Saturday, July 21, 2007

Early Reflections on a brilliantly hectic year at Cefn Fforest Primary School

Wow, what a brilliant, but exhausting year we have had using creative ITC in my school this year! I don't know if I would like to (or could) go through another year of personal and school growth like that, particularly as it was largely unplanned.

In May or June of 2006 I found an article in the now sadly defunct TES Online Magazine, which mentioned schools writing online articles at a site called Making The News a site run by the East of England Broadband Network and the Open University.I decided very early on in the year, that this was a project that I would like to run with our Year 6 pupils - there is, as always a BUT! We in Wales suffer often from a syndrome called 'only available for schools in England!' , when I first arrived at the MTN site, there was no category for Wales (my heart sank) - so I fired off an e-mail to Jeff Howson, pleading for permission to join in MTN, luckily Jeff was very positive and set us up a 'Wales tab' and told me that he would be only too happy for us to join in. Since then NGFL Cymru have taken MTN under their umbrella and there are now quite a few registered Welsh schools which is great to see, we hope to develop this further next year (a plan!!!)
I then had to make a decision of who, and when in school!!!! I don't teach Year 6 but decided to offer it to them as a lunch club ( in reality 25-30 mins of intense news writing)

Over the year as you can see we have been posting regularly and have posted over 250 stories throughout the year, having had these stories read by up to 5,000 people ( not all us!!!).
The stories have varied from the silly !!! to the serious - as in the example below where the attached video is handled so well by children who were at the time only 10 or 11 years old.

This shows the power of Web 2.0 style sites which now enable our pupils to have an audience for their writing and creative work far beyond the walls of the school.We were lucky enough to win the MTN Competition for Best Overseas News Story (under14) and the team who wrote it where invited up to BETT in January 2007 to receive their prize from Warwick Davies (Prof Flitwick in the Harry Potter films), which was very exciting (first Welsh school to compete and win !!!)The group have remained committed to their task through the year, they didn't drift off to football and sun bathing as the good weather arrived - I can hand on heart say that I have only had a hand-full of lunchtimes sat in our staffroom ( I usually eat my lunch on the move between my classroom and our IT suite ( across the corridor) supervising writers and film makers. I don't really regret it, because to see the creativity of these kids has been a real eye opener for me and also other members of staff ( it also means that Creative ICT is gradually taking up a larger slice of our Year 6 end of year Awards Presentations -we had categories for Podcasting, Online News Making and Film Making this year!)

Blogging has been a big part of Class 3H culture this year, we run a Blogger Blog which is for collaborative writing and showcasing our class activities,

We have also mad great use of David Warlick's Landmarks Classblogmeister
This is our Classblogmeister page which has enabled us to link with other schools around the world (blogroll on the left). Classblogmeister is a 'walled garden' where all posts and comments are moderated by myself. We have been using Blogmeister as a personal blogging space since January 2007, previously I tried out Learnerblogs (Wordpress), but my pupils prefer blogmeister.
More reflections on the educational benefits and plans for next year to come.......


Moturoa said...

What a great way to catalogue and archive some of the spectacular things you have done over the last twelve months.

We will miss class 3H as they move on and hope they are able to keep on podcasting and blogging.


Appleby School


Mr Harrington said...

Don't worry where Class 3H were before should hopefully spring up - Class 3P, 3M, and Classes 4PH and 4NE - plus more .....

Rachel Boyd said...

What a wonderful year you have had!

This sound like one of the most fulfilling years you have had throughout your teaching career.

Great to see it all archived together like that also... you will enjoy your holidays and be back into new and exciting things when your new year starts again.

Cheers, Rachel

PS - I see you are making good use of your Skitch in this posting. I have been having lots of fun too and will blog about it shortly. THANKS so much for my invite!!!!!

Mr Harrington said...

Thank you for your kind remarks Rachel - yes it is interesting to find something 'you like' and are 'moderately good at' it has been a hugely enjoyable year on many fronts - the studnets have been brilliant at adapting to all of our new projects.

To me though it is the many friends like yourself that I have discovered around the world that has brought the whole thing to life - so thank you for your contribution to a fab year.

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