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Friday, March 10, 2006

Fearless Learning

This morning I returned to Port Ellen Primary, this time to see the pupils making use of Tablet PCs in the classroom. It is wonderful to see pupils working so confidently with technology. The staff should be praised first and foremost for the culture and environment fostered in the school as it is first rate. There is a sense of purpose and belonging that radiates from the school which is quite brilliant. In the classroom, the pupils make seamless use of technology. I have been over to visit a few times during the project, and each time I have witnessed a growing confidence in their use of the technology. This time, it was quite clear that the pupils regard a tablet as a resource that clearly increases their productivity, and choose to use the tablet for work as it allows them to express themselves in a way that paper cannot – for example – the pupils showed me Mazeltov cards that they had made using 2Create. They had chosen to use the tablet for this task because of the clipart library, but also because the program lets you turn your still montage into a swf animation. So a primary 5 pupil today was showing me how to make an animation on a tablet PC as if it was the most ordinary thing in the world to them. I must say they took it all in their stride, and they confidently explained to me how it worked.

Because the tablet PCs are one between two, the knock-on effect on collaborative learning has been quite incredible. I’ll say far more about all of this in the evaluation, but it is worth pointing out how they learned from each other as being a particular strength in the classroom. From what I can gather, this collaborative element that has been encouraged by the tablet PC project, now goes far beyond the classroom and into the much wide work of the school.

Late morning, I returned to the High School to discuss the evaluation of the use of ICT over the next three years with the senior management in the school. They are more than happy to use the MIICE toolkit for this purpose. I have agreed to assist them in the development of their ICT policy over the coming week.

In the afternoon, I had the pleasure of joining a first year class who were creating web banners in Fireworks. They were creating backgrounds, applying filters, using feather marquees to crop images to make a montage in their banners and then finally adding text with filters.

I walked away at the end of the day realising all too often it is us that hold kids back. So what if a kid discovers something I didn’t know – as teachers are we not allowed to learn too?

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