Expectations are high after award winning DVD

Tomorrow sees the start of my planning meetings with schools for this academic year.  I’m looking forward to the discussions with Dormanstown Primary School, near Redcar. In June they were winners of a Northern Grid Learning for Learning Award for best use of ICT in Modern Foreign Language and runners up in the Subject category.

The entry was from a Creative Partnerships project  we worked on which saw digital artist Rosie Davey support Year 2 pupils in making an interactive DVD/game – in french! At a time when policy makers are commenting on the lack of take up in language study these 6 year olds showed great enthusiasm for it.

You walk down the street and visit each building along it - interacting in french as you navigate the various activities offered in each.

The DVD provides a computer based environment that enables the ‘player’ to explore a scene and make decisions about where to go – built into the environment are many activities developed by the pupils from games to language tasks. The environment itself was also created by the pupils. This format allowed a wide range of approaches and materials to be used from collage to computer animation, and included speaking and listening activities.

The class teacher Sue Skillcorn was a key part of the delivery team, she feels the project supported not only pupil development but expanded the teacher skill base – she explains:

Increase in pupil confidence and self esteem has been a major outcome, pupils normally reserved in class have become speakers and used techniques like talking through masks to build that, the confidence to speak has transferred into writing approaches and improvements have been seen across literacy areas.

The project gave pupils different ways of presenting their knowledge, in a fun and highly engaging way. Pupils  worked together very effectively, they negotiated, debated and reached conclusions that are based on compromise to a higher level than we usually see in classroom. There was a willingness to share skills, for example a pupil usually quite self focussed offered to support and advise other pupils on using the ICT.

We teachers have become significantly more confident in using ICT across the curriculum and are increasingly planning it into teaching delivery, from using computer through to video cameras. Staff have a better understanding of what pupils are capable of technologically – which is far in excess of what we assumed.

Teachers have also learnt new ways of building individual pieces up into collaborative end points and have begun to use those techniques in different curriculum areas, such as story-writing. The school has a far wider understanding of what ‘arts’ might mean in the school. It has inspired and given permission to staff to think in cross curricular topic based planning.

Redcar and Cleveland Education Authority are so impressed by the children’s DVD that they now want to roll it out to the other Primary schools in the area.

I’ll let you know what the school gets up to this year…..

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