A solutions-orientated approach to post-NOF CPD
Please note that this project has now come to an end, so the links may not all work
The MirandaNet Fellowship
At Hermitage Primary School in Wapping in the Docklands of London, parents are welcomed to the MotherShip, a computer suite set up to serve the whole family. As well as attending classes to improve their English and computer skills, parents from many cultures are able to watch films from their own countries. Because Hermitage has beacon status for high academic standards, more high tech facilities are being built where families can enjoy the experience of learning together.
Hermitage is typical of the schools in the Docklands, an area where highly paid white collar workers from all over the world are neighbours to some of the poorest families in the country. In spite of the difficulties, educational standards are fast improving in the Borough of Tower Hamlets. Teachers use creative strategies to inspire pupils with the belief that they can achieve well despite poverty, overcrowding and cultural tensions.
In the latest learning strategy, Wapping's 14 headteachers have joined together in the Web Wise Wapping (WWW) project to build a tolerant and productive local community. "It's the sense of community that helps to put your own problems in perspective," commented Mara Chrystie, Hermitage's headteacher. "It seems foolish to attempt to work on ICT developments in isolation when, with a little communication, ideas can be shared, discussed and refined."
The St Katharine & Shadwell Trust, a local charity, has offered the schools £150,000 to increase the area's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills over three years. This is just one of several St Katharine & Shadwell Trust initiatives. By pooling this money, the heads are able to plan a long term ICT professional development programme for the whole staff.
The 14 heads are using this project to enrich work in the core skills of Literacy, Numeracy and Information and Communications Technology (ICT). However, they realise that WWW also provides an exciting experimental environment where they can test ideas to introduce creativity, thinking skills and citizenship. Each year teachers will start ICT projects in the classroom, supported by tutors and by each other. Parents are involved in learning partnerships too. For example, one group of mothers who attend ICT classes in school will publish books they have written for shared family reading on the Web Wise Wapping website.
Both headteachers and classroom teachers have willingly put in the extra time for ICT workshops and project development. In recognition of the extra work, at school and home, each project leader is given an Internet-ready Toshiba mobile computer so that they can master basic skills as they go along.
However, the 28 project leaders in the first year are aiming to do more than just increase computer skills. This innovative programme aims to
- use ICT as a catalyst for pupils' learning progress across the curriculum
- motivate the whole staff to join in ICT projects
- achieve learning outcomes that relate to each school's development plans
- develop secure websites as a participative classroom resource
- build sustainable plans for ICT professional development
Expertise in ICT professional development and the management of change is provided by MirandaNet, a fellowship of experienced teachers and teacher trainers who encourage their peers to use ICT effectively in the classroom. With MirandaNet Fellows' help, the teachers are exploring new methods of web-based self evaluation so that they can measure their own progress, ask for appropriate feedback and identify their learning needs. Teachers will work in partnership with tutors from London University's Institute of Education, where MirandaNet is based. Those who succeed by publishing their pupils' projects online will be called Web-Wise Wapping Fellows.
The St. Katharine & Shadwell Trust are working in partnership with Tower Hamlets LEA to resource the Web-Wise Wapping project which will exploit the government's National Grid for Learning opportunities. The participation of industry is another key feature. Toshiba, Promethean and NFER-Nelson are plannning an investigation and evaluation of the learning of both disaffected and gifted children. These special children will be using internet-ready notebook computers and interactive whiteboards with additional tools to encourage pupils' participation in lessons. Other classroom resources will be supplied by Worth Media, Actis and Mimio. The Tools for Schools charity will be providing recycled computers for school and home use. Cisco will establish IT academies in selected schools to raise the level of pupils' ICT professional qualifications and help parents improve their job prospects. The whole project will go live on Think.com, a secure learning website provide by Oracle.
At their first hands-on workshop at Tower Hamlets' City Learning Centre, Web-Wise Wapping teachers talked confidentially about their educational expectations and their keenness to experiment. Miranda Ross, a teacher at Shapla School, explained how changes in communications style - the new balance between words and pictures - is more easily illustrated in classrooms using the Internet. Children are able to create interactive assignments, integrated video, sounds, pictures, data files and text. The Web-Wise Wapping teachers were excited by the learning potential of the Internet offered in Think.com, which incorporates features like publishing articles, e-mentoring, debates, interviews, hot seats and brainstorming. Miranda observed that as young online multimedia authors and publishers, pupils will develop communication skills and confidence. Their success in these projects will help to raise their self esteem and improve overall standards of literacy.
The WWW project leaders have divided into three working groups supported by MirandaNet Fellows. One group is concentrating on a range of classroom projects that offer a new perspective on the National Curriculum. Emma Watts, a primary teacher from Blue Gate Fields Junior School was intent on proving that history is not 'bunk' by adding Internet investigation to history lessons. "Wapping: past, present and future" is a National Curriculum project which gets pupils to explore the local area and publish their findings on the Internet. Tim Hibdige, an ICT co-ordinator, commented that: "With these new web resources the investigation of knowledge can match students' quickness of mind and need for variety."
A second group of senior managers and ICT co-ordinators is concentrating on web design and maintenance of the WWW project web site and encouraging participation in web brainstorming, debates, discussions and reporting. The schools who already have lively public websites will be helping other staff to design and maintain project websites, develop web resources, show children how to explore the internet and publish their work online for new audiences.
In the third group, head teachers and senior managers are working together to integrate the possibilities offered by new technologies into the curriculum, to transform traditional practices, to use funding efficiently and to raise extra funding. This management group are employing strategies to help their staff embrace the opportunities, rather than feeling under threat. Mara Chrystie's vision for the project was to promote "joy, fun and vitality in learning and a balance in student's community lives as well as in school."
To ensure that this project is educationally effective web-based lessons range across the key skills of literacy, numeracy and ICT. WWW project leaders are finding exciting ways to use Internet technology to raise pupil's esteem, achieve high levels of motivation and increase leaning gains. The project leaders are also enthusiastic about the opportunities to bring together Wapping pupils who would otherwise never meet and the chance to encourage students from different cultures and religions in the area to work co-operatively. Led by English Martyrs, children from several schools will jointly explore trends in migration with schools in Ireland, Yorkshire and Washington, investigate local history and publish their work on the web. These investigations relate to a new National Curriculum subject with an international flavour, Citizenship. In this context, teachers from St Mary and St Michael's School planned international exchanges with Barbados, South Africa, Ireland and the US. The teachers realised that successful learning will depend on the quality of support given to pupils as they develop confidence in posting ideas and offering opinions to an international audience of school children.
In discussion about the demands of the Web-Wise Wapping project, the teachers recognised that time would be an issue. The training is something they have voluntarily taken on, though the notebook computers will make working at home more realistic. New skills in assessment and evaluation techniques will also be needed, and the teachers will need to sustain the first momentum and embed the web-based work into the curriculum after the three year project is over. Rachel Jowitt of Blue Gate Fields Infant School believes that the investment of time and energy is worthwhile since a new audience beyond the four walls of the classroom is a powerful spur to pupil's achievement and aspiration.
At a time of International uncertainty the teachers stressed the importance of international links. Ken Millar from Hermitage said: "In this world and at this time, sharing between communities is of paramount importance." Sister Clare Halpin from English Martyrs School observed, "The project will help children to make sense of the world and give them a sense of balance about living life in Wapping and beyond."
The WWW launch
Teachers will be talking about their ICT projects at the launch of the project from 6:00pm to 7:30on 4th December at The Women's Library, Old Castle Street, London E1 7NT The library is a new cultural centre housing the most extensive collection of women's history in the world. Professor Niki Davis, Iowa State University and the Institute of Education, London, who specialises in teachers' learning, will be offering advice on transforming teaching methods. Professor Stephen Heppell, Ultralab, will be talking about children's ICT learning achievements.
The Women's Library, Old Castle Street, London E1 7NT
Tel : 020 7320 2222
Fax : 020 7320 2333
Enquirydesk at thewomenslibrary.ac.uk
Tube : Aldgate East (Toynbee Hall exit) or Aldgate
Train : Liverpool Street
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