Let’s all go to the ICT suite and make posters

Sometimes you’ve got to give credit where it is due. And today’s credit goes to Rising Stars, Miles Berry, Terry Freedman and a load of other ICT specialists. It goes to the Switched On ICT Scheme of Work.

Gone are the days when ICT consisted of going to the ICT suite and making posters. No longer is ‘Knowledge and Understanding of How to Use Publisher’ the pinnacle of ICT excellence. ‘Embedding ICT’ consists no more of allowing pupils to research during lessons, nor playing a game on the interactive whiteboard.

No. Now we have Switched On ICT.

Now I have children in my school who are blogging, creating wikis, making games, drawing, writing and using maps. And I have teachers who are more confident at using these tools to enhance their English and maths teaching.

Blogging, to take one example, is great because it gives children an audience to write for, which is motivational for them, but more importantly demands a precision of language that might be otherwise ignored in ICT. Children can’t spell or punctuate badly in a public space like a blog, so they have to edit and refine their work, improving their writing habits while they do so.

I introduced Switched on ICT to my staff about a year ago and this academic year we have used it in all our topic planning. Well, let me qualify that – we have embedded Switched on ICT units within existing topics as either ‘cart’ or ‘horse’. Here’s the metaphor – when Switched on ICT is the cart it follows the topic as an add-on – it might be vaguely related with the subject matter of the topic – but not wanting to create spurious or tenuous links, it might exist on its own – like a mini-week of ICT within the sweep of the larger topic. Whereas when Switched on ICT is the horse, it leads the rest of the topic – pulling it along with it.

An example of the cart in action is this. Last term Year 4 did ‘We are musicians’ learning various compositional knowledge using ICT. It had a link with the topic, but the teacher taught it as a week on its own. One week in which the children were taught music and ICT – a bit like a cart being pulled along by the ‘horse’ of the main topic.

An example of the horse is again from Year 4. This term they are doing “We are co-authors”. It works really well with their Rainforest topic because they can have a Wiki as the overall outcome of their whole topic, working as co-authors to make it – I think they’ll probably finish up with a kind of A-Z of rainforests. In this example the Switched on ICT unit leads the whole topic.

Not only is Switched on ICT an inspiring way to enliven topics, but it is also really easy to plan and teach from. I’ve had teachers without much confidence in ICT tell me that all they had to do was open up the book, read through the sequence of lessons and begin teaching – which is much preferable to shutting the book and finding excuses for not teaching it – something that I’ve known happen to some other bought-in schemes.

So let’s not go to the ICT suite and make posters. Let’s teach from Switched on ICT instead.

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