OER4Schools/1.4 Effective use of ICT and collaborative writing v2

From OER in Education

1 Start of workshop

Educator note
  • Make sure they have all recorded their audio reflections. (Make sure they can all use the upload script.)
  • Make sure they have all come into the lab to practise their ICT skills.
  • Make sure they are able to save whatever resources they have found into the “lesson_resources” folder, and then to transfer the contents onto the server.

2 What are the goals?

Educator note

This section reviews two handouts, which were already discssed last time. If they are not printed yet, please print them to give them to the participants.

Both handouts should be briefly reviews [depending on how much was done last time], and you should then progress to the MSC technique.

2.1 Handout 1: Principles of interactive teaching

Educator note

This section summarises some principles of interactive teaching. They are here for information and reference for the workshop participants. Ask them to look through the list now and see if they have any comments? Print the list and ask them to file it in their folders.

Background reading

What is interactive teaching?

The principles of interactive teaching include

  • recognising children as individuals actively engaged in interacting with the world, rather than passive recipients of knowledge,
  • assessing learning needs and tailoring teaching to the child’s current level of knowledge and understanding (“scaffolding” or “child-centred” approach,
  • “multimodal” interaction and expression – using different modes of presenting material and expressing ideas (drawing, video, audio as well as conventional texts) to engage learners,
  • higher-order thinking – encouraging skills like analysis, synthesis, evaluation, sorting and categorising,
  • improvable ideas – providing an environment where ideas can be critiqued and refined,
  • diversity of ideas – exploring ideas and related/contrasting ideas, encouraging different ideas,
  • building directly on others’ ideas to create joint knowledge products,
  • democracy in knowledge building – everybody participates and is a legitimate contributor to knowledge, and
  • learner agency and peer support – encouraging students to take responsibility for their own and one another’s learning.

You can print this content on a separate sheet here: OER4Schools/Principles of interactive teaching.

2.2 Handout 2: Overview of the resource topics

The present resource intends to cover a number of units. You have now come to the end of Unit 1.

Unit 1: Introduction to interactive teaching and the use of ICT. The unit offers an introduction to interactive teaching with and without ICT. It introduces the idea of “plan-teach-reflect”, as well as lesson planning to include interactive activity. The unit covers the following aspects:

  • What is interactive teaching?
  • ICTs in interactive teaching.
  • Effective use of ICTs, including basic use of netbooks, browser, and images / slideshows (also in OpenOffice Impress).

The aims of Unit 1 are to

  • understand principles of interactive teaching - with and without ICT,
  • see illustrations and discuss issues involved in implementing it,
  • think about changing one’s own practice, and
  • develop ways of working with colleagues to reflect on practice, share ideas and trial new strategies.

The unit also introduces the most significant change technique, and at the end of this unit, we look at the Leadership for Learning principles.

Unit 2: Whole class dialogue & effective questioning. The unit’s focus is whole class dialogue and effective questioning. It covers:

  • creating a supportive environment for dialogue;
  • introducing cumulative talk – creating a story together;
  • promoting and managing whole class discussion;
  • types and examples of effective questions to ask in class, and
  • how to engage students in activity at the blackboard.

At the end of this unit, we consider how to communicate with other teachers at the school, with parents, head teachers, as well as officials who might seek to assess your new teaching practices. It also includes some material to support school leaders in providing a conducive learning environment for their staff.

In terms of ICTs, this unit introduces GeoGebra and collaborative writing. You should continue practising your other ICT skills, including typing, and making use of images.

Unit 3: Group work. This unit introduces group work, how to agree on ground rules, and what sort of resources support group work (such as “talking points” and digital resources). In detail, the unit covers

  • exploratory talk,
  • same task group work,
  • different tasks group work,
  • group composition and formation,
  • ground rules for group work,
  • carousel of activities for group work,
  • mixed pace group work and differentiation, and
  • talking points activity for promoting group interaction.

Unit 4: Assessment for learning and lesson pacing. The unit introduces how to find out what your pupils have learnt, and where they need more help, allowing you to use lesson time effectively whilst making sure that your pupils are making continued progress.

In detail the unit covers

  • using an assessment inventory as a self-assessment measure,
  • sharing learning objectives and success criteria,
  • summative feedback,
  • formative feedback, and
  • peer assessment.

Unit 5: Enquiry-based learning and project work. The unit introduces how to work in an “enquiry-based” way, for instance learning through project work and in-depth, open-ended investigations. We explore a way of teaching and learning that encourages students to take the initiative to pose questions and explore their curiosity about the world around them, through a process of enquiry.

Unit 6: Into the future. This unit reviews the programme, and continues to make connections between the various interactive practices introduced throughout the programme. It also offers an introduction to action research and communities of practice, through which teachers can continually evolve their teaching practice.

You can print this content on a separate sheet here: OER4Schools/Unit overview .

Educator note

Go through the above text (not spending too much time), making sure that everybody understands.

2.3 What is the most significant change?

Educator note

In this section, we introduce participants to the “Most Significant Change technique”. We would like participants to formulate their own goals, and to identify what change(s) they might like to make.

Please leave a good amount of time for the brainstorm and group discussion at the end.

Background reading

The most significant change (MSC) technique

MSC is a form of participatory monitoring and evaluation. It is participatory because many project stakeholders are involved both in deciding the sorts of change to be recorded and in analysing the data. It is a form of monitoring because it occurs throughout the program cycle and provides information to help people manage the program. It contributes to evaluation because it provides data on impact and outcomes that can be used to help assess the performance of the program as a whole.

Essentially, the process involves ‘searching’ for project impact through:

  • collection of significant change (SC) stories emanating from the field level
  • systematic selection of the most significant of these stories by panels of designated stakeholders or staff
  • collective reading of the stories aloud and regular and often in-depth discussions about the value of reported changes

When the technique is implemented successfully, whole teams of people begin to focus their attention on programme impact. You can find out more about the MSC technique here: http://www.mande.co.uk/docs/MSCGuide.pdf

We now consider what the biggest changes might be as a consequence of being involved in this programme - for yourselves, for your teaching, for your students, for the school, or in whatever other area!

Activity icon.png Brainstorm (11 min). Think about how a newspaper works. A newspaper presents news stories about interesting events. Newspapers are structured into different sections (subject areas, such as foreign news, domestic news, financial news, sport, leisure). The most important stories go on the front page and the most important of these is usually at the top of the front page.

Activity icon.png Whole group discussion (11 min). Now imagine that later on you will be putting together a whole newspaper issue about how this whole programme affects your thinking and classroom practice: What kinds of stories will be the most important? Who and what will the stories be about? Who will be affected by those stories, who would listen, and who will be they of interest to? What different sections would the newspaper have? What kind of change would you like to make?

Educator note

Do the participants agree on how things might be different as a result of the programme? How will we know when these significant changes have happened? What kinds of evidence do our stories need to refer to? They can also be revised as time goes on.

Record what participants say in a permanent form - in writing or electronically so we can refer to them later on. Make sure it is recorded on video / audio.

3 An ICT-based collaborative writing activity

Educator note

The following activity uses an internet-based application called EtherPad which allows everyone to see - in real time - what others are writing, and to build on that.

Activity icon.png Practical activity (11 min). Choose a broad topic that you want your class to write about in a forthcoming lesson – it can be a factual topic (eg healthy foods, diseases, hobbies, weddings or buying food in the market) or a creative story. However this is an open-ended writing activity so children are free to devise their own sentences around the topic without feeling there are right and wrong answers. Thus a topic asking them to list short responses won't work well.

Devise a title to give them, e.g. “The magic stone” for a story. Discuss the choice with a partner if you like.

Activity icon.png Practical activity (11 min). Now open all the netbooks, take one per workshop participant. Go to EtherPad and try out the collaborative writing task below.

Classroom activity: Collaborative writing with EtherPad

1. Share out all the netbooks – make equal sized groups (or pairs if there are enough machines). Groups needs to have mixed reading and writing ability.

2. Learners open them and go to EtherPad. Each group makes up a group name and types it in in capitals, eg WHALES. Teacher writes the name of the topic on the board, eg. “what foods are healthiest for children to eat” or “a story about a magic stone”.

3. Each child then types their own name underneath the group name (not capitals, eg “Melvin”) so they all get a chance to practise typing, and so who the group members are is clear to others.

4. Each group brainstorms words related to the topic that they might want to use in a story or piece of writing. They type the words straight into the Etherpad under their group names (leave a blank line under the names), sharing and rotating the netbook so again everyone generates and types at least one word.

Encourage them to be imaginative! If they don’t have many ideas, ask a few open-ended questions to start them off (e.g. “What hobbies do people you know have?” “What could a magic stone be used for? What problems might arise if it could really do anything its owner wanted?”)

5. When you judge that they have written enough (a few words per group is fine), ask them to look at the other groups’ words (but not before, so they don’t copy). Show them how to scroll if necessary. Discuss with them how many words are the same across groups. Are there any particularly interesting or novel words? If so, point them out and ask the author to explain how their word fits the theme, but don’t spend too long on this. If there are spelling mistakes, ask other children to correct them.

6. Each child writes a short story or factual paragraph in their books, drawing on the words generated by the class; they should try to include as many as they can, forming proper sentences with them, and adding in any other words they want to. Ask them to try not to repeat words but to make the sentences as varied as they can, and to make sure they include some ideas from other groups as well as their own.

Learners should pay the usual attention to punctuation, grammar etc, as appropriate for their age. Teacher circulates to see how they’re doing and illustrates / reminds them of what they need to do if necessary, but lets them make their own choices about what words to use.

Differentiation: Some learners will be faster than others; allow the slower ones to write less in the time available, but encourage the faster ones to write longer pieces using more of the shared words, and to proofread carefully what they have written.

Alternative: You might want the group to write the story or paragraph together instead? So only one child writes while all of them make up sentences. Only one book will contain the writing of course, but the group may benefit from having collaborated. Or they can work together anyway and each write the same sentences down, helping each other with spelling and punctuation.

Alternative: If you found a group was particularly adept at using the computer earlier, they can try typing their story into Etherpad, working together on a single story. But if they are very slow at typing, they should write by hand instead.

You can print this content on a separate sheet here: OER4Schools/Collaborative writing with EtherPad.

To help your students type faster, before or after this lesson: play games on typing under “Edubuntu Applications > Education”, such as TuxType.

Activities you could do with Etherpad later on when your students can type faster:

  • Writing a story together (each student in each group writes a sentence that follows on from the previous sentence)
  • Students type a question they are curious about, and other students respond. (eg “Why is the moon only out at night?”)

Activity icon.png Whole group discussion (11 min). Discuss the issues and any pitfalls you anticipate. What are the outcomes you would like – what should the students be writing? Change the plan a bit if necessary, to suit your own learners.

{{ednote= You may want to make a note of the topics the teachers each choose for use in class with EtherPad, and to include these in your educator reflections. }}

4 Homework

4.1 Teacher lab activity

  1. Come to the teacher lab at least once this week to learn more ICT skills. This week you should
    • Send an email to the oer4schools list
    • Do some typing practice to improve your typing skills.
    • Go to Etherpad and explore options for making text bold and underlined.

Also, in preparation for developing some image-based lesson activities, you should search suitable images.

  • If there is internet, you can use the "search images on flickr" link from your school homepage (
  • Alternatively, if connectivity is poor, you can do this by browsing the schools edition of wikipedia, also linked from the school homepage.

4.2 Classroom activity

Do the collaborative writing activity - the classroom activity sheet is available here. Please print it, and use it during the lesson

4.3 in your own time

  • Read the principles of interactive teaching - do you have any questions or comments?
  • Read the workshop overview - do you have any questions or comments?
  • Reflect on setting goals for the MSC technique!