Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reluctant Writers and ICT

Some children just have nothing to write about, their imagination is stifled and they think they have nothing to write about. There are many reasons for this but one I would presume to say is that a lot of students are visual learners, not necessarily visual thinkers (their imagination has been stifled or ideas have been imposed on them).This is where computers can help...at any age level. I am not particularly advocating that they type (or draft) their story using the computer but instead use the visual aids available to


Use Programmes like KidPix, Kidspiration, Inspiration, Pages, PowerPoint or Word, anything that allows access to a graphic library and get the students to build a story using the graphics available to them. They can then then move them around and create a visual story from the pictures they have found. This visual story can be printed out and used for the motivation for writing which could then be drafted in their writing books.
Another idea would be for children to record themselves on an iPod, PDA or a tape recorder talking about their visual story and this can then be played back to them as they are writing.

KidPix and Maths

Maths is one of the easiest subjects to integrate ICT into particularly in the Junior School.
There does not need to be a whole lot of preparation or creating but you will need to spend time showing students how to perform certain tasks and this can be done as part of the lesson.

Most of the time the main tool buttons that are used are the stamp pencil and line button.

One of the first things I ask teachers is "What are you doing in Maths at the moment?" they tell me and we work out an activity from that. Here are some examples of activities.

How many sets of five
can you make with the
stamp tool?

Copy these patterns and add to them

Matching 1-1
Find the stamps that have a pair and match them 1-1

Fractions Use the
tool to show the fractions

Make the number sentence and circle the set that is being 'taken away'

Here are some basic addition and Greater than Less than examples

In most of these examples you the teacher do not have to create anything apart from what the instruction is going to be. But don't expect the children to be able to just go and do it, you must model the activity first and this can be included into your instructional lesson.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Activboards versus Mimio...some thoughts

There are many types of Interactive Whiteboards and Mimios out in schools. A lot of teachers are not using them to their full potential, mostly because of technical issues of calibration, software and hardware conflicts, setting up problems and most of all lack of professional development. Then there is the issue of 'Which should we buy for our school?' This blog entry makes suggestions for and against both.

I have had the opportunity of seeing both Activboards and Mimios in action in one school. The Activboard has the projector attached to the screen. (Big tick here, no projector or wires hanging from ceilings or sitting precariously on tables).
The screen can be moved up and down according to the child's height. The screen is large and can be seen by the whole class right to the back of the room. Teachers have very little problems calibrating because the projector is fixed to the screen.
There is a wireless keyboard that children or teacher can use anywhere in the classroom. The only down was maybe the clarity, the room needed to be darker or the projector needed to have higher lumens, but it was a minor point as it made no difference to the children.

The Mimio is attached to a LCD TV. This works well with small groups or the whole class on the mat in front of the TV. The mimio image was TV quality.

So far my evaluation of this equipment is that the Activboard works well in the Senior School because it can be seen from the back of the room and when you have big children sitting in a classroom with all your furniture, there is not a lot of room for sitting up the front. I also liked how you could direct student's attention to it while they are working at their desks and they could all easily see it.

I would use the Mimio more in the Junior school. It is least distacting for the whole class as it is smaller and could be used unobtrusively with small groups.

See my new blog dedicated to mimios and IWB http://mimioiwb.blogspot.com/

Proofreading and Interactive Whiteboards

  • Choose a student's story that has been drafted on the computer and use that as a proof reading model at the beginning or end of a writing session
  • Have the whole class or maybe a targeted group discuss what changes need to be made and let the children take charge of the proofreading
  • use an example of drafted writing as a proofreading activity to be completed while waiting to conference (several children can be working on this activity at one time)
  • have a child drafting using the IWB instead of in their books
  • have two children drafting on the IWB creating a collaborative story, print out and they can proofread, edit and publish on their own
  • use the IWB as one of the activities on your developmental circuit
See my new blog dedicated to mimios and IWB http://mimioiwb.blogspot.com/