisory.bristol-cyps.org.uk/Year290607151612/rss.xmlOpen iTunes and in the advanced menu click subscribe to podcast, paste the link into the window that appears, then click OK. You may have to click the "get" or "refresh" buttons if the file doesn't download immediately, but we hope you enjoy, as much as we did. Why not pop by over the next few weeks and refresh iTunes to see if we have added other episodes.
Year 6 talk about awareness week
The unit was originally developed with a year 4 class, as a challenge to help me redesign the school's website. It began as all design and technology units do with evaluation and disassembly activities. We visited a range of websites already available on the web, and created by or for schools. We explored the websites identifying features we liked or disliked, narrowing down gradually those that we might like our website to include. From here on paper we designed a navigation bar, including genreal areas we would like to appear on our site. Having established our website zones, the children worked in small groups on particular aspects of the site, collecting photographs, interviewing people, and using MS Word and MS Publisher to create pages, which were eventually saved as html, and linked into a frame set I had developed from their ideas in FrontPage. The project was so successful that I and Keith Ansell our ICT curriculum Support Teacher extended the project with other local primary schools, as part of an ICT project for the Success@ action zone.
This term however I have begun using 2 Create,(2 create a story's sibling) as a framing tool to engage year 5 students with the process. We began as above, by visiting other school sites, and then returning to our own existing structure. Using their community pages as a starting point I introduced the idea of how some aspects of the site were becoming reduntant, or were perhaps repeating other tools we were using. I asked them in their navigation bar design process to consider how we might change or reorganise the community pages, removing links we were not using, or perhaps adding new sections that were not there in their place. What would they like to have on their website. Instead of using a paper based tool, I opted to use 2 create to enable them to visually develop, hands on, their own version of the site.
They began by starting a new project and inserting the first page, using this to install their navigation structure to. They used clipart as icons and buttons as well as text to do this. They had noticed how the navigation bar and banner section on the opening page of their community pages always remained the same, and in subsequent sessions I have been able to introduce how this is made possible. Our community pages are developed within frame sets. Although seeming to be one page, it is actually made up of three, when a hyperlink is clicked, only the page to the lower right is loaded the others remain in place. To enable this to happen on a single page layout like the one they are using in 2 create, the key is for the visual appearence of the page to remain the same, while only the content changes. Sometimes it is great being an old dog who can teach the newbies some tricks. How to make a 2 create page appear that it is a frame set. With the navigation icons and text in place, we have added coloured boxes to the left hand side of the page, and another along the top to look like the banner. We selected both of these rectangles and used the order tool to send them to the back. At this stage we still only had one page in our site, so looking at the number of icons we had in our navigation bar, which in most cases was 5, we inserted new pages. opening our first page in the viewer, we selected all objects by dragging around the slide, copied them to the clipboard, and then opened each of the remaining pages individually, and pasted these in place, so we had 5 identical slides, on which to present the content identified in our navigation bar. I know I could have skipped the copy and paste process by simply asking the software to insert duplicates, but I wanted the students to develop the select all and copy skill. I tools such as frontpage this would not be achieved efficiently by copy and paste either, but by saving each file as and renaming them.
The students then began linking the pages to each other, and inserting back links. To the lower right of each page, they now have a large clear space, and it is here they will place their page content, and when the link buttons are pressed, and a page arrives what they see appears to be like the frame set in the real school community pages, the buttons will appear in exactly the same place, as will the banner. The students are really enjoying this task, it builds nicely on their prior experiences with PowerPoint and Think, but here they have complete control over the objects and pages they are creating.
In addition what has been said above, what I think is really powerful about 2 create and the students will probably not fully appreciate this until the project is complete, is a built in tool it shares with 2 create a story and how the final project outcomes can be saved as Flash Files. Flash an industry and web standard tool, generates special movie files from projects developed, that can be embedded in to html or web pages enabling them to run as navigable files. These 2 create projects when saved as Flash Files will function in a similar way, with every small web project file the students have created running as if standalone websites within a single page on the school website. The children will be able to see and share their website projects live with each other, their teachers and their parents.
The structures they have identified will be used to develop the navigation and page structure for their VLE Space, somewhere we would like them to work next year. I will also be drawing on their ideas to refine the student community sections of the school website. By working on this project the outcomes they develop will influence a real web project.
I have been using 2 create a story recently with 2 age groups. Year 1 are using it to write "Fantasy Stories", as digital picture books. We are combining the teaching of basic graphic skills with the use of emergent writing, to tell stories from out of this world. I have enabled the full tool set, and we are focussing in on the use of specific graphic tools during each session. During the first session children had to design an alien, and could only use the shape form tols to do this, they were allowed to change colours they used. They then had to work with their partners to draft a sentence or two to describe it. During our second session again the tool choice was limited for the opening part of the session, as the children designed a planet for their alien to live on, but on completion they were introduced to the flood fill tool and spray can to finish the graphic, before again being asked to annotate this with descriptive sentences, involving shape and colour. An excellent resource or starting point on reflection for this activity might have been the picture book "I'm Coming To Get You," by Tony Ross. We had a lot of fun discussing what the sky around the planet might have in it, for example a cresent shaped moon, might have been a banana, the stars and other planets apples, and oranges, and the use of the spray can was used to model how we might achieve this effect. One student suggested the moon might be made of cheese, this lead off on one about how the other planets might be made of butter or bread. Where did butter and cheese come from, perhaps we could have a cow jump over or orbit the moon. We will be moving on to develop the story gradually over the next few sessions, and perhaps next week I should share "I'm coming to get you," as part of the session. The images developed are really helping the students to think about what they want to write, and it is interesting looking at the texts they are developing in response to see how their phonological awareness particularly has developed over the course of the year so far. One chap had worked so hard on his two page story draft I published it to the year 1 community pages on Thursday.
Year 3 will be creating podcasts, about their visits to The SS Great Britain, and as a practice run and drafting tool to introduce the idea of scripting and oral presentation, I have decided to use 2 create a story to develop visual scripts to support rehearsal of the process, by creating a photo supported text about their visit. This will give them the opportunity,
- to create voiceovers to support their written and visual text,
- to explore and discuss the effect that their voice over has on the reader,
- to explore how we use the microphone as an input device,
- and discuss the purpose expression as a device to maintain our reader's attention and interest.
I began the session by reviewing the work they had begun in the previous sessions as I returned the storyboards to the group. Drawing on the students comments I used My Photo Story Project and the IWB to focus on the purpose of the devices they had raised and were trying to use, modelling how this tool, might help us see how to bring their storyboards to life. The students helped me choose which images we would keep in the storyboard, and we deleted those we didn't want, we then discussed what might be said to engage our reader with the text we were trying to create. What I soon discovered was difficult for the students was not the choice of vocabulary, or even the genre, but actually linking the purpose of the text they were writing, with the intended outcome.
Over the course of the Literacy Strategy and its implementation we have focussed strongly on developing students as "traditional writers" in a range of genre, we have equipped them with the structural tools, grammar, and strategies to place our desired outcomes on the page, but in my humble opinion have neglected the most important aspect of writing and that is purpose. Writing is for life not just SATs. We do not write just for our teachers, or to ensure we have content in our Literacy Books, in life writing is used to share meanings with others. Meaning is not always represented as words on a page, in our multimedia world it often represents a preparatory stage for some other mode of representation. In the case of a Film Trailer, the written word plays a supportive role in preparing and planning, but a subordinate role in the final outcome which involves the combination of moving image, spoken word, and music to invite our readers to engage with the movie we have spent a small fortune to create. In using Photo Story as a tool I sought to help make this link, by playing the silent trailer we had just created, and inviting the students to use their previous experiences to discuss, rehearse and record the script which we might say in order to accompany my lifeless text. The students were encouraged in pairs to work on and record their written proposals in the writing frames provided and during the plenary, to share their voiceovers out loud as my previously lifeless trailer was played to the class. I discussed after the session how the students might use the template file in small groups to record their voiceovers on the class PCs, saving the project to the network for sharing later in the week.
One of my biggest problems in developing and embedding ICT in the classroom for learning has been the idea that class based PCs can and should be used for independent small group work within the timetabled day. I think this is largely due to perceptions that they will require teacher time to maintain and support children working on tasks, that will detract from other things. ICT is frequently seen by some as disruptive rather than supportive. One of the difficult things about not having my own class this year, has been the inability to follow things through to completion, and the students this time around did not have time to apply their scripts to the template file we had developed. The fact that they hadn't however was quelled by the excitement created during the course of today, as they and their teacher used a different tool for a similar purpose.
I spent half an hour last night with my colleague, introducing her to Podium, Softease's Primary School Podcasting Solution. She had been working for the remainder of this week with the class to develop scripts for Radio Advertisements, and decided she would like to give the students the opportunity to perform and record these. We talked through the interface and the process of setting up a file in the environment, looking at some of the features such as the scripting tool, and chapter tool. I suggested that as this was the first time the children and she had used the tool it might be a good idea to split up the script into chapters, and use these as a tool to support the students in turn taking as they recorded their voices. Each chapter could then be edited individually, or deleted and rerecorded in the case of problems. We plugged in a headphone mike set and recorded a simple sound file to demonstrate the process. As she became increasingly confident that the process of using Podium was less complicated than she thought, I suggested we might attach mikes to the classroom PCs and her Laptop and that she introduce the environment to the children using the IWB, and that during the course of the day, groups of children should be encouraged in pairs to "draft their recordings." We discussed how we might organise this with pairs who had begun and completed a file, working with new pairs until they were happy with the tool and how it worked, and the idea that as this was our first time, we might see this as an opportunity for the children to explore how the tool works. The session went much better than I think was expected, the students rising not only to the challenge of using ICT in a new way for them, but also in seeing the scripts for their purpose, something to be performed. During my PPA time this afternoon I was able to drop in and see how the students and my colleague were getting on with the environment first hand, and to find one very animated and excited colleague, as the students were working. Not only had they come quickly to see the value of breaking their project down in to chapters, to support turn taking they were beginning to discuss problems they were encountering as a pair, such as the volume of input from one partner opposed to that of the other, the length of run out and run in tracks, they were beginning to be to identify these on the visual track representation and to compare the volume of one user with another, and using this to help edit and crop tracks. The students were enjoying themselves enormously and were equally animated in thinking about how they would articulate the script, and reading with expression. I am confident from the reaction that this has had, and the quality of learning already evident from the task that this tool will be used again in literacy sessions, and hopefully as a result of the success she will try more small group ICT focussed outcome based tasks.
Popping into the pub on the way home this evening I was talking about the task with another colleague, who is currently developing our New School Project, and I guess excitement is infectious as he began musing about how he might like to use this tool with his group. This however will be another story, as I have wanted to discuss podcasting proper with him for a while to support multimodally the project he is developing. The success of today has got to be credited largely to the effective design and simplicity of Podium as an environment. I have created a Wilbur Helps Out guide, to support the introductory use of Podium. This can be found in the ICT resource section of our school site, and has been found to be useful by colleagues within our LA, in introducing podium to colleagues. Experience tells me how quelling the doubts of one colleague often have a cascade effect, on others. Hopefully this is only the beginning.
Have just uploaded the first completely independent animated movie, our students have ever made, and I am thrilled by the outcome. The movie was set as a challenge, based on the idea of doodling, last week in order to consolidate and practice our brief introduction to stop motion, in the previous session. The students began with a blank sheet of paper, and took turns to make marks, gradually adding new shapes and forms to the paper, directing each other about what to add and where, eventually building 5 frames at a time a group doodle. What makes this different to the others was the choice of effect. We had spent a great deal of time discussing during our previous activity involving the transformation of tangrams, how it would be important to keep body parts out of shot to bring about the transformation effects. In this short the students purposely shot holding frames, which contained the drawing hand and pen as static objects in shot. The effect although simple gives a fantastic effect to the images as they develop, making the new forms appear as if shot or shaken from the pen.
I am in the process of introducing a new self/peer assessment and review tool and this afternoon in pairs the students were setting up their files and discussing their input with friends and myself, as each pair finished they were offered free time, some opting to use Think.com or visit online games that the firewall will allow, while this group asked if they could use what had been briefly introduced last week about Movie Maker to bring the clips they had made together. They dragged the clips into the software as modelled and having sequenced them on the timeline, began exploring for themselves the effects available. This is something which I am happy for them to do, knowing that this is the way I learn how to use new software applications. In addition this will also provide me with the opportunity next session, to have these youngsters help me lead the session, as we introduce what was for them an independent choice, as an expectation as session outcome for their peers. The Movie called "Evil Bunny," can be found in the year 6 community pages of our school website.
File layer 1 was the background layer: Including a spray painted sky, and foreground, mixtures of shades of greens and blues.
File Layer 2: Was the background layer with a tree trunk and branches, constructed by varying and experimenting with the nozzle size, spray dispersal and can pressure controls, using shades of brown and black.
Using File Layer 2 as a template, the students have been exploring further, spray fill effects, by thinking about how the two trees and the landscape surrounding them might look during different seasons. After each seasonal image is completed the students have been cascade saving them, with new names, eg autumn, winter, spring, summer. The effects have been qhuite stunning, and so today we began to create a short animation using the images they have developed.
To do this we used MS PhotoStory 3. Importing the images, and then rearranging them on the timeline sequentially, before adding transition effects to the show. Finally we added a short music clip from the sample sounds provided, before previewing. I was really impressed with the outcome of this simple yet effective presentation technique.
It will be interesting to see whether we can duplicate or use a similar process to explore the reflection technique I would like them to explore with Paint, and perhaps combine the two sets of graphics within a show. Photostory, combined with the child developed templates, really helped me support the children in achieving the effect I was after as these simple images and scenes seemed to morph from one season into another.
I am not always as vigilante in writing my posts as perhaps I should be I have become increasingly aware recently in revisiting some of my previous posts of the number of typos I make (not to mention the glaringly obvious spelling mistakes I make here and there too). I still use the wrong "there" occasionally, and the wrong form of "to", in my eagerness to express my thoughts. If you notice these when scanning, they probably make you cringe as much as me. I am terrible at remembering to use the spell checker, and tend to skip this part of the word processing event, trying instead to make sure my thoughts are clear before I publish, and that I have worded things in a way that doesn't offend, but as I am going this afternoon the contingent spell checker is continually reminding me, like right now, of words or terms it is unfamiliar with, oops a repeated word. In many ways maybe I'm probably more like my students than I think, and sometimes just want to get what I'm doing done and out of the way, and when I'm writing some things take priority over others.
I do a great deal of writing for other things that I could publish using this tool, for example our school's ICT News blog, and it will be really useful not to have to do things more than once. Perhaps having circulated a letter or memo to staff created in Word at school, this can now be opened in Word 2007, edited and posted directly to the blog. Using this process I will also have a local version of the body text, which I have not got currently for most of my blog content. I have wanted a more productive way of publishing the same content to more than one blog, than copying and pasting, and this now seems to be a solution I could get used to. I know that I could do many of these things in previous versions of Word, by drafting offline, logging into my account and then using copy and paste to upload. I am sure many colleagues do this anyway, but being a relative newbie to this, I have tended to work online. I am also however aware of some of the problems in previous versions of Word associated with style sheets, and the effect these can have on text copied and pasted to other web tools, and so have not previously done this without, using Note Pad to remove formatting first. This especially when developing web pages, using tools such as Dreamweaver or FrontPage, has been in the past a laborious process, though recent versions of these environments have helped by including tools to clean up code. My next step is to get this uploaded to both Blogger and Ethink, and then get back to the job I set out to do today, get my PCs talking to each other and prepare for the Graphic sessions I have with Y 4 tomorrow.
Well managed to successfully upload the first post. Having gone through the set up process to enable word to talk to my Blog Host, it was a simple matter of pressing the publish button on the ribbon, and then selecting whether to publish as draft or simply to publish. Since I am playing this afternoon I opted to publish as draft first, and see what happened.
I also have a wordpress account with ethink.org, so wonder whether I can publish to there from here too. Have set up the account details, and here goes. That's interesting now below my header I have an account indicator and a drop down menu, so I can choose which account the blog entry is intended for, lets try uploading to one and then sending to the other, and see what happens.
I have just bought a new PC and with it came a special offer to include Office 2007 and Norton 360. Ever playful I was interested to see that it could be used to create blog content offline and post this to my blogger account. I wondered how this worked and so this entry is my first trial run to explore how the process works. Get back later no doubt with more, as the afternoon goes on.
I set up the camera and laptop on a group table, with a duplo base and asked the children to help me find the construction kit I needed to work with. We began by my modelling how we were going to build a magical house, that would look like it had built itself, using the digi blue and placing bricks before shooting 5 frames at a time, inbetween each brick. We talked about how we would need to take turns, and after making one short film we watched it together. They seemed fairly impressed. One chap who had been watching me shoot the frames asked if he could do that bit, and was asked if he could count to 5, he assured me he could and so he bought himself a job. The other children became instruction followers, going off to find bricks of described colours, and then placing them on the board, beside, next to, ontop of, behind, inside the shapes and bricks as we went, and when we had placed our bricks, my new colleague the cameraman clicked and counted his 5 clicks. When we had finished, I exported the animation clip, and we watched it together. As you can probably imagine they were very excited, and wanted to share straight away what they had done. Unfortunately it was now playtime, and we had to tidy away... There is another problem, taking apart and putting away something you have just made.. We were Ok though because we had a picture not only of the final model on the laptop, but actually how it had been made step by step.
Over playtime, I imported the film into Movie Maker, and saved it as a wmv file, and after break we watched the film together. The House that Moths Built, went down a storm, but what was most important for me from this experience, was not that the children were learning how to make an animated film, it was the discussion and potential for language development and social play which evolved as we made it. I was very much in the drivers seat (well for most of the time), directing and supporting student actions as they identified bricks of a particular colour, and as they followed simple instructions using everyday prepositions to guide the placement of bricks, but as the activity developed I began to realise also the emergent mathematical development possibilities that were arising from one to one corresponding mouse clicks, and patterns of turn taking, the possibility for perhaps encouraging through structured play, the students to develop repeating patterns, of colour and shape, using pegboards and coloured pegs, or perhaps how these might be used in video mode to tell stories during imaginary play, or timelapse scenes with growing seeds, or during sequencing activities such as dressing a teddy bear or doll. Could we use this with younger students to make and tell simple stories using toys such as playmobile, or duplo. What if the class had its own digi blue, and children were able to use it to capture images of their completed projects, to be used perhaps in a class blog, devoloped by their teacher or nursery nurse acting as scribe, with children using talk to tell the story behind the image, while in the process seeing their words appear in print. Making this connection surely is a key to helping students understand why we write. This type of activity seems to me to have alsorts of possibilities that might be used to support emergent discussion and enable children to see the link between these three semiotic modes, graphics, words as symbols and talk. I have no early years or foundation stage experience to speak of beyond 3 or 4 years teaching in Year 1, so maybe my imagination is just running away with me again, I realise also that variety is the spice of life, and we would not want to be using these tools all the time, but I would love to hear what early years colleagues think, or are doing with video and digital photography, and how practical they feel they are. Unfortunately some of the students involved in this activity do not have digital permissions and appeared in shot, so I have not been able to upload and share this video, or any of the photographs taken during the session. Hopefully we will have a chance to share these in a school assembly though, before I have to delete them in line with our school policy.
As well as this 3 students made an animated short using Digi Blues, PhotoStory and Movie Maker. They used the Comic Strip from my previous post, in PhotoStory to make a video clip they could include, adding a flash effect after the explosion of the volcano. Using Lego, and a can of gunge they had brought from home, they added a short stop motion clip to create the "run away, run away" scene, before exporting the finished animation to the network for inclusion in the final film. Using Movie Maker, the two clips were brought together, and the borrowed music track, titles and credits added. Albeit short, I think the effect was fantastic, and have chuckled several times at the outcome. In our final presentation to students in school during a celebration assembly this also gained gasps of appreciation from other students too, who spent much of Friday playtime either asking me about when they would be doing things like this or asking th students how they did it, while students in Year four and six who have been using the tools themselves, suddenly seemed to see new things they would like to try when they next do animation work. It was also an incredible learning curve for me, setting my mind racing about possibilities for the next time I set out to plan either an animation unit or better still how I embed this into a series of literacy Sessions. The PowerPoint students were so impressed that they went off to find the file on the network, and embedded it into their show.
- Modelling the value of structured use of online learning environments, with physical practical outcomes I can share with colleagues
- How the careful choice and use of ICT tools can support and motivate student engagement
- How ICT can be used not only to develop and support student learning but also to provide and suppor the development of evidence bases to track developments and support assessment and evaluation
- How use of Online learning environments can motivate out of school engagement and independent work mong our students.
I suddenly thought of the TV show Ready, Steady, Cook; and how the chefs each show are challenged to conjure up quick and tasty meals, with quirky names, from seemingly random ingredients, and hence the title of this post.
For next week's session I have set the students in groups, the "Ready, Steady, Shoot" challenge. Building on the Tangram Dance from this week, the students have each been asked to bring a small eveyday item from home. Working in groups, they must use every group members object, in an animated short. They will have the whole afternoon session to carry out their shoot, and hopefully will compile their clips as a class film using Movie Maker, and downloaded "creative commons" music tracks. It should be really good fun. Can't wait to see what they come up with. Hopefully they will cook up a treat.
We begin by reviewing images by the artist, and discussing how they are composed, where was he sitting when he made his sketches, or began painting? How do we know? We also discuss what was hapening beyond the frame, such things as where in the sky the sun may have been, refering to shadows, catches of light and the reflections we can see. Other interesting discussion points emerge around issues such as whether he may have worn a coat or not? Even though many of the images we look at are sunny and bright, there are other clues, like ripples on the water, whisps of mist, shades of dark and light, perhaps the sparkling of leaves, which may infer other conditions in the weather? We also compare two or three similar images such as the Japanese Bridge series, and discuss seasonal changes between them and so forth. I have compiled some of these images and supporting questions into a powerpoint slideshow. I was recently posted a link through del.icio.us to slideshare, wanted to have a go at using this, so I am sharing my first attempt at this here. Alongside the Monet's this show is also a Narrative of Learning and shows a progression through the unit of work.
Throughout the unit, concepts such as layering are introduced through copying and pasting. The final graphic is built up by adding new transparent layers to a background image, by copying and pasting from other open instances of Paint.
In previous years I have used MS Publisher to make Frameable Prints, which were very effective for display and made lovely gifts for their parents. This time around however I am considering an additional digital element, building on the learning story. Playing with Pivot Stickfigure Animator this weekend, inspired me to consider encouraging the students to use their digital monet's as backgrounds on which to take stick characters for a walk. Recent versions of PowerPoint, allow the use of animated Gifs, and I wondered about creating a class show, including single slides made by each of the students using their pivot animation. We might even add speech or thought bubbles, to give depth to the image. The slides could then be imported into one PowerPoint show, to make an animated story using their images, perhaps timing the animation in each image, and inserting a transition as the image motion stops. Seemd like a good fun thing to do, and something which I think the students would enjoy as an extension of their previous animation work.
In September we didn't have a website, but over the last term it has begun to take on a new lease of life, acting as a portal and support for our students and staff, as well as framing new directions for us as a school to move in. With the use of think.com and Blogs with students one or two staff are beginning to to tinker with and explore these technologies for themselves, even though I had hoped they might, I didn't think I would hear just yet anyway, suggestions that we might use these spaces linked from the website as a means of sharing professional learning or as a news source by coordinators. From the beginning I had decided to create a resource bank, and recently I was approached by a member of staff for the first time to ask how she could publish some of her self made resources to the site. She spent several weeks preparing and sorting files before bringing them to school proudly, on a flash drive, for me to install to the website.
Interviews with students reflect how they enjoy sharing new content on their community pages with parents and teachers, and it has been great to recieve positive comments not only in person but posted to class blogs, which have excited students and motivated them to write more. Our year sixes have a rota, and know when it is their turn to write up blog entries. They can't wait until it is their turn, as comments by one particular student shows. For our younger students, the websites and games linked from their community pages have been really popular, once their parents have them on the school website, they have enjoyed engaging with and sharing activities they have done in school at home. Perhaps the biggest success has been Think.com. I have popped in and out of the space all week, and have been amazed by the number of students who have been using the space over the holidays. The space as a resource has been recieved very well by parents too who have been surprised by what their children are able to do. This space as a discussion point has not been limited to the year groups who use it, a year 2 parent recently asked about when their child would have access, as she had heard the older students talking about it and was really excited about when it would be her turn. We are also seeing an increase in the number of students who have access to a computer and the internet out of school. Interestingly a number of students had PCs bought for christmas, though some are accessing the web by choice through family visits or through community access points. Maybe I shouldn't worry quite so much.