Today I have been busy planning lessons and gathering resources and ideas for Year 6 in their final summer term. In our school we have recently bought the “Switched on ICT” scheme of work for ICT, and so part of this afternoon was spent getting to grips with the stuff you see in the box below. I am not a great scheme of work person when it comes to ICT, I prefer to write my own plans, but I am also open to other methods, very busy! and I had heard some good things about Switched On.
I don’t know too much about the scheme as a whole, but I will say that the format is very different to previous schemes I have looked at. Even the very phrase, ‘scheme of work’ fills me with a sadness and anxiety as it conjures up images of regimented instructions that will soon be outdated. But, what I have seen of ‘Switched on ICT’ is pretty innovative and versatile. It is wriiten in such a way that you don’t need to slavishly follow someone elses week by week recipe, you can vary and remix both the applications suggested and the very sound context for learning that has been laid down for you.
I had been looking at a Year Six unit, ‘We are Fundraisers’, the idea being that children use ICT tools to plan, monitor, research and present a business idea. It reminded me of an idea presented in a Teachers TV video sometime ago about children learning spread-sheeting skills through the context of the Year 6 Disco. I was very drawn to this idea a few years ago as it put spreadsheets into a real context, the children needed to know how to use the spreadsheet or else they’d lose track of their finances! The We Are Fundraisers unit revisits this concept but with an up to date framework, advocating collaboration through Google docs and survey money or an equivalent for market research. Reading through the plan today it looked like my class would actually be embarking on an industry experience as opposed to doing unit 8.1! I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with.
While looking online at the them of young entrepreeurs I cam across two links that I’d like to share.
The first is one of the films picked out by the curators of the video sharing site Vimeo. Cain’s Arcade is a heart warming story of a nine year old boy who built his own analogue arcade out front of his father’s auto spares shop. I love his optimism, determination and innovation. He was literally a business start up at the age of nine, making do with very little resources and for the most part serveing very few customers. However, just like a good day in the commercial sector he met the right customer and things turned around for him. This video will I hope prove a great inspiration for my own group of Year Six start up teams over the coming term.
I also came across a great blog post by Steve Philp too, who writes about how he took a Year Six class beyond just Angry Birds with their Chrome books. He describes in an honest, interesting and lively post how the children worked through the Fundraisers unit using the context of the school Christmas Fair and later a Dragons Den scenario. Making use of collaborative spreadsheets to calculate costings and share ideas.
I have included part of his post below, but do pop along and read the original blog post here
So how did the Chromebooks help?
I moved the chairs and tables into rows (yes I know – unusual for primary schools) and had all the children facing the board. Each child had a Chromebook in front of them and was logged into a sample Google Spreadsheet I had created for them. In this I taught them how to add, multiply, divide and take away cells; find a total using the sum function and make predictions of how much profit they make if all their plans came to fruition. Each child then copied my sample spreadsheet to experiment themselves with their own business idea.
The ‘communcations officer’ in each team was given a Chromebook. Each group then discussed their ideas with each other of how they might money at the Christmas Market. When an idea was sufficiently well formed, the communications officer would input it into a shared Google Doc that was also projected onto the interactive whiteboard. Each group could then see what other groups were coming up with and as a class we could make sure that no business would be duplicating each other – you can have too many lucky dips.
Once each business had a rough idea to work on, each individual worked on the tasks associated with their roles. For example, treasurer, advertising, coms officer. Managers would be using Chromebooks to investigate prices and put together costings of prizes or materials they needed. Treasurers would be putting together a projected profit plan, considering how much money they might make. Communications officers would be putting together a list of questions they might need to ask other adults in the school. Advertisers used Google Drawings and Aviary to create adverts for their business. In many of these tasks the quick start up of the Chromebooks, their long battery life and the stability of their systems proved invaluable at keeping the groups productive.
Whole class presentation
At the end of the day, each group presented their plans to myself and the teaching assistant in an almost ‘Dragon’s Den’ atmosphere, with the rest of the class listening in to the interaction. In this we talked about the realism of their plans, suggested new ideas or alterations and then decided whether to approve their business plan. Again the Chromebooks were useful – keeping the Google spreadsheet open was useful to look at how the numbers changed if, say only 30 people came to their stall instead of the hoped for 200. It also helped me, with my ICT hat on, spot whether students had really got the learning about using formulas within the spreadsheets and write down those who might need further work in that area. Of the 6 groups, 4 businesses were approved. The other two went away with ideas of how to improve their plan and return at a later date.
Given that this was the second time the children had used Chromebooks, I was delighted at how useful and glitch-free they had been. Some students had previously moaned that they couldn’t get used to the trackpad (which is more akin to the way an Apple works than the PC laptops they are used to), but none complained in this second session. The Chromebooks blend really well with other activities – in one group the treasurer was working on her spreadsheet while right next to her two other children were painting and advertising poster – I love it when technology is so seamless it’s just there – just another way of doing things – like picking up a pencil or using a number-line. It’s seems like Chromebooks are already becoming that way in Year 6. And what’s even better is not one child played Angry Birds, or even asked the question.