The application process for the Head of ICT position consisted of a 30 minute Year 3 lesson followed by an interview and the opportunity to share my portfolio. For the lesson I pretended to be a representative from the Olympus Card Company (I even made an official looking business card) and asked the children to design a new range of Greek God themed greetings cards. The children had to select a God and then design an appropriate card. While I am talking about this lesson I would like to thank two people in aprticular who really helped me – Simon Haughton, who helped me with the initial idea for the lesson, and Bev Evans who kindly provided me with some fantastic Greek God clip art.
The lesson went well and there was a real buzz in the room. The children enjoyed the task and they all managed to create a simple greetings card. I also think that the fact I had memorised all of the children’s names before hand went down well.
Initially I was a bit concerned about my portfolio as I hadn’t actually taught that much ICT leading up to that point – or rather hadn’t had the chance to teach the kind of ICT I wanted to. I hadn’t really ever been given the opportunity to teach the way I wanted or to express my creative approach to teaching. We were a three-form entry school and as a result I pretty much just had to do things the “the way they had always been done”. I remember one situation in particular in which during a Year 6 geography lesson about rivers, I overturned all the tables in the rooma nd put them together to form a ‘river-boat’. The children all climbed aboard and I took them on a guided tour of the Amazon river complete with visuals on the IWB and a soundtrack. That evening I was told by the Head of KS2 that the children were ‘having too much fun’ and it ‘wasn’t fair on the other two classes’ so I should “stick to the plans’ I was given.
Anyway, back to my portfolio. I decided that I would have to do something new to put into my portfolio and decided to focus on cross-curricular ICT. I thought that I would take one subject and explore the possibilities that various Web 2.0 tools would give. I chose History and as it was nearing the end of October decided to focus on the Gunpowder Plot.
I gathered together a keen group of Y6 children who would spend every breaktime with me in the ICT room using a variety of web-based tools. One girl in particular, Alice, has possibly been the biggest influence on my career since – simply for her enthusiasm, imagination and creative thinking. She was a ‘low-ability’ child, in the bottom sets for maths and english, but the work she produced during that week and her dedication was truly inspiring.
I split the children into pairs and gave each pair a different site to use. One pair plotted locations involved in the Gunpowder Plot on Google Maps and another pair created an online timeline of events. I wanted the children to understand more of the story than simply Guy Fawkes’ capture. We also used the family tree site Geni to create a Royal family tree so that the children could get an understanding of why James I was targetted. Wallwisher was used to gather questions for the children to research and respond to and the most successful element of the project was the use of Twitter to tell the story from the point of view of Robert Catesby, the plot’s mastermind.
Led by Alice, the children researched the events following the capture of Guy Fawkes. They tracked the plotters desperate flee from London to their final stand at Holbeche House. The children wrote a series of tweets in the character of Robert Catesby and I then scheduled these using Hootsuite to be delivered ‘live’ as events would have happened from the 5th to 8th November. This proved really popular and I can remember many people on Twitter getting up early on the Sunday morning to catch the dramatic shootout and the conclusion to our story.
I received some amazing feedback from my Twitter network and it all went into my portfolio. Luckily for me, and without me realising, the Headmaster at Winchester House is a history specialist and he loved the Gunpowder, Tweeting and Plot.
To be continued…