This is a guest post from Hélène Fyffe, an undergraduate starting her final year at Edinburgh Napier University, having spent a year on placement with Microsoft UK Education as part of her course.
If you’ve not already tuned into the Lessons from the Media blog series, the series has been exposing engaging and relevant exercise opportunities from the media, from Monty the Penguin to Philae’s Rosetta mission, for Primary teachers to use in school. With flipped learning increasingly being adopted by schools in the UK, the blogs use the media examples to provide concrete scenarios for how teachers can use Microsoft Education technology to make learning exciting for their classes.
Having spent the last few blogs looking at creativity, chemical science and space exploration, today’s blog selects a vibrant example from the media with a very topical subject of wildlife and the environment. You’ll see that the example provides a great opportunity for primary teachers to design a group exercise focusing on writing, collaboration and presentation skills.
Art is a powerful medium for helping learners to nurture their creativity skills and to become aware of culture. For many people, the notion of art at Primary school may spark up visions of macaroni pasta and way too much glue, messy painted fingers or trips to the art gallery. However, with the increased use of tablets, online searching and smartphones by young people, the new generation of students are growing up to have even more exposure to art on a daily basis in the form of digital artwork. Indeed, we have huge access to art thanks to the internet and though the experience of going to see a real art exhibition is second to none, teachers and students can cost-effectively access images online to use in the classroom.
An increasingly popular art method for grasping cultural issues or natural splendours is photography. With decent photographing technology now at most people’s disposal through smartphones such as the Nokia Lumia 1020, young people are increasingly taking and sharing photos which has been the catalyst for the birth of social media sites such as Instagram and Pinterest. Photography is therefore a fun and approachable medium of art for young learners to understand cultural learnings and I suggest that a lesson can be found in the recent BBC Wildlife Camera-trap Photo of the Year 2014.
BBC Wildlife Camera-trap Photo of the year 2014
The BBC Wildlife Camera-trap Photo of the year 2014 recently announced its winners and revealed the magnificent selection of top-ranking photographs. The competition has been growing for 5 years and encourages researchers to use technology to capture rare and beautiful wildlife in its natural environment in order to be able to better understand animal behaviour.
The top prize was awarded to the Iranian Cheetah Society whose camera trap took a photo of an Asiatic cheetah in the wild. According to the ICS, less than 70 of these cheetahs remain due to poaching, habitat loss and draught. These are all environmental issues which would make great topics for a class to research about and write an exercise on.
(BBC Website, 2014)
With its visually attractive layout and emphasis on photographs, Office Sway which is essentially a visual web-based presentation tool, would be ideal for your class to use to illustrate and write about the environmental issues pointed out in the photos from the BBC Wildlife Camera-trap Photo of the Year.
Teachers could put learners in groups and ask each group to select their favourite finalist photograph from the awards and present them in an Office Sway. Each individual could research and write a short paragraph on one of the questions suggested below and then bring them together in the Office Sway app, with more photographs of the animal to nicely illustrate the writing and finally present to the class:
· Describe the animal
· Where does it live?
· Why does it need to be protected?
· How many exist in the world?
These are of course just suggestions and ideas for engaging content and technology-enhanced learning methods which could be easily adapted to suit your class’s needs and learning level.
With a preview out at the moment, Office Sway is coming to the classroom soon and will be available to download here. If you’re interested to dig a little deeper, you can find out what one of our guest teachers thought about Office Sway.