James’ involvement with the Innovative Teachers Network is fairly recent. He joined a local network created by Alessio Bernardelli, a former Innovative Teachers Award winner himself. The goal of the network is to establish the Innovative Teachers community throughout comprehensive schools in Torfaen, South Wales. Like many teachers (myself included) who first engage with such a network, he didn’t realise how valuable an experience it would be to himself, his school and his students.
James, is Head of Geography at Croesyceiliog Comprehensive school, an 11-18 mixed school that serves the town of Cwmbran. He gave himself some clear objectives when he undertook this project. He wanted to ensure that this was not just an ‘ICT’ project, but included other aspects of how the school is transforming learning, such as student peer teaching.
He encouraged his students by coaching them in the ‘mechanics’ of newly introduced software and allowed the opportunity to create a sequence of lessons in which this software was employed. The software he introduced his students to was Microsoft OneNote, PhotoStory and Deep Zoom. This gave students the opportunity to ‘peer teach’ coach fellow students in using the new software. As a result they were able to work collaboratively to produce high quality pieces of work. These students went on to act as ‘coaches’ to others throughout their peer/year group, in order that the outcomes of this project were shared.
For James and the others teachers he involved, their role was to guide -- rather than instruct -- their students in using the ‘new’ software and discuss its possibilities. They worked with students to identify how such software could enhance their learning.
The project needed to address the curriculum area of ‘Volcanoes and Earthquakes’ (I am sure there is a better geographical term that involves the word ‘tectonic’, but I am not a geographer!). James placed this in the context of the 2004 Asian tsunami disaster. He began by using Deep Zoom to reveal a picture of the disaster, as he zoomed out of the image, it revealed more of the impact of the disaster. James said that using the image in this way had a profound effect on the way his students thought about their work.
Using their recentl-acquired ICT skills, students worked collaboratively (using OneNote) to share their thoughts and ideas and to produce scripts that would be used as commentary in videos produced with PhotoStory.
This is an example of the work that the students produced. Not only does it contain facts about the subject, but it also indicates the students emotional response to such a disaster.
As mentioned, James will be joining us at the European Innovative Teachers event in Vienna in March where he will be presenting his work to teachers from all over Europe.