Inspiring the future Andy Warhol

On Tuesday 9th October I was enlightened and saw the subject of art in a completely different way.  I have always agreed with art within schools as it allows children to be creative and use many different forms to display their ideas.  One topic however within art that has always bugged me is ‘digital art’.  I was always frustrated that someone who can take a photograph, and ultimately just change the original colour into bright, vibrant colours and call it pop art can make so much money.  I feel however that during my art lesson my ideals were changed when there was an aspect to the lesson where in groups we had to create our own digital image using different artistic effects such as pop art or collages.

It was due to this part of the lesson that I am blogging because quite frankly it was the most fun I have had in a lesson for a long while.  Not only did the lesson focus upon the use of ICT in the classroom and within art, it saw us go on an adventure with ICT which would make me look at art and society in a completely different way.

As a group of three including, Paul Stewart, Andy Humphries and I, we decided to take ICT within art on an adventure and use it outside of the classroom.  We thought that for our digital art, we would document our journey to the classroom from the entrance of the university, taking photos with the people that we met along the way.  This I must highlight was a journey which was both fun and educational as it taught all three of us a lot and would teach children a lot too if carried out within school on a differentiated task.

We started our journey at the gates with no images and no one around to even capture this moment, so within 15 seconds we had stumbled upon our first hurdle.  Then we saw a lady who was more than willing to capture the image of us three PGCE students posing with the university welcome sign.  From this moment on we never struggled to capture an image and never met a single person who did not want their image taken or to take a photo.

Not only did this lesson educate me about the incredible use of ICT within art and the versatility of it, but also it taught us of the friendliness of the people around campus, who you otherwise would never even have stopped and talked to.  It was with this that our horizons were broadened and our social skills which were needed to talk to each of the strangers were improved.

The task saw us end up with 42 images of us with complete strangers who were willing to help us, (once we had described it was for a PGCE project and we will be educating the young minds of tomorrow), and we ended up heading back to the classroom full of smiles and achievement.  We then used the 42 images to create three collages, (set in chronological order), mapping our journey from start to finish with the people we met.

This was a great lesson and an activity we enjoyed thoroughly and it is something we thought can be altered to suit young children in the classroom.  Children in groups can map their journey through school and document what each place signifies for them.

As a result of my earlier remarks about getting rich off something so simple and the frustrations it gave, my final thought is that it is in fact a great way to make money, educate and inspire.  People who do this for their career obviously enjoy it as we did creating our collage.  If making money comes as a consequence then I am not surprised so many people do it.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable task and we did it for free and I would again.  I recommend the task for any classroom as it allows ICT to be used in a subject where the more traditional forms of paint and pencils take form and allows the hint of modernity to be embraced by the future generations of Andy Warhol’s

Stop Animation: A fun and simple way to turn your students into Spielberg.

Within our ICT lesson on Monday we learnt about stop animation and the possibilities of using it within the classroom.  We got into group and had to create a short movie using toys, play-dough or any other item with a webcam and a piece of software called ‘Monkey Jam’.  To anyone who would have come into the lesson, they would have seen twenty-four 21+ students playing with toys and having a great laugh at what each other created in what is frankly an amazing work environment.  This however is not the case because we simply were not playing, but creating the next big stop animation movie.

Oh yes, we were aiming for the stars. In stop animation the sky is literally the limit, there is no need for big budgets or expensive props, and even though it takes more time than money, the amount of fun you have whilst doing it makes it an ideal lesson/lessons for schools to undertake.  We found five lego men, one was builder, one was a policeman, another was a Native American… (You see where this is going…).  Anyway we found the lego version of the village people and it would have been rude not to try to create something a little like this…

Now we were working in a group of three, with a combined age of 70 and relatively good ICT skills.  Could we create this…well we did try but it seemed that technology had other plans.  We created what we thought was a really good piece however; the software we used chopped it up and deleted parts and threw the ending into the beginning and the middle at the end.  That being said what we created was ok for a first attempt.

It was a great lesson and I would recommend it to any teacher.  I will be certainly using it in my classroom due to the incredible benefits that this lesson has to offer.  Not only does it promote team work and team creativity.  It requires the individuals to enhance their technological understanding of the use of ICT, introduce them to new forms of media, and can be incredibly cross-curricular.

This is our finish video and I hope you have as much fun watching it as we did creating it.


ICT: The barriers within education

“England’s ICT curriculum has been torn up and rewritten in a bid to bring it up to speed with the changing digital world.” This is something I feel is important and sums up what needs to be done to ensure England stays on top of the technological advancements which are always occurring.  There is one important argument which comes across the minds of many teachers across the country and that is wondering “what can schools do to ensure their provision is best for today’s learners?”

Schools have much to do to ensure their ICT provision is fit for purpose. We first of all need to understand what the biggest barriers were to progress across the ICT curriculum, and how we as teachers and school can do to overcome them.  According to the EdExec article, there are five major points which will ensure that Englands ICT curriculum is up to date and a successful learning tool for students.

1.         Interactive whiteboards as not glorified chalk boards

Use ICT to its fullest, and “not to carry on using tech as simply a flashy, digital version of the same teaching tools schools have used for centuries”.

2.         Leave pupils alone

It has been argued that results can be achieved by encouraging pupils to learn on their own online, could question the use of the teacher. Emma Mulqueeny, co-founder of the Coding for Kids movement, said that while parents and teachers may be wary of what could happen when leaving children to their own devices online, the benefits outweigh the risks. “Often, the solution to the digital renaissance is to close, protect and hide pupils and educators from the digital unknown, but this approach will fail in a digital world,” she said.

3.         Mind the gap

Mary Bousted, general secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, warned schools to be mindful of the “increasing digital divide”. She believes there are still many young people without access to technology or adequate training, which could be to their detriment on school work. “As these young people often come from lower socio-economic groups, the digital divide widens as technology moves on and they’re left behind,”  This inability to work or be familiar with a computer or the technology now available does certainly strike a worry in me due to the incredible benefits to be had.  Every child should have access to the technology and school is great, safe way to do this. I believe that it is fundamental in this era that every child can access it so that they are not at a disadvantage further on in their academic and personal careers.

4.         Teachers and pupils should collaborate

Maggie Philbin, argues that “In a fast moving subject like ICT maybe we should encourage more student/teacher collaborative explorations of topics.”  I find myself not being able to agree more.  I have seen children who in a world surrounded in technology; know more or as much as a particular topic within ICT.  Why not work alongside the children to see where they are at in terms of technological advancements.  This would allow us to improve their knowledge and not frustrate them by doing mind-numbing tasks they already do at home.

5.         Look past the gadgets

Simon Humphreys, wants schools to look past the technology and focus on computer science as an academic subject on a par with other sciences – and teachers must be supported to do this. He called for a balance between this and “the demands for digital literacy and IT”.

The Learning Objective Controversy

The other day whilst reading an article by Philip Beadle I came across I very interesting point about learning objectives within the classroom. I think that this is a great article and agrees with many of the beliefs I feel.  I have been within classrooms and have seen children say “oooooh I have finished the objective, I don’t have anything to do!”  Within the classroom between 9-3:30 there is always something to be done.  By writing the learning objectives onto the board first the children see what is “expected” when really this is what we think they can achieve in the time set.  Why therefore can we not write this and let them work at the speed and finish so more learning can be done?  I understand that by not putting learning objectives up some children may work slower and drag out the exercise because they do not know what we as teachers expect them to do within the lesson, within the same idea however they could be working at a faster pace and get twice as much done.

I feel that a comprimse would work best therefore.  Knowing which of your pupils should be finishing more than the expected general learning objectives it is a definite bonus.  For the lower ability children it is still a good idea but they should be monitored to ensure that they do no fall behind and achieve what is expected of them.

“But why must children know what the objectives are at the beginning of the lesson? Why can’t we ask them to guess what they are going to learn, or tell us what they learned at the end of the lesson? Why can’t it be a surprise?”

If as teachers we ask what they have learnt and for a few lessons they do not understand what we expect, it reflects upon us as teachers.  For some this is a worrying and daunting task which may look badly upon them, but isn’t that a good thing?  If your class have not been learning what you have been expecting you know that you need to change and something needs to improve.

If you do not care about this and the improvement for your students, quite frankly you should not be a teacher in the first place.  Criticism is always a bitter pill to swallow but if it is for the benefits of the majority it is something which needs to be done.

If not providing leaning objectives provides this honest feedback then that has to be a good thing, and if they are learning at the expected level or even higher that is also great.  For me I can not seem to find a negative idea for not providing the lesson objective at the start of the lesson.  As Beadle states, “I dare teachers reading this to try a week where they don’t share lesson objectives with the pupils, and see what difference it makes to their learning. Letters, containing the phrase “sod all”

Smart Boards: The incredible improvement since the blackboard and chalk.

Since last Monday’s session of learning about interactive white boards, our group consisting of Sam Watts, Paul Stewart and I, have been making resources for history.  Firstly I would just like to point that every school should invest in a smart board and secondly, for teachers a pupils alike, they are incredibly fun.

I have only had interactions with basic white boards which need a special pen for the use, however smart boards allow you to quickly use your finger, elbow and even your toes which when you can’t find that pen after wet play or a very interactive D&T lesson, is very handy.

It was this lack of need for a pen which instantly grabbed my attention as it was with my experience in school that batteries for these pens didn’t seem to last a while, causing another thing for teachers to remember.  Also I don’t tend to carry around a pair of AA batteries which could quickly be the end of my interactive maths lesson.

There are also so many features of the smart board which has so many benefits to the classroom it really allows each lesson to be bought to life with a huge supply of resources.   The features available on this easy to use piece of software really does allow for teachers to save time on creating exciting and practical lesson resources.

I think that it is a crucial piece of hardware and software which every school should invest in, without sounding too cheesy, the possibilities really are endless.