I’m always on the look out for ways to bring more relevant themes into ICT. I’m also keen to bridge the gap between the ways students use computers in school and at home.
A project that my school is doing on SEAL (social, emotional aspects of learning) provided the ideal opportunity to update our first unit in Year 7. They used to create presentations about their family and hobbies, but this was rather dull and the content of what the students produced did not teach them anything new. Instead we used an emotions tree diagram with people showing a variety of different emotions and asked the students to create presentations showing which five characters best summed up their own personality.
I needed to find a way to enable my pupils to share their ideas and use the best language to describe their emotions. The solution came in the form of edublogs.org. This free, educational blog site allowed me to quickly put up an idea on the web and then invite my students to contribute comments (see examples). This is a safe and easy way to use web2.0 as there is no need to generate accounts and the comments are moderated by the teacher before they go live on the Internet.
To add a global dimension to our research, I created a project page on elanguages.org. This DfES funded website enables teachers around the world to link up and collaborate ideas and resources. I soon had a response from Apeejay School in New Delhi. You can imagine the cries of excitement when my students were reading their comments and found phrases written by Nikita, Dhruv, Eashan and their classmates in India! They were also surprised to find out how similar they felt about school life in both countries.
Here are some examples of what the students wrote to describe the person who is scared to climb higher up the tree:
I feel like this person when I am in a class that I am not so good at, so I must cling on to hope that I will still get a good result! Krissi, UK
I feel like this image when I am feeling low, because then I feel helpless and alone in this world. Kavisha, India
Here are some examples of what the students wrote to describe the person at the top of the tree:
I feel like this person when I do well at lessons and get it right because I have tried really hard. Zak, UK
I feel like this person when I’ve overcome all the obstacles in my work and I feel on the top of the world. Ujval, India
There has been a marked difference in the engagement of my students in creating presentations about their emotions towards school life rather than their families and hobbies. I have also been surprised at how personalised their phrases are. I have realised that SEAL is an interesting theme to explore with my students. It also teaches them valuable lessons about positive attitudes towards learning and the need to understand themselves better.
Often in ICT, we concentrate more on how to create a product rather than the message that it is trying to communicate. However, I am convinced that allowing students appropriate time to generate quality content on a theme that is relevant to their own lives leads them into producing a better end product and consequently better progress.
Click here to view the lesson plans.