Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Collaborative Learning and Peer Support - KJ

Today I want to talk about the effect the tablets have had on collaborative learning and peer support. Our school does make good use of both these strategies. Our children enjoy working together to support each other and to share the learning experience. However, I have noticed that this is particularly evident in the original tablet children. Their teamwork skills are excellent they make use of individual skills within each group in order to succeed in the task set. I have noticed that even if they don’t get on particularly well with their tablet partner sociably, they make a good effort to wok well with them during the set task. This is not just evident in ICT but is becoming increasingly more noticeable in other curricular areas.
The children’s use of peer support is exciting. As I have expanded the tablet project to include the other stages within the school I have use of the original tablet children to show the others how to use the tablet most effectively. Last week I asked a P3/4 to design tickets for our Christmas pantomime. I the invited some of P5/6 in to work with small groups of P3/4 children to create tickets on the tablets. That was the task set – I didn’t tell them which application to use or how to do it, I just set them the task and stood back and observed. Now this P3/4 class can be somewhat ‘lively’ but every single child was engrossed in their task. Because of the extra tablet advisors in the class, there must have been about thirty kids in the room aged from 7 – 10. As I appeared to be surplus to requirements, I got the video camera out and started filming them – they were even oblivious to this!

We also had a Jordanhill tutor in school that morning who was visiting one of our students. She popped in to see the class and was amazed by the children and how every child was engaged in their activity. She asked questions about the project and then stated – ‘ I love this and I’m definitely coming back!’

Evidence of peer support of a slightly different kind is also popping up in the playground, in the corridor and at the lunch hall. Is this because the kids are getting such a buzz out of helping each other, or is it because helping one another has become part of the learning environment? Or am I imagining all of this? I don’t think so – but I do think I need to look at this more closely and use the observations of other members of staff. Its all very exciting.

Two points I wanted to make before I finish. I am not getting the chance to give the tablet project as much attention as it deserves at present – my head teacher is on long term absence and I have had to takeover. This, combined with other PT duties is leaving little time for anything else (like a life!). But rest assured dear reader, I use every opportunity I can to find out a little bit more about using the tablets in learning and teaching! One more point – if anybody from the authority is reading this, PLEASE can we have somebody to give our tablets a bit of TLC – they are running a bit slow and could do with a wee bit of attention – outwith my skills area, guys!

Next instalment – Assessment is for Learning and the PC Tablet – what are we learning today?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Joint Venture

Hello again!We have been very busy with our tablets over the past few weeks and we have used them with different classes. However, before I write about that I would like to introduce you to Arlene McKerrell, our P5/6 class teacher. I have just introduced Arlene to the world of blogging and we are going to submit a joint entry to the blog today. To make it easy for Arlene I am going to ask her some questions to give us an idea of her first impressions of the tablet project, so welcome to my world, Arlene!

What are your first impressions of the tablet project?
The tablets are fantastic! I feel that they are a great learning and teaching resource. What a fantastic way to motivate children!
Can you give us examples of activities you have used the tablets with?
Where do I start? We have used the internet to do comparisons of farms in India and Scotland; we investigated different rainforests in Science; we used different applications to create mazeltov cards for RE; we did a shared writing activity which encouraged the children to explore talking within the writing prrocess; mental maths using the tablets (great fun!). We also use the tablets in every day situations when the children feel they need them.
What are the downsides of using the tablets?
The only downside we came across has been the application 2Create freezing, which has been resolved. There has been the occasional problem with internet provision, but that has been to do with problems within the network. Oh, and remembering to keep them charged!
Thank you for your first thoughts, Arlene - delighted to see they are so positive (she must have a great mentor!)
I promise to make a submission in the near future to let you know about some of my observations . From now on Arlene and I will finish each submission with our initials, just to give you an idea of who has written it. Speak to you soonKJ & AMcK