Inspiring children to create their own content!

In this post I want to reflect on a range of issues explored in our University sessions from this and last year. In an earlier post I discussed the fact that I explored the use of iPads to create films in Year 2. This was done as part of my second year ICT assignment and I will re-synthesis my ideas from this to support this blog post.

The poster gives an example of how ICT can be used to make films to support teaching in History (click the image to download it). The approach incorporated a variety of different apps to help children engage in the filming from conceptualisation through making to releasing to the public. The use of film is pertinent in history because it helps to enhance children’s historical understanding through developing their communication skills.

Due to the immense benefits of film to the History curriculum, the poster does not specify a particular topic. This is to emphasise that it could be used to support work across Key Stage 2. Furthermore, the History national curriculum does not prescribe fixed topics for certain year groups and this means that it would limit the benefits of the poster for teachers if it was restricted to one fictional example (DFEE and QCA, 1999). As such, the poster has been made open-ended to allow teachers to adapt the poster to their own requirements and topic.

The open-ended approach is furthered by the fact that there are no instructions on how to use the apps on the poster. This is because I wanted to encourage teachers to experiment with the apps themselves and come up with their own creative ways to use them, instead of prescribing a set process. Additionally, apps constantly change and this could mean that my instructions could have a limited shelf-life due to a change to how the app is organised.

From creating this blog in ICT sessions this year I have come to see the importance of the final stage of the sequence – publishing it for others to see. I have commented elsewhere about the benefits of sharing resources online and I really think this is an important thing to do.

Undertaking a project such as this requires the teacher to have confidence in the children’s ability to use different types of technology. Green and Hannon (2007) state that developing children’s ability to use these types of technology is vital and that adults need to have more confidence in children’s ability.

This reminds me of a feature film that was written, filmed and produced by a group of sixth-form students. The producer, Nathan Craig, said that the support of the college’s Film Department helped to support the process. This was an out of school project, with a budget bigger than any primary school could provide for filming (although we are talking £3000 here – itself not a vast sum in the film industry).

The film is called “Strings” and you can watch the trailer here:

The film has been nominated for Best Debut at the 20th Raindance Film Festival, for a BIFA in the category “The Raindance Award”  and played at the International Rome Film Festival.

The success of the film can be partially attributed to social networking sites, especially Twitter. The cast and crew tweeted the premiere of the film in the month leading up to its release at the Raindance Film Festival. This helped to contribute to tickets selling out for the screening.

The festival itself benefited from social media within a wider context, with Elliot Grove (Founder and organiser of Raindance) stating that social networking site impressions were reaching about a million daily, with admissions up 33%. For further insight into Raindance you can watch the awards ceremony here:

There are two points that I want to take away from this example and the overall post. Firstly, social networking can be an amazing way to promote ideas with the wider world (of course they only spread if they are good)! Secondly, ICT is a bit like a pen. It takes practise to learn how to use it and is annoying when it breaks. But when it does work the possibilities are as limited as one’s own imagination.

And finally, the success of this film could mark the start of my acting career… 😛

Paper-based references:

DFEE and QCA (1999) The National Curriculum Handbook for Primary Teachers in England. London: HMSO.

Green, H. and Hannon, C. (2007) Their Space: Education for a digital generation. London: Demos.

Hoodless, P. (2008) Teaching History in Primary Schools. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Where English, History and ICT meet

This week in our core English session we looked at Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker, who also wrote the fabulous book Window.

The next part of this blog post contains spoilers  so if you haven’t read the book buy it now from here, or here or any good bookshop!

As the blurb on the back of the book states, this story helps to bring together the past, present and give predictions for the future of a beach in North Queensland, Australia. I thought that it would be a great idea if the same sort of thing could be done for our locality. Then I remembered I’d spoken to someone from English Heritage at the Midlands History Forum last weekend who recommended the use of HistoryPin as a way to physically see how our locality has changed.

There are some very useful features built into the HistoryPin website. For example, you are able to select different localities to view in Google Street View and then fade in and out between different time periods. The calendar features allows you to select a date range to focus on finding images from.

Currently, the site is lacking in pictures. Some locations have many more available than others, with some places only having a handful available. This is a shame; however it will hopefully improve as more people add more images to the site.
The most common words in the HistoryPin "About Us" section

The word cloud in this blog post (made using Wordle) gives you a snapshot of what HistoryPin is about (it’s made up of the most commonly used words from HistoryPin’s about page).

You can also watch this short video to find out more.